Firstly, I realized that if I post these things as links, then clicking on the main title will carry the reader to the original article, rather than the blog post. I would actually prefer that people didn’t read the published article (that’s why I have this blog). So I’ll make a discrete link here, and proceed to post my original.
Violating journalistic dogma is no concern of mine. If I want to say a “notably ‘nicer’ face of USC”, that is very well what I intend to say. I put quotes on ‘nicer’ because I am not at all saying that it is nicer in a conventional context.
I like to make metaphors and similes about things I have no to extremely limited experience with.
Is USC trying to transform its part of Los Angeles into the posh, upscale Westwood?
Destroying it only makes it another strip mall in a neighborhood filled with them. I’ll take a sub from Sandwich Island at the UV over yet another Quiznos in a Stepford Wives shopping center any day of the week.
And I like to sound like a “Freshman in High School” (Thanks Comments!), and make simple, one-sided arguments that can be summarized in a single simple sentence. (Though, I believe there are vast quantities of Freshmen that writer far better than DT-level stuff)
The U.V. is our weird, eerie shopping center. It’s a place where you can buy placental shampoo at the local grocery store. But it’s ours and it’s intrinsically a part of the Trojan experience and our community as a whole.
Enough complaints, here is the original, with puns, quotations, and rhetorical questions in-tact — a more sensitive, more subtle, and significantly more well-organized opinion about The Village at USC:
The Village at USC: “Improvement”
Residents expressed mixed opinions about USC’s plan for The Village at an open house at the Galen Center this past Thursday. While The Village will certainly offer a different, notibly “nicer” face of USC and its surrounding community, it is debatable whether or not these improvements will indeed be improvements.
Necessary in completing the goals to improve the quality of student life through the construction of the new plaza, is the destruction of much of older student life and culture. Inherent with any efforts at modernization is the destruction of past efforts, of past culture, perhaps of past memories — USC should recognize that building The Village does not only involve construction, but also destruction, and that its claims of “improving the quality of life” and making the “best college culture” assert a clear type of cultural supremacy.
The recent news story published by the Daily Trojan seems to suggest a shared consensus among students that the construction of The Village will be a good thing. Opposition is painted as being restricted primarily to local non-student residents. Concerns seem to be centered around the idea that The Village will be too student-centered, catered to a more wealthy student population contrasted with a less-affluent surrounding area.
But the implications of the construction of The Village stretch far beyond the shopping options presented or whether or not tasty and affordable bread from Superior is no longer easily available. Indeed, constructing The Village is an example of modern cultural imperialism.
Any statement regarding enhancement or improvement suggests that one situation is better than another. The construction of The Village is no exception. If USC were not trying to make an improvement of an area, why would it spend so much time on money on doing it? It is clear that USC is trying to “improve” the future area of The Village, and in making this assertion of improvement, it is saying that the new environment it will establish there will be superior to its predecessor.
These “improvements” seem to be well-intentioned enough. When completed, The Village will be closed off from cars, promoting a safer environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Intentions to also build a DPS substation within the center reflect further commitment of USC to student safety. Certainly promoting everybody’s safety would be desired near ubiquitously.
But accompanying these benevolent intentions is a clear loss of many defining features of USC as we now know it. Closing the street from cars also means closing off the street from food trucks at that particular convenient location, which (literally) add flavor to USC’s local cuisine. Likewise, many of the unique restaurants and stores in University Village will be eliminated and likely replaced by larger chains, manifesting globalization and victory of the large corporation, while pushing more individualized flavors into further obscurity. The characteristic beeping of the crosswalk at Jefferson and McClintock will also be missed.
By calling The Village an improvement to this area is in many areas very difficult to dispute. Cleaner facilities, increased safety, improved student-housing situations – these all appear as changes that anybody would advocate. Does “improvement” though, mean transforming USC into more of oasis among urbanity – a setting drastically differing from its surrounding areas?
More green space, more lighting – great for safety, but establishing a clearly different ambiance. Is USC trying to transform its part of LA into Irvine, “America’s Safest City”?
USC is making a muscle-flexing statement with the construction of The Village, asserting what it can do, and doing just that. Certainly, USC commands jurisdiction over the area of what is to be The Village. USC’s hegemony allows it to make changes to the area; and backed with massive funds, supportive alumni, student, and faculty, the construction of the Village, accompanied by the destruction of the current University Village and surrounding buildings, seems largely unstoppable. USC has, to my knowledge, every legal right and all the logistical factors ordered to allow for the completion of this project. It is this great power that USC possesses over the area that magnifies its responsibility towards considering the implications of its actions.
What could be said of defending the current set-up could be said of nearly any situation in which a more powerful entity swallows up (whether passively, by stealing business, or actively by buying out or demolishing) smaller entities. Consider reactions of small businesses to the construction of superstores such as Wal-Marts.
That being said, USC’s transformation of what is to be the area of The Village will entail both positive changes and negative changes. Whether the positive will outnumber the negative or vice versa seems largely a matter of opinion. But at least one thing is clear: efforts of modernization of an area are accompanied not only by construction, but by destruction.
The plans for the Village at USC are quite ambitious. The plan is expected to take at least eight years, with construction beginning in mid-2012. It is expected that approximately 8,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent positions will be created by the project. This large scale construction will be preceded by a large scale destruction. Students graduating within the next decade will certainly not return to the same USC they left.