The LGBT and Allies community will conduct focus groups for undergraduates Tuesday and Wednesday evening in an effort to improve its resources and services on campus.“We’re trying to find strategies to truly reflect what students want so we can move forward every academic school year,” said Vincent Vigil, director of the USC Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center.The focus groups are part of a two-tier approach to obtaining feedback on LGBT resources. The first step was a 17-question LGBT perception survey, available at the resource center’s website for faculty, staff and students.The events are a joint effort between the LGBT Resource Center, a department of student affairs, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Assembly, a student-run organization that is part of Program Board.Vigil introduced the idea of focus groups in 2007 as a way to better represent students’ opinions and perceptions of the LGBT community. Vigil emphasized that the organizers are interested in ideas from both students who are part of the LGBT community and students who are not.“The only way to stay at the cutting edge of what students want is to hear directly from them,” he said.The focus groups will be moderated by a graduate student and will include a tape recorder and a student note taker. Participants, who will not be asked their name or year, will answer questions about their experience with LGBT events at USC. The questions range from how well-represented LGBT students feel to possible community outreach strategies.“I’ve been to five or so [focus groups], and it’s a really friendly environment,” said Joshua Morris, a junior majoring in psychology and the incoming assistant executive director for GLBTA. “It’s completely anonymous, so no one’s afraid to speak out. Your name won’t be there, but your message will be heard.”According to Vigil, student feedback from the focus groups has had tangible effects on LGBT events and organizations.“Last year, students said they wanted more education about LGBT community organizations around Los Angeles so we hosted the LGBT College Fair and an intercollegiate college mixer with UCLA and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center,” he said.In 2008, the surveys indicated a desire for more resources for the transgender community. Now, the LGBT Resource Center’s website includes a list of local transgender-friendly physicians, and several campus buildings have gender-neutral bathrooms.One of several students planning to attend this year’s focus groups is Michael Salvatore, a sophomore majoring in fine arts and anthropology.“I’m glad they’re holding the focus groups because there are a lot of different interests within our community,” Salvatore said. “GLBTA is a strong social space, but there are other ways for people who are just coming to terms with their sexuality to take advantage of the LGBT resources than just social events.”Though this week’s focus groups are open only to undergraduates, GLBTA and the LGBT Resource Center will conduct focus groups for graduate students April 6 and focus groups for faculty and staff April 8.“I’m hoping students come out to the focus groups regardless of their involvement level within our community,” Vigil said. “I want them to voice their opinions and provide new insights and ideas that continue to help us to innovate and create programs and services that are tailored to them.”The focus groups will take place Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Parkside International Residential College in room 1016 and Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Birnkrant Residential College first-floor lounge.
The university held a grand opening ceremony for the new Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall for Social Sciences on Wednesday. The $30 million, 98,000-square foot building first broke ground two years ago and opened for classes at the beginning of the semester.It’s official · Members of the Trojan Marching Band play at the grand opening of Dauterive Hall on Wednesday. The building has hosted classes for multiple disciplines and departments since the first day of the fall semester. – Min Haeng Cho | Daily TrojanThe building houses several programs that aim to utilize multidisciplinary approaches for problem solving. Among the programs are the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, the Center for Economic and Social Research, the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation and the USC Dornsife Mind and Society Center.More than 500 people attended the ceremony, which was hosted in the open-air courtyard of the new building.Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett began the ceremony by acknowledging some prominent attendees, including former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, USC Trustee Dr. Verna Dauterive and USC President C.L. Max Nikias and his wife Niki. Also in attendance were the deans of several USC schools and leaders from the construction and administrative teams.President Nikias introduced Dauterive, who received her master’s and doctoral degrees in education from USC’s Rossier School of Education in 1949 and 1966, respectively, and commended her unprecedented contributions to the university.“Today, we are celebrating one of education’s unique builders,” Nikias said. “Our USC Trustee Verna Dauterive breathes life into education. Her historic gift to this building was the largest by an African American in the history of American higher education.”President Nikias also acknowledged Dauterive’s husband, the late Peter Dauterive. Dauterive’s $30 million donation in 2008 was in his memory. Peter Dauterive graduated near the top of his class from the Marshall School of Business and went on to become the founding president and CEO of Founders Savings & Loan Association.“Peter never forgot his alma mater, supporting the Rossier School, Marshall School and the Norris Cancer Center,” Nikias said. “Peter and Verna shared a great commitment to each other but also to USC. Verna committed this building in memory of Peter. In many ways, Verna intended Dauterive Hall to be a love letter to her late husband.”In her speech, Dauterive credited President Nikias and Provost Garrett for deciding the building’s Romanesque style and design, which was structured in a way to optimize collaborative spaces.One of the building’s features is a sculpture titled “Ascending Thoughts” that changes color as the sun shines on it at different times of the day.“I think it’s good to have a building that incorporates multiple levels of subjects,” said Ioan Trayanov, an undeclared junior. “Whether or not you have classes with these other people, you’re still going to see them and run into them. And they’re not just people in your major — it’s people who have different thoughts and leads to a new type of diversity.”President Nikias hopes that the new building will help increase USC’s engagement with the world.“Interdisciplinary research has been one of the strengths of USC,” Nikias said. “With this new beautiful building and what goes inside, it makes a big statement and brings all the research to the next level. It will really make it possible for different social science researchers and students to come together to do the work that hopefully benefits the city and the world.”