“USC is a commuter school, anyway.” WHAT?

As regular readers will know, I’m having a (righteous) tantrum because USC has eliminated its transit subsidy program for its faculty and staff. This is bad policy move for both obvious and nonobvious reasons.

Most people in the sustainability and public policy world think it’s an embarrassingly bad corporate move, but I do have a couple students in the business school who think I’m crazy for caring, but for reasons that took my breath away. One, in particular, is a bare-knuckles, salty sort of business guy.

When I told him the story, he just said, and I quote: ” So what? USC is just commuter school anyway.”

Me: What do you mean by that?

Him: It’s a commuter school for kids from Orange County. That’s always what it’s been. So everybody drives to campus anyway.”

WHAT? No it hasn’t! HAVE YOU NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION? We are moving up the rankings, investing in buildings and faculty and running a $6bn campaign (which, btw, looks even more unseemly when you set it beside the fact that we are eliminating benefits for transit dependent employees. Ish).

I laid the argument that every other major urban university encourages transit use.

He shakes his head at me. “USC has more in common with UC Riverside than it does with MIT or NYU. It’s just that the students at USC are richer than the ones at Riverside.”


(That’s not true, is it?)