by Jori Barash
After more than a year of alcohol-related incidents, costly hospitalization, and repeated violence, USC administration decided early this summer to take safety measures a step further. New Trojans will be held indefinitely on campus to protect them from preventable risks. Soon after the resolution, USG’s Programming Board was tasked with making this safety a good time.
On Saturday night, months of planning and days of welcome week festivities culminated with the opening of the McCarthy New Student Detainment Zone, a carnival of mostly-live music, free-access food, and student-body odor to distract and protect all 4500 first-year students.
“It’s great to give students the opportunity to do something different,” said senior and event organizer Denise Rockstroh. “There’s so much negative influence out there that we believe this is the best thing they can be introduced to.”
Students were lured into the former “McCarthy Quad” with food trucks, sound checks, and nearly undetectable whispers of the word “pre-game.” After consolidating the population into the “Cardinal Lotus,” it was simply a matter of sociological manipulation.
People on the outside of the crowd were told about cotton candy in the middle while those inside the human mass spread news of food trucks near the gate. These countering forces guided students in motion towards some other line where, at the end, the process began anew. The event was fenced in by interconnected giveaway tents and guarded at all points by a small army of DPS officers and other contractors. At each of the few checkpoints in between, students trying to exit were told to go to the next opening.
After weeks of being led in circles by advisors, scheduling, and financial aid, most of the wanderers looked completely unbothered. By the time they reached the second or third gate, a conversation about fields of study or areas of origin usually distracted these detainees back into the cycle.
With the complexity of such an organizational structure, it’s little surprise that McCarthy’s inhabitants wanted to be there.
The mere presence of a camera lens stimulated those surrounding it into an open-mouthed frenzy. As a sign of perhaps solidarity or contentment, large groups would raise a fist with two fingers extended. When a new recording was put over the speakers with someone awkwardly dancing on the elevated platform, crowds responded by fist-pumping with vigor.
When asked what he thought of the event, one freshman cheerfully responded, “I’m just glad this is what college will always be like!”