USC / Image via Shutterstock

Did you hear about the latest scandal involving my alma mater, USC?

No, not the one about wealthy parents bribing their children’s way in by posing as athletic recruits.

No, not the one about the campus gynecologist accused of abusing so many patients that the probe against him is now the biggest sexual abuse case in Los Angeles history.

The latest one involves USC being forced to pay $50 million and apologize to UCSD to settle a years-long dispute over having poached the latter’s Alzheimer’s research program.

The details of the dispute are interesting, but they also don’t really matter. Because next week, it’ll be a new scandal.

Since I was a student, it was always this way. It’s embarrassing and endlessly frustrating (and lately, we don’t even have a dominant football team to cushion the blow.) But in many ways, we have an alma mater that just can’t stop perpetually shooting itself in the foot has made me a better journalist, and not just because we had endless material to cover at the student newspaper.

That’s because despite near-constant humiliation that being a USC grad has come to entail, I love the school deeply. I don’t just want it to fix whatever the latest problem is, I want every single part of the school to be as dominant and awe-inspiring as Reggie Bush’s Heisman season (you know, before Reggie went down in a massive scandal, because USC gon’ USC).

And that’s the driving force behind good accountability journalism of all institutions, whether it’s a private university or a city agency or the presidency.

It cuts deep when someone shrugs off an investigation of ours with, “Well, they just hate San Diego Unified and just dig for dirt to embarrass it.” Nothing could be more off-base.

I’m deeply grateful to all the journalists who’ve uncovered wrongdoing at USC, journalism so great it recently won the highest Pulitzer Prize, for public service. Only an institution worth saving merits that kind of stellar work.

Though investigative journalism can expose some deeply uncomfortable, embarrassing truths about people and places you love, think about the alternative: What if those people and places went ignored? What if their problems were allowed to fester until they became places that weren’t worth covering, and saving?

What VOSD Learned This Week

The group of contractors who’ve sued to delay the city’s massive Pure Water project see the case as a test of whether they can keep union-friendly contract language out of other major regional projects.

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We’ve found so many systemic issues that enable predator educators to continue abusing children as part of our investigation into sexual misconduct in schools. That’s why the Redlands Unified School District in San Bernardino stood out: It was hit with many abuse cases and lawsuits, and made some big changes as a result.

Closer to home, the Sweetwater Union High School District is investigating Kevin Beiser over allegations from four men who told VOSD Beiser harassed or abused them.

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VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans wrote an enthralling piece that goes inside the world of San Diego’s YouTube and Twitch celebrities.

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Confused by all the jargon when it comes to housing for homeless and low-income residents? We’ve got you with this explainer.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Cold brew can’t go a day without a long, luxurious bath, while iced coffee can barely swing a quick shower; cold brew has read ‘The Goldfinch’ (and is planning on a reread before the movie is released later this summer), but iced coffee unfortunately never had the time — what with work and the kids — though it has seen the trailer on mute.” – I still think cold brew is better, but this description gave me a newfound respect for the plight of iced coffee.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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