USC Student veteran housing brings campus to their front door

Kaylah Jackson
August 17, 2018 - 5:55 pm

(Photo credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)


The University of Southern California offers veterans their own resource center and priority registration but when the Student Veterans Association asked the administration for dedicated housing, the university didn't balk, they started working immediately.

The idea of having housing specifically for student veterans was brought to the administration by the Student Veterans Association in the spring semester of this year. By the start of the fall semester, the complex had opened its doors to both undergrad and graduate students.

The duplex and single-story house, which previously housed campus Greek organizations, has its own kitchen, washer, and dryer unit and Wi-Fi-connection. It’s also coed and service animal-friendly.

(Photo credit: USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Brandon Wexler, a Navy veteran and President of the USC Veterans Association, says the university’s response to creating the housing “means that the university is really showing their support for our community."

“It’s really difficult to get away from the word of mouth model of sharing information. We sit around the VA, we come to our groups and we talk to each other,” says Wexler, who is double majoring in cognitive science in linguistics and minoring in human security and geospatial intelligence. “Having us in one space where we can share our ideas, especially with grads and undergrads together just tightens that bond.”

And a bonding space close to the university no less. The housing complex, only a block away from campus, keeps the veterans engaged with other students in their community.

“Even the youngest veteran maybe 23 or 24. If you did a four-year enlistment then the youngest veteran is still a senior citizen compared to these 19-year-olds. It actually helps to make us a fabric of the space…and people will know ‘hey that’s that veteran’s house’ and if anyone needs anything we’re always there,” says Wexler.

Along with an age gap, veterans are often commuting or coming with community college credit. But for USC, a university that accepts 800 community college transfers each year, they know the demographics and needs of those students too.

“Not only do you have to deal with becoming a civilian but a lot of these students are transitioning from a community college to a rigorous university curriculum,” says Vice Provost for Academic Operations at the University of Southern California, Mark Todd.

Todd emphasized that veterans often “undermatch” themselves during the college application process. Often in fear of not succeeding, veterans, especially prior enlisted, will apply to colleges that may not have the best resources or most proficient programs but he has a message for those veterans as well:

“Please aspire to something more than you thought you ever could because you bring such strengths that will help you succeed in academia, with you.”

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