USC OTPAO: A Symbol of USC OT's Pedagogical Corruption
Published Oct 3, 2011  printer-friendly


         This website has exposed how USC OT purposely manipulates the political views of its students. It does so in the following ways: USC OT encourages students to donate money for political causes.[1].  It forces students to join AOTA and with AOTA membership our contact information is automatically given to AOTA’s political action committee which then sends you propaganda using photographs of USC OT administrators with politicians who are running for office in order to influence your vote.[2].  The manipulation continues in the classroom. USC OT faculty try to control your thinking by: (1) prohibiting students from using language that hurts USC OT’s political agenda; (2) openly criticizing students who disagree with the political orthodoxy; and (3) ridiculing conservative beliefs in the classroom.[3] Everything you are given to read on politics and policy will reflect the professors' and administrators' political prejudices. If professors and administrators have even ever read anything that challenges their political outlook, there is no evidence of it in their syllabuses or lectures. USC OT also funds student scholarships to seminars by politically militant groups that teach students how to use language to manipulate others (e.g., they are taught to refer to redistributive programs for health care as “equal access to health care for all” because people will like how that sounds).[4] In order to promote its political ideology, USC OT not only distributes reading material containing false and misleading information ,[5], it sent students to a political rally where they were given false data which they then presented in class as if it were true.[6]

          The goal of USC OT is to manipulate its students to work the system in order to gain political influence. At USC OT, students are not ends in themselves, but tools who are used by administrators and professors to achieve USC OT’s quest for political power. The best evidence for this is USC OTPAO.

          USC OTPAO stands for USC Occupational Therapy Policy and Advocacy Organization. The name is quite impressive. The first I heard of it was from an email from the department chair containing a voter guide created by this organization. The voter guide instructed students to vote for (1) every liberal proposition on the November 2nd, 2010 ballot, (2) every Democrat running for statewide office as well as (3) 19 Democrats running in district elections versus 7 Republicans.

          I was shocked when I received this email because it is illegal for professors and administrators to use their positions to promote political candidates due to the university’s tax status as a non-profit. And since this was (1) sent from a university administrator and (2) had a name suggesting that USC professors were involved in the weighty task of telling students how to vote, it seemed clear evidence of the department violating the tax law.

          I was not the only one to think this was an organization of experts, experts who must have been employed by USC OT, since the department’s name was being used. Christie Kiley is another USC OT student who blogs about her experiences in the program at On Oct 30, 2010 she blogged the following about the USC OTPAO voter guide:

         I don’t ever write about politics. I prefer to stay out of it. However… The following has been put together by the USC OT Policy and Advocacy Organization (OTPAO) — leaders in occupational therapy who study public policy in an effort to help us prepare to vote on November 2, 2010 (underlining added).[7]

         An organization that does NOT want to deceive students would have listed those involved in creating the voter guide. But the whole truth and nothing but the truth in matters of politics and policy is not something to expect at USC OT. As it turns out, USC OTPAO is not an organization of “leaders in occupational therapy” as I, Christie Kiley and others were led to believe. It is a student club. Yes, it's just a student club.

         When I discovered this, I sent an email to the club’s president, who at the time was an OTD student infamous for being a political activist who pays for private pilates while exhorting others to help the poor and the needy. In February of 2011, I sent her a list of questions about the club. What I wanted to know most of all was how the club went about making its recommendations. The club president refused to respond to my email. Over the next three months I sent another two emails which were also ignored. This is a common tactic at USC OT: ignoring questions about the politicized activities in the program.

           This is peculiar considering how common it is for professors and administrators to encourage students to be political. But perhaps it is not so peculair in an environment that does not encourage informed thinking on the issue, but demands that students accept the political agendas of the faculty and administration. It seems that at USC OT, professors and administrators are only qualified to tell students what to think about politics, but are utterly unqualified to explain to their students why students are being told what they are being told.

          Because this student refused to answer my questions, I contacted the professor who sponsored the club and notified her that this student ignored my questions.

           Soon after contacting this professor, the OTD student emailed me with an apology and a promise to answer my questions about the voter guide soon. To my email question, “How do you decide on the recommendations you presented on the voter guide?” I got the evasive “The voter guide was created with input from all officers.

         This was not an answer at all. It was a pretense at an answer. How many officers and who they were was not given. What expertise they had to give recommendations on propositions relating to atmospheric science (Props 23 and 26) was not given. What expertise they had to give recommendations on propositions regarding corporate taxation (Prop 24) was not given. What expertise they had on parliamentary procedures (Prop 25) was not given. Also not explained was why USC OT students should vote against a more efficient use of state money in our school systems (Prop 22).  And why students learning to provide a medical service should have to take a position on state parks (Prop 21) was not explained. The only thing that seemed to matter was that these were all positions favored by the political  left and so USC OT students were told to vote for them.

          The issues regarding the qualifications to make all the decisions contained in the voter guide weren’t discussed because the students involved with USC OTPAO were not qualified to make these kinds of recommendations. This is something the professor sponsoring the club should have told them. But this is USC OT and education takes a backseat to political activism. The goal of the department is to get students to become advocates for the political positions backed by USC OT. Whether students understand the what and the why of these positions is irrelevant to them. At USC OT, you are a tool. Tools are not educated. Tools are told what do to. And the USC OT faculty and administration consider it rude for tools to question what USC OT is telling them to do, and so tools are expected to keep their mouths shut, unless it is to praise the faculty and administration.

           With the evasive and laconic answer to my question from the president of USC OTPAO, I gave up looking for more specifics on the club. It had taken me too long to get this non-answer and the quest for honest, complete and straightforward answers from USC OT on an issue related to its political activities seemed fruitless.

           It was also already clear that students were being used to promote the department’s political agenda. For one, this club was sponsored by a highly political professor, one who was reported to the administration for aggressively criticizing a student who disagreed with her political ideology. Recently, to show that she is indifferent to any student complaints about her political militancy, this professor sent a student-wide email which asked students to support the department’s position on legislation for the disabled. This also shows that it’s a waste of time for students to complain to the administration about professors who abuse their power over students by trying to manipulate their political views. It’s a waste of time because such professors are only carrying out the administration’s objectives.

           Another fact indicating that the department was using students for its political objectives is that this OTD student, who served as the club’s president, was also under the tutelage of a USC OT administrator. Students getting graduate degrees would never do anything to go against the political objectives of the department. Their hope is to get a job with the university and being in the good graces of the department is the sine qua non to such a goal. It’s safe to assume that everything this student stood for publicly was supported by USC OT administrators privately. It’s also safe to assume that this OTD student only did things she had reason to believe would please the administration.

         But of course, USC OT administrators get to say now that they were never really involved. The department can now scapegoat this student as the source of the malfeasance. This was a student club they say. They say they weren’t involved; that although perhaps it would be illegal for them to send such a voter guide directly if it was prepared by them, they didn’t prepare it. It was prepared by students. The email was technically from a student club and the administration just forwarded the email to be supportive of students. And the administration even says it had no knowledge of the email because others, such as doctoral students, have access to their emails. So they themselves didn’t even do the forwarding.

          The complete story behind the email is as of now still unknown to me. And it doesn’t matter. The voter guide was sent almost a year ago and my website went up last March of 2011. If there was an abuse of the administrator’s email to send material that would be illegal for the administrator to send herself, students should have been informed of it by now. By not clearing up this matter and apologizing for the email, we can safely assume that the administration approves of the email.

          And even if it doesn’t, even if the department believes it was wrong for this email to be sent, the importance the department places on political advocacy would make any apology seem hollow. To apologize for the email the administration would have to say that it doesn’t condone injecting politics into the program. But of course, that’s not true. The statement would make Orwell turn in his grave.

           USC OT is all about injecting politics into the program!! USC OT promotes a specific political practice (advocacy) with a specific political content (statism) guided by a specific moral philosophy (altruism). They are Democrats pushing the Democratic agenda. These values were embodied in USC OTPAO, a perfect symbol of how USC OT uses students as tools for its political objectives. And this is the sad circumstance the department finds itself in. Even when it does something so clearly wrong as issuing guides that tell students how to vote, thus manipulating students who are still forming their views and causing students with different values to feel unwelcomed, it cannot apologize. It cannot apologize because the apology would call into question the legitimacy of USC OT’s practice of mixing education with politics. And politics is the one thing that is sacrosanct at USC OT. Those who dissent may feel alienated, the department’s reputation may suffer, professors may foolishly control students' language, false information may be disseminated, and students may feel threatened because professors openly attack them for disagreeing with the political orthodoxy, but under no circumstances is USC OT ready to abandon its practice of injecting politics into the program. For that, the administration will Fight On![8] Rather than creating a culture that brings out the best from a group of talented and committed professors, the administration has made a decision that turns its professors into ideological bullies and political manipulators.


          [Statism: It is the political expression of altruism. It holds that an individual’s life and work belong to the state—to society, to the group, to the nation—and that the state may dispose of an individual’s life and property as it sees fit for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good. Where altruism holds that in order to be moral one must act in the service of others rather than act for one’s self-interest, statism uses government coercion to force people to act in the service of others; it makes government the tool for forcing altruistic relationships. This requires the government to plan and control all of society’s major activities such as the trade in medical services, education, and retirement plans and even the not-so-major activities as who can cut your hair, give you a ride in a taxi, and sell you a hot dog].

[ Edited by Kimberly Mason and M. Lovey]



[1] See email from administrators on 2/22/11 regarding the “Take 5” program.

[2] See Amy Lamb email of 10/24/10.

[3] See “The USC OT Thought Police” under the Articles tab on this website.

[4] See email from USC OT PAO 11/1/10 titled “Scholarship to Attend So Cal Health Care Conference,” which links to the site for the conference at . There you find a list of break-out sessions, one of which is titled “Framing the Issue: Equal Access to Health Care for All.”

[5] See “One Day’s Reading at USC OT” under the Articles tab on this website.

[6] See “Repudiated Data Used for Political Indoctrination” and “The Single Payer Presentation: Hidden Facts One Should Consider” under the Articles tab on this website.

[7] See

[8] “Fight On” is the title of USC’s fight song and serves as USC’s motto.   


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