This is in response to past yearbook pictures rooted in bigotry and prejudice:
Over the past several weeks, the national dialogue around yearbook pictures rooted in bigotry and prejudice have again reminded us as a nation, and as a university community, of how ignorant attitudes about race can manifest themselves in painful ways. These attitudes have no place in our society.
While today's campus climate is one that fosters inclusivity and respect for all, we recognize that our shared history is not immune from ignorance and malice. Just recently, our university archivist undertook a content review of the digitalized archives of the Garnet and Black, the University's yearbook that was published from 1899-1994. While the overwhelming majority of content within these pages celebrate our university's successes and traditions, there are a number of offensive photos depicting white students in blackface and other offensive content. In no uncertain terms, we denounce these photos and the mindsets they represent.
We also recognize that these photos will cause pain and anguish among members of our community. As we work to create and foster an environment where every member of our university community is equally valued and respected, we must make it clear that bigotry, racism and misogyny have no place at Carolina.
To this end, we are guided by a set of common values that are articulated in our Carolinian Creed, which calls on us to respect the dignity of all members of the campus community and discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas and opinions. We are also committed to efforts that engage and educate our campus community through year-round curricular and co-curricular programming that promote these ideals. These programs include a diversity lunch series for students to engage with me and a Finding Common Ground series to discuss relevant social issues on campus and beyond, among many others. I ask that you each take a few minutes to learn more about these opportunities on our Office of Diversity and Inclusion website.
As a community, we have made great progress toward a more complete understanding of our university's past in recent years through the commemoration of the Desegregation Garden, the installation of the plaques on the Horseshoe recognizing the role of enslaved people in the construction and operation of our campus and, most recently, the dedication of the Richard T. Greener statue, USC's first African-American professor. Similarly, we're reaching into the South Carolina community through our SC Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation, The Welcome Table SC and the Center for Civil Rights History and Research.
These photos give us another opportunity, as a community, to address and learn from the demons of the past. Together we will continue to take a proactive stance on diversity and inclusion. While we cannot change the past, we will continue to work every day to create an environment in which each of us feels welcome and can thrive.
Forever to Thee,
This is in response to Inquiries about the renaming of James Marion Sims Hall:
USC is committed to having every member of the Carolina family feel that the campus community is theirs without limitation. To that end, we have been working actively to bring the complete story of our campus history to light so that we can all learn from it. Our efforts began with the dedication of the Desegregation Garden in 2013, the 2017 installation of two plaques acknowledging the contribution of enslaved people to the construction and vibrancy of our original campus and, most recently, erecting a statue of USC’s first African-American professor, Richard T. Greener, who served during Reconstruction.
These installations won’t mark the culmination of our efforts. They are significant milestones but our conversation will continue. Our challenge, however, with changing the names of existing buildings or monuments results from restrictions in the South Carolina Heritage Act. This legislation is very specific and forbids the university and other public entities from renaming buildings or removing existing monuments. To do so requires a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly.
We, then, must rely on our creativity to evolve in our efforts to continue to tell our complete story and explore possible solutions. While not ideal for all, our approach does call on our community to act as our best selves and approach solutions with civility while not shying away from difficult conversations. You may also be interested in the editorial published by The State celebrating this approach and recommending others in across South Carolina pursue similar efforts.
On March 29th, a USC student posted (on Facebook) a comment regarding an experience that she had in her American Government course. Please see the statement from Political Science Department Chairman Dr. Todd Shaw regarding the incident:
As chair of the Political Science department, I have strived to inform our students about how classes related to politics, policy, and government are relevant to the world around us. We who teach and study political science (and other social sciences) must expect that sometimes those lines and conflicts that divide us in the outside world will find their way into our classrooms. This past week we found ourselves divided by such a conflict.
As many of you are aware, at the end of last week, a Political Science instructor made a controversial remark in class that most directly affected one specific student but several students found offensive. He has stated he intended no offense and has since apologized for making this remark. We thank all of the students who have come forward to give statements regarding the matter.
Currently, a review is underway to determine the best path forward. We beg your patience as we give due process to all aspects of this issue.
Here at the University of South Carolina, we believe that we all benefit from classrooms that are inclusive of the various differences of the mosaic to which we belong. We benefit if all backgrounds and perspectives are included and respected, in order to enrich discussions and debates of politics, policy, and government, as well as the universe of other topics and issues that students might encounter.
I hope that the learning process inside and outside of the classroom will not be impeded by this incident. Rather, I offer it as an invitation for a ‘teachable moment’ about how we can all think about what is required to be a diverse and more inclusive Carolina – one in which we feel some linkage to communities, and perhaps especially those to which we do not directly belong. How can we make the Carolinian Creed real, particularly when it really matters?
No one has all of the answers. But I propose we strive to engage each other and really listen.
Todd C. Shaw
Associate Professor and Department Chair
As a university community, we strive to uphold the Carolinian Creed. While our Creed is not code of conduct, it is a set of values that establishes a foundation for what is expected of and for each of us. As such, we do not support or condone behaviors that threaten our values or otherwise fail to provide conditions that support every student, faculty and staff members’ work and development.
This is in response to racist flyers on campus:
Yesterday, as our students returned to campus we were reminded why it is so important to celebrate the legacy and pursue the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. As classes resumed, we were filled with excitement for new beginnings, perhaps some nervousness about the semester ahead, the joy of seeing old friends and anticipation for making new ones. Those positive feelings were abruptly halted by an abhorrent and unacceptable display of hatred—flyers posted in two buildings containing despicable words of bigotry and racism.
This is not who we are and this behavior has no place at Carolina. Simply put, this was an act of cowardice and ignorance. As a community of scholars and as a family, we reject that way of thinking.
Ours is a community built on inclusivity and respect for all. We value all people and seek to create an environment in which each of us feels welcome and can thrive.
Unfortunately, our campus is not immune from the ills of society and we are not, nor can we be, completely insulated from the actions or influence of outside actors. Recent articles in the New York Times and Politico cite experts who are expecting an increase of incidents like this one on college campuses across the country in 2018.
Therefore, we must be prepared. We must be prepared to combat hatred with love and respect; venomous rhetoric with civility and thoughtful debate; violence with a handshake or friendly embrace.
As a Carolina Family, we must make it clear that bigotry and racism have no place in our community. That responsibility falls to all of us. We invite you to join other members of our community and make your voice heard tomorrow at a community dialogue sponsored by the offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Multicultural Student Affairs. This dialogue will provide a space to raise concerns and seek appropriate responses to hatred, in all forms, on our campus. The conversation will begin at 5 p.m. in the Russell House Ballroom.
Throughout the rest of this week our MLK Celebration continues. Participate in the food drive contributions, join us for the MLK Commemorative Breakfast on Friday, “Freedom Rings: An artistic celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on Sunday and volunteer for the MLK Day of Service. Let’s show the world that we will stand united against hatred as we defend and pursue Dr. King’s legacy.
Harris Pastides, President
John C. von Lehe, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Since 2009, the number of enrolled undergraduate African-American students has increased 10.6%, Hispanic enrollment has increased 63%, students identifying with two or more races have increased by 36.5% and non-white undergraduate enrollment has increased 24.4%. Recruitment strategies that support this work include:
- Multicultural Outreach Student Team (MOST) engages current students in the university’s minority recruitment efforts. Members share their positive experiences at Carolina while gaining leadership experience in assisting the university. There are approximately 40 active members who participate in recruitment and outreach activities including Taking Carolina Home, Note Writing and Calling Campaigns, and Student Panels.
- Summer Seniors is a summer recruitment program that is designed for South Carolina’s top African American rising high school seniors. The four-day residential program provides a great opportunity to showcase all of the many benefits of attending the state’s flagship university.
- The Gamecock Guarantee program is a covenant aid program designed to provide financial and programmatic support for first-generation, low-income students from the state of South Carolina.
While gender neutral halls and specific rooms are not identified in our housing communities, we offer a number of private rooms in suites and several one-bedroom apartments to help students in transition to feel comfortable in their campus residence.
Most residence halls, particularly newer and recently renovated buildings, have gender neutral bathrooms in public spaces. For instance:
- South Tower now has 19 private, gender-neutral bathrooms
- Patterson Hall has 9 gender-neutral bathrooms
- In all of housing facilities, there are 63 gender-neutral bathrooms
The university is working on a preferred name policy.
- Student Health Services staff regularly participates in the USC Safe Zone Ally Training.
- In January 2016, counseling center staff also participated in a training program by the SC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault on transgender issues.
- The suicide prevention program includes specific information about LGBTQ issues.
Student Health Services has certain providers (physicians, nurses, counselors, etc.) who have professional expertise in transgender concerns and they provide leadership regarding sensitive care for transitioning students. There is a care-team manager who has set up a mentoring program for students in gender transitioning decisions. We also refer interested students to a group called “Openings” at the Harriet Hancock Center for LGBTQ.
Mental health and suicide prevention programming includes prevention and early intervention strategies specific to the LGBTQ community. The suicide prevention program includes specific information about LGBTQ issues.
The US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence” which contains the following statement: “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation. Similarly, the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the parties does not change a school’s obligations [to investigate and resolve allegations].”
USC Policy STAF 1.08, “Sexual Assault” and USC Policy STAF 1.09, “Relationship Violence Stalking and Harassment” both contain statements that read as follows: “This policy applies to all members of the university community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Currently 10 counseling center visits are allotted to each student. On average, students use four visits in the fall and three visits in the spring. However, students can request additional visits. Emergency appointments are made based on need.
The Division of Student Affairs hosts monthly division meetings that cover a broad array of topics. During the past academic year, the division has hosted the following:
- Dr. Stephen John Quaye (October 30, 2015) – “Why is it so hard to talk about race and how can we get better at it?”
- Dr. John Wesley Lowery (January 22, 2016) – Dr. Lowery, an expert in higher education and student affairs law, discussed the timely topic of free speech and First Amendment rights.
- Dr. Sue Rankin (February 26, 2016) – Dr. Rankin is a founding member of the Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals, a network of professionals doing advocacy work for LGBT people on college campuses.
The Office of the Provost, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Human Resources working with Faculty Council will be seeding to implement annually required search committee training addressing bias in the search process.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is establishing the South Carolina Collaborative on Racial Reconciliation (SCCRR). Modeled after The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation’s The Welcome Table program, SCCRR will engage internal and external university community members by creating spaces for healthy dialog about race and thoughtful actions that lead toward the reconciliation and healing of racial and other social differences in both the university community and communities across South Carolina.
On March 14, the Office of the President will be conducting a comprehensive undergraduate campus climate survey aimed at “taking the pulse” of our students on issues that are important to all members of our community. Topics covered by the survey include:
- Sense of community,
- Interactions with faculty and staff,
- Health and wellness,
- Campus climate and culture, and
- Academic and extracurricular involvement.
Additionally, projects intended to address campus climate will continue to be tracked online through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
USC Connect and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are developing a new pathway for Graduation with Leadership Distinction (GLD) titled, Diversity and Social Advocacy. Leadership Distinction in this pathway will focus specifically on issues of social justice and challenges that face our communities as they relate to ability, class, ethnicity, gender, gender and sexual identity, race and religion. We will be seeking Faculty Senate approval and anticipate offering the new pathway in the fall semester of 2016.
To improve the sense of inclusion reflected in homecoming activities, the process for selecting the Homecoming Executive Commission that is charged with planning and executing homecoming week activities (with the advise and assistance of the Homecoming Commission) was significantly revised. In the past, the Executive Commission has been generally comprised of past Homecoming Commission members or students who were chosen by the out-going Executive Commission. The new process yielded an 11 member Executive Commission that has the following composition:
- 10 Female, 1 Male
- 5 White, 6 Non-White
- 6 Greek, 5 Non-Greek
- 2 Freshman, 4 Sophomore, 5 Junior
The Homecoming Commission retreat was February 19-20. The commission had a list of feedback/concerns from the fall open forum that were part of the discussion. They also had a list of events that were suggested to engender a greater spirit of inclusion.