President's update to parents post Hurricane Florence

Greetings Gamecock Parents,


Although Hurricane Florence may be behind us, it's left a wide wake for many in the Carolinas. And, for our students, nearly a week of class to make up.


A week is a big part of a semester, but, I can assure you, our faculty is committed to being flexible and compassionate in ensuring that all students receive excused absences, as well as access to the materials covered in class. Our professors have also done their best to avoid making Monday, September 17 a day of high-stakes evaluation. Ultimately, I am confident that our faculty will guide all students to where they need to be by semester's end. 


I would also like to acknowledge the good number of emails critiquing us for our decision to resume classes Monday. Frankly, if I was a parent of a student who decided to travel away and was expecting to return in time for class on Tuesday, I may have written the college president, too.


So, let me explain why we did what we did. As a state institution, we are subject to state and county governmental authority. On Monday, September 10, Governor McMaster announced closures in 26 counties beginning Tuesday, September 11 and "until further notice" in preparation for Hurricane Florence. Colleges and universities were specifically included in this directive. With improving weather conditions and forecasts by Saturday, September 15, Governor McMaster called for the reopening of state offices and schools on Monday, September 17.


I recognize this short turnaround required many students to alter their travel plans, leaving some unable to return to Columbia in time for Monday classes. Safety is a paramount concern, and the several hundred students who were not able to attend class on Monday due to travel challenges or safety concerns will receive an excused absence.


In the end, this was an unusual situation with real time decisions being made by government officials as weather conditions changed. As we look ahead, we will work with government to request more autonomy in responding to the next significant closure event. We've weathered these storms in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 and we may need to do so again, so these efforts are not merely about hypotheticals.


I hope to see many of you at Family Weekend.


Thank you and Go Gamecocks!


Harris Pastides

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