Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hundreds of students protest Glenn McConnell choice at CofC

Students rally against celebrated Confederate flag supporter, reenacter

Posted by Rebecca Stanley on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 9:12 AM

click to enlarge Students organize on the Cistern area at College of Charleston - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Students organize on the Cistern area at College of Charleston

The Board of Trustees at the College of Charleston may have made their decision to install Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as the school's next president, but that doesn't mean students have to be happy about it. On March 24, hundreds of students joined an anti-McConnell protest beginning at 11 a.m.

click to enlarge PROVIDED
  • Provided

Dressed in black and armed with bullhorns, students marched around campus cheering, "Hey Ho, Glenn McConnell's got to go," "This is what democracy looks like," and "Whose school? Our school," before settling in the Cistern. The chants and speeches went on for around 90 minutes. A list of demands was also presented by student leaders before Randolph Hall. The list is short and simple: "Our demands are a withdrawal of McConnell's name as president elect, and a resignation of the Board, since they've clearly shown they've lost all credibility," says student organizer Stefan Koester.

Against overwhelming dissension from faculty and students, the Board chose McConnell as CofC's new president. At this point, many students feel that McConnell's appointment represents a systemic failure not only within the Board of Trustees, but within South Carolina politics at large.

Junior Beta Theta Pi member and Cougar Activities Board Vice President Dylan Mazelis says, "By disrespectfully ignoring our opinions and silencing our voices, the Board of Trustees has undone all of the hard work we put into the school."

Adrian Barry, a senior who wrote a second draft of the protestor's statement, says that the governing bodies of the school and state are "acting in a paternalistic fashion, where they know best, and we just take their edicts. That's not how they're supposed to function."

Students are looking for a response from the Board of Trustees. Some remain hopeful that the governing body that they claim violated "student rights" will respond. "I think they have no choice but to respond ... This was a manifestation of the whole process," says Koester. Barry shares a similar, though less hopeful, belief: "I don't think they'll respond in that there will be a statement or public response; I think they will respond in action."

Still, some others remain skeptical of the effectiveness of the protest. "Even if they do change their decision, I would be worried that they will continue to ignore us on other important decisions in the near future," says Mazelis. Rally goers are planning to send representatives to tomorrow night's SGA session. A Facebook page maintained by Slyvie Baele, Matt Rabon, Cara Lauria, Abby Tennebaum, Bri Sanders, and Brandon Upson continues to be a forum for planning.

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