CofC student body VP: Legislators must respect academic freedom 

From a disappointed student...

I am disappointed. Disappointed in many of the players in this state that I, and most of my family members, have called home for generations. To me, South Carolina — and Charleston — is where smiling faces and beautiful places meld with Southern hospitality and a sense of loving one's neighbor. When you pass someone on the street, you say "hi" and offer a smile. When someone is down, you offer an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. These traits have helped propel Charleston to be selected by Condé Nast as the best city in the United States for three years in a row and are an inherent part of life at the College of Charleston.

However, in these past few weeks, members of the S.C. General Assembly have not lived up to the qualities that make this state great. The decision by the S.C. House of Representatives to take $52,000 in funding from CofC next year because some representatives disagree with the subject matter of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home is appalling and, quite frankly, out of line. What is perhaps even more disheartening, is that there is every sense that members of the Board of Trustees support this position and may seek to eliminate our College Reads! program in its entirety. Much of which can be evidenced by testimonies made to the Joint Legislative Committee to Screen Candidates for College and University Board of Trustees.

This is not the place I call home. And CofC deserves and expects better!

I chose to attend CofC because it is an open environment for students of all types. Here, students are welcomed with open arms and differences are celebrated. Regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or any other differentiator, we are all members of the Cougar Nation family.

The members of the S.C. General Assembly and CofC's Board of Trustees are not acting in the best interest of the institution. What is best is to respect our right of academic freedom and to let our professors teach. Our legislators' efforts would be better focused on ensuring the college is adequately funded for basic operations than meddling in the selection process of a reading program.

I hope that the members of the S.C. Senate will dissent from their colleagues in the House and restore the funding to our budget. Perhaps then our legislators will return to their sworn duty of improving this great state instead of working to send us back to 1955.

Chris Piedmont is the undergraduate student body vice president at the College of Charleston.


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