The CofC-MUSC merger is one 'remake' no one asked for 

Something's Rotten

When has the remake ever been better than the original? Take RoboCop for instance. Right now, it has a rating of 52 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, while the original garnered an 88 percent rating. Clearly, it's not resonating with critics like the original did, and judging by its box office numbers, the public isn't happy with it either. It came in third in its opening week, behind the current champ, Lego Movie, and a remake of the Frat Pack-era About Last Night, which was a box office bomb the first time around.

I fear that the proposed legislative "remake" of College of Charleston will be another disaster. State and local officials argue that the merger of CofC and MUSC would create a comprehensive research university in Charleston. Joy! It's not like South Carolina already has two highly ranked research universities or anything.

CofC president George Benson recently said that this new university would contribute to a "new Charleston," a town based around industry and technology, not history and tourism. I'm here to ask why we would even want a "new Charleston." Isn't Charleston already one of the top-ranked tourist cities in the world? Isn't Charleston's identity based on its history? Aren't MUSC and CofC already producing quality professionals? What makes CofC special is the fact that it's one of the oldest liberal arts institutions in the country. Also, it's in Charleston, a beautiful and historic city.

As it stands today, CofC's branding campaign has finally paid off. It's the best of the three public liberal arts schools in the state. It is consistently nationally ranked and is widely recognized as an up-and-coming school. Why then, would CofC want to jeopardize all this progress just to be able to offer Ph.Ds?

It seems to me that if CofC merges with MUSC, the very heritage of my school will go by the wayside. The college's already underfunded smaller liberal arts departments like sociology, philosophy, religious studies, and anthropology will be swallowed up by the mighty Charleston University. Funding goes where the research is, which will be all of the science programs. CofC already has a very reputable science program — particularly marine biology — as well as a close partnership with MUSC.

I am involved on campus. I am the fundraising chair of CofC's chapter of a co-ed honors fraternity. I'm the co-founder of a new philosophy student organization. I'm the former chair of an on-campus political organization. I'm in the Honors College. I have been able to fill these roles because of CofC's ability to help students find themselves. If we become a research university, the small-school feel of CofC will be lost.

South Carolina residents like me come to Charleston to escape the large state-school atmosphere of Clemson and USC without having to pay a private-school tuition. I can honestly say that I probably would have gone to college in a different state had it not been for CofC. And I would have given up thousands of dollars in scholarship money to do it.

I'm not sure why President Benson and our state legislators want to compete with other cities or other schools — at least in this way. CofC and Charleston are special, and our strengths lie not in our similarities to the rest of South Carolina, but in our differences.

Rebecca Stanley is a current CofC student and a City Paper intern.


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