College of Charleston students have been making a ruckus this week. If you haven’t been following, on Saturday March 22 the Board of Trustees did what everyone expected and nobody wanted; they unanimously voted for neo-confederate Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell to be the 22nd President of the nations 13th oldest College.
Immediately following the decision a student demonstration against his approval was organized in the Cistern in order to voice their discontent with his appointment.
On Monday student organizers prepared the largest protest that the College has seen in many years, with over 250 students attending. We marched and vocalized our disapproval with Lt. Gov. McConnell’s selection and the shady way in which he was chosen as our next president.
After marching through campus we gathered on the Cistern to voice our disapproval of the undemocratic and non-transparent means by which the Board is operating. For over an hour students aired their grievances with the Board, from their lackluster defense of academic freedom to the political manipulations that lay behind McConnell’s appointment.
By Tuesday, our Student Government Association had passed a bill of “no confidence” in either the integrity of the Board or the presidential selection process.
On Wednesday, more than 70 students occupied Randolph Hall for over 2 hours in a silent protest. This symbolic protest was meant to highlight the lack of voice that students had in the decision making process of the College. Finally, a student and faculty walk out was planned for Friday afternoon classes, where more than 500 students and faculty gathered at the heart of campus to demand the board reverse its decision, and give us a voice in the process moving forward.
Some have questioned what all this commotion is about. Why don’t the students just shut up and move on and realize that protesting doesn’t do anything? All these students, they say, are just liberal whiners.
We, the concerned students of the College, would like to say that we are not only protesting the appointment of Lt. Gov. McConnell as our next president but also the lack of regard and disrespect that the Board of Trustees have shown to those whom they claim they have the best interest at heart, the students. In fact, members of the Board are political appointees, here to serve at the behest of those that put them in power, namely the Governor and the state legislature. The Board made a calculated decision in appointing McConnell and they were ready for a certain amount of blow back. However, we have shown them that they cannot steam roll over the majority of the faculty and students without consequences.
The Board has not been forthcoming or honest with the College community. Why do they refuse to acknowledge whether or not McConnell’s name was on the recommended list of candidates provided by the third party search agency which, I might add, cost the College $100,000? Why haven’t they come out and addressed the many issues that faculty and students have raised in opposition to McConnell’s appointment?
This entire process has been tainted by a sense of illegitimacy and political cronyism that has come to define the “good ol’ boy” system of South Carolina politics. The students, faculty and staff of the College represent the collateral damage to a political bargain struck between those in power. Instead of getting an honest, transparent, and fair process, we got stuck with a corrupt, manipulated, and preordained decision. The students, faculty, and staff at the College of Charleston deserve better and they deserve an answer.
You can find out more by taking a look at this article by the Southern Poverty Law Center, here:
And you can help us fight back by signing our petition:
Thank you, Kossacks, for all that you do! -Stefan Koester and Matt Rabon