2020 Vision at the University of South Carolina
2020 Vision at the University of South Carolina
Why this petition matters
Dear President Pastides,
The demands that follow are not new. These demands are a reflection of our collective experiences attending this university and our discontent with the university’s dialogue-only initiatives. Despite our efforts to spur committee action, provide our own programming, and advocate for our needs, we have seen few substantial changes in university policy or practices. Therefore, we have yet again taken it upon ourselves to enact change at our university.
We have heard our university question, “Could this be Mizzou?” over the past week. The answer is no. We stand with Mizzou, but our needs are different. Some of our demands need no additional explanation. Others do. While we recognize the existence of racial tensions on our campus, it would be irresponsible to ignore the lived struggles of all minority groups. With this list, we stand together.
The university has done a disservice in failing to address our history of racism that impacts our culture today; USC, like many universities, was built on the backs of enslaved people, and it is necessary for our university to formally recognize this. USC must acknowledge and take responsibility for its history of white supremacy that permeates campus even now. This history continues to exist in subtle ways, as there is an obvious lack of representation of minority groups on our campus. And with an increase in the diversity of our student population, the need for a mandatory faculty and staff diversity training and a larger budget for the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs is even more pressing.
It is the responsibility of our university to hire and train faculty and staff that have the best interests of students in mind. While we acknowledge the difficulties and intricacies of working with students, it has come to our attention that some of our faculty and staff do not always speak or act in ways that benefit students. Specifically, we are calling for an investigation into three administrators who have not responded to student concerns in ways we deem effective, and in some cases, say and do things that are damaging to the student experience. We need the administrators in these positions to be able to stand up for us, particularly when there are so many factors already working against us.
It is not enough for our university to simply comply with government mandates like the Clery Act and Title IX. Our university must take a proactive stance in protecting its students through policy and data collection to better inform policy decisions. We must also recommend that our university publicly oppose congressional bills H.R. 3403 and H.R. 3408, otherwise known as the “Safe Campus Act” and “Fair Campus Act”, which, despite their misleading names, would be detrimental to survivors of sexual assault.
Lastly, as you well know, college is a major transition period for all students no matter their identities. Because of this, it is imperative that our university provide adequate and accessible mental health care to its students. No student should ever go without proper care or accommodations due to a lack of information about university resources.
In order to meet the following demands, we are asking that the university create a diverse, representative, knowledgeable Student Board of Trustees. This board will oversee the implementation of our vision before the year 2020. Additionally, to carry out these initiatives, we ask that the university use its many diversity committees to aid in the follow up required for these demands. Show us that you truly believe in no limits at the University of South Carolina.
Signed, 2020 Visionaries
Demands for Our 2020 Vision
1) We demand that our university acknowledge that this institution was built on the backs of enslaved Africans. Further, we expect that this acknowledgement is included in tours, especially areas like the garden directly behind the president’s house where slaves were once housed. This acknowledgement should be reflected in markers on historic buildings. Additionally, we expect that the university will raise the plaque marking the AAAS tree to increase its visibility.
2) We demand that our university improve and expand minority recruitment efforts in order to increase racial diversity on our campus. We call for the creation of a minority scholars program through the South Carolina Honors College.
3) We demand that our university provide gender neutral housing and restrooms that are accessible and convenient. We call for our university to create a streamlined process for changing gender markers and names within university databases and records. We require that university personnel use personal gender pronouns as indicated by the individual. Additionally, we ask that our university provide informed, comprehensive health and mental health care that meets the specific needs of transgender students and ensure that all health and mental health care providers are competent on transgender issues.
4) We demand that our university acknowledge gender identity and expression as protected classes under Title IX.
5) We demand that a transparent and independent investigation be launched into the following university administrators: the Executive Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity Programs; the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support, Student Life and Development; and the Vice President for Student Affairs, Vice Provost and Dean of Students.
6) We demand that our university increase the funding allocated to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Additionally, we require that OMSA be housed in a new cultural center that celebrates all identities. As campus continues to grow, it is imperative that support for all students continues to grow.
7) We demand that our university increase funding for the Counseling Center, so that there are more available appointments and more appointments provided free of charge to each student.
8) We demand that all faculty and staff, especially those who engage students on a regular basis, participate in a mandatory diversity training provided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This training should be intersectional and representative of a wide variety of identity groups.
9) We demand that our university institute a policy of transparency through data collection and dissemination on the topics of admissions and enrollment, campus sexual assault, sexual harassment, and hazing by providing existing statistics in a communicable way and conducting new research to better identify its problems on campus.
10) We demand that our university provide a social justice minor and cognate to expand its current offerings to undergraduate students.
11) We demand that the Office of Student Disability Services be renamed the Office of Accessibility and Accommodation Services. Additionally, we call for the advancement of student knowledge of this office through new student orientation, residence life, the counseling center, psychiatric services, and student health services.
12) We demand that USC Homecoming be restructured to accurately reflect and celebrate the various communities and cultures that exist and continue to grow within our campus, our alumni, and our community. As it stands, Homecoming is just for some, but we all want something to come home to.