The Daily Gamecock

Darla Moore to visit Russell House today at noon

Today's town hall forum comes one day after Statehouse protest

The meeting is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. inside the Russell House Ballroom. After thousands of comments on social media sites, the business titan and former USC trustee approached university officials about scheduling an appearance last weekend, said USC spokeswoman Luanne Lawrence.

USC officials booked the room and alerted news media and students about the public meeting.

"She was incredibly touched by the student and alumni response," Lawrence said.

Moore didn't return a call for comment Wednesday, but her secretary confirmed she would visit Columbia today.

The announcement capped another interesting day in the saga that has lasted more than a week.

About 125 students, faculty and alumni gathered at the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon in protest of Gov. Nikki Haley's decision to remove Moore.

Three large cardboard cards­ — that were subsequently sent to Moore, Haley and Thomas Cofield, Haley's new appointee­ — were passed around for the crowd to sign in black ink.

Katherine Muller, the rally's chief organizer, said the chances of Haley removing Cofield, were slim. But she called for Cofield to resign his position and open the job back up to Moore.

"He's a good person, I've heard. He's probably uncomfortable in this situation," Muller said. "If he resigns, it takes the pressure off her. And we're all going to think you're a rock star."

Cofield didn't return an email or phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor always appreciates when students express their opinions.

"As for their message, we have to be clear that these board positions are not lifetime jobs," Godfrey said. "There must be no sense of entitlement to public office, whether for legislators, governors or public university board members, regardless of their record of past service or philanthropy."

A few high-profile legislators briefly visited the rally as well. Bakari Sellers, a democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the second youngest member of the South Carolina General Assembly, said he stopped by as an "observer for policies of the student body at USC."

"I went to law school at Carolina," Sellers said. "I'm hoping for a big student outreach, and any time your voice can be heard it's worth it, whether in excitement or dismay. In this case, dismay."

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who ran against Haley in the last election, told The Daily Gamecock he would have left Moore on the board.

USC administrators, including Lawrence and business school Dean Hildy Teegen, watched the rally in silence from the back of the crowd. They haven't publicly commented on the situation.
But students were more than willing to comment. First-year broadcast journalism student Cassie Jenisek works as a Carolina Caller and hears the complaints of alumni firsthand.

"When I call, I usually get a response like, 'Do you know what's going on?' and I've had to stay informed on what's happening," she said. "I came here today because we need to reinstate Darla Moore, and the insights of the alumni are where the money comes from."


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