The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks to protest Haley’s decision

Students, alumni plan Statehouse gathering in support of Darla Moore


The rally will begin at noon on the north grounds of the Statehouse steps, said organizers of the event. And they're looking for help.

"We want people to sign up and make signs, and we're looking for student leaders and faculty to speak," said Katherine Muller, a graduate of USC's School of Business. "We don't want people to be negative. We want to tell Darla Moore how grateful we are of her time, reputation and $70 million."

Muller, a 1990 graduate who now lives in Greenville, plans to drive to Columbia for the rally. Muller worked for President Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign but said her political affiliation isn't fueling this decision "at all."

"I am outraged that Gov. Haley, for whatever reason, defying all logic, would replace Darla Moore," Muller said. "How freaking stupid is that? Darla Moore has given $70 million, her time, her talent, her brains, her national reputation, and Gov. Haley is replacing her. What kind of message does that send to potential donors and alumni?"

The rally's announcement continued a three-day saga that began Tuesday night. Moore herself remained silent on the matter Thursday. In a brief e-mail to The Daily Gamecock, Thomas Cofield, Moore's replacement on the board, said he'd consider an interview with The Daily Gamecock next week after consulting university policy on board interviews.

"I can tell you that I love the University of South Carolina, and that I am so honored and privileged to have this opportunity to serve the school that I love so dearly," Cofield wrote.

Students continued to join Facebook groups and express their displeasure and support on Twitter. Some put Moore as their Facebook profile pictures. Members of Martha Morris's Facebook group, "Students for the Reinstatement of Miss Darla Moore," approached 2,000 by late Thursday, and many were posting details of the rally across various social media.

"Darla Moore is a huge asset to the university, internationally, nationally and within the state," Morris said. "We have nothing against the character of Mr. Cofield himself. It's just the manner in which he was appointed."

Some students took up for Haley on Thursday, too, saying the governor hadn't done anything wrong by removing Moore.

"Although I certainly do not necessarily agree with all the actions committed by Gov. Haley, and I wish she would be willing to take a second look at her decision, there is a reason why she was elected as governor," said Steven Vanderlip, a first-year political science student. "We have granted her a certain level of trust that she has a vision for our state, and thus we must be willing to at least ascertain an understanding of her actions, above what we deem to be politics."

Morris's group sent Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey a letter Thursday criticizing the decision and posted links to its Facebook group on Haley's Facebook page. Godfrey wrote back thanking the students for their correspondence and reiterated Haley's right to pick Cofield for the spot. He praised Cofield as a fantastic choice for the board.

The board of trustees meets Friday at 10 a.m.

Students who want to help organize the protest can contact Katherine Muller at 864-906-0640.