The Daily Gamecock

In our opinion: New student social contract requires debate, discussion

It has recently been announced that the University of South Carolina is developing a social contract for students. While details are scarce, it will apparently be similar to the Carolinian Creed. The stated reasons for it include building up a community of role models and discouraging self-destructive behavior. Despite its seemingly innocuous purposes, make no mistake: this should be very controversial with a vigorous debate surrounding it.

Behaviors against disciplinary codes can and have been punished in the past without a contract. But violations of the Creed’s “respect the dignity of all persons” clause are more difficult to address. A contract establishing the Creed as binding would change this. When a picture of a student next to a racist slur went viral on social media the school had few direct options for punishing her. If she had signed a hypothetical contract to the effect of the Creed, she might have been expelled very quickly.

Whether that is a bad thing is controversial. Incidents can reflect badly upon the entire school and can bring deep offense to some people. But punishing offense can get tricky. Protesters at a pride march, for instance, might be simultaneously deeply offensive and offended. Where the boundary is drawn on what is viewed as an unacceptable act, statement or viewpoint is critically important.

The issue certainly needs to be addressed and debated by the student body. Whether you are for or against the enforcement of the creed's ideals by contract, you deserve information and you should speak up.