The Daily Gamecock

Unite USC hopes to bring about positive discussions

Students Invested in Change (SIC) is looking to have an open, positive conversation about issues within our community at Unite USC, a discussion-based forum, at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Russell House Ballroom.

The discussion will cover race relations, gender, sexual identity and Greek life on campus. This is the second Unite USC forum.

SIC President Karli Wells believes that this type of conversation is essential to improving campus-wide acceptance.

“We want to be a community of people who can not only coexist ... we want to be able to thrive together," Wells said.

The first Unite USC forum was held in April, shortly after the controversial incident in which a student wrote a racial slur on a white board. SIC viewed the incident as an opportunity to discuss issues that had not yet gotten the attention they deserved. According to Wells, some USC professors observed the event to be the first of its kind on campus.

SIC chose topics for the second forum, called “State of the Students,” by collecting narratives from students and determining which topics are most important to the student body. Wells hopes that the discussion will largely be led by students who attend, rather than SIC members alone.

“We’re really asking for the student to be the ones who direct what’s happening,” Wells said. “We’re asking students for their stories, and also their solutions.”

This forum is just days after Alicia Garza’s #BlackLivesMatter speech, and at a pivotal period of social change in South Carolina. Between the shooting of the Emanuel Nine in Charleston and the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House over the summer, Wells said she thinks South Carolina is in a position to have these kinds of race-based conversations.

According to Wells, SIC is a way for students to become more involved in making our campus friendly to all races, gender identities and sexual orientations. It helps students come up with and implement realistic, tangible solutions to these issues. SIC also focuses on intersectionality, examining what it looks like when identities such as race, gender, sexual orientation and class overlap.

SIC is a relatively new organization, having only begun formal meetings in January. Despite its youth, Wells estimates that 30 to 40 students regularly attend the meetings.

Wells emphasized that, while SIC is passionate about minority issues, the organization is open to anyone who wants to join.

“We aren’t just for black people. We aren’t just for people in the LGBTQ community. We’re for everyone,” she said. “I think the only way this conversation really works is if at some point we have everyone in the room.”

The organization operates under what Wells called “flat leadership” or “equal voices,” which means that the opinions of organization administrators do not have any more weight than the opinions of regular members.

“No one face is the face of USC, so no one face should be the face of our issues,” she said.