Zach McKinley / The Daily Gamecock

Pastides hosts pizza party forum amid Florence closure

With events and classes cancelled for the remainder of the week in anticipation of Hurricane Florence, students has a chance to spend time with President Harris Pastides during a pizza party meet-and-greet.

Wednesday's “Anything But School” forum was a chance for students to ask questions and feel connected to university administrators, according to Student Body President Taylor Wright. 

“He just wants to have some conversations with students, at least get to know them a little more,” he said. “State of the University was planned for today, and since that’s not happening this is another way to get to connect with students.”

Pastides' event was just one of a variety of activities on campus to help students pass the time.

Though students are taking advantage of having a week off of school by traveling, Russell House sponsors events for those students who remain on campus. Some of these events included a "The Office" marathon in Russell House Theater and an arts and craft space.

Third-year international studies and Spanish student Kat Gerrity is a fan of events like these because she thinks they keep students engaged.

“Obviously with the hurricane it kind of changes everything that’s happening campus-wise, so it’s important to come and talk to them to kind of have that unity as a school that these different resources will be available for students and that we’re still Gamecocks,” she said. “We are resilient, we are not gonna just let this hurt our spirit, and that we will be okay whatever happens.”

A large part of the “Anything But School” event was a Q&A with Pastides and Patricia Moore-Pastides. They answered questions about their favorite restaurants, what they did this summer and how they met. 

Gerrity appreciated their openness.

“I loved when Dr. Pastides and Mrs. Pastides come and talk to us,” she said. “It’s really cool to see them be so involved in our campus, and it really affects the whole community, it just makes everybody really happy to see them want to be involved with the students.”

Pastides hopes that events such as this one will make students feel safer at USC during the hurricane and more aware of the resources available on campus. He also looks forward to having fun during these few days without classes and sees it as an opportunity to bond with students.

“I hope this conversation won’t be about school, but about life and things and get to know each other better,” Pastides said. “And you know why not, as they say, make lemonade out of lemons?”

Wednesday was meant to be the day Pastides gave his annual State of the University Address to faculty and students. This is part of the celebration of Pastides’ 10 years as USC’s president. However, the State of the University was postponed to a later date.

“I was ready to give it. That’s the least of our worries,” Pastides said. “We need everyone to be safe and secure, make up our academic work.”

Columbia and USC are not being evacuated at this time, but classes are cancelled through Saturday.

“I will be here during the hurricane ... it’ll be fine,” Gerrity said. “I think that if anything were to happen I have somewhere else I could stay, but I think that the people on the coast really need to be careful and if Columbia’s the place for them, then all Gamecocks here welcome them with open arms.”

Resources such as food and activities will continue to be made available to students as the week progresses. Wright hopes that students will use this time to grow as a student body in community.

“I think these are one of the most amazing times to build community,” Wright said. “I’ve done flood relief work since my freshman year. It’s these times that really kind of bring people together.”

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