The Carolina Socialists held a demonstration in the center of the Horseshoe from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday to protest how the university is handling student COVID cases.
The organization had three demands for President Caslen: that all classes be moved to online fully, that COVID testing be restored to its original level prior to the recent reduction of testing and that students are given the option to move off campus and receive a full refund for housing.
At the beginning of the protest, students gathered in a circle in the middle of the Horseshoe to discuss their grievances.
"Why is our COVID threat level low when we have 2,000 cases? Why is that low? I know some people at universities that there’s 10 cases, and their threat level is medium to high,” third-year media arts student Elizabeth Grosso said.
Protesters criticized the university for having to stall testing for a couple of days after USC announced a key member of the testing lab got sick Thursday.
"They had four months to plan. We’re back here, the cases outpacing whole countries, and all we get are empty statements," USC alumnus Hayden Blakeney said. "If they couldn’t have the responsibility to shut it down when they knew they weren’t gonna have the capacity to make it happen, we all need to go home. They can’t handle this situation, they just can’t.”
After discussing their grievances, protesters walked from the center of the Horseshoe to the president's house where a die-in was staged. The die-in occurred on the Horseshoe sidewalk directly in front of the president's house and lasted for five minutes.
Following the die-in, protesters marched across the Horseshoe to the Osborne Administration Building, the building that protestors said Caslen was working in at the time.
Protesters chanted "What do we want? More testing! When do we want it? Now!" as they marched across the Horseshoe. The chanting continued as they reached the front of Osborne.
Fourth-year chemistry student Jake Sawyer said he believed the recent decrease in cases on the university's COVID-19 dashboard was not reflective of the actual number of COVID-19 cases.
"I do not believe the university's COVID dashboard," Sawyer said. "I do not think that the university is portraying the accurate numbers here, and I believe that is because the line that Caslen has drawn is that we are staying open."
Fourth-year political science and geography student Ethan Magnuson said he is concerned about the reported decrease in cases on the COVID-19 dashboard.
"Well, that will happen if you stop testing people," Magnuson said. "Really, it's kind of scary that the numbers have gone down, because that doesn't indicate that there's less people with COVID, it just means that we don't know who has COVID."
Editor's Note: USC alumnus Hayden Blakeney was a former news writer for The Daily Gamecock. He graduated in May 2020. Elizabeth Grosso is a production coordinator for SGTV, a partner organization with The Daily Gamecock.