The Daily Gamecock

Student body president says Presidential Search Committee has sent list of candidates to board of trustees

The Presidential Search Committee was all "in agreements" of the list of candidates it is sending to the board of trustees, according to Student Body President Alex Harrell. 

“The unity in the committee's decisions in their, you know, favorability of the candidates we’re sending forward to the board speaks volumes, because I think after the last search, the restructuring of the committee and how that works, I think that just speaks volumes as to what we've done,” Harrell said. 

He also called the list of candidates "highly qualified and highly diverse." 

Harrell, who is a member of the committee, said the vote occurred before USC donor Lou Kennedy resigned from the search committee earlier this week. 

Harrell also said students could trust the university administration.

“I've been fortunate enough to work with our administration and they've all been great to work with me... From everything I understand, they're very open to working with students,” Harrell said. “You know, that's, as a student leader, you can't really ask for much more than that.” 

A recommendation to adopt the name changes suggested by the Presidential Commission on University History was adopted. 

Student senator Jada Hudson, a sponsor of the bill, said there are already plans to lobby the South Carolina State General Assembly to repeal the Heritage Act. Previously, interim university president Harris Pastides had said the act prevented the university from changing any names on campus. Earlier in the year, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Heritage Act only required a simple majority to remove or rename any historically significant monument or building. Hudson is a member of USC’s NAACP chapter. 

Student senator Courtney McClain, another sponsor of the bill, said the NAACP is planning the creation of a workshop for students to practice testifying at the State House, letter writing and a phone bank to contact state lawmakers, as well as a protest march planned for early December.  

McClain, thepolitical action chair of the NAACP’s USC Chapter, said the USC chapter is currently working on an official response to evidence that USC’s administration never intended to act on the history commission’s suggestions.

“I think it's a disservice to students to essentially lie to them and pretend that they're going to do something and you're not. I think it's a shame to faculty, students, alumni, donors to just pretend to actually care about change and not implement it,” Hudson said. 

Additionally, a recommendation to create a university website for course evaluations to be accessible for students was proposed. 

A university-supported website would not include “secondary characteristics that are irrelevant to the quality of instruction” like reviews found on private sites such as Rate My Professor, according to the recommendation.  

The sponsor of the bill, Jaheem McLaurin, spoke with representatives from the University of Florida and Ole Miss, which have similar websites. 

Student senator McLaurin said similar sites at other schools only allow students to access reviews of courses within their major.

McLaurin also said he did not think it “necessary” to make course evaluations mandatory for students but that completing them would be “strongly recommended.”  

Several senators were concerned a school-monitored website would allow the university to block negative reviews of courses. 

“That is something that I can also look into about making sure that we monitor how that aspect, that will work,” McLaurin said. “I just think this is just another way to open up another streamlined communication to students to allow them to express their concerns.” 

Correction (Nov. 18, 2021, at 10 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jada Hudson said the NAACP is planning the creation of a workshop for students to practice testifying at the Statehouse, letter writing and a phone bank to contact state lawmakers, in addition to a protest march planned for early December. Those were student senator Courtney McClain's words.