The Daily Gamecock

Column: Student Government candidates give empty promises of making changes to Heritage Act

<p>Presidential candidate Gurujjal Roopra speaks during the student government presidential debate hosted by The Daily Gamecock and SGTV in the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2022.</p>
Presidential candidate Gurujjal Roopra speaks during the student government presidential debate hosted by The Daily Gamecock and SGTV in the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2022.

As the "Aim to Rename" movement surges on, Student Government executive office candidates have made empty promises to change the Heritage Act during the Student Government debate on Feb. 15. 

Students from the University of South Carolina called for the Heritage Act to be repealed at a Feb. 5 protest from Greene Street to the Statehouse. Protesters said they wanted 10 on-campus buildings renamed and Student Government candidates are promoting their campaigns by promising to bring about these changes.

The candidates may voice their support for the renaming of buildings as much as they’d like, but it still requires the majority of the S.C. General Assembly voting in favor to repeal the Heritage Act, which is preventing many of the buildings from being renamed.

Each of the three presidential candidates responded to how they were going to further the "Aim to Rename" effort if elected. 

Presidential candidate Nicholas Marzullo, a third-year finance, marketing and operations and supply chain student, said his future career choices wouldn’t impede how he'd handle the act. 

“I don't plan on getting into politics after this position at all. So, I'm not afraid to, you know, really go at the people in the position who make these decisions. I'm not going to step down, I'm going to voice the opinions of the general student body,” Marzullo said. 

While voicing the opinions of the general student body is on the right path, it’s what the student body has already been doing. We have voiced our opinions on the streets and on social media. Marzullo did not elaborate further on how he plans to accomplish this goal, so one has to assume this is as far as his plan goes.

The next candidate, Gurujjal Roopra, a third-year public health student, said part of the problem the student body has faced when talking about the Heritage Act is believing they can take on this challenge alone. She said this act is a problem of campus safety. 

“I think that repealing the Heritage Act becomes a question of campus safety and I think that every single student as they walk through the Horseshoe and into their classes, they should feel like this is somewhere where they're wanted and where they belong,” Roopra said. 

She said a student vote on the board of trustees is where the student body's strength lies. While this may help, there is no certainty that President-elect Amiridis will appoint the student body president with this power. If he does not, this campaign platform is worthless.

The last candidate, Reedy Newton, a third-year marketing student, said she believed in all the efforts made to rename buildings on campus and that while looking for a change she is also looking toward the future. 

“I feel that the effects of the Heritage Act that are in our way, so what I would do differently is while I'm continuing to advocate for renaming of the buildings, I've looked to the future and look ahead and see the tangible changes that we can make now,” Newton said.

The changes she mentioned to start now included the dedication of the 2023 Campus Village and putting statues on the Horseshoe and Greene Street. 

The name of the student-government-elections game is the future, every candidate talked about it during the debate. If Newton wants her promises to stand out amongst the plans for the future made by the other candidates, she needs to include tangible steps to how she will name the new buildings after worthy and diverse namesakes. 

The “Aim to Rename” movement is far from over, but by electing Student Government officials that have the cause prioritized and not just a platform point that is sure to win over students, we can save our university from having to accept the Heritage Act. 


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