For several years, it has been clear that the student body, Student Government and the board of trustees aren't as connected as they should be, and this disconnect is negatively affecting the trust the student body holds in Student Government and the administration.
These three entities should ideally work together in a way that allows for quick and efficient decision making and adaptation — should the need for it arise. The disconnect between these three bodies impedes the efficiency that should be present between the groups when responding to problems facing USC.
The disconnect was a notable piece in the campaign platform of third-year finance, marketing and operations and supply chain student Nicholas Marzullo during his run for student body president earlier this year.
“The reason for my running is the giant disconnect I saw in between Student Government and the student body," Marzullo said. "I want to help bridge that.”
Although the Student Government does work to help university students through initiatives such as Carolina Closet and Swipe Out Hunger, it lacks the power to make substantial change. That power lies with the board of trustees.
Only a relatively small percentage of USC students even vote in Student Government elections. This lack of enthusiasm for Student Government is also shown by how understaffed the student senate was this semester.
“Only 31 people ran for senate. Well, a full senate is 50 people, and by the end of this election, at max, we’re going to start the term with 23 people,” new Speaker of the Student Senate Noah Glasgow, a second-year international relations student, said.
Another reason for the disconnect between these groups is the student body losing faith in the university administration. Since USC's administration has been consistently inactive when faced with important issues, it is understandable the student body would begin to be mistrustful.
“The role of the student body president is to advocate to administration — to encourage them to be representative of the wants and needs that every Gamecock not only wants to see, but deserves to see,” 2022 student body presidential candidate Gurujjal Roopra, a third-year public health student, said.
However, time and time again, the board of trustees has failed to take action in moments of importance and ignored the voice of the students it is supposed to serve.
One of the most notable examples of this inaction is interim university President Harris Pastides promising "decisive action" on the issue of USC buildings being named after racist and misogynistic historical figures and proceeding to do nothing about the issue.
The board of trustees has also shown that the voices of those it governs don't result in change. The appointment of Bob Caslen as the 29th president of USC occurred despite vehement protest from students, faculty and staff, and the appointment of Micheal Amiridis as the 30th president happened without real community involvement, except for three online meetings held mere hours before he was elected by the board.
With the upper-level administration continuing to fall short of its promises, protests continuing to fall on deaf ears and Student Government being powerless to change it, the student body has no reason to trust any of the entities that form USC's leadership.
If USC is going to change for the better, then this broken relationship must be repaired.