S.C. State’s Proposal Sparks Concerns: Potential Removal of History and Education Programs Raises Alarms

South Carolina State's Proposal Sparks Concerns: Potential Removal of History and Education Programs Raises Alarms | Future Education Magazine


South Carolina State University, forever marked by the tragic Orangeburg Massacre in 1968, is facing a new challenge as its Board of Trustees contemplates the removal of six majors, including history and social studies. The proposal has evoked memories of past struggles for justice and equality, with echoes of the 1971 termination of agricultural and engineering programs haunting the university.

For Earnest Smith, a former South Carolina State hopeful and current member of the Georgia House of Representatives, the news stirred unpleasant memories from his college days during the tumultuous 1970s. The proposal, if implemented, could have far-reaching consequences, as seen in the past when students had to leave due to discontinued programs.

The conflict surrounding the Board of Trustees proposal, currently postponed, underscores a clash between capitalist motives and community well-being. Christopher Rounds, an assistant professor of history at South Carolina State, warns that the university’s current struggle sets a perilous precedent.

“Universities are increasingly governed like corporations, where everything revolves around data. There must be a place in our society governed by loftier principles,” warns Rounds. The potential elimination of majors focusing on humanity and African American history raises concerns about erasing vital aspects of our shared past.

A Fight for Transparency and Program Preservation Amidst Board Decisions

Recent protests by South Carolina State students and organizations, including the South Carolina Education Association, highlight the gravity of the situation. Adriana Perez, president of the association, switched her major in protest, reflecting the students’ determination to fight for transparency and the preservation of essential programs.

The suddenness of the proposal blindsided both students and professors, leaving them with a sense of urgency. Rounds mentioned that although low enrollment in the history program was acknowledged, the board’s decision came before the initiatives to address the issue could take effect.

The administration, represented by Sam Watson, South Carolina State’s director of university relations, justifies the proposed program removal by citing a decade’s worth of data and adherence to enrollment and degrees awarded criteria. Watson emphasizes that concerns expressed through established protocols will not alter trend data.

Battling to Preserve Cultural Heritage and Forge Future Leaders

Faculty members like Alison McLetchie stress the potential devastation of removing academic programs. The history and social studies education programs hold significant cultural and historical value for the university and its community. The legacy of producing important citizens, commemorated for their sacrifices during the Orangeburg Massacre, is at stake.

For alumni like Earnest Smith, this challenge is an opportunity for leadership and resilience. Smith emphasizes the importance of standing up and fighting for the benefits that may not be realized immediately but will shape the future for generations to come.

As South Carolina State navigates these uncertain waters, the debate encapsulates more than just an academic restructuring; it becomes a battle for preserving cultural heritage, shaping future leaders, and standing against the erasure of historical narratives.

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