RECENTLY, I WROTE an article all about why Charleston, South Carolina, is the best place you could possibly go to college. One of the reasons I listed was about how liberal Charleston is, especially in terms of our LGBT, and African American populations. I’m sad to say, I was wrong on that point.
Recently, Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell was chosen to become the College of Charleston’s newest president. He has zero background in academic administration, and supports the Confederate battle flag flying on South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds. He participates in Civil War reenactment as a “hobby,” but the credibility of such a pastime is questionable, when photos such as the one above — in which he is dressed as a confederate soldier, flanked by some slaves — are publicly displayed.
CofC has done some pretty shitty things in the past — they once shut down a sex toy party that was going to raise funds to help domestic violence victims, because of some stupid, outdated ordinance about it being “illegal to have pornography within one mile of a church” (there are churches on every corner in Charleston) — but this move is honestly insulting in so many ways. The two other leading candidates were both strong, with legitimate university administrative backgrounds. Jody Encarnation is a retired Harvard University professor and CofC alumni, and Martha Saunders was former president of the University of Southern Mississippi.
No one would have thought twice about electing Barack Obama if one of his policies included flying the Black Power flag on Capitol Hill. No one would have taken the President of Germany seriously if a photo of him dressed as a Nazi, between two concentration camp reenactment victims, became public. Why is it acceptable for a university, which is supposed to set a precedent for the state, and encourage students to enroll based on the fact that it is a safe, progressive, discrimination-free environment, to choose such an ill-fitting leader?
What upsets me the most, is the complete disregard CofC had for its faculty (only 11% of which support the decision) and student body. Hundreds of students protested McConnell’s candidacy on a daily basis. They exercised their democratic rights, writing letters, sending out petitions, holding forums and more. And yet, McConnell was “unanimously chosen” by the administrative board at CofC. It was a move to secure future funding for the school, but as alumni withdraw their yearly donations, and new student enrollment drops, they are going to need a lot more than what McConnell’s supporters can offer
The CofC Alumni catchphrase is #CantHideThePride. Well fuck that yo — whatever pride I once had for my alma mater, is completely gone.