Article by Daniel Cramer
As the semester comes to a close, there is a lot going on in the SGA. As The College approaches its 250th anniversary, we are coming up on a hallmark that will be noted with celebration and reflection. President McConnell gave a short speech in which he stated we will “close the doors on the last 250 years of the college, and open the doors to the next 250,” which will be highlighted by an effort to acknowledge and engage the growing diversity of The College. The 250th anniversary of the opening of The College will also be the 100th anniversary of the admittance of female students, as well as the 50th anniversary of the admittance of black students to The College and the administration has plans to commemorate these important moments, and ensure that more like them will be in the future of The College.
To spearhead this move, The College has joined alongside a number of institutions across the south in the “Universities Studying Slavery Consortium,” which was started by the University of Virginia with the purpose of exploring, educating, and making information accessible to students and the public about the institution’s history with slavery, and more specifically the role slavery played in the construction or expansion of each institution. In addition to this, The College has plans to open the new Liddy-Hollings Science Center in the fall, and there are several other construction or renovation projects on the table. The largest pool of donations for these various projects comes from alumni of the college, which per President McConnell, is a testament to the legacy of the institution and its positive impact on its students.
Before the 250th anniversary The College needs to hire a new president as McConnell is retiring in July. The SGA survey, among other things, put out a thermometer for what students are looking for in a new president. The most common desires among respondents were diversity, and engagement. Students are looking for a president who is “non traditional” and can engage with the student body as The College grows, both physically and otherwise. The process, as explained by President McConnell, has three stages. The listening sessions are the first stage, in which the administration provides an opportunity for students to voice their concerns. The second stage is the application process, which for students is really just a waiting game. Finally the third stage is the hiring process. The whole process can take anywhere from 6 months to a year although President McConnell stressed his desire to make the process as quick as possible in time for the celebration.
The new president will have a lot to steward. The anniversary will herald in a new era in which more progress is anticipated. In order to promote this progress representatives of the SGA presented their plan to rename buildings and landmarks that do not accurately reflect history. For example; the William Aiken house, as beautiful as it is, was not constructed by William Aiken and even if it was the commemoration of such a man is contradictory to the progressive nature claimed by both the College of Charleston and the city of Charleston. While there was an expression of concern that these changes may not last past the 250th anniversary, representatives ensured fellow senators that the plaques on the property of the college would be under the direct care of the committee entrusted to ensure these necessary changes, and that once changed they would not be removed.
As this school year and this semester come to a close, The College looks forward to the much needed changes around the corner with anticipation and excitement. There has been a great deal of progress at this school in the last 250 years, and if precedent has any sway over the future, then there is so much more in store for the next 250 years.
Article by Staff Writer Daniel Cramer