Students and community activists respond to racist post, UofSC officials won’t comment further

Students and community activists respond to racist post, UofSC officials won’t comment further

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It's been two days since a racist photo spread around the University of South Carolina.

On Thursday, school officials said they will not be commenting further about the incident or what steps will be taken moving forward. The university said the student who took the photo is no longer enrolled at the university and the investigation is closed.

After the Snapchat photo surfaced, UofSC President Bob Caslen tweeted about the incident, calling it disgusting and that it didn’t reflect the school’s values of inclusivity and respect for all.

Although university officials would not comment further on Thursday, students and a community activist told WIS it’s critical that university officials don’t sweep this under the rug, saying it’s posts like these that discourage minorities from wanting to attend universities like the University of South Carolina.

“Injustice and inequality and ignorance and bigotry cannot be tolerated on our campus,” UofSC senior Lyric Swinton said.

Swinton said that to move forward, the university must take action against racism.

“If you’ve participated in bigotry and made other students feel unwelcome and like they aren’t as much of a Gamecock as you are, then you don’t deserve to be at this institution,” Swinton said.

Catherine Fleming Bruce, who is an activist in Columbia, said that it’s important for the university to create a campus that represents South Carolina demographically and socially. She said that posts like the one that surfaced earlier this week discourage that.

“Being at the campus and that’s what they are saying and doing, definitely a discouragement,’ Fleming Bruce said. “So, it’s critical that the university get to the bottom of that situation.”

According to the 2020 University of South Carolina Diversity and Inclusion Report, the University of South Carolina in Columbia already isn’t representative of the demographic population in South Carolina. The U.S. Census found that, in 2019, African Americans made up over 27% of the population. However, at the University of South Carolina, African Americans made up less than 9% of the student population.

“You have to look at that disparity. You have to say we want our student body to look like South Carolina,” Fleming Bruce said.

The number of African American students at the University of South Carolina has remained almost the same over the last decade, with about 2,300 students, despite the university’s overall growth.

“This university has a very deep and hard past as it deals with race and culture and, once we take steps towards acknowledging that and educating all students about what that history actually means, I think the University of South Carolina can truly move forward,” Swinton said.

The university hasn’t released any plans in the aftermath of this week’s racist post, only saying they took steps to address the situation. However, Swinton said she hopes the university makes a greater effort to increase the diversity at UofSC to make walking around on campus feel like you are walking around any other place in South Carolina.

Catherine Fleming Bruce said she would also like to see more diversity on the Board of Trustees. There are currently two bills in the South Carolina House that would change how members of the board are elected.

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