SC House Refuses to Restore College Cuts for Books - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

SC House Refuses to Restore College Cuts for Books

Email




by Seanna Adcox, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C.—The South Carolina House refused Monday to back down from plans to punish two public colleges in the budget for assigning freshmen to read books dealing with homosexuality.

The House rejected multiple attempts to restore $52,000 cut from the College of Charleston in the state budget, and $17,142 cut from the University of South Carolina Upstate. Those are the amounts the universities spent on books assigned to their incoming freshmen last summer. The efforts failed by votes of 69-41, 70-43, 71-40 and 71-38.

Opponents argued the cuts, which reduce what the colleges can spend from their own revenue sources, censor and micromanage college decisions.

When it comes to public colleges, legislators should be debating funding and building construction, not “pushing our own moral agenda on these institutions of higher learning,” said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg.

“Are we saying we don’t trust the college students enough to expose them to something they may not have seen before? We can’t let you read anything other than what we believe?” she asked. “What about the notion of freedom to have different views? Isn’t this what we go all over the globe fighting for?”

College of Charleston students read “Fun Home,” a book by Alison Bechdel that describes her childhood with a closeted gay father and her own coming out as a lesbian. USC Upstate assigned “Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio,” referring to South Carolina’s first gay and lesbian radio show, for a freshmen course that included lectures and other out-of-classroom activities meant to spark discussions about the book.

Related:  Investigating Health Disparities

Rep. Garry Smith, whose subcommittee made the reductions, said he wanted to make a point after college officials declined to give students an option to read something else. He said he wouldn’t oppose the books if they were part of an elective course. He called it promotion of a lifestyle.

“Freedom comes with responsibility. These universities did not act responsibly,” said Smith, R-Simpsonville.

Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, said opponents of the cuts argue for a diversity of ideas but don’t want to consider conservatives’ viewpoint. After House Speaker Bobby Harrell rejected Smith’s suggestions to project illustrations from “Fun Home” on the House screen, Nanney said, “It’s not appropriate to even put up in this room but we’re giving it to 18-year-old kids?”

The votes came as the House opened floor debate on the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The spending plan commits $7 billion in state taxes. The state budget would total $24 billion, up from $22.5 billion this year, when including all revenue sources, such as federal money, fees, fines, lottery profits and tuition at public colleges.

While other sections of the budget passed quickly with no discussion, the college cuts tied up debate for hours. Debate on other sections will continue Tuesday.

College of Charleston President George Benson said the university is committed to academic freedom, and any university education must include the opportunity for students to engage controversial ideas. Any attempt by legislators to tie funding to what books are taught threatens the credibility of all of South Carolina’s public colleges, he said.

Related:  Howard Univ. Honors Mandela in Photo Exhibit

“Our students are adults, and we will treat them as such,” Benson said. “Faculty, not politicians, ultimately must decide what textbooks are selected and how those materials are taught.”

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Raheem Beyah Wants to Open More Doors to Cybersecurity For Dr. Raheem A. Beyah, the journey toward a career in teaching cybersecurity began with a simple desire to make sure his mother wouldn’t have to struggle. He recalls how his mother, a single parent, used to work three jobs — two in doctors’ offi...
Bill Filed to Loosen Knot Over North Carolina “Bathroom Bill” RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers filed bipartisan legislation Wednesday aimed at breaking an impasse over the state’s “bathroom bill,” but it’s likely to face tough going in the Republican-controlled legislature. Two House Republicans and ...
NRA Drops Support of Arkansas Campus Guns Bill After Changes LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The National Rifle Association said Wednesday it no longer supports a bill allowing concealed handguns on Arkansas college campuses after it was limited to people 25 and over who have gone through active shooter training. The N...
New Yale Law Dean Stresses Standing Up for Rule of Law NEW HAVEN, Conn. — As the next dean of Yale Law School, Heather Gerken says a key challenge will be figuring how best to stand up for the rule of law. Gerken, a constitutional law expert, was appointed this week as the 17th dean of the law school ...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *