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


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:  Health Sciences Special Focus

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:  Hong Kong Government Cancels Talks With Protesters

“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.”

South African Student Leader Injured in Protest JOHANNESBURG ― The student council at a leading South African university says a student leader was hit multiple times in the back by police rubber bullets during a protest for free education. The council at the University of the Witwatersrand in J...
Strike Enters 2nd Day at 14 Pennsylvania State Universities HARRISBURG, Pa. ― Professors at 14 Pennsylvania state universities are expected to hit the picket lines again Thursday as their strike enters its second day. Members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties went on...
Citing Concerns, Board to Audit Iowa State President’s Flights IOWA CITY, Iowa ― Iowa State University’s governing board ordered an audit Thursday of every flight President Steven Leath has taken on school airplanes, and its leader said some of the trips appear “questionable at best.” In a rare rebuke of an a...
ITT Tech’s Closing Leaves Many Veterans in Limbo When word came that ITT Technical Institute — a chain of for-profit career colleges accused of engaging in fraudulent practices — had abruptly closed its doors last month, Matthew Jackson, a military veteran, went looking for answers. “I enrolled ...
Semantic Tags:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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