Equality isn’t free
$17,142 to possibly be cut from USC Upstate Funding due to the Preface Book Topic on Homosexuality.
For the duration of this country’s history, the issue of equality has been a constant battle. 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, as the U.S desired fair treatment as a country on a global scale. 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed on Women’s Suffrage so that they could have a right to vote. 1954, the Civil Rights movement for integration between Caucasian and African-American citizens in the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Case furthered equality. While the country has made progress, one social group that is still desperately seeking equality is the LGBT.
This year, the English 101 and 102 classes read the preface book titled Out Loud: The Best From Rainbow Radio while also attending mandatory events based on the book. The book focuses on the struggle that homosexual individuals have experienced within the Deep South. This was a required read within the preface program. Required is the operative word that has Upstate looking at a possible $17,142 budget cut.
The student body in general is in uproar over this proposal. Khori Hunter, the senator of minority advancement and chairman of the public relations committee in the SGA, said, “This great university allowed our freshman to hear a different side of the story and educate them on a topic that is very relevant in today’s society. It’s very sad for me to hear that our state legislature is punishing them for something that, quite frankly, they should be applauded for.” Most students agree with Hunter. Some classes were asked if they agreed with the cut or not, with 71 percent opposing the idea.
Others on campus think the budget cut is justified by the First Amendment’s protection of religious beliefs. Aubrey Eilders, a freshman at Upstate within the Teaching Fellows program, argues this. “I don’t think we should have read the book. It’s the university putting its beliefs on us as students. [The situation] would have been the same if they gave us the Bible and said ‘hear, read this’. That would have caused uproar because there are people who do not believe or agree with that.”
There is definitely an argument regarding religious rights. The book’s contributors seem to differ on opinions of Christianity, with a lean towards negative connotations. Joshua Strange, a Political Science major, is in support of the budget cut for other reasons. “It boils down to University dollar figures because that is what Universities speak. This cut will not be as harmful as people think because it will be offset by the tuition rates that they charge the students.” In terms of dollars, he makes a valid case. $17,142 is roughly worth three semesters per student at Upstate.
Still, others desire to stand up to the budget cut. Shannon Ferris is an Elementary Education major who thinks the lack of funds would do damage. “These budget cuts affect all students, not just the people in the English classes. Tuition will increase and professors will get paid less, even when they have nothing to do with the English department.” Ferris contacted the Carolinian in hopes to spread word of the circumstance. This is a link to the petition Ferris began in hopes of retaining the budget for next year: http://www.change.org/petitions/south-carolina-state-legislature-to-reinstate-the-funding-cut-as-a-result-of-college-of-charleston-and-usc-upstate-s-use-of-books-on-homosexuality.
USC Upstate is already on the lower end of the South Carolina University funding spectrum. Now facing possible further cuts, some students are taking a stand, hoping to make a statement to the state legislature. Then there are others trying to stand firm in their beliefs, so they defend their constitutional rights. To those who would vote for equality, stand up! To those who would vote for religious/constitutional reasons, stand up! To those who aren’t taking a stand, quit sitting down! Jim Valvano, former basketball coach, couldn’t have said it any better. “Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!”