State Rep: Clemson Not Teaching Constitution According To Law

Mitchell Gunter | Freelance Writer

According to one South Carolina state representative, Clemson University and other South Carolina colleges and universities are not teaching the Constitution, and other U.S. founding documents, as required by law.

South Carolina Code of Laws statute 59-29-120 states, “All high schools, colleges, and universities in this State that are sustained or in any manner supported by public funds shall give instruction in the essentials of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.”

Furthermore, statute 59-29-130 declares that, “[t]he instruction provided for in Section 59-29-120 shall be given for at least one year of the high school, college and university grades, respectively.”

As specified by statute 59-29-150, “willful neglect or failure” on the part of the head of a South Carolina public college or university to carry out the requirements, “shall be sufficient cause for the dismissal or removal of such person from his position.”

Clemson University does not currently require the study of the founding documents for one year. Clemson does however require three credit hours in “cross cultural awareness.”

Including in this year’s CU1000 course, a mandatory class for Clemson freshman, was a module titled, “Our Nation’s Founding Documents.” Within the module, students were required to read several documents pertaining to U.S. founding documents, watch an hour-long video, and take a quiz on the material.

The module’s overview states, “Clemson University is required by state law to offer this module,” and references SC statute 59-29-120, the founding documents law. However, U.S. Founding Documents were in no way the main focus of CU1000, and the class is ultimately graded as a “zero-credit, pass/no pass course.”

A 2015 survey of public South Carolina colleges and universities by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education revealed that 42 percent of Clemson students don’t take courses on U.S. founding documents.

Moreover, the survey revealed that the problem isn’t exclusive to Clemson University.

In fact, according to the survey, University of South Carolina (USC), Clemson University, The Citadel, College of Charleston, Francis Marion University, Lander University, SC State, and Winthrop don’t explicitly require students to study the founding documents for one year.

USC President Harris Pastides went so far as to say the law needs changing. “It appears that an update of these statutes remains necessary to strike the balance between compliance and application,” stating, “the strict application of Section § 59-29-130 would create an academic logjam.”

According to state Rep. Garry Smith, noncompliance with the law is a major issue.

“I think it’s relevant,” Rep. Smith told TheDC, discussing the law. “One of the problems we have is that those students who graduate aren’t really prepared to be good citizens in a representative democracy.”

“The Higher Education Commission is supposed to fire the president of the university, which it can’t do. That’s a problem with the current law,” Smith continued, expressing that those South Carolina universities “have gotten the feeling that they’re independent to the point that they don’t even comply with and they’re not a part of the state overall financial system.”

“It shows a lack of understanding about their representative republic,” Rep. Smith opined, discussing the American millennial’s fascination with socialism and communism. “You wonder who is teaching them, what they’re teaching them, and how they got such a warped sense of governance.”

TheDC reached out to Mark Land, Clemson vice president for university relations, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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