Students at the University of South Carolina (USC) are the latest to launch a large-scale campus protest inspired by the one at the University of Missouri. Students walked out of class Monday morning and called on administrators to submit to a list of 12 demands, which include allowing them to minor in “social justice.”
USC protesters labeled their effort USC 20/20 Vision, which partly reflects their demand that the university finish implementing the demands by the year 2020. Several dozen of them walked out of class Monday and paraded with signs to the school’s administration building, where they read their list of demands to administrators.
Most of the protesters’ demands are quite general, and similar to those which have been made during protests at other schools, such as Amherst, Yale, and Mizzou. They want the school to work harder on recruiting minority students, want mandatory diversity training for all staff, and they want the school to establish more gender-neutral housing and bathrooms while requiring staff to refer to students by their personal preferred pronouns.
Some other demands are more unique, though. Their first demand calls on the university to publicly recognize that it was “built on the backs of enslaved Africans,” by including such an acknowledgement in official tours and modifying various plaques around campus. Another demand orders the school to create a “social justice minor” so that students can mix their activism with academic credit.
Programs for studying social justice actually already exist at several colleges, some of them public. Miami University of Ohio allows students to major in social justice, which it says “explores connections between the ideals of justice, the realities of injustice, and practical solution sets to bridge the gap between the two.”
There is also a specific request for the school to “investigate” three mid-level administrators, whom they accuse of not being active enough on minority issues. Another demand orders the school to make fall homecoming more “inclusive” to “accurately reflect and celebrate … diversity.” It’s not clear what exactly is intended with this demand.
USC administrators haven’t immediately said how they’ll handle the demands, but they released an official statement praising the “leadership” of the students.
“We appreciate our students making their voice heard, participating in civil discourse and continuing the dialogue toward making our campus a safe and welcoming environment for all students,” the statement said. “The issues they have raised will do much to guide the conversation. In fact, many are already being addressed or are included in the university’s strategic plans.”
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