Don't close USC-L

To the Contrary

Special to The HeraldJanuary 17, 2009 

I am outraged at Mark Sanford's proposal to close the University of South Carolina-Lancaster as a way to cut costs in the state budget. My family is personally affected by his proposal. Other campuses also are targets in his frightening proposal. What he seems to totally ignore is the phenomenal success of USC-L: its student success in pursuing degrees; its huge foundation program for aiding students in financial need; its steady growth in numbers when compared with other regional campuses. It was shocking that his statement mentioned none of USC-L's success stories.

My son began classes there this week, but the excitement of beginning this new phase in his life has been overshadowed by confusion, fear, anger and sadness because of this concern. USC-L has been an important and essential part of the life of our community for 50 years, educationally, economically, culturally.

Sanford states that there are other choices for our students in the area, which encompasses the counties of Lancaster, Kershaw, Fairfield, York and Chesterfield. He cites such choices as Winthrop University and York Technical College in Rock Hill. I would pose the following series of questions to him:

1. Is he going to provide a car or other means of transportation for my son to commute to Rock Hill? I can't afford to do that.

Housing costs

2. Is he going to pay for student housing and a higher tuition for my son to stay on campus at another school? I can't do that, either. I am a single parent who must travel out of town daily for employment.

3. Is he going to guarantee that my son will be accepted for admission at any other school?

4. Is he going to guarantee that if my son starts out at a tech school he will be able to transfer into a more appropriate school at some point?

5. If my son loses his opportunity to go to college now, what kind of job opportunities will be available to him so that he can work toward a better life?

Most employers in today's technical and educational environments require employees to have degrees, and under Sanford's scenario, my son would not be able to qualify because of inaccessibility to USC-Lancaster. I know that I am not the only parent with these concerns and questions.

Damage to economy

Sanford should consider other damaging effects on our area from his Draconian, unusually severe proposal:

1. What about the teachers and staff of USC-L who have suddenly been deemed unnecessary?

2. Is Sanford going to guarantee that they will get new employment?

3. Can he guarantee if they have to relocate to get jobs that their homes will sell and that they will be able to get approval for new home loans?

4. If these people end up with two mortgages, will he pay one for them?

Our state, and even the city of Lancaster, have already made national headlines because of our present economy and high unemployment rate. Our vulnerability would be increased a thousandfold under Sanford's proposal to close USC-Lancaster.

Does Sanford realize how many people in our area voted for him and trusted that he would make the best choices for them? This action on his part reveals his total lack of concern for our community and ignorance of the good reputation of USC-L earned in the USC system.

I would lastly like to explain why I have not referred to Sanford as governor. I am embarrassed and unbelieving that we have elected someone to that office whose priorities are so skewed that he has refused to raise taxes on cigarettes but is promoting cutting out funds for USC-Lancaster, a lifeline in our community, and other educational programs throughout the state.

This weekly column features opposing views from readers. These opinions are contrary to those expressed on this page or which otherwise take issue with something that appears in The Herald. All commentaries submitted become the property of The Herald and may be republished in any format.

Carol Hersey Surls is a resident of Lancaster.

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