An effort by some legislators to penalize two state-supported college for assigning books on homosexuality to freshmen remains a part of the proposed 2014-15 budget that passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee last week, much to the chagrin of several House members including Orangeburg County Democrat Gilda Cobb-Hunter who said the provision sets a troubling precedent.
“The bottom line in my view is that in a free society there ought to be freedom to have books read that may or may not meet the satisfaction or the approval of someone else.”
The provision cuts $52,000 from the College of Charleston and $17,142 from the University of South Carolina Upstate. The reductions in the proposed budget is equal to what the colleges spent on the programs.
Cobb-Hunter co-sponsored an amendment with Pickens County Republican B.R. Skelton to restore the funds, but is was defeated in committee 13-10. Cobb-Hunter says at an institution of higher learning, students should have discussions concerning important subjects and issues that affect society and she doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.
“There is value in having college students exposed to a variety of thoughts. Where is out faith and confidence in our college students? Do we believe that reading something will make them want to … I just don’t understand this.”
She says such issues should be taken up by college boards, not the state legislature.
Cobb-Hunter says we here in South Carolina seem to be on a downward slope when it comes to appreciating diversity of opinion, diversity of thought.
“It’s as if we only want to surround ourselves with people who think like us, people who that look like us that that’s not the way a free society is supposed to run.”
Cobb-Hunter said the move could negatively affect state institutions’ recruitment of faculty, job recruitment efforts, as well as the state’s image.