For years, University of South Carolina students,parents and alumni have celebrated Carolina Day at the Statehouse. But this year’s edition can be celebrated thousands of miles away from Columbia.
“Each of us have been touched by the university. We’ve had great careers. We’ve had great opportunities provided for us by the university and we want to see that access remain available for generations to come,” said Executive Director of the University of South Carolina Alumni Association “My Carolina” Jack Claypoole. “It’s a chance for us to share that story individually and collectively.”
Students, parents and alumni will visit with their local legislators at their Statehouse offices Wednesday. Meanwhile, college President Harris Pastides and the school’s mascot Cocky will be recognized by the House and Senate.
“Carolina Day is really an opportunity for students and parents and alumni to let policymakers in South Carolina know how important we view higher education,” Claypoole said.
Those thousands of Gamecocks who won’t be in Columbia Wednesday are urged to participate via social media.
“We’re taking a virtual approach to Carolina Day in working with our legislators, whether it’s through Twitter or Instagram or even Facebook, connecting with policymakers,” he said. “They’ll be able to see alums in their area, their own constituents who are connecting with them and talking about the importance of higher education.”
Among the issues Claypoole would like to see legislators address on the school’s behalf include a bond bill that features $50 million for a health research campus.
“Infrastructure is important and we think it’s time for there to be a statewide bond bill for infrastructure and part of that needs to be for higher education,” he said. “At the University of South Carolina, we’re trying to improve the health status for South Carolinians and have asked for $50 million in that bond bill for a health research campus here in Columbia.”
He also said President Harris Pastides is working with legislators “to find a reasonable funding formula for higher education in South Carolina.” Pastides attended a House Ways and Means committee meeting last week seeking the additional resources.
“We at the University of South Carolina are working with our policymakers to return affordability to the table,” he said.