A letter from President Pastides during the devastating flood

Carolina Family:

The last 72 hours have been trying ones for our state, including our university. As we have in the past—indeed in very recent memory—we have demonstrated our resilience and compassion. South Carolinians and our USC community among them have rallied to support one another, provide aid and comfort and give of ourselves to those less fortunate. In fact, many of our students, faculty and staff have demonstrated that since Saturday. Students have volunteered at local relief efforts and our own staff have worked tirelessly to make campus as safe as possible for our on-campus residents.

Our campus escaped serious damage and despite a night without water, we’ve remained safe.

The reality is we’ve also had members of our Carolina family and the surrounding community severely impacted. Several lives have been lost. Many have lost homes, cars and belongings. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families tonight as we count our own blessings. Our campus escaped serious damage and despite a night without water, we’ve remained safe.

Sunday and early today USC was in response mode. Our students, faculty and staff helped our community by staying off the roads and sheltering others when they could. People remained calm and assembled the supplies they needed for a temporary situation. We have accessed approximately 100,000 bottles of water that have been, and will continue to be, distributed to students. About 170 portable restrooms have been deployed around campus. Water pressure has been restored to most of the campus but we remain under a boil advisory. Unfortunately, at this moment we cannot be sure that there will be no further interruptions.

As you know, we’ve encouraged our students to remain on campus and cancelled classes today and tomorrow. We believe this was in the best interest of their safety given the hazardous road conditions that have made travel dangerous. State and local law enforcement have also encouraged people to stay off the roads.

Our senior leadership is in constant communication with state and local officials and tomorrow will be a day for additional important decisions.

Our senior leadership is in constant communication with state and local officials and tomorrow will be a day for additional important decisions. We must determine if we are able to resume classes on Wednesday or if it’s in the community’s best interest to cancel classes for the week. There is a lot that goes into this decision and it will not be made lightly. We must reasonably have answers to these questions: will there be reliable and consistent water service; can we safely and securely house on-campus students; can we provide safe and sufficient food service; can we bring all students to campus for class safely given road conditions; will the city and campus infrastructure support our 34,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff; and, what disruption to the academic and learning environment will our decision make?

Finally, it’s important to recognize there is also a difference between holding classes and opening campus for faculty and staff. As a state agency, the university follows the delay and closing determinations of Richland County Government.

Tonight, please keep those who have lost so much in your thoughts and prayers.

Through the evening and early morning hours we will continue to be in touch with state and local officials and other experts. It is our intention to notify the campus tomorrow morning of our decision for the remainder of the week.

Tonight, please keep those who have lost so much in your thoughts and prayers. For those students on campus, take advantage of our dining services and water distribution available until 7 p.m. Then, for those that can, let’s head indoors, stay safe and stay warm.