President Pastides Welcomes Students Back to Campus

It has been quiet in our classrooms, but it has not been a quiet week at Carolina. Hardship surrounds us. It can be seen in the neighborhoods and communities around our campus. Homes destroyed, keepsakes washed away and, yes, lives lost. It can be felt even within our Gamecock family as students, faculty and staff are among those directly affected.

But, we did weather the storm. Our campus suffered no significant damage and we did not flood. 

But, we did weather the storm. Our campus suffered no significant damage and we did not flood. There were leaks and a handful of classrooms that required cleanup—but that’s to be expected in buildings hundreds of years old. Our Horseshoe, Innovista, Athletics Village and even Williams Brice Stadium are ready for your return.

Thanks to the City, the water service was quickly restored but we remain under a boil water advisory. While that will present some challenges to us individually and to the institution, they are not too great to be overcome. The 1,500 students who have remained on campus and the many who live off-campus can attest to that. Patricia and I have also become used to boiling water for some of our daily needs. We will be distributing information to all students about what a boil water advisory means.

The biggest impact to campus next week will be in food service. Our partners at Sodexo and our facilities staff have worked around the clock to prepare for feeding a fully operational campus. We will operate several kitchens—Grand Market Place, Honeycomb Café, Bates Café and Gibbes Court—and then deliver food to many of our 31 food service locations across campus. It may not be the full spread, but you’ll get delicious, nutritious food to keep you going. And I’m sure you won’t mind if we use more compostable and recyclable paper goods in the coming days to cut down on the water usage required to wash dishes. Faculty and staff, may I suggest that you brown bag your lunch for a week or so—or perhaps visit one of the many restaurants and diners around town that are open and serving food. It’s not a requirement, but it would help us out.

Bottled water will be widely available, too. We will continue to distribute hundreds of thousands of bottles, recycling them of course, at Russell House and other locations across around campus.  

Yes, we are ready. We have been in contact with city and county officials, and they are fully supportive of resuming classes. 

Yes, we are ready. We have been in contact with city and county officials, and they are fully supportive of resuming classes. Merchants and restaurateurs are also getting ready. They too have missed you, but not as much as the faculty and staff have. In fact, students, we’ll even help get you back from the airport with our shuttles. Just sign up here before 6 p.m. Saturday and we can give you a lift. 

Despite our being ready for your return, I must let you know there is always a small chance things won’t go quite as planned on Monday. Changes in environmental conditions and/or infrastructure recovery could impact County or University operations. As a state agency, the University follows the delay and closing determinations of Richland County Government. Therefore, we will continue to monitor the recovery and its potential effects on operations and remain in communication with Richland County Government regarding decisions on further delays or closings. If there is a hiccup, at least we’ll all be in town and ready to work through it together.

There will be much to do when you return and we’ve put together a resource page to provide you with as much support and information as possible. Academics will be in full swing and we have a week of work to make up. I know we will all be flexible and understanding, yet committed to the task. Activities across campus will resume—lectures, performances, movies and athletic events. However, I know that even with studying, going to class, hanging out with friends and cheering on our Gamecock teams, some of you will still have some free time. If so, I recommend volunteering in the recovery effort.

Gamecocks, this community and our state need us. Let’s support those who so often support the Gamecock Nation.

While we’ve been closed, thousands of students, faculty, staff and alumni have volunteered their time at distribution centers, shelters, cleaning up homes and serving meals to those who need it. The My Carolina Alumni Association has used it’s new home to receive truckloads of donated goods and leveraged an engaged network to get those items into the neighborhoods that need them. Yesterday, I took an aerial tour of the county with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and I can tell you the recovery is just beginning. Gamecocks, this community and our state need us. Let’s support those who so often support the Gamecock Nation.

Fittingly, Monday begins Homecoming Week at Carolina. As we welcome each of you and our dedicated alumni back to campus, we will shift the focus of the week to our external community. We will seek every opportunity to serve and support Columbia, Richland County and the state. Although the schedule of events is still in flux and may change throughout the week, we’re excited to welcome you home.

Finally, I would like to say a special thanks to the LSU Tigers, including President King Alexander, Athletic Director Joe Alleva, Head Coach Les Miles and especially the LSU Tiger Marching Band. The welcoming spirit and compassion they have demonstrated have been overwhelming. They are supporting the relief effort, welcoming Gamecock fans and even playing our fight song and alma mater. They have truly demonstrated the best of the SEC spirit.

Go Gamecocks and see you soon!

Sincerely,

Harris Pastides