A message from President Bob Caslen

February 3, 2020

Dear South Carolina community:

This week marks the beginning of February and Black History Month — a month that gives us the opportunity to celebrate our African American community on campus and throughout our state and nation. It is a celebration and recognition of diversity that frankly should extend beyond the days of February to every day of every year.

However, we must also recognize that prejudiced and ignorant beliefs about race still appear in ways that harm our community. Recent examples are reminders that these problems exist even on our own campus. These beliefs do not belong at our University or in our society. As we strive to move forward in progress, we must acknowledge that our shared history is marked by inequity, prejudice, and division, and that there is work still to be done.

At the University of South Carolina, intolerant and divisive actions are not representative of who we are as Gamecocks and are inconsistent with our values as espoused in our Carolinian Creed. As Gamecocks, we pledge to practice personal and academic integrity; to respect the dignity of all persons; to respect the rights and property of others; to discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas, and opinions; and to demonstrate concern for others, their feelings, and their need for conditions which support their work and development. We strive to create a campus community in which every person feels free to express themselves in open and honest discourse while respecting those who may have different points of view based on their own individual experiences. At the same time, the University recognizes that as a public educational institution, it is unable to shield members of our beloved community from offensive or hurtful expressions. That is why our initiatives focused on civil discourse are vitally important.

To help foster these goals, we host programs like our regular Dive-In lunches, where members of our University come together in shared dialogue. We continue to work toward a better understanding of our history through community programs such as the S.C. Collaborative for Race and Reconciliation and the Center for Civil Rights History and Research. This month, we have several important events, such as our Celebration of African American Women’s History on February 4 at McKissick Museum, our Diversity Dialogue book series and many more. Our Office of Diversity and Inclusion can provide more information about these important programs, and I hope that you will participate.

Each day presents us with a new opportunity to answer division with unity, intolerance with understanding, and injustice with justice. Let’s invest not only our words, but also our actions, in eradicating prejudice and hate. Though we cannot change our past, we must learn from the past and together we must ensure that every person on our campus, whether student, faculty, staff or administrator, is valued, respected, and celebrated within our University community.

Forever to Thee,

Bob Caslen
Bob Caslen