An open letter to CofC’s new president

Dear President Hsu,

As a group of communication students at the College of Charleston, we welcome you to our special campus in this beautiful place. We are excited to have you lead us to even greater opportunity in the coming years.

Dr. Andrew Hsu will officially become the 23rd president of The College of Charleston on May 16.

As you take the reins at CofC, there are a few things we think you should know about The College as well as some important issues we hope you address early on in your tenure to ensure the best campus experience for all of us.

Continue efforts of sustainability

We are very proud of the beauty on our campus. The live oaks in the Cistern, the wonderful gardens scattered around, and the picturesque buildings on College Way all help to shape this amazing place.

Over the last few years, the College has made it a mission to be more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable – particularly through the great work of our Office of Sustainability.

The most recent and largest step in this mission has been the new Rita Lilly Hollings Science Center, which received several awards from the Green building initiative for its modern design and commitment to sustainable practices. It is important to continue that commitment to sustainability while maintaining the character and charm of this 250-year-old campus.

Embrace diversity; reject bigotry

Celebrating the diversity that exists throughout our campus and making all students feel comfortable – particularly in light of disappointing racist incidents over the past year – is a major challenge but one that must be a priority.

Our previous president Glenn McConnell, and a former lieutenant governor of South Carolina with a history of supporting the Confederate battle flag, did little to diminish the racial tensions of this community. Interim president Steve Osborne has sought swift action toward racist behavior and open dialogue among those impacted – but much more must be done from our permanent leader.

Too often in the past, previous administrators have failed to see the opportunity to build a diverse student body and communicate their commitment to tolerance and acceptance.

Striving to make every student, faculty and staff member feel welcome is a difficult undertaking, but we hope you will foster an open and accepting atmosphere for all viewpoints but also draw the line at tolerating hate or bigotry toward anyone in our campus communities.

The College of Charleston prides itself on the cultural opportunities and diverse viewpoints it offers, yet the enrollment of minority students remains below the state average. Overall minority enrollment is nearly 20 percent, but African-Americans, which make up 27 percent of the state population, account for only 7.8 percent of CofC students.

Through continued support of CofC’s minority students – individually as well as through the academic organizations, fraternities/sororities and student clubs they participate in – enlightenment and tolerance can be achieved. We applaud the university’s recent commitment to once again improve diversity through affirmative action in the admissions process, and we are confident you will continue the trend of increasing the minority student population.

Interact with students

Our final suggestion is to get to know us. We are more than just our majors or our year in school.

We would like to get to know you, so it is important for you to be visible and interactive. College of Charleston has hundreds of clubs, organizations, teams and interest groups, all with different goals and dreams. We invite you to join us at sporting events, host open coffee meet-ups, hang out with us on Rivers Green or in the Cistern, hold open office hours and visit our classes. Professors here have open door policies, and this encourages students to ask for help and build real, lasting relationships.

And we ask you to do the same.

Students have described the campus atmosphere as one “with many hardships” – bizarre considering Charleston is ranked one of the “world’s friendliest cities.”

But getting to know the students you are leading will only help to make our campus stronger and more cohesive.

Lead with passion, empathy

As a president with a powerful cultural background, we urge you to use your experience as well as your academic expertise to empower this college community to achieve great things as well as feel safe in its own skin.

Charleston is a city of great history, and The College is a key institution in that history. Without a president willing to combat the ugly parts of those intertwining histories, the College of Charleston will never properly excel.

Thank you for taking on the challenge of being our president. We are excited to see what the future of The College becomes and how your expertise can lead us there.

 

Sincerely,

Thomas Macnamara

Caylin Gregory

Christine Andersen

Kylie Wehunt

Lauren Marinelli

Isabel Solorio

Hampton Slagle

 

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