Another lawmaker says he wants to draft a bill to fix problems at South Carolina State University.
Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, says he plans to hold a public hearing on April 12 to hear what teachers, students, parents and others have to say about the issue. A time and place have not been set, although Ford said it will be held at the university.
“We want to hear what the stakeholders want before drawing up a bill to suit the needs of a new S.C. State — one that is dedicated to one sole purpose, that is the education of the students,” Ford said. “We want people to know there’s going to be a new S.C. State, a new board and definitely a new attitude.”
Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, has already introduced a bill that would end the terms of all trustees on June 30. Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, has introduced one that would eliminate particular seats.
Ford says he doesn’t support Matthews’ bill, which would unseat trustees Maurice Washington, Walt Tobin, Jonathan Pinson and Lancelot Wright and would end the terms of Gail Joyner-Fleming and John Corbitt on June 30.
Some of those members are courageous enough to stand up against people who would take advantage of the university, Ford said.
Ford said he’d like to see some changes to Govan’s bill, which also would reduce the number of trustees from 13 to 11.
Unlike Govan, Ford says he doesn’t want to force all the trustees out, but he does think the board needs a new beginning.
“I want all the board members to resign,” he said. “Then we can have a new election and they can run again. I’m sure the General Assembly now realizes what type of people need to be on the board, and will select the board members who deserve to be there – the ones who are willing to understand this is a whole new day and a new S.C. State, and we’ll put them back on.”
Ford claims members of the establishment have controlled appointments to the board and have used the university for their own personal gain in the past.
“A lot of hanky-panky has been going on with the money, but the glory days are over,” he said.
Ford said, “We’ve got a brand-new broom, and we’re going to do a whole lot of sweeping till we sweep all those people up that destroy that school.”
Govan says he is open to new ideas from other stakeholders and he will be open to discussion with members of the Senate.
“Now, we’re focused on legislation as proposed in the House,” he said “We have always anticipated ... that there are other ideas. We have no problem with that.
“This is a free and open process, and we will weigh the merits of all ideas and find some common ground.”
The General Assembly was slated to elect trustees to two seats on the S.C. State Board of Trustees this session. The terms of at-large trustees Tobin and Lancelot Wright are up this year.
Tobin, Luther Seabrook, Thomas E. Persons Sr. and Clarence Davis are running for Seat 11
Joey Kenley, Jameel Allen, Clarence B. Mitchell, Bryanta Booker-Maxwell and Mae Frazier are running for Seat 12. Wright did not seek re-election.
Elections were delayed for S.C. State and other public colleges and universities because of discussions on how to deal with the additional congressional district, according to Sen. Jake Knotts. He heads the committee to screen candidates for state colleges and universities.
Knotts said he is unsure when the vote will take place.
“Hopefully, it will be this year,” he said. “But it may not take place until early next year.”
In that case, the trustees who are in place probably will continue to serve until the election, Knotts said.
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