"The South Carolina College again Broken Up," Charleston (SC) Mercury, March 29, 1858, p. 2: 5.
The Charleston Mercury
The South Carolina College again Broken Up
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The South Carolina College again Broken Up.
One hundred and twelve students have just been suspended from this institution, and there are about eighty-six left behind. Thirty-five Seniors, three Juniors, seventy Sophomores, and three Freshmen have been sent off, the greater part until next October. This is the second time within twelve months that this time- honored College, capable of doing so much good, has, under different Presidents, been placed in this story condition. It is time that the people of the State investigate the matter, and that the weight of a calm and enlightened public opinion be brought to bear in finding the precise cause of these ceaseless troubles, and providing a full and adequate remedy for the evil. Where, then lies the fault, and who of the various parties concerned is to blame? Are the youth of Carolina so perverse and unruly—so wanting in all elements of loyalty and subordination to superior authority, that they are utterly ungovernable, and will take no education? Is this the radical defect of our people that has produced, under every successive President for the last thirty years, one and the same story of trouble and rebellion? We think not. The parents of South Carolina, as a rule, are conservative and strict in requiring obedience, and in taking great pains with their children. Carolinians are not of the “Young America” school, either or politics, laws, morals, or manners. They endeavor to inculcate, from the earliest, childhood of their successors, the love of law and order, and a conservative loyalty to all proper authority. Carolinian youth make good soldiers, and are generally considered in institutions out of the State as well- behaved and orderly young men. They generally command the respect of those with whom they come in contact. We, can. Therefore, see no reason for the presumption, that their intolerable spirit of insubordination is the cause of these everyrecurring disorders in the College.
Is it, then, the incompetency of the President and Faculty? It would seem not. For, under a number of distinguished gentlemen from every profession, at the head of the institution, assisted by a succession of Professors of various degrees of ability, the story has been the same. It is impossible to say that this is the cause.
We think it is to be found in the imperfection of the College laws, which are put into the hands of the students to guide them in their conduct. They are such as to encourage mischief, by affording a safe screen to those who choose to engage in it. In fact, the President and Faculty are at the mercy of the students of the students, according to the strict letter of the law. To reach the offenders or perform their official duties, they are forced to violate the letter of the law, to which the students are disposed and ever will hold them. They are, we think, right in doing it, but the consequences are just what we have now.
The only hope of making the College what it should be , is to alter the law so as to confer more power on the faculty , and to put the students always legally and unquestionably in their power for the exercise of their discretion , accountable only to the Trustees and public opinion for an abuse of the trust. The trustees should have nothing to do with the administration of the law and management of the students, continuing themselves exclusively to their legitimate province of making suitable laws and appointing or removing the officers in charge. The Judicious exercise of the powers, without far or favor, would be quite sufficient, leaving to the better- informed Faculty the power of administering the law in each particular case.
The present case fully bears out what we state. A few of the students tar the benches of all the recitation rooms and the chapel, because they want a holiday on Thanksgiving, and the Faculty decline giving it. That they may not profit by this act, the Professors summon them to their parlors in the campus, to recite. According to the laws, the students are required to attend three recitations a day” at the respective lecture rooms,” not at private parlors of Professors, and they refuse to go. Standing on the letter of the law.
So the professors are balked. Nor, according to the letter of the law, can the Faculty inquire into the tarring business; tor the law specifics, as open to interrogatory, when not personally detected in the act or near by when it is done. Only those “absent from prayers. And no roll of the present and absent, there can be no investigation. The students object to answer, as the question is a breach of privilege, leading to a dangerous prestige hereafter. So the faculty is again hulked, and, must choose between suspending these young men, although obeying the strict letter of the love, or they must surrender and become the sport and laughing stock of the campus. We think they acted wisely and well in maintaining their authority, at any rate, and have no doubt public opinion will sustain Judge Longstreet. But the necessity for resorting to these extreme and questionable measures so often in the College, argues something radically wrong in the law. We invite the earnest attention of the Trustees to our crude suggestions.