CofC students rally against McConnell as president

CofC students rally against McConnell as president
Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell
Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell

More than 200 College of Charleston students protested against the hiring of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell as the college's next president during a rally Monday. 

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - McConnell says his confidence hasn't been affected by the rally. He was on campus while the protesting was going on, meeting with students and administration.

McConnell also said the students are entitled to free speech and people who know him have nice things to say.

The Lt. Governor says he will meet with students as time goes by getting to know the campus, giving them the chance to know him.

A crowd of protesters gathered for a "Student Resistance Rally"at the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. According to a release, over 300 students were expected to be on hand to conduct an ultimatum speech calling for"Glenn McConnell to be withdrawn as President-Elect for the College of Charleston."

The CofC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to offer McConnell the position after about two hours of deliberation Saturday.

Stefan Koester, a student organizer of the rally said to the crowd at the Cistern Yard, "Stand with me, stand with each other because this is the wrong decision. This is a political maneuver."

Students at the College of Charleston were fired up chanting,"We don't want no political drama, go home McConnell."

Hundreds marched their way down campus streets with concern spanning a number of issues from politics, to diversity and just simply being included.

"We feel that the board of trustees did not listen to the will and wishes of the student body and even the faculty," said Brandon Upson, recent graduate and rally organizer.

The students say they just want their opinions heard and valued.

Junior Keyayanna Alexander said, "This was my dream college.I feel like right now, honestly if I wasn't a junior, I would transfer because I feel like what I want for this school isn't being done."

Alexander held a sign reading, "Stop selling hate."

McConnell is known for dressing up as a Civil War reenactor.

Supporters of the Lt. Gov. posted their own signs around campus reading, "Reenacting equals recreating history." The sign also said,"McConnell is not a racist."

The Lt. Governor still has to sign his contract, so protesters are hoping their rally will cause the board of trustees to restart the search process.

Alexander said, "Even if he does stay the president, at least he knows we want certain things and we're not going to stop until we see what he's trying to do."

Kristi Brian, Director of Diversity, Education and Training spoke to the crowd saying, "Please, offer us your leadership, offer us your courage."

"It's going to take some principled actions on the part of our board of trustees, on the part of Glenn McConnell to recognize that his candidacy is problematic for us," said Brian.

Greg Padgett, chairman of the college's Board of Trustees, issued a statement Monday afternoon following the rally.

"With three excellent finalists, it would be surprising if all of our campus and community constituencies could agree on who should be the top choice for the presidency," Padgett said. "Our job as the Board was to make a choice between outstanding candidates, and I'm confident the Board made a careful and thoughtful choice."

"Lt. Gov. McConnell has told me he intends to begin meeting with campus and community groups immediately so that he can share his vision and goals, learn more about the College's programs, and discuss all of the opportunities we have to advance the College's mission as a first-class institution of higher education,"Padgett said.

McConnell has been criticized throughout the presidential search process for his participation in Civil War reenactments and support of the Confederate flag. Members of the NAACP have called him "the face of the Confederacy" in the state.

Rally organizers are asking for a one-on-one meeting with members of the Board of Trustees. 

The students who rallied are also planning on going to the Student Government Association meeting Tuesday at 4:30 to express their concerns. That meeting will be in the ballroom of the Stern Center.

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