Residents standing up for USCL

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By Chris Sardelli

An e-mail address where residents can write to express their  opposition to Gov. Mark Sanford’s proposal to close the University of South Carolina at Lancaster has attracted a huge response.

Since the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce set up the account a week ago, more than 1,000 e-mails have poured in.

Dean Faile, president of the chamber, asked residents last week to add their names to a resolution refuting the governor’s proposal. He said the response has been impressive. Residents were asked to send their e-mails to saveuscl@comporium.net.

“It’s been interesting because neither in the e-mail or press release did we ask for comments, but we got a lot of them,” Faile said. “People are very upset.”

Faile said that 70 percent of the e-mails include more than one name, as families and businesses have written to express disapproval of closing USCL. This means there are more than a thousands names that have been added to the list.

Faile hopes to hand deliver the resolution, along with the collected names and addresses, to Sanford’s office and other members of the state House and Senate.

Those who have written include past and present students, families and local businesses worried how the loss of USCL would impact the county.

Faile said the letters from past graduates include a retired chief of police, the chief financial officer of a large business and a brigadier general from the Army, each of whom said they would not have their careers without their education they received at USCL.

“Some letters are gut-wrenching because they say if USCL were to close, many students would end up not going to college,” Faile said.

Peggy Young is one of the many people worried what will happen to local students if the college were to close.

Young, a secretary at Andrew Jackson High School, decided to write an e-mail expressing how important USCL was for her son, Harry, who graduated from the college in May with an associate business degree.

“I think they should keep it (USCL) so it will be closer for our kids,” Young said. “It’s just so efficient. Even though it’s just a two-year program, they can still get what they need from it.”

In her e-mail, she said closing the school would hurt area students who would have to travel farther or move to go to college.

Faile believes closing USCL  would have a negative impact on the whole county.

Even if the General Assembly does not approve closing USCL, he said many businesses may be wary about establishing their operations in Lancaster County. This in turn could harm the local economy.

Faile said keeping USCL open makes financial sense for the state, since the cost to fund students at USCL is around $2,000 per student per year. In comparison, the cost to fund students at Winthrop University in Rock Hill is more than $5,000 per student.

“This is the polar opposite of what should be happening at USCL,” Faile said. “I would like to ask him (Sanford) to remove us from this list and state that USCL is a model for higher education in the state.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416