I first heard about the potential merger of the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina about a year ago from my parents, who live in Mount Pleasant. I never thought that it would be a possibility. No one will go for that, I thought.
But, a year later, the proposition is officially on the table.
The renaming and "merging" of these two radically different institutions is appalling. As a business move, it may make sense (read: the state wants another research university), but as a proud alum and someone who loves that city, it's incredibly disheartening.
The college is older than the United States of America. It is the 13th oldest higher learning institutions in the country. How many places get to say that? How many have that many years of history, of tradition, of survival?
The state representatives presenting this bill have dollar signs in their eyes, but are forgetting there is more to these schools than financial aspects. They claim this is only a name, it will help the economy of Charleston, be a more cohesive unit. There is so much more to the name. To call it just that is an insult that many alumni feel.
What other places have a campus where battles were fought, where white tux graduations are still held, where you stub your towed on original cobblestone sidewalks four times a week?
Can you find another campus with historical housing for undergrads, ghosts in houses, and the biggest amount of pride in a school with no football team?
That's what the name stands for. It stands for beauty and tradition and a school we will fight for. It stands for 250 years of honor, of tradition, of excellence, of positive change, of Southern gentility.
There is a way to create collaborative programs without forcing a merger. The College of Charleston and Clemson have graduate architectural programs. Clemson has a joint training program with the bioengineering and Ph.D. program at MUSC.
MUSC and the College of Charleston were built upon different ideals, goals, history, and passions - liberal arts and medicine. Forcing the combination would lose sight of their successes and hold back the progress of the schools for years to come while they attempt to align their goals.
The merger would force more uniqueness out of downtown. The cruise ships and growing, uncontrolled tourism have already hurt the quaintness of the city. This new "university" would take even more of that charm away.
There is a reason people love the city, and the continual changes to commercialize the city will hurt it in the end.
Our seal states, "This shrine cares for traditions."
You dare to take that away from us?
College of Charleston Class of 2011
East 11th Street
New York, N.Y.