Univ. of South Carolina Student Senate mandates Safe Zone Ally Training

The Student Senate at the University of South Carolina passed a bill Wednesday evening mandating Safe Zone Ally Training for all Student Government members.

The bill passed 22-2 in favor of the mandatory training, with four abstaining.

According to the University of South Carolina’s website, “Safe Zone is a campus wide program designed to visibly identify students, staff, and faculty who support the LGBTQ population, understand some of the issues facing LGBTQ individuals, and are aware of the various LGBTQ resources.”

The school’s newspaper The Daily Gamecock reported that Sen. Kaitlin McClamrock claims the purpose of the act was, in part, to catch up with other SEC schools.

“One of the things we’re lagging behind in is issues of LGBTQ students on campus,” she said. “Something specifically that we noticed is that the University of Alabama, as well as the University of Mississippi, have a training that’s mandatory for all their student government officials.”

The Safe Zone Participant Workbook, the main text used in the safe zone training program, includes an “Ally Commitment Pledge,” which students have to sign agreeing that they are “committed to working toward providing a safe, confidential support network for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer community both at the University of South Carolina and elsewhere while seeking to uphold the Carolinian Creed through these actions.”

The workbook also tells students to “examine their privilege” and gives examples of “heterosexual” and “cisgender” privileges.

Senator Byron Thomas, a senior at USC and one of the two students who opposed the bill, spoke with Campus Reform stating “I believe it's sad that we're requiring people to take this program targeted at one group. Because what's next? Are there going to be more groups you have to take training on? I believe that would have to happen to be fair.

“It’s sad that we're going to require people to take this training and if they refuse … they'll be removed.”

The Safe Zone Ally Training, according to the bill, is a three-hour long training session that, once completed, is valid for three-years. Once the bill goes into effect next fall, senators will have a grace period allowing two missed training sessions. If they miss a third session they will be up for impeachment.

USC's public relations contact did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.

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