USC declines Constitution course, keeps 'Tailgating 101'

The University of South Carolina doesn’t offer a course centered on founding U.S. documents, such as the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers because it says that would be too financially stringent. Meanwhile, the university invites students to take a class on the art of tailgating. 

A South Carolina law mandating colleges and universities make a course on the Constitution mandatory for graduation previously received push-back from the University of South Carolina. In 2014, former university president Harris Pastides wrote to the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Lawrence Grooms, asking for the bill to be rethought, as previously reported by Campus Reform

The university claimed that teaching a mandatory course on the Constitution would be too much financially, even as it currently offers a variety of courses one might not expect to find at an institution o higher learning. For example, USC offers a course, titled, “Tailgating 101.” 

The class offers “hands-on training in the basic foundations of classic tailgating dishes, including grilling, frying, and braising, basic food safety, and new techniques to create personalized dishes.”

[RELATED: USC ignores state law, refuses US civics graduation requirement]

Campus Reform reached out to a number of administrators and faculty members at the University of South Carolina, all of whom declined to comment, as did the National Tailgating Association. However, Katherine Barbieri, associate professor and vice-chair of the Department of political science at the university told Campus Reform that the school does have many courses on the Constitution. 

“In addition to the Department of Political Science, there are other departments in the College of Arts and Sciences that offer courses focused on the Constitution,” Barbierie told Campus Reform.  She listed “Constitutional History of the United States I,” “Constitutional History of the United States II,” and “Constitutional Law,” as courses at the school. 

Regarding the previous report from Campus Reform stating that the school requires the course for graduation, Barbieri called the article “an unfortunate mischaracteriz[ation] of USC,” and said, “I do not appreciate when facts are twist[ed] to support the left or right.” 

She did not comment on the mandatory requirement of the course. 

But the law that states the requirement of students learning the Constitution includes other founding documents as well. 

[RELATED: University editorial board: students ‘don’t need’ to study America’s founding documents]

It states, “all high schools, colleges, and universities in this State that are sustained or in any manner supported by public funds shall give instruction in the essentials of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals, and no student in any such school, college, or university may receive a certificate of graduation without previously passing a satisfactory examination upon the provisions and principles of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, and, if a citizen of the United States, satisfying the examining power of his loyalty thereto.”

The law further states that the required founding documents course should be at least one year in length. 

”The instruction provided for in Section 59-29-120 shall be given for at least one year of the high school, college and university grades, respectively,” it states. 

USC has previously called this requirement “archaic” and has asked lawmakers to update the statute to allow for more ”timely” graduation. 

A bill currently being considered in the South Carolina legislature would amend the law so that the requirement for college students to graduate is reduced from one year of studying U.S. founding documents to one semester. 

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