The Buzz

May 13, 2014

USC Upstate cuts center that sponsored gay-culture event, Senate ends book debate

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

The University of South Carolina Upstate has cut the center that sponsored a gay culture symposium this spring while trimming $450,000 from its budget next year.

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies will close on July 1. The Spartanburg school also make cuts involving its honors and continuing studies programs and the Greenville campus.

Much of the come from moving an undisclosed number of faculty and staff from 12-month positions to 9- or 11-month jobs.

“(W)e are reducing administrative costs and applying the savings toward increased effectiveness and efficiency,” USC Upstate Chancellor Tom Moore said. “While all of these decisions are difficult, the changes impacting our Center for Women’s and Gender Studies are particularly hard given the importance of their programming and the unfortunate timing of this announcement."

Moore said the timing was not related to the controversy over the symposium that at one-time included a play called “How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less" that was canceled after an outcry.

“Not only is this decision not punitive or a response to external pressure, it is part of an effort to be consistent and systematic across academic affairs in how we administer and support various programs,” Moore said.

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Women’s and Gender Studies is the only interdisciplinary minor that has a dedicated center, the school said. The closing will create an "efficient and effective structure" to strengthen interdisciplinary minors including Women’s and Gender Studies, African American Studies and International Studies, Moore said.

USC Upstate was part of a controversy along with College of Charleston for assigning gay-themed books to freshmen in the fall.

The House voted to cut nearly $70,000 in funding from the schools -- the cost of the reading programs. A Senate budget panel restored the money.

After days of debating the issue, the full Senate voted Tuesday to require the schools to use the money teach provisions and principles of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Federalist Papers as well as "the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals."

The budget amendment allows students "based on a sincerely held religious, moral, or cultural belief" to receive an alternative required-reading assignment or skip a mandatory lecture or seminar, that is not part of a class.

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