USC’s Pastides honors slain student at graduation, encourages ride share safety

Students, parents and family packed into Colonial Life Arena Saturday morning to watch the University of South Carolina’s class of 2019 graduate.

There was hardly an empty seat in the building, save for a front row chair draped in graduation garb.

That empty seat symbolized the absense of several USC students who died this year, namely Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old political science student who was killed after getting in a car she mistakenly thought was her Uber in March.

“I’d like to take a moment to honor the life and legacy of Samantha Josephson,” USC President Harris Pastides said near the end of Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

Josephson’s family, who were in attendance, received her posthumous bachelor of science degree after the main ceremony, Pastides said.

After Josephson died, Pastides began a national campaign asking for ride share users to confirm key driver information such as car model, license plate number, and to ask the driver “what’s my name” before getting in the car.

“Fellow Gamecocks, class of 2019, we must make sure that what happened to Samantha never happens again to any college student or indeed to any person,” Pastides said. “Asking ‘what’s my name?’ before getting in a ride-share will save lives.”

At Pastides’ urging, the crowd repeated after him: “What’s my name?

“Samantha Josephson.”