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‘Disrespectful and hurtful’: Former USC student leader slams SC official’s remarks on protesters

Watch: USC Student Government forum discusses upcoming Caslen vote

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees will vote on candidate Robert Caslen's presidency Friday. Students gathered Wednesday to share their thoughts with the student body president, who will represent them.
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The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees will vote on candidate Robert Caslen's presidency Friday. Students gathered Wednesday to share their thoughts with the student body president, who will represent them.

A former University of South Carolina student body president blasted comments by S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis, who in a Facebook post referred to students and faculty protesting a university presidential candidate as “Social Justice Warriors” who “moan and groan at every turn.”

Loftis said in a Facebook post last week that he supported Gov. Henry McMaster’s efforts to pressure a vote by USC’s Board of Trustees on former U.S. Military Academy at West Point Superintendent Robert Caslen. A board meeting to vote on Caslen was scheduled for last week, but a court order blocked that meeting, which was rescheduled to this Friday.

“The Social Justice Warriors, both students and faculty, will protest, moan and groan at every turn, but the working men and women of this state deserve proven leadership that will not bend to fickle wants of the mob,” reads the post on Loftis’ Facebook page. “These Social Justice Warriors want to redistribute our wealth and opportunities based on their Marxist ideologies and without worry about the consequences to our future. They believe in the minority rule of the angry mob, not the majority rule of the silent, hardworking, tax paying men and women of SC.”

The post was initially available to any Facebook user, but is now only available to Loftis’ Facebook followers.

In an open letter to Loftis published online last week, Jotaka Eaddy, who graduated from USC in 2001 and was the first African-American woman elected as student body president, slammed the treasurer’s remarks as “disrespectful and hurtful” and said he owes an apology to the students, faculty and alumni of the university.

“[Y]our juxtaposition of these young people as ‘angry mob’ that ‘moan and groan at every turn’ while referring to anyone that has not expressed opposition as ‘silent, hardworking, tax paying, men and women of SC’ is emblematic of the dog-whistle politics that have marred the political discourse in the South for far too long,” she wrote. “Are the students and faculty of the University of South Carolina not hard-working or tax payers?”

Loftis declined to respond to Eaddy’s letter, a spokeswoman for his office said. A statement from his office to ABC Columbia says that “due to the obscene and threatening comments being made, many from out of state, the post is now visible to 5000 followers.”

Eaddy told The State she learned of Loftis’ remarks after seeing it shared on social media.

“I was dismayed that a statewide elected official would make such inflammatory statements toward a group of students and faculty,” she said.

Eaddy is a member of the Board of Governors at the Alumni Association but said she penned her letter as an alumnus and former student body president of USC and a South Carolina taxpayer, and that it doesn’t reflect the views of the board.

“I’ve heard from a diverse group of people,” she said of the feedback on her letter. “I’ve heard from Democrats, I’ve heard from Republicans. I’ve heard from people of different ethnicities and ages. I believe that any human being that cares about humility in our nation would be concerned with his comments.”

Eaddy said she hopes Loftis apologizes, and that she is open to talking with him personally.

“I believe that every human being, they’re capable of redemption, and that we as human beings all have an ability to accept our actions, our words and apologize when we need to,” she said. “I would hope that he would strongly think about his words, his actions, the inflammatory nature of those words and apologize.”

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.
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