- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Instead of cracking down on requirements that university students spend one year learning about the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers, lawmakers should instead tweak the state law about the classes, a university president said.

Several University of South Carolina students brought up the requirement last year, saying the school didn’t follow the law. It is now an issue in the student body president race, and state Sens. Larry Grooms and Chip Campsen recently wrote school President Harris Pastides asking him why the university was ignoring the law.

Pastides wrote back, saying 60 percent of university students take at least one class that deals with the historical documents or get credit for taking a similar advanced placement class. But he said requiring a year of courses would “create an academic logjam, delaying a student’s timely graduation and burdening the student and parent with additional tuition and costs.”

Pastides’ letter was first reported by The Daily Gamecock. The student newspaper also reports Clemson and the College of Charleston don’t require the courses, while Winthrop and Coastal Carolina require three credit hours.

Many of the state statutes requiring a year of classes were passed in the 1920s and need updating, Pastides said. He pointed out the law also requires the university to hold back a certificate of graduation until officials are satisfied a student is sufficiently loyal to the United States. He said enforcing that kind of requirement today would invite a number of lawsuits.

Pastides also said the university holds a number of patriotic programs, including an annual salute to veterans at halftime of a football game.

“Please know the University of South Carolina currently honors and teaches about the United States; its history, government constitution and laws; in ways that best benefits modern undergraduate and graduate students exposure and understanding,” Pastides wrote.

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