USCB name change proposal draws mixed reviews from students

September 11, 2010 

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USCB Student Government President Luke Kerr-Dineen, left, stands outside the campus center with Vice President Taylor Mason on Friday afternoon at the Hilton Head Gateway Campus. They object to plans to change the school's name to USC Sea Islands.

SARAH WELLIVER

  • To learn more about the name change discussion, visit uscb.edu/identity.

A proposal by University of South Carolina Beaufort officials to change the school's name has become a hot topic for students, playing a part in last week's elections for the student Senate.

"Everybody is just up in arms about it," said Luke Kerr-Dineen, student body president.

"It took a lot of students by surprise and caught a lot of people off-guard," said Chris Moyer, student body treasurer.

When the newly elected student Senate meets for the first time Friday, Kerr-Dineen said he expects one of its first agenda items will be a resolution on the issue.

Discussions about replacing the "Beaufort" in the name with a broader description of the region gained momentum this summer.

The university and its branding committee plan to decide later this month if it's worthwhile to move forward with market research to test the current name against new possibilities, said Lynn McGee, the university's vice chancellor for advancement.

Kerr-Dineen said students are divided on the issue.

Some, like Erica Moore and Darlene Casuga, like the name the way it is.

"What's the point?" Moore asked. "(USCB) is simple, it's easy and that's who we already are."

"I don't think it's necessary," Casuga said of the proposal. "They should just promote what's good about USCB and not focus on changing the name."

Others, including most members of the Student Government Association's Executive Board, see a need to broaden the school's appeal by developing a better description of the region, particularly since most classes are now offered at the campus in Bluffton.

"We're bigger than Beaufort now," said Taylor Mason, student body vice president.

But Kerr-Dineen said most students -- even those that support a name change -- are speaking out against the alternative presented by university officials: University of South Carolina Sea Islands.

He said some think the name is tacky while others call it misleading because the campuses aren't actually on islands.

He says the acronym -- USCSI -- is too similar to the name of the popular television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

Sea Island is also the name of a resort in Georgia, he said.

"It makes the school sound like a vacation," said student Whitney Tresvant. "We're not a Sandals resort. The tone totally changes."

But from a marketing perspective, student Erin Cothran thinks "Sea Islands" could entice more students to learn about the school.

"I think it has a nice ring to it," she said.

Cothran said many unfamiliar with the Lowcountry don't know what "Beaufort" means. But seeing the word "island" on a brochure might prompt potential students to give the school a chance, she said.

Some students have suggested alternatives to the "Sea Islands" name.

Vice Chancellor McGee said she is keeping a list of those suggestions and will present it to the branding committee for review.

Among the names students have offered are USC-Atlantic, USC-Lowcountry, USC-Palmetto Coast, USC-Southern and USC-Hilton Head.

A name change ultimately would have to be approved by the University of South Carolina's Board of Trustees and wouldn't take effect until at least next fall, McGee said. She said that organization would consider student input -- and probably request official statements from student leaders -- before making the decision.

Chancellor Jane Upshaw plans to meet with interested students Wednesday and Thursday, and McGee also has offered to talk to student groups about the reasons behind a name change.

McGee already met with the representatives of the Student Government Association and plans to talk to the student Senate this week.

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