Winthrop University opened the doors of Tillman Hall to the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus (SCLBC) Tuesday evening to address concerns from local constituents.
The town hall meeting included S.C. state senators and state representatives.
Several college students from Winthrop and Clinton College stood up at the microphone to address the SCLBC and ask questions regarding anything from jobs after college to the possibility of college students receiving Medicaid.
One Clinton College student asked how it was possible for students to be able to afford health insurance.
“With Medicaid expansion, [students] could qualify for Medicaid,” Rozalynn Goodwin, a representative from the S.C. Hospital Association, said. Goodwin said that now the only students who generally qualify for MedicBy aid are students who are also parents.
“For now, keep your grades up and get a job,” Goodwin said. “When we can expand Medicaid you can quit and focus on school.”
Goodwin presented those in attendance at the town hall meeting a video that promoted facts about Medicaid expansion prior to the SCLBC opening up the floor. The video said that with Medicaid expansion, over 250,000 uninsured South Carolinians would be covered.
Goodwin, who represents close to 110 hospitals across the state, works with policy administration.
“Medicaid expansion is the major issue our legislature is facing,” Goodwin said. “It impacts everyone in the state.”
Representative Gilda Cobb Hunter (Dem—Orangeburg Co.) addressed a question from the audience asking if the SCLBC had any plans to do anything about Winthrop’s tuition, as it is the most expensive public school in S.C.
“Education at private institutions has traditionally been a lot more expensive than a public institution,” Cobb-Hunter said. “Funding in our state goes to public institutions.”
Several students from Winthrop and Clinton College expressed concerns over the economy and the job market after graduation. Kambrell Garvin, a senior political science major at Winthrop, asked if there was more that the legislature could do to lower unemployment levels.
“Create your own job for yourself,” said Rep. Robert Williams (Dem—Darlington and Florence Counties).
Williams urged students to avoid relying on others for a job. Instead, he encouraged students to take initiative and create their jobs that would build the infrastructure of their community.
Eric Bostic, a senior, also expressed concern over the job market upon graduation, especially for those majoring in the arts, journalism or political science like him.
Bostic, whose father spent time in the military and mother worked in a factory, expressed gratitude that his parents worked hard to be able to send him to college.
Bostic also said that he wished to one day sit on the stage just like the SCLBC.
“Preparation for work starts at the beginning of your college career with what you major in,” said Rep. Joseph Neal (Dem—Richland Co.). “It doesn’t make sense to major in something without a market.”
Neal said that students should consider additional education, such as graduate school or pursing a Master’s Degree. “Retraining is an option and should be considered,” said Neal.
Rep. Chandra Dillard (Dem—Greenville Co.) offered a little more positivity to the students in attendance.
“Life is a journey,” Dillard, who is also the treasurer for the SCLBC, said. “Expand your thinking. You don’t always start with your perfect job.”
“You’re going to leave here with a wonderful degree,” said Dillard.
The SCLBC town hall meeting was organized by Rep. John King (Dem—York Co.).
“Winthrop University is the heart of Rock Hill,” King said. “[Winthrop] is centrally located and well respected because of political involvement on both sides.”
King said that because the cost of a university is so high, funding needs to be looked at from all angles, including state funding and private funding.
“Students need to get involved and understand the political process,” King said.
The representative encouraged students to become involved with their local government.