At the South Carolina Student Legislature (SCSL) fall session Nov. 6-8 in Columbia, the Erskine College cohort, comprising 15 students this year, was named Best Small Delegation for the sixth time in the past 11 years.
Erskine students served in leadership roles during the session; a number of Erskine-sponsored bills were passed; and an Erskine senior who had been serving as lieutenant governor since last year’s SCSL elections took over as governor when the student originally chosen resigned.
Junior Delaney Atkinson of Clinton, Erskine’s delegation chair, served as lieutenant governor during the session, and Erskine sophomore Caroline Woolard of Camden was chosen lieutenant governor for the coming year.
Bills proposed by members of the Erskine delegation and passed during the session represented a variety of topics and concerns. Sophomore Roberto Monzalvo, a history major from Batesburg, presented a bill to make Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as “Dreamers,” eligible for in-state tuition rates and fees at public institutions of higher education as well as for state-supported scholarships and grants. Caroline Woolard, also a history major, introduced a bill designed to control insulin costs for diabetics.
For Erskine senior Alex Leasure of Sumter, a double major in American Studies and Political Science, the unexpected promotion to SCSL governor presented some challenges. The elected governor, who resigned because she was transferring to an out-of-state school, contacted Leasure at the end of June this year, but wanted to delay announcing her resignation until the end of July.
Meanwhile, Leasure understood the former governor to say that venues had already been reserved for SCSL’s next session. As it turned out, while the SCSL senators were able to meet in the actual senate chamber, the SCSL representatives met in a large committee room. “You have to have a resolution on the floor of the house in order to schedule that space,” Leasure said. By the time he was notified that he would be serving as governor, the legislature was no longer in session.
Perhaps the most unusual problem Leasure encountered concerned a proposed donation to SCSL from the South Carolina legislature. A condition for acceptance of the donation was that non-profit status be secured for SCSL. “In the eyes of the state, we are a non-profit, but in the eyes of the federal government we are not,” he said. Leasure began researching the proper procedures for obtaining federal non-profit status, working with the SCSL treasurer to ensure that the group will be able to accept donations in the future.
During this year’s fall session, Leasure received the Carlisle Award, the highest honor given by SCSL, in recognition of his dedication to the organization.
Members of the Erskine delegation, in addition to Atkinson, Leasure, Monzalvo, and Woolard, included freshman Tome Filkov of Lackawanna, N.Y.; junior Tanner Frye of Spartanburg; senior Mikayla Glenn of Clinton; sophomore Noah Jordan of Lugoff; senior Imani Parks-Williams of Columbia; junior Leigh Pendergrass of Columbia; senior Anna Price of Columbia; senior Elizabeth Schneider of Greer; senior Trey Watts of Lexington; junior Brooke Weathers of Greenwood; and freshman Malaysya Zeinelabdin of Charlotte, N.C.