SC State holds march, rally to support university

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WCIV/AP) - Supporters of South Carolina State University rallied Saturday to show their support for the state's only historically black public university.

Dozens marched through Orangeburg on Saturday for a rally in front of the university's student center. Members of the Orangeburg Alumni chapter organized the event to encourage statewide support for South Carolina State.

The school has been working to reduce an $18 million deficit.

"We wanted to show the community we are here, we are relevant and crucial to this community," said Aaron Russell, the school's SGA President.

Signs reading "Never Give Up" filled the crowd while some gave encouraging words of rebounding. The message was simple: they will stand behind their school even through difficult times.

"Any organization can go through periods of challenges, and this is our challenge," said alumnus Evia Thomas, class of 1962. "As a loyal supporter to this school I will do what I can to stay faithful and help see my alma mater through this difficult time."

"It's difficult to see my school like this," said Kris Bennett, a junior at the university. "But I know we are going to rise above it."

The president of the school believes the university will persist as well.

"There's no gift that's too small, but certainly we are looking for major transformational gifts for this university. We are going to be working hard to raise money at all levels around the state with individuals, corporations and with foundations to support our students," said President Thomas Elzey.

Elzey said he is glad to have the support of the city, but he also wants the support of the statehouse.

"The mayor and various elected officials were all here to show their pride in this university. So we hope they see that," said Elzey.

The rally was the first since students returned to campus for the start of the school year, but supporters say it won't be the last.