Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) – The South Carolina State University (SCSU) Foundation is hosting their 26th Annual Scholarship Gala on Saturday night. The event honors several notable South Carolina Natives and raises money for scholarships.
"This is a hallmark event for the university,” says Michelle Mosely, chair of the scholarship gala committee.
Saturday's event will be no different from the last, but several alumni are saying no to this year's festivities as Republican Senator Tim Scott will be honored.
"I think I share the concerns that a lot of other supporters and stakeholders have,” says K.J. Kearney, who graduated from SCSU in 2005.
Kearney took to Facebook to voice his concerns about the honoring of Sen. Scott saying that “honoring his is counterproductive to the pro-civil rights, anti-fascism ideals the university embodies.”
In a phone interview Kearney says he wasn't happy that Sen. Scott voted for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
"Tim Scott has repeatedly shown, through his tenure and his voting record, not to really care too much about the type of people that South Carolina State has been helping to become constructive citizens over the next 100 years, especially with his cosigning of young Betsy."
"Senator Tim Scott is a native of South Carolina and an avid supporter of South Carolina State University,” says Mosely.
She says the SCSU Foundation decides who will be honored and is independent from the university. While the foundation doesn't take a stance on any political views of their honorees, she says Sen. Scott is deserving of the award.
"His accomplishments have blazed new trails for other African Americans who seek a federal position.”
"He has been a supporter of education and not just SCSU, but at universities and all students, whether it's on the primary, secondary or college level so why shouldn't we have him,” says Vernell Brown, national president for the SCSU National Alumni Association.
Brown says the gala is all about the students and last year they raised $250,000 in scholarships.
"The Pell Grant is harder to get, the plus loan is harder to get so we have more students that need assistance,” says Brown.
"I don't see how if the goal is to get more alumni support and to bolster our alumni donor-ship base, how making a move like this is going to help in that regard,” says Kearney.
Senator Scott responded to our story with a statement saying:
"I am incredibly honored to receive this award with a bipartisan group of fellow recipients. I have been, and will continue to be, supportive of HBCUs and SCSU. I am glad their President was able to attend our HBCU Fly-In we hosted earlier this week in D.C. It was an enlightening experience where we got a chance to hear directly from the leadership at our country's HBCUs."
Former NFL player Donnie Shell and "Luke Cage" star Mike Colter are among the other honorees for Saturday’s gala.