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A new survey, sponsored by the College of Charleston's student government, finds that nearly 70% of students don't support a "full" merger with MUSC.

That data was released Tuesday night as a the Student Government Association at the College unanimously voted to oppose current merger plans. This is the third group to oppose the possible merger, which is awaiting discussion in Columbia, in as many weeks.

RELATED STORY | CofC faculty unanimously passes resolutions opposing merger plans

Representative Jim Merrill (R-Berkeley) is one of the sponsors of the House version of the bill, along with Rep. Leon Stavrinakis. He said the new, "Charleston University," is much-needed.

"We have in a gap in our education system [in Charleston], and we aren't going to be able to just start a research university from scratch," Rep. Merrill said Tuesday.

Students at the College said they feel the plan is moving too quickly, and lawmakers have not included them in the process.

"The state needs to reach down to the students of both institutions as well as the faculty, and really think it through a little more before the force us to try to do this," student body president Jordan Hensley said.

According to the student survey of more than 1,600 students, only 18% said they support a "full" merger with MUSC. However, 70% said they are interested in the potential for future collaboration with the medical school.

Many of the groups who oppose the merger said lawmakers aren't listening to their worries. Rep. Merrill said they will hear those concerns once the bill is discussed in a House committee.

"You introduce legislation and when you have the formality of legislation, you can assign it to committee and hold hearings," he said.

Merrill also said that the opposition to the possible merger is getting more attention than the quiet supporters, which he said includes the Chamber of Commerce. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and out-going CofC President George Benson also support the merger.

Rep. Merrill said he hopes that everyone will wait until discussions begin before making an opinion about the merge.

"Everyone needs to take a deep breath and to help us get the answers to the questions and have an open mind," he said.

Still, as the student resolution now waits to be sent to officials and lawmakers, Hensley is hoping the students' concerns will be heard and that lawmakers will take more time with the merger process.

"Hopefully they'll take the students' opinions, and the fact that we feel so strongly on this issue and really listen to that," she said.

According to Rep. Merrill, the bill is currently awaiting discussion in the Ways and Means Committee. He said it will be close to three weeks before any discussion begins on the plan.

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