The Chairman of Clemson’s Board of Trustees is responding to comments Benjamin Tillman made in the past. But its Tillman’s past as a white supremacist that continues to haunt the university.
Tillman hall was vandalized this week and faculty is again calling for the name to be removed.
We read quotes by Benjamin Tillman to Clemson University’s Board of Trustees Chairman David Wilkins. He’s quoted as saying. “Teach the [expletive] a lesson by having whites demonstrate their authority by killing as many as possible.”
An iconic entry building on campus is named after the same man because he was a founding trustee.
“Those comments are totally indefensible,” Wilkins responded to the quotes. “Nobody is trying to defend that or defend that view. There’s not anybody I know that believes in that.”
When we asked Wilkins if there is a difference between the confederate flag and Tillman’s name as a symbol? He told 7 On Your Side he believes everyone has a different opinion on Tillman and that the confederate flag has been “hijacked“ as a racist symbol.
But for many Clemson students and faculty it’s the same. “You wouldn’t expect Jews to go into a building named Adolf Hitler or something like that,” said Jonathon Miller, a Senior at Clemson. “It’s the same thing for black people.”
Tillman Hall was vandalized earlier this week and a confederate flag was raised outside of it overnight.
“I don’t see why it’s an issue of changing a name of a building or place of someone who was known as being a bad person, just generally a bad person,” Miller added.
Clemson faculty are once again saying they want something done about Tillman’s name now, but Wilkins says the Board of Trustees is always talking about what to do. “Tillman is important to a lot of people. People have different views about it. It’s also part of the total diversity issue at Clemson and we are focused on improving diversity,” he said.
Wilkins says Clemson’s president and the board of trustees will meet next week to improve diversity at the school. He adds Tillman is always a part of that discussion.
The university board of trustees voted *not* to change the name early this year. Protesters asked university administrators to rename the building in January to help alleviate racial tensions on campus.
The only way to legally alter it is through the state legislature.