Protesting Clemson students arrested and released

CLEMSON, SC (WSPA) – Five Clemson University students who refused to leave the Sikes Hall building were released on their own recognizance Thursday evening.

The students were a part of a group who staged a sit-in over what they called “a racially charged attitude” at the University.

Students were then told to leave Sikes Hall by 5:30pm Thursday or face arrest.

The five remaining students were arrested for trespassing after notice around 5:45 pm and released around 7pm.

A court date for the students, now known as the “Clemson 5”, has been set for May 25th.

The students continued to protest Friday morning.

The sit-in started after someone hung bananas on a campus poster promoting African American history.

The move was ultimately denounced by Clemson University President Jim Clements, but students felt that didn’t go far enough.

Around 4:45 p.m. Clements released an email addressing the students’ concerns over diversity and inclusion. He cited successes at Clemson including a diversity initiative and the hiring of a chief diversity officer who starts April 18.

Students say they have not been given enough time to understand Clements’ email.

Dear Clemson Family,

This week has seen positive activities regarding Diversity and Inclusion at Clemson University. This past Saturday, a $1 million dollar gift by Trustee Mark Richardson and his family along with a $5 million dollar challenge gift to support the Emerging Scholars Program was announced, this was followed by a week-long recognition of PRIDE week activities, and Tuesday marked a historic day with the unveiling of historic plaques marking the importance of African Americans and Native Americans in this university’s past.

Let me take this opportunity to recap a number of other initiatives that have taken place and continue to occur at Clemson University. This is only a subset of a number of activities taking place.

Funding for Student Organizations
The Interim Chief Diversity Officer, Vice-President of Student Affairs, the Provost and I have funded over $100,000 per year for travel and special events involving minority students or student organizations whose primary constituencies are under-represented groups. The Administration will collaborate with Student Government leaders to review the funding process for organizations to insure that the process is equitable and clear for all applying for funding.

Recruitment
Since 2013, we have seen an increase of nearly 13 percent in our African-American undergraduate enrollment and an increase of nearly 31 percent in Hispanic undergraduate enrollment.
In the graduate school, we have seen African- American enrollment increased more than 7 percent and Hispanic enrollment more than 36 percent.
From Fall 15 to Fall 16, we are up 30 percent in African American enrollments and 16 percent overall.
Funding for scholarships aimed at diverse student recruitment has increased dramatically:
· FY 2013-14 = $0
· FY 2014-15 = $540,000
· FY 2015-16 = $1.5 million
· FY 2016-17 = (projected) $2.2 million

This year we raised a record amount in private funds for need-based scholarships and programs targeting under-represented populations and diversity initiatives.

In the request for future funding from the state of South Carolina, Clemson requested additional funding from the state for Call Me Mister and Emerging Scholars, two programs focused on minority student development and recruitment that have national stature.

And recently the Provost re-envisioned and planned a new Career Workshop to help minority student prospects prepare for national tests (ACT and SAT). He provided an initial budget of $24,000.

Increases in People of Color among Faculty and Administrators
My Executive Leadership Team now includes two African Americans and one person from western Asia. Between 2013 and 2015, the proportion of minority (non-white) faculty has increased from 15.1 percent to 18.8 percent of the total. Funding for programs aimed at recruiting faculty of color has increased by more than $350,000 per year with further increases being planned. Faculty recruiting to support a Provost Fellow in the Office of Equity and Inclusion, four postdocs in a special postdoc to faculty hiring program, and to support the Pathways program to help diverse Ph.D. students find employment opportunities at Clemson and elsewhere have been initiated.

Multicultural Center
Changes were made to the existing Gantt Center space in fall 2014, however it remains crowded and is located in a building that will eventually be torn down. In spring 2016, the Gantt Center was offered space in the building that houses the library archives and Strom Thurmond Institute, but the Gantt staff believed the location was too far from the center of campus to work. The administration has been actively seeking other spaces on campus for temporary expansion of the center, and it is committed to a dialogue with the Gantt Center and a representative cross-section of students to plan for a long-term home for the Center.

Building Names
The Clemson Board of Trustees passed a resolution stating that “Benjamin Tillman was also known to be by his own admission an ardent racist and led a campaign of terror against African Americans in South Carolina that included intimidation and violence of which he boasted about publicly; and for some members of our university family Benjamin Tillman’s legacy included not only contributions to Clemson University but also oppression, terror and hate.” And resolving that “The sense of the Board of Trustees is that such actions and views of Benjamin Tillman are repugnant to our values and our fundamental purpose of being a high seminary of education.” The Board developed a series of recommendations based on the work of a History Task Force. These recommendations are intended to tell the complete, though imperfect, story of Clemson – beyond renaming historical campus buildings, such as Tillman Hall – in which the authority rests with the South Carolina General Assembly via the Heritage Act.

Communications
Monthly student dialogues were initiated in spring 2015. These activities bring small groups of minority and majority students together to bridge gaps and learn more about each other. The President’s Leadership in Diversity Lecture Series was launched in fall 2015. Significant changes in content and in volume have occurred for the marketing of diversity with the university website, publications and content on ClemsonTV. We continue to denounce hateful speech that is divisive to our community.

Enhancing and Broadening Diversity Training
To date, more than 500 faculty, staff, and administrators have completed a day-long civil workplace training program. Student training currently occurs in orientation, the CU 1000 course, resident halls, Greek life, and other venues. The university is committed to have all faculty, staff and administrators complete the civil workplace training program. It is also committed to seek feedback from students regarding the current student programs, and to work to increase their effectiveness.

Diversity as a Central Value for Clemson
The Dean of Undergraduate Studies is currently reviewing and revising the CU 1000 course to include more emphasis on diversity and a discussion of the university’s history. The Provost and Vice President for Student Affairs are considering additional course content related to diversity and inclusiveness for sophomore, junior and senior courses.

While this provides a brief summary of a number of issues regarding Diversity and Inclusion at Clemson over the recent past, more work remains.

On Monday, April 18th, we welcome the addition of our new Chief Diversity Officer, Mr. Lee Gill, to assist us in our efforts to move forward. I want the entire campus community to know that I remain committed to improving the efforts of diversity and inclusion at this university. Please join me in these efforts to make Clemson a more supportive and welcoming environment for all.

Go Tigers!
Jim Clements

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