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The Fast Against Silence: Local action, global stage

On Monday, Feb. 6, three Clemson professors, Drs. Todd May, Chenjerai Kumanyika, and Michael Sears began the week-long “Fast Against Silence;” these professors sat in protest on the stairs of Sikes Hall “to call attention to Clemson administration’s silence, its failure to issue a public statement criticizing President Trump’s Muslim ban,” as stated by May in an email to The Tiger.
While Clemson University did sign on to the American Council on Education (ACE) letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (see below), signed by 598 colleges in total, which expressed concern for the executive order, it has not issued a separate statement in public opposition of the order. Administration of numerous universities as well as other bodies of higher education, such as the Association of American Universities, have already done so, most within just a few days of the order.
“Clemson has instead displayed a cowardice that is an embarrassment during this time of crisis in higher education,” said May.
When asked about whether the halt of the travel ban ordered by District Judge James Robart of Washington state – and since kept in place by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – had affected the plans or aims of the demonstration, May said “[n]ot at all. The halt is a temporary one, and so it is more important than ever that Clemson break its silence on the issue before a permanent determination is made.”
In response to why the professors chose fasting as their approach, May stated: “Our fasting is a symbolic statement of solidarity for those who are suffering because of the ban…we also want to ensure that people remember that President Trump’s attempt to keep people from our shores is exposing many innocent people in places like Syria to horrific suffering.”
The Tiger contacted May during his time at Sikes to see how the campus and administration specifically had reacted. 
The support garnered by the demonstration has been broad; “We have letters from Denmark, we have letters from the U.K.,” May said, as he listed some of the most far-removed shows of support. Professors from Georgetown University, the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Oxford, as well as numerous other Clemson faculty, have voiced their support of the Fast Against Silence.
Since the beginning of the fast, Clemson administration has not used the front door of Sikes Hall, according to May. 
“We have not seen them,” he said. “They have not walked by here.”
When asked about any related plans for the future, May said, “We’re working on things.”
Come tomorrow morning (Sunday, Feb. 12), the three professors’ liquid fast will be over. As for any future developments, make sure to check for updates. 
Check out the ACE’s letter, the tumblr page “Letters Against the Silence,” and Dr. Kumanyika’s blog on tumblr below:

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