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Q&A with CU SAGA President Jessie Bailey

President Bailey is also an Orientation advisor, which makes her a friend of the Tiger Cub.
Photo contributed by Jessie Bailey

President Bailey is also an Orientation advisor, which makes her a friend of the Tiger Cub.

With Pride Week in full swing, the Tiger sat down with President Bailey to discuss the importance of Pride Week as well as campus dialogue.


The Tiger News (TTN): We’ve seen the campus LGBT+ community respond to a recent Outlook article about gender-neutral bathrooms. What’s your response?

Jessie Bailey (JB): The issue with his article is that it’s founded entirely on his self-professed lack of knowledge of the trans community. Instead of expressing a willingness to learn, he discards all of the information available to him (which is basically infinite, because the internet).

This is the root of Clemson’s problem. I’ve seen it in LGBTQ issues, I see it in the race issues happening on this campus as I type this. The students who hold privilege cannot easily understand the struggle of underrepresented populations, so they give up because it’s “not their problem.” It isn’t an excuse. The disenfranchisement of students on this campus, in any capacity, is all of our problem, because our classmates feel unsafe, and prospective students see it on social media and they pick another school. 

We don’t have the luxury of a campus climate like NYU, which boasts something like 12 LGBTQ student orgs. Space to speak widely on queer issues is extremely valuable because it’s relatively rare here. It gave me chest pains to see that space used irresponsibly — on an article that contained no information or even any conviction: just a lot of, “I’m not sure.” I respect freedom of press; he’s free to take whatever stance he wants. But if he’s going to address the issue, it should be from a strong and educated perspective, not one that makes the people who get it cringe and the ones who don’t just shrug and forget about it.


TTN: What do people with views like the author of the Outlook piece need to understand?

 JB:Clemson students need to understand that queer student activists aren’t coming to destroy Clemson tradition. We aren’t interested in “forcing our agenda down everyone’s throats,” or ruining Clemson for everyone else. Fact is, freshmen get here for Orientation and they’re afraid. Everyone’s nervous at Orientation, but on top of every academic worry and concern about making friends is this fear they’ll have to conceal part of themselves to get by here. They feel unsafe. It is unacceptable for any student to feel afraid to live on this campus.


TTN: Why is Pride Week important for Clemson’s campus?

JB:Last night, a non-Clemson student attended Open Mic Night and stood up in a moment of bravery and told us her story. 

She came out as a lesbian just two weeks ago and she’s still very new in navigating her identity and said she still felt strange in her own skin and just wanted someone to tell her that her feelings are valid. I watched her make several personal connections that night with other LGBTQ and allied people. That’s the best explanation I could hope to give as to why Pride Week is necessary.


TTN: What specific issues concerning the LGBT+ community do you think need to be addressed on campus?

JB:LGBTQ students need a resource center on this campus. It feels very tokenizing to have all these underrepresented student populations stuck under one department, in a little office suite in a corner of the Union where no majority student knows it’s even there. Every single underrepresented student population deserves to have their own space.


TTN: What actions would you like to see administration and President Clements take?

JB:I would love to see the President’s LGBTQ Task Force be taken more seriously by administration in terms of keeping them active and meeting their recommendations.


TTN: Which event are you most looking forward to? 

 JB:Super excited for the Drag Show, TBH.

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