The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Students at Sikes: Students return to the site of last year’s protest for a conversation about race relations

They’re back. 
Thursday marked the ClemsonFive’s return to the steps of Sikes Hall. The five students, known for their leadership in last spring’s Sikes Sit-in, gathered with the other members of the Clemson community at noon to discuss national, even international issues involving social injustice. 
The Five wanted to create what ClemsonFive Sherman Jones calls a brave space for students.  
“We went back to Sikes so people could express themselves, so people could to voice their concerns about the things that were happening. There are a lot of things going on right now that were weighing heavy on us as coordinators, as social justice advocates,” said Jones, “We could feel that weight.”
Jones mentioned several national issues that had been on the minds of him and the other students. The Muslim women who had been set on fire in the streets in New York. The release of Brock Turner, the ex-Stanford student convicted of rape. The Dallas protests, the Charlotte protests, and the deaths involved. People were encouraged to carry a strong political voice and to vote. 
“This wasn’t a safe space, a safe space would have implies that there is no danger, no risk, that there is no discomfort. What we were aiming for was rather the creation of a brave space, where you can assume, [through] discomfort and taking risk; risk will reap reward, and discomfort will reap learning.”
Jones said after hearing updates about the Charlotte protest, the Sikes sit-in coordinators made the decision to regroup at Sikes at nine that morning. They sent out a flyer on twitter, and at twelve they returned to the Sikes Steps. 
“The attitudes that were produced [during the sit-in] was something that our community was really yearning to have back,” said Jones, “We decided to go back [to] reestablish the positive attitude and environment that is Sikes Hall.
Executive Director of the Gantt Multicultural Center Altheia Richardson said that the steps have become a symbol of solidarity for students, especially for those that participated in the Sikes Sit-in.
“[These steps] created a sense of community where people of different sexes and backgrounds came together for a common cause,” said Richardson, “They were trying to recreate that sense of solidarity that they had.”
Richardson also attended the conversation at Sikes Hall Thursday. The Gantt multicultural center had no involvement in putting the space together. 
“We heard that students were putting together a space to come together with each other and have an opportunity to share how what’s happening internationally is impacting them…and I really appreciate that it was student driven. It’s great when these things happen organically from students.” 
Richardson said that the multicultural center is always a good place for students to go and voice their concerns if they need to.  
“When our students hurt—we hurt,” said Richardson, “They can talk to us, they can talk to each other. They can participate in our programs because there are multiple resources to provide that [brave] space.”
Jones suggested that if students begin to feel the pressures of current events, that a Sikes gathering is a decent solace. He said that the five would “most definitely” return, although he is unaware what the purpose could be. 
“It doesn’t have to be [the core group] saying, ‘Let’s go back to Sikes’ for people to go back to Sikes. The atmosphere that was created there is still there, it’s still open, and if people feel like they want to go to Sikes and want to do their own thing, they should go…it’s a place to be heard, seen, and valued,” said Jones. “Us a core group, we’re definitely going to go back out there. But there’s no telling when.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *