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A tale of two mindsets: we are a Clemson Family, we just need to act like it

  In the last year, Clemson University has demonstrated many different views and opinions of varying race and culture.  However, there were two different ways that the school’s students chose to go about demonstrating these opinions. In a perfect world we would all hold hands and sing Kumbaya in a circle. And pizza would be free. Unfortunately, people express their ignorant opinions through acts of hate, and pizza is sometimes hard to afford on a college student’s budget.  As I began reading this letter from The Tiger, I initially found it humorous. However, by the time I reached the conclusion of the piece I found it infuriating. Before I ring off my numerous opinions on statements that are found in this letter, let me lay out a few facts. 

On April 11, 2016, Clemson witnessed a historical event that took place on the steps of Sikes Hall. For nine days and nine nights, a large number of students and members of the Clemson community stood together in protest. Their main objective was to change Tillman Hall’s name to Old Main. Some feel the name holds a racist connotation and these protestors felt the need to express this opinion. The author of this letter has expressed that there was no consequential action taken toward these students that chose to spread this communication. This statement supports the idea that the writer is simply going off of his opinions on this incident and not off of solid facts. If he cared to pick up a paper or read the news online, he would have seen that not one, not two, but five students were arrested for their protest. And I’d call that consequential action. The Clemson Five consists of five Clemson University students that decided to hold their ground, no matter the consequences.  While sitting inside of Sikes Hall the students were warned that if they did not leave by closing time, then they would be arrested and charged for trespassing. I’d like to point out that these five students walked out of Sikes arrested and with trespassing charges. I’d also like to point out how convenient it was that the author of this letter specifically left this information out of his story.  

My true issue with this letter did not emerge until the author took it upon himself to label a university hate crime as a hoax. If you are unaware of the crime that was committed, let me share a short summary of the incident. On the banner representing Fort Hill, a commemoration of black history, hung a clump of bananas.  This incident just coincidentally occurred as soon as word of the protest spread around campus. Or did it? To say that this action was not racially motivated is, in my opinion, completely ridiculous. Whoever decided to express this hate did so with malicious intent at the forefront of their mind. I refuse to believe that the bananas wandered up on that post for no reason. That student wanted a reaction, and they sure got one. If you want to say that Clemson students are not racist, I think it’d be hard to prove after something like this.

As far as my opinion on the comparison of the Sikes Hall incident to Robby Roberts’ evangelical action, I am in complete disagreement. Roberts set up a lawn chair on private university property and encouraged students to take part in his prayer. Yes, Roberts was peaceful about his approach, and yes, his intentions were pure. But the fact of the matter was that Roberts was located where he should not have been. The only comparison that I can make between the two incidents was that the administration took action in both cases. The administration cannot be labeled as biased when they are fulfilling the duties of their job. You can support Roberts and his actions all that you want, but each situation is completely different. The protestors were expressing their First Amendment rights on the steps of their university, and Roberts was expressing his right to whine when he was too lazy to move to a correct location. Roberts was not denied his rights, he was asked to move. And that’s where the difference lies.  

Although the main motive behind this original letter to the editor was intended to express how campus administrationwas bias, the real meaning seemed to hide between the lines.  This letter was not written in protest of expression; this letter was written in protest of attention being placed on the minority. This is a hissy fit that revolves around the white race feeling as if their “problems” are not being heard. Unfortunately for the author of this letter, this is one issue that the white privilege cannot win. These people were supporting their history and expressing the pain that they feel in context to their university. As a white female, who am I to say that they should not feel that way? I simply cannot relate or put myself in their shoes. Agree with them or disagree with them, but do not target them for saying how they feel. So as the author states, “The idea of ‘One Clemson is a myth.” And I will not disagree. We are not “One Clemson,” but we sure as hell could be. Let the media highlight Clemson University. Let them see that we have the backbone to stand up for what is right. Let them see that we will not conform to society’s opinions on race and that we will not tolerate hate. It’s time to put down your weapons and time to grasp each others’ hands. If Roberts wanted us to pray with him then it’s time to do just that. Let’s pray that we become the university that I know we can be. This is Clemson and we ARE family. Now let’s act like one. 

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