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College Republicans post may be free speech, University says

David Ferrara // Alumnus
Sikes Hall

A controversial post by the Clemson College Republicans which has provoked massive student outcry may not be in violation of Title IX, according to Clemson University’s Office of Access and Equity.
“Our office has received several reports regarding this matter and have reviewed them all to determine if Title IX is applicable,” said Alesia Smith, the University’s Title IX coordinator, in a statement to The Tiger. “Since Clemson University is considered a public institution, First Amendment rights apply.”
The University is still investigating all reports made to determine if a Title IX violation has occurred, according to Smith. There is also the possibility of a student code of conduct violation.
Title IX is a federal law preventing discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive federal funds, of which Clemson University does. Title IX does not regulate the content of speech.
“The US Department of Education acknowledges that the offensiveness of a particular expression or post, as perceived by some, standing alone, is not a sufficient basis to establish a sexually hostile environment under Title IX,” said Smith.
The University responded to the post in a message sent to all students Monday evening.
“There have been comments regarding events in the past year, most recently surrounding Pride Week, which could be deemed as inflammatory or hostile,” said Chris Miller, vice president of student affairs. “I encourage us all to be thoughtful in our interactions with each other that could be deemed hateful and disrespectful to one’s particular viewpoint.”
Clemson College Republicans published a follow-up statement Wednesday, reiterating points made earlier in the week.
“We will never apologize for taking a stand against anything that we believe to be immoral or perverse,” said the group. “We reaffirm our condemnation of TigerLive and other University organizations and leaders who choose to promote a single viewpoint to the marginalization of another.”
A group has organized a “Take Back Pride March” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Sikes Hall, the University’s administrative building, in response to recent events.
The organizers demand a formal statement from the University administration condemning transphobia and homophobia, as well as revisions to the student code of conduct to prevent future incidents of harassment.
The current code of conduct includes no LGBTQ-specific policies, but refers to the University’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, which covers sexual orientation.
The organizers also demand “repercussions” for the Clemson College Republicans for the posts they made.
This article was updated to include a comment by Alesia Smith that the University is still reviewing all reports submitted for any violations of Title IX or the student code of conduct. The headline was also changed to indicate this.

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