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New Student Senate resolution proposes scholarship for descendants of Black laborers

Caroline Elswick, News Editor

This sign in the Woodland Cemetery is an outline of the area where most of the Black laborers were buried.

With a big start to the Student Senate’s spring 2022 term, Monday night’s meeting included a proposal for a new scholarship for those descended from Black laborers who built the University.
The resolution was proposed by Senator Matthew Jordan, the Chairman of the Inclusion and Equity Committee. It was created in collaboration with the Graduate Student Senate, as well as Student Body President William Reinert and seven other senators along with various collaborative student organizations.
“From the establishment of the Fort Hill plantation in 1825 through the desegregation of Clemson University in 1963, Black people have played a pivotal role in sustaining the land and infrastructure of the University,” said the group in a press release.
The resolution cites six generations of Black Americans being exploited by the University, including enslaved persons, sharecroppers, convicted laborers and tenant farmers.
“This scholarship provides a monumental two-fold opportunity for the university,” said Jordan. “It first allows the University to recognize and acknowledge the harm inflicted upon Black generations at the expense of institutional gains. It simultaneously affords the University with a chance to repair such harms for future generations.”
Senator Scotty Moore was a co-signer of the resolution.
“I support this bill because I believe that as an institution we need to reconcile with a dark past of exploitation and racism to ensure we are able to move forward as a university and fully address the generational trauma associated with slavery,” said Moore.
The proposed four-year scholarship would be from the University itself, and would require documentation as proof of lineage, though it is uncertain what that would look like.
The resolution also cites the long term impact that forced labor in past generations has had on their descendants, which kept them from developing intergenerational wealth.
“Descendants of Black laborers still face financial and educational barriers,” said the release. “Thus, providing a scholarship for descendants of Black laborers who contributed to the construction and establishment of Clemson University would offer substantial opportunities for increased social mobility and educational attainment.”
It was proposed the same evening as another resolution by Jordan, which would recommend that the University observe Juneteenth Independence Day as a paid holiday for employees.
“Given the demonstrated need for the creation of this scholarship, we hope to encourage a positive shift in how the University approaches its past mistakes in an effort to produce a more welcoming and inclusive campus,” said Jordan.
The resolution has gone back to committee and will be revisited during next week’s Student Senate meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 31.

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