UPDATE: 4/21/16 | 5PM
Because it has been demonstrated several times over the past two years, but particularly over the last nine days, that Clemson University’s upper administration is not only unwilling, but seemingly incapable, of doing the jobs they’ve been hired to do, we have decided to suspend the Sikes Sit-In until further notice. We feel it would be, at this point, unwise to attempt to continue to pressure them to do their jobs, especially with so much that so many of you here have sacrificed for us to get as far as we have. We are simply unwilling to continue waiting for them to do what is morally and ethically right given that it seems they are unable to do so. This is evidenced by their persistent use of threats, intimidation, and all out silencing of voices and topics that don’t fall in line with their perception of what the Clemson Family could or should be doing regarding Diversity and Inclusion. Over the past nine days their lies and hypocrisy have been revealed to those of us out here on these steps and all the people who have been following the #SikesSitIn online. Many of us know that in the past they’ve gone so far as to specifically dictate that “White Privilege” can’t be spoken about by Peer Dialogue Facilitators, and this past week they stooped so low as to threaten the charters of two Greek-letter organizations that wanted to perform here. Their blatant disrespect and disregard has probably been most evident in their interactions with those of us sitting around that table with them through this process. Continuing to wait, at this point, would only potentially diminish the many hard fought victories we’ve achieved by being here over the past nine days at the New Political and Multicultural Center at Clemson University.
- Though there has been an arrest of one of the individuals making threats on Yik Yak, and this is a step toward one of our demands, it has taken local media to communicate the name of the individual responsible for these threats. Again, necessary information that could impact the safety of our entire campus is still not effectively acknowledged and communicated to the entire community by those who are responsible for ensuring our safety.
- The number of individuals and groups who have shown support in words of encouragement have been overwhelming, but just as important are the numbers of individuals and groups who work for and at Clemson University who have taken up our grievances and demands, treated them with urgency, acted upon them, and given us feedback and assurances that they are dedicated to changing what they can, where they are, while providing the timelines and accountability our administration has been incapable of providing for the past two years. We are particularly pleased that the faculty senate has decided to form an ad hoc committee for Diversity and Inclusion that will address two of our demands: The CU 1000 course and faculty training on Diversity and Inclusion.
- The sense of community that has developed out here on these steps the past nine days has been nothing short of amazing. There have been so many people who have expressed that they have felt like a part of the Clemson community for the first time here at the Political and Multicultural Center. If Clemson University needs an example of what its next steps should be regarding that particular demand they should take note that what we’ve been asking for over the past two years, and many others have been asking about for many years before we got here was created in a few days by a group of dedicated students, faculty, staff, and community members. So when they say it takes time, we understand what they’re saying, but we did it here over the past few weeks with very few resources. If it’s a priority, it will be done. We know now because we’ve done it here.
For these reasons, we suggest that the front of Sikes Hall should remain Clemson’s Political and Multicultural Center until the university creates space for us to have it somewhere else. The Sikes Sit-In will be suspended today, but as Clemson students we can and should still utilize the space where so many people have come to discover a true community and what it feels like to be part of a real Clemson Family. It’s important that people who drive through Clemson not only see this kind of community interaction happening, we hope the larger campus community will feel welcome in joining us whenever any of us might be here.
As we’ve said over and over again these past nine days in our ground rules, we want to leave this place better than it was when we arrived. We are going to make sure that is the case here today before we depart, and we hope that you will stay to help us out with our efforts. But leaving this place better than it was when we arrived doesn’t only apply to the steps of the New Political and Multicultural Center. It applies to all of Clemson University and the rest of the world, wherever you are.
Please continue to follow the website and social media accounts for further information about events and happenings. Please understand this—we are suspending the sit-in for now, but this fight is definitely not over.
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
UPDATE: Response to Administration | 4PM | 4/15/16
Following an open conversation with members of the community involved with our cause, we, representatives of the community, have the following feedback to give you in regards to your response to our grievances and concerns:
Your response fails to acknowledge just that – it was a response. An e-mail with the subject “Diversity Update” does not recognize that the response to your headers within the e-mail – which are phrases directly related to our grievances and concerns – are in fact in reply to the demonstration at Sikes Hall. This is important, as it does not promote honesty, transparency, nor does it resonate with the request of a clear line of communication between administration and students.
Your response, although directly relating to the demands presented to you, fails to adequately address your specific plans, programs, and steps of implementation to solve these issues. There are two key themes missing that the community continued to highlight during the conversation for every individual response. The first of those is the failure to establish a timeline and benchmarks for your goals. The response gives us an idea of what you’ve done so far, are doing currently, and plan to do, but it does not acknowledge a clear timeline regarding when you plan to accomplish your goals. Additionally, the response fails to provide accountability for who is responsible for ensuring these goals are accomplished and your plans in the event these goals go unmet. There is no way to know whether these goals will actually be accomplished by administration because we do not know who, specifically, is even responsible for carrying out the plans you address, and therefore there is no one, specifically, to be held accountable. These are serious issues.
Our further actions will be determined by your response, or failure to respond.
Until then, Sikes Hall will be Clemson University’s new Political and Multicultural Center. We plan to continue conversations here with the larger campus community about these and the many other issues that exist within the so-called Clemson Family.
We submit this response respectfully.
[Initial #SikesSitIn Statement | Wednesday, April 13, 2016]
The recent hanging of a bananas from an “African-Americans at Fort Hill” sign in front of the Fort Hill Plantation House on Clemson University’s campus reminds us, as members of the Clemson University community, that we are dealing with issues here at Clemson that are not much different from those many other students are dealing with across the world.We do not plan to sit silently and endure injustice with bowed heads and slumped shoulders. This incident is not an isolated occurrence at Clemson. In recent years we have experienced events that have caused students to speak out, such as the hanging of the Confederate flag in front of Old Main (which is still named in honor of the racist murderer Benjamin Tillman) in July 2015 and the Cripmas Party in December of 2014, which was revealed to be a yearly tradition that hadn’t stopped since the Blackface party in 2007.
On 7 January 2015 students marched on campus to Sikes Hall to deliver grievances and demands to Clemson University administrators. The Statement of Purpose preceding those demands was:
In adhering to Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of “a high seminary of learning” and Clemson University’s portrayal of its history of diversity starting with “integration with Dignity” in 1963, we concerned Clemson students present for your consideration grievances representative of Clemson University’s failure to fulfill and uphold Mr. Clemson’s vision and its own mission, particularly to educate “undergraduate and graduate students to think deeply about and engage in the social, scientific, economic and professional challenges of our time” and its foundation through “the generation, preservation, communication, and application of knowledge,” nor has it upheld its commitment “to the personal growth of the individual and promot[ion of] an environment of good decision making, healthy and ethical lifestyles, and tolerance and respect for others.” We have also included, for your consideration, demands to address our grievances.
Many of those grievances and demands have still not been seriously considered and acted upon by the institution. The university’s Task Force on the History of Clemson delivered recommendations to the Board of Trustees that didn’t even consider the changing of any of the names of any buildings on campus, which prompted yet another response from community members to highlight “The Silence of the Trustees.” In light of recent events it should be noted that this silence is unacceptable. In all aspects of our experience as members of this community we should be engaged in helping change the community for the better.
Whether they are issues that negatively affect students from underrepresented groups or vulnerable staff and faculty, we should be encouraging one another to speak up and speak out so that when we call ourselves the “Clemson Family” we are, at the very least, being somewhat truthful.
The idea of social justice should not be something we speak of with negativity and disdain. It will benefit every student on campus, across the disciplines, to have the inclusion of issues of social justice included as a regular part of the university course curriculum so that our entire community is aware of and involved in the world that exists around us.
These issues are not unique to Clemson University. The Black Liberation Collective, among other groups, have collected the grievances and demands presented at other institutions across the country at http://www.blackliberationcollective.org/our-demands/.
We stand in solidarity with the students at these institutions. We are confident those students will stand with us. As such, we plan to participate in the #StudentBlackOut Wednesday 13 April 2015 along with others participating in this National Day of Action. We invite members of the Clemson University Community to stand in solidarity with us.
— See The Stripes [CU] (@TigerStripesCU) April 11, 2016