CLEMSON, SC – Protesters at Clemson University’s Sikes Hall have suspended their sit-in after a letter was released by the school’s president responding to the students’ concerns.
The letter outlines steps the school’s administration are taking to address concerns from protesters about diversity and inclusion on the campus.
Read the full letter:
Dear Campus Community:
I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has participated in discussions, on and off the steps of Sikes Hall this past week, as well as prior conversations. Students, faculty, staff and the community have demonstrated true passion and genuine commitment to seeking ways in which Clemson can be a more welcoming, safe and inclusive place for everyone. I acknowledge that students are still sitting on the steps of Sikes Hall as this communication is being delivered and understand their frustration. I’m saddened that some members of our community felt that the only way to be heard was to spend the last nine days in front of the Administration building. I have been truly moved.
Through the forums that took place this week, I, along with my leadership team, have listened intently to the challenges facing Clemson. We heard you. While we have been taking steps to improve diversity and inclusion on our campus, there is still much work to be done. We recognize the need to take action in specific and immediate ways.
We are committed to taking the following actions to address the concerns we heard:
- Clemson University fosters an environment of free speech but with that comes a responsibility to treat all members with respect and dignity. I will not tolerate threatening behavior and statements, and there will be consequences for any such actions. We also commit to more effective communications when malicious incidents occur and will use these as opportunities to articulate the negative impact on our sense of community.
- Ownership: President Clements
- Timeline: Immediate and ongoing
- The identification of a more appropriate short and long-term space for the Gantt Multicultural Center is of the highest priority. Short term space will be identified and available for use by Fall 2016. A committee of students, faculty, staff and administration will be formed to identify a suitable long-term location and formulate a relocation strategy by December 2016, with implementation by August 2017. The review will also include an evaluation of resource requirements.
- Ownership: Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill and Vice President of Finance and Operations Brett Dalton
- Timeline: June 2016 – August 2017
- Student Affairs will work with student organizations to ensure an equitable distribution of funding to student groups.
- Ownership: Vice President of Student Affairs Almeda Jacks
- Timeline: Academic Year 2016-2017
- The university is committed to the goal of diversifying and doubling the number of underrepresented minority faculty by 2025.
- Ownership: Provost Bob Jones, Academic Deans and Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill
- Timeline: Immediate – 2025
- Through the execution of the Board of Trustee’s History Task Force Plan, the complete story of our historical buildings will be told, including Tillman Hall, originally known as Old Main.
- Ownership: Executive Leadership Team
- Timeline: Immediate through December 2016
- In order to create a more inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for everyone, all employees will participate in diversity education and training that promotes cultural competencies and awareness.
- Ownership: Chief Human Resources Officer Michelle Piekutowski and Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill
- Timeline: Immediate through May 2017 and ongoing thereafter
- Student Affairs is requesting that student government have a discussion to include the phrase “diversity and inclusive excellence” as one of the students’ core values. The CU1000 course is being restructured to improve students’ understanding of their responsibility as members of a diverse community.
- Ownership: Provost Bob Jones and Vice President of Student Affairs Almeda Jacks
- Timeline: Core values discussion underway. CU1000 review will begin immediately with implementation in Fall 2017.
- We are committed to increasing the underrepresented student population with specific goals to be established by August 2016.
- Ownership: Provost Bob Jones, Academic Deans, and Associate Vice President Enrollment Management Chuck Knepfle
- Timeline: Immediate until goals are reached
I charge our Chief Diversity Officer, Lee Gill, with creating a feedback process to engage our university community in ongoing communications where we will report to you regularly on our progress.
I believe these are solid and meaningful steps towards creating a better campus for everyone. If we are committed to working together, there is nothing we cannot overcome and achieve.
This is a defining moment for Clemson University, and I am proud to be a part of it.