Clemson removes Calhoun from Honors College, asks to rename Tillman Hall

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Clemson eliminates John C. Calhoun’s name from Honors College, asks to rename Tillman Hall

Zoe Nicholson
Greenville News
Published 12:23 PM EDT Jun 12, 2020

The Clemson University Board of Trustees has voted to get rid of John C. Calhoun’s name from the Honors College and has actually requested the state Legislature to empower the school to relabel Tillman Hall to its original name, Old Main.In a Friday morning vote, the board unanimously voted to eliminate Calhoun from the Honors College as suggested by Provost Bob Jones. The college was instantly rebranded The Clemson University Formality College.All 13 trustees voted in favor and 5 emeritus trustees who are former board members supported the modifications, board Chairman Smythe McKissick said.” Clemson should likewise acknowledge that there are central

figures in Clemson’s history whose beliefs and actions do not represent the university’s core values … and as our worths guide us, we are listening,”McKissick said. The vote began the heels of a petition and revived fight to remove

the name of Calhoun– a servant owner and secessionist whose plantation became Clemson University– that drew almost 20,000 signatures and the assistance of Clemson football alumni Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.Board member Bob Peeler likewise presented a resolution to ask the South Carolina Legislature to give

a one-time authority for the board to relabel Tillman Hall. Benjamin”Pitchfork”Tillman was a guv and white supremacist whose name embellishes Clemson’s most iconic building.

The building’s name is subject to the state’s Heritage Act, which needs a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly to change

any aspect of historic structures. The university anticipates the demand to be thought about in 2021, when the brand-new legislative session begins, stated university President Jim Clements.”We feel it important, nevertheless, to share our desires and respectfully demand the General Assembly grant authority to the Board of Trustees of Clemson University to

bring back Tillman Hall to its original name of main structure called Old Main,”Peeler said. The university will not be asking for more exceptions from the act, Peeler said.Clements stated the university is asking the Legislature for an exemption on Tillman only because it is the school’s”signature building.”For years, various groups of trainees have been working to eliminate the name, which was included in 1981, however national protests versus police brutality and systemic racism have actually propelled the current call for a modification to the national phase. Hannah Connelly, a recent Clemson graduate who helped spearhead a push for the Calhoun name elimination, said the modification was a win for the group and shows a shift in believing for university management.

“There appears to be a shift in how they’re understanding the history of Clemson,”Connelly said.” So they’re comprehending that history is one thing, however choosing to honor certain parts of the history are a really various thing. And so for them to be able to make that sort of theoretical shift I believe will open a lot of doors at Clemson. “Michael LeMahieu, a professor who’s dealt with trainees to eliminate Calhoun’s name for years, stated the board revealed”courageous management” in making the changes.” We’ve been working on this problem because all the method at that time. So it’s unbelievable that we’re lastly getting some momentum and seeing some motion on that, now three years later,”stated Michael Summers, a 2019 Clemson graduate who opposed to eliminate Calhoun’s name in 2017.

Clements said the modifications have been in the works because 2015, when the university created a history task force to attend to Clemson’s history of bigotry. The task force’s recommendations, voted on Friday, would have been on the program for the board’s quarterly conference in July,

Clements stated.”George Floyd’s dreadful death definitely expedited the conversation,”Clements stated.”But we understand we have a great deal of work to do … and we are fully devoted.” Floyd was a 46-year-old black guy who was killed while in cops custody in Minneapolis last month after white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.Clements said he will start satisfying with trainees and professors next week to go over how Clemson can continue to move on. The members of Reclaim and Rename, the group of students who advocated for Calhoun’s name to be gotten rid of, stated Clements did not connect to them in the week leading up to the board vote. “What sort of conversations has he been having with the

trainee leaders this past week? Since it’s been no. He used the other day to meet us next week after the Board of Trustees meeting

,”said professor LeMahieu. While the name change signals a victory for Clemson activists, Clemson history teacher Abel Bartley said it’s” the most affordable of low-hanging fruit”when it comes to actionable modification at Clemson, specifically since the Honors College has a low portion of black trainees, he stated. “I believe that for African Americans, it’s a symbolic gesture that actually is type of empty,”Bartley

said.Read More: Clemson University stated’we should do better. ‘Black trainees, alumni state that’s inadequate A.D. Carson, among the organizes of the 2016 Sikes Sit-In demonstration, stated the demand to the state Legislature is significant, however he’s not optimistic it will stimulate a modification in the General Assembly.

“South Carolina has proven time and again that they are deeply invested in the preservation of the traditions of white supremacists like Tillman,”he stated. Carson promoted for Tillman Hall to be renamed in 2016 throughout the sit-in, a five-day campus protest requiring a more inclusive campus for black students and professors. A Saturday demonstration on campus is being led by football players and is expected to draw countless supporters. The demonstration– and the outspokenness of numerous present and former Clemson football players in the wake of Floyd’s death– did not play an element in the board’s votes, Clements stated.”You know I enjoy football, but I represent all of our students, faculty and personnel and our alumni, and the board represents the entire organization. The board’s values apply to everyone in the Clemson

household … so at no point did I hear any discussion of sports or sports related to this,”Clements stated throughout a media press conference via the Zoom online platform.”This was what the board wished to do to stress the values of where we stand in 2020, specifically related to inclusiveness. So this was for the entire

Clemson family.”USC and Clemson alumni create course ahead for more change Organizers said the change at Clemson is a victory that’s an initial step in a larger effort.Summers, the Clemson graduate, has signed up with about 25 other students and alumni from his university and the University of South Carolina to form a grassroots union focused on rescinding the Heritage Act. The grassroots group Repeal the Heritage Act came together last week after Helen Knight, a USC graduate, observed comparable petitions from groups at Clemson, USC and in Anderson.”So over the weekend and on Monday, all of us became conscious of each other and began merging into this larger union,”Knight stated. The bigger group formed from the writers of 6 different petitions that contacted a variety of buildings to be renamed, monuments be removed and the Heritage Act to be rescinded, Knight stated. Find out more: Clemson’s Tillman Hall, Confederate monument in Anderson targeted by petitions Efforts like the ones to rename Clemson’s Tillman Hall or the USC’s Women’s Dorm, which is called after Marion Sims, a researcher who performed surgical treatment on enslaved women without authorization,

would require the Legislature’s vote, which is why the group is focusing initially on repealing the Heritage Act. “I believe the bottom line for a lot

people in this coalition is we want the school to have the power to listen to students and take action that students have been asking for and demanding for many years,” Knight stated. The coalition is working to connect to lawmakerslike Rep. Seth Rose, a Columbia Democrat who presented legislation to get rid of the statue of Benjamin” Pitchfork

“Tillman– the namesake of Clemson’s a lot of renowned structure– from Statehouse grounds.”We’re excited about the legislative side of things. To be truthful, it’s just been 5 days. We still are in the process of finishing up all of those connections, however we want to be terrific partners with them,”Knight said.Follow Zoe on Twitter @zoenicholson_ Released 12:23 PM EDT Jun 12, 2020