CUSG to Vote on Public Bias Incident Resolution -Zachary Faria

            The CUSG Senate is considering a resolution that would call on the university to “provide a swift and timely response to public bias incidents directed towards Clemson students, faculty, and staff”.

The resolution, introduced last Monday, states that Clemson University must “recognize and respond to any and all bias incidents” if the university is to keep its promise of trying “to create a more diverse and inclusive campus environment” outlined in the ClemsonForward Strategic Plan. The resolution was introduced by Senators Libby Milano and Roann Abdeladl, who both sit on the new Inclusion and Equity Committee that was introduced at the beginning of this term. Among the examples cited by the resolution are Loose Change blocking Hispanic student organizations after backlash to their controversial sandwich sign and the Confederate flag display by the South Carolina Secessionist Party.

The resolution uses a definition of “bias incident” cited from Bucknell University, which is “completed, attempted, or threatened abusive or hostile acts against persons, property, or an institution, where such acts manifest evidence that the target was intentionally selected on the basis of the target’s actual or perceived age, class, color, disability, ethnic/regional/national origin group, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, including any hate crime.” It also calls on the university to respond to incidents beyond Clemson’s campus, including the surrounding area and social media.

When asked specifically about how the inclusion of gender identity would affect students who do not recognize gender as malleable or outside of a binary, both senators affirmed that they could also fall under the category of bias incidents. “Any gender identity, binary or not, is protected from these types of public bias incidents under our legislation,” Milano told the TTO. “Non-binary students exist, and are Clemson students regardless of the opinions of others. They deserve protection from public bias incidents and a response from [the] Clemson administration in the same way that binary students do.”

Senator Abdeladl introduced the resolution recounting the story of her and the Muslim Students Association selling donuts on Library Bridge, where a photo of them was snapped and posted to “an off-campus alt-right ministry”. The photo was shared over 3,000 times with thousands of comments, per Abdeladl. “This resolution is not asking Clemson to do anything novel; it simply encourages Clemson University to catch up to its peer institutions who already effectively respond to incidents of public bias towards their students, faculty, and staff,” she told the TTO.

Senator Milano emphasized the power of condemnations by citing the senate’s own condemnation of the SC Secessionist Party, stating that CUSG’s condemnation led to the party dissolving after its members recognized their views were too extreme. The resolution itself cites swift condemnations made by American University and the University of Michigan as examples for Clemson to follow.

The resolution will be debated on Monday, February 18th, and will be voted on that same night, barring unforeseen circumstances.

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