Opinion: Fundamental Truths about the Jaren Stewart Case -William Corbin

The deeper truths concerning the Jaren Stewart trial go beyond the impeachment, the ethics of our officers, or even the so-called deeper issue of race. The issues hit the core of our humanity, issues that we have wrestled with for thousands of years.

Jaren Stewart violated his victims’ rights by entering their dorm room without permission, leaving a mess, taking their items, and refusing to leave when the victims were changing clothes. A dorm room is a safe haven in the madness of campus, the one place where one can reliably have a sense of privacy, security, and control. Stewart violated these expectations in the most personal place possible on repeated occasions – in the very place we lower our natural defenses.

Alleged resolution letter from OCES to the victim claiming that VP Stewart was found to be guilty of Trespassing/Unauthorized entry.

Stewart claimed that they had an open door policy, but an open door policy does not cover his actions. An open door policy does not cover him taking items from his hall mates or leaving a mess. The only situation where one can use items without asking is from a roommate or suitemate, and even then they are specified items that are listed in the Clemson Housing Roommate Agreement at the beginning of the year. He was disrespectful enough to leave tracks of grass and dirt, and not smart enough to cover his tracks.

The most serious charge is of sexual harassment – refusing to leave when his residents were changing. His actions would be horrendous no matter if the victim was male or female; but the fact that the victim was a female (the opposite gender) adds to the vulnerable state and power of his actions. He violated one of the few rights more sensitive and deeper than the right to privacy – the right to bodily and sexual privacy. If by some chance this was a mistake on his part, the nail in the coffin is that he refused to leave when asked: the error of his action was pointed out to him and he refused to correct his action.

If Jaren Stewart were a normal student, this would already be reprehensible. The fact that he was an RA and is now the Student Body Vice President increases the magnitude of his actions. He did the aforementioned actions holding a position of power over his victim in an intimate way. RAs are the first line of defense in the students’ life, serving as counselor, policeman, supervisor, and friend. When he repeatedly violated his students’ rights, he destroyed the trust that the Clemson Community places in RAs and in him specifically.

Jaren(left) and Killian(right) during their student body president campaign.

Since the facts are squarely against Jaren Stewart, the new line of defense is that because Clemson has a history of racism and is racially biased, he cannot receive a fair trial.From that assumption, the one place that should rise above this and conduct a fair trial is the Clemson Student Senate. While it is not the United States Senate – the idea that the senate is fair, wise, and deliberate stems from the founding of America and extend to the Clemson Senate.

By trying to save his skin, he is degrading the body in which he presides. If the Senate cannot hold a fair trial because of his skin color, why does or should the Clemson Student Senate exist? Why should he or anybody else participate in Clemson student government? It is an insult on the senators themselves and the student body as a whole to suggest that his skin color would impact the trial, when the same student body elected him in the first place.

For all of Jaren Stewart’s complaints about racism, he is neglecting the fact that Shaq Thomas was student body Vice President in 2015-2016. While racism and tribalism exists towards all groups of people on the basis of skin color and other identity features – Jaren Stewart is neglecting the fact that he is being impeached because of his actions and character, the things that he can control. If he is concerned about not feeling welcome on campus because of his skin color, then he should have the decency to not make his residents feel uncomfortable by violating their rights. If he valued his role and position as a leader of the black student community on campus, he should have acted responsibly and not let them down by his reprehensible actions. The one thing that Jaren Stewart can do to start atoning for his misconduct would be to resign from his office and save the Clemson Student Senate the pain of an impeachment trial, and to save himself from possible impeachment.

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