Clemson Student Body VP and Senators Sit for the Pledge -Alexander Cullen

In a demonstration of solidarity, 10 Student Senators and the Student Body Vice President, Jaren Stewart, chose to sit during the pledge of allegiance on Monday. Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate convenes on a weekly basis and begins with a brief moment of silence, a prayer, and the pledge of allegiance. While the entirety of the body was standing for the moment of silence and the prayer, the 10 Senators and the Vice President sat as the pledge began.

Explanation of their action was absent until an hour later where Student Body Vice President Stewart addressed the body, “I’d like to explain why I sat down during the pledge.” The Vice President claimed the existence of oppressive problems on Clemson’s camps for minority students, “There are certain people on this campus that have felt that, you know, this country, this campus has done a disservice by providing student happiness to a majority while denying that to a minority. Those are the people I want to speak up for, people that have been discriminated against or isolated, or simply felt that they have been less than because of their skin color.” The speech and the “sit-out” of the pledge comes shortly after the protest of the National Anthem among NFL players, who have done so to bring attention to civil rights issues effecting minority communities.

Student Body Vice President, Jaren Stewart, (Left) with Student Body President, Killian McDonald, (Right).

Vice President Stewart went to on to provide support for his claims listing some of the historical events at Clemson which centered around racial tension, “In 2007, a black face party on our campus, 2014 a “cripmas” party, 2015 KKK leaflets , 2016 in the academic year you have a sit-in that lasted 10 days and 9 nights, 2017 the President will refer to you as a son of a bitch if you’re not standing for the pledge. This is the way we’re framed as a country, and this also the way we’re framed as a campus.”

Insisting that these were merely the “big things”, The Student Body Vice President also claimed that daily issues exist  for minority students on Clemson’s campus. He continued saying that these problems manifest in things such as merely being present on a majority white campus, casual use of the “N-bomb”, or in joining groups due to fear of rejection. Clemson’s percentage of minority student was brought up suggesting that, “17% of students look for something different, that’s that ethic make-up on our campus,” which he believed is “the number which tells us which extent we’ll have to conform in order to be accepted.”

While Student Body Vice President Stewart praised Clemson for its value in multiculturalism, which he claimed to be “amazing,” he suggested that Clemson’s emphasis on including other cultures demonstrates that it’s “not normal” and that “We can understand our racial divide is ingrained and it’s very real.” He ended his speech asking that the Senators take it heart that, ““There is something broken here, but there’s also something you can fix while you’re here.”

The Tiger Town Observer reached out to Vice President Jaren Stewart who added that his speech contained all of his statements. His speech and the sit-out can be viewed here:

Sit-out:  2:30

Speech: 1:14:00

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