Clemson Scrambles Over Statements Made By Director –Alexander Cullen

Clemson Undergraduate Student Government Senate hosted Gantt Multicultural Center Director, Altheia Richardson, as their weekly speaker two Monday nights ago, where the University representative then made controversial statements later that night. During her presentation, where she was asked to provide a perspective of CUSG from outside of the organization, she praised CUSG for their influence, affluence, and improvements made to campus over previous years. When the topic then shifted to discussion revolving around areas in which CUSG might improve, the subjects of diversity in representation and intercultural competence then arose.

This should not come of surprise, as her position is the Director of The Multicultural Center. However, while discussions of improvement must always be taken seriously and considered, it is important to understand the danger and repercussions of the statements made by Ms. Richardson. During her presentation the suggestion of a “cultural competency test” was made. This is akin to a barrier that would exist, filtering candidates whom where interested in running for CUSG office but don’t sufficiently meet the standard for “cultural competence” as set by CUSG. The Executive Director made sure to mention that this was merely a suggestion for CUSG, and that if any standard were to be set that it should be determined and implemented by CUSG themselves. When later probed further as for what such a system for might resemble, she explained that CUSG would have it in their own power to impose regulation upon its representatives. It could resemble a selective examine before hand, disqualifying those who failed to pass, or by method of training after the candidates had been elected.

As far as administrative response to students, alum, and CUSG members themselves, we’ve seen the claim that there exist no plans or courses of action currently through which they would force said change, and this is true. However, the statements alone are cause for concern. While Ms. Richardson is certainly entitled to both her own opinion and to express it, I can’t find myself comfortable with the propositions themselves.

CUSG exists as a representative arm of the student body, given responsibility and power for dealing with the macroscopic administration on behalf the microscope Clemson Student. We have democratic elections so that the beliefs and values of those elected by the students may occupy these positions of power in fashion that does service to those who elected them. Representation is NOT the construction of barriers so that students, who do not represent the values of particular interests, or certain paths towards “progress”, are excluded. In fact, I’m forced to agree with CUSG Senator Thompson’s statements, as reported by Campus Reform, that, “Vetting candidates ideologically before elections even happen, through a process of measuring their level of commitment to ‘inclusivity’ and ‘multiculturalism,’ represents a kind of creepy totalitarianism.”

Indeed, Clemson’s Campus is filled with a plethora of diverse ideologies, among which inclusivity is only one. Many of these ideologies I do not agree with; however, a call for a rejection of anyone’s views by a selective process is not only nondemocratic and disservice to Clemson’s Student body, but hypocritical attack against diversity and inclusion of ideas. Let alone, contrary to mission CUSG was established to pursue. Thus, CUSG should reaffirm its commitment to its purpose to act “as a liaison between the students and the administration, faculty and staff,” by making a statement that it will never seek to implement or alter the process through which the student body represents itself.

The Footage of Altheia Richardson’s Remarks