LGBTQ+ student protestors organized at Clemson University for the second ‘Take Back Pride’ march last Tuesday, October 11.
The first ‘Take Back Pride’ march was organized last April in response to statements made by the Clemson College Republicans. In a statement released on Instagram, the College Republicans “strongly condemned” a campus drag show, saying “drag and transgenderism promotes sexual perversion” and calling on Clemson University “to remain impartial regarding such events.” Hundreds of students in the LGBTQ+ community held a rally on campus days later, demanding the university hold Clemson College Republicans accountable.
Organizers of the second ‘Take Back Pride’ march said the latest event is a protest against Clemson University’s continued lack of support for queer students.
“No one wants the dissolution of any student group,” an organizer of the event told the Tiger Town Observer. “We think all student groups deserve to be here if they’re students that have interest in it.”
In a video obtained by the Observer, protesters marching on campus can be heard chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, College Republicans have got to go.” [RELATED: ICYMI With Taylor Rogers]
Participants in the ‘Take Back Pride March’ are demanding “changes to the student code of conduct” prohibiting “harassment” against the LGBTQ+ community that applies not only to students but also to student organizations. They are also demanding “reform to University Public Relations,” requiring any official statements made regarding the LGBTQ+ community first be approved by the Gantt Multicultural Center.
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When asked whether revising the code of conduct would limit students’ free speech, one ‘Take Back Pride’ participant told the Observer, “If they’re fighting for respect and nondiscrimination, if that’s the part of free speech that is being taken away, I don’t see a problem with it.”
The ‘Take Back Pride’ demands come as Clemson’s Office of Community and Ethical Standards is under fire for holding potentially unconstitutional policies that infringe upon First Amendment free speech rights. Earlier this month, the Southeastern Legal Foundation issued a letter to Clemson’s Division of Student Affairs, urging the university to “clarify that speech cannot be investigated or punished through reporting forms, no matter how offensive students perceive the speech to be.”
In an email sent to students last April, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Dr. Chris Miler addressed “comments regarding events in the past year, most recently surrounding Pride Week.”
Dr. Miller encouraged students “to be thoughtful in [their] interactions with each other that could be deemed hateful and disrespectful to one’s particular viewpoint.” He added that Clemson “strive[s] to support all students in their wide variety of co-curricular and extracurricular endeavors.”
A second email sent to university students and faculty signed by Clemson’s Provost Bob Jones and deans stated, “a student group released a statement that truly hurt members and supporters of our LGBTQIA+ community. We and many others are deeply saddened that a celebration of diversity was diminished by the hurtful comments made in the statement.” The email referred students to campus resources, including the LGBTQ Commission and Gantt Center LGBTQ programs and services.
Clemson’s Division of Student Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Tiger Town Observer. *