Faculty and Staff Support Meeting- what you need to know

I’ve blogged about students who organize marches, lead protests, and demand change from the Clemson University administration- now, meet the faculty and staff who support them.

The meeting took place Thursday, January 8th. Around 50 faculty and staff attended the event. Their plan was to share ideas and brainstorm new ways to assist student leaders.

The four faculty leaders-Todd May; Chenjerai Kumanyika; Rhondda Thomas; and Andrea Feeser- began the meeting by calling up student leaders Wallace Mack and A.D. Carson.

Student leaders Wallace Mack and A.D. Carson recapped past events and detailed their plans for the future:

  • They feel that issuing a formal apology to the Cripmas party will be one of the easiest demands for the University to meet. These demands come from a list of grievances and demands that students addressed to the University.
  • Students will take more action if demands are not met.
  • Desire for more graduate student involvement, as the student movement is mainly undergraduate.
  • An audience member asked about buildings such as Tillman Hall. The name of Tillman Hall has caused controversy on campus previously, and some have called for the name-change of building.

Associate Professor of American Literature Jonathan Beecher Field discussed plans for a Ben Tillman biography book club.

  • The biographer is making his book digitally available to those in the Clemson University community.
  • Discussion of crowdfunding for the club; suggested name: “Ben Tillman Book Club”.
  • Events suggested included inviting the author to campus.

Leon Wiles, Chief Diversity Officer, spoke about administrative initiatives.

  • The administration is planning to respond to a number of requests, and met twice this week with President Clements.
  • Mr. Wiles stated that there are a, “Number of initiatives happening now that people didn’t know existed.”, but appreciates student activity because it helps address issues.
  • Seeks to create events that support and advance diversity, including a diversity advisory council.
  • Discussion of a multicultural center and recruiting faculty of color.
  • Leon Wiles now has a Twitter: @Clemson_CDO

Report from the School of Education

  • Teach-Ins: faculty members are planning teach-ins that teach specific subjects to people inside and outside a movement. Wallace Mack gave the example of having a teach-in to inform students why a Cripmas party discussion is necessary.

Associate Professor of African-American literature Rhondda Thomas spoke about research initiatives.

  • University president Jim Clements is “very excited” about the initiatives being set forth and “wants to learn more”.
  • Plans for an alumni reception to get alumni up to speed on what is happening on campus.
  • A possible new visitors’ center that illustrates Clemson’s full history.
  • Dr. Thomas is planning to cook a vegan dinner for 50 of her students, once a month. She felt that food opens people up to conversation.
  • The Race & the University speaker series now has a Twitter and Facebook page: @RaceUnivClemson and “Race and the University at Clemson U”, respectively.
  • Dr. Thomas is looking for 2 student interns to help with her research. 10 hr/week- contact Dr. Thomas if you’re interested.

Assistant professor Chenjerai Kumanyika discussed student initiatives.

  • Professor Kumanyika acts as the student liaison for faculty and staff.
  • Encouraged audience members to email him ideas.


  • One audience member expressed issues with Clemson’s Alma Mater.
  • The Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management major is the only major with a required diversity class (since 2006).
  • Discussion on how to make New Student Dialogues and CU 1000 more relevant.
  • Quotation from audience member: “None of the things students are asking for are rocket science. Students are galvanizing. We are poised for significant change on campus.”

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