Students React to Possible Tillman Hall Name Change


Nathaniel Cary of The Greenville News recently wrote an article about the possible name-change of Tillman Hall. If the name of Tillman Hall is eventually changed, it will require support from the Clemson Board of Trustees and “a two-thirds majority vote from both the House and Senate” in order to change the name of the building.

It seems like the Tillman Hall name change would be a very long process, but that didn’t stop people from talking and planning.

Clemson student Grant McDaniel is organizing a protest on Bowman Field for Saturday, January 17th at 1pm. McDaniel messaged me on Twitter, saying that the protest is also about “looking past racial barriers and not seeing black and white but orange”. He is using the hashtags #SaveTillman and #ISeeOrange to promote the protest. An anonymous commenter linked me to their Facebook page, “Save Tillman Hall“, which then links to their petition.

Three other students voiced their opinions about the possible name change:

“Having these buildings on campus named after Ben Tillman, Strom Thurmond, John C. Calhoun etc are a disheartening reminder of the structural racism that was literally woven into the physical framework of our university. It reminds me that though these men were unapologetically bigoted, racist, and oppressive, these traits are still ignorable to our administration enough to deem them worthy of legacy status. As an African American student, I feel like I am being laughed at by Thomas Green Clemson’s statue, so sometimes when I walk by it I swing a middle finger in its direction– as of right now that’s the only defense mechanism against the feelings of shame I have. These sentiments may seem exaggerated, but being a student here often means becoming invisible and having needs that are trivial to others. This is what the current student movement is opposed to. Clemson changing the name of Tillman would be the ultimate demonstration of their claim to a commitment to inclusivity.”

“I think that most people on campus see this decision as a way garner attention, but it can be used productively to start a conversation on improving campus climate. However, I think students need to reconcile that the desire to rename a building because of the atrocious but very with-the-times views of its eponym, who is lesser known than the building anyway, isn’t necessarily an effective way to promote positive change.”

“The ignorance of these people is a perfect picture of what is wrong with many Americans today. If I were to take a poll of all students on campus and ask them what they think of when they hear the word ‘Tillman,’ I bet 99% would say something about ‘the building at the top of Bowman,’ not, ‘oh, the racist white politician who was a founding father of our great school. These people are only looking for attention and are furthering the racial divide. I will always refer to that gorgeous building as ‘Tillman’ no matter what ignorant decisions are made about any name change – a change that will literally have no positive effect on these students’ lives, present or future. I wish these groups would focus on something relevant and current instead of dwelling on the past. They are not making any real progress if their goal is to be ‘equal.’ They don’t want that. They want special recognition for something that happened over 100 years ago. Sorry for the rant.”

I will be filming and taking photos of the protest on Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter for alerts and updates: @ellenmeny

8 thoughts on “Students React to Possible Tillman Hall Name Change

  1. Where on campus is there a statue of Ben Tillman? I was totally unaware that one existed.

    1. Hi Allie. Good eye. The student I received the quote from mis-typed. She meant to write Thomas Green Clemson. The error has been corrected. Thanks!

  2. Ellen, I do not believe the student did not mis-type. It’s just proof of the ignorance of some of the “protestors”

    1. Thanks for the information. Are you the creator of this Facebook page?

  3. I’m surprised so many people are trying to protect the legacy of such a horrible person. Not because he was racist. That was consistent with the times in which he lived. But he was also a murderer who delighted and boasted in that fact while encouraging others to do the same. Interesting.

  4. I strongly object to naming roads and buildings after a womanizing lawbreaker, but that’s not stopping cities from having MLK Jr this and that. If you try hard enough, you can find warts on everyone. Tillman needs to stay Tillman and to the the young man who wants to shoot the bird at TGC’s statue . . . . . transfer to Coot U, you don’t deserve to be a Clemson graduate.

  5. Post the truth Ellen. Stop being a divider. The first slave owner in South Carolina was a black man. Here is the link. You can’t change history. It is time to reveal the truth that the black slave owners in the South outnumbered the white slave owners. It is also time to reveal the truth that the black slave owners did not want the slaves freed by Lincoln and that they were less humane to their slaves than the white slave owners. Also, when I watched a documentary on Lincoln on ETV (very much a liberal station) it was noted that the Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in the south, not the ones in the North. Check you facts lady!

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