A firsthand account of diversity craziness at Clemson University
Across American campuses, there is an assault on students' First Amendment rights. Such assaults are excused in the name of inclusion and diversity, but students who call for more diversity often fail to see the irony in demanding criminal prosecution for those spreading "hate speech." From Title IX policies that deny the accused due process to "bias response teams" who punish those who offend, the desire of universities to achieve what they believe to be "diversity" has, actually, all but killed ideological diversity.
Take my university, Clemson. Bananas were hung on a banner located on a historical site for slaves, which mobilized a large group of students to protest and call on the administration to make changes. Clemson's administration had already launched many oddly structured attempts at diversity and inclusion, some of which have landed it in the national spotlight, like the university's Title IX training for incoming freshmen. As a freshman, I was asked questions about my sex life in great detail, expected to specify the type of sex, with whom, and how many times a week via an online module. Although this information would not be made public, the university would have a record of it. At the time, I had no idea what the Title IX training aimed to achieve or why it was fundamentally wrong, but it was. This training was a complete and total invasion of personal privacy, and the university has no business asking such questions. This mandatory training, which was part of freshman orientation, is a massive invasion into students' privacy, done under the guise of bringing the school into compliance with federal guidelines.
The political correctness overreach didn't stop there. Clemson also has a Bias Incident Response Protocol (BIRP) and an intense sexual harassment policy. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) labels schools using a red, yellow, and green light grading scale, with the green light corresponding to the best case in terms of First Amendment protections and red the worst. FIRE has labeled BIRP and the Clemson's sexual harassment policy as yellow- and red-light policies, respectively. According to FIRE, BIRP does not clearly define parameters of harassment in line with the definition that has come down from prior court rulings, so the clause is left open to interpretation. As a result, easily offended students report others – sometimes getting them punished – via the protocol.
Student groups such as See the Stripes, a group focused on diversity and social justice, have now begun to call for radical changes that would undermine the rights of students to free expression and ideological exploration – not only infringing on their rights, but also destroying the purpose of the institution itself. These groups now demand safe spaces that exclude white people and males. Furthermore, they assert that hiring and admissions decisions should be made on the basis of race and gender, not merit.
Taking the desire for diversity and inclusion to this extreme will have unintended consequences – by elevating some groups, other groups will be unfairly trampled upon.
When this divisive rhetoric runs rampant on college campuses, hostility and animosity toward targeted groups become the norm. Classrooms become unintellectual environments, privacy becomes an afterthought, and due process protections are eroded. Actions taken in the name of diversity have not achieved their desired outcomes; rather, they have pitted two sides against each other. I've seen that firsthand at Clemson.
Clayton Warnke is a senior political science student at Clemson University in South Carolina. He is currently working as a fellow in the marketing and communications department of the Atlas Network and is part of the Koch Fellows Program.