Clemson University’s student government is pushing back after the Confederate flag appeared near the Upstate South Carolina campus last week.
Clemson’s student Senate approved a resolution on Monday denouncing displays of the flag around campus, calling the flag “a symbol of hatred, racism, slavery and white nationalism.”
The resolution goes on to say the flag is associated with the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.
“The display of this flag is not illegal,” the resolution reads. “However, it does promote racial tensions at a university which prides itself on its core values of honesty, integrity, and respect.”
On Aug. 26, several people were seen waving Confederate flags along S.C. 93 in Clemson and from the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 123. Images of the flag-wavers circulated on social media, sparking a reaction from students on the state’s second-largest college campus.
The S.C. Secessionist Party took credit for the event, saying it brought out 18 flag supporters for about three hours to wave flags around the campus.
Members of the small party have held similar “flagging” events around the state since the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of the S.C. State House in 2015.
Party chairman James Bessenger said the party wants to push Columbia’s Confederate Relic Room to display publicly the flag that was taken down after a racially motivated shooting in a Charleston church.
“This won’t be the last,” Bessenger said of the event. “We’re going to have these all over the state until the flag is displayed.”
In a statement to The State, Clemson did not take a position on the flag display.
“The Clemson University Student Government is an independent body elected by university students to represent their interests on matters important to them,” said Clemson spokesman Joe Galbraith. “The university supports the student leaders’ right to pass nonbinding resolutions on any topic of their choosing, as they did this week in articulating their values following a recent display on public highways near the campus.”
Student leaders said they felt the incident required a quick response.
“We wanted to show the students that we are listening and working to support their concerns,” student Sen. Dahvier Alston, who co-authored the resolution, told The Tiger newspaper after Monday’s student Senate meeting.
The resolution notes that Clemson’s board of trustees supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, and says the student government felt it is “our responsibility to support and advocate for every student and make sure that every student feels safe, both while on campus and in the surrounding Clemson community.”