Students at Clemson University who refused to leave a campus building they had attempted to occupy experienced a surprise — and a bitter taste of the cruel, real world — Thursday evening when police arrested them.
The brief occupation began, as such occupations often do these days, with a set of seven demands — and seven grievances — posted by a student group called See the Stripes.
The occupiers’ motley list of demands includes a demand that the taxpayer-funded university “prosecute criminally predatory behaviors and defamatory speech” on social media. See the Stripes also seeks a multicultural center which will serve as “a safe space” for minority students and a new name for Tillman Hall, a campus building named after white supremacist Democrat Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman. Additionally, See the Stripes members say they remain really mad because a fraternity threw a “Crip-mas”-themed Christmas party well over a year ago.
The protest began on Wednesday night on the steps of Sikes Hall, an administrative building which houses the office of Clemson’s president, James P. Clements. A small group of protesters slept in front of the building in tents and sleeping bags, according to local Fox affiliate WHNS.
A group of students also decided to inhabit Sikes Hall.
Next, Clemson administrators warned the students that they would be arrested if they did not decamp from inside the building by 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Some of the protesters chose to leave.
Five students opted to stay. Police arrested them.
Police cited Adrian Lydell Carson, Jeremy Ian Anderson, Darien Jamal Smith, Me’khayla Oneal Williams and Rae-Nessha Nichole White with trespassing on public premises outside of ordinary business hours, reports Greenville, S.C. NBC affiliate WYFF.
The “Clemson Five,” as supporters have taken to calling them, were then released on their own recognizance and ordered to appear in municipal court.
The protests at Clemson are apparently related to an incident last week involving some students who hung bananas beside an African-American history banner hanging on campus. The students who hung the bananas turned themselves in. However, their names have been withheld and their motivations remain unclear. No criminal charges were filed, according to The Greenville News.
On Friday, a day after the arrests, students continued to protest inside and outside Sikes Hall. However, all the protesters decided they didn’t want to be arrested and left the interior of the building promptly at 5:30 p.m.
The protesters swear they will continue to protest — and make Sikes Hall the hub of their activities — until school officials cave to their demands and address their grievances.
“We plan to continue until we get the appropriate response from administration and administration was told that,” student protester Sherman Jones told WHNS.
Clements, the aptly-named Clemson president, issued a lengthy missive entitled “Dear Clemson Family: Diversity Update” just before the five students were arrested.
“This week has seen positive activities regarding Diversity and Inclusion at Clemson University,” Clements wrote. “Let me take this opportunity to recap a number of other initiatives that have taken place and continue to occur at Clemson University.”
Clements touted a “13 percent in our African-American undergraduate enrollment,” “increases in people of color among faculty and administrators,” a resolution by the board of trustees that Tillman was a terrible racist and mandatory diversity training for faculty, staff members and students.
The arrests at Clemson mark the second time this month that school officials have chosen to treat occupying protesters as criminals who are breaking laws. Earlier this month, an Ohio State University official informed a group of radicals who had occupied an administrative building that the time had come to leave.
“Our police officers will physically pick you up and take you to a paddy wagon, and take you to be arrested,” Ohio State senior vice president for administration Jay Kasey explained to a couple dozen protesters. (RELATED: Ohio State Swiftly Ends Students’ ‘Occupation’ With Promises Of Arrest, Expulsion)
The students, who did leave, also faced expulsion, Kasey said.
Clemson’s See the Stripes group has been active on campus for a couple years now. (RELATED: Radical Minority Group At Clemson Seeks SUSPENSION OF FIRST AMENDMENT)
The South Carolina school is famous, of course, because school officials swiftly apologized back in October for serving Mexican food during a food-themed “Maximum Mexican” night in campus cafeterias. One student complained about the ongoing cafeteria fiesta by tweeting an image of cafeteria workers wearing sombreros. The caption of the tweet — which now appears to have disappeared — was: “Our culture isn’t a costume and we will not be mocked!” (RELATED: Taxpayer-Funded University Apologizes For Offending Mexicans By SERVING TACOS)
Also, Clemson’s board of trustees for student affairs has approved a list of recommendations designed to curb fun which included a ban on drinking games at all social events. (RELATED: Clemson Bans Frats, Sororities From Buying Booze, Playing Drinking Games)
At the same time, there is also real and important science happening at Clemson. In 2013, for example, a group of student researchers tested several ping-pong balls used in various beer pong games around campus — before the frat ban. The students found a swarm of dodgy bacteria on those balls. This vital research was part of a Clemson program called Creative Inquiry, which allows students to consider weighty questions — such as exactly how disgusting beer pong is — and answer those questions via scientific inquiry. (RELATED: Science At Clemson: Beer Pong Balls Are Crawling With Nasty Bacteria)