Though Jim Clements thinks the world of former Clemson football players Deandre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson, he does not want people to be misled on why Clemson’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted Friday to change the name of its honors college.
In a called emergency meeting the BOT voted to take the name of John C. Calhoun off of its honors college and replace it with Clemson University.
On Monday, Hopkins, along with Watson, started a petition to have Calhoun’s name removed from the honors college at Clemson because the former Vice President of the United States was a known slave owner.
However, Clements said what made the BOT decide to move its conversation about Calhoun’s name on its honor college was due to the horrific death of George Floyd. An unarmed black man, who was viciously killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25.
“This effort started in 2018 and was prepared to be on the board’s agenda this summer [in July],” Clements said. “I think what really expedited it for the board was all of us watching the horrific death of George Floyd and all the pain and frustration we have seen around the country. So, the board just did not want to wait.”
Though he is an avid sports fan, Clements said it is important for everyone to understand he and the board of trustees have to make decisions in the best interest of Clemson University as a whole.
“I love athletics and I love football, but I represent all of our students and faculty, our staff and our alumni and the board represents the entire institution. The board’s values apply to everybody in the Clemson family. No way did I hear, or no point did I hear any discussion really that sports or athletics were related to this. This is what the board wanted to do to stress the values and where we stand in 2020, especially related to inclusiveness. So, this was for the entire Clemson Family.”
The school’s BOT will also request the South Carolina General Assembly to remove the name of Ben Tillman from Tillman Hall and restore its original name of the Main Building. Clemson’s most iconic building on campus has been called Tillman Hall since 1946.
Clements does not expect there to be any push back from the General Assembly when it opens for legislation in 2021.
Clemson students and others have been asking for the university to remove the name of Tillman from Tillman Hall since 2015. Clemson began a history task force that year to look into Tillman and many of its historical aspects around the campus.
As for what Hopkins and Watson have done to help and how they have used their platforms to create a positive change against racism, social injustice, and police brutality, Clements is extremely proud of them.
“I think the world of Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins,” he said. “Deshaun and I started really at Clemson together and we became incredibly close. We still stay in contact on a regular basis. I think the world of those two very fine gentlemen.
“I am very thankful that they weighed in. I am very proud of that. They represent the Clemson Family so very well. They are wonderful people and have a very strong voice. I am very thankful they are using their platform to do that.”
Calhoun was the Vice President of the United States from 1825-’32. Calhoun, whose family own the land that is now Clemson University, was a known supporter of slavery when he was in office.
Tillman, a United States Senator (1895-1918) and former Governor of South Carolina (1890-’94), was known as a white supremacist in his day and was actively against allowing black Americans any civil rights. Tillman also played a big role in the start of Clemson University in 1889 when he was frustrated by the way the University of South Carolina was handling the state’s agriculture.
Clemson fans, now is the time to support the local businesses.
A great gift for any Tiger fan. Just one of many great items available from Clemson Variety & Frame