Evidently college students are not as smart as you might think. It is common knowledge that social change is at the forefront of the struggle erupting from the racial unrest in Ferguson, Staten Island and most of the nation.

Over at Clemson University in South Carolina – students are joining the nationwide protests that are still in session. But over at a frat house, members thought it would be a neat idea to parade around dressed like stereotypical gang members.

Sigma Alpha Epilson had a themed party – “Clemson Cripmas” this past Saturday night and the imagery is just as offensive as you can imagine.

White boys trying to replicate the clothing code of “the streets” – is not a gathering that will elicit much support or tolerance in these times that we live in. expectedly, the frat house was suspended after the incriminating pictures were posted in Instagram and Twitter. Other Clemson students who were not too pleased with the frats protested the party on the campus grounds.

A source on campus verified that the events at Ferguson have filtered into the climate of the campus – with tensions at an all time high. The protesters on campus are implored the University’s president, Jim Clements to take action after the racist themed party was exposed.

Clements ended up releasing a statement that didn’t quite reprimand the frat house for their insensitivity but instead glazed over the issue by being frustratingly politically correct.

At a time of year when our thoughts are turning to family, holidays and the start of a new year – all the things that unite us and bring us joy — it is discouraging that so many events and issues are causing division and hurt, and making many students feel unwanted at this great university. It hurts to read disrespectful and just plain mean comments in social media.  Last night’s “Cripmas” party, which the university did not sanction, raised more concerns about the campus climate. Clemson is better than this.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion about events in Ferguson, Staten Island and the protest rallies that those events have spawned. Great universities are built on the free expression and exploration of ideas. But the free expression of opinion must not cross the line and become harassment or intimidation, just as rallies and protest marches must not cross the line to lawlessness.

Our core values – honesty, integrity and respect – must be more than just words. I plan to host a series of events in early 2015 to foster productive discussion and unity that includes a broad segment of the campus – and I hope that I can count on your active participation.

In the meantime, please be supportive of each other during this busy and sometimes stressful season.


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