VIDEO: Student senators sit down during Pledge of Allegiance

More than 10 student senators on Clemson University’s student government sat in protest during the Pledge of Allegiance at a Monday session.

According to a video of the meeting obtained by Campus Reform, a cohort of senators is seen taking a seat  just prior to the Pledge of Allegiance, though most senators remained standing.

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Additionally, screenshots of the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG) Senate’s GroupMe chat, provided to Campus Reform by a CUSG senator, reveal that the protest was planned.

“These divisive comments are the antithesis of what America is all about. We are not a nation that ostracizes their own simply due to a difference of opinion,” CUSG senator Willie Webb wrote in the chat, referring to President Trump’s controversial comments on the protests sweeping the NFL.

Webb went on to declare that he and “many other senators will sit” in order to “show that we stand with our fellow Americans that choose to respectfully exercise their rights as an American citizen,” even encouraging “any and all to join” them.

During the meeting itself, CUSG Vice-President Jaren Stewart, who also sat during the pledge, took time out to explain his decision.  

“I’d like to talk about why I decided to sit down for the Pledge of Allegiance. Again, this was like, on my own accord, but like, on a national scale, like, this is a trend that’s extremely new,” he explained.

“And myself, this is for me, sitting down for the pledge, is that actively changing it? For me, no. But, I am bringing light to an issue that plagues us day in and day out,” Stewart continued, later asking attendees if they were aware “that Clemson’s 83 percent white? Like, but do you think about it when you put on your shoes and when you go out to eat lunch?”

“Our racial divide is ingrained and it’s very real. But that does not mean it’s not changeable,” Stewart concluded.

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Another senator, who spoke with Campus Reform on the condition of anonymity, objected to the protest, stating that “refusal to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t a peaceful protest of discrimination in our country,” but rather “a sign of disrespect to the values that make this country great.

“They are instead undermining the principles of unity and a prosperous republic,” the anonymous senator continued. “To protest the Pledge means to further divide the country while simultaneously attempting to stand on a platform of toleration and acceptance.”

Campus Reform reached out to CUSG Vice-President Jaren Stewart and Student Senator Willie Webb, but did not receive any responses in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter