Clemson Removes John C. Calhoun's Name from Honors College, Asks to Rename Tillman Hall
Vice President Calhoun was a slave owner and secessionist whose plantation became Clemson University; Tillman was a governor and white supremacist whose name adorns Clemson's most iconic building.
The Clemson University Board of Trustees has voted to remove John C. Calhoun's name from the Honors College and has requested the state Legislature to empower the school to rename Tillman Hall to its original name, Old Main.
In a Friday morning vote, the board unanimously voted to remove Calhoun from the Honors College as recommended by Provost Bob Jones. The college was immediately rebranded The Clemson University Honors College.
Efforts like the ones to rename Clemson's Tillman Hall or the USC's Women's Dorm, which is named after Marion Sims, a scientist who performed surgery on enslaved women without consent, would require the Legislature's vote, which is why the group is focusing first on repealing the Heritage Act.
"I think the bottom line for a lot of us in this coalition is we want the school to have the power to listen to students and take action that students have been begging for and demanding for years," Knight said.
The coalition is working to reach out to legislators like Rep. Seth Rose, a Columbia Democrat who plans to introduce legislation to remove the statue of Benjamin "Pitchfork" Tillman — the namesake of Clemson's most iconic building — from Statehouse grounds.
"We're excited about the legislative side of things. To be honest, it's only been five days. We still are in the process of finishing up all of those connections, but we hope to be great partners with them," Knight said.
READ: Clemson Removes John C. Calhoun's Name from Honors College, Asks to Rename Tillman Hall
Clemson's student body is 6% black, and 76% white, according to university enrollment data.
The letter suggest five actions the university can take to make campus a more inclusive and safe environment for Black and minority students:
- Acknowledge Clemson's role in systemic racism and denounce racism
- Require diversity education for students and employees
- Establish and maintain a "safe space for students of color"
- Create a zero-tolerance policy for student groups who engage in discriminatory practices or commit hate crimes
- Develop long-term goals to actively assist in underrepresented communities on campus