Racial tensions are at an all-time high at Clemson University in the wake of protesting and a very inappropriate event held by Clemson’s chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. The fraternity responded to protests for the Mike Brown and Eric Garner cases by throwing a party themed ‘Clemson Cripmas,’ an obvious mocking of the L.A. Crips gang. Attendees wore fake tear-drop tattoos, red and blue bandanas, and took pictures throwing up gang signs. Pictures from the party surfaced on Instagram and Twitter causing much backlash from many offended students. After pressure from students and faculty mounted, the university president released the following statement:
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.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon National Fraternity suspended the Clemson chapter due to to the pictures found on the internet of the event taking place. School officials who are investigating the event are threatening suspension for fraternity members who were involved in any way with the party. All Greek life at the university is already under scrutiny for a recent hazing incident which resulted in the death of a student.