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Clemson University wants students to take ideological test before joining student government

Clemson University’s multicultural director believes students should face a ideological litmus test before being allowed to serve in the college’s student government. (Image source: Clemson University/YouTube screen cap)

The multicultural director at Clemson University believes students should be required to pass an “intercultural competence” test before they’re permitted to run for office or hold a position in the college’s student government.

Altheia Richardson, director of the South Carolina college’s Gantt Multicultural Center, suggested the political prerequisite during a presentation to the Senate of the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government, Campus Reform reported.

“So when it comes to this whole idea of intercultural competence,” she said, “what would it look like to have a standard for if you’re going to be elected as an officer, or hold a seat within CUSG, that you have to demonstrate that you have a certain level of intercultural competence, before you’re allowed to take that office, or that seat?”

The proposal was immediately seen as a threat to the democratic process. One student senator asked Richardson if such an ideological test could limit some students from serving their peers.

The senator asked the director if she was “implying that if there’s a threshold that people who have been elected democratically to this body, are then not allowed to serve those peers, because of a certain level they don’t reach in certain areas.”

“Well, it could happen before the democratic election process,” Richardson answered. “If that is set by your Elections Board as a standard, then if you’re vetting the candidates who are running, then it can happen even before the democratic process takes place.”

Another student senator, Samuel Thompson, also took issue with the proposal, telling Campus Reform that Richardson’s ideas “unnerved" him.

“Vetting the candidates' ideologically before elections even happen, through a process of measuring their level of commitment to ‘inclusivity’ and ‘multiculturalism,’ represents a kind of creepy totalitarianism that has no place at a true university,” he said.

Thompson went on to say the suggestion “reminds me of the kind of political totalitarianism that one sees in modern-day fascist and communist regimes.”

Student Sen. Matt Phillips added: “Clemson needs to decide exactly the kind of school it wants to be. Will we allow students of all opinions to be represented, or do we believe our agenda is more important? If we choose the latter, we compromise everything we say we stand for.”

For her part, Richardson said she presented the idea on her own and feels the requirement would create “opportunities for growth” for student government representatives.

Last week, Clemson made headlines for a new “inclusion awareness course,” a training curriculum for faculty and staff. The course suggested that expecting people to show up on time could be racist.

The training said it is not “inclusive” to reprimand faculty or staff for being late because it’s important to “recognize cultural differences that may impact the meeting and adjust accordingly.”

It’s important to remember that one person’s “cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other,” the curriculum stated.

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