Jaren Stewart, vice president of Clemson University’s student government, says he’s being impeached because he wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, but the student senator who introduced the articles of impeachment says that has nothing do do with it.
Stewart and several other student government members sat during the pledge of allegiance during a Student Senate meeting in September as a show of support for National Football League player protests of police brutality and racial injustice during the national anthem.
"This had come right after I had sat for the pledge," Stewart said according to the Anderson Independent Mail. "They’ve already made up their minds because of this trope of the villainous African-American male. Ultimately, this stems from implicit bias."
Official reason for impeachment
Student senator Miller Hoffman, who initiated the impeachment, said it has nothing to do with race or any protests.
“I cannot stress enough how the situation has absolutely nothing to do with the flag protest or contain any racial motivation at all,” Hoffman said during a student government meeting, according to Inside Higher Ed. “Such a narrative is without evidence and completely untrue.”
Instead, Hoffman said the impeachment is related to complaints the university received against Stewart while he was a Resident Assistant last school year. The complaints were leaked to the public at the beginning of October.
According to the complaints, Stewart entered residents’ rooms without permission, sometimes stealing food and cleaning supplies and leaving the rooms dirty.
Another complaint claimed that Steward entered a dorm room while women were changing and refused to leave.
For the record, Stewart claims those complaints are exaggerated, and that if there had been a serious issue with him as an RA, he wouldn’t have been able to become vice president.
History of racial tension
Stewart cited Clemson’s troubled racial history as evidence that his impeachment amounts to a “social lynching”
"There’s a deeper systemic issue in which people are choosing what they want to hear, choosing what they want to believe exists and that’s why sitting for the pledge was so important,” Stewart said to the Anderson Independent Mail.
The university has declined to comment on the situation, saying in a statement that the university wants to respect the student government process.