Clemson puts 'Rainbow Initiatives' job 'on hold indefinitely'
Clemson University has suspended its search for an “Associate Director for Rainbow Initiatives,” casting doubt on the prospects for a “permanent space” for LGBTQ students on campus.
“The university has decided to place this job posting on hold. We'll try to provide updates as we find out more,” the Clemson University President’s LGBTQ Commission posted on Facebook.
“Clemson University's first full-time staff position for LGBTQ+ programming and advocacy has been put on hold indefinitely,” the CU Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) confirmed. “We currently have no further details.”
The news comes shortly after the job listing was removed from the university’s website to be “re-evaluated” after it sparked concerns that the school was undertaking a secretive effort to create an LGBTQ safe space.
In an apparent allusion to student demands that Clemson establish a “permanent space” for the LGBTQ+ community on campus, the job description noted that the associate director would be responsible for providing “a comfortable, safe, accessible resource center for anyone interested in a place to talk, listen, or find support and materials around LGBTQ issues.”
The LGBTQ Commission’s Facebook post prompted several individuals to ask why the position was placed on hold.
“From what I read, there were parts of the job description that were inconsistent,” replied student Alexander Cullen. “Things such as the employee would work on space allocation for the LGTBQA+ community, while at the same time the administration said they had no plans to look into allocating a space.”
The LGBTQ Commission responded with a curt denial, saying, “This is untrue and any article from a place like Campus Reform should not be taken seriously as they often sensationalize facts, not to mention misquote and take quotes completely out of context to fit a narrative.”
“Is this commission saying that Campus Reform is an unreliable news source?” student Zachariah Talley asked incredulously, but no further response was forthcoming.
Shortly thereafter, Cullen commented again, this time providing a screenshot of a statement previously provided to Campus Reform by Vice President of University Relations Mark Land explicitly contradicting the Commission’s claims.
“I have been told that the description is being re-evaluated. There is no specific ‘space management’ component to the role,” Land wrote, adding, “The individual in this position will serve as a resource for our GLBTQ community but we aren’t considering a specific place for this—or any other single group—at this time.”
Campus Reform reached out to the LGBTQ Commission for clarification, but was summarily rejected.
“We will not be reporting anything to Campus Reform as too often quotes given to CR are taken out of context and sensationalized,” LGBTQ Commission representative Josh Morgan asserted. “You may contact the Office of Inclusion and Equity [OIE] for a quote on the matter.”
Morgan did, however, see fit to elaborate further on the matter to The Tiger Town Observer, a Clemson student newspaper.
“Land’s response is not an exact representation of why the position was put on hold and we’re not sure who informed him of such. The commission was told it was to reevaluate budgeting as this has to do with moving FTE [full-time equivalent] positions around in the OIE,” Morgan claimed.
“We are aware from [Clemson University Student Government] and CU SAGA that [the] administration did inform them of space being considered, so that is why we are all surprised by Mr. Land’s comments,” he added, noting that “I also serve on the search committee for this position, and we still have yet to receive official word on why this was placed on hold.”
In a separate Facebook post, CU SAGA asserted that it is “working to gain clarity on the situation and to figure out what we need to do to make the space happen,” but a representative for the group could only offer speculation after speaking with administrators.
“I have spoken directly to Lee Gill, who led the creation of the position and the job title, and he cited budgetary issues. He said that the Board of Trustees is fiscally conservative and did not want to use the budget to fund this position,” CU SAGA member Jessie Bailey told Campus Reform.
“However, he seems hopeful that the position will be published again after a rewrite of the job description and after advocates for the position create a detailed proposal for why this position is needed,” Bailey added.
In response to further inquiries, Morgan charged Campus Reform with turning diversity initiatives such as the propose LGBTQ safe space “into a mythical attack on [F]irst [A]mendment rights without ever understanding or researching the sociology behind the term safe space or attempting to critically think about why having a person devoted to inclusion to LGBTQ students is necessary.”
According to Morgan, “the main push back” against the plan has come from “conservative outlets, such as Clemson Conservatives, Tiger Town Observer, and now CR.”
Campus Reform reached out to Mark Land to determine whether students were promised an “LGBTQIA+ community space,” and why the position was placed on hold indefinitely, but he declined to comment further.
CORRECTION: This article has been revised to eliminate ambiguity regarding the provenance of Land's original statement.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter