Clemson protest focuses on sexual assault survivors

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — About 40 Clemson University students gathered outside a university building Wednesday as part of a multi-day protest to demand support for survivors of sexual violence.

The Greenville News reports that the students want university leaders to comply with a set of demands made a year ago.

Students for Survivors, a coalition of student organizations, was created after students released an online petition and organized a march last year.

The group made demands to create more on-campus resources for survivors of rape and sexual assault. The newspaper reported that the university agreed to most of the demands, which included the of hiring three victim advocates and adding more student representatives to the President’s Commission on Women.

But coalition leaders said progress has stalled since the agreements were made.

That led to the sit-in at Clemson's Sikes Hall, according to organizer Allana O’Shields.

“They have yet to prioritize or implement any of those original demands,” O’Shields said.

Clemson University leaders said they have remained committed to supporting survivors of sexual violence for years.

O'Shields said the protests will continue daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with no more than 49 participants due to COVID-19 concerns.

Students began packing seats by 8 a.m. Wednesday. They were asked to sit down with the university's Vice President of Student Affairs Chris Miller at noon, Student Affairs spokesperson Philip Sikes said Wednesday.

While Sikes said Miller would meet with protesters each day to work towards a solution, O’Shields and co-organizer Hayley Chelak were not optimistic.

The students are grateful the university is talking with them. But, they say a bigger commitment is needed.