Planned Clemson diversity summit drawing praise and criticism

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GREENVILLE, S.C (WSPA) – Clemson University is organizing the first ever “Men of Color National Summit” this April in Greenville.

The goal is to close the achievement gap for minority students. It is also an opportunity to address many of the diversity issues raised on Clemson’s campus in recent years.

“Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” said Lee Gill, Clemson’s Chief Diversity Officer.

Inclusion and equity is what gill was brought to Clemson University to address this year.

“While we’ve had discussions, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve come up with solutions,” said Gill.

So, Clemson is turning their sights to Upstate minorities with this summit.

“Our focus is on increasing graduation for African American males and Hispanic males,” he said.

More than 2000 people will attend the summit, including 400 minority male students from Greenville, Pickens and Anderson school districts.

“What I’m hoping for is to see the shining brightness of these young people’s eyes to know that they are part of the Clemson Tiger alliance cohort,” said Gill.

That cohort of young men will be mentored from the onset of the summit through graduation to be college ready.

Graduate student A.D. Carson said the efforts are fruitless unless campus issues are addressed first.

“What we are doing is inviting more people to be a part of what students at Clemson have been critiquing Clemson University about in the first place without actually providing a framework for those students to have a better experience than the students who are already here,” said Carson.

Last spring, a nine day student sit in raised a set of demands from students, ranging from increasing diversity of faculty to changing the names of campus buildings.

“The issues that were brought up last year still stand,” said Carson.

Carson believes the summit is a start, but hopes it will highlight what is left to be done at Clemson.

The summit is set for April 27-28 at the TD Convention Center.

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