I am a fifth-year student at Clemson, who has felt welcome from day one. I cannot imagine any scenario that I encountered that would change that.
Each and every person I met and spoke to from the very first day were excited for me to be taking part in the university that they had come to love. There are discussion sessions that every freshman takes a part in pertaining to the various races and cultures that we all have an equal chance of coming from as we pursue our dreams.
Imagine my surprise, when I hear something completely different. The iconic building that I have come to know and love, which even served as the location in which I proposed to my now-fiancee, offended people based on the name.
When I hear that they felt less-welcomed based on a name of a building, it is a frame of mind that I cannot imagine. It exposes a mindset that doesn't seek to embrace what is the past of our great country. If people feel that they aren't receiving the same opportunities as others, what better way to be encouraged, than to hear the stories of Ben Tillman, and see and feel the vast differences between his time and ours? When I see a building as beautiful as Tillman, and hear the name, and know what he stood for, I don't see a symbol of racism. I see a symbol of progress. We can see that building, with the name of a person that lived within the norms of his society, and see just how reprehensible his viewpoints were, but at the same time fully embrace that the society in which we currently live is far from his. We can hear all the terrible things he said and stood for, and see and learn just how wrong that was.
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Tillman is not a symbol of racism as those students in the "Coalition of Concerned Students" claim. It serves as a reminder of the terrible times that minorities lived in many years ago, but more importantly a symbol of the progress that has been made, and still is being made today. I will always feel welcome here on Clemson University's campus, and if someone feels that a building name changes the open arms that each and every freshman, regardless of their race and past, falls into every year, then they are the ones holding true progress back.