By Mark Land, Vice President of University Relations
Over the past two weeks, numerous media reports have misrepresented the university’s efforts related to the work being done to enhance an inclusive campus environment where the backgrounds and experiences of all our students, faculty and staff are valued. Those media reports have been published with little regard for the facts of the situation.
Specifically, inaccurate claims have been made about the content and intent of both a recently released online training program for employees and CU 1000, the required non-credit course designed to introduce first semester Clemson students to the university’s student success resources, community standards and values.
Unfortunately, those false claims have been accepted at face value by some as an exercise in political correctness on the part of the university. This message is an attempt to set the record straight and transparently communicate the goals of these programs.
Last month, Clemson University distributed an online training module to employees as a means to stimulate thinking and awareness around a range of situations employees can be expected to face as a member of a diverse organization. Participation is entirely voluntary and the training can be completed in 30-45 minutes.
The training included a scenario regarding the value of time, which was one of many scenarios that addressed a range of issues related to cultural diversity. The intent of that particular scenario, which centered around the starting time of a workplace meeting attended by a diverse group of people, was not to suggest that it was appropriate to be late for workplace meetings, as has been reported by some media outlets. Rather, the point was to simply raise awareness that the concept of time is viewed differently in different cultures and countries so that if this type of situation arises in the workplace it can be dealt with as effectively as possible.
Additionally, it has been erroneously reported that Clemson students will be required to take a similar online training course as part of a revamped CU 1000 to be released in the fall. This is false.
There is no online diversity training planned for students and no substantive changes are planned for CU 1000 at this time.
CU 1000 will continue to provide new students with information related to transitioning to college, library resources, health and safety, academic advising, Clemson community standards and a state mandated overview of the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents. One of the course’s seven modules does address diversity as a broad concept to raise awareness that individuals differ from one another in myriad ways.
Clemson University, like much of the rest of the world, is a diverse place where members of our community bring a broad range of backgrounds and experiences to the table. Creating an inclusive environment that embraces that diversity is consistent with Clemson’s core values of honesty, respect and integrity. It also makes the university stronger and helps prepare our students for future success, which is Clemson’s primary mission.
In simplest terms, Clemson’s work around inclusion and diversity is not designed to impose a particular set of beliefs on students or employees. The opposite is true, in fact. The university’s goal is not to tell people what to think, but rather to help provide the tools to allow them to think for themselves.