Document Type


Publication Date



In December of 2011, a group of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other Clemson community members came together to discuss the invisibility of the queer and trans communities in the “Clemson family” message. The event was held at the Madren Center and sponsored in part by the then‐Dean of Students Joy Smith. One of the motivating factors of the meeting was Clemson University’s unfortunately low score, 2 out of 5 stars, on the National LGBT‐Friendly Campus Climate Assessment tool from Campus Pride. The average score among the Top‐20 Public Schools (U.S. News & World Report, 2013) is 4.4 out of 5 stars. Of the Top‐25 Public Schools, only Clemson scored below a 3 out of 5 stars. Our main motivation stemmed from the controversial off‐campus beating of a gay Clemson student. Leading up to the confrontation gay slurs were used against two students and one student suffered a physical attack.

From the meeting’s exhaustive list of findings, three items were identified as priorities: establishment of a LGBTQ commission, establishment of a LGBTQ resource center, and same‐sex spousal benefits. Of the three, the establishment of a commission was pursued by Leon Wiles (Chief Diversity Officer), Susan Hilligoss (English faculty), and Joshua Morgan (library staff). Bylaws were drafted, and in November of 2012, a smaller representative group appeared before President Jim Barker to present their rationale for the establishment of a commission. The president responded by appointing a task force to act in an advisory capacity and to continue the discussion about how to make members of the queer and trans communities feel welcome and safe in the Clemson family.