On Monday, February 6, at 8:00 a.m., Chenjerai Kumanyika, Todd May, and Mike Sears, Professors at Clemson University, began “The Fast Against Silence,” a fast in front of Clemson’s Sikes Hall to call attention to the refusal of the University administration to call for an end to President Trump’s Executive Order banning travel from seven countries. The fast will last until Sunday. By fasting Professors Kumanyika, May, and Sears are also expressing solidarity with those, for instance in Syria, who will be forced to go hungry if they are not accepted as refugees into the United States.
Since beginning of the fast, the professors have received an outpouring of support. In the first two days, three dozen people signed up to do shorter sympathy fasts. Many people report having emailed Clemson’s President and Provost to object to their silence on this important issue. Students and faculty from other countries have approached the professors to tell them of their feelings of isolation and vulnerability. Articles have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed as well as local papers and television covering the fast. And, unsurprising, no members of Clemson’s upper administration have even come out for conversation, much less signaled support in any official capacity. In fact, they are using the side doors for entry and exit.
Many universities, including public universities, have called for an end to the ban. Boston University, Brown, Bucknell, the University of California system, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, the University of Illinois system, Indiana University, MIT, NYU, Northwestern, Penn, Purdue, Oklahoma, Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and the sixty-two institution Association of American Universities, among many others, have criticized the ban.
In this, as in many other things, the current Clemson administration finds itself well behind the curve. As with its foot-dragging regarding the African American community here, the administration seems unaware of the importance of diversity regarding international scholars and students. The fasting professors hope that through the continued efforts and those of the many people who have supported its goals the Clemson administration will be moved to join those dozens of other universities in taking a public stand against this appalling policy.