Clemson University’s multicultural studies director has proposed that students must pass an “intercultural competency” test before they’re allowed to run for office or hold positions in the South Carolina college’s student government. The proposal follows a new mandate requiring all freshmen students to take a social justice course following enrollment.
Altheia Richardson, Clemson’s director of the Gantt Multicultural Center, made her proposal at a recent presentation to the senate of the Clemson Undergraduate Student Government (CUSG). She also suggested group training for elected CUSG members. Her ideas outraged some student senators, who compared it to an ideological purity test that contradicted the concept of a democratically-elected student government.
“So when it comes to this whole idea of intercultural competence, what would it look like to have a standard for if you’re going to be elected as an officer, or hold a seat within CUSG, that you have to demonstrate that you have a certain level of intercultural competence, before you’re allowed to take that office, or that seat,” said Richardson on a public livestream (via Campus Reform).
When a senator asked Richardson how this would affect the democratic process for people running for office who don’t meet the standard, she suggested that candidates could take the test before the election.
“Well, it could happen before the democratic election process,” said Richardson. “If that is set by your Elections Board as a standard, then if you’re vetting the candidates who are running, then it can happen even before the democratic process takes place.”
As the publication notes, Altheia Richardson earns slightly over $100,000 a year for her directorial position at the university.
Speaking to Campus Reform, student senator Samuel Thompson called the administrator’s proposal troubling.
“Ms. Richardson’s comments about multiculturalism at the last Senate meeting unnerved me,” he said. “Vetting the candidates ideologically before elections even happen, through a process of measuring their level of commitment to ‘inclusivity’ and ‘multiculturalism,’ represents a kind of creepy totalitarianism that has no place at a true university.”
He said that her ideas reminded him of the political totalitarianism of modern communist and fascist regimes, and added that the whole purpose of student governments was to represent students, not certain ideologies.