The Office of Community and Ethical Standards (OCES) Director Alesia Smith has not and cannot interfere with the investigation of the Clemson Five, according to Dean of Students Chris Miller. Smith was recused from any OCES proceedings April 14.
Following Thursday’s announcement that protesters had suspended the Sikes Hall sit-in, Darien Jamal “D.J.” Smith, one of the Clemson Five, spoke about the concept of a Clemson community.
“The sense of community that has developed out here on these steps the past nine days has been nothing short of amazing,” Smith said.
Following the announcement, individuals from the crowd spoke, including D.J. Smith’s father, Bryant Smith.
“This time last week, I got a phone call that was probably the worst call I could’ve got. My son was being arrested,” Mr. Smith said. “I stand here today to say thank you to all of you students who took a stand and for taking care of him while he was out here.”
After Mr. Smith told his son that he loved him, D.J. walked up the steps to hug his father and OCES Director Alesia Smith.
According to a Campus Reform article (http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=7519), Clemson students Kyle Brady, Alexander Cullen, Miller Hall, Jack Timmerman and Clayton Warnke attended the protest.
“‘During this announcement, one of the #Clemson5 approached a man who he identified as his father in an emotional moment,’ Hall told Campus Reform. ‘This student was named DJ Smith, and the man he identified as his father was standing next to none other than Alesia Smith.’”
The article said that the students inferred Director Smith may be related to Mr. Smith and D.J. Smith
The Tiger spoke with Interim Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Dr. Chris Miller, who confirmed that Alesia Smith is D.J.’s mother.
The students met with Miller earlier in the protest to discuss posters hung on the Sikes Hall building, according to Campus Reform. Miller said the administration would investigate the matter since hanging posters on a university building violates university policy.
“We didn’t know who exactly the individuals were that posted them, so we removed [the posters] ourselves,” Miller said to The Tiger.
In the video footage that Hall and his peers provided to Campus Reform, they asked Alesia Smith if she is D.J.’s son. “He’s a student,” Smith said.
Hall, a senior computer engineering major, suggested the possibility that Alesia Smith interfered with OCES procedures.
“It is also disturbing that there is a possibility of her own involvement in preventing the investigation of the arrested #Clemson5 under the student code of conduct, which is her job, particularly since she was aware of the violations committed by her own son,” Hall said, according to the Campus Reform article.
Miller said that is not true.
“Let me just be very, very clear that no, she has no involvement … and does not advocate and does not have a voice in either adjudication and or the prosecution of a criminal case as it relates to any of the students who were involved [in the Sikes sit-in arrests],” Miller said.
In an interview with The Tiger, Hall, who stated that he never spoke directly to Campus Reform but gave a statement to someone who did, said that he started recording the interaction with Alesia Smith after Thursday’s announcement because “there was a possible conflict of interest.”
Miller cited to The Tiger the university’s conflict of interest policy: http://www.clemson.edu/conflict-of-interest/documents/coi-policy.pdf
“There are in fact sanctions for individuals that do not comply once the conflict has been duly noted. We are very, very serious about it. We have a parent conflict of interest as well,” Miller said.
According to Campus Reform, [the students] also spoke with Senior Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Doug Hallenbeck, who informed them that the Office of Community and Ethical Standards was handling the school’s investigation.
Sophomore Kyle Brady, a political science major, said that Alesia Smith “clearly overlooked code of conduct violations of her own son, and has not opened up an investigation,” according to Campus Reform.
Miller said that an OCES investigation into the criminal charges brought against the Clemson Five has been opened “but without [Alesia Smith’s] involvement.” He also said that Alesia Smith was recused from the case on April 14 “once there was an allegation or once there was some sort of manifestation of [D.J.’s] involvement in any kind of code of conduct violation.”
Brady declined to comment.
The Campus Reform article also said that the students “got a hostile reception Thursday” when they started asking Alesia Smith and Bryant Smith questions. Several of the students filmed Mr. Smith, who asked the students to stop filming him. According to South Carolina state law, the students’ filming of Smith is legal.
Mr. Smith continued to interact with the students. “If you’re worried about his safety you should take him out of here … you gonna be sorry in a minute if you don’t get him up out of here,” Mr. Smith said, referring to one of the students.
In the Campus Reform article, Hall is quoted as saying, “It is disturbing that a woman who is charged with the protection of Clemson students refused to do her duty as her husband assaulted a group of them.”
Hall said to The Tiger, “He tried to take my phone out of my hands, and when I turned away, he reached around me to … continue to take my phone out of my hands.”
Sophomore Alexander Cullen confirmed Hall’s statement.
“The phone was in front of [Bryant Smith], and he grabbed it with his hand,” Cullen, a general engineering major, said. “Of course, looking to preserve his own property and keep doing his recording and probably just what was instinctual, [Hall] turned around and … took his phone to his hip, and Mr. Smith still kind of had his hand wrapped around him … and then sought to reach around from the other side to grab his phone.”
The encounter cannot be seen on video published by Campus Reform. Cullen said that Smith’s contact with the phone “probably disrupted the recording.”
Hall reported the incident to campus police and declined to press charges.
“I had been at Sikes much longer [sic] than I intended to,” Hall said to The Tiger, adding that he went to Sikes to record the protesters’ announcement. “I really felt like I was ready to leave, and so they asked if I wanted to make an additional statement, and I said no. I said I wasn’t interested in pressing charges at that time, but … that’s really because I just wanted to get out of there.”
In the interview with The Tiger, Hall clarified his use of the word “assault.”
“When I ... talked about the term assault, it’s because you used the term ... and the [Campus Reform] article used the term, and ... while I was talking to the police, the word ‘assault’ was used,” Hall said. He added that he was not stating that Mr. Smith did or did not commit a crime.
“I can’t attest to having a full dictionary knowledge of all the words that I use. I’m certainly not saying that any particular crime was committed.”
Hall said that pressing charges against Bryant Smith is “a decision that I’ll have to make in the future.”
The Campus Reform article also said that Clements’ letter to protesters detailing a plan of action to address their demands was “read aloud by the protesters Thursday” and “[Brady, Cullen, Hall, Timmerman and Warnke] encountered Smith again several hours later when they showed up at Sikes Hall to hear Clements announce his response to the protesters’ demands …” According to video, protesters did not read the letter aloud and Clements was not present at the announcement.
Sophomore Madison Gregoris was at Sikes Hall Thursday afternoon.
“The email was neither read aloud nor was Clements present at the announcement,” Gregoris said.
The Tiger reached out to co-author of the Campus Reform article Peter Fricke and received no response.
Correction: April 25, 2016
The original article implied that the students met with Hallenbeck about the OCES investigation of the Clemson Five. Fricke, the author of the Campus Reform article, confirmed that the meeting was actually over the OCES investigation into the banner defacement of April 11. A correction has been made online for the purposes of accuracy.
Correction: April 28, 2016
The original article attributed the following statement and quote to Kyle Brady: "The encounter cannot be seen on video published by CR. Cullen said that Smith’s contact with the phone 'probably disrupted the recording.'” The correct source is Alexander Cullen.