CLEMSON, S.C. ― Clemson University is defending its policy after a staff member asked a man praying on campus last week to remove a sign or leave.
Local media reported a man had a “Prayer” sign Aug. 25 when he was asked to remove the sign or file a request to hold an event.
Clemson student Kyra Palange told WYFF-TV she saw the man with an empty chair with a sign that read “prayer.” Palange said the staff member’s action and the school policy violate the 1st Amendment.
Clemson issued a statement Tuesday to clarify the school’s policy.
“First and most importantly, Clemson does not prohibit prayer on our campuses,” the statement read.
But the statement said the school has rules for people not affiliated with the school that are necessary to maintain “an effective and safe learning environment for our students.”
Mark Land, vice president of University Relations, said anyone who is not a student must fill out a form from the campus activities and events office stating that they would like to speak, or assemble a group.
In the statement, university officials said that a school employee saw a man, not affiliated with the campus, inviting others to pray with him via a sign he posted. The man was told “that if he wanted to erect a sign and invite a gathering he would need to reserve one of the areas of campus designated as available to the public for this type of activity,” according to the statement.
A group of Clemson students plan a rally Friday in the area where the community evangelist was told he was violating a campus policy. The group WeRoar Clemson describes itself as a “movement” that seeks to “promote freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas on campus.”
Clemson spokeswoman Robin Denny said the school would not interfere with Friday’s rally.