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FITSNews Exclusive – Clinton’s Claflin Crackdown October 18, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in 2008 Presidential Primaries.



FITSNews – October 18, 2007 – Students at Claflin University, a historically black college in Orangeburg, S.C., are accusing the school’s administration of prohibiting them from forming a “Students for Barack Obama” chapter, yet simultaneously compelling them to attend a press conference supporting his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In fact, several students who serve as volunteers on Obama’s presidential campaign tell FITSNews that they were coerced into holding Clinton signs and standing behind State Sen. John Matthews, who unveiled Clinton’s higher education plan at a press conference held at the school last week.

Which would probably explain some of the unenthusiastic expressions visible in this photograph.

Here’s what we’ve been told …

About three weeks ago, an honors student at Claflin University says she approached the administration about establishing a Students for Barack Obama chapter at the school. The student was told that she and fellow students could not form such a group on campus, but no reason was given for the school’s decision.

Fast-forward to last week, when this same honors student says that she and other Obama supporters were in a class that was cancelled so that students could attend Sen. Matthews’ presentation on behalf of the Clinton campaign. She and other scholarship students say they were “coerced by administrators” into standing behind Matthews during his address. About half of those students are Obama volunteers who felt they had “no choice” but to stand behind Matthews at the event.

Not surprisingly, Clinton stickers and placards were passed out while the Senator was making his presentation, and a sign-up form for the Clinton campaign was circulated, which many of the students said they felt they were obligated to sign.

Claflin is technically a private institution, but it receives millions of dollars in government grants each year due to its historically-black designation.

According to a senior U.S. Department of Education official who spoke with FITSNews on the condition of anonymity, the school’s political favoritism – if proven true – may violate the First Amendment rights of these students, as well as a federal prohibition against using tax dollars to promote a political campaign.

“It stinks to high heaven,” the official said. “Given that Claflin receives federal money and based on the school’s clear support for Clinton and its efforts to limit support for Obama, this could be a violation of that prohibition. It could also be a potential violation of the First Amendment rights of free speech and free association, but you’d have to determine the constitutional standard for a private school that accepts federal dollars. Are they considered a government actor for constitutional purposes or not? That’s what a case like this would hinge on.”

Claflin University did not return repeated phone calls from FITSNews seeking comment. Clinton’s campaign said it would look into the allegations.

Count on FITSNews to keep you in the loop as this potentially explosive story continues to develop …



1. Brandon - October 18, 2007

Two observations:
1. Is this what their parents and grandparents faces fire hoses, billy clubs, and police dogs for? Where is there backbone.

2. I think we can drop the word “historically” from their description.

2. anon - October 18, 2007

To play devil’s advocate: How do we know this is true?

Obama spoke at the school in February and there’s a Claflin University Students for Obama page on my.barackobama.com

Do you have more proof?

3. HBCU Students “Coerced” to Pose for Clinton, Despite Supporting Obama? « Think On These Things - October 18, 2007

[…] reports: About three weeks ago, an honors student at Claflin University says she approached the […]

4. Cynthia Barnes - October 18, 2007

Students of Claflin University—–Are you going to allow the adminstration to TELL YOU who to vote for in the upcoming elections as well?

5. Hex Lee - October 18, 2007

John Matthews, GOT HOPE?

6. Rhodes - October 18, 2007

Great report Will, although I am surprised that a commenting reader would criticize the students (the “backbone” comment?) for being pressured into participating in an event that they wanted no part in. The real (and obvious) crime is that a political campaign would sanction (and even support) the bullying of these kids into a photo op.
It’s pitiful that when the Clinton machine can’t attract natural enthusiasm, they’re willing to coerce people into submission. As a Democrat, I am angered (and embarrassed) to see a campaign that purports to carry a progressive banner resorting to these tactics. No member of the blue party can criticize the “with us or against us” mentality of the Bush White House without acknowledging that this philosophy is a driving force in the Hillary camp.

7. Matt Sutton - October 18, 2007

This is ridiculous. The school administration needs to respond.

1. Why can’t students form an Obama chapter?

2. Why were they pressured to appear at this Hillary event?

8. Jay Lowe - October 18, 2007

There are only 35-40 people in the photo. Werent they able to find enough Hill supporters to fill out the photo op?

9. VCubed - October 19, 2007

This is outrageous. It’s just a small sample of what’s going on around the entire country: Sen. Clinton’s endorsers forced not just to betray their own better judgment, but to play dirty politics with our and their own communities! Look deeper, folks, and you’ll find these “endorsements” were more debts-called-in than ringing support. It’s so sad to see our youth being used that way – shame on SC Sen. Matthews and the school administrators!
I volunteer for Obama, and the Students for Obama are the greatest, most civic-minded youth and the most inspiring and hardworking volunteers! Mark my words: they will not be stopped, for, as Obama says, “Few obstacles can withstand the power of a million voices calling for change.”
We’ll support you, Claflin University Students for Obama 08! Organize off-campus until your administration realizes we’re still in the United States of America! Don’t let them break your stride – your communities need you! Blog on Students for Obama so we can help you help put the Obama Family in the West Wing.

10. Sarah Smith - October 19, 2007

The above picture speaks a million words. This utterly disgraceful incident should not be happening in America and I hope an investigation is called immediately.

The severity of this case is highlighted by the fact that the students discriminated against are supporters of a man considered to be America’s candidate and most likely to be the next President of the United States.

I’m a white female and I pray America doesn’t see this as a black-white issue. It is a problem of misguided loyalty of disingenuous blacks to selfish and corrupt politicians who will stop at nothing to lie or cheat at the detriment of the rights and freedom of fellow blacks.

11. Robert - October 19, 2007

This is the Democrat message. Fall in line or off the face of the earth. To be a good African American you must learn to march in lockstep or fall, off the face of the earth.
Seig Heil Hillary!

12. Theresa from NY - October 19, 2007

This is outrageous!!! Having worked with young people for many years as a social worker, it breaks my heart to see this. We work so hard to get young people involved in politics, to get them excited by the process and THIS is what happens at a supposed institution of ‘higher learning’? What kind of madness is this? Look at their faces in the photograph, they look demoralized. Nice job Clafin!! How can we get this story out to mainstream media?

13. Theresa - October 19, 2007

Well it looks as if the Clintons admire the ghestapo tactics of some of the worlds most horrendous leaders. How can anyone in their right mind support these people – when do we say enough! I want my country back

14. Aaron from MD - October 19, 2007

This is ridiculous. Given the dark history of civil rights abuses and discrimination in this country, which historical black colleges are fully aware of, I feel ashamed that this college that is run by a black administration is practicing the same evils towards black students all for a few crumbs promised to them by the Clinton’s. Also, they’re totally setting a poor example for young professionals of all ethnicities. In my opinion, those directly responsible should be removed from their positions, and more leaders regardless of their ethnicity, need to speak up about these kind of acts, particularly when minority groups which claim to be victumized so much commit them.

15. Mark - October 19, 2007


Please do me a favor! Try to interview anyone of the people standing in this photo and get their point of view.

This is dirty.

16. Brandon - October 19, 2007

And in Orangeburg of all places. The victims of the Orageburg Massacre must be rolling over in their graves.

17. jdr - October 19, 2007

Where are the large protests?? Simply sniveling to a reporter instead of rallying around something important won’t change a thing. You’ve got to get fired up and make some noise otherwise you are just another victim.

18. RuthieM - October 19, 2007

And where is SHARPTON now!???

19. hedge - October 20, 2007


Clinton press event at college becomes political hot potato
By LEE TANT, T&D Staff Writer

Some Claflin University students who support presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama say they felt compelled to participate in a press conference this past week in support of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The students claim they participated in the event because they were asked to do so by their professor as a part of a class activity.

Claflin’s Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Vivian Glover said in a statement that no student was coerced into attending the event or holding signs in support of Clinton. The press conference was conducted by state Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, to outline Clinton’s plan to make higher education more affordable to students.

Three students, who are also Obama supporters, gave varying accounts as to whether their participation in the event was a mandatory class activity. They all spoke under the condition of anonymity.

The students said they went to the class like a normal day, but the focus was to attend the press conference.

One student claimed she told the professor she did not support Clinton for president. She said the professor’s response was that her political affiliation did not matter and the students’ presence was to make it appear people were present. She said her participation was not required but expressed dismay over the situation.

“Personally, I wasn’t pleased because it made it look like I’m throwing my support toward her (Clinton),” she said.

She added that most of the students ended up taking part in the event because it was an opportunity to participate in political proceedings.

Another student said it was a requirement for class and the teacher told her it was necessary for them to be there. She said class attendance is a part of determining the final grade for the semester.

“Every student wants to stay on the good side of the teacher,” she said.

A third student said the class was simply invited to participate, which the university says is the case.

The decision to invite the students was made by former Director of Public Relations Helene Carter, according to Glover’s statement. No other members of the administration had a hand in either the decision or actual invitation of the students.

The university statement said Carter suggested students stand behind Matthews, which prompted several of them to say they felt that gave the impression they were endorsing Clinton. The university said student concerns were listened to and immediately addressed.

Reports that Claflin students who supported Obama participated in the Clinton event first surfaced in an article by the online publication FITSnews.com. The article suggested a student asked the university’s administration about forming an Obama supporter group on campus and was denied.

“I suggested to the student that he work within the Young Democrats, an association under Student Development,” said Claflin Vice President for Student Development and Services Dr. Leroy Durant.

The Young Democrats is the largest youth-controlled partisan organization in the United States that has chapters over college campuses across the country, according to its Web site.

T&D Staff Writer Lee Tant can be reached at ltant@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-534-1060. Discuss this story online a http://www.TheTandD.com.

20. Jamie Mellor - October 20, 2007

Have the school screen this video:

Resistance is futile!

21. 2008 Presidential Election » FITSNews Exclusive - Clinton’s Claflin Crackdown - November 5, 2007

[…] fitsnews placed an observative post today on FITSNews Exclusive – Clintonâs Claflin CrackdownHere’s a quick excerpt […]

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