False Alarm: Apparently Harambe Memes Are Still Legal At Clemson

Posted: Sep 27, 2016 2:30 PM

Yesterday, I wrote about how Clemson, a public university in South Carolina, had apparently banned Harambe memes as they were racist and sexist and promoted rape culture. Fortunately, for both fans of Harambe as well as of the First Amendment, this appears to have been a false alarm: Harambe memes are here to stay.

An official from Clemson sent Eugene Volokh of Washington Post's The Volokh Conspiracy blog a statement saying that there are actually no anti-Harambe meme policies and that the original email was the opinion of one person, not the university as a whole.

Clemson University’s housing office sent this message Monday evening to students in one residence area who had been told incorrectly that they are not allowed to display references to Harambe:

Good Evening –

This email is meant to clarify some earlier communication you may have received as a member of the Shoeboxes community.

We are committed to creating an inclusive, safe living community where all residents feel comfortable in peacefully expressing differing points of view. Last week, a door posting with a meme was brought to the attention of our staff as its content made some feel uncomfortable. We also want all residents to feel they are able express their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

To that end, we want to clarify that building residents are able to post items on their individual doors.

Should you encounter any issue of concern please reach out to your RA or other hall staff members for assistance.

This is similar to the dust-up over at UMass Amherst when that school evidently banned Harambe memes due to concerns the "RIP Harambe" messages would be seen as threats to the similarly-named Harambee living community. As it turned out, there was no policy on the issue, and the controversy was blamed on two "well-meaning" RAs.

Still, the fact that we even have to discuss this is somewhat troubling. Harambe memes, are, for the most part, not threatening. They're silly jokes. A public university should not be banning them.