Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912

The Legislature passed SB1912/HB2248 that removes funding from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  Sign this petition that we will deliver to Governor Haslam asking him to veto the bill.

Governor Haslam, we call on you to veto SB1912/HB2248 and protect the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Office for Diversity and Inclusion.  The office plays a vital role in making the university competitive for the best students, faculty, and staff and it makes campus life welcoming for all.  Thank you for considering our views.

Who's signing

Lisa Mason
Alicia Johnson
William Dyer
Bradley Anderson
Nurin Willis
Sean Nash
Brandy Kincaid
Kelsie Shipley
Chloe Mitchell
Susannah Finley
Elizabeth Hamrick
Kelsey Stephenson
Dani Hull
2,500 signatures

Will you sign?

  • Lisa Mason
    signed via 2016-04-27 16:12:23 -0500
  • Brett Kling
    signed 2016-04-27 16:12:09 -0500
    The simple fact that state government is considering taking money away from this office is the same exact reason why it is needed! Since the legislature wants to get rid of it, they are in fact in need of diversity training and are bigoted.
  • Brent Collins
    signed 2016-04-27 16:10:59 -0500
  • Jeff Gade
    signed 2016-04-27 16:09:58 -0500
  • Mark Henry
    signed 2016-04-27 16:09:54 -0500
  • Mandie VanBuren
    signed 2016-04-27 16:09:19 -0500
  • Chestina Kidd
    signed via 2016-04-27 16:09:18 -0500
    I’m a 2006 grad and I can’t believe how intolerant we are becoming. We are supposed to be better than this.
  • Alicia Johnson
    signed via 2016-04-27 16:07:42 -0500
  • ron lee
    signed 2016-04-27 16:07:33 -0500
  • janie prathammavong
    signed 2016-04-27 16:06:55 -0500
  • William Dyer
    signed 2016-04-27 16:06:54 -0500
  • Anna Hinnenkamp-Faulk
    signed 2016-04-27 16:06:38 -0500
  • John McNair
    signed 2016-04-27 16:06:29 -0500
  • Annette Sisson
    signed 2016-04-27 16:06:19 -0500
  • Randy Hubbell
    signed 2016-04-27 16:05:58 -0500
  • Bradley Anderson
    signed 2016-04-27 16:05:56 -0500
  • Laur Dahl
    signed 2016-04-27 16:05:41 -0500
  • Nurin Willis
    posted about this on Facebook 2016-04-27 15:47:01 -0500
    Sign the petition: Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912
  • Nurin Willis
    signed via 2016-04-27 15:46:46 -0500
  • Sean Nash
    signed 2016-04-27 15:41:17 -0500
  • Brandy Kincaid
    posted about this on Facebook 2016-04-27 14:38:24 -0500
    Sign the petition: Defend Diversity at UT-Knoxville: Veto SB1912
  • Brandy Kincaid
    signed 2016-04-27 14:38:10 -0500
  • Kelsie Shipley
    signed via 2016-04-27 14:37:07 -0500
  • Chloe Mitchell
    signed via 2016-04-27 14:31:08 -0500
  • Susannah Finley
    signed via 2016-04-27 14:27:48 -0500
  • Elizabeth Hamrick
    signed via 2016-04-27 14:20:34 -0500
  • Kelley Rieder
    @krieder15 tweeted link to this page. 2016-04-27 14:15:40 -0500
  • Kelsey Stephenson
    signed via 2016-04-27 14:15:30 -0500
    I’m graduating this spring; I was worried when I came here that it would be a difficult place to do graduate work because of the conservative reputation Tennessee and the south sometimes have. I ended up coming despite that for a number of reasons, including great people in my department and a nationally ranked program with great research facilities and resources.

    If I had to make the same decision today, I’m not sure that I would come at all.

    The program and people at the University are great, but this and other reminders of the issues associated with living in Tennessee are a constant reminder of why I intend to move out of Knoxville as soon as I graduate. And that’s a shame, because there are good things here and good people in some parts of campus trying their best despite the Legislature. With the overall lack of commitment to diversity, or even understanding of what ‘diversity’ is or can mean this shows at the legislative level, how will UT be able to attract good students to keep a strong community? Students, especially graduate students, from other parts of the US or beyond have many choices for schools. Why should they pick UT, if this is what they’d have to deal with?

    Simple answer: they will not.

    What next – will all the ‘foreign national students’ (of which I am one) be stripped of funding, because we don’t all fit in the predefined box? We’re also a diverse crowd, racially and culturally speaking and again, one minority on campus dominated by a white southern US population. Next, will people who already live in Tennessee or nearby who don’t fit the white majority profile that the legislature seems to think are the only worthwhile students be discouraged from applying? What if you aren’t Christian, or religious at all? What about how you identify in terms of gender or orientation? The list goes on, and on, of how people at UT are not all the same and how this decision effects many people across campus. Veterans, the Black Cultural center, and other places on campus are all under the broad umbrella of ‘diversity’ at UT and this funding loss impacts all of them, too. Does the legislature not care what type of message this sends to them, or really any current or prospective student who is a minority in some way on campus? UT needs to be working towards greater understanding, not less, and acceptance on a campus that sometimes has spray-paint glorifying the KKK or where confederate flags are sticking out of dorm windows. This message sent by the legislate is a powerful one; they clearly do not think anyone outside their small idea of ‘normative’ matters, and that consequently UT should not concern themselves with anyone who does not fit this narrow definition either.

    Guess what? UT doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Tennessee is not isolated. UT is part of the academic community in the USA and globally, and Tennessee is still part of the USA, which claims to be a country rooted in freedom, and free of discrimination. I don’t see that here. Nobody will want to study at UT if this is the atmosphere they are confronted with; Tennessee will loose good people as they move elsewhere after graduating for jobs, like me, or simply to live in more open minded parts of the country. Nobody will want to move here to replace them.

    This is hardly a long term winning strategy for Tennessee or UT. Without good students, or indeed any students, UT will not be advancing towards the top 25 schools as they keep claiming – they will be making major steps back. No other public institution has made such backward strides in terms of diversity – in fact many consistently put more resources into it than UT does. Just because the legislature chooses to ignore the fact that there is a wide world outside Tennessee, and outside their narrow ideas of ‘normative,’ doesn’t mean the rest of the world will ignore the legislature. I’ve heard more than one person on campus and many elsewhere, when told about what’s going on question the intelligence of the legislature members. Future students will be avoiding Tennessee and UT. Other people in the US and the academic world will be looking down on people who graduate or come from UT because of this (they already do sometimes when I say I live in Tennessee – this will not help). These are only a few outcomes I can think of, but hardly the only ones.

    Today, I am embarrassed to be associated with this university; I am ashamed to (soon) be an alumni of an institution controlled in this fashion by the legislature, and absolutely disgusted that any of the people who have conceived of, or supported this in the House and Senate can think that this is the right way to act towards any of their fellow human beings. Even if they don’t like or even acknowledge diversity, it exists, it is already here, it has always been here. They need to get that and move on to restoring funding and apologizing to the academic community, not only for moral reasons, but for practical and business oriented ones as well. Even if the first doesn’t register as important enough, perhaps the second may.
  • Kelley Rieder
    signed 2016-04-27 14:15:21 -0500
  • Dani Hull
    signed 2016-04-27 14:10:24 -0500

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