UTK unites against racism, promotes diversity

“Hate my guts, not my genes,” graduate student Margaret Cross said as she took her place to stand against hate.

Cross, along with other students, faculty and community members, gathered at the University of Tennessee Friday, Feb. 9 in a show of solidarity against racism. “United at the Rock Against Racism” invited the UT community to leave its mark on the Rock, a campus staple and free speech forum. Each handprint represented campus unity, a university vision.

“It feels like a physical representation of the community,” Crystall-Marie Alperson said. “Hand in hand we stand together and we are together.”

The Student Government Association, Faculty Senate and the UTK Campus Ministries Council organized the event. Athletic teams, academic departments and individuals gathered to celebrate love and unity.

“We have a very diverse team, and I think it is really important that, as an athletic department and a university, we celebrate diversity. It is really important for us to spread love and not hate,” UT Volleyball team member Alyssa Andreno said.

Supporters filled Volunteer Boulevard which closed to traffic during the event.

Earlier this week, Chancellor Beverly Davenport sent an email to the UT community condemning racism and hate. Davenport spoke to attendees at the Rock to further her message.

“I wanted to come today to make clear the University of Tennessee views. Our views about unity, our views about peace, our views about acceptance, our views about what kind of future we want. That is what I want us to celebrate,” Davenport said.

During Davenport’s address, she turned to 7-year-old Reed Burgin and asked if he knew why everyone gathered at the Rock.

“[We are here] to not hate people for the color of their skin or where they are from,” Burgin said.

Before the event, Chancellor Davenport sent another message to address a white supremacist group’s intent to speak on campus Feb. 17.

“I want to let you know that after consultation between UTPD and senior advisors, we have decided that this group will not be allowed to use McClung Museum due to safety and security concerns,” Davenport said.

Davenport encouraged students to “get involved, get informed, and take care of each other.”

Following Chancellor Davenport’s speech, the UTK Campus Ministries Council organized a brief vigil. Vigil attendees raised their voices in song as the Rev. John Tirro and Dr. Loneka Battiste led “Draw the Circle Wide.”

“No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side. Draw the circle, draw the circle wide.”

Featured Image by Ainsley Kelso

Video by Ainsley Kelso

Edited by Lexie Little

Pizza and Politics: College Republicans, College Democrats debate issues facing nation

A crowd of University of Tennessee students gathered  in Haslam Business Building on Thursday night for pizza and politics.

The debate held between the College Republicans’ president Alex Swisher, and College Democrats’ secretary Kellie May featured many of the hot topics in United States politics today, ranging from education and environmental issues to the DACA decision, healthcare and more.

Student Government Association president, Morgan Hartgrove, served as the moderator.

One topic of interest was federal funding for charter and voucher schools and if such schools should be held to the same standard as public schools.

“I do think that charter schools and voucher schools should be held to the same standard as public schools,” May said. “There are good charter schools, but there are also bad charter schools who do not have to be under any federal oversight, and they can be extremely harmful to public schools.

Swisher disagreed.

“We are pouring money into a failing system. By tying the money to the child then you are giving that child and that parent a choice. You are saying to the parent that you have the choice to decide what is best for your child’s education,” Swisher said. “When you have charter schools, you breed competition between schools and those schools become better.”

Another topic heavily debated was if there should be a contribution limit in the next race for Tennessee state government.

“I do think that there should be a campaign contribution limit. They [people] did not want corporations in their politics, and I think it would give back to a lot of citizens if we were the ones contributing, not corporations,” May said. “Haslam, the richest politician in America, obviously has a seat for governor because he has the most money, and that is not how politics should work. That is now how democracy should work.”

Swisher said there should not be a limit.

“Money is speech and that was decided in Citizens United versus the FEC. If it is my money and I want to donate to a campaign or it is my company and I want to donate to a campaign then I should have every right to do so,” Swisher said. “Who is the government to dictate what I am going to do with my money? As far as using my First Amendment right to contribute to a campaign that I fully believe in, no, there should not be a limit on it.”

Finally, a discussion point for both parties was President Donald Trump’s use of his personal Twitter account.

May began the discussion by reading a recent tweet from President Trump’s account.

“Obviously they can [use personal Twitter accounts] because President Obama did it, and he did it in a very respectable fashion. Also, he did not use it to call world leaders names, and he did not use it to do foreign policy,” she said. “He did not use in such a disrespectful, dangerous and inappropriate way that Donald Trump is using it.”

Swisher said no one likes President Trump’s Twitter usage, but thinks Twitter should be used as a tool of communication.

“I think Republicans alike have very recently been calling President Trump out on his actions, and I do not think anyone really likes the use of President Trump’s Twitter for these purposes,” Swisher said. “I do think that Twitter could be utilized as a tool to really effectively communicate with the American people and engage in a conversation with them about what they would like to see and to keep them updated on what the White House is doing.”

Both parties represented were supported by members of their organizations.

Sophomore Arden Gillchrest said both parties covered the topics well.

“I wish they would have talked a little bit more about the economic policies. I know each party seems to be fractured, and I would have like to have heard how each party is dealing with its own inner conflicts more,” Gillchrest stated.

For more information about College Democrats or College Republicans and each of their upcoming events, visit Volink.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image by DonkeyHotey

Author of “Station Eleven” visits UT, discusses novel set in post-apocalyptic North America

Emily St. John Mandel, author of the 2017 Life of the Mind novel Station Eleven, visited the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on Monday to discuss her book.

The Life of the Mind Project is a tradition at UTK where first year freshman enroll in an introductory style course unique to UTK as well as participate in a book study with an accompanying project.

“It’s really extraordinarily moving to see when somebody else does paintings or poetry or papers even based on books that I have written,” Mandel said.

Station Eleven is set in a post-apocalyptic North America where a deadly pandemic has wiped out majority of the population of the world and completely changed life as they know it. A group of artists known as The Traveling Symphony came together in this new world to distract themselves from the trauma of the past and keep music and theater alive. The novel follows the storyline of an actor, Arthur, who mysteriously dies during a production of King Lear before the pandemic as well as the story of a young actress, Kirsten, and her journey with the Symphony after the disease.

Mandel spoke about her research, the process she went through and how some of the things in the novel related back to parts of her own life including a setting being based on where she grew up in British Columbia.

After Mandel’s discussion, the audience was allowed to ask questions regarding the novel or Mandel’s life as a novelist.

What’s next for Mandel? 

“I’m writing a pre-apocalyptic novel about the aftermath of a massive Ponzi scheme. It is also about container shipping which I also get into a little bit in Station Eleven,” Mandel answered. “It’s almost done, and I think it will come out in late 2019.”

At the end of event, fans of the novel were invited to stay for a book signing with Mandel.

For more information on First Year Studies visit their website.  To learn more about Station Eleven visit Mandel’s website.


Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez

Featured image by Nima Kasraie

Opinion: Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation’ gets personal

Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated sixth studio album, “Reputation,” was released at midnight Nov. 10, and immediately shot to number one album on the iTunes charts.

It is hard to believe that the girl who just wanted to find “A Place in the World” is the same woman 11 years later who released the pop anthem, “Look What You Made Me Do.” However, artists change their style as they grow in the music industry and Swift is no exception.

Reputation opens with already well-known “…Ready For It?” which was teased in late August. The album is full of fun pop songs that will make you want to get up and dance as well as few surprises for Swift. Songs such as “Dress” and “Delicate” show a more sensual side of the singer that has not been as prevalent in previous albums.

The album also features one hip-hop-esque collaboration between Swift and artists Future and Ed Sheeran titled “End Game.”

For fans concerned that when the “old Taylor” died, the “new Taylor” would lose her strong lyrics and love ballads, Reputation has proven them wrong. Songs such as “Getaway Car,” “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day,” remind fans of music from Swift’s previous albums but with new twists.

As a singer, songwriter, phenomenal performer and cat enthusiast, Swift is always changing the game when it comes to the music industry. Between her six studio albums, an app to be released later this year, sold-out tours, hundreds of appearances in movies and on television and so much more, there is nothing that she cannot do when she puts her mind to it.

Overall, this album is sure to please any dedicated “Swiftie” and anyone interested in listening to a confident, happy, in love and powerful woman perform her most personal and revealing album to date.

Swift may believe that her reputation has never been worse, but to her loyal fans, Swift has never been better.

To purchase “Reputation,” visit iTunes, Target, Walmart or the online Taylor Swift store.

Featured image by GabboT

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

College Republicans raise awareness, advocate for campus carry

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College Republicans (CR) hosted an empty holster protest to unite students in favor of allowing students to carry weapons on campus on Monday, Oct. 30.

The CR encouraged its members to wear holsters and also held a tabling event on Pedestrian Walkway as a way to reach out to other students and share their ideas.

“We are advocating for students being able to carry on campus and protect themselves,” CR President Alex Swisher, said, “We are really just trying to raise awareness about the issue, and we have also taken to social media and have tagged some state legislators letting them know this is something students want.”

The organization wants to promote Second Amendment rights while also educating people about the gun laws within the state and country. During the protest, students who participated were open to answering questions about gun laws to better inform their peers.

UTK senior and member of CR, Brad Wade, shared his story as to why this issue matters to him.

“Whenever I was 15, I was actually a victim of an armed robbery. I had to look down the barrel of a criminal’s gun for what seemed like a lifetime but was actually only five minutes,” he said. “I don’t want to feel that feeling of absolute helplessness again. I was with my mom and my girlfriend, and I want to be able to protect them no matter where I am at. I think bad things can happen anywhere, so why not let people who have good intentions have guns. The people who have bad intentions are going to ignore the carry laws.”

Janey Green, vice president of the CR, said she wants to be able to carry on campus when she turns 21.

“Next year I am going to be turning 21, and I am going to be getting a concealed carry license and a new gun,” Green said. “I want to be able to carry on campus because I will have gone through all the legal necessities to do so elsewhere so it is a violation of my rights for it to be taken away just when I’m on campus.”

The organization also mentioned that with the scare of sexual assault on college campuses, they want to feel safe and protected going around campus especially at night.

“If this is an issue that is important to you, I encourage you to go to VolLink and sign up to be a College Republicans member,” Swisher said. “You do not have to come to every single meeting to say you are a part of College Republicans. Whatever is important to you, we are here to help. Part of the reason we are doing this campus carry protest is because it is an issue that is important to students.”

For more information about College Republicans, visit their page on VolLink or check them out on Twitter @GOPatUTK.


Featured image by Webmaster102, courtesy of Creative Commons

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

UT students shadow, perform ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Friday, Oct. 27 the Campus Events Board held its annual “Rocky Horror Picture Show” event in the HPER building showing the movie with a live shadow cast performance at midnight.

The event featured “The Virgin Games” for students who had never attended a live showing an hour before the 1975 film began. The audience learned how to participate with the film and live cast as they learned call backs to dialogue and dance moves.

As an annual event for the university, UTK students of all years, majors and levels of experience audition to be members of the shadow cast who perform alongside the film and interact with the audience.

“We did auditions back in September, and it was a two-day audition. I just went for it. About a day or two later I got the call saying that I was in,” Jared Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a junior who performed as a Transylvanian, said, “It has been amazing. We have worked really hard to try to put together a great show for the students here at UT.”

As cast members and “Rocky Horror” fans, the student actors explained the show to the audience.

First time cast member Andrew Gilreath described the film as “a cult-classic, 1970’s movie that makes fun of the horror movies from the old days. It is kind of a rock-opera musical, and it is very sensual. The show is the audience and the performers acting as one to have a really enjoyable time.”

The actors claimed their experiences in the shadow cast were memorable and enjoyable.

Senior and MC/Director Zach Ash has been a cast member every year he has been at UT.

“It has been fantastic. This is the main opportunity I have the entire academic year to fully release all the stress in a way that benefits the school,” Ash said. “It has become very near and dear to my heart, and I look forward to it every year. It feels like something is missing when it is over.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” event continues to be fun for audiences and the cast. The show is set to continue in the future.

Check out the UTK Campus Events Board social media for more upcoming student events: @UTKCEB

Featured Image: Ainsley Kelso

Edited by Lexie Little