April 24, 2024

Bill to limit diversity funds at UT released

A Senate bill designed to limit the funds allocated for diversity programs at the University of Tennessee has been released.

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A Senate bill designed to limit the funds allocated for diversity programs at the University of Tennessee has been released.

The bill, written by Sen. Frank Niceley and titled “SB 1902”, would amend Tennessee Code Annotated 49, chapter 9 relative to diversity. SB 1902 would require the university system to not spend more than $2.5 million per year on diversity, multicultural or sustainability programs. The amount would include the salaries, benefits and other expenditures of all faculty who work in the diversity and multicultural programs.

No more than 60 percent of the funds allocated would be spent at UT Knoxville.

SB 1902 also states that UT employees and faculty “whose primary responsibilities and duties are in areas unrelated to diversity, multicultural or sustainability programs shall not participate in diversity, multicultural or sustainability programs during the times when the employee is to perform work duties.”

SB 1902 is the latest development regarding Tennessee lawmakers and diversity at UT. In December, Rep. John J. Duncan and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey both stated Vice Chancellor of Diversity Rickey Hall should be fired following a controversial holiday post made by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Rep. Micah Van Huss stated he would draft a bill to completely defund the diversity office. Campus organizations such as the Pride Center, Multicultural Student Life, the UTK Tyson House Foundation, the Faculty Senate and the UTK chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) gave statements of support for Hall.

The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators called efforts to defund diversity programs an “attack” and stated that the caucus “strongly opposes these actions and any actions to reduce diversity efforts in Tennessee.”

The bill was filed for introduction on Jan. 20 and was referred to the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 25.

More details to come as the story develops.

Edited by Ben Webb

Featured image by Ryan McGill

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News editor, Courtney Anderson, has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. From scribbling short stories on the back of pamphlets to excelling in Advanced Placement English courses in high school, Anderson has always been determined to make a career out of writing. Anderson joined TNJN as a freshman and instantly fell in love with online news. She hopes to become an editor for a major online news source one day.