July 17, 2024

United at the Rock: Campus ‘remembers, serves, celebrates’

The Knoxville community gathered at The Rock this week on UT’s campus as a reminder to spread messages of love, rather than hate.

Buttons were handed out to students as they painted their hands with the words "United at the Rock" on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Photo/ Eleanor Tant

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Students, faculty, staff and members of the Knoxville community gathered at The Rock on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s campus for the “United at the Rock” event this week to spread love and show the true values and spirit of UTK. Several campus organizations created the event in response to multiple cases of anti-Semitic, racist and hate speech appeared on The Rock.

“Here at the United at the Rock event Vols come together,” Student Government Association member Simeon Glover said. “Vols mean all. Vols love all.”

At 3 p.m. leading up to painting The Rock, the university hosted a volunteer fair located in the Student Health Center for students, faculty and staff where attendees could learn about volunteer opportunities within the Knoxville community.

Around 5 p.m., the crowds moved into the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center for discussion on diversity and inclusion, a panel on free and hate speech and musical performances.

Dr. Amber Roessner is a UT professor and the current chair of the Faculty Senate’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The committee formed several years ago in response to the 2016 elimination of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Roessner said she is proud of the initiatives the committee has already administered and will continue to administer this semester.

“[The event is] meant to celebrate the great efforts of our community to come back and to respond to those hateful messages with the message of love,” Roessner said. “It’s an event to remind us the importance of extending those messages of love to actions of service that really focus on social justice in our community.”

Organizers included: The Faculty Senate, Campus Ministers Council, Leadership Studies, Student Government Association, Center for Leadership and Service and the School of Music. It also had support from the Athletics Department and the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement.



Written by Eleanor Tant and Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image and photo gallery by Eleanor Tant

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo