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

SGA Profile: UNITE UT seeks to unite students across campus

Growing up two doors down from each other in their hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Phillip Newsom and Emily Dickey became friends through mutual connections.

It wasn’t until their junior year at The University of Tennessee, when they realized they shared a common vision for how student government was supposed to be and decided to run for student body president and vice president together.

“We want student government to be open to everybody. We want that to be something where they can come up and talk to us,” Newsom said. “We want it to be something where they feel comfortable.”

Newsom emphasized that he wants students to visit them in Dunford Hall and share their ideas or talk to them in class and share what aspects of student government they like and dislike.

“Last year, I was going to run (for president) and then I just decided to get more involved and learn more, because I think it would be more beneficial if I did have experience first,” Newsom said. “….we started with kind of helping other people, but I think we’d be selling the student body short because we think that our vision and what we want to accomplish through student government really is the best way we can do it and it really will help students.”

In agreement with Newsom, Dickey emphasized that students come first.

“SGA isn’t just an organization, it’s the student body’s organization,” Dickey said. “That’s our whole thing, we have to shift the focus. It’s a culture change, but I think we can do it.”

Dickey stressed that the overarching theme for their campaign is that student government should be something that unites people, regardless of where a student stands on a particular issue.

Some policy points for UNITE UT include an enlightened alcohol policy, a carpool pass, a real meal equivalency and a freshman field guide.

Newsom and Dickey emphasized the importance of the freshman field guide for incoming students. According to Dickey, this would be a cut and dry system that would answer incoming students’ questions in a timely manner.

“My freshman year, knowing when stuff was open was huge,” Newsom said. “I lived in Reese and I figured out when Pres court and everything closed, but when the old UC was up, I didn’t know when that stuff was closed.”

Newsom explained that he didn’t know until recently that there was an official close time for HSS, until he and Dickey were studying and someone told them they had to be out by 11 p.m.

“I feel like it’s stuff like that, that should be told,” Dickey said.

Dickey said that their goal for this is for the first-year council to create this guide and with each new first-year council, the council would make a new one, especially because they are all freshman.

For the real meal equivalency policy point, Newsom and Dickey want to work with administrators to develop a model similar to other universities in Tennessee to increase the ‘equivalency’ amount for students.

Newsom and Dickey are also advocating for a ‘Carpool Parking Pass,’ which will allow commuter students to purchase a single pass for their entire house or apartment. This pass is intended to help reduce the amount of traffic on campus at peak times and cut down on gas emissions. Newsom and Dickey are also advocating for a similar pass for students in Sorority Village to park on campus instead of relying on UT’s bus system.

Aside from policy points and campus involvement, most people might not know that Dickey is undefeated in foosball.

“I’m accidently very good at foosball,” Dickey joked. “I’ve never lost a game. I’m undefeated. If you would like to challenge me on that, let’s go.”

Newsom, on the other hand, loves accounting.

“Once I took the [first accounting] class, I knew this was for me,” Newsom said. “I just think it’s really cool. As weird as it sounds, I really do enjoy accounting.”

Ultimately with their campaign, Newsom and Dickey want students to feel comfortable with their student government. Newsom stressed that while yes, it is student government, it’s a student organization.

“Phillip and I are nothing special, but SGA can be if it’s done right,” Dickey said.

For more information on the UNITE UT campaign, visit their website. Voting begins Monday, April 10 at 9 a.m. and continues through Thursday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of UNITE UT’s Facebook page

Edited by McKenzie Manning

SGA Profile: Morgan Mickey Hunter want to be a unifed voice by ‘Making More Happen’

Morgan Mickey Hunter is committed to ‘Making More Happen.’

Morgan Hartgrove, Michael James “Mickey” Curtis Jr. and Hunter Jones are three juniors running for student body president, vice president and student services director because they want to be the unified voice that brings students together.

“Each of us have something different to bring to the table,” Jones said. “As a whole, we make a cohesive unit of different perspectives and that’s something we really talk about with our campaign.”

Hartgrove and Curtis have been members of SGA since their freshman year, but Jones on the other hand, has not. Jones has been involved with other leadership roles on campus, but it was not until Hartgrove and Curtis asked him to run for student services director with them, when he started thinking about it.

“It was something I really thought long and hard about because I had never been a part of SGA,” Jones said. “But, I think that having that outside perspective could really do some good for the student service division.”

Hartgrove emphasized that SGA was the first thing that made her feel like home on campus, and she wants to spend her senior year giving back by serving as the student body president. She wants students to feel just as at home as she did when she came to campus.

Curtis expressed concern that certain populations on campus are not represented fully and how he wants to make sure all voices are heard.

Jones emphasized that the student body does not understand each other and that there is no unified voice. With different perspectives in this campaign, Jones feels that between the three of them, they can work toward a common goal which he hopes will bring positive change to the student body.  

Morgan Mickey Hunter has five pillars in their campaign. One pillar is promoting academic enrichment. This involves improving academic resources that students already have.

Hartgrove said their campaign wants to expand Open Educational Resources (OER), which will help students save money by using free electronic books. They also want to add a Kaplan test prep center as well as expanding the syllabus repository, so students can know what to expect in a class before registering.

Another pillar is promoting campus unity. This involves creating a safe space for the Multicultural Greek Council and the National Panhellenic Council to call their own.

They are also promoting safety on campus and in the Fort Sanders area by advocating for reduced Uber fares for students.

“We plan to have reduced Uber fares for students,” Curtis said. “We understand that the T-link is overbooked sometimes when you call it. So, to have that Uber and that reduced price will increase that safety.”

Curtis said this would give students a safer option, rather than walking down a dark street or dark alley to get to their final destination, especially during high traffic volume weekends throughout the academic year.

As for the alcohol policy, Jones said their campaign wants to take a holistic approach by outlining the changes and how it would affect students, ensuring student voices would be heard in the changes.

Another pillar is to expand campus resources. This includes expanding TRECS hours over the summer, reducing the amount of hours required to use the student health center over the summer and expanding technology accessibility in the summer.

“If you’re taking classes in the spring and also in the fall, there [will not be] a gap between when you have those resources,” Hartgrove said. “We’re pretty passionate about expanding that.”  

Another policy under this pillar is allowing students to pay one parking ticket per year with community service.

The last pillar is improving student code of conduct processes. Jones said this is important for ensuring transparency and making sure a fair system is in place, where everyone is treated equally.

Aside from policy points, there are things many people might not know about the candidates.

For example, Curtis listens to the same song every night with his friend.

“For some reason it just comes on,” Curtis said. “It’s called ‘Great Day to Be Alive’…we are both facing a new time in our life and a new transition, whether that’s me running for this position or her doing a pageant that she has never been a part of. So, the song basically says ‘it’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes. It’s a hard time in the neighborhood, but why can’t every day be just as good?’.”

As for Hartgrove, she has paid over $500 in parking tickets at UT and she regularly volunteers at the Children’s hospital on Monday nights. Last year Jones had the opportunity to speak with former president Obama in the Oval Office, and discussed how the Boy Scouts of America affects youth leadership and how Obama’s agenda items aligned with the goals of their organization.

If voters only remember one thing about the Morgan Mickey Hunter campaign, Hartgrove hopes they remember them as people.

“That’s why we’re running on our first name, that’s why we picked Morgan Mickey Hunter,” Hartgrove said. “…I hope they remember how we made them feel. I want them to know we’re going to represent them to the best of our ability…I want them to know our hearts are into it.”

For more information on the Morgan Mickey Hunter Campaign, visit their Facebook page. Voting begins Monday, April 10 at 9 a.m. and closes on Thursday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

Featured image courtesy of Morgan Mickey Hunter’s Facebook page

Edited by McKenzie Manning

SGA Profile: Banks-Marsh transcends ideology to focus on plausible policies, communication

Beverly Banks and Kiersten Marsh have collaborated to create a campaign that endeavors to change the stigma of SGA at UT.

With an SGA that seems to be out-of-touch at times, Banks and Marsh want to revamp the communication techniques, work on inclusive campus partnerships and promote plausible policies.

Banks, who served as Communications Director for SGA for one semester last year, believes her service on the SGA executive team will help to make appropriate adjustments to the communication strategies of SGA as SGA President.

Her goal is to use different techniques to encourage engagement, like town halls. She also hopes to incorporate more video aspects to target students and harness their interest. Finally, she hopes to reinstall the livestream used at senate meetings last year to keep students informed.

Marsh, who is running for Vice President, added to this issue by calling attention to the fact that students are commonly unaware of SGA’s activities.

“We want people to know that SGA exists and SGA does something. We’re going to put SGA’s name on what we do,” Marsh said.

She highlighted a bill passed last session that lengthened the time that the student union was open during finals week so that students had additional places to study. She believes that students being unaware of SGA actions is damaging for the organization. According to Marsh, if more students knew that SGA could make a difference, more students would step forward with issues.

Banks and Marsh are also interested in strengthening partnerships on campus. Doing this will create larger events that encompass a larger demographic. Bringing more students together, Banks hopes, will begin that culture change she wants to see on campus.

“We want to make sure students on campus in these organizations can partner with SGA to create these big events, whether that be a diversity week or a campus wide mental awareness week. I want to be able to combine our resources. It could be a great thing and more widespread than just one organization,” Banks said.

Marsh spoke to the fact that Banks-Marsh will have more plausible policies, like lowering POD prices and improving bus routes.

“So often you find campaigns trying to promise a comprehensive alcohol policy that’s going to be implemented next year…That’s just not possible. That’s something that we work on for years,” Marsh said. “No SGA president or Vice President should forget that that is something that students want, but what we’re running on is fixing things that students are affected by that we can change in a year.”

Choosing to partner to run for SGA president and vice president was a serious decision that neither candidate took lightly. Banks and Marsh believe that their good work ethic and mutual respect will ensure that they will excel if they are elected.

Though they sometimes differ in political viewpoints, civil conversation and civil discourse is what ensures that they can be efficient. They view their occasional differing opinions as an asset that helps them reach the best possible solution. According to them, SGA should transcend political ideologies to serve students.

“You know, Kiersten [Marsh] and I don’t agree on everything, but what we do is that we have a civil conversation about our points of view and at the end of the day, that’s where the greatest change comes from—that civil discourse. There’s never a time where I’m afraid to tell her something that I don’t like. I think that’s why this works,” Banks said.

 

Beverly Banks, Presidential Candidate:

Though Banks hails from the small town of Wheeling, West Virginia, her Volunteer spirit runs deep. Her father, a Tennessee native that attended UT many moons ago, is the root of her desire to continue the legacy of the Vol.

The political science and journalism double-major is comfortable in front of people. Her involvement in SGA, the College of Communications and various leadership roles has nurtured a sort of comfort and ease in the spotlight.

“I’m a communicator—that’s what I do,” Banks said. “I have the skills in order to make a change and communicate issues between different parties on campus.”

Her ability to communicate is one of the pillars of her campaign. Communication between the various branches of SGA as well as communication between SGA and the students themselves are both issues Banks hopes to tackle during her time as SGA president.

“Students feel no one is communicating to them. They feel left out. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard ‘I’ve been in the dark. I didn’t know that was going on,’” Banks said, identifying her main issue with campus.

According to Banks, SGA exists in a “bubble.” She and Marsh are running on the fact that they will change that stigma.

“We want it to be that bubble is broken and everyone can come in and have a part in whatever we’re doing. By “we’re” I don’t mean SGA, I mean the campus as a whole,” Banks said.

Banks says her decision to run was simple: It was about the people.

“It just shouldn’t be SGA people in SGA, it should be every student that feels welcome to come to Dunford hall or every student that comes to us with an issue.”

During her tenure at UT, Banks has been involved in several organizations. She spent the first two years of her college career in UT Housing. Banks is also an honors student; a producer, anchor and reporter on Torchlight News; a member of the Student Judiciary Board; Leadership Knoxville Scholar; former Emerging Leader and an intern for the City of Knoxville’s Mayor, Madeline Rogero.

During her three years in SGA, she has identified both strengths and weaknesses of the organization. By strengthening communication campus-wide, she hopes to make change.

“I’ve seen things that I love and things that I don’t like. And when I saw the things I didn’t like and that lack of communication we had, I knew that I either had to walk away from it or to fix it. So I chose to stay and fix it because that’s how much I care about it,” Banks said.

 

Kiersten Marsh, Vice Presidential Candidate:

Though the self-proclaimed love of Marsh’s life is UT Mock Trial, the Legislative Branch of SGA holds a special place in her heart. She believes that her ability to compromise is a tool that will help her fulfill her role as VP if elected.

“I love the legislative branch of SGA…There is a lot of potential to help the student body. The legislative branch has so much potential, but it’s just not being used because there is such division,” Marsh said.

Marsh has a rigorous academic life with a major in political science and a double minor, with one in Latin and one in Psychology. Like Banks, she is involved in numerous organizations on campus. She serves on the leader’s council of her sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi as well as serving as a senator to represent sorority village in SGA. The honors student also dedicates a large portion of her time to UT Mock Trial.

If elected, serving as the adviser for the First Year Council and fulfilling her VP role in the senate, Marsh would stress compromise. She believes that being able to work together is the only way to truly help students. Setting aside political beliefs and ideologies is something she believes she and Banks can bring to the table.

“It’s so important that you stress compromise—that you stress being able to work together and that you stress making a positive difference in the lives of students— as opposed to furthering any kind of political agenda,” Marsh said. “The things we do in SGA aren’t supposed to have an agenda. You know, fixing a bus route or lowering prices in the POD isn’t conservative or liberal, it’s just helping students.”

According to Marsh, after running on the 2016 Challenge SGA campaign together, she and Banks knew that they would make a dynamic team.

“Beverly [Banks] in particular just made me love SGA. I saw that passion for the organization and when I heard that Bev [Banks] was running I was on board with her immediately. This opportunity to run presented itself and now we’re here,” Marsh said.

According to Marsh, she is fully prepared to dedicate a year of her life in service to students at the University of Tennessee.

 

The Team

Banks and Marsh aren’t running alone.

They were sure to draw attention to the team of individuals they have running with them on their campaign. They hope students bear in mind that the campaign goes beyond them.

“We can’t do it alone. Without the people that we have on the executive team and our senators and general campaign members, none of this would be possible,” said Banks. “…It’s not just us. Its everyone. We’re just so grateful for them. We tried to get different types of students.”

To find more information about the campaign and team running with Banks-Marsh visit their Facebook page. Voting begins Monday, April 10 at 9 a.m. and continues through Thursday, April 13 at 5 p.m.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Featured image by Emily Cullum

 

SGA proposes legislation for Volcard replacement fees, lockouts

The University of Tennessee’s Student Government Assembly held a senate meeting on Tuesday, April 4, focusing on a new proposition to lower Volcard replacement fees and changing the allotted lockouts for students living on campus.

The proposed legislation urges UT VolCard Offices to decrease the student ID replacement fee from $30 to $15. Proponents of the change stated that many other public institutions in the state only charge $10 to $15 for student ID replacement and the current $30 charge places an undue burden on students of UT.

Questions were raised for what the change would mean for the university’s revenue. The VolCard office is funded by fees such as this one and would need to reassess their budget drastically or tuition would likely increase by a small amount for each student to cover the cost.

Additionally, the proposed bill urges the UT Housing offices to increase the number of allotted lockouts students are given. Currently, students are allowed three lockouts per academic year. The bill would change this to three lockouts per academic semester.

Another section of the bill addresses lockout charges, urging UT Housing to eliminate or reduce the lockout fee that students must pay. One senator stressed that in some dorms, students must use their VolCard to access their rooms, so there is no reason that they should have to pay a fee to gain entry if they were to leave their VolCard inside.

The Bill was voted on and passed 38-to-5 with one senator abstaining from the vote. Now the bill will go to the respective offices and boards for review and discussion moving forward.

UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport spoke toward the end of the meeting and answered questions that the student government had regarding a wide range of topics. Davenport voiced her support for diversity and campus safety as a means to push Tennessee into the Top 25, as well as expanding study abroad programs to make the options more affordable for students.

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo