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

Tuesday Traditions: The Rock

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When it comes to traditions at the University of Tennessee, there may be none more visually interesting than the rock. Day to day, as the paint becomes thicker, the messages displayed on the rock continually change.

TNJN’s Triple Play host Danielle Whaley recently did a feature on one of the rock’s most well-known painters, Payton Miller.

The rock was first unearthed in the 1960’s and has grown in size over the years, not only from thousands of layers of paint, but also from relocation.

The rock originally sat on the corner of Pat Head Summitt Street and Volunteer Boulevard where the new student health center is. To make room for the new student health center, the decision was made to move the rock diagonally across the street. It now sits in front of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.

Since the 97.5-ton rock was safely moved to its new home, the tradition of painting it has lived on. The rock continues to display messages ranging from hello’s and goodbye’s to happy birthday’s and marriage proposals.

It is also popular to show pride for Tennessee sporting events.

This summer, a large chunk of paint fell off the beloved rock, allowing current UT students and alumni alike to start a clean slate on an old tradition.

The rock plays such a large role in day-to-day life at UT that WUTK 90.3 FM. one of the university’s radio stations, calls itself ‘The Rock’ and its sports department is known as Rock Solid Sports.

Today, the rock has reached such a pinnacle in UT tradition, students can even buy miniature models around campus.

Featured image by Danielle Whaley

Edited by Cody McClure

Tennessee student leaves her mark on The Rock

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The Rock.

Those two simple words hold a world of meaning to students at the University of Tennessee. It has always been a place where students could go to promote events and give greetings to friends while also being the backdrop for wedding proposals, and more famously, the best place to show pride for the Vols.

Payton Miller, a junior studying pre-med and math, has become quite the legend with her works of art that she has painted onto the Rock in the past year.

On the heels of her latest works of the Tennessee Walking Horse, a mural of Smokey X and Uga, Georgia’s mascot, that she did for the SEC Network, there’s no telling what’s next for the artist that UT has come to know and love.

There is one thing that is for sure: she will keep painting and she will continue to leave her mark on the University of Tennessee.

Featured image by Danielle Whaley

Edited by Cody McClure

Video by Evan Ford, Josh Lively, and Danielle Whaley – April 24, 2015