Students, faculty, and UT leaders came together in front of The Rock on Friday to counter racism on campus.
The event called United at The Rock Against Racism was hosted by UTK Campus Ministers Council with support from the Student Government Association, and the Faculty Senate.
The event’s goal was to show the campus and beyond that UT is inclusive of all people, regardless of religion as well as those who are not religious.
The event was in response to a white nationalist leader planning to speak on UT’s campus next week.
“For myself personally, as a queer person, having a safe place on campus or feel like I can come to campus and be safe is paramount,” said Hera Jay Brown, a UT senior.
Brown says she started noticing the hate speech over the last few weeks written on The Rock when it became personal. It was on the same day as a campus spotlight on her work abroad.
“The day that went up someone wrote ‘Two genders and no refugees’ on The Rock. which was what my article was talking about, what the university published. Seeing that call out to me specifically was jarring,” said Brown.
Joining students and the community were campus leaders, like Chancellor Beverly Davenport. She spoke to the crowd about the importance of inclusion and how everyone should stand against racism.
“This is our Rock and this is our University of Tennessee. We stand for unity, and for peace and our responsibilities for each other,” said Davenport.
During the event, students painted their hands to leave their personal marks on The Rock, now painted in full Tennessee Orange.
The Rock is known as the campus’ free speech area. More information can be found online.