KNOXVILLE (WATE/AP) – A petition was created to stop the University of Tennessee’s “Pride of the Southland Band” from performing at the Inauguration Day Parade for President-elect Donald Trump.
The Change.org petition asks UT President Joe DiPietro and Band Director and Associate Professor of Music Donald Ryder to turn down the opportunity. So far, more than 2,000 people have signed the petition.
The petition says,
“As either proud residents of Tennessee or proud University of Tennessee alumni, we are greatly disturbed by the behavior exhibited by Donald Trump both during and after the recent presidential campaign. He has made racist and sexist remarks that should never come out of the mouth of someone in public office…we believe the attendance at the upcoming inauguration of a band representing the state of Tennessee would condone this behavior.”
The petitioners believe the band’s attendance would hurt the university’s reputation and credibility. The “Pride of the Southland” will be among 8,000 participants from 40 organizations, according to CNN.Related:UT’s ‘Pride of the Southland Band’ to march in Trump’s Inauguration Day Parade
The University of Tennessee’ band director, Donald Ryan, said he applied to be a part of the parade in October, before the election even happened. He said the trip is entirely voluntary.
“Our involvement is not about politics. Rather it is about giving our hard-working students the opportunity to represent the great state of Tennessee with pride at a historic event,” said Ryan.
The band is not the only university music group facing criticism. Talladega College and Marist College are facing backlash as well. Some alumni of Talladega, a historically black liberal arts college in Alabama, are outraged, according to the Associated Press.
“I don’t want my alma mater to give the appearance of supporting him,” told Shirley Ferrill to the AP. “Ignore, decline or whatever, but please don’t send our band out in our name to do that.”
Marist, a college located in Poughkeepsie, New York, is giving members the option to perform. At least six members of the 100-member band will not be performing. The school told the AP that members will not face repercussions for their decision.
“They don’t want to have anything to do with the inauguration or President Trump and we respect that, and that’s their right,” school spokesman Cannon told the Associated Press.