Senate panel votes to strip funding from UT diversity office

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NASHVILLE (WATE) – A bill to strip all state funding from the University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion passed unanimously in the Tennessee Senate Education Committee.

The committee was reviewing the UT system budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam when Sen. Delores Gresham proposed an amendment to defund the Office for Diversion and Inclusion. The amendment also rerouted millions of dollars to rural outreach throughout the state.

“Only federal funds shall be expended to support the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville,” reads the amendment, however UT officials say the office does not receive any federal funding.

The amendment calls for the transfer of $5 million from funds appropriated to UT Knoxville to the UT Agricultural Extension Service for its programs and services and $3 million from funds appropriated for UT Knoxville administration and salaries to UT Chattanooga and UT Martin for rural outreach programs.Related story:UT students fight against state bill to cut diversity funding

The final budget bill will have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

The amendment came after several controversies involving the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, including the suggested use of gender-neutral pronouns and inclusive holiday parties.

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