March 26, 2010
To: UT Knoxville Students, Faculty and Staff
From: Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek
Subject: Campus Civility
We have had an increase in the number of reported incidents of actions and language that reflect bias on our campus. These actions include derogatory and racist language found in our dormitories. We also had an incident where someone threw a banana at visiting African American students, their parents and guidance counselors. This incident was witnessed by some of our own UT ambassadors.
I am saddened and outraged by this behavior because it does not reflect our campus values or the mission of this great university. We will not tolerate disrespect, racism or bias on our campus.
The UT Police Department is investigating all of the reported events. If you have any information about any such events, you are strongly encouraged to contact the UTPD or any other person of authority on campus so that appropriate action can be taken. We will also keep you informed of the progress of the investigations. In the near future, we will make reports of all such incidents available online on the UTPD Web site, http://web.utk.edu/~utpolice/.
One of my top priorities as chancellor is to increase diversity on our campus, and one of the best ways to do that is to create and maintain a welcoming campus climate for all. I challenge you as faculty, staff, students and administrators to work with me to make sure we are welcoming to all and hostile to none. I am in the process of finalizing the details for a campus project on civility and respect. I will be sharing more information about this and ways you can get involved in the coming weeks.
It is my responsibility to lead our campus in a manner that rejects any action of bias or hatred, but I need your help. As a campus community we must stand strong in our belief that we do not discriminate against anyone regardless of demographic or cultural background. I ask each of you to join me in this important commitment.