The Tennessee Conservative [By Paula Gomes] –
Publicly funded University of Tennessee (UT) has been working to implement sweeping diversity policies since the death of George Floyd in 2020. Some say Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly have been slow to address the growing anti-white crisis.
House Bill 2670/Senate Bill 2290 was signed into law this April by Governor Bill Lee but critics say it doesn’t go far enough in stemming the tide of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) ideologies. The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville-District 25) and Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville-District 9), prohibits public institutions of higher education from requiring that students or employees embrace “divisive teaching” as a stipulation for any grade, diploma, employment opportunity, or tenure.
Additionally, public universities cannot mandate any trainings that include one or more divisive concepts, and they cannot use state-appropriated funds to provide incentives to faculty members who include such teachings in their curricula.
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The National Association of Scholars (NAS) released a report that examined the implementation of DEI action plans at UT that they acquired through a public records request. In the report, author and NAS Research Associate John Sailer said, “The University of Tennessee’s Diversity Action Plans are nothing short of a blueprint for an institutional overhaul.” Sailor predicts that “True education will erode. Indoctrination will flourish.”
In a series of Twitter posts, Sailer outlines what the DEI plans mean for various colleges within UT.
In the College of Social Work, anti-racism and social justice content is to be worked into curricula, Critical Race Theory is promised to be adopted as a framework, and a whole new “social justice minor” is in the works.
Students in the College of Engineering will be required to write a two-page essay reflecting their biases while the College of Law promises to assess its curriculum for “issues related to social justice, equity, and elimination of bias.”
According to the new law, should UT follow through with these plans, students and employees may be eligible to pursue legal remedies.
UT’s budget from last year included $684 million in appropriations from the state. Almost $100 per person in Tennessee.
In June of 2020, UT-Knoxville chancellor Donde Plowman urged colleagues to read Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to be an Antiracist and has been leading the charge for DEI to be implemented across the board.
Plowman, who is the second-highest paid chancellor in the UT system recently received an almost 25% increase in pay in July. The $160,000 raise puts her annual salary at $820,000 a year and places her in the 75th percentile for university chancellors across the country. She is an appointee of UT’s president Randy Boyd who has stated that he believes Plowman to be “one of the best” chancellors in the country, “if not the best in the country.”
Boyd is himself an appointee of the UT Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has 11 voting members who are all appointed by Governor Bill Lee. Of that 11, 10 also must be confirmed by the Tennessee General Assembly.
It remains to be seen whether the law that the Republican majority passed will be enough to arrest DEI policies within the UT system.
About the Author: Paula Gomes is a Tennessee resident and reporter for The Tennessee Conservative. You can reach Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org.