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Continued Aggression Toward Our LGBTQ+ Community

This semester, the Bias Education and Response Team has received reports of four separate incidents at the Pride Center, including acts of vandalism and harassment. Additionally, other incidents of intimidation and violence have recently been directed at members of the LGBTQ+ community on our campus and in the local community.

These continued acts of aggression are unacceptable, and I am deeply troubled by the fact that any member of our community feels unsafe here. Our campus should be safe and welcoming for all of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

UTPD is actively investigating the two most recent vandalism incidents at the Pride Center. Many of you have expressed concern and frustration that those cases remain unsolved. I understand your frustration, and I expect these matters to be resolved.

Police investigators are confident that there are members of our campus community who know and can identify the two individuals involved. We need your help. If you have any information about either of these incidents, please contact UTPD at 865-974-3114 or Any information you provide will remain confidential.

We have made and will continue to make surveillance improvements around the Pride Center and elsewhere on campus to increase safety and security.

These improvements, however, will not solve hate and prejudice. We must work together as a community to create an environment where acts of bias are not tolerated.

As such, I invite you to submit ideas and propose solutions for how to improve and promote civility on our campus. All submissions will be provided to the Vol Vision 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Working Group to help guide their recommendations for how the university should address issues related to campus climate.

Our values and principles of civility are inclusive of everyone, regardless of family background, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression.

We’re all members of the Volunteer family. Let’s celebrate what makes each of us unique and help each other reach our greatest potential.