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In Solidarity with Our Jewish Community

Last week, a swastika was painted on the Rock. It was painted on top of a message of solidarity following the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

I am disappointed and deeply concerned, as are many members of our university community, that this symbol of hate appeared on one of our iconic campus landmarks.

Yesterday I met with a group of students, faculty, and staff—along with members of the local Jewish community—who all feel targeted and intimidated by this incident. We discussed ways the university can support them in this moment and in the future.

I want to make it clear that the university does not condone these actions or other acts of intimidation or intolerance. No one should feel unsafe because of their religious beliefs.

As a long-standing platform of free expression, the Rock is frequently painted with messages that express opinions, promote events, and offer sympathy and congratulations. Though last week’s hateful message may be protected speech, it does not represent our values and has no place on our campus.

As disappointed as I am that this happened, I am also heartened by the students who took it upon themselves to immediately paint over the symbol of hate out of care and concern for their fellow Volunteers.

By standing together and taking care of and respecting one another, we will ensure our campus is a community in which everyone feels welcome and safe.

Wayne T. Davis
Interim Chancellor

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

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