By Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - University of Tennessee students are rallying supporters of diversity on campus after a Senate committee voted Wednesday to defund the college’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports ( ) that students are passing out fliers and asking supporters of diversity to sign a banner and call state lawmakers.

The Senate Education Committee voted to strip the Office of Diversity of all state funding and move $8 million to the UT agricultural extension service and rural outreach programs.

After the legislative committee voted Wednesday, a group of students said they wanted to organize quickly to reach out to lawmakers and push back against the effort to defund the office.

“We knew we had to respond immediately to show how many people are affected by diversity and inclusion on campus,” said Ashley Campbell, a UT senior and member of the UT Diversity Matters coalition.

The legislature’s move to defund the Office of Diversity comes after it riled up several Republican lawmakers by recommending that gender-neutral pronouns be used on campus and that religious references be stripped from holiday parties and events on campus.

UT Diversity Matters, made up largely of students, has been in a vocal supporter of the office in the wake of the controversies. The coalition has made a list of demands calling for more diversity on campus and presented them to UT administrators.


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel,

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