University Of Tennessee Closes Down Diversity Office Citing Pressure From Lawmakers!By Vinay Patel, UniversityHerald Reporter
In the wake of a law that restricts University of Tennessee from using state funds to support its Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the forthcoming fiscal year, the university has closed the office doors and oust its four employees - a $445,000 downsize.
The law slated to take effect July 1 reallocates the money to finance scholarships for minority students in engineering programs and is in effect for only one year.
The law stems from the diversity office's move that made national headlines last fall when it requested students to use "gender-neutral pronouns" including hirs, zirs, xyr, xem, xe, and ze. The diversity office again made national news last December with its list of holiday "best practices" which recommended that holiday parties should quit having Secret Santa-themed gift exchanges and asked the campus to make sure their holiday party is not actually a Christmas party under wraps, reports The College Fix.
The exaggerated political accuracy was a little too much for state lawmakers.
University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek who is slated to take a similar post in diversity with the University of Washington said he was upset by the incident in his email to the campus community.
Cheek noted that the new law restricts them from reallocating money in order to keep the ball rolling for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion from another funds.
While Diversity chief Rickey Hall is stepping down, another staff member has been offered another job at University of Tennessee, and an office employee whose job is being cut is being assisted.
According to a university announcement Thursday, Hall will step in as University of Washington's vice president for the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and chief diversity office on August 1. This is not the first time Hall has been a candidate for a job outside University of Tennessee, reports WBIR.
The University of Tennessee has come under fire from area congressmen as well as state lawmakers, who criticized a proposal steered by diversity supporters last summer to change to gender-neutral pronouns in a bid to rule out gender-based discrimination. In December it was reported that the office was giving suggestions to University Of Tennessee employees about holiday gathering asking them to make sure their holiday party is not a "Christmas party in disguise."
No prizes for guessing, both posts were removed.
Before finally deciding to strip the Office of Diversity and Inclusion of financial support of about $445,000 for an entire year, state lawmakers considered several defunding move this year.
Noting the importance of diversity position, President Ana Maria Cauce said in statement posted on University of Washington's website Thursday that Hall has what it takes to make a difference.
Interim Provost Jerry Baldasty also noted that Hall is an acclaimed leader in the field of diversity for more than 20 years.
Following the diversity office closing down, Cheek said office employees that reported to Hall are being reshuffled.