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SEN-13-18 A Bill Regarding an Upcoming Event Hosted by a Hate Group at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

BILL#: SEN-13-18

TITLE: A Bill Regarding an Upcoming Event Hosted by a Hate Group at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

SPONSORS: Mateos Hayes, College of Arts and Sciences (mhayes57@vols.utk.edu);

Patrick Mardis, College of Arts and Sciences (pmardis@vols.utk.edu);

Jake Tidwell, Senate Parliamentarian (jtidwel4@vols.utk.edu);

Kalina Blazanovic, College of Arts and Sciences (kblazano@vols.utk.edu);

Chad Smith, College of Arts and Sciences (csmith360@vols.utk.edu);

DATE: 13 February, 2018

Whereas, the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a group recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group, plans to host Matthew Heimbach at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville on February 17, 2018 [1],

Whereas, Matthew Heimbach is an individual with strong ties to white supremacist movements, and will be speaking at the University of Tennessee as part of his “National Socialism or Die” tour [3],

Whereas, organizers of this event reserved space at the University of Tennessee by falsifying the identity of their white supremacist organization [3],

Whereas, TCA §49-7-2403, “It is further the intent of the general assembly that public institutions of higher education not stifle freedom of speech and expression by implementing vague or overbroad speech codes, establishing free speech zones, imposing unconstitutional prior restraints on speech, or disinviting speakers based on anticipated reaction or opposition of others to the content of speech” [4],

Whereas, TCA §49-7-2405 further states, “An institution shall not disinvite a speaker invited by a student, student organization, or faculty member because the speaker’s anticipated speech may be considered offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical, or wrong-headed by students, faculty, administrators, government officials, or members of the public” [4],

Whereas, Chancellor Davenport stated in a recent communique to the student body that Matthew Heimbach and the TWP were not invited by the University of Tennessee, its students, its faculty, or its staff, and are not welcome on campus,

Whereas, Vice Chancellor of Communications Ryan Robinson said in an email to USA Today that “we have serious concerns that this group misrepresented the nature of the event and their

affiliations. To our knowledge, no one at the University of Tennessee invited this group to campus”, [9]

Whereas, the Rules of the University of Tennessee, Chapter 1720-01-12 Section 4, Subsections 1 and 2, respectively, state, “The University has opened many of its outdoor spaces and indoor facilities as limited public forums for use by students and by faculty members exercising academic freedom […]” and, “A student organization using a University limited public forum may invite a non-affiliated person to participate in the student organization’s free expression activities […]” , [8]

Whereas, on multiple occasions, the The Rock, an important landmark of free speech at the University of Tennessee, was inscribed with hate speech by the TWP targeting immigrants and other minority groups, with the most current instance being in February [6],

Whereas, at a similar event at the University of Florida in October of 2017 which hosted Richard Spencer, another individual with strong ties to white supremacist movements, resulted in the firing of gunshots and the charging of three people with attempted murder in its aftermath [7],

Whereas, the SPLC has counted over 100 people killed or injured since 2014 by persons influenced by white supremacist alt-right movements [5],

Whereas, Matthew Heimbach is quoted in a 2016 Traditionalists Youth Network stating that “[the] mass purging [of] citizens would be insane to implement but perhaps one that might cross the mind of an economist or elite politician […]” [1],

Whereas, the TWP has released statements such as [1]:

“Now is not the time for unity. […] It’s a time for disunity and for hate. It’s time to hate the migrant communities harboring this lethal threat. It’s time to hate the (((oligarchs))) who create those communities. […]”

Whereas, the Anti-Defamation League reports that the Traditionalist Youth Network was created by Heimbach and Matt Parrott, another TWP leader, to specifically enable high school and college students to promote hate speech within schools and on college campuses [2],

Whereas, the TWP has directly targeted University of Tennessee students and faculty, with messages meant to intimidate and silence those who opposed the ideals of the TWP, and has released private information about such individuals,

Be it hereby resolved, that the University of Tennessee Undergraduate Student Senate release the attached statement to the student body,

Be it hereby resolved, the University of Tennessee Undergraduate Student Senate calls upon Chancellor Davenport and her Council to provide a detailed explanation to the student body, staff, and faculty on why the Traditionalist Worker Party was protected by law and allowed to speak on campus if they were not invited nor welcome per the official communique from the Chancellor’s Office. Specifically, the Student Senate calls upon Chancellor Davenport and her Council to elaborate to the student body, staff, and faculty what laws explicitly protect the First Amendment rights of the Traditionalist Worker Party to come speak on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s campus.

Be it further resolved, the University of Tennessee Undergraduate Student Senate calls upon Chancellor Davenport and her Council to issue similar statements in the future regarding any issues with controversial speakers on campus.

[1] Center, S. P. (2018, February 07). Traditionalist Worker Party. Retrieved from Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/traditionalist-worker-party

[2] League, A.-D. (2018, February 07). Traditionalist Youth Network. Retrieved from ADL: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/traditionalist-youth-network

[3] Ohm, R. (2018, February 03). White nationalist to launch lecture series at University of Tennessee. Retrieved from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/02/03/white-nationalist-launch-lecture-series-university-tennessee/303692002/

[4] “Campus Free Speech Protection Act,” Title 49 Tennessee Code Annotated. Available: https://advance.lexis.com/container?config=014CJAA5ZGVhZjA3NS02MmMzLTRlZWQtOGJjNC00YzQ1MmZlNzc2YWYKAFBvZENhdGFsb2e9zYpNUjTRaIWVfyrur9ud; Accessed: 2/13/2018.

[5] Center, S. P. (2018, February 05). The Alt-Right is Killing People. Retrieved from Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/20180205/alt-right-killing-people

[6] Ohm, R. (2018, January 26). University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport condemns hate speech on the Rock, Retrieved from Knox News: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/education/2018/01/26/university-tennessee-chancellor-beverly-davenport-condemns-hate-speech-rock/1069259001/

[7] Center, S. P. (2018, January 23). Cops say Richard Spencer supporter William Fears IV choked girlfriend days before Florida shooting. Retrieved from Southern Poverty Law Center: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/01/23/cops-say-richard-spencer-supporter-william-fears-iv-choked-girlfriend-days-florida-shooting

[8] “Use of University Property by Non-Affiliated Persons For Free Expression,” Chapter 1720-01-12 Rules of the University of Tennessee. Available: http://publications.tnsosfiles.com/rules/1720/1720-01/1720-01-12.20141015.pdf; Accessed: 2/13/2018.

[9] Office of the Chancellor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2018, February 9). Update on February 17 Event [Campus email]. Retrieved from https://chancellor.utk.edu/2018/02/09/update-on-february-17-event

A Statement on Hate and an Upcoming Event Hosted by a Hate Group at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate

Be it hereby resolved, that the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate condemns the upcoming “National Socialism or Die” event held by the Traditional Workers Party, a group recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an extremist hate group that actively promotes disunity and violence against minority groups. The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate joins Chancellor Davenport in declaring this group and their event not welcome at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate reaffirms that Neo-Nazism, white supremacy, violence, and hate speech have no place at the University of Tennessee and no place in the civil discourse this University strives to promote. The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate remains committed to the further development of a University of Tennessee community which is welcoming to all, and upholds the tenets of a civil democracy.

The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate stands with the minority groups that have been specifically targeted through the Traditionalist Worker Party’s hateful rhetoric and violent actions. The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate seeks to provide a voice to the voiceless across the campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the ideals of Matthew Heimbach are not congruent with our core principles of equity and respect. Furthermore, these radical ideals are constructed to destroy the fundamental principles of equity, mutual respect, and inclusion that we strive to uphold as Volunteers.

Finally, the 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate’s mission is “to support students by creating and sustaining a positive and inclusive environment in order to bridge gaps that exist on campus, establish an open dialogue between all communities, and serve as and develop ambassadors to encourage growth for all current and future students”. The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate will continue to uphold the ideals expressed in this mission in the face of injustice, hate, and intolerance and fight to promote open and respectful dialogue in order to encourage growth among all current and future students.

The 2017-2018 Undergraduate Student Senate hopes that you will join us in condemning the speech coming from the Traditional Workers Party and Matthew Heimbach, and that you will take a stand in this fight against hate.

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