KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- University of Tennessee Chancellor Beverly Davenport released a statement Friday condemning recent paintings on the Rock by who she called a self-described racial separatist group.
Davenport called out the group's beliefs as, "racial segregation, prejudice, bigotry, and exclusion." In a letter to the Volunteer community, the Chancellor said, "I know many of you have been offended by their presence on our campus and what they have written on our Rock. Please know I share your sentiments entirely."
In the post, the Chancellor urged students to condemn wrongdoings and say something or repaint the Rock if there appears to be a hateful or hurtful message.
UT student Aleah Vassell met with Chancellor Davenport about the paintings. She said what's supposed to be used as a means of self-expression has gone too far and is being used to spread hate.
Vassell spoke to Chancellor Davenport about her concerns and told Local 8 News she feels like her voice was heard.
"I realized we are on the same page," said Vassell. "Chancellor Davenport is looking out for all of her students, and it was nice to hear that in person."
Davenport ended her letter by saying, "We will not stand by and let those words and symbols define us. We will be defined by our stance against words, actions, and deeds that demean, threaten, divide, and harm our campus community."
The Chancellor's full post can be found here.
Here in Knoxville, in a place we call Rocky Top, we are all torchbearers for a just, welcoming, and safe campus. We are all Volunteers for life. https://t.co/uLvLUlvckV— Beverly Davenport (@ChancellorDav) January 26, 2018