Blocked from Following UTK Pride Center Twitter Feed for Sharing Opposition View

Donna,

Someone at UTK Pride Center has blocked my ability to view and interact with the UTK Pride Center Twitter presence.

As a 2x alumnus of the University of Tennessee and current UT employee,

It’s sorely disappointing to learn that the "Office of Diversity" apparently shutters out dissenting viewpoints.

My (apparently) offending tweet:

pro tip: hire a "pro" who can communicate diversity & inclusion w/o excluding Christians. "It’s been up" is no excuse.

https://twitter.com/mountainsol/status/672911391473467393

I’m a professional communicator, trained at the graduate level in UT-Knoxville’s College of Information and Communication.

With that training in hand, I’m dismayed by the flippant, sarcastic and frankly, incendiary tone of the Pride Center’s Tweets, such as, "newsflash" and "pro tip," and "standing up for the majority doesn’t make you brave," that have been Tweeted over the past 24 hours in response to recent allegations of discrimination against Christians.

Chancellor Cheek, Vice Chancellor Hall, and the Pride Center do not seem open to the possibility that the piece of writing in question could benefit from revision to be more sensitive to Christian spiritual and cultural traditions.

Instead, the piece is defended on the basis that UT "respects Christians" or "it’s been there for months" or "everyone else is doing it."

Not one of these conditions make the post’s content and tone inclusionary or respectful.

While I identify as agnostic today, I grew up in a Christian household. I’m certain my time as a Christian, if not my time as a Tennessee Volunteer, introduced me to the virtue of humility.

The UTK Pride Center’s vociferous "boosterism" for higher level management (Vice Chancellor Hall and Vice Chancellor Cheek) lacks humility in that there’s been no pause to reflect on what might have been improved about the "holiday best practices" the Office of Diversity presented to the UT-Knoxville community.

Instead, the piece is simply presented as fundamentally "correct."

Rather than humbly examine how the write-up might have been received as offensive or exclusionary to UT-Knoxville’s Christian students, staff and faculty, the Chancellor’s Office, along with the Pride Center, have seemingly "doubled down" on defending a flawed write-up.

Practicing introspection and reflecting on mistakes are key parts of a university education:

I’m proud to say my undergraduate and graduate education at UT-Knoxville contributes to my tolerance of other communities of faith, other points of view, and above all my tolerance of opposing viewpoints; however,

It is sorely disappointing to find the very campus institution set up to promote diversity and acceptance is apparently intolerant of dissenting viewpoints.

In light of the series of recent controversies, I’m interested to know how many other Twitter users your Twitter account manager has felt the need to block, and what criteria your account manager uses to determine which participants to exclude.

Can you direct me to whom I might speak concerning this?

Respectfully,

Tanner Jessel

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About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on December 5, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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