UT chancellor plans to bring back a director for LGBT Pride Center

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport is making plans to bring back a director for its LGBT pride center, reports the News Sentinel.

For the last year, the job has been unfilled after the Tennessee legislature decided to redirect funds from the school’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the part-time position was eliminated, forcing students to run the center on their own with some administrative oversight from the dean of students.

Student and faculty groups such as the Pride Center Working Group have for the last several months called for UT and Davenport to hire a pride center director and put in place other initiatives aimed at promoting and preserving diversity on campus.

The funding for UT’s diversity office, totaling $445,882, has been put back into the Knoxville campus’ budget for 2017-2018, but before Thursday no plans had been announced about how it would be spent.

Davenport, following a board of trustees meeting Thursday, still did not give specific details for how all the money will be spent but said it will be used in the Division for Student Life and will include spending on Title IX initiatives, student wellness and the pride center.

“This is how I feel and how I will continue to invest (in UT Knoxville): My responsibility is to ensure all our students are welcomed, that they are safe and that we continue to invest in ensuring that our students succeed,” Davenport said. “I’ve looked at those monies and we will be spending that money on Title IX, on the pride center and on wellness. All that money will be going into those efforts.”

When asked whether there is a specific budget or plan for what that spending will look like, Davenport said the diversity funds will “go into all of those things that I just talked about.”

Update/Note: State Sen. Mae Beavers, a Republican candidate for governor, is quoted by Tennessee Star on the matter:

“It is disappointing that the new Chancellor has decided to ignore the clear intent and legitimate concerns of the Tennessee Legislature which defunded the office after it became clear that taxpayer funds were being used to promote a radical agenda that did not reflect the values of the State and our citizens… Her decision to once again hire a Director of the so-called Pride Center after the problems we have experienced at the University with Sex Week activities, ridiculous directives about gender-neutral pronouns and ‘inclusive’ holiday parties, and promotion of promotion of a radical liberal agenda with taxpayer dollars and student tuition, shows complete disrespect for our legislative oversight of our state’s flagship University.”

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