On Friday, I sent a letter to all members of the Tennessee state legislature who are responsible for education issues requesting that they establish a panel to “critically assess the policies of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee.” I made this appeal in response to that office’s edict effectively banning Christmas celebrations on the campus. That decision drew the ire of local and federal public officials, students, faculty, and alumni. From my perspective, it was not only offensive to Christians, it was constitutionally suspect.
Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek announced today that the offensive “suggestions” have been taken down; they no longer appear online. In addition, the person who wrote them, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall, has been “counseled” by his superiors. Furthermore, he will no longer be permitted to write any guidelines for this office.
This announcement makes sense, but it is disingenuous of Chancellor Cheek to maintain that the problem was purely a matter of “poorly worded communications.” It was not. The problem is deeper—it stems from a mentality that is common to all university offices that are charged with advancing diversity and inclusion. To be specific, there is a built-in intolerance for Christianity, in particular, and for Western Civilization, in general.
The steps taken by the University of Tennessee today are reassuring, but more needs to be done. I stand by my call for a probe of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.