When students at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center were asked on Tuesday if they would sign a banner with a message of unity against hate, more than 400 stepped up to sign in roughly two hours. They were attending a Halloween event, but signing their name was more important to them.
That banner and two others with hundreds of signatures from students, faculty, and staff at UTHSC will hang in buildings on campus next week to proclaim that the state’s only public academic health science university is taking a stand against hate in all its forms, in light of the many recent instances of hatred and violence locally, nationally, and internationally.
An observance against hate will be held in the General Education Building on campus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, November 8.
Signage is being placed in public spaces around campus with the messages that “Hate Has No Place at UTHSC,” “UTHSC is United Against Hate,” and “UTHSC is a Hate-Free Campus.”
Chancellor Steve Schwab, MD, and Scott Strome, MD, dean of the College of Medicine, the largest of the six colleges at UTHSC, will speak at the observance. A moment of silence will be observed at noon.
“The recent events in our country and around the world make it clear that hate remains a pervasive cancer in our modern world,” Dean Strome said. “As people engaged in all aspects of health care, we have a unique opportunity, and indeed a duty, to abolish hate wherever it exists.”
Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer for UTHSC, said initiatives like this are important for individuals and organizations in order to show that all are respected and valued. “When viewed through the national lens, it means we, as citizens of this country, do not support recent events reflecting hate and the violence that stems from it as a part of our national identity,” he said.
Anna Evans, 24, a second-year physical therapy student from Memphis and president of the UTHSC Student Government Association Executive Council, is working to promote the anti-hate movement across the campus and to the wider community.
“I think our hope is to rally together as a campus and as a student body, but also as a larger Memphis community hopefully to send a message that we want to fight for the sanctity of life, to fight for love and justice, no matter who you are, no matter what income you have, no matter what race you are, and to recognize as a campus that every life is absolutely important,” she said. “We would love to start this here at our campus, but be able to pull in the other UT System campuses and make this a larger UT voice. And hopefully, other schools and communities will hear the voice to fight for life and justice and freedom.”
Already, two large banners proclaiming the anti-hate message have been filled with signatures from the campus community. The banners will hang on campus next week as a public declaration against hate.