Freshman Senate member Lane Gutridge temporarily removes three of the signs so that members of the Freshman Senate could take a picture with the signs to post on their social media in order to show their solidarity with students who felt affected by the vandalism of Vanguard America on Feb 8, 2017. The vandalized signs are being replaced by the Dean of Students Office, and will be put up on campus as soon as they are received.  (Photo by Troy Stolt)

By Chris King, Editor-In-Chief —

On Thursday morning, UT System President Joe DiPietro, UTC Chancellor Steven Angle and UTC SGA President Rachel Emond all released statements denouncing racism following acts of vandalism and the defacing of Black History Month posters, which took place on campus Wednesday.

Celebratory Black History Month posters promoting events by the Freshman Senate, a branch of UTC’s Student Government Association, were covered by stickers that read “Hitler was right” and featured a photo of Adolph Hitler saluting. A white supremacist group called Vanguard America were responsible for the defacement of the Black History Month posters. Vanguard America is known for organizing the violent Charlottesville, Virginia rally this past August.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Vanguard America is defined as “a white supremacist group that opposes multiculturalism and believes America is an exclusively white nation,” and the group “is particularly focused on recruiting young men and has engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts to attract students on American college campuses.”

In his statement, Chancellor Angle addressed the disrespect of UTC’s Black History Month celebration and violation of campus policy.

“The University supports free speech but not by trampling on the rights of others. More importantly, the expression of such racist, hateful views have no place on our campus,” said Angle in a statement. “The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will continue to pursue excellence by embracing diversity and inclusion. The values of Hitler and the neo-Nazi movement are despicable, hateful, divisive and inconsistent with our ethics and core values.”

Emond also denounced the acts of vandalism by the white supremacist group.

“We, the Student Government Association, do not support hate of any kind, verbal or physical, on UTC’s campus,” said Emond in a statement. “We are disappointed that any kind of hateful rhetoric has been brought into our campus community. Though we know that this has undoubtedly made some students feel unwelcome, we want to express that the university is working diligently to make UTC a place where all students feel safe and at home.”

Angle said he supported SGA’s statement and used it as a call to action for UTC to speak up and cherish diversity.

“I support and share the ideas and sentiments expressed by our SGA,” said Angle in a statement. “Now is the time for us to speak up and speak out, to cherish our diversity, understand people who are different from us, and to stand up for our beliefs.”

In his statement, DiPietro commented on the recent happenings that took place at UTC and condemned racism on all UT campuses.

“History is littered with the tragedy of unchecked hate, racism and violence. And at the University of Tennessee, we should bluntly call out what is wrong: hate, racism and violence are wrong. There is no place for them on any of our campuses or university facilities,” said DiPietro.

The vandalized posters were removed from campus due to UTC’s policy because the group did not have permission to post on campus.

“The defaced posters were removed, as are all posters that do not follow campus policy,” said Angle in a statement.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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