On campus

‘Divisive concepts’ survey sent to students cause confusion, concern

   On January 23rd a survey was sent out by Tech president Phil Oldham. The email explained Tennessee state legislature had passed HB 2670 in the year 2022. 

   This is a law that “prohibits public institutions of higher education from taking certain actions regarding divisive concepts and the ideologies of employees.” The message was sent out with a survey expressing that students, staff and faculty must be sent an opportunity to express their feelings in their own higher education institutions. 

   The survey’s end goal was to ask if students, faculty and staff felt “they can express their ideas and beliefs without fear of discrimination and without being influenced to embrace any specific political viewpoint or belief.”  

   Two students who wish to remain anonymous said, “I think it’s a little strange to receive this email so suddenly, especially after the events in Cookeville recently.” 

Another student, who also wishes to be left anonymous, shared her opinion.

   “Obviously it was about the nazis and the drag show – they’re trying to accommodate nazis when they don’t need accommodations. This is a literal hate group,” she said.

   She felt the questions on the survey directly correlated with the recent events in the Cookeville community. “They’re a literal hate group and believe in genocide.. Targeting Jewish people, people with disabilities, and queer people.” She felt the timeliness of the survey was a “slap in the face” considering recent events. 

   While there has been no official statement about the survey sent out, an email reminder was sent out on January 25 reminding students, faculty and staff to take the survey and that all responses are confidential, further protecting student opinions and information on this developing issue.

In an earlier version of this story, an anonymous student stated the groups in question appeared on campus. That, however, is incorrect. Groups protested an event on Cedar Avenue. It is also stated that the university did not provide a statement; however, the reporter in this story did not contact a university spokesperson.

A university spokesperson did, however, later issue a statement as follows:

“The university is required by the state of Tennessee to conduct a survey regarding free speech and diversity of thought. The timing of Tech’s survey was determined far in advance last semester and was worded to meet our institutional obligations as delineated by the state.”

Story last updated Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023.