August 26, 2015 - The Office of Diversity and Inclusion released a post suggesting that students and faculty should be more aware of individuals on campus that use gender-neutral pronouns. The post also emphasized the importance of not assuming anyone’s gender identity.
September 4, 2015 - The Office of Diversity and Inclusion took down the gender-neutral pronoun post due to pressure from the state legislature.
December 3, 2015 - State lawmakers called for the resignation of Ricky Hall, the Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek after the Office of Diversity and Inclusion released a post suggesting for more inclusive holiday celebrations.
December 8, 2015 - Students organized a study-in in order to show support for Vice Chancellor Hall, Chancellor Cheek and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
December 14, 2016 - The Black Student Union and Sexual Empowerment and Awareness of Tennessee released separate lists of demands regarding campus climate for students of color and LGBT+ students.
Mid January 2016 - The demand lists from SEAT and the BSU were combined and various student organizations joined in solidarity with SEAT and the BSU. Representatives from these student organizations met throughout January and added other aspects to the demand list to include students with disabilities, Stop Bias reform and comprehensive inclusivity training to form the Diversity Matters Coalition.
January 29, 2016 - Representatives from the Diversity Matters coalition were scheduled to meet with UT administration, but the UT administration did not show up because of a lack of communication about the meeting’s location. Students responded by staging a sit-in in the Chancellor’s office.
February 4, 2016 - The first meeting was rescheduled. This was the first meeting that members from the coalition were able to discuss the list of demands with administration. Chancellor Cheek was asked many questions regarding the University’s present stance on gender-neutral pronouns.
February 25, 2016 - Members of the Diversity Matters Coalition protested at the Brenda Lawson Student Athletic Center in response to the University’s reaction towards the Title IX lawsuit and to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault.
March 3, 2016 - Students signed a banner in Hodges Library in support for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The Diversity Matters Coalition also provided students with contact information for state lawmakers so that they could call and urge them to not defund the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
March 5, 2016 - Students walked out of the UT vs.Ole Miss Men’s basketball game during the second half chanting and holding signs that said “UT diversity matters.”
March 8, 2016 - Over 40 students traveled to Nashville to lobby against Governor Haslam’s privatization plan and budgets that would strip the Office of Diversity and Inclusion of its funding. Students met with lawmakers to discuss the importance of Diversity funding and protested on the steps of Nashville’s Legislative Plaza.
April 19, 2016 - Tennessee’s State House of Representatives passed an amendment reallocating $100,000 of diversity funding to “In God We Trust” decals for police cars and the remaining $336,700 to minority engineering scholarships.
April 19, 2016 - Students gathered in HSS amphitheater for a rally in response to state legislative action to strip the Office of Diversity and Inclusion of funding. The Coalition also staged a “die-in” where students laid down on Pedestrian Walkway and held up signs expressing their discontent with campus climate towards minorities. The protest later moved to Presidential Court where Confederate flags were displayed in windows in opposition to the Coalition.
April 20, 2016 - The State Senate passed a different amendment reallocating $436,700 of diversity funding strictly to minority scholarships for engineering students. This version was later confirmed through a conference committee.
April 20, 2016 - Diversity Coalition representatives met with UT administration to discuss progress on the list of demands as well as UT’s response to legislative action. The coalition urged Chancellor Cheek to release a public statement denouncing the actions of the state legislature defunding. Cheek said that he would rather contact Nashville representatives and Governor Haslam personally.