The Black Lives Matter movement has affected every facet of American life. As the movement took off over the summer, the University of Tennessee at Martin found itself mending wounds after a social media video surfaced of students using racial slurs.
That incident - along with others - led to the university taking a stand.
Student representatives and administrators signed a "Skyhawk Creed," declaring students, faculty and staff would take an actively anti-racist stand. In November, a group of students worked with University Relations to produce a video titled "Living the Creed."
Alexis Millsaps, senior communications major, says the video, released Feb. 1, was lazy.
"I spoke to some people who are much less involved on campus, and they were like 'we don't even know what the creed is.' For them to make a video when everybody doesn't know what the creed is, was thoughtless."
Millsaps took her frustration to Twitter:
Millsaps continued: "And this isn't even me criticizing [the] people in the video. It's absolutely me criticizing the administration. It is always me critizing the administration."
Student Government Association President Hunter McCloud says signing the Creed and publishing the video is just a step in the right direction. He said, if nothing else, it is a positive message.
"I'm not going to sit here and say it's going to take time and stuff. I know there are things we could be probably doing right now. During Covid, it’s been very difficult to work on stuff," McCloud said.
McCloud encourages cultural change where it is possible. That's because, he said, legislative change is much more tedious.
"Hopefully one day there will be no racism or hatred or bigotry in the country. Being a cynic myself, I don’t think that’s ever going to be the case. And granted, we’re not talking about the country, we’re talking about UT Martin.”
Still, Millsaps is fighting for structural change.
“I do love this school, and I love being here, but it’s times like these when they make videos that aren’t actually saying anything or send out emails that don’t actually have any points, where I feel like, as a Black person, like a joke to the administration of this campus.”
McCloud invites all students to a Senate meeting on Feb. 11. SGA also plans to stream their meetings live on social media.