Students at the University of Tennessee staged a protest this week during a men’s basketball game — wearing all black and refusing to stand for the national anthem — in response to the school’s handling of a recent blackface incident.
“No justice, no peace, no racist UT,” the students chanted. “What do we want? Expulsion! When do we want it? Now!”
The demonstration went down Tuesday night during the school’s home game against Mississippi State, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Students who took part said they were protesting against a reported decision by UT to not immediately discipline two of their classmates — who got caught wearing blackface last week in a Snapchat photo.
“We for racial equality boys,” a caption said, accompanying the image.
“Bout to get this free college now that I’m black let’s gooooo #blacklivesmatter.”
According to reports, at least four students were involved, but only two could be seen wearing black paint on their faces.
A Twitter user and UT student with the handle @jxxsie_ posted a message on Feb. 28 from a young man who was in the photo — apologizing — after it went viral.
“We were putting on charcoal face masks to help with acne, and I decided to write a joke that was certainly not funny in the least,” the message said. “It was immature, and it doesn’t reflect my personality and I am so so sorry.”
UT officials spoke to students and staff at a meeting on Monday and told them they’d be “determining” ways to handle the incident — calling it “repulsive.”
However, they flat-out admitted that expulsion was unlikely.
“We would be hard-pressed to expel a student for expressing their First Amendment rights,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vince Carilli, according to the News Sentinel.
One of the four students involved — Ethan Feick, 19, of Spring Hill, Tenn. — reportedly withdrew from UT this week amid the backlash.
“The university took no punitive action,” Feick’s brother, Wylan, told the News Sentinel.
The young man left “on his own accord,” according to Wylan.
It’s unclear if he was one of the two students wearing blackface, but the News Sentinel reports that it was Feick who wrote the Twitter message last week, apologizing.
Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis on Wednesday announced a series of changes to university policy and the school’s Code of Conduct, which will hopefully help “ensure the leadership of the university takes the steps necessary to heal our community and rebuild your trust.”