UT Studies How Municipalities Address Changing Street Names that Honor Controversial Figures

Two University of Tennessee researchers are studying how local governments treat requests involving name changes for streets termed after controversial historical figures, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Geography professor Derek Alderman and geography Ph.D. candidate Jordan Brasher, using Tulsa, Okla., as a study model, found that cities "don't want to inconvenience or disrupt business," which could delay the renaming process, and contend that "cities tend to put economic development and convenience and practicality over really repairing the wounds and really trying to do justice." Alderman said he feels that more public participation when selecting street names could help alleviate some of these issues. 

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UT Releases Study Addressing Barriers to Veterinary Care

The University of Tennessee — through its study group the Access to Veterinary Care Coalition — released a report that addresses problems experienced by low-income households and young pet owners when seeking care for their animals. The Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy report serves to identify these barriers, along with veterinarian attitudes and input, with the intent of identifying solutions to allow better access to veterinary services. Unsurprisingly, the greatest barrier to care is financial concerns, with 80 percent of low-income and younger pet owners unable to obtain preventative care due to financial constraints, 74 percent for sick care and 56 percent for emergency care. The study was paid for by Maddie’s Fund, a national foundation with the mission of creating a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat.

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UT Study Seeks to Determine if Fracking May Lead to Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes

A University of Tennessee professor is studying the effects of fracking and how it can affect regional water health, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Terry Hazen, the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Lab Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, has joined a team in Pennsylvania to test fracking wastewater in the state to determine if prolonged use of biocides in fracking fluid could lead to antibiotic-resistant microbes. The three-year study is funded by an $80,000 grant given through the National Science Foundation.

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Vanderbilt, University of Tennessee Collaborate on a 'Value-Based' Health Care network

Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Tennessee Medical Center have formed a partnership to improve the quality of and reduce costs for health care across the state, The Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The partnership will include teaching hospitals, with 87 practices and more than 1,000 providers in University Health Network, plus the 13 health systems, 67 hospitals, more than 350 practices and more than 5,000 providers in the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network. The collaboration will function on a ‘value-based’ model where hospitals, doctors and other providers are paid based on the outcomes of their patients.

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Accuser Says Johnson and Williams 'Were Like Animals,' in Her First Public Testimony

The woman at the center of rape allegations against two former University of Tennessee football players did not mince words in her testimony, telling jurors on Wednesday that A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams “were like animals” during the incident, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. The accuser maintains that she did not initially object when Johnson engaged in sex with her but refused when Williams joined in. The pair of ex-Vols contend the encounter was consensual.

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Jury Selection Underway in the Trial of Former UT Football Player A.J. Johnson

Jury selection for the rape trial of University of Tennessee Football player A.J. Johnson is underway, with jurors being asked about controversial topics such as threesomes, interracial relationships, elitist athletes and the ‘Me Too’ movement, The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. Johnson and former teammate Michael Williams are accused of raping a female UT athlete during a football victory party at Johnson’s South Knoxville apartment in November 2014. The profile of the case — involving a popular athlete and no eye-witnesses — has sparked concerns of a fair trial, with most of the potential jurors knowing Johnson’s name and the basics of the allegations against him.

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Gay Alumni Raise $300K to Save University of Tennessee Pride Center

A fundraising campaign launched by a gay University of Tennessee graduate, Chad Goldman and his husband, LGBT rights advocate Brian Pendleton, raised more than $300,000 on the Feb. 1 kickoff event for a plan to permanently fund the LGBT Pride Center at the university's campus in Knoxville.
The university's LGBTQ Pride Center was threatened with closure in 2016 after state lawmakers passed HB2248, defunding the university's Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Critics of the office accused it of promoting "political correctness" by encouraging the use of gender-neutral pronouns and supporting an annual student-initiated event called Sex Week, which involves panel discussions and forums addressing issues including sexuality, sexual assault prevention and sexually transmitted diseases.
"It's unfortunate we are in this place because of the politics of the legislature, but this effort is not at all about politics," Goldman told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "It's just about funding a place for LGBTQ and questioning students to go where they can find fellowship and guidance and support at a time that's very difficult."
State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), a lead sponsor of the State Senate version of the defunding bill accused the diversity office of being "very political and polarizing" and giving a "horrible reputation" to the university and the state. "If they clean up their act, then I'll focus my attention on something else," Gardenhire told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "But if that office continues to become very radical and polarizing, then I will, of course, focus my attention back on that to take that money away and apply it to something very useful instead of something very divisive."
UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport asked Goldman to raise funds for a separate, privately-funded endowment for the Pride Center, with a goal of $3 million. Goldman is confident the campaign will reach its goal, saying "if we can [raise $300,000] in one single night, I feel very confident that we are going to get there." More information on the Pride Center project can be found here.
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