Despite the fact that it's summer, and most students aren't even in town, there are two petitions making the Internet rounds aimed at getting University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to do things. Well, to not do things, we mean.
The first petition, which as of this writing has 604 signatures out of a goal of 1,000, is devoted to stopping UT from its plans to demolish three Victorian-era houses in Fort Sanders, as first reported last week by our own Jack Neely. The petition states:
The second petition, which has 836 signatures out of an ambitious goal of 10,000, is an attempt to get Cheek to not accept his $22,356 pay raise. The Board of Trustees awarded Cheek the raise last week on the same day as they announced UT tuition would increase by 8 percent. The petition states:Stop Plans to Remove the Houses at 1302, 1308, and 1312 White AvenueThe three Victorian houses located on the 1300 block of White Ave. each have a distinctly rich heritage associated with the history of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee. Removing vernacular architecture is detrimental to the city landscape, and also sets a dangerous precedent likely to be emulated by private owners and developers. If the University of Tennessee endorses the destruction of these houses, it undermines the authority of the city and its establishments which have fought to protect Knoxville from unscrupulous profiteers who disregard the city's history in favor of development. This petition urges UT to seek an alternate site for its proposed building project and to reaffirm its cooperation with and commitment to the City of Knoxville and its ongoing efforts towards historic preservation.
Ask The University of Tennessee's Chancellor to deny his $22,356 pay raise.In 2011, UT tuition was upped by %12 [sic] and Cheek received a hefty pay raise. This year, tuition is going up again, and Jimmy Cheek is once again accepting a raise-- a $22,356 raise. He will be making $394,956 dollars a year. This is unfair to UT students. Many work hours a week (on top of their school work) so they don't have to take out more student loans, and after they graduate, they will still up to their neck in student debt. This is a matter of principle. The UT Chancellor should not accept a raise from a tuition increase when so many students are struggling to pay already.
The petition author is Andrew Doss, a 21-year-old senior majoring in Electrical Engineering at UT. We got a press release today about the petition; in it Doss explains his intent.
"So many students are working jobs and stacking on student loans so they can attend UT. One of my friends, for example, has worked 30+ hour weeks at Wal-Mart since his Freshman year. He does so simply because he doesn't want to take out any more student loans than are absolutely necessary. It takes a toll on him and on his GPA. Many of my other friends are in similar situations. The petition isn't about changing the tuition increase, and it isn't the job Cheek has done as chancellor. It's about the principle that Cheek shouldn't accept a pay raise during a tuition hike when so many students are struggling to pay as it is."
The KNS reports that UT seems unfazed by the latter petition.
President Joe DiPietro recommended the raise to trustees at their annual meeting last week and defend it in a statement today."We are sensitive to tuition costs and the recent increase for this fall. Chancellor Cheek is doing great work to improve UT Knoxville and higher education in our state," he said, in response to a request for comment. "Given his performance, the way he has advanced the university and the challenges we have given him going forward, I consider his compensation appropriate."
In regards to the first petition, UT has stated they don't actually yet have official plans to tear down the buildings (to which you might want to add a grain of salt).