The University of Tennessee (UT) and the University of Utah (UU) are refusing to release email communications between key school leaders regarding the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza. Both schools have a history of hosting and even kowtowing to demands from an extremist student group that directly aligns itself against Israel.
Do No Harm submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to a number of schools following incidents of anti-Semitic hate and perpetuation of radical ideologies by White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BLUMN). Spawned by Black Lives Matter, WC4BL has a presence in several schools of medicine across the country. Following the attack on Israel on October 7, the national organization for WC4BL released a statement falsely claiming that Israel was committing “genocide” and showing clear support for “Palestine’s struggle for liberation.”
We asked for email communications from specific administrative personnel, such as university presidents, chancellors, provosts, medical education deans, student affairs personnel, and leaders in DEI departments. Keywords we submitted in our FOIA request are:
- Middle East
Tennessee and Utah’s responses to our FOIA requests for communications about the situation suggest that there’s something in the emails that UT and UU don’t want the public to see.
Citing state law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503) from the Tennessee Public Records Act) in its denial, the University of Tennessee says that our FOIA request is “overly broad and not sufficiently detailed,” adding that it would require the school to “sort through files and search through voluminous records” to fulfill the request. The response concludes by stating that Do No Harm’s request “constitutes an improper attempt to use the Public Records Act as if it were a discovery request made pursuant to litigation.”
A follow-up request is pending. But in the meantime, it’s notable that the University of Tennessee System has engaged in WC4BL events in the past, and the UT Health Science Center has a webpage dedicated to the group.
A similar reply was received from the University of Utah, which justifies the withholding of public records by referring to its Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA, section 63G). Specifically, the school responded by saying:
Your request does not identify the records sought with reasonable specificity, as required by GRAMA. Id. § 63G-2-204(1)(a)(ii). In addition, the University may consider whether it is able to fulfill certain requests without unreasonably interfering with its duties and responsibilities. Id. § 63G-2-201(9). The University cannot respond to your request without more specific information concerning the particular records you seek. Therefore, we are unable to respond your request as initially presented.
We have contacted UU’s general counsel for further explanation and are awaiting an answer. However, the school also has a history of WC4BL support.
The Campus Connect platform at the University of Utah confirms that WC4BL is a sponsored student organization at the school. During the summer of 2020, the University of Utah Medicine chapter of White Coats for Black Lives “peacefully presented a list of demands” to the dean and vice dean of the school. The demands included cutting ties with local police and creation of a plan to “matriculate a first-year class in 2021 with overrepresentation of Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students.” The Anti-Racism Commission (archived page here) was subsequently formed by a group of students from WC4BL, producing a full report. And, in late 2021, medical students and personnel joined UU’s deans and faculty for a demonstration coordinated by WC4BL.
Current events on American college campuses illustrate how “toxic DEI ideology” leads to radical assertions by student groups like White Coats for Black Lives with an agenda to push. Campus leaders undoubtedly have something to say about it. Why are the University of Tennessee and the University of Utah hiding what their chancellors, deans, and DEI leaders are discussing?
Get up to speed with the threats facing healthcare – and how we’re protecting patients and physicians.
"*" indicates required fields