Interim UT President Randy Boyd looks for avenues to curb racist events after blackface incident

Jason Gonzales
The Tennessean

The University of Tennessee system plans to launch a sensitivity training program in the statewide 4-H programs it oversees in a bid to help prevent racist events.

The idea comes after an incident where two people, believed to be University of Tennessee-Knoxville students, appeared to wear blackface in a Snapchat image with a racist caption.

Ethan Feick, one of the students in the post, unenrolled from the school, said Interim Chancellor Wayne Davis last week in an email to students, faculty and staff and then posted on the chancellor's webpage.

In an interview with the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee, UT interim President Randy Boyd said the system is looking toward a number of changes, including sensitivity training for faculty, staff and students and a change to the student code of conduct.

But he said to curb racist events, something widescale was needed. The idea to add sensitivity training to 4-H programs was a student suggestion, he said.

"The 4-H club, we have 186,000 members, and we are the largest 4-H by membership in the country. We manage those," Boyd said. "We can reach those students at a young, early age."

He said sensitivity training among those members has a broader statewide impact rather than just the incoming freshman to UT's schools every year.

"As I've shared with students, racism didn't start at UT Knoxville. It didn't start in the last three months," Boyd said. "It is something that has been with us from the beginning of time and across the world.

"It didn't begin with us, but maybe it can be the end with us."

The blackface pictures circulated on various social media platforms are screenshots of a Snapchat featuring four people. Two are wearing what appears to be black skin care masks in the picture.

"We for racial equality boys," the caption reads. "Bout to get this free college now that I'm black let's gooooo #blacklivesmatter."

UT officials have condemned the photos, calling them "repulsive" and "abhorrent."

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PREVIOUSLY:University of Tennessee leadership will meet after after Snapchat blackface image

UT:One student from 'blackface' Snapchat image no longer enrolled; brother speaks out

'REPULSIVE':University of Tennessee condemns blackface photo with racist text believed to be students

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Reporter Monica Kast contributed.

Reach Jason Gonzales at and on Twitter @ByJasonGonzales.