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UT students ask Randy Boyd for more diversity, lower tuition

Students in attendance were vocal about a lot of topics, but two kept coming up.

UT students are making their campus concerns known to new interim UT system president Randy Boyd

He's only been on the job for a few days, but is touring all UT campuses across the state.

Thursday at a student forum in Knoxville, he asked students if money was no object, what would their biggest wish for campus be?

"The goal was just to get a better understanding of what matters to all of our stakeholders here and also make sure that I'm hearing what their big wishes are," said Boyd.

Students in attendance were vocal about a lot of topics, but two kept coming up.

The first: tuition costs.

"I know many people who...were deterred from coming ot the University of Tennessee because of the cost," said freshman Bryce Trull.

He was one of several students who asked Boyd what the school can do to cut costs, or offer more scholarships.

"His answer I think was satisfactory," said Trull. "As you'd expect of course the university is going to try to either maintain costs, provide more scholarships or lower the cost."

The other hot topics were diversity and inclusivity.

"We're the only school in the SEC without a diversity officer," said senior Meghan Tiller. "We're also one of the few schools that does not have an actively funded Pride center."

Tiller thinks more can be done to make all students feel welcome on campus, especially in light of recent messages written on the rock at UT.

"To call wording on the rock that says "kill Jews" and "rape is good," that is no longer free speech. That is hate speech that is actively inciting violence, and we need to take a stand against that," she said.

Boyd said the university will look for ways to support the diverse communities on campus.

"It's important for us to have a welcoming environment," said Boyd. "If we have a place where everybody believes they're going to be respected, they're' going to be engaged, they're going to feel that they belong. I think that will recruit great faculty and recruit great students."

While many students applaud Boyd's efforts and look forward to his leadership, not everyone is convinced he's the right man for right for the job.

But Boyd is just a temporary leader. He said his main priorities are finding both a new president and a new chancellor.

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