KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Students gathered with signs and chants in the lobby of Andy Holt Tower on Friday after a University of Tennessee lecturer wrote a racist acronym during class in February and was told to evaluate her teaching methods.

Some students and student groups have continued to demand that Melissa Hargrove, a veteran instructor on race and anthropology, be fired after students reported she used an acronym coined by late hip hop artist Tupac Shakur that is also a racial slur.

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The incident angered and offended some students, prompting the protest. They gathered as Chancellor Donde Plowman gave her COVID-19 update from Andy Holt Tower.

"I appreciate you being here, I appreciate your voices," Plowman said during the rally.

She stepped out of the room and immediately asked the students if she could set up a time when she could meet with students in-person. Plowman said that she wanted to have a conversation along with other administrators, and said she would reach out to UT System President Randy Boyd to join them in the meeting.

She also said that Provost John Zomchick would also join the meeting, who is in charge of hiring and firing faculty, as well as two other administrators. The meeting could be held as soon as next week, according to her conversation with students in the lobby.

"I don't wanna do it on the Zoom again, I think that was just hard for all of us," she said. "I couldn't see anyone, I was looking at no one. And I like to see faces."

Students asked her to go into the meeting intending to prepare action afterward. However, Plowman said she couldn't promise to give students the action that they want and instead promised to go into the meeting committed to trying to fix problems.

The students said they would be available on Friday next week, but no official date has been set.

Some students and student groups demanded Melissa Hargrove, a veteran instructor on race and anthropology who wrote the acronym, be fired in February. While lecturing, she presented on the whiteboard an acronym used by Shakur, or 2Pac, on an album he did before his murder in the 1990s. 

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Tupac's message: Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.

UT's College of Arts & Sciences agreed with Hargrove that she should take at least two weeks to seek guidance from UT's Center for Teaching and Learning Innovation about her teaching methods, a Feb. 7 letter to Hargrove indicates.

Hargrove, who has earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from UT, also has indicated an interest in "having further bias and sensitivity training" going forward, the letter states.

After the incident in Hargrove's classroom, 11 groups signed a letter calling for her dismissal and for UTK to do a better job of addressing racism on campus.

The letter was signed by the SGA, UT's chapter of the NAACP, the Africana Studies Student Association, the Black Cultural Programming Committee, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Progressive Student Alliance, the Brothers United for Excellence, Students for Migrant Justice, the Black Student Union, the Women's Coordinating Council, and the Muslim Student Association.