UT welcomes its largest freshmen class in past 30 years

The admissions office at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has estimated that UT’s first-time freshmen enrollment has increased over 2.2 percent between fall 2015 and fall 2016.

According to Amy Blakely, assistant director of Media Relations, 4,825 first-time freshmen have enrolled for the 2016 through 2017 school year as of Aug. 4.

There were only 4,719 first-time freshmen that were enrolled for the 2015 through 2016 school year, according to last years fact book.

UT estimated that there will be more than 1,300 transfer students (other freshmen) enrolling for the fall.

This year is the largest freshmen class to enroll in the past 30 years. It also marks the sixth consecutive year of growth.

“We’ve improved our graduation rate,” said Blakely. “As we graduate more students, we have room to admit and enroll more freshmen and transfer students.”

According to top25.utk, between 2010 and 2015, the university’s six-year graduation rate rose 9 percent, the ACT scores of our incoming freshmen grew to reflect those at the peer institutions, and first-year student retention rose by 3 percent.

“We had one of the largest, most qualified applicant pools ever and we’re proud to welcome some of our state’s and our nation’s best and brightest freshmen to our campus,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

Based on the estimated data, 78.8 percent of the freshmen are first-time students and 21.2 percent are classified as other freshmen.

According to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment from 2015, 21.7 percent of the total student body were freshmen.

Graph A show’s the total headcount enrollment for the 2015 school year.

In 2015, 98.9 percent of the freshmen were full-time and the other 1.1 percent were part-time.

Based on the 2015 data, there has been a decrease by .7 percent in full-time first-time freshmen enrollment for the 2016 school year.

As of Aug. 4, there were 159 part-time freshmen enrolled for 2016—which is eight times greater than the 19 that were enrolled in 2015.

Graph B shows the full-time equivalent enrollment for 2015.

“Strategic efforts to involve more alumni, current students, and faculty and staff in outreach initiatives contributed to the 17,500-plus applications received from students seeking admission this year,” said Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Kari Alldredge.

Cheek went on a nationwide bus tour to share what the volunteer community felt like with prospective students and families.

“I think these were incredible ways to raise awareness about UT and recruit the outstanding students from our home state and beyond,” Alldredge said. “By attending these and other admissions events, undecided students and prospective students learned about the opportunities they can find at UT.

The incoming 2016 class is about 18 percent minority. They represent 41 states and 11 countries.

According to the release from media relations, about 83 percent of this year’s freshmen are from Tennessee.

The average ACT score is 27 and about 10 percent of the freshmen are enrolled in UT’s honors program.

According to Blakely, about 31 percent of the incoming freshmen are eligible for Pell grants. And about 96 percent of in-state freshmen qualify for the for the state’s lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship.

Classes do not start until Wednesday, Aug. 17, but some students have started to return to campus last Friday. UT expects over 7,200 students to live on campus.

“Many of our new freshmen are arriving on campus this week with a clear sense of what it means to be a Volunteer,” said Alldredge.

Enrollment numbers are not official until the 14th day of class.

More information about enrollment can be found here.





Taboo Sex Offender Registry Brought to Attention

The Tennessee Sex Offender Registry is necessary but not something most think about very often, according to a few West Knoxville residents.

According to the TBI’s map offender search, there are 20 offenders within a two-mile radius of the Woodlands West apartment complex.

“I’ve never even looked at the registry. It’s not something I think about hardly ever. I think because I am a big man and don’t often feel victimized or feel like I should watch my back,” said Adam Eichelberger “So I am slightly surprised to learn about the offenders that live nearby.”

Eichelberger is a UT student who lives in West Knoxville at the Woodlands West apartment complex.

West Knoxville resident Connor McCallum, who also lives in the same complex as Eichelberger, was surprised by the number of offenders in a two-mile radius of his home.

“I think the registry is a good thing to have because if I was moving somewhere with my small children, I would want to know about the people living by us,” said McCallum.

Eichelberger thinks the registry is a good thing for the sake of transparency in the communities, but he also has a some reservations about it.

“I think it is a little unfair for the offenders maybe because they cannot escape their crimes even after they serve their time, but honestly, I don’t have any respect for sex offenders anyways,” said Eichelberger.

McCallum feels the registry is unfair to some people simply because of the type of offense they committed.

“It’s pretty awful that someone has to be registered as a sex offender for peeing outside  [indecent exposure] because then every time they move somewhere they have to go door-to-door explaining who they are and why,” said McCallum.

The offenses listed on the registry include:

  • Sexual battery
  • Statutory rape
  • Aggravated prostitution
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Indecent exposure upon a third or subsequent conviction
  • Spousal sexual battery

Both Eichelberger and McCallum have never looked at the list nor have they been notified of any offenders living near them at any point in their lives.

More information can be found about the law at:                  https://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/tbi/attachments/2014%20Sex%20Offender%20Law.pdf

More information about the registry and a list of offenders can be found at:                  https://www.tn.gov/tbi/topic/sex-offender-registry-search

First Amendment Expert Talks about the Fundamentals and Threats of the First Amendment

The first 45 words of the Bill of Rights introduce the civil rights of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition, according to a First Amendment expert.

“The First Amendment has been a vital tool in the advancement in social progress,” said Hudson.

David L. Hudson, Jr. is a First Amendment expert law professor who serves as First Amendment Ombudsman for the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.

Hudson’s lecture titled “Fundamental First Amendment Principals and Threats to Free Speech,” was broken up into two parts—the fundamentals and the threats. He spent most of the time going over the fundamentals, however.

He went through each of the five freedoms and explained what each does. However, he focused mainly on the freedom of speech.

“The First Amendment protects far more than just the spoken word and the printed word,” said Hudson, “it also protects many types of expressive conduct.”

Some forms of expressive conduct include the wearing of certain items, colors, or symbols and sit-ins.

“Another fundamental principal of the First Amendment is that not all speech is protected,” said Hudson, “you don’t have the First Amendment right to utter a true threat, to traffic obscenity or child pornography, to insight lawless actions, or to engage in false advertising.”

According to Hudson, critics say these unprotected freedoms of speech are too vague or a little too hard to figure out.

Over the years, the Supreme Court has narrowed the categories of the unprotected freedoms.

“Now obscenity is reserved for the hardest, hardcore, usually sexually violent materials,” said Hudson.

Hudson raises the question of possibly needing new unprotected freedoms of speech.

“Some lawmakers have tried to ban other forms of speech such as violent video games, protesting at funerals, and glorification of acts of termism.”

Another fundamental principal is that the government should not engage in content discrimination or viewpoint discrimination, according to Hudson.

“When we are confronted as a society with harmful speech, our initial reaction should not be to suppress it, but to counter it,” said Hudson, “it’s referred to as the counter-speech doctrine.”

The doctrine can be traced back to 1927 with a case called “Whitney Vs. California,” according to Hudson.

“The remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence,” said Hudson, quoting the case.

Hudson ended the fundamentals about the First Amendment with the freedoms of some offensive/disagreeable speech, prior restraints and the vagueness of drafted laws.

Hudson writes for the “ABA Journal” (American Bar Association) and the American Bar Association’s Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases and is the author or co-author for many books.

BuzzFeed Editor is not a Science Cheerleader

Being a science journalist does not mean you have to be a cheerleader for science, according to science editor for BuzzFeed News, Virginia Hughes.

The Alfred and Julia Hill Lecture series hosted Hughes for its 24th annual lecture on science, society and the mass media Tuesday night.

Before becoming the science editor for BuzzFeed, Hughes was a freelance science journalist specializing in genetics, neuroscience, and biotechnology. Her blog, Only Human, was published by National Geographic; while, she had other articles published in a variety of places such as: the Atlantic, New York Times, the New Yorker, and Slate.

            Hughes lecture titled “In Defense of Clickbait,” covered the importance of making web journalism clickable, what it is like to write hard science journalism for BuzzFeed and how to bring science to new audiences.

“It’s not my job to be a cheerleader for science,” said Hughes, “frankly, because there is a lot more outlets that are great at being cheerleaders for science.”

Her and her team of reporters aim to focus on delivering science news in an unconventional way.

“We are much more likely to be interested in the story if it is showing something bad about science than showing something good,” said Hughes.

Hughes said there is no shortage of people covering the new discoveries and all the “gee-wiz” science, so she feels it is important for her team to go about what it covers in a different way.

“It’s not our job to give [the people] the truth it is to give them the news,” said Hughes.

While she expressed her goal of the way she chooses to cover science journalism, she also stresses the importance of making stories clickable on the Internet.

Hughes showed articles that contain clickbait headlines, some of which included February was the Warmest Month on Record or Mars Trips are a Scam.

            There are two different definitions of “clickbait.” One is in the Oxford Dictionary and the other is in the Marian-Webster Dictionary.

“I’m defending the Oxford definition of the word which strips away the negative connotations, “said Hughes, “For the Oxford dictionary, clickbait is content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click the link to a particular webpage.”

The more clickable the story is, the more traffic it will receive, according to Hughes.

With web-journalism becoming more prominent these days, it is crucial to use clickbait headlines.

Working for BuzzFeed News involves writing hard-hitting journalism as well as the personality quizzes.

According to Editor-in-Chief of BuzzFeed Ben Smith, “It is okay to write stories that people actually want to read.”

Hughes said that quote has stuck with her since she started working for BuzzFeed.

“Science is an institution just like any other human institution,” said Hughes, “It’s no different than politics or education; just like all of those things, it should be scrutinized and held accountable.”

Hughes wanted to leave aspiring journalist with the following piece of advice:

“Don’t make up your mind about a story before you report it out. Often stories surprise you and,” said Hughes. “If you think you know the story before you start, it can close you off to interesting [aspects]. Remember, journalists are not cheerleaders.”

A Social History: Knoxville’s Undocumented Civil War

The roles of women and African-Americans often were undocumented in Knoxville during the Civil War, according to McClung Museum’s Civil War curator Joan Markel.

Delving into the records of women, Markel said that, depending of their class status, women were limited to teaching or domestic service jobs.

“Mostly, women certainly did not have independent professions … and were usually undocumented.”

According to Markel, African-Americans were slaves at the time and even if they served in the military, they were not recognized as citizens.

“One of the things about a slave is that they are undocumented,” said Markel, “Slave records are not a good way to go after personal history.

Markel’s lecture drew a crowd of about 80 to 90 people.

“It’s just fascinating, the people are so interesting,” said Markel. She has been compiling information since 1995.

“There was this conversion in the mentality culture here that slavery was okay,” said Markel. She said that not enough people here cared about the abolition of slavery to go and fight in the war.

Markel said that although her expertise stops at the Civil War, she believes that Knoxville’s mentality had much to do with later civil rights movements.

Markel’s next Civil War lecture will be about the lawyers and lawmakers in Knoxville during the war.