Hello Dr. Gilley, this is Irucka Embry. How are you doing these days? I figured that I would write you again and discuss with you some other things about UT that I think are lacking or need to be worked on in general. Being that you are the CEO and President of the University of Tennessee, I assume that you are the person that I should be talking with about these things. But, I also realize that I should contact the Board of Trustees members as well because I know that you are not the “final” decision maker of matters dealing with the university system. I understand that you have received hundreds of e-mails from interested and concerned people, and I hope that you receive thousands throughout the course of this summer. We will not let our voices be silenced, because we believe that we should be part of the UT decision making process as well, students, Knoxville community members, employees, and others throughout the state of Tennessee. Each of these groups deserve to be represented on the Board of Trustees and deserve to have voting rights and privileges as well. I think that this is only fair to ensure that UT is held accountable by all interested parties.
I don’t think that just having a “workshop” on the Hepatitis B vaccination will solve the problems and the fears faced by UT’s workers on a daily basis. No matter how much “education” they receive on this matter, they will still be in danger of contracting this virus or some other virus such as HIV because of a lack of proper protection. Mistakes do and can happen, and that is where protection serves it’s purpose. I believe that all UT workers should be given the Hepatitis B vaccination free of charge to protect themselves, their families, and all of the visitors of UT’s facilities and all of us that are privileged enough to stay on UT’s campuses.
What do you think about the UT main campus-Agriculture campus bridge? I heard that you had spoken with members of Citizens for a Pedestrian Friendly Campus when you first took office and that you were against the idea of this four-lane bridge wanted by former UT President Joe Johnson and others. Do you know all of the environmental impacts that a massive bridge of that type will have on the city of Knoxville and the whole of East Tennessee? Not only is it environmentally unfriendly, but the construction of the bridge will destroy and unearth the remains of Cherokees. I believe that Native American burial mounds are protected by Federal Law and not just that, it is immoral and inhumane and disrespectful to dig up the remains of another person or of any life form, without realizing how sacred that remain is and why it should not be removed or moved. Would you want archaeologists digging up the remains of your ancestors and putting them on display in a museum there in Knoxville? Plus, very few people on either the UT main campus or on the Agriculture campus want to have a four-lane bridge connecting the two campuses. A four-lane bridge was not in the Master Plan for this University either. With so much opposition to this matter, why is it still being considered?
I had written to you back in November 1999 about the possible privatizing of UT’s groundskeepers. You had replied back to me and let me know that that was not going to happen. I have been hearing that the workers themselves will not be privatized, but the “work” will be privatized. Is this true? How do you privatize the “work,” but not the workers themselves? Either way, I don’t think that either the workers that perform the work or the “work” should be privatized. As history has shown us, those workers that have been contracted out or privatized to a temporary agency, their wages dropped significantly and they lost their benefits. UT did those workers wrong then, but UT can right its wrongs by not privatizing or contracting out any more of its workers and by ensuring that those workers who have been contracted out and those that are still employed by the University of Tennessee are paid a Living Wage of $9.50 an hour with benefits and $11.00 an hour without benefits. Thank-you for your time and consideration. Take care.
Irucka Ajani Embry