Part of comments from listening session to support UT Chinese community

7 minute read


On May 5, Center for Global Engagement hosted a listening session to Support the Chinese community. In the session, university members from various backgrounds expressed their concerns and suggesstions. This blog compiled part of comments from university members who participated in the listening session.


Table of contents

Comment 1: Passive UTK Leadership

I felt that the UTK leadership who participated in the Listening Session merely strived to explain their obligations in complying with the law. Unfortunately, this is a passive approach that shows the ineptitude of their leadership skill.

The bigger question is that if they genuinely believe in diversity, equity and inclusion, and they aim to establish the Institute of American Civics with a goal of preventing social division, why wouldn’t they actively advocate and express their disagreement with such anti-Asian law?

The UTK leadership did not show any willingness to do so, but merely whitewash their actions. This is called condescension to the AAPI community.

Comment 2: Poor Mobile Signal

Some people might say just use your own data if you cannot use WiFi in campus. But the thing is that in most school buildings, the signal is so poor. For example, when using mint mobile and now in student union, one can barely use phone network because there is no any signal.

Then, the question is: is it possible for the university to improve the signal in the campus or provide a funding for the impacted community to transfer to other mobile operators with better service.

Comment 3: Possible Support

Technical support: OIT provides VPN download.

Emotional support: Sending encouraging emails to students, faculty, and staff.

Comment 4: Disparity in User Numbers


Huge difference in number of users among TikTok and other Chinese apps. As we know, TikTok’s popularity exploded in the US in 2019 and 2020, with millions of users joining the platform and creating and sharing short videos. As of 2021, TikTok had over 100 million monthly active users in the United States.

This number is based on data from the app analytics company App Annie and represents a significant increase from the approximately 40 million monthly active users TikTok had in the US in 2019. TikTok has become one of the most popular social media apps in the US, particularly among younger users

However, the majority users of WeChat and other apps are located in China. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of the latest available data from 2020, the Asian population in Tennessee was estimated to be approximately 100,745, which represents about 1.5% of the state’s total population. However, it is important to note that the Asian population in Tennessee is not a homogeneous group and includes individuals from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

And the Chinese population in Tennessee was estimated to be approximately 12,070, which represents about 0.2% of the state’s total population. That means about 13% of total Asians in Tennessee may have Chinese background. According to the University of Tennessee’s Fact Book for Fall 2021, there were 1,066 international students enrolled at the university, and of those, 397 were from Asia. Let’s do a rough calculation, if we use the 13% times the 397, there are just about 52 students may have Chinese background.


Does it make sense to put WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Xiao HongShu, Douban, Zhihu, Meituan, and Toutiao at the same position on the same level of significance of TikTok considering the so called “National security concerns”?


Would the university of Tennessee consider this to be a form of segregation and unjust treatment of minorities of Chinese international students and staffs? Would University of Tennessee consider the potential impact of increasing community hatred towards Asian students? Are there any ways to handle those potential negative impacts?


This member shared a personal story, given privacy concern, this part was not displayed here.

The third question is that: Is that possible for University of Tennessee to ban TikTok only in the campus instead of all the Chinese apps in the list?

Comment 5: Policy and Volunteer Spirit


In the email from the IT department, it was mentioned that nine apps, including WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Xiao HongShu, Douban, Zhihu, Meituan, and Toutiao, were banned.

However, it is not clear why these specific apps were selected for the ban. Could the university provide more information on the criteria used to determine which apps were banned as social media platforms?


The recent policy banning certain Chinese social media platforms has had significant impacts on certain groups of university members. However, there was no prior information or discussion with the university community before the ban was implemented.

To ensure transparency in policy making and address the concerns of the affected community members, could the university provide information on the process by which this policy was developed and implemented?


Given the IT department’s quick implementation of the policy, it is important to ensure that the policy complies with the regulations and standards of the University of Tennessee.

Is there a double-checking process in place to double-check the policy’s consistency with the university’s standards and regulations?


Tennessee General Assembly, the bill was signed by Governor on 04/13/2023. On 9:10 AM 04/14/2023, an email from the University, informed the implemented ban. On 3:PM 05/05/2023, a listening session to support Chinese community was held.

Why was there a significant difference in response time between the legislation, which was responded to within 24 hours, and the university members, who had to wait 22 days for a response?


The Volunteer Spirit is a philosophy of service and leadership deeply ingrained in the University of Tennessee’s culture and history.

This spirit is rooted in the region’s history of volunteerism and emphasizes the importance of giving back to the community through service and leadership. This philosophy extends beyond the university’s students to include its faculty, staff, and alumni.

Alongside its technical innovations, the university’s unique character of Volunteer Spirit is a defining aspect of its identity. Through their dedication to giving back, the Volunteer family is changing lives for the better, in the city, state, country, and around the world.

Today, we have some Chinese students, staff, and faculty attending this talk. These individuals have left their homes and crossed the Pacific Ocean to work and live here. Some will leave the university after completing their studies or work, going on to make a difference in the world with the knowledge and skills they gained here. However, the more important thing is the Volunteer Spirit that the university instills in its members.

Now, there is a chance for the university to make a difference. Will the university seize this chance to show its commitment to service and leadership, or will it leave our Chinese colleagues alone, again?









有些人可能会说,如果你不能在校园里使用WiFi,就用你自己的数据。但问题是,在大多数学校建筑里,信号非常差。例如,在学生会堂使用mint mobile时,一个人几乎无法使用手机网络,因为几乎没有信号。







TikTok与其他中国应用程序之间的用户数量存在巨大差异。 众所周知,TikTok在2019年和2020年在美国的受欢迎程度激增,数百万用户加入平台,创作和分享短视频。截至2021年,TikTok在美国的月活跃用户超过1亿。

这个数字是基于应用程序分析公司App Annie的数据,与2019年TikTok在美国的约4000万月活跃用户相比,有了显著增长。 TikTok已成为美国最受欢迎的社交媒体应用之一,尤其是在年轻用户中。

然而,微信和其他应用的大多数用户位于中国。 根据美国人口普查局的数据,截至2020年的最新数据,田纳西州的亚裔人口估计为100,745人,占州总人口的约1.5%。 然而,值得注意的是,田纳西州的亚裔人口并非一个同质的群体,包括来自许多不同种族和文化背景的个人。

田纳西州的华人人口估计为12,070人,占州总人口的约0.2%。 这意味着田纳西州约13%的亚洲人可能有中国背景。根据田纳西大学2021年秋季学期的事实手册,该校有1,066名国际学生入学,其中397名来自亚洲。让我们进行一个粗略的计算,如果我们用13%乘以397,就有大约52名学生可能有中国背景。




田纳西大学是否认为这是对华人国际学生和工作人员的一种隔离和不公正对待? 田纳西大学是否考虑了对亚裔学生的社区仇恨可能增加的潜在影响? 有没有办法处理这些潜在的负面影响?


这位成员分享了一段个人经历,为保护隐私,该部分不予显示。 第三个问题是: 田纳西大学是否有可能只在校园内禁止TikTok,而不是列表中的所有中国应用?




然而,目前还不清楚为什么这些特定的应用被选为禁止之列。 大学能否提供更多关于用于确定哪些应用作为社交媒体平台被禁止的标准的信息?


最近禁止某些中国社交媒体平台的政策对一些大学成员群体产生了重大影响。 然而,在实施禁令之前,并未与大学社区进行事先的信息沟通或讨论。






田纳西州议会,州长在2023年4月13日签署了这项法案。 2023年4月14日上午9:10,大学发出邮件通知实施禁令。 2023年5月5日下午3点,举行了一场支持中国社区的倾听会。




这种精神源于该地区志愿服务的历史,强调通过服务和领导力回馈社区的重要性。 这种理念不仅包括大学的学生,还包括其教职员工和校友。

作为大学特色的志愿者精神与其技术创新并重,是其身份的决定性因素。 通过他们对回馈的奉献,志愿者们正在改变着不同城市、州、国家乃至世界各地人们的生活。

今天,我们有一些中国学生、教职员工和教师参加了这次会谈。 这些人离开了家园,穿越太平洋来到这里工作和生活。 有些人将在完成学业或工作后离开大学,凭借在这里获得的知识和技能为世界带来变革。 然而,更重要的是大学在成员身上培养的志愿者精神。

现在,大学有机会发挥作用。 大学会抓住这次机会展示其对志愿者精神和领导力的付出,还是会再次让我们的中国同事孤独无援?