UT students have mixed reaction to sexual assault lawsuit and coaches’ responses

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Students at the University of Tennessee have mixed reactions to a sweeping lawsuit alleging a culture of sexual violence and the coaches’ responses Tuesday morning.

“This culture that we live in where nothing’s being done about sexual assaults, my fears have always been here,” said sophomore Jamie Hartman.

Hartman said she has seen an increase in sexual assault reports on campus, and it worries her.

Related coverage: University of Tennessee sexual assault

“We get emails twice a week that there’s been sexual assaults in the dorms, in places we live, and it doesn’t seem to stop,” she said.

When she learned of the recent lawsuit she found herself agreeing with the allegations that the campus breeds a culture of sexual violence.

“This environment that’s being created of no one’s doing anything about it, like no one really cares, it’s very scary,” Hartman said.

Other students disagree. Freshman Morgan Elliot said she never feared the campus before she came to school or now.

“Downtown Knoxville does have that reputation, and The Strip, but I don’t think it’s any different than any other college campus,” Elliot said.

Elliot said she does not think they university or its coaches would try to protect the athletes from disciplinary action.

“I understand that they have a reputation that they want to upkeep, and I know we are a Division 1 school, so with other schools seeing that it gives us a bad reputation, but at the same time I don’t think they would put other students at risk,” she said.

Elizabeth Stanfield who is a co-chair SEAT, a student organization that promotes sexual education on campus and raises awareness against sexual assault says the press conference was more about something else.

“Pretty much what I got out of the conference today is that they’re worried about recruitment chances,” she said.

And she also thinks this doesn’t helps the university’s reputation.

“I think everyone is really frustrated. The reality does not match up with what people are saying about it,” said Stanfield.

Students all over campus are waiting to see what comes of this lawsuit. Some of them said Tuesday that they do not have much to say about it because they feel they are not directly impacted by it.

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