MTSU promotes nonviolence with True Blue

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Senior Natalie Osborne, a recording industry major from Maryland, stops by the Student Union Building lobby on Jan. 21, 2014, to sign a True Blue banner in support of nonviolence. (Photo courtesy of MTSU)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Students, faculty and staff at MTSU grabbed markers Tuesday in support of nonviolence as the university continued its observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by tying his message of peace with the True Blue community values.

Student artists painted versions of “I AM true BLUE” on several banners, which will be hanging across campus the next few days for anyone to sign with a statement of why they are True Blue.

As long as space is available for signatures, the banners will be hanging through Thursday at the Student Union Building lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Keathley University Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Health, Wellness and Recreation Center lobby from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Freshman Courtney Lockett, a communication disorders major from Memphis, stopped by the Student Union banner with fellow freshmen Raebin Dockery, a community and public health major, and Christian Suggs-Fluker, a pre-nursing major, both also from Memphis.

“I wrote ‘I am True Blue because I am a proud student of my school,’” Lockett said. “We went to the Martin Luther King vigil (on campus) last night, and this ties in with the whole message of nonviolence.”

“MTSU does promote nonviolence in a good way,” Suggs-Fluker added. “This is a great community to be a part of. It’s so diverse and so many different things to be involved with.”

A commitment to nonviolence is one of four core values expressed in the True Blue Pledge, which is recited each year at convocation. A task force of faculty, staff and students developed the pledge in 2011 following the death of Lady Raider basketball player Tina Stewart.

The Campus Non-Violence Committee is coordinating the banner effort, held in conjunction with the observance of the King national holiday.

Barbara Scales, director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, was stationed at the display at Keathley University Center, encouraging students to sign the banners.

Scales said the banners are visible way of reinforcing the nonviolent message behind the True Blue Pledge.

“This is something that people can sign and put their name to. They can feel more invested in it,” she said. “We have so many student organizations, and they want to do something to better the campus. This is another way to do that.”

The Student Government Association helped organize the event.

Senior Natalie Osborne, a recording industry major from Maryland, wrote that she’s True Blue because “I want to have the knowledge to make the world a better place.”

Osborne said she appreciates the diversity that MTSU provides, noting the “campus is very accepting of everyone.

I’ve never had a bad experience here,” she said.

After signing his name on a banner, senior William Coleman, an electronic media management major from Nashville, noted that ongoing issues such as bullying require everyone to stay vigilant and committed to combating such societal ills.

“It’s great to see an effort like this to do something positive to address these things,” he said. “This is a safe campus that’s making efforts to become an even safer campus.”

Organizers said they plan to stitch the banners together, and, if approved by university administration, display it at a future home basketball game inside Murphy Center.

For more information about the initiative, visit

Read more from:
Bullying, Crime, Education, MTSU, Murfreesboro, True Blue
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Members Opinions:
January 24, 2014 at 11:48am
I think that this is a great story about an excellent initiative at Middle Tennessee State University. Too often we hear about the negative, tragic effects of violence in our nation’s educational institutions. What a great way for students, faculty, and staff at MTSU to respond, by standing up against violence. And what could be more appropriate than holding these events around the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday? This is a great way of honoring our country’s greatest example of the power of non-violent protest to promote positive social change.

MTSU is a safe campus, overall, but as some of those interviewed for this story point out, it will only stay that way if people there remain vigilant. It is important to reaffirm the value of non-violence as a reminder of its importance. Events like those described in this article serve that important purpose.

Positive stories like this one deserve more coverage. We have an unfortunate tendency to focus on the negative. Stories of violent conflict get plenty of attention, as well they should. But it is also important to remember that many people and organizations are committed to reducing these negative aspects of current conditions, and work to do so through events these.
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