MURFREESBORO — The messages were simple, yet powerful.
“I am True Blue because I am a listener and a mentor.”
“I am inspired to be better than I was yesterday.”
Students, faculty and staff at Middle Tennessee State University 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 campus’ 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 (Jan. 23) at these three locations: Student Union lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Keathley University Center lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Recreation Center lobby from 4 to 7 p.m.
Freshman Courtney Lockett, a communication disorders major from Memphis, stopped by the Student Union banner on a frigid Tuesday 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 MTSU’s Convocation Ceremony. A task force of faculty, staff and students developed the pledge in 2011 following the death of Lady Raider basketball player Tina Stewart.
The university’s 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 MTSU Student Government Association helped organize the event. SGA senators Landy Tate, a sophomore public relations major from Memphis, and Andrew George, a senior marketing major from Nashville, manned the Student Union display early Tuesday.
“I feel like everyone here is honest and genuine, and they really take the True Blue Pledge to heart,” said Tate, the first student to sign the banner hanging behind her.
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 that MTSU is supplying her with that knowledge through its courses, professors and opportunities such as the study abroad program.
“I love the diversity here,” she said. “This campus is very accepting of everyone. … I’ve never had a bad experience here.”
After signing his name on the KUC banner, MTSU 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.”
Participants in the banner signing received an MTSU collectible button emblazoned with a peace sign. The popular button collection was created last year by the Office of Admissions as an incentive to increase student participation in campus activities.
Organizers plan to stitch the banners together, and, if approved by university administration, display it at a future home basketball game inside Murphy Center. The signing activity will also be videotaped in hopes of creating an “I AM true BLUE” public service announcement to be shown at future basketball games.