A group of Tennessee Tech University students is once again inviting Tennesseans to join them in their effort to free the state from bullies.
Three TTU student organizations are working together to organize the second Bully-Free Tennessee conference Saturday, Oct. 19. This year, the conference will be organized as TTU’s response to President Barack Obama’s call for interfaith service projects in higher education.
“This conference doesn’t have anything to do with the tenants of any particular faith; the larger goal is to unite people of multiple faiths and of no faith working toward a common good,” said Justin Sweatman-Weaver, senior sociology major. “Last year’s conference was a very inspiring day, and I feel like it really made some waves across the state.”
About 200 attendees at the first conference heard from 15 speakers about how to recognize bullying and how to begin to take action to stop it. Attendees from West Tennessee formed a bullying-awareness organization shortly after the conference and Putnam County schools introduced a set policy defining bullying and enumerating consequences. It is the fourth of its kind at the county level in Tennessee, according to Sweatman-Weaver.
This year, sessions will be broken down for youth and adults, as well as for different grade-level teachers. The keynote speaker will be Daryn Jackson, a program presenter with Rachel’s Challenge, an organization formed to spread a message of compassion and to raise awareness about bullying.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel Scott was the first victim of the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School.
“This conference is going to be a little more action-oriented than last year,” said Sweatman-Weaver, of Jamestown. “The last one, we gave people information and tools to use but we never said, ‘This is how you do it.’ With this one, we’re giving information and then telling people this is how you can implement these things when you get home.”
TTU’s Lambda Gay/Straight Alliance, One World, the student United Way chapter and the TTU Service and Women’s Centers are working with Power of Putnam Partnership for a Safe and Drug-Free Community, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network of Middle Tennessee and other organizations to coordinate the conference.
The conference is free, but reservations are required. To sign up to attend, visit www.bullyfreetn.org. It will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in TTU’s Roaden University Center, 1000 N. Dixie Ave., Cookeville.