BY: Sallie Dean
CHATTANOOGA– This past Wednesday, UTC Homecoming celebrated various groups across campus with its annual lip sync event. However, some PoC on campus feel it’s time to face the music.
The theme of the event this year was “MOC Star: Scrappy’s Tour.” Each group was challenged to take this prompt, get their creative juices flowing, and create an organized, tight lip sync routine of no more than five minutes.
It is no secret that the UTC Lip Sync is one of the most popular Homecoming events that the campus hosts each year—and it seems to be growing in numbers each year.
This year, it was recorded by the homecoming committee that there were 2,612 attendees for the event. In comparison, at last year’s event, just over 2,300 attendees were recorded.
Some students, such as UTC 2019 Homecoming Chair member, Cassie Whittaker, feel as though the event encompasses the UTC spirit perfectly.
“I think this encompasses be homecoming spirit because it is a tradition at our school,” She says. “Homecoming is all about bringing students and the community together through tradition.”
Whittaker also says she feels Lip Sync is important because students should have the opportunity to express themselves, to represent their respective groups and compete to win the bragging rights for the year.
While many students feel a general approval of the event each year, some feel a sense of defeat at the lack of representation in the event, as well as other events on campus.
In 2017, UTC announced that the annual step show would no longer be on the list of the university’s annual homecoming events. This shocked and upset many students, as the event originated from stepping, which is a large part of African-American culture and heritage.
The controversy arose when Panhellenic organizations began stealing many steps and strolling moves that were strongly affiliated to those in the NPHC.
Since then, the NPHC Organizations on campus have organized their own lip-syncs each year, off-campus in protest. However, this year, the NPHC organized its annual Yard Show, a tradition that had been forgotten since 2012. However, the lack of advertisement of the event from the University left some students feeling jaded.
Included in this group of students is Monica Irizarry, a Senior in Communications. Irizarry is biracial, combined with DNA from her Puerto Rican mother and Indian father. Irizarry says that while she was not able to attend lip sync this year, she felt proud that the Yard Show was resurrected this year.
“Given the past, and the controversy of the Panhellenic fraternities and sororities mimicking the strolls associated with the NPHC fraternities and sororities, I think it was a big step for NPHC events to make a comeback on campus with their Yard Show,” She says.
Irizarry claimed she felt hurt by the lack of representation for PoC on campus, that the lack of homage and tribute by the participants in the annual lip sync was disrespectful to PoC on campus.
“UTC being a predominately white institution already aids to the lack of representation, but the tension created by Panhellenic members stepping and doing NPHC strolls furthers the divide,” Irizarry says. “Those recreations were done without any knowledge of the history of the strolls. NPHC members are equally important as Panhellenic members.”
UTC Officials have not commented on the lack of advertising or representation for the annual Yard Show.