Tag Archives: Tiara Thomas

TSU students host voter registration campaign featuring Secretary of State, election commissioner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett recently spoke to Tennessee State University students about the importance of voting and how to make sure their ballots are counted in one of the most anticipated presidential elections in decades.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett tells TSU students to be active participants in the formation of their government by making their voices heard through voting. (TSU Media Relations)

Hargett, along with AJ Starling, of the Davidson County Election Commission, participated in a student-led voter education and registration rally on Sept. 18. The presidential election is Nov. 3.

“(The) Election is just 46 days away from Today,” Hargett reminded the group of students gathered at Hale Stadium.

“I am really excited that members of the TSU Student Government Association are trying to rally their fellow students to get them engaged in the process by making sure they register to vote,” said Hargett, whose office is responsible for conducting and certifying election results. “We want people to be active participants in the formation of their government, because I don’t care what you look like, where you come from or who your mom and daddy are, we are all better off when we engage as citizens in this process.”

Student leaders and representatives of the Men’s Initiative display signs encouraging their fellow students to register to vote. (TSU Media Relations)


Dominique Davis, president of the SGA, welcomed Secretary Hargett and commissioner Starling, and urged her fellow students to heed the admonitions of the officials to exercise their rights as citizens.

“I hope you all are listening and sharing this impactful information with the students here at TSU,” Davis said. “Like the secretary said, it is one thing to register but another thing to go and exercise your right to vote. Let’s be sure that we are being the change that we want to see in our country because this election is so vital for our generation.”

First-time voters Khai Cole and Jananitabeal Oates, right, register to vote at the rally. (TSU Media Relations)

In addition to the SGA, other organizations like GOVT, or Getting out the Vote, the Men’s Initiative, and Power to the Polls – a national HBCU initiative, helped to organize the daylong campaign.

Organizers said more than 200 students registered to vote for the first time at the rally. Among them were Khai Cole and Jananitabeal Oates, two freshmen.

“It feels really good (to register) because I feel like I can really make a change and a difference in the world,” said Cole, an arts and graphic design major from Memphis, Tennessee. “It feels good to see fellow students doing this because they understand us.”

AJ Starling, member of the Davidson County Election Commission, right, admonished the students to turn out in big numbers to vote. (TSU Media Relations)

Oates, an animal science major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, agreed.

“It feels empowering to register to vote. It makes you feel included in the process and in the family at TSU,” she said.

Starling, a longtime community and political activist, encouraged the students to “act fast and vote in large numbers.”

“I want to see you all vote 2,000 per day,” Starling said. “We are anticipating that this presidential election will have the largest voter turnout in the history of our state. So, if you are voting absentee or mail-in ballot, act real soon.”

Before the rally, officials said TSU President Glenda Glover urged administrators, faculty and staff to ensure that students are actively engaged in the process.

“Dr. Glover challenged us to make sure that our students were aware and participating in this year’s elections,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “As such, Student Affairs launched the Power to the Poll initiative in collaboration with other HBCUs to motivate our students and our campus community to take advantage of the opportunity to have a say in this year’s elections.”

Nationally, voting hurdles like proof of residence, absentee ballot use, or voter identification often keep college students away from the ballot box. But the students said Friday’s event was aimed to prevent that. They custom designed and displayed stickers and signs that read, “I registered to vote today,” “Steps to requesting a ballot,” “Completing your ballot,” “Deadline for requesting and mailing in your ballot,” and “mailing in your ballot.”

“Many of our students here at TSU are not from Tennessee, and a large portion of our campus will be voting absentee or mail-in ballot,” said Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustee, and brainchild of GOVT, who has also been working with the Power to the Polls initiative.

“We want to make sure that a lot of our first-time voters and those who are voting absentee for the first time know exactly how to navigate that process,” Thomas said. “I am really excited that they are very receptive to our efforts.”

Dr. Andre Bean, director of the Men’s Initiative and coordinator of Power to the Polls, said he was excited about the turnout, as well as the students’ enthusiasm about the campaign and their “understanding of the process to be counted.”

“So, what we want to do is make sure our students are registered to vote, they know what their registration status is, and that they are more educated about the opportunity to vote absentee and mail-in ballot,” Bean said.

A few more rallies are planned up to Election Day.

 For information on deadlines to register, early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee ballot, visit https://www.nashville.gov/Election-Commission.aspx

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU officially resumes classes for fall semester with enhanced technology, safety measures to ensure student learning and living

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Classes have officially resumed at Tennessee State University with enhanced COVID-19 safety measures to ensure the safety of students and the campus community.

For the first two weeks – August 17–31 – all classes will be online. Following that, students will have a choice of taking classes on ground or continuing online.

President Glenda Glover

In March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, TSU sent students home, closed the residence halls, and asked employees to work remotely. On August 11, the University began its reopening process by welcoming nearly 2,300 first-time freshmen, who moved into their residence halls over several days for safety concerns. Upperclassmen or returning students who choose to stay on campus are arriving over the next few days.

TSU President Glenda Glover has assures students and their families that TSU has worked diligently to create a safe environment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two returning students walk to their residence hall on the main campus. (TSU Media Relations)

“Safety is a priority. We made adjustments based on where we are in the world today, and so far, it is working,” Dr. Glover said during the freshman move-in last week. “We couldn’t have everybody coming in at the same time, so we assigned each person a time to arrive.” 

Tiara Thomas, a returning student who is staying on campus, said it is good to be back.

“It feels really good because I missed my TSU family for the past five to six months,” said Thomas, a junior political science major, who is the student representative on the TSU Board of Trustees.

Hand-sanitizing stations are located in various areas on campus for students’ use. (TSU Media Relations)

“I have a great appreciation for my campus and my friends, coz it is home,” she added. “It feels really good to see people back on campus and I am really excited to see how many freshmen we have this year.”

Incoming freshman Yuri Hopkins, of Miami, Florida, said she likes what she has seen so far.

“The health screenings and the orderly move-in process made me feel at home right away,” said Hopkins, a nursing major. “My uncle came here and I have heard a lot of good things about their nursing program.”

To ease the new students’ transition, the university has made efforts to meet their technology needs, as well ensure they are well protected against COVID. All incoming students received welcome kits, including PPEs, or personal protective equipment like masks, facial shields, gloves, etc. Officials said this is all part of the overall plan that include hand sanitizing stations, temperature checks, and the reduction on the number of people allowed on the campus.

First-time freshmen Kassidy Johnson and her brother Kameron Johnson, from Sacramento, California, finish up financial aid discussion with officials via Zoom, in a kiosk set up in Keane Hall. (TSU Media Relations)

“We have limited the number of visitors to the campus, and most services have been moved to online,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president. “The intent is to reduce the possibility of COVID coming to the campus, and to better help manage the number of people on campus at any given time.”

 For their technology needs, all first-time freshmen received laptops. “We wanted them to come in with the tools they need to be able to be successful, even if they have to work remotely,” said Frank Stevenson, vice president for Student Affairs.

As part of TSU’s COVID-19 preparedness, all students, visitors and staff entering the campus must go through a temperature check. (TSU Media Relations)

Russell Waters, a returning junior who will attend classes remotely, said the university has “gone the extra mile” to make sure students have everything they need.

“It feels good to continue my education despite the obstacles I have faced in the past couple of months,” said Waters, a computer science major from Huntsville, Alabama. “TSU has done great things with classes being held virtually. They are doing their best to accommodate this new style of learning and I appreciate what they are doing for the students.”

The Office of Academic Affairs said excellence and student success remain the highest priority of the university.

“Building on our tradition we will continue to adjust as we go along,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “We offer our students some of the most original, flexible and innovative learning options across our 82 programs. In addition, we have invested in and put in place a world-class support system to ensure each student’s success.”

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plan for fall reopening, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/return.

Note: Featured photo courtesy of Seanne Wilson, Director of the Women’s Center

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU political analysts predict Kamala Harris selection will further galvanize young voters, spark interest in HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate will not only further energize young voters, but also renew interest in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

TSU President Glenda Glover

That’s what political analysts at Tennessee State University have to say after Biden made the announcement this week. If he wins in November, Harris would become the nation’s first female vice president, first black vice president and first black female vice president. 

Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate.

TSU President Glenda Glover said Biden’s announcement was a great moment for our country, African-Americans, and for women.

“Senator Harris’ selection is a full circle moment for HBCUs and African-American Greek organizations that worked tirelessly to give the black community a voice from the turn of the century, through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, to present day,” President Glover said.

“As the president of Tennessee State University, a premiere HBCU, and as International President of AKA, in which Sen. Harris is a member, I am doubly proud of this selection. I also commend Vice President Joe Biden for his insight to bring someone of Sen. Harris’ stature to the ticket. She is intelligent, experienced, charismatic and above all qualified for the job.” 

Glover added, “African-American women have been the backbone of this country, and now an African-American woman has the opportunity to ascend to the second highest office in the nation; with the opportunity to create policies that will impact us for generations to come.” 

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU, said Harris is “historic on several levels.”

Morgan-Curtis said Harris’ selection is a continuation of the “wave of activism” during the 2018 midterm elections in which there were historic firsts for women of color. To name a few, Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Junior Tiara Thomas

TSU junior Tiara Thomas said it is inspiring to see someone who looks like her get a step closer to being the second most powerful person in the United States. 

“I think what Kamala Harris is doing for black women is what (former President) Barack Obama did for black men in America,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, and the creator of TSU Votes, a social medial platform. “It gives us another crack in the glass ceiling.”

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, said Thomas, Harris is standing on her shoulders.

“it’s cool to see history kind of reinvent itself,” said Thomas. “To see a black woman actually be put on the (presidential) ballot, it’s amazing.”

In the four hours after Biden announced Harris as his running mate, ActBlue, the Democrats’ main fundraising platform, reported more than $10.8 million in donations. TSU political analysts predict Harris will have a similar effect on voters.

They say her selection will not only galvanize female voters, but all voters, particularly young ones, disgruntled over continued social injustice, like the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” said Erik Schmeller, a history professor and director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference.”

TSU Political Science Professor Brian Russell predicts Harris, an alumna of Howard University and a member of the prominent black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., will cause more young people to consider attending HBCUs, especially if Biden is elected president.

“It’s going to energize a lot of younger African-American students to look in the HBCU direction,” said Russell. “That’s going to be exciting.”

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU political analysts say pandemic sets stage for historic 2020 General Election, predict strong turnout by young voters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Young people, galvanized over social injustice, are predicted to have a strong turnout in the General Election in November, Tennessee State University political analysts say. Their strong voting numbers are expected in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Junior Tiara Thomas

Brian Russell, a political science professor at TSU, says the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality is one main example of injustice that has energized young people to seek change, particularly in the case of elected officials.

“Think about how many people have gone out on the streets and protested,” says Russell. “That shows that people are motivated to do something, to make change.”

“When young people do come out in high numbers, things happen that don’t usually happen,” adds Russell. “Think about in 2008 when President (Barack) Obama was elected. That was an election when more young people than normal came out to vote.”

Russell says COVID-19 will affect voter turnout to some degree, but he doesn’t expect it to dampen the fervor to vote he’s seeing in young people around the country. TSU History Professor Erik Schmeller agrees.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” says Schmeller, who is also the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference. Vote.”

Junior Tiara Thomas of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is among a number of students at TSU who are heeding that directive, and encouraging others to do the same. The political science major is the creator of TSU Votes, a social media platform that makes students aware of voting dates, what’s happening nationally in politics, as well as works with other voter advocacy organizations to ensure students stay informed.

“Not voting for my generation is not an option,” says Thomas, who also has a podcast that allows students to express their views about politics in general. “And I try to make sure that my peers know that.”

Russell Waters, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, works with Thomas to spread awareness about voting. When students return in the fall, he says he plans to have flyers ready with election information, such as election deadlines, and using mail-in ballots if necessary.

Junior Russell Waters

“We’re really focusing on the General Election,” says Waters, a computer science major. “It’s a very important election. So, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing until Election Day.”

TSU students are not alone in their effort to make sure people vote. President Glenda Glover and TSU were recently selected by The General® Insurance to participate in Shaquille O’Neal’s social media challenge to encourage voter registration for the 2020 General Election.

The #MyStartingFive challenge was launched by SHAQ and Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, alongside the national, nonpartisan non-profit organization, When We All Vote, whose mission is to increase voter participation in elections. The organization, launched by co-chair and former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018, seeks to educate eligible voters on the power of their voice and their vote, and take action. Participants in the challenge will nominate five people to register and pledge to vote in November’s election via the When We All Vote #MyStartingFive voter registration portal: whenweallvote.org/mystartingfive.

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Board of Trustees welcomes New student trustee, Approves Flat Tuition and Fees for 2020-21 Academic Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Board of Trustees on Thursday welcomed Tiara Thomas as the new student trustee selected by President Glenda Glover, and officially announced freezing tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Attorney Andre Johnson will serve a two-year term.

Also taking his seat for the second time was Attorney Andre Johnson as the newest full voting board member appointed by Gov. Bill Lee. Johnson attended his first board meeting on March 12. He will serve a two-year term.

The board made it official that there will be no increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. The “Tiger Tuition Freeze” recommendation, put forward by President Glover to keep fees flat for undergraduate and graduate students, was also accepted unanimously.

Johnson, who will serve on the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Committees, is a senior partner with the law firm of Manson Johnson Corner. A Tennessee native, Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Howard University. He also earned an MBA from TSU. His bar admissions include the Supreme Court of Tennessee, and the United States District Court for the Middle Tennessee District.

Tiara Thomas, from Olive Branch, Mississippi, is the new Student Trustee.

Thomas, the new student trustee, is a junior political science major with a 3.95 grade point average. She is a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi. The very active student is a member of the Aristocrat of Bands, and serves as the executive chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition. With a goal to work for the U.S. Department of Education, Thomas plans to further her education after college to pursue a career in educational policy. She will serve a one-year term.

Thomas replaces Braxton Simpson on the Board of Trustees. A top-agricultural sciences major, Simpson served two one-year terms on the board.

Bishop Joseph Walker III, chairman of the Board of Trustees, described Simpson as an outstanding member of the Board.

“We want to thank her for her tremendous service to the Board of Trustees,” Walker said. “We certainly appreciate her talent and commitment. She has been an important member of our Academic Affairs Committee. On behalf of the Board we want to thank you so much. You represented everything that TSU exemplifies, not only on campus, but all around the country.”

In early June, President Glover, in consultation with the board, announced the tuition freeze saying that her administration would not seek a hike in fees because it would cause a burden on students.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the current economic downturn would pose an additional hardship for our student population and their families,” Glover said. 

On Thursday, the board agreed with the President and unanimously approved the measure.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.