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Fall 2021 First-Year Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Events

We want to be a campus where the intensity we challenge each other with matches our goodwill; where we look out for one another. We are Volunteers!

Vol is a Verb! Each of us brings a unique story to Rocky Top, and every one of those stories is essential. Being a Volunteer means showing up as your authentic self, stepping forward, and having the courage to act. Vol is a Verb is an invitation to a conversation that is the first step in putting actions behind our words and making our campus a place where every student matters and belongs.


We envision a four-step process to help first-year students develop identity, purpose, and awareness.

Vol is a Verb


Steps One & Two–New Vol Experience:
Online Pre-Orientation introduces new Vols to life on Rocky Top, shares resources for success in and out of the classroom, and relays tips and information from upper division students to kick-off the UT journey.

Big Orange Welcome is UT’s six-week extended orientation period, and it is packed with programs to help New Vols succeed at UT! During Welcome Week, the Office of the Dean of Students will host a session entitled, Vol is a Verb, to further discuss UT’s commitment to civil discourse and inclusion.

Step Three–Vol is a Verb Campus-Level Celebration and the Power of Perspective:
UT will coordinate a one-day, campus-level program celebrating inclusion and reintroducing Vol is a Verb. The program will culminate with Let’s Talk: Vol to Vol, a campus-wide intergroup dialogue that brings together students from diverse identities, communities, and social perspectives for a conversation about how to engage in meaningful dialogue that respects our university community.

During the day, student scholars will learn and demonstrate an understanding of the power of perspectives and how those perspectives influence our world, policies, and personal choices. The content will be designed and delivered in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and led by peer mentors and residence hall assistants. The program will end with a campus-wide community picnic to celebrate UT’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

Step Four–Vol First-Year Experience—Inclusion Module:
Each year, 88% of our first-year students enroll in the Vol First-Year Experience (VFYE). VFYE focuses on ensuring first-year scholars (excluding transfers) have opportunities to engage with peers, faculty, and staff within their college while learning how to navigate college life at U.T. In VFYE, student scholars will attend a first-year seminar sponsored by their college and co-enroll in an academic course.

As part of this program, students will participate in a diversity and inclusion module that will engage students in interactive exercises to define diversity, understand the importance of every student’s story, identify microaggressions, and be an inclusive, supportive Volunteer.

This initiative is in collaboration with the Office of the Provost and the divisions of Student Success, Student Life, and Diversity & Engagement.