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Fall 2021 First-Year Inclusive Excellence 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. 

On August 29, UT will host Vol is a Verb Day, an inclusive excellence event designed to introduce first-year students to tools they can use to engage in meaningful and vital conversations while also celebrating each student’s unique story.  The day will include a carnival and entertainment and will culminate with Let’s Talk: Vol to Vol, intergroup dialogue that brings together students from diverse communities and social perspectives for a conversation about how to engage in meaningful dialogue that respects our university community. 

Volunteers Needed

Faculty, staff, and upper-division student volunteers are needed to facilitate Let’s Talk: Vol to Vol sessions from 2 p.m.- 4 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. Facilitators have the opportunity to welcome first-year students in to the Volunteer community and will

  • Lead introductions and an ice-breaker activity to ensure all students are welcomed into the group
  • Discuss ground rules for creating a space where all students’ perspectives can be shared
  • Engage students in conversation related to stories shared by student panelists
  • Encourage students to share experiences where they felt included or valued in a space
  • Ask students to complete pre and post assessments to gauge the effectiveness of the programming

To sign-up to facilitate a Let’s Talk: Vol-to-Vol session, please register here by August 6. All facilitators will receive training in advance of Vol is a Verb Day and will be contacted with training options following registration.


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


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 Day:

On August 29, UT will host Vol is a Verb Day, an inclusive excellence event designed to introduce first-year students to tools they can use to engage in meaningful and vital conversations while also celebrating each student’s unique story.  The day will include a carnival and entertainment and will culminate with Let’s Talk: Vol to Vol, 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. 

Step Four– Power of Perspectives Module:

Each year, 88% of our first-year students enroll in a first-year seminar, a high-impact practice which promotes student success. Within their first-year seminar, students will participate in an inclusive excellence module and will gain 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 First-Year Programs.  

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