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Friends meet on the Ped Walk

Mattering & Belonging

You belong on Rocky Top.

As a Volunteer, you are encouraged to act, to use your voice, and to bear the torch. As a campus community, we strive to develop and sustain a nurturing university where you matter. We believe that cultivating inclusive communities is an enduring source of hope and strength. We put actions behind our words and ensure that everyone feels like they belong.

From the moment you arrive on campus, we want you to know that your story and your experiences matter, and you belong here. We aim to support you in your journey on Rocky Top as you find your place on campus and explore all that UT has to offer. We make it a priority to create programs and spaces that allow students from all backgrounds to feel welcome and included on Rocky Top. We regularly host events that bring different voices and people of different backgrounds to listen and learn from each other. Engaging students in meaningful and proactive dialogues helps us all grow and learn.

Two students laugh on a bench outside the Student Union

Two students in conversation using sign language

Easily transition into college life.

UT offers hundreds of opportunities for you to get involved on campus, and your choices will guide the experience you have on Rocky Top. Campus offices such as Student Disability Services, First-Generation Initiatives, Multicultural Student Life, the Pride Center, and the Veterans Success Center offer incoming students peer mentoring programs and community spaces. The goal of these programs is to orient students to campus and learn about the resources available. These mentoring relationships allow students to connect with students of similar interests and backgrounds.

“The Peer Mentoring Program has made me feel like I belong at UT by allowing me to make friends and build a support system of people who understand me.”

peer mentor

We provide educational opportunities for students, as well as faculty and staff.

The Division of Student Life also hosts a variety of events and learning opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. Events vary in nature from large-scale to small and personal, but each presents an opportunity to discover new aspects of the campus community, build connections with others, and create a deeper understanding of what it means to be a Volunteer.

We challenge students to examine their capacity to act as members of a welcoming campus community and nurture change that supports inclusive behaviors and a culture of respectful dialogue. 

Students pose for a photo during the Martin Luther King, Jr. parade in Knoxville

Students having a conversation in the Student Union plaza

We value the civil exchange of ideas.

In alignment with the State of Tennessee’s Campus Free Speech Protection Act, the UT Board of Trustees Policy Affirming Principles of Free Speech for Students and Faculty, and the Chancellor’s Strategic Vision, we work to ensure a climate welcoming of diverse viewpoints. We are committed to hosting events and supporting initiatives that encourage dialogue, civic engagement, and understanding of free expression. 

Events such as Rocky Topics allow for students to engage in dialogue around timely topics. Each semester, the Divisions of Student Life, Student Success, and Access and Engagement in partnership with the Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs and the Office of the Provost, host Listen. Learn. Lead. Week. This week offers programs centered around understanding different perspectives and leading with courage.

Learn more about our commitment to viewpoint diversity.