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In this section, you will learn about:

  • What it means to embrace diversity.
  • How students at the University of Tennessee define the principles of Civility and Community.

Important Contacts:

  • One Campus. One Community
  • Hilltopics Student Handbook – Office of the Dean of Student (865-974-3179)
  • Office of the Dean of Students – Student Services Building 413 (865-974-3179)
  • International House – I-House (865-974-4453)
  • Office of Multicultural Student Life – Frieson Black Cultural Center (865-974-6861)
  • Pride Center – 103 Melrose Hall (865-974-7803)
  • Office for Diversity and Inclusion – 403D Andy Holt Tower (865-974-6271)
  • Ready for the World


Civility is an act of showing regard and respect for others including: politeness, consideration, tact, good manners, graciousness, cordiality, affability, amiability and courteousness []. Ultimately, civility is treating others as we would like to be treated.

The following values of the University serve as a foundation for our approach toward civility. These values support our mission and vision, and comprise our definition of the Volunteer Spirit.

While our strategic focus may evolve over time, these enduring principles continue to permeate who we are, what we do, and how we accomplish our goals.

Values—The Volunteer Spirit

At UT we value …

  • broad diversity, including people of all races, creeds, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, physical abilities, and socioeconomic groups;
  • a culture that appreciates and respects faculty, staff, and students, and that acknowledges their interdependence and the vital role of every member of the Volunteer family;
  • engagement with our local and extended communities, embracing intercultural and global perspectives;
  • high standards of ethical and professional behavior;
  • intellectual curiosity, pursuit of knowledge, free exchange of ideas, and academic freedom and integrity;
  • transparent and data-informed decision making;
  • wise management of resources and infrastructure; and
  • our campus, our people, and our work.

Principles of Civility and Community

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville affirms the value of each member of the university community and recommends that all UTK community members adhere to the following Principles of Civility and Community.

Inclusivity – We are welcoming to all and hostile to none. We foster an open community in which educational goals may be pursued.

- We respect the diverse backgrounds of all members of our community and welcome the opportunity for interpersonal and group interactions.

Dialogue – We value and encourage, and facilitate free exchange of diverse ideas and points-of-view along with free speech and expression. However, we discourage uncivil speech or expression that infringes upon the ability of others to express themselves.

Collegiality – 
We value an environment that facilitates collegial relationships, encourages mutual understanding among diverse individuals and leads to addressing issues and differences in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility.

Respect – We believe that a person’s views, ideas, and behavior best reflect the goals of the academic community when the dignity of each individual is respected and when members of the community are considerate of the feelings, circumstances, and individuality of others.

Knowledge – We encourage development of a civil community that values critical inquiry, debate, discovery, and innovation to better the world through teaching, research and service.

Integrity – We value academic honesty and integrity by all members of the academic community.

Learning – We believe that learning is an interpersonal growth experience that fosters appreciation for diversity.

Awareness – We believe it is important to recognize how others view and relate to the community and recognize that we are part of a larger community.

Responsiveness – We encourage all community members to speak out against incidents involving bigotry and other types of incivility so the university can fulfill its responsibility of responding in a fair, timely and consistent fashion.

The UTK Principles of Civility and Community are designed to work in concert with existing University of Tennessee codes of conduct including:

UTK Faculty Handbook (Chapter 1.1 Nature and Purpose and Chapter 2.25 Professional Conduct);

UT Faculty and Staff Code of Conduct (HR Policy HR0508); and

Hilltopics Student Handbook (General Standards of Conduct).


Embracing Difference

How to embrace difference and diversity around you

Expand your knowledge base – Step out of your comfort zone to learn about others, read, travel, meet new people, attend unfamiliar cultural events, take classes.

Become aware of your own biases – Become aware of how your thoughts and impressions about specific groups may impact what you say and do.

Be mindful of the language you use – Certain common expressions can unintentionally be very hurtful to a specific group of people.

Don’t ask others to speak for the entire group – There is great diversity within all groups; no one person can speak for all.

Avoid stereotyping remarks – Do not make blanket statements. There are all kinds of people in every group.

Interrupt insensitive jokes or hurtful comments – It might not be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

Speak up – Don’t be silent – Being silent when someone does or says something offensive makes them think that you agree and that it is OK; and it is not.


You do not have to do it alone. There are many resources on campus that can assist you in learning more, reporting incidents, and creating a supportive campus climate.

Engagement Opportunities

  • Trainings
    • Student Safe Zone Training
    • Student Organizations
      • CPC Issues Committee
      • Black Cultural Programming Committee
      • CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society
      • Native American Student Association
      • Latin American Student Organization
      • Asian American Association
      • Multicultural Mentoring Program
      • Campus-wide events
        • Day of Dialogue: Campus-Wide Diversity Symposium
        • Black Issues Conference
        • MLK Day of Service & Clifton Jones Leadership Conference
        • OUTstanding Seminar

Diversity Resources