UT hosts many themed weeks throughout the year: "Sex Week," "Human Rights Week," "National Public Health Week," "Research Week," and so on.
From April 20 to April 26, UT will finally host a week for itself: "I Heart UT Week."
Sponsored by a collaborative effort from Student Alumni Associates, UT Alumni Foundation, the newly created UT Impact, CPC and other organizations, "I Heart UT Week" will promote school spirit and philanthropic efforts through various activities and events.
Lance Taylor, the director of annual giving for UTK Alumni Affairs, said the week is intended to celebrate UT and fortify a stronger campus community.
"We're hopefully going to create an event that counteracts some of the negative that's out there," Taylor said. "It's at the end of the semester; everyone's running on fumes, so hopefully we can provide some fun activities to unwind right before finals."
Several national stories have broken on campus this year, including the "butt-chugging" scandal in the fall and the ongoing controversy of "Sex Week." Taylor pointed to "I Heart UT Week" as an opportunity to focus more on the positive side of the Volunteer Tradition.
“Anything that comes up that students get frustrated with, or alumni get frustrated with or upset with … we’re looking to counteract that,” he said. “Everything is aimed at helping the campus community and UT, so that’s kind of our main focus: making sure that we’re helping out our own community and the university."
The events feature service projects like a campus clean-up before the Orange and White game on Saturday, April 20, and a canned food drive on Thursday, April 25 that will provide free tank tops to the first 250 students who donate three cans.
Scattered throughout the week’s calendar are prize giveaways, movie nights, a dance party on the Hill and an ice cream social, all culminating in Volapalooza on Friday, April 26.
“In the future, I hope that this grows into … a huge festival and fun atmosphere on campus for a week,” Taylor said.
The idea was born last August when SAA representatives attended a conference hosted by their umbrella program, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
Students from the University of California, Los Angeles and Drake University presented their versions of campus love weeks. Grant Minchew, a senior in political science and member of SAA, attended the convention and is excited to see some of the love week ideas brought back to Knoxville.
“It’s been really cool for them to see how it’s become a huge part of their campus tradition, just one celebration, altogether, ‘we finished the year, we did it,’” Minchew said.
He added that the week is also intended to honor alumni generosity. "Thank UT Day," on Wednesday, April 24, will give students a chance to write postcards to giving alumni.
“We have a lot of awesome opportunities that come from just being a student at UT, whether that’s just the degree and the job that comes after or a community that’s built from friends that you meet from being involved,” Minchew said. “Instead of focusing on silly little things that have happened because of people’s mistakes, let’s come together as a large group and celebrate that unity.”
More information can be found online at facebook.com/IHeartUT.