Variety is the spice of life.
Titled "Does Diversity Really Matter?" the keynote lecture for Diversity and Inclusion Week was presented on Wednesday by Ricky Hall, the Vice Chancellor of Diversity.
Diversity and Inclusion Week, sponsored by the College of Communication and Information, was a "four-day opportunity for students to gain diversity skills knowledge and a chance to dialogue about diversity inclusion issues by bringing in experts outside the university as well as in the university," according to Alice Wirth, Diversity Student Leader Society Director.
To answer this central question, Hall answered simply: it depends.
Although typically associated with race, Hall stated that diversity also applies to geographical location, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and age.
"Race is not the only factor involved with diversity," Hall said. "Issues of gay marriage and even the Zimmerman case involving the shooting of Trayvon Martin are prevalent to today's strive for complete diversity."
In order to achieve "complete diversity," Hall emphasized the importance of equal opportunities.
"If the state is to achieve the governor's target of having 55 percent of its residents owning post-secondary certificates or two- or 4-year degrees by 2025," Hall said, "students from these populations must gain access and be given the support system they need."
Hall noted that minorities may become the majority by 2043.
Women already account for 51 percent of the world's population. Businesses are adapting to this rise in diversity, with Google's "Women's Program" serving as a prime example.
At the University of Tennessee, only 10 percent of each incoming class comes from outside the state. An even a smaller percentage come from other nations, primarily due to cost.
Hall said he plans to change this statistic.
"The goal is to raise the number of out of state and international students here at UT," he said.
Despite Hall's concern, Natalie Cange, a senior in journalism and electronic media, said she thinks Hall discounted the ample diversity already present at UT.
"Of course diversity matters, but I think UT is more inclusive of people from different backgrounds than people give us credit for," Cange said.
Wirth also agrees that diversity is a diminishing issue on campus.
"However," she said, "if we're still talking about it, then we aren't there yet."