If Rocky Top is home sweet home, then its inhabitants must be "welcoming to all and hostile to none."
This is UT's stance on diversity.
Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Life, the first annual Day of Dialogue was held in the UC on Friday, Oct. 4.
Designed to "Get the Conversation Started," this all day, campus-wide symposium addressed diversity on campus and in Knoxville.
Through different activities, workshops and forums, participants were encouraged to think critically about diversity and initiate discussions about how to make UT more diversity-friendly.
"I thought it was really interesting to see the different aspects of diversity," said Maddie Rule, freshman in business management."I need to know how to embrace it."
Shawnboda Mead, associate director for Diversity and Multicultural Education in the Office of Multicultural Student Life, said the event was an "opportunity for honest, open and meaningful dialogue for students and staff."
During the Day of Dialogue's keynote lecture, Art Munin, Ph.D, delivered "Bystander Intervention: Stand Against, Don't Stand By" to approximately 30 students, faculty and interested attendees.
Having a community of effective and engaged bystanders, Munin said, is the solution to the discrimination.
The event also included a variety of breakout sessions, such as Gender, Sexuality and the Bible, and Racial Profiling in a "Post-Racial United States of America."
Rachel Ledd, a senior in African-American psychology, said the event was interesting and provided an opportunity to explore subjects not typically discussed.
"College is about broadening horizons," Ledd said. "These events are a good way to start the conversation."
In Mead's opinion, diversity is what makes college an enriching environment.
"Diversity really makes this place more special because everyone is not the same," Mead said. "We wouldn't learn from one another, we wouldn't grow if we were all the same."
Yet, Mead also acknowledges that discrimination remains a prevalent issue.
"Everyone has their own prejudices and biases, it's a natural part of who we are as humans," Mead said. "If everybody would make a more conscious effort to be aware of their own prejudices and biases, then we would certainly see an impact of change."
To combat this recurring phenomenon, Rickey Hall, vice chancellor for Diversity advocated meaningful conversation.
"We should be having conversations (about diversity) as the world around us is changing and the issues are becoming more complex," Hall said.
Leaving the event, Mead expressed hope that students will carry a desire to challenge prejudice on campus.
"We hope everyone will be inspired to ... make the campus more inclusive for everybody," she said, "We want everybody to leave as social change agents and really recognize the power they have to really make a difference."
Hall echoed this sentiment, and said each member of the community is obligated to facilitate diversity.
"All too often, people look to those in positions of formal authority to create the change we want to see," he said. "We have to assume this responsibility ourselves, whoever we are ... For a university to be transformed, diversity has to be integrated into the work and lives of every student, faculty and staff member.
"For when we are all pushing in the same direction, we can move and we can change."