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 Plan, campus partners work collaboratively to ensure a campus community welcoming of diverse viewpoints for all faculty, staff, and students.

Below are campus viewpoint diversity initiatives planned or being planned for the current 2022-2023 academic year and fall 2023.

2022–23 Academic Year

The Skyhawk Creed

The Skyhawk Creed is a pledge, which students recite as part of events for new students, includes a call for viewpoint diversity and respectful dialogue. The creed reads:

The University of Tennessee at Martin is an educational community committed to excellence in personal integrity and intellectual growth in a diverse and inclusive environment. As a voluntary member of this community:

I will RESPECT the rights and property of all persons and treat them with dignity and civility.

I will take RESPONSIBILITY for my actions and hold others accountable for theirs, while demonstrating a concern for others, their feelings, and their sense of belonging.

I will make RIGHT CHOICES that will demonstrate academic integrity, discourage bigotry and hate, and strive to learn from the unique differences of people and opinions.

I pledge to model these principles and values and encourage others to follow my example.

Syllabus Language

New optional syllabus language on civil discourse was developed and provided to faculty.

Engage The Times

The series includes 10 meetings each semester for students, faculty, and staff to meet and discuss current events.  Participants are encouraged to engage in civil discourse and with a great appreciation for viewpoint diversity.

Courageous Conversations

Designed for students, faculty and staff, the Courageous Conversations series will educate participants on the process of engaging in open, authentic, and respectful
conversations with others. Participants will gain an understanding of how to take responsibility for the dialogue and engage in the entire process and will learn techniques to practice expressing their values and, in turn, will be open to the possibility of appreciating opposing viewpoints because of interactions with members of their community. Space will be created for safe and open discussions on various topics.

Stronger Together

A gathering of UTM faculty, staff, and students for a free dinner in ballroom with diverse groups at each table sharing their personal stories with each other. The meal is a celebration of unity, inclusion, identity, viewpoints, and diversity.

Student Summit on Free Expression (Spring 2023)

Planning will soon be underway to offer a student summit on free expression of ideas. The summit will provide a foundational understanding of free expression as a human rights issue, civic responsibility, and political conversations for students.


Built on a framework supporting civil discussion and debate, developed the messaging concept of HELP (Hear. Engage. Learn. Problem-Solve). The HELP video will be released in Spring 2023. The messaging concept will have several applications (students, faculty, etc.). The first video helps students engage with new people and ideas on the UTM Campus. HELP is a concept that will help guide them on how to navigate their academic journey successfully and exemplify the Skyhawk spirit of learning, problem-solving, and supporting one another. The video will also be shared with all faculty as part of start-of-semester resources and shown to all new first-year students during Fall Welcome Week.

First-Year Initiative courses

First-year Initiative study courses will include an optional module on civil discourse that emphasizes learning to listen, listening to learn, listening to lead.

Constitution Day

This student and faculty event will include a grounding discussion and dialogue session on free speech in the classroom. This engaging session will build on the country’s founding principles and their extension to contemporary disagreement, conflict, and civil discourse. This event scheduled for fall 2023 will include an informative lecture and provide dialogue on the topic of Equality vs. Equity.

Listen. Learn. Lead. (Fall)

The inaugural iteration of Listen. Learn. Lead. will incorporate weeklong programming and activities for faculty, staff, and students. Many of the week’s events are focused on voting and civic engagement. The keynote event will focus on viewpoint diversity.