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Principles of Civility and Community

Our campus principles of Civility and Community encourage all members of the Volunteer community to consider how others view and relate to the community and to remember that we are all part of a larger community. We have a responsibility to uphold the freedom and rights guaranteed by the First Amendment but to also maintain a learning environment that allows students to grow from their experiences.

Excerpted from the Final Report of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Civility and Community (8/23/2010):

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.

A community consists of all individuals and groups who live or interact with one another in a geographic area such as a university campus. Community members affect each others’ abundance and well-being and have a shared interest in creating and sustaining an environment where all community members and their points of view are valued and respected. The UTK community consists of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents of UTK students and campus visitors.

As indicated by Ernest Boyer (Boyer, 1990), “A university is an open community, a place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed…A university is a caring community, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.”

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.

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