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University of Tennessee kicks off Diversity and Inclusion Week with series of panels

Knoxville - The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, kicked off its annual Diversity and Inclusion Week with a series of panels on Monday.

This year’s theme, “Let’s Talk: Listen, Learn and Lead,” will feature panel discussions and open forums throughout the week. The events run Sept. 24-27, ending with a festival and barbecue 5-7 p.m. Sept. 27.

The week “offers participants an opportunity to gain diversity skills and knowledge along with a chance to talk about diversity and inclusion issues,” as well as sharing practices from leaders, according to a news release from the university.

Monday afternoon’s panel, titled “#Movement: Social Media and Change,” included panelists who were involved in various forms of activism and social movements. The discussion focused on using social media for activism and social movements.

Edward Garnes, a panelist, activist and UT doctorate student, said an important thing to remember is that while social media has made activism more accessible, it cannot take the place of educating yourself on social issues.

“The caution is that tweeting and doing things on social media cannot supplant education,” Garnes said.

Panelist Kimberly Peterson, who helped organize the Woman’s March locally, said an important part of activism on social media is it allows people to organize quickly. However, one challenge has been making sure people stay engaged.

“People think that that’s enough, just showing up to a rally,” Peterson said. “Keeping those people engaged throughout the year has been the biggest challenge. Just showing up and holding up a sign is not enough.”

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, kicked off its annual Diversity and Inclusion week with a series of panels. Monday afternoon's panel focused on social media and activism.Buy Photo

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, kicked off its annual Diversity and Inclusion week with a series of panels. Monday afternoon's panel focused on social media and activism. (Photo: Monica Kast / News Sentinel)

Katelyn Wilson, a sophomore at UT, said she thought this week’s events were important for the university community.

“I just think it gives people the opportunity to learn something new from a new group of people,” Wilson said.

Panel discussions will continue throughout the week, with at least two sessions per day. Events take place in the Scripps Convergence Lab. Panels include:

•“Politics and Civil Discourse,” Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 11:10 a.m.

•“Immigration: Capturing the Dream,” Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 2:10 p.m.

•“CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society Open Forum on Technology Use and Civility,” Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 5:05 p.m.

•“Coping with Life Issues,” Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 10:05 a.m.

•“Marginalized Populations and the Justice System,” Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 3:30 p.m.

•“Listen, Learn & Lead: Perspectives from UT Student Athletes,” Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 5:45 p.m. (reception begins before the panel at 5:15 p.m.)

•“Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation,” Thursday, Sept. 27, at 9:40 a.m.

•“What Would You Do?” Thursday, Sept. 27, at 12:40 p.m.