From the time you first apply to the university through your status as an alum, you will hear several iterations of what it means to be a Tennessee Vol.

But what does it actually? Is it being the best academically, doing community service or being a supportive fan?

To truly know what a Tennessee Vol is requires a two-fold process in understanding that the essence of our time at the university is to become a good member of society that is distinguished by a willingness to undertake — i.e, volunteer.

This understanding does not limit itself to a specific profession or field of study on one hand, nor does it promise a generation of Mannings or Summitts, of Howard Bakers or Bill Basses on the other.

This understanding is the creation of a body with the ability to raise the intellectual tone of society, develop a level of public consciousness, purify the status quo, instill principle to popular enthusiasm and drive civil discourse.

This understanding gives one a clear, conscious view of their own opinions and judgments, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them and, moreover, a force in urging them.

This understanding is what what makes us Tennessee Volunteers, Torchbearers who create the Volunteer Difference.

As the semester comes to a close, my hope is that this letter charges the university to pivot in a way that is positively progressive — not only in reflection of the racism and religious intolerance amplified across campus, but ubiquitously in every facet of campus and one’s personal life.

I hope this message serves as a reminder to our students, faculty and staff, administration and alumni of our mission and dedication to bear the torch. As one does not light a lamp and put it under a basket; but it’s to be placed on a stand so it gives light unto all that are in the house.

UT Sponsored Content