College of Communication and Informations kicks off eighth annual Diversity & Inclusion Week

The festivities began on Monday with two panel discussions and a speech from UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport.

The University of Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information is hosting the annual Diversity and Inclusion Week during Monday, Sept. 25 through Thursday, Sept. 28.

While the celebration is a four-day long event, each day has three different sessions to cater to various student schedules.

This year’s theme is R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and every session incorporates that theme in some way.

Monday kicked off the week with a morning session titled “Mental Health and Media Effects” with Dr. Catherine Luther and UT student Tala Shatara as moderators. CNN contributor, psychologist and media analyst, Dr. Erik Fisher, was the panelist for the session.

The session covered the issue of mental health in the United States and how social media relates and feeds into that concept. Dr. Fisher talked about how the human race has let social media impact our lives so much that it is changing our brains and causing humans to feel more depressed than ever before.

Dr. Fisher gave some tips for changing habits and creating a better life. The full session can be found online here.

The afternoon session, “Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin” featured five student panelists: Justin Crawford, Ronnie Little, Kayla Parker, Crue Smith and Michelle Rodriguez. Student Lisa Oliver and Director of CCI’s Diversity Student Leaders Society, Alice Wirth, were the moderators for the session.

This discussion gave the panelists the chance to share their life stories about their personal challenges growing up and what they still go through today. They also talked about how and when they became comfortable being themselves.

In addition to the morning session, the full afternoon discussion can be found online as well.

To end the day, UT Chancellor, Beverly J. Davenport, was the keynote speaker. Her speech focused on ‘being different,’ an important topic to her and the university.

“Differences change the conversation,” Davenport said. “[differences] makes us more compassionate.”

Chancellor Davenport emphasized how important having a diverse campus is to the university. She talked about her goals to make UT more diverse and make it more welcoming for students from all over the world.

She said it is important to surround yourself with a diverse group of people, but also with some people who are similar to you.

“I wish I could go through this life without a body,” Davenport said. “We make so many judgments about what people look like.”

Furthermore, Davenport said that it is crucial to not judge people based on how they look on the outside, because you never know what’s on the inside. She said it is important to be accepting and loving of everyone no matter what.

Davenport also talked about how people need to be mindful of what they say to each other because words matter and can have a lasting effect on someone.

Davenport talked about her goals for the university and how she wants the students to help her make a difference.

“The students will lead us, [you] just have to listen,” Davenport said.

She answered questions from students about how to have a voice and make a change at the university. As someone who holds a communications degree, she found a way to connect to everyone in the audience.

Following her Q&A session, Chancellor Davenport thanked the Diversity and Leaders Society for having her and the students and faculty for coming out.

“I can’t applaud you all enough for being different with me, I can’t do it without you,” Davenport said.

A full schedule of all the events going on throughout the week can be found online.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

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Yelawolf makes first tour stop in Knoxville

Southern rapper brings a party to Knoxville on his “51/50” tour

Thursday Sept. 21, the Cotton Eyed Joe concert series continued with Alabama native Michael Wayne Atha, aka Yelawolf, who made his first stop on his “51/50” tour in Knoxville.

With general admission tickets priced at ten dollars in advance, the Joe filled with people. Those in attendance stood extremely close together so they could be as close to the stage as possible.

The tour features three special guests as openers for Yelawolf. Cookup Boss opened up the show performing a few songs including “Dont Mean Nun 2 Me.” Mikey Mike followed with a slightly longer setlist that included “Cut My Hair” and “Going Charlie.” Big Henri did not perform any songs due to technical difficulties with his equipment.

IMG_0883Even though he did not perform, Big Henri introduced Yelawolf as he opened the show with “Empty Bottles.” Though the opening song was slow, Yelawolf immediately got the crowd amped up before the next song by introducing himself and the tour.

“Knoxville hasn’t seen what a real mosh pit is, so let’s show them one!” Yelawolf said.

He walked back and forth across the stage to make sure that every person on the dance floor could see him during the performance. He sprayed water bottles at the crowd, rendering them even more excited.

In the middle of his set, Yela gave a shoutout to Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, and asked if anyone had a best friend as he transitioned to his hit song “Best Friend” which features Eminem on his album.

Yelawolf continued his set with “Tennessee Love” and “Johnny Cash.”

While Yela performed mostly new songs, he performed a few hits from previous albums. He performed “Pop the Trunk” and “Daddy’s Lambo”  from “Trunk Muzik”, one of his first albums.

During one of the songs, Yela asked the crowd if they knew one of the verses and stopped rapping while the crowd continued the verse.  Then he, again, sprayed the crowd with water.

Yelawolf also performed “Let’s Roll,” “Till It’s Gone” and “Chevrolet.”

Yelawolf mixed up the pace of the show by singing some of his slower songs between the more upbeat and hard-hitting songs. From his “Love Story” album he performed “American You,” tying into his general American theme.

Yela mentioned little sayings like “this is America!” between songs. His interjections earned cheers from the crowd.

He finished his hour and a half set by thanking Knoxville for hosting him and his crew.

The “51/50” tour will be back in Tennessee on Oct. 8, 2017 for the “Slumfest” in Nashville.

Tickets can be purchased at:

Featured Image: Chelsea Babin

Edited by Lexie Little

Published online here

McGraw, Hill bring Soul2Soul Tour to Knoxville

Grammy Award-winning country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill took the stage of Thompson-Boling Arena Sept. 14, 2017 on their “Soul2Soul 2017” tour

For the first time in ten years, country music power couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill perform together on tour taking the stage in over 60 cities including a stop in Knoxville Sept. 14, 2017 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Thursday night’s performance filled the arena with dynamic lights, music and affectionate displays from the husband and wife duo. This is the third “Soul2Soul” tour for the couple following two record-breaking tours in 2000 and 2006-2007.

E61CFFEE-6E80-458F-95B5-FE77BBAE9EFDSinger Eric Paslay opened the show with a selection of his hit songs. He performed “Song about a Girl,” “She Don’t Love You” and  “Friday Night.” His guitarist played “Rocky Top” during one of his songs to engage the many Tennessee fans in the crowd.

McGraw and Hill spilt the show into parts: duets and solos. They started the show off by sharing the stage. They performed a new song, “Break First” ending in a staredown between the married couple. Hill won the contest, but she playfully insisted McGraw won. Small interactions like this contest occurred between songs for the duration of the show.


Before McGraw left the stage for Hill’s solo act, he began the LSU chant met with loud “boos” from Tennessee Vol fans. Hill and McGraw teased the crowd by suggesting they would sing “Rocky Top.”

Hill started her solo set by dedicating a song to the ladies in the audience, both “young and older.”

“It’s not gonna be easy, but you’re gonna do it,” Hill said.

Hill continued her set with hit songs like “This Kiss,” “Wild One” and “Piece Of My Heart.” Hill constantly interacted with the crowd blowing kisses to everyone and trying to touch hands with as many fans as possible.

“Y’all are so friendly, I just can’t stand it,” Hill said.


In transition to her husband’s solo set, Hill sat and played the guitar while her husband sang.

McGraw performed hit songs like “Shotgun Rider” and “Live Like You Were Dying.” He held the microphone out towards the crowd who sang the chorus.McGraw looked pleased and chuckled before continuing the next verse. He also performed “How Forever Feels,” “Where the Green Grass Grows” and “Humble and Kind.”

Hill rejoined her husband on stage to sing “Speak To A Girl.” Fans believed the show to be over after the couple sang “It’s Your Love” with a montage of their family photos in the D84A9620-D8FA-402F-A455-4296F9DB35E8background. After a few moments, Hill walked through the crowd singing “Mississippi Girl” and took pictures and gave hugs to fans. McGraw followed singing “Something Like That”  as he walked through the crowd.

The couple came back to the stage as they were elevated through fog sitting face-to-face to end the show with “I Need You” and a kiss.

The “Soul2Soul” tour continues until late October.

Edited by Lexie Little

Featured photo by Allie Chapman

Article photos by Chelsea Babin

Published at

Nobel Prize to Bring Peace

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Santos was chosen to to receive the award for his efforts to end the civil war going on in his country for over 50 years.

According to, it has been a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six-million people.

Santos has wanted to move toward peace in his country. The Colombian people voted on a referendum and the result was much different than what Santos wanted.

The fact that a majority of the voters said no to the peace accord does not necessarily mean that the peace process is dead. The referendum was not a vote for or against peace, according to the

The people voting against the referendum just had a problem with the specific way of getting peace.

President Santos has taken the job of gaining peace in his country very seriously. He said that he will work at it until the day that he dies.

The committee hopes that awarding Santos the prize will show everyone that striving for peace is at utmost importance. They hope that it will give him strength to complete his tasks and move forward.

According to the committee,  his endeavors to promote peace thus fulfil the criteria and spirit of Alfred Nobel’s will.

Hoo-yah! Navy Sailor to Groundsman

For many, the early 20s are when you graduate from college. That is not the case with 23-year-old Navy veteran Allen Hooper.  

Hooper is from Redford, Mich., and after graduating from Winston Churchill High School, he enlisted in the United States Navy on June 12, 2012.

“I’ve always wanted to see what being in the military was like [and] I think being in Boy Scouts played a big role; the structure is pretty much the same,” said Hooper, “Also [I] didn’t want to waste a bunch of money going to college not knowing what I wanted to do. Being stuck in Redford my whole life didn’t sound like the best plan for me.

Hooper explained that the process of enlisting in the military is extremely long because of all the background checks, paperwork and drug tests that are required. After swearing in, he went to bootcamp in Chicago, Ill., for eight weeks.  

“The last week before I left I was so nervous!” explained Hooper, “I barely ate [because] I always felt so sick to my stomach.”

Hooper said that as soon as everyone got off the bus, they were being yelled at for everything.

“Then they make you pull out a phone if you had it with you and call your parents or whomever to say you made it and you love them. You only had like 20 seconds.”

Bootcamp was brutal but some of the best times he has had, according to Hooper.

“Yeah it sucked, but it sucked with everyone…you become a family,” he said.

Hooper said that the worst day in boot camp was when they were getting beat by their Recruit Division Commander instructors, a.k.a doing workouts.

“They made everyone chug their water and then workout and repeat,” said Hooper, “I watched this girl throw up right back into her bottle.”

Hooper explained that the bathrooms were blocked with their bunks so that no one could use them. That led to people peeing their pants.

“Then they made us sit straight up on our knees and hold our water bottle out in front of us as we watched this video of this little girl talking about how her dad was killed in 9/11.”

Watching that video made Hooper realize what he was meant to do; he said that it made him stronger.

After graduating, he was sent to the Naval Station in Norfolk, VA., and became a boatswain’s mate and was assigned to the USS Kearsarge LHD3.

“It’s an amphibious ship, so it’s about 200 feet shorter than an aircraft carrier,” explained Hooper. “Our main mission is to taxi marines to certain areas of the world.”

A boatswain’s mate is mostly all about the evolutions: such as anchoring, small boat operations, launching LCACs (a.k.a hover crafts) into the ocean for marine debarkation and cargo replenishment, according to Hooper.

“Those evolutions didn’t happen everyday, so we had to fill in the blank with extra ship maintenance.”

Hooper had a strict schedule everyday. He would skip breakfast to sleep longer, clean the ship, go to work, get lunch, back to work and then five hours of standing watch.

“So, my routine was work, watch, gym, email, Sons of Anarchy, then sleep and repeat everyday,” said Hooper.

Hooper was deployed twice during his four years of service. The first time for 10 months and the second for seven months.

“The first time I was deployed was in 2013, and I went to the Mediterranean Sea. I got to see Spain, Israel, Jordan, Dubai and Cyprus. Then I was deployed again in 2015 and went to Spain, Jordan, Oman, Dubai and Bahrain.”

The first deployment was uneventful, according to Hooper.

“The second deployment we were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Hooper, “While we were still stateside, we did a short search and rescue mission for two boys that were lost off the coast of Florida. We searched until we needed to go across the Atlantic.”  

After his four-year term was up, he declined the offer to re-enlist for another term.

“The navy changed a lot, even in the few years I was in. I loved it at first! It was amazing and so much fun, but then I got new bosses and you can only put up with so much.”

Hooper said that if he could do it all again, he would not change anything. The activities he has done, places he has seen and people he has met have forever changed his life.

“It’s an experience that only few will understand, and many will wonder what it’s like. When you are in the military, you grow a bond with people that you’ve never had before.”

After retiring from the Navy, Hooper is now working in Washington as a groundsman for fiber optic cables.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek has lunch with students

University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek had lunch with about a dozen students on Friday at the Student Union.

        He decided to treat 10 students at random to meals from Chick-fil-A, and they sat together at a big table.

        The students were grateful for the opportunity from the chancellor.

        “That was kind of him,” said Jan Smith from Asheville, N.C., “I ended up ordering the 12-piece nuggets instead of the four-piece I normally do. Now I won’t be starving for a few hours.”

        Chancellor Cheek feels that it is a great way to get to know students and get their feelings about what is going on around campus.

        “We try to do this about once or twice a quarter to try to talk to the students on their level,” said the chancellor, who added that he ordered a fried chicken sandwich and a sweet tea with lemon. “We want to work towards better communication. Discussing topics farther and in more detail gives us in administration more insight.”

       The students that participate in the event say that it’s nice to be able to have their voices heard from the administration of the university.

        “I thought it was good,” said Mark Macon, a senior in Political Science from Cookeville, Tenn. “It lets us see that the Chancellor is easy to talk to and interested in the students.”

        The topics differed from student to student but all events are open for discussion.

        “We talked about some of the issues that have been in the news lately, like the Pride Center,” added Smith. “But overall, it was fun. I was going to get a Bar-B-Que sandwich until I found out about the lunch.”

UT Diversity Inclusion Week 2017

This week is Diversity and Inclusion Week in the College of Communication and Information at UT.

Students can take part in a variety of events throughout the week that are meant to bring students together and teach them about diversity.

Ashley Butler, Events Coordinator of the Diversity Student Leaders Society, said that she feels this week of events is crucial to UT because there is a problem with diversity on campus.

“There is a problem because a lot of students come to the university with previous prejudices and don’t necessarily know how to handle differences,” said Butler, “The reason we have these events is to bring students together to talk about how to handle the differences and understand their fellow peers.”

Butler said that the recent Pride center vandalism really shows that there problems at the university with diversity and inclusion.

Along with Butler, senior Katelyn Houston also feels that there is a diversity problem on campus.

“It’s not just on campus, but the entire country is having a problem with diversity and inclusion,” said Houston.

Houston said that she supports the Diversity and Inclusion week of event because people need be more accepting of everyone.
The weeks events end with a big festival on Thursday. The festival will include more interaction with people and different activities. It is meant to bring people together.

UT on the Presidential 2017 Election

The first presidential debate aired Monday night. Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battled verbally against each other for the entirety of the debate.

UT Senior Alexis Fitzgerald watched the whole debate, and said that Clinton dominated it in her opinion.  

“I thought that Hillary won the debate. She was very composed and prepared” said Fitzgerald. “She [blew] Trump away and really got under his skin.”

Fitzgerald said that when he [Trump] attacked her [Hillary], she held it together.

Senior Katelyn Houston watched part of the debate and said that both candidates were childish.

“I only watched an hour and fifteen minutes of the debate before turning it off because of how immature the candidates were being,” said Houston.

Houston and Fitzgerald both can agree that Clinton was more composed than Trump.

“She is used to being on screen, and her answers were more mature than his. Her body language was handled well,” said Fitzgerald.

The debate consisted of multiple questions about different issues that both candidates had to address.

“I feel like most presidential candidates usually go around the question and answer a completely different one,” said Houston.

Fitzgerald agreed with Houston and said that Trump’s diversion of questions just further shows Clinton’s winning of the debate.

“She answered the questions that were asked and Trump would divert away from actual questions,” said Fitzgerald.
Both Houston and Fitzgerald agreed that Hillary won the debate, and that Trump was very immature during the whole process.