174B Student Union
The Student Government Association (SGA) is a body made by students, for students, under the leadership of students. We exist to represent the interests and needs of the student body at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in all areas of student life. Through our branches, we seek to implement positive change on campus in policies, practices, and engagement opportunities to ensure a welcoming, student-centered campus, and effective SGA. Members of SGA serve as resources and advocates for students to ensure effective representation of students’ thoughts, ideas, and concerns about campus and community affairs.
There are several different aspects to our association, which are overseen by the President, Vice President, Student Services Director, and Treasurer.
The President makes appointments to administrative committees, which provide students the opportunity to serve on a committee focused on a topic or issue. These campus committees are made up of students, staff, and faculty. Finally, the President makes appointments to the SGA Executive Cabinet that oversees all functions of the organization and works on special initiatives to create change for students. To advocate for change on campus, the SGA Executive Cabinet works with UTK and UT system administrators.
The Vice President oversees the Undergraduate Student Senate and First-Year Council.
The Undergraduate Student Senate is a governing body made up of representatives to represent and progress the interest and well-being of all students at the University of Tennessee. Each academic college and residential area have representatives elected by their fellow students in the annual Student Government Association elections, which are held each spring. In addition, there are numerous appointed at-large seats within the Student Senate. Senators represent student interests by writing and voting on legislation to effect change on campus. If a bill passes through the Undergraduate Student Senate, it is lobbied for by select Senators with campus leaders in relevant areas. Senate meetings are held bi-weekly on Tuesdays and are open for all students to attend.
First-Year Council (FYLC) is composed of first-year students at the University of Tennessee. These students are selected each year by an application and interview process during the fall semester. FYLC represents the needs, concerns, and interests of first-year students at The University of Tennessee. The council exists to provide a forum to voice and communicate first-year student concerns, to participate in student government and campus-wide activities, and to learn how to be an effective leader on campus. First-Year Leadership Council provides an opportunity for students to make an early impact at UT, with primary emphasis on leadership development, and provide student engagement opportunities with your fellow peers.
The Student Services branch of SGA is composed of nine committees that focus on enhancing the many facets of university life. These committees are a great way for all students to get involved with SGA and make a direct impact on Rocky Top. With biweekly meetings and experienced director oversight, they coordinate and implement many programs and events on campus and in the Knoxville community. The eight committees are as follows:
- Academic Affairs
The primary focus of the Academic Affairs Committee is to research and resolve student concerns regarding academics (requirements, policy, disputes, etc.) at the university by working closely with the deans of each college, the Office of the Provost, and various other faculty, staff, and administrative boards. Academic Affairs will be charged with researching, managing, and spearheading ways to improve the university through Vol Vision 2020. The committee is also focused on finding feasible solutions to fees that are associated with academics, such as the implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER), or free online textbooks, into courses across campus.
- Diversity Affairs
The Diversity Affairs Committee is dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment within the UT community by educating about diversity, equity, and inclusion. The committee strives to establish a campus culture that values all Volunteers and enables them to succeed here on Rocky Top, by working on initiatives such as the Unity Project, National Coming Out Day Celebration, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and National Black History Month.
- Environment & Sustainability
The Environment and Sustainability Committee is dedicated to environmental advocacy opportunities, ecological and social sustainability initiatives, and change-making campaigns to promote awareness, stewardship, and action on campus and in the Knoxville community. As part of the Student Government Association, the committee also implements effective policy on a wide range of issues to ensure a lasting impact.
- Government Affairs
The Government Affairs Committee participates in a variety of activities to increase on-campus political engagement and open discussion with local and state elected officials. The committee serves as an advocacy group for the student body and travels to the state capitol each year to discuss university and student concerns. Government Affairs has hosted a variety of forums, debates, and voter registration drives. In the past, the committee has advocated for the student body in Nashville regarding a wide variety of issues including student fees, HOPE requirements, and capital funding projects. The committee is committed to ensuring that the voice of the students is heard by our state’s elected officials.
- Health & Wellness
The primary goal of the Health and Wellness Committee is to encourage positive, healthy behaviors, and to create healthy environments for our campus community by distributing information to students, raising awareness of campus resources, and advocating for related university policy changes. The committee actively partners with offices on campus such as the Center for Health Education and Wellness in order to actively engage a wide range of student health-related topics.
- Basic Needs
Smokey’s Closet is a free, professional clothing closet for UT students. This resource is aimed at providing students with a sense of confidence and support as they enter the professional world and begin their careers. The Basic Needs team seeks to work alongside campus leaders to provide resources and services that support students facing barriers such as food, clothing, or other insecurities.
- Students for the Rock
Students for the Rock is a group of students who use their artistic and outreach skills to ensure that our beloved Rock displays messages of belonging and inclusivity. This committee also hosts United for the Rock, which is an event for all community members, faculty, staff, and students to join and celebrate our diversity of identities.
The Traditions Student Services Committee is responsible for preserving and revitalizing traditions at UT while at the same time creating new ones for the Volunteer community to embrace. The committee holds many outreach events throughout the school year and works in conjunction with other offices and student organizations on campus to engage UT students in some of the university’s most celebrated traditions. The committee continues to connect students to the university’s past while also inspiring the university’s future.
The Treasurer oversees the finances of the Student Government Association, which includes preparing budget proposals for each fiscal year, approving or denying funding requests from members, providing regular reports to each governing branch, and meets with the executive cabinet to discuss all allocations of funds. The Treasurer also serves on the Student Programming Advisory Board.
174A Student Union
The Graduate Student Senate, or GSS, represents the interests of all graduate and professional students at the University of Tennessee. As the official voice of graduate and professional students, GSS provides the perspectives of the graduate student body to administrators and works towards the betterment of the graduate and professional student experience on campus. The Graduate Student Senate is the elected body that acts on behalf of graduate and professional students. In addition, GSS has partnerships with various organizations and departments on campus to provide valuable programming and support for graduate and professional students, including Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GPSAW), GPSA Travel Awards that provide funds to graduate and professional students traveling to conferences to present original work, and a GPSA Awards Breakfast recognizing outstanding graduate and professional students and faculty and staff that support them.
The GSS participates in the establishment of policies and regulations relating to the graduate program, in consultation with and subject to the final approval of the dean of the Graduate School and university officials. The GSS also makes recommendations to appropriate decision-making officers in matters concerning graduate and professional students.
The membership of GSS consists of the president and vice president, plus representatives (senators) from each college, school, and academic unit offering graduate or professional degrees and certificates, including the College of Law, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and graduate-level intercollegiate programs. The GSS president and vice president are elected each spring in a university-wide process. The number of senators elected is determined by the size of enrollment in the unit they are representing. In addition to internal strategic planning and legislative committees, GSS senators serve as representatives on various university-wide committees, including the Graduate Council.
Sorority and Fraternity Life
Interfraternity Council (IFC)
The Interfraternity Council is the governing body of more than 20 men’s social fraternities at UT. The chapter president or assigned delegate from each fraternity or associate organization, as well as the vice presidents of the IFC Executive Board, make up the legislative body of the council, which has the responsibility of determining policies relative to chapter relations, community programs, scholarship, philanthropy, recruitment, and financial decisions of the council. Fraternal organizations have a long history at UT and are values-based organizations designed to help students find a sense of connection and an opportunity to develop as leaders and individuals through the experience of brotherhood. The Interfraternity Council is advised and supported by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and as such must comply with the policies and expectations of the office which can be found on the website.
The purpose and mission of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), commonly known as “The Divine 9” or “D9,” is unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.” The council lives by the values of culture, diversity, inclusion, academic achievement, community service, leadership, and lifetime brotherhood/sisterhood. Each active chapter of the NPHC at UT provides insight and direction on matters related to the council. Policies and standards related to membership intake and chapter management are advised through the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, which works in conjunction with NPHC chapters, alumni advisors, and the organization’s state/regional/national administration. NPHC is supported by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and as such, must comply with the policies and expectations of the office which can be found on their website.
The Multicultural Greek Council is the governing body of UT’s culturally-based sororities and fraternities. MGC is united by their aspirations to increase cultural awareness, provide space for diversity/inclusion, serve various communities through service/educational-related programs, and maintain high academic standards. Elected members and/or representatives have the ability to work with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life in assessing policies related to membership and chapter management that align with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and their respective national headquarters. MGC is supported by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and as such, must comply with the policies and expectations of the office which can be found on their website
The Panhellenic Council at the University of Tennessee is the governing body of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sororities at UT. The Panhellenic Council strives to create the best possible college experience for all of its members and member organizations by operating under its core ideology: promote the positive, develop women, and create an environment of unity and fairness. The Panhellenic Council holds weekly meetings in order to best serve the community by planning educational, philanthropic, academic, and other events for the campus and community. The Panhellenic Council is supported by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and as such, must comply with the policies and expectations of the office which can be found on their website.