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Diversity training works to prevent, respond to hate on UT's campus

"Being a decent human goes a long way no matter what."

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Diversity training is now underway at the University of Tennessee.

It's part of a push to end to hate speech and discrimination on campus.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is on campus this week for a round of training sessions.

"We want to create a world in which no individual or group has to suffer from hate or discrimination," said Shelley Rose, Deputy Regional Director of the ADL Southeast Region.

The university started talking with the ADL last fall after anti-Semitic messages were painted on the rock on campus.

This nationwide group said racism and hate are problems on a lot of college campuses.

RELATED: UT to require cultural training, forming panel to review student code of conduct following blackface incident

"Between 2016 and 2017 we saw an 89% increase in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses, but there have also been increases in other types of hate as well," said Rose.

At training sessions with faculty, staff and students, this group talked about ways to respond to hate speech, and recognize racist and discriminatory situations.

Academic adviser Allie Burns said she took a lot of things away from the training, including practices she can implement immediately.

"When people say things that are hurtful just saying ouch and letting them know that it's not okay," said Burns.

Different racist incidents on UT's campus this school year have students working for change, too.

RELATED: UT students ask Randy Boyd for more diversity, lower tuition

"Being a decent human goes a long way no matter what," said junior Caroline Arias.

She attended the student training session Wednesday night.

"Recognizing my own privilege and just knowing that often times people experience different prejudices on campus and it's my job just as much as theirs to educate people on what it means to be an ally," said Arias.

These training sessions were optional, but students and staff are optimistic.

"I serve a lot of different kinds of students, and I want to know how to make sure that they feel safe and that they feel heard and that they feel welcomed," said Burns.

The ADL has another training session for 100 faculty members Wednesday morning.

They're also meeting with the Jewish student community and the Chancellor's cabinet.

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