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Title VI

“No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

What is Title VI?

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

What Programs are Covered by Title VI?

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) receive federal funding and federal financial assistance from numerous sources. As recipients of federal funding, UTK and UTIA operate programs and deliver benefits and services to individuals or other beneficiaries. Additionally, the university requires assurance of compliance with Title VI from its subgrantees, contractors, and other collaborators or subrecipients of federal funds.

What Discrimination is Prohibited by Title VI?

Many forms of illegal discrimination based on race, color, or national origin can limit opportunities to gain equal access to services and programs. Among other things, in operating a federally assisted program, a recipient cannot do the following, on the basis of race, color, or national origin, either directly or through contractual means:

  • Deny programs, services, aids, or benefits.
  • Provide a different service, aid, or benefit, or provide them in a manner different than they are provided to others.
  • Segregate or separately treat individuals in any matter related to the receipt of any service, aid, or benefit.

Examples of prohibited discriminatory practices at the university would include:

  • Denial of admission to UTK or UTIA on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
  • Assignment of on-campus housing or use of other facilities on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
  • Denial of academic or student support services on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
  • Denial of scholarships or other financial aid on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
  • Denial of any services, or other benefits for which individuals are otherwise qualified, on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

How Can I File a Discrimination Complaint?

UTK and UTIA are responsible for investigating complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the use of federal funds. If you believe that you or others protected by Title VI have been discriminated against involving programs or services provided through UTK or UTIA, you should file a complaint with the Office of Investigation and Resolution (OIR), University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The complaint form is here.

The University of Tennessee also has campuses and units in Memphis, Martin, Chattanooga, Pulaski, and Tullahoma. Each UT campus and unit has a complaint procedure and a Title VI coordinator responsible for investigating all Title VI complaints.

A signed, written complaint should be filed with the University of Tennessee, generally within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination. A written complaint should include the following:

  • Your name, address, telephone number, and signature.
  • The name and address of the program or department you believe discriminated against you.
  • How, why, and when you believe you were discriminated against, and the names of those involved, if known. Include as much background information as possible about the alleged acts of discrimination.
  • The names of any persons that the investigator could contact for additional information to support or clarify your allegations.

Individuals who wish to file a Title VI complaint with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) have up to 180 days from the date of the discriminatory act.

What Will Happen After I File a Complaint?

Once a complaint is filed, it will be reviewed by the Title VI Coordinator and/or OIR to determine if the issues you have raised arise under Title VI. The Title VI coordinator (or assigned investigator) generally will investigate your allegations and attempt to resolve any violations found. More information about the campus complaint procedure can be found on the OIR website (

What if I Experience Retaliation for Asserting My Rights Under Title VI or Filing a Complaint?

You should be aware that a recipient, including the University of Tennessee, is prohibited from retaliating against you or any person because he or she opposed an unlawful policy or practice, or made charges, testified, or participated in any complaint action under Title VI. If you believe that you have been retaliated against, you should immediately contact your campus or unit Title VI coordinator.

Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

In making its programs and activities accessible to applicants and beneficiaries, the university will take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to those with limited English proficiency (LEP). UTK and UTIA procedures and plans utilize several resources to deliver LEP services. Because of the complexity of the organization and the widespread reach of its programs and services, reasonable steps to ensure access vary widely according to the specific circumstances. Avaza language services are among the many options outlined in the University of Tennessee’s LEP compliance plan, available by contacting the Title VI coordinator for each campus. Avaza’s language services card is here.

Title VI Plans

Read more about the University of Tennessee System Title VI Implementation Plans, which protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their race, color, or national origin in programs that receive federal financial assistance.