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Message from Susan Wente and Candice Lee on addressing sexual assault and misconduct

Jun. 24, 2020, 11:00 AM

Dear Vanderbilt community,

We write to you today in response to disturbing reports we’ve recently heard from several young women in our community regarding sexual assault by current and former Vanderbilt student-athletes.

First and foremost, we want to state unequivocally that we have zero tolerance for any acts that undermine the safety and well-being of any member of our community. We take this responsibility incredibly seriously. It is not just our professional responsibility, but also a moral obligation that unites the leadership of this university. As women and mothers ourselves, our hearts go out to all whose lives have been forever altered by any such heinous acts. As leaders, we are committed to striving every day to provide the safest and healthiest environment possible for all of our students, and we are deeply sorry that this institution we have worked to lead has not been able to provide this for everyone.

As is always the case, any new allegations will be immediately referred to Vanderbilt’s Title IX office for follow-up. While we have made important strides to address sexual assault and misconduct as a campus community, we recognize that these steps are just the building blocks and there is much more work to be done.

Following our initial response to these reports, we have been actively reflecting on next steps. To that end, we are undertaking a review of processes, policies, programs and support systems, and their application within college athletics, to evaluate what is working, what is not working and what improvements we can make to advance a safer environment for our students to thrive. The review, supported by Incoming Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, the entire Vanderbilt leadership team and analysis and guidance from outside experts, will inform an action plan to address process gaps and improvements and build on existing programs and strategies to combat sexual assault and misconduct currently being implemented through Project Safe, the Title IX office, Vanderbilt Athletics and other parts of the university.

Through the Provost’s Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention and partnership with the student-led Vanderbilt Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention committee, we are further committed to our collaborative efforts with students, faculty and staff to take action.

Any student, faculty or staff member in need of support during this or any other time can find a detailed list of resources and information on the Project Safe website.

Our aspiration is and will continue to be an unflinching pursuit of safety, care and equity for all.

Sincerely,

Susan R. Wente
Interim Chancellor and Provost

Candice Storey Lee
Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director

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