Listening sessions lead to changes in student handbook

The Vanderbilt student handbook has been revised to include new policies regarding student discrimination and online harassment following a series of listening sessions among university leaders and students, faculty and identity groups. 

The listening sessions took place over the summer and this fall with Chancellor Daniel Diermeier and Dr. André L. Churchwell, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, after incidents of ethnic and cultural discrimination took place around the country. 

“Open dialogue from sessions like these with students, faculty and staff is so valued,” Churchwell said. “These discussions help us drive decisions around educational programming, additional opportunities for community dialogue and resources.” 

The student handbook’s discrimination policy now includes actions that may be taken if an incident does not rise to the level of policy violation but is nonetheless inconsistent with the university’s values. 

“We take harassment that occurs through electronic means very seriously, and we’re currently working to enhance the explanatory materials around bias-related incidents,” said G.L. Black, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students. 

Additional sections of the student handbook related to harassment that have been updated over the past several years, with the help of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, include information on receiving threats, use of university computers and data networks, and communication and promotion of events or issues. 

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Access has appreciated the opportunity to work with campus partners and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive response to incidents of discrimination and harassment,” Stephanie Roth, associate vice chancellor for equal access, said.