The Vanderbilt Community Creed
The Community Creed is a student-initiated statement of the values to which the Vanderbilt community aspires. Individuals who join this community embark on a lifelong journey toward greater intellectual enlightenment and personal growth. By fostering the Creed’s principles, we preserve the University’s enduring tradition of excellence, united by a common set of values.
SCHOLARSHIP is the pursuit of knowledge in an environment of academic freedom. Members of our community engage in a partnership of learning in which the exploration of ideas is encouraged and protected.
HONESTY is a commitment to refrain from lying, cheating, and stealing. Recognizing that dishonesty undermines community trust, stifles the spirit of scholarship, and threatens a safe environment, we expect ourselves to be truthful in academic endeavors, in relationships with others, and in pursuit of personal development.
CIVILITY is the genuine respect for the rights of others. We value constructive disagreement and are mindful of the potential impact of our words and actions.
ACCOUNTABILITY is taking responsibility for our actions and their consequences. We accept the duty to actively participate in the decisions that affect our academic and personal lives, and we honor our commitments to ourselves and to others.
CARING is the concern for the well-being and dignity of others. We are dedicated to supporting one another within our community. We make a lifelong commitment to channeling service, knowledge, and experience toward the betterment of humanity.
DISCOVERY is the exploration of the wonders of self in relation to a larger world. We embrace the opportunity to take risks, challenge assumptions, and understand disparate experiences at Vanderbilt and beyond.
CELEBRATION is the active appreciation of Vanderbilt University’s tradition of excellence. We support the endeavors and recognize the achievements of our community members. In celebrating the expressions of our differences, we delight in the spirit that unites individuals throughout our community.
We pledge to foster the values set forth in the Vanderbilt Community Creed and confront behavior that may weaken the spirit of our community.
Vanderbilt’s mission includes educating its students in all respects: intellectually, socially, ethically, spiritually, and emotionally. This mission is evident in much that we do and in our strategic vision that builds on Vanderbilt’s unique strengths. The University’s residential community of students, faculty, and staff is one that educates the whole person. Its commitment to a diverse, civil, collegial, small-class environment demonstrates that at Vanderbilt, faculty, students, and staff work as intellectual partners, and that mentoring and support always accompany academic engagement. We succeed only if our University is engaged in all elements of the development of the human potential in each of us.
What students may expect of Vanderbilt is articulated in the University’s mission statement, in the catalogues of the colleges and schools, in Equal Opportunity statement, and in the Statement of Principles found in the Faculty Manual.
What students may expect of each other, and the principles that form the basis of what the University expects of students, are articulated in the Community Creed, Vanderbilt’s social honor code. The Student Handbook is designed to acquaint students with the specifics of the standards expected of them as members of University community. The policies and regulations delineated in the handbook apply to all students enrolled at Vanderbilt.
The University makes the handbook available to students via the World Wide Web (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook). It is the student’s responsibility to become aware of its contents. Ignorance of a policy or regulation will not be considered an excuse for failure to observe it.
Members of the University enjoy the rights and privileges associated with their status and are bound by the laws of the surrounding community. Student status does not protect a Vanderbilt student from arrest or prosecution for violation of local, state, or federal laws. A student who violates certain regulations can be held accountable by the public courts as well as by the University. A student’s standing before the courts in and of itself, however, does not necessarily affect his or her standing within the University at any time.
The information provided, and the regulations and policies articulated in The Student Handbook are not intended to be all-inclusive and do not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right at any time to add to, modify, or revoke any of its regulations and policies, including those in the handbook, without notice.
University Policies and Regulations
- Address and Name Change
- Alcohol: See Chapter 6
- Athletics, Student
- Complaint and Grievance Procedures
- Computer Privileges and Responsibilities
- Conduct: See Chapter 3, “Student Accountability”
- Copyright Infringement
- Email Address
- Equal Opportunity
- Fees, Co-Curricular
- Financial Aid, Student
- Financial Responsibility
- Identification Card
- (Vanderbilt University) Logos and Word Marks, Use of by Registered Student Organizations
- Mail Services
- Missing Student Notification Policy
- Nonacademic Undergraduate Class Designation
- Parking and Transportation
- Police Department, Vanderbilt University
- Political Activity
- Protection of Minors
- Refunds of Tuition and Residence Hall Charges
- Religious Holy Days & Practices
- Residential Requirement
- Student Marital Spouse and Same-Sex Domestic-Partner Registration
- Sexual Misconduct: See Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence”
- Smoke-Free Campus
- Solicitation: See Chapter 5 “Student Engagement.”
- Student Health Center
- Student Records (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
- Study Abroad
- Technology and Literary and Artistic Works
- Universal Waiver
- University Calendar
- Vanderbilt Visions
When communities come together for a purpose, they generally establish guidelines and procedures for furthering that purpose. The policies and regulations, articulated below, have been developed over time to serve the Vanderbilt community as it pursues its academic endeavors of teaching and learning. Some of the policies, such as the residential requirement, have been established to strengthen and complement the educational experience. Others, such as fees and dining plans, have been established to provide financial viability to programs and services that students desire or require. Still others, such as those dealing with addresses, enable effective communication. A number delineate procedures for students to follow when addressing issues.
Taken in their entirety, they may seem a bit overwhelming. However, they have served well both the institution and individual students. Trying to function without them would prove very challenging, if not chaotic.
Address and Name Change
Students are required to inform either the registrars of their schools, the offices of academic services within their respective schools, or the University Registrar of any changes in their University or home addresses. Official notifications from the University will be sent to the address listed with the Office of the University Registrar. Student addresses and phone numbers may be updated by logging in to YES (Your Enrollment Services) and selecting the Address Change link.
Vanderbilt University competes in varsity athletics at the highest level sanctioned by the NCAA (Division I) within the highly regarded Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Commodores have experienced unprecedented success across the various sports, having garnered thirteen conference championships and one national championship within the last decade. Vanderbilt fields sixteen intercollegiate sports programs: football, baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s bowling (independent of conference affiliation), men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s lacrosse (in the American Lacrosse Conference), women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field.
During the 2013/2014 academic year, approximately 350 student-athletes competed in varsity athletics at Vanderbilt. Further information regarding Student Athletics can be found at http://www.vucommodores.com or by calling 615 32(2-4727).
A wide range of intramural and sport club opportunities are offered through the Office of Campus Recreation or 615-34(3-6627).
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Situations may arise in which a student believes that he or she has not received fair treatment by a representative of the University or has a complaint about the performance, action, or inaction of a member of the staff or faculty, affecting the student. A student who wishes to have a complaint addressed by the University should first use the Complaint Procedure, below, and then use the Grievance Procedure if the Complaint Procedure proves unsatisfactory. Students are encouraged to seek assistance from the office of the appropriate academic dean in cases involving classes, grades, or faculty members; the University Registrar’s office in cases of unauthorized release of student educational records; and the Office of the Dean of Students for release of accountability records or other matters; or, in regard to complaints of unlawful or prohibited discrimination, the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disabilities Services Department. Decisions of the Appellate Review Board, and decisions of appellate officers for cases of sexual misconduct, are not subject to the Complaint and Grievance Procedure.
Allegations of Discrimination, Harassment and Related Retaliation
The University generally prohibits discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment) based on race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. (For a full discussion of what constitutes unlawful or prohibited discrimination, see the section on “Equal Opportunity.”) In addition, the University does not retaliate against individuals for filing or encouraging another to file a complaint of unlawful or prohibited discrimination, participating in an investigation of unlawful or prohibited discrimination, or opposing unlawful or prohibited discrimination. “Retaliation” includes any adverse action or act of revenge against an individual for filing or encouraging another to file a complaint of unlawful or prohibited discrimination, participating in an investigation of unlawful or prohibited discrimination, or opposing unlawful or prohibited discrimination. If a student believes that he or she has been discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against, the student should report the matter to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disabilities Services Department (EAD). The EAD will seek to assist the student with the resolution of the complaint as described below in the Complaint Procedure.
A complaint should be directed as soon as possible to the person or persons whose actions or inactions have given rise to the complaint, but not later than six months after the event. Every effort should be made to resolve the problem fairly and promptly (usually within thirty ) days, at this level.
If the complaint involves allegations of sexual harassment, this step is not appropriate. (See Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”) In addition, in a complaint alleging prohibited discrimination, as noted above, the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disabilities Services Department (EAD) should be consulted as soon as possible. The EAD will conduct an investigation of the allegations (usually within ninety  business days), will issue a finding to the appropriate University official, and will seek to resolve the matter. If the EAD is unable to complete the investigation within this time period, then the EAD will contact the complainant and provide an estimated time frame for completing the investigation.
If the student is not able to resolve the complaint satisfactorily at this level, he or she may appeal the decision within thirty (30) days through the appropriate administrative channels of the academic or administrative unit, or through the Provost or appropriate vice chancellor. Students uncertain about the proper channels or process are encouraged to seek advice from the Office of the Dean of Students. If the student is not satisfied with a resolution proposed by the EAD, then the student may pursue the Grievance Procedure, below.
A student who believes that he or she has not received fair treatment, or who has a complaint about the performance, action, or inaction of a member of the faculty or staff, and believes that he or she has not received appropriate redress through the Complaint Procedure in the preceding section within a reasonable period of time, including for complaints of prohibited discrimination investigated by the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disabilities Services Department (EAD), may file a written grievance with the Office of the Chancellor within thirty (30) days. Upon ascertaining that the complaint procedure has been exhausted, the Chancellor’s office shall refer the grievance to the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Affairs, usually within thirty (30) days during the academic year. For this purpose, the membership of the committee shall be augmented by three student members appointed by the Chancellor at the beginning of each academic year. The undergraduate Vanderbilt Student Government will nominate students for the one undergraduate position, and student governing bodies of the professional/graduate schools will nominate students for the other two student positions on a rotating basis.
Upon receiving the grievance referral from the Office of the Chancellor, the Student Affairs Committee shall inform, in writing, both parties to the grievance that a preliminary investigation will take place. The preliminary investigation will usually be completed within thirty (30) days. After the preliminary investigation, if the committee decides that the grievance is not frivolous, the committee shall follow procedures necessary to ensure a fair hearing of the matter, including the opportunity for the student to present relevant evidence, to challenge adverse evidence, and to have the complaint heard by an impartial committee. Committee members may recuse themselves if they believe their objectivity is subject to question, and the grievant may request any committee member recuse himself or herself if the grievant believes that a committee member will not view the grievance with sufficient objectivity. If vacancies occur, the chair of the Faculty Senate shall appoint Senate members to fill faculty vacancies and the Chancellor shall appoint students to fill student vacancies.
The student filing the grievance may be assisted during the hearing by a member of the University community (faculty, staff, or student) not trained in the law, and is encouraged to seek such assistance. Although all parties to the grievance are free to consult with, and receive advice from, attorneys concerning the grievance, no party shall be represented by an attorney at the hearing. For hearings or complaints of prohibited discrimination, a representative from the EAD shall be present in an advisory capacity. The committee may call upon any individuals who it believes may be helpful in resolving the grievance.
The grievant and the person or persons against whom the grievance was filed shall be present during the hearing until such time as the committee is ready to begin deliberations. The student may withdraw the grievance, with the consent of the other party, at any time prior to the decision of the committee.
After each case the committee shall write its report. The report should be completed within three weeks and shall include a statement of the committee’s findings, the basis for those findings, and, if necessary, recommendations for any corrective action that should be taken. If any disciplinary action is anticipated, the appropriate University disciplinary procedures shall be followed. The report, including the vote and any dissenting statements, shall be sent to the Chancellor within one week after completion. Except as disclosures are reasonably necessary in the investigation, hearing, and final disposition of a grievance, the grievant, members of the hearing bodies, and others having knowledge of a grievance are expected to preserve the confidentiality of the grievance.
The Chancellor shall communicate his decision to the committee. In any case in which the Chancellor does not follow the decision or the recommendation of the committee, the Chancellor shall report to the committee his or her reasons for so doing. The Office of the Chancellor shall then notify the student and the other affected persons, in writing, of the final decision, usually within thirty (30) days of receipt of the Committee’s report, during the academic year.
State Postsecondary Review Entity (SPRE) Grievance Procedure
Students should be aware that, should they have complaints about their academic program or their financial aid, Vanderbilt has a complaint procedure. To the extent possible, students should seek a resolution of such matters through the institution’s complaint procedure before involving others. Should the institution not be able to resolve the problem, the student should call the State Postsecondary Review Program office at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission at 615-532-8276.
Distance Education Complaint and Grievance Procedures
Students enrolled in distance education programs offered by Vanderbilt University in states other than Tennessee should seek resolution for complaints through Vanderbilt’s complaint procedure. Distance education students may also contact the appropriate authority in their state of residence. For further information please visit http://www.vanderbilt.edu/provost/vanderbilt-university-distance-education-complaint-and-grievance-procedures-2/
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Allegations regarding noncompliance with accreditation standards, policies, and procedures may be made to SACSCOC, 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097. (The Commission’s complaint policy, procedures, and the Complaint Form may be found online .)
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Conduct: See Chapter 3, “Student Accountability”
Vanderbilt responds to allegations of copyright infringement in digital and online media in accordance with procedures required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Vanderbilt policy prohibits violations of copyright law by use of University networks, equipment, and facilities. Suspected student offenders are referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, which investigates, and where appropriate, initiates the University’s accountability process consistent with University policies and regulations. Vanderbilt’s information technology privileges and responsibilities are articulated in the University’s acceptable use policy at www.vanderbilt.edu/info/computing-aup.
The unauthorized copying, performance, or distribution of materials protected by copyright law may subject individuals to civil and criminal penalties. The distribution of material through peer-to-peer file-sharing networks may constitute copyright infringement if undertaken without authorization of the copyright owner.
Civil penalties for copyright infringement include fines of up to $30,000 per work infringed, or, in the case of willful infringement, $150,000 per work infringed. Criminal penalties for copyright infringement can be more severe and range, in the case of fines, from $5,000 to $250,000 per work infringed, and can include imprisonment of up to five years per offense depending on the facts of the case. Infringers may also be liable for attorney’s fees and court costs.
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First-year students living on campus are required to participate in the First-Year Meal Plan. Second-year students living on campus are required to participate in the fourteen-meal-per-week plan. Third-year students living on campus are required to participate in the eight-meal-per-week plan. All plans include Flex Meals and Meal Money, both of which may be replenished once depleted. Other undergraduates may purchase the 19-, 14- or 8-meal-per week plans at the MEALS website. Graduate and professional students may purchase Flex Meals on line at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/commodorecard/students.html . Detailed information on Vanderbilt Campus Dining and meal plans may be found at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/dining.
Billing and Refunds
All billing on a student account is handled through the Office of Student Accounts. Prorated tuition refunds may be made in some cases of prolonged illness or withdrawal from the University, upon the recommendation of the student’s dean.
See also “Refunds of Tuition and Residence Hall Charges.”
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Certain federal statutes require that information be delivered to each student. Vanderbilt delivers much of this information via email. Official electronic notifications, including those required by statutes, those required by University policy, and instructions from University officials, will be sent to students’ Vanderbilt email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org. Students are required to be familiar with the contents of official University notifications, and to respond to instructions and other official correspondence requiring a response.
The University makes every effort to avoid inundating students with nonessential email (often called “spam”), and maintains separate lists from which students may unsubscribe for announcements of general interest.
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In compliance with federal law, including the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Executive Order 11246, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, as amended, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 i , Vanderbilt University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information in its administration of educational policies, programs, or activities; admissions policies; scholarship and loan programs; athletic or other University-administered programs; or employment. In addition, the University does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation ii , gender identity iii , or gender expression iv consistent with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.
i The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits discrimination in health coverage and in employment based on genetic information.
ii Sexual orientation refers to a person’s self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, or uncertain.
iii Gender identity is generally defined as a person’s own sense of identification as male, female, both, or neither as distinguished from actual biological sex, i.e. it is one’s psychological sense of self.
iv Gender expression is everything we do that communicates our sense of identification to others.
Vanderbilt Campus Disability Access
Vanderbilt University is committed to equal access for people with disabilities. In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Vanderbilt does not exclude otherwise qualified persons with disabilities, solely by reason of the disability, from participating in University programs and activities, nor are persons with disabilities denied the benefits of these programs or subjected to discrimination.
The Disability Services Program, which is part of Vanderbilt’s Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department, provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities, which allow for equal access to education. Accommodations are available for Vanderbilt University students who have temporary or permanent disabilities and are based on the documented needs of each individual. To request reasonable accommodations, students are to contact the Disability Services Program to schedule an intake meeting with the appropriate staff person. Intake meetings are provided on an individual basis to help students orient themselves with the EAD’s processes and services. It is the individual student’s responsibility to request accommodations and provide sufficient and appropriate documentation. Students are encouraged to contact the EAD’s Disability Services Program prior to or upon enrollment at Vanderbilt University.
For further information about services for students with disabilities, write or call the EAD Disability Services Program, PMB 401809, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-1809; telephone 615-32(2-4705) V/TDD. (See EAD, below.)
The Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD)
The EAD serves as a resource in the following capacities:
- to assist in keeping the administration informed of the University’s obligations under state and federal equal opportunity laws;
- to coordinate and monitor the University’s Affirmative Action Program in compliance with equal opportunity laws;
- to serve as a source of information for faculty, staff, and students who may have questions or complaints pertaining to equal opportunity in employment practices, University-sponsored programs and activities, and educational opportunities;
- to provide training to the Vanderbilt community on issues of equal opportunity and affirmative action; and
- to coordinate services for persons with disabilities.
Several federal and state laws impose special obligations on the University. Some include:
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963
- Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
- Executive Order 11246, as amended
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974
- The Age Discrimination Act of 1975
- Tennessee Fair Human Rights Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- ADA Amendment Act of 2008 (ADAAA)
Of these laws, Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA and the ADAAA protect students from discrimination in educational and recreational programs and activities sponsored by the University. Discrimination is prohibited by Title VI on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin and by Title IX on the basis of sex, which includes sexual harassment. Students with disabilities are protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA and the ADAAA. The EAD is the office responsible for coordinating services for students with disabilities. (See also “Vanderbilt Campus Disability Access.)
Students who believe that they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment may call the EAD staff for additional information (including information on the student grievance procedure). For more information, visit the EAD website.
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All registered students are assessed mandatory activity and recreation fees, which are set by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust and billed through the Office of Student Accounts. Activity and Recreation fees appear as a combined charge on University statements: Act/Rec Fees.
Student Act/Rec Fees for 2013/2014 are as follows:
|Fall 2014||Spring 2015||AY 14/15 Total||Summer 15|
Fees and policies are carefully set each year by committees comprising students, faculty and staff to provide the best possible services to the widest possible range of students.
Student Activities Fee
The Activities Fee supports student co-curricular interests and events and assists the Graduate Student Council. Portions of the fee are allocated to Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc., and its divisions; programs of the Office of the Dean of Students; Student Athletics; and a variety of registered student organizations.
For the academic year 2014/2015, each undergraduate is assessed $277 each semester for activities fees. Graduate students and students in professional programs pay an activities fee of $78 each semester of the academic year.
Students enrolled for a summer term are assessed a fee of $12 to support summer programs.
Activities fee for undergraduates covers:
- Issues The Vanderbilt Review, and other VSC, Inc., publications (excluding the Vanderbilt Hustler, which receives no activities fees)
- Admission to Office of the Dean of Students programs, at special student rates, and use of Sarratt facilities
- Admission on a seat-available basis to home football, baseball, and basketball games and to other varsity athletic events
Activities fee for graduate and professional students covers:
- Admission to all programs sponsored by Office of the Dean of Students, at special student rates, and use of Sarratt facilities
- A copy of all issues of The Vanderbilt Review
In addition, graduate students support the Graduate Student Council through the Activities Fee.
Graduate and professional students may have their identification cards validated for admission to home football and basketball games, on a seat-available basis, upon payment of an extra fee to Vanderbilt Student Athletics, equal to the amount paid for this privilege by undergraduates. Spouses and University certified domestic partners of full-time graduate and professional students may have their cards validated in this manner as well. Other activities included in the undergraduate activities fee are available to graduate and professional students on a single-admission or subscription basis only.
Activities Fee Committee.
The Student Activities Fee Committee is a representative student group, appointed by Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG), through an application process. On an annual basis, the AcFee Committee makes recommendations to the Dean of Students for allocation of a portion of the funds collected as student activities fees, to registered student organizations.
Student Recreation Fee
The Student Recreation Fee supports Vanderbilt’s recreational programs administered through the Office of Campus Recreation (OCR). Funds are also allocated for the operation of the Student Recreation Center and the University’s recreational playing fields.
For all students, use of facilities and participation in recreational programs or classes is on a space-available basis and subject to requirements, including operating hours, set by the OCR. Special student charges are assessed for some classes and activities, as well as for use of certain equipment.
Recreation Fee for Undergraduates
Each undergraduate student is assessed $258 each semester of the academic year and $62 during the summer. The fee covers:
- use of Student Recreation Center facilities and the recreation fields
- participation in intramural, sport club, and wellness programs
- enrollment and participation in outdoor recreational activities
- participation in recreational classes and workshops.
Recreation Fee for Graduate and Professional Students
Each graduate and professional student is assessed $133 each semester of the academic year and $62 during the summer. Payment of the summer fee entitles graduate and professional students to the same privileges provided undergraduates.
The academic year fee covers:
- half use of Student Recreation Center facilities (i.e., graduate and professional students may enter the rec center half the number of days available to undergraduates in a given semester, without incurring additional charges. Full access may be arranged for an additional fee.)
- use of the recreation fields
- participation in intramural, sport club, and wellness programs
- enrollment and participation in outdoor recreational activities
- participation in recreational classes and workshops.
Recreational Activities for Spouses and Partners
Spouses and University-certified domestic partners of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students may use the Student Recreation Center for a fee and participate in recreational classes, workshops, and outdoor programs. In order to use the facility, a spouse or University-certified domestic partner must obtain a Student Family identification card from the Vanderbilt Card Office in Sarratt Student Center. Students should accompany their spouses and eligible partners to the Card Office. Spouses and University-certified domestic partners of medical students should obtain their cards from the Medical Center Card Office, D-2107 Medical Center North. Spouses and partners may inquire at the main desk of the Student Recreation Center concerning registration and payment of fees after a University I.D. card has been obtained.
Waiver of Student Fees
The Student Activities and Recreation fees are mandatory fees set by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust. Waivers of these fees for fall or spring semesters may be granted for students meeting at least one of two criteria:
- a part-time student registered for four or fewer credit hours (including audit credit) or
- a full- or part-time student residing outside a circle of approximately sixty miles from the Vanderbilt campus, as determined by ZIP codes. (Note that it is the student’s responsibility to notify the University Registrar’s office of an address change in a timely manner.)
Graduate students carrying thesis or dissertation hours are considered full-time students and are not eligible for a waiver based on part-time status. Students living outside the ”sixty-mile radius” from Vanderbilt who desire to obtain a waiver for distance, must petition the Student Fees Waiver Committee in writing to receive consideration for a waiver of these fees. An online waiver from is available at www.vanderbilt.edu/recadmin. The Student Fees Waiver Committee will review each request, and petitioners must apply each semester. It is the University’s policy that there are no waivers of the summer activity and recreation fees.
All students eligible for a waiver of student fees must petition for a waiver by August 14th for the fall semester and by January 2nd for the spring semester. A late charge of $10 will be assessed to eligible students who apply after this deadline. No waivers will be granted if forms are received after the last day of classes in a given semester. No waivers will be granted for prior semesters. No waivers will be granted to students who are also part-time or full-time staff having access to other facilities, unless they meet the criteria for a waiver. For questions or clarifications of these fees, please call the Office of Recreation Administration at 615 32(2-3963) or email email@example.com. Access to the waiver request form can be found online, or by writing to Student Fees Waiver Committee, PMB 406206, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37240-6206. Waiver request forms must be completed each semester.
In some rare cases, waivers may be granted if exceptional circumstances apply. Exceptional circumstances do not include a student’s lack of time or inclination to make use of facilities, services, or programs, or a student’s financial circumstances. The Student Fees Waiver Committee reviews each request, and petitioners must apply each semester.
Students requesting an exceptional circumstance waiver based on a medical condition must have their physicians submit documentation to the Medical Director of Student Health, Vanderbilt University, Zerfoss Building MCN, Nashville, TN, 37232-8710 by mail, fax 615-34(3-0047) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Medical director evaluates submitted documentation and makes recommendations to the Student Fees Waiver Committee.
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The Office of Student Financial Aid and Undergraduate Scholarships provides students and parents with information and assistance in their search, and application, and processing actions regarding need-based financial assistance (federal, state, and institutional) available at Vanderbilt. To be considered for need-based financial assistance from Vanderbilt, a student must complete the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Financial Aid PROFILE. To be considered for federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Upon the student’s completing the required financial aid application materials, the Office of Student Financial Aid and Undergraduate Scholarships will provide information regarding a student’s financial aid eligibility and any additional steps required to finalize assistance for the student. Grants, scholarships, and Federal Work Study employment opportunities are available for eligible students. Students and/or parents may also be eligible for loans, if necessary. More information about both need-based and merit-based assistance is available on the Office of Student Financial Aid and Undergraduate Scholarships website.
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Tuition, fees, and all charges associated with the beginning of the semester are due and payable in full by the beginning of classes. The payment deadline for fall 2013 is August 14; for spring 2014, the payment deadline is January 2. A student who misses the payment deadline for either semester will be charged a 1.5% late payment fee and may have his or her registration cancelled. In addition, YES (Your Enrollment System), Commodore Cash debit spending, and V-Net (long distance telephone) access may be suspended. Payment options may be found Office of Student Accounts website.
All first-year and new transfer students must complete a Student Account Agreement form prior to August 1, 2013. Forms are available in the Office of Student Accounts or online.
Students and their parents (or legal guardians) will be responsible for payment of all costs, including reasonable attorney fees and collection agency fees, incurred by the University in collecting moneys owed to the University. Students are bound by laws of Tennessee governing bad checks.
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The Commodore Card is the official identification card for the University. All students, whether full- or part-time, are required to have a valid identification card for any semester in which they are registered. The card is the property of the University, and if a student withdraws, it must be relinquished to the office of the dean of the school in which the student is enrolled. The Commodore Card is not transferable, and altering cards is prohibited. Damaged cards should be replaced (for a fee) at the Commodore Card Office. If misused, cards may be invalidated for specific activities such as varsity athletic events or Recreation Center access.
In addition to using the Commodore Card for identification, students may use their cards to access Commodore Cash debit spending funds, to make use of their VU Meal Plan, to gain admission to campus buildings such as residences, academic buildings, libraries, athletic events and the Student Recreation Center, and to gain admission or record attendance at events across the campus.
Many on-campus and off-campus locations accept the Commodore Card as a method of payment, including dining locations, the Vanderbilt bookstore, Varsity Markets, vending, laundry, taxi service, certain VUprint stations and copy machines, Sarratt Ticket Office, the campus post office, Athletics concessions, Outdoor Recreation Center and restaurants participating in the Taste of Nashville program. For information on funding your Commodore Cash debit spending account, visit the Commodore Card website.
To ensure that Commodore Cash debit spending funds and access privileges can be protected, students must report lost cards as soon as possible either to the Commodore Card Office during business hours or online. Lost cards may also be reported to the Vanderbilt Police Department at 615-32(2-2745).
The University reserves the option of suspending Commodore Card debit privileges, in whole or in part, of any individual for any reason. In the event that debit privileges are entirely suspended, any funds remaining in a the Commodore Cash debit spending account will be returned to the individual’s student account, or otherwise returned if the individual has no student account.
The Commodore Card is nontransferable and restricted to use by the person whose name and picture are on the card. Cardholders may not lend their cards to anyone or ask anyone to purchase items for them with their cards. Violation of this policy may result in confiscation of the card and in corrective action through the University’s accountability process. Commodore Card account information will be released only to the cardholder or to the guarantor of the student account, who has been identified as such by the student on documents filed with the Office of Student Accounts.
Family Identification Card
Upon payment of a $10 fee, the spouse or University-certified domestic partner of a full-time student (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) may obtain a family identification card from the Commodore Card Office by presenting proof of marriage (or University certification of domestic partner status). The student spouse or partner must accompany the individual applying for the card and each must show current photo identification. When properly validated upon payment of the appropriate fees, a family card will admit the family member to home football, basketball, and baseball games (on a seat-available basis), competitions in other sports, libraries, or the Student Recreation Center (if a membership is purchased).
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All logos, seals, names, symbols, and slogans associated with, and used by, Vanderbilt University are trademarks and are the exclusive property of the University. Reproduction and use of these marks must be approved by the Office of Trademark Licensing. Such reproduction includes all products (e.g., T-shirts, mugs, uniforms, etc.) that are used for internal use, sale, or promotional giveaways. Students may call the Trademark Licensing Office at 615-32(2-4461) or visit the website for more information. Note that use of such marks for letterhead, business cards, etc., is overseen by Creative Services.
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Undergraduate students living on campus are eligible for post office boxes, free of charge.
Nonresident undergraduates and postbaccalaureate students may obtain a box at the Peabody Mail Center, for which they will be charged a box-rental fee. (See “Mail Box Fees.”)
Undergraduates typically retain their campus post office boxes for the duration of their undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt (up to four years). However, students who leave the University for any reason (other than unexpected medical reasons) may not receive their mail through campus mail boxes and should submit a change of address card to the post office manager or by completing the online form. Students may be assigned new mailboxes upon their return to the University.
Mailing Instructions and Shipping:
University policy prohibits residential staff from accepting package deliveries due to the lack of storage space and concerns regarding liability. For these reasons, students must make arrangements with their shippers to hold trunks and boxes until the students are able to pick them up at the terminal, or to make arrangements to have the shippers deliver the trunks and boxes to students in their residences after the students have checked into them. Residents must make arrangements to meet shippers who are delivering trunks and boxes.
First-class mail is posted immediately to student boxes, daily, by 10am. Boxes, packages, and mail requiring signatures are inventoried when they arrive at Station B (located in Rand Hall) or the Mail Center at Peabody in the Commons Center. Email package notification is sent to the student’s Vanderbilt email address indicating a package ready for pickup. Students may claim parcels or priority mailings at the package window where their respective mailboxes are located (Rand or the Commons Center).
Students must present valid student ID (Commodore Card) in order to pick up their packages. Students may use any shipping carrier, and should insure all packages up to the value of the contents. Students should number the packages when sending more than one. Example: 1 of 4, 2 of 4, etc. First-year students should consult the Mail Services website for specific move-in instructions.
Packages will be held for five days, then a second-notice will be emailed. Packages will be held three additional days, and if unclaimed, returned to the sender. Refrigerated items will be held no longer than five business days, and if unclaimed returned to the sender without further notice.
For more information call the Station B Post Office at 615 32(2-2934). Students who need assistance on how to ship items from Vanderbilt should visit Station B, the Peabody Mail Center, or visit the Mail Services website. Students with disabilities who need assistance with packages may inquire at either location.
Mail Box Fees
Undergraduates who choose to study abroad or who have authorization to reside off campus, will be charged $20 for a mail box on a per-semester basis (spring and fall). Students who do not want to incur these charges must complete the following procedure:
- Visit the Station B Post Office and request that the mailbox be closed.
- Complete a mail-forwarding card with a valid U.S address of where you would like your mail forwarded.
- The request must be completed by no later than the tenth day of classes of any new semester. Charges will not be removed after this deadline.
Failure to follow this procedure will result in a charge being assessed for the mailbox.
Graduate and professional students who wish to have a mailbox on campus may rent a mailbox at the Peabody location, only. A request must be made in person at the Station B Post Office. The mail box rental of $20 is on a per-semester basis, and may be paid by cash or check, only.
Internal Mail / Campus Mail
Students, registered student organizations, and departments may use the internal campus mail service without paying postage. Items to be distributed through the campus mail or placed in the campus post office boxes must have 4 straight sides and be no smaller then a post card (3 ½ x 5 ½ inches) and no larger than a 9 by 12 inch envelope. Each item must be properly addressed and must include a return address. Authorization for the limited distribution of unaddressed mail may be granted for the activities or governmental and other organizations that have a broad public purpose, provided the exception is not simply for the purpose of advertising an event or party. Authorization may be obtained for such things as public opinion polls and orientation activities. Groups seeking such authorization should apply five days in advance to the manager of the Station B Post Office. Additional information may be found on the Mail Services website or by calling 615-32(2-2924).
Candidates for student offices will not be granted authorization to distribute un-addressed mail.
Food stuffs may not be delivered through campus mail unless adequately packaged in an envelope or box.
Mailings of more than 25 pieces must be arranged in PMB box-number order. All campus mailings of 250 pieces or more should be in Station B one week before the expected distribution date to ensure timely delivery.
Greeting cards for holidays must be delivered to Station B well in advance of the holiday to ensure timely delivery.
Cash should never be sent through the United States Postal service or through campus mail. Vanderbilt Mail Services will not be responsible for cash sent through the mail.
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In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Vanderbilt University provides each student residing on campus the opportunity to designate a confidential contact to be notified by the University in the event that the University, through its established procedures, determines that a student is missing. Although not required, Vanderbilt makes the missing student notification procedure available to all students.
This confidential contact is in addition to any other emergency contact that the student may identify, although both the “confidential” contact and the “emergency” contacts may be the same person or persons. In the case of non-emancipated students under the age of eighteen, the HEOA requires that a custodial parent or guardian be notified; however, an additional, confidential contact may also be specified. Students may designate both emergency contacts and confidential contacts by logging into YES (Your Enrollment Services) at https://yes.vanderbilt.edu, and selecting the appropriate process.
Once the Vanderbilt Police department has determined that a student is missing, the Dean of Students or one of the Dean’s designees will notify the confidential contact within 24 hours. Vanderbilt University will also notify an appropriate external law enforcement agency and others at the University, as appropriate, about the missing student, within the same 24-hour period.
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Determination of a student’s class for nonacademic purposes is usually based on the number of years the student has been in residence, regardless of the number of credit hours accumulated. A student in the first year of full-time study is classified as a first-year student for purposes of meal plans, parking privileges, running for campus office, etc., even if the student has achieved sophomore academic standing because of summer enrollment or advanced placement. Transfer students enrolled in an accelerated three-year graduation program are classified in consultation with the appropriate student affairs deans of their respective schools or colleges. Classification for room assignments in campus residences, is determined by the Office of Housing and Residential Education in consultation with Vanderbilt Student Government.
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Motor vehicles operated on campus by Vanderbilt University faculty, staff, and students must be registered annually with the Office of Traffic and Parking. Resident student parking on campus is a privilege and is primarily reserved for juniors and seniors. First-year students may not register or park vehicles on campus; however, a limited number of long-term vehicle-storage spaces are available to sophomores on a first-come, first-served basis. Complete parking regulations may be found on the Traffic and Parking website.
Motorcycles, Motorized Bicycles, Mopeds, and Motor Scooters
As above, motorized vehicles operated on campus by Vanderbilt University faculty, staff, and students, must be registered annually with the Office of Traffic and Parking. The operation of motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor scooters, and mopeds on sidewalks (walkways and similar paths) is prohibited, in keeping with Tennessee ordinance #55-8-101(37). Vehicles providing for of accessibility (such as motorized wheel chairs), are exempt from the prohibition if approved in advance through the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department (EAD), 615-32(2-4705). Complete regulations regarding motorcycles etc., can be found on the Traffic and Parking website.
Sections of the Metropolitan Nashville Traffic and Parking Code dealing with bicycles apply both on and off campus. Vanderbilt policy concerning the use of bicycles on campus is as follows:
- Cyclists should exercise caution on campus roadways, which may require walking the cycle under certain circumstances.
- Cyclists on roadways must ride with traffic as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or roadway edge, except under one or more of the following circumstances:
when overtaking and passing a vehicle going in the same direction,
when preparing for a left turn, or
when avoiding obstacles or hazards.
- Cyclists on roadways may not ride more than two abreast, and cyclists on Vanderbilt sidewalks must ride in single file.
- Cyclists riding on sidewalks must yield to pedestrians, and must provide audible notice before passing pedestrians.
- The bicycle speed limit on campus roads is ten miles per hour.
Registration of bicycles through Operation ID at the Vanderbilt University Police Department helps to deter theft and helps to identify the owners of bicycles that have been recovered. Bicycles may be registered online. Bicycle owners should notify Vanderbilt Police if their bicycles are stolen or if they sell their registered bicycles.
To prevent theft, U-locks should be used to secure bicycles to racks. Bicycles may not be parked in the public areas of campus buildings. Securing bicycles to the decorative grillwork of campus buildings, to hand rails, or to any structures not designated for securing bicycles is prohibited. In certain areas, fences have been adapted for use as bike racks, where such use does not impede traffic. Bicycles may not be secured to fences adjacent to stairs or sidewalks, or within fifteen feet of a building entrance or exit.
Persons involved in bicycle accidents that result in personal injury should report the accidents to the Vanderbilt University Police Department.
Golf carts are prohibited on campus, except when used by those departments (Alumni Events, e.g.) that must use such carts in the undertaking of their responsibilities during special events. Rare exceptions may be made by the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee in consultation with the Director of the Student Health Center and Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services, for students whose mobility impairment cannot be accommodated by any other device. Golf carts may not be operated on Metro streets and must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks.
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Police Department, Vanderbilt University
As one of Tennessee’s larger law enforcement agencies, the Vanderbilt University Police Department provides comprehensive law enforcement and security services to all components of the University including the academic campus, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and a variety of University-owned facilities throughout Davidson County. Both non-commissioned and commissioned officers staff the department.
Commissioned officers are empowered to make arrests as “Special Police Officers,” through the authority of the Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Vanderbilt officers with Special Police Commissions have the same authority as that of a municipal law enforcement officer while on property owned, operated or otherwise controlled by the University.
When a Vanderbilt student is involved in an off-campus incident, Vanderbilt police officers may assist with the investigation in cooperation with local, state, or federal law enforcement. Metro Nashville police routinely work and communicate with Vanderbilt officers on any serious incident occurring on campus or in the neighborhoods and business areas surrounding campus.
Metro Nashville police have primary jurisdiction in all areas off campus, but Vanderbilt police officers are often dispatched to respond to student-related incidents that occur in close proximity to campus. Vanderbilt officers have direct radio communications with the Nashville police, fire department, and ambulance services to facilitate rapid response in any emergency situation.
VUPD offers a wide variety services described in detail on its website. Services include the following:
- Emergency Notification
- Security Notices
- Educational Services (personal safety, bystander intervention, etc.)
- Emergency Phones (located across the campus)
- Lost & Found
- Operation ID [Register Your Possessions under the Students pull-down menu]
- Self Defense (RAD) for women
- VandyVans operating on designated routes from dusk to five a.m.
- Victim Services support for crime victims
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Vanderbilt encourages students to engage with public issues and in the political process to the fullest extent of their interests. However, because of its tax-exempt status, the University is subject to restrictions concerning certain political activities. In particular, the Internal Revenue Code imposes limitations on tax-exempt organizations relating to attempts to influence legislation and an absolute prohibition on participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf of candidates for public office.
These limitations affect students and student organizations in several ways. For one, the prohibition on supporting or opposing political candidates means that student organizations must not use the benefits they receive from Vanderbilt, such as funds, space, or use of facilities, on behalf of a political candidate. If Vanderbilt space or facilities are provided to a candidate, the University must approve such use in advance as well as determine, and collect from the candidate, the fair market rate for such use, to be charged equally to any candidates, in advance of the use.
Students and student organizations are prohibited from taking any action that would imply that Vanderbilt is endorsing or opposing particular candidates or political parties or organizations. Although every member of the academic community has a right to participate (or not, as the member sees fit), in the election process, no student may speak or act in Vanderbilt’s name in connection with any person’s campaign for office.
Registered student organizations permitted to make use of the University’s name or marks should take special care to avoid implying University endorsement or opposition of candidates. Using the University’s name, facilities, or resources to support or oppose candidates for public office is prohibited.
Students who choose to run for public office while enrolled at Vanderbilt must separate their campaign activities from their association with the University. This could mean finding a location other than their campus residences, if they have any, from which to conduct campaign activities. It also means that they must refrain from using the University’s communications systems, computer facilities, or mail system in the service of their campaigns.
In the interest of furthering its educational mission, Vanderbilt may allow candidates for office to speak or hold public events on campus, and if it does, then access is provided without discrimination as to viewpoint or party affiliation among candidates. Students or student groups wishing the University to invite speakers who are candidates should consult the Office of Public Affairs so as to comply with this section.
Students or student organizations who wish to lobby legislative bodies for the purpose of influencing legislation should ensure either that they do not make use of any affiliation with Vanderbilt when doing so, or that they first consult the Office of Public Affairs concerning any Vanderbilt-related lobbying so that the University’s legal obligations with respect to reporting lobbying expenses can be met.
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Both students and student organizations must comply with the University’s protection of minors policy. Both the policy and the process for compliance and implementation can be found on the Risk Management website. (A login is required).
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University policy for the refund of tuition and room charges provides a percentage refund based on the dates of withdrawal and check-out from the residence. Students who withdraw officially or who are dismissed from the University for any reason may be entitled to a partial refund in accordance with the established schedule available on the Office of Student Accounts website.
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Vanderbilt is a private and non-sectarian University that has committed itself to helping its students acquire knowledge and standards of value, develop a sense of responsibility, explore religious concerns and issues, and develop their own sense of purpose. The University itself is diverse in its makeup and perspectives and encourages diversity in its student body.
The University, therefore, provides both directly and indirectly for the religious and moral development of its students. Programs in this area are predicated on the right of students to form and freely express their own beliefs and values. A campus where persons from diverse traditions live and work is an open forum for all perspectives. Respect for all religious faiths is essential; observances and holy days are honored; and dialogue among groups is encouraged.
Code of Behavior for Religious Groups
The element of personal development, as mentioned above has been given expression in the establishment of the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, in the recognition of qualified affiliated religious professionals, and in the registration of student religious groups whose goals are in keeping with those of the University. The purposes of the University are harmonious with the purposes of addressing issues of religion, values, ethics, and morality of life; in helping members of the University community to articulate a personal philosophy of life, and in understanding the interactions of faith, intellectual inquiry, and social responsibility as bases for finding and affirming meaning and satisfaction in life.
Specific University goals for moral and religious development include the development of programs to help those in the University community to:
- understand their own faiths and the faiths of others;
- examine and affirm a personal faith or life philosophy;
- express these faiths and philosophies through association with others, through opportunities for worship, study, and service, and by engaging Vanderbilt’s religious pluralism through interfaith cooperation and dialogue;
- examine the relation of their faith or life philosophy to current moral, ethical, and social issues and to various academic disciplines and professional and vocational fields.
These goals will be met by the University itself in a non-sectarian manner, and the University expects all religious groups on campus to give evidence of tolerance, fairness, and respect for the religious traditions represented at the University, to respect the non-sectarian nature of the University itself, and to uphold the University’s commitment to creating a diverse and pluralistic community on campus.
The University expects that all religious groups which are affiliated, recognized, or registered, respectively, will conduct their affairs so that their policies, programs, and personal actions are in accordance with University catalogues, handbooks, and manuals, such as the Student Handbook, and the Faculty Manual . In particular, the University expects all religious groups to abide strictly by the policy on “Soliciting for Religious Activities,” and, with the provision that student groups must be led by full-time Vanderbilt students. The University also expects that all such religious groups on campus will conduct their affairs in such a manner that no one will be intimidated or coerced and that participants in any group may freely express their beliefs and values. The University requires all registered student organizations to comply with its nondiscrimination policy for student organizations as outlined in Chapter 5 of the Student Handbook “Student Engagement .”
The University reserves the right to make other regulations as necessary, without notice, to secure maximum freedom, comfort, safety, and convenience for all. Violations of this code of behavior will be addressed through the University’s accountability process, the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, and/or the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department.
Policy Regarding Observance of Religious Holy Days
It is the policy of Vanderbilt to make every reasonable effort to allow members of the University community to observe their religious holy days without academic penalty. Absence from classes or examinations for religious reasons does not relieve students from responsibility for any part of the course work required during the period of absence. Students who expect to miss classes, examinations, or any other assignments as a consequence of their religious observance should be provided with a reasonable alternative opportunity to complete such academic responsibilities. It is the obligation of students to provide faculty with reasonable notice of the dates of religious holidays on which they will be absent, preferably at the beginning of the semester. Students who are absent on days of examinations or class assignments should be offered an opportunity to make up the work without penalty (if they have previously arranged to be absent), unless it can be demonstrated that a makeup opportunity would constitute an unreasonable burden on a member of the faculty. Should disagreement arise over what constitutes an unreasonable burden or any element of this policy, parties involved should consult the department chair, or, in schools without department chairs, the dean of the school.
A listing of religious holy days and policies may be found at The Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life website.
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The residential requirement, established by the Board of Trust in 1952, states that “All unmarried undergraduate students, except those who live at home with their families in Davidson County, must live in residence halls on campus during the academic year, May session, and summer sessions. Authorization to live elsewhere is granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments in special situations or when space is unavailable on campus.” A full discussion of residence life may be found in Chapter 4 “Residential Life.”
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Vanderbilt University extends certain benefits to the student spouses or same-sex domestic partners who, on an annual basis, register with the Dean of Students office. Such benefits include the following:
- Eligibility for Commodore Card identification, and, upon payment of appropriate activation and other fees, access to a number of services.
- Eligibility for Recreation and Wellness Center memberships and participation in certain Outdoor Recreation Center programs.
- Eligibility for discounted movie tickets and certain free/discounted event tickets through Sarratt Box Office.
- Reading and borrowing privileges at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library system. (Privileges may vary from library to library.)
- Eligibility for validation of ID for admission to athletic events though the Athletics Ticket Office.
- Eligibility for certain general discounts offered to Vanderbilt affiliates by Vanderbilt Human Resources http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/perqs.php.
- Eligibility to establish access to a declining-balance account for use with the Commodore Card for purchases in dining facilities, laundry machines, Commodore Cabs, copiers and printers, vending machines, and other locations that allow payment with a Commodore Card.
- The student and his or her spouse or same-sex domestic partner visit the Dean of Students office, each in possession of state- or federally-issued identification.1
- The student and his or her spouse or same-sex domestic partner will complete an affidavit affirming that they meet the following criteria:
- that they not related by blood in a manner that would prohibit them from being married under Tennessee state law.2
- that they are at least 18 years of age.3
- that they are not legally married to anyone else.
- that they reside in a common household and share responsibility for the household.
- Upon completion of the affidavit, a Dean of Students representative will notarize it, photocopy the affidavit and identification, and provide a paper or digital copies to the student and spouse/partner and the Commodore Card Office.
- The student and their spouse/partner then visit the Commodore Card Office together in order to obtain a Commodore Card for the registered spouse/partner.
- If at any point the marriage, civil union, or/or domestic partnership is dissolved, the student must notify the Dean of Students office within 60 calendar days, and the non-student spouse/partner must return the Commodore Card issued to him or her to the Dean of Students office.
Consistent with the practice of the Commodore Card Office, all spouses/partners are required to re-register annually to continue these benefits.
Health insurance coverage for student spouses/partners is handled through an independent process: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_health/student-health-insurance.
1 A state driver’s license or non-driver ID; passport; a federal ID such as a military identification card, state, county or local government ID; or lawful permanent resident cards (often called “green cards”)
2 Tennessee code states, “Marriage cannot be contracted with a lineal ancestor or descendant, nor the lineal ancestor or descendant of either parent, nor the child of a grandparent, nor the lineal descendants of husband or wife, as the case may be, nor the husband or wife of a parent or lineal descendant.” http://www.state.tn.us/tccy/tnchild/36/36-3-101.htm
3 For spousal or domestic partnerships involving a student or partner under the age of 18, the student and partner and parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the person(s) under 18 must meet with the Associate Dean of Students for a review of the proposed registration.
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Sexual Misconduct: See Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence”
Vanderbilt University is a smoke-free campus. Smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes, etc., are prohibited in all buildings on campus, including University residence halls and Greek chapter houses, and on the grounds of the campus with the exception of designated outdoor smoking areas.
Locations of designated smoking areas for students, faculty, staff and campus visitors may be found on an online map at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/info/smokingpolicy/.
Locations of additional designated smoking areas for campus residents may be found on the Housing and Residential Education website. Greek organizations may elect to designate outdoor smoking areas on their house grounds.
Designated smoking areas are marked with signs and include cigarette urns for disposal.
Vanderbilt University is committed to providing a healthy, comfortable and productive environment and offers several resources for smoking cessation .
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Solicitation: See Chapter 5 “Student Engagement.”
Staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and a lab technician, the Student Health Center provides primary care services for students, similar to those provided in a private physician’s office or HMO, including routine medical care, specialty care (e.g., nutrition and sports medicine), and some routine lab tests. Most of the provided services are pre-paid, but fees for those that are not are the responsibility of students who may choose to coordinate payment through their health insurance.
The Student Health Center is open according to the schedule posted on the center’s website. Students seeking treatment should call ahead at 615-32(2-2427) to schedule appointments. Students with urgent issues will be seen on a “same-day” basis, and if no appointment time is available, will be worked in on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
Emergency consultation services are available at 615-32(2-2427), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More detailed information about services and health related topics may be found at the Student Health Center website.
The State of Tennessee requires certain immunizations for all students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) on university campuses. Vanderbilt University will hold class registration for those students who are not in compliance with the requirements. Waivers for required vaccines are granted only rarely; criteria for waivers are based only on religious or medical reasons; such waivers are granted only by the Student Health Center. Instructions for providing waiver request documentation can be found on the immunizations requirements website.
The requirements include:
- Meningococcal meningitis vaccine (one injection) for all incoming students living in on-campus housing.
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (2 injections) for all incoming students.
- Varicella vaccine (two injections) for all students who have not had documented chickenpox.
All incoming students must return a Student Health Center Immunization Requirements form located on the immunizations requirements website. The form includes information regarding University and Tennessee-mandated vaccinations, as well as information on other strongly recommended vaccinations. The completed Immunization Requirements form must be submitted to the Student Health Center by June 1, 2014. The form also collects important health history information that enables the Student Health Center staff at the to better serve individual student needs.
Other acceptable immunization documentation includes: official state immunization documents (copies are acceptable), official signed or certified medicalrRecords (copies are acceptable) and yellow immunization cards from the student’s country of origin (copies are acceptable).
There are no office-visit co-pays for routine visits, but for medications or supplies dispensed, students will incur small charges. There are small co-pays associated with some office procedures or specialty visits (such as wart removal and colposcopy). Medication and supplies ordered by Student Health physicians and nurse practitioners can usually be provided to students “at cost,” and almost always at a price below typical pharmacy co-pays or charges. Credit cards, cash, and the Commodore Card, or a charge to the student account may be used to pay for any charges incurred at the Student Health Center. The Student Health Center has no relationship with any insurance company and cannot bill insurance for charges incurred at the Center.
Any lab tests not performed at the Student Health Center are sent to the Vanderbilt Medical Center and are typically billed to the student’s health insurance company by the Medical Center. In addition, when a student is referred to a specialist outside of the Student Health Center, charges incurred are billed to the student’s health insurance company. Any amount remaining after health insurance has paid its share is the student’s responsibility. If a student has an Emergency Department visit after-hours because of a serious illness or injury, the Medical Center will bill the student and his/her insurance company.
Care provided at the Student Health Center is confidential and in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. It is only with explicit written consent from the student that the Health Center may communicate with Deans, parents, professors, or other health care professionals.
HIPAA does have a clause that allows notification of families in the event that the student is in an emergency or life-threatening situation.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center personnel will ask treated students in the Emergency Department about notification of staff in the Office of Housing and Residential Education and the Student Health Center. Except in cases of a life-threatening emergency, notification requires the student’s permission and is strongly encouraged. This practice enables the University to provide support and assistance to students and their families.
Medical Excuse Policy
The Student Health Center does not provide “excuses” for everyday illnesses (such as colds or minor other minor illnesses) that may lead to missed classes or delay in completion of assignments. Vanderbilt University expects students to be honest with their instructors regarding their ability to complete work, and expects instructors to work with students on these issues. Student Health can provide students with cards documenting a visit to the Student Health Center, but details of minor illnesses are not routinely provided. The student’s right to privacy is one of the important issues that guides this policy. In addition, since there is great variability in each student’s response to minor illnesses, the Student Health Center cannot always predict which students will miss assignments or classes in response to such ailments. Honest communication between an instructor and a student can better address these situations.
In cases of more serious illness or injury, especially those that would require prolonged bed rest or hospitalization, the Student Health Center will, with the student’s permission, notify the student’s academic dean of the student’s illness so that instructors may be formally informed of the circumstances.
Student Injury and Sickness Insurance Plan
All degree-seeking students (with the exception of those in the Division of Unclassified students) registered for four or more hours at Vanderbilt are automatically enrolled in–and will be billed for–a University-endorsed health insurance plan offered by Gallagher Student Health and Risk, unless they complete the online waiver process. Information about the plan is available online at www.gallagherstudent.com/vanderbilt. In addition, an insurance representative has an office at the Student Health Center and can be reached at 615-34(3-4688).
The annual premium is in addition to tuition. Coverage for undergraduate students begins August 12 and extends through August 11 the following calendar year if the student remains in school for 31 days beginning August 11. After 31 days, the coverage remains in effect whether the student is in school or is away from the University, and there is no pro rata refund for this coverage.
The plan provides hospital, surgical, and major medical benefits. A brochure explaining the limits, exclusions, and benefits of the plan is available online at www.gallagherstudent.com/vanderbilt, at registration, in the Office of Student Accounts, or at the Student Health Center. The plan requires that the Student Health Center be the student’s primary care provider in Nashville, but will provide coverage for referrals to specialists when a written referral is made by a Student Health Center provider.
Waiver of Insurance Plan
A student who does not wish to subscribe to the insurance plan offered through the University must notify the University of comparable coverage under another policy. Waiver of the student insurance plan does not affect eligibility for services at the Student Health Center. The online waiver process may be found online. The insurance charge will not be waived if the online process is not completed by August 1 for the fall semester, or by January 6 for students who are newly enrolled for the spring semester. The waiver process must be completed each academic year.
An additional premium is charged for family insurance coverage. An eligible student who wishes to provide coverage for his or her spouse or University-certified domestic partner, and/or children, may do so at www.gallagherstudent.com/vanderbilt.
International Student Coverage
International students are automatically enrolled in, and billed for, the Gallagher plan, in compliance with federal regulations relations to J-1 visa status, which requires international students and their dependents to maintain adequate insurance coverage. Students who have adequate coverage and wish to waive the Gallagher plan (and charge) may complete an on-line waiver. The deadline is September 7 for the fall semester and January 15 for new, incoming students for the spring semester. The waiver process must be completed each academic year.
For more information, visit the Student Health Center website.
Conduct Endangering Health & Safety
Students who engage in a pattern of conduct that endangers the health and safety of others may be required to participate and make satisfactory progress in a program of medical evaluation and/or treatment, or a program of psychological evaluation and/or treatment, if they are to remain at the University. The University reserves the right to require the immediate withdrawal of a student whose continuation in school–in the University’s judgment–is detrimental to the health or safety of others. Students who withdraw–voluntarily or involuntarily–under these circumstances, may be considered for readmission following a finding by the University that the condition requiring withdrawal has been corrected sufficiently to remove the threat to others. The University maintains two primary means of institutional review for assessment and implementation of this oversight process.
- Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) Team
A principal component of the Office of Student Health and Wellness, the CARE Team serves as structured support for Vanderbilt students, and focuses on their health, safety, and security. The team comprises a multi-disciplinary group of campus professionals (faculty and staff) who meet weekly during the academic year to identify high-risk and other students of concern, to monitor the students’ progress, and to develop plans and recommendations for their safety and well-being.
- Welfare Panel
Convened by the Associate Dean for Student Health and Wellness on an as-needed basis, the Welfare Panel addresses urgent situations of risk or threat to the health or well-being of the University community. The panel assesses urgent and potentially critical student situations from a number of perspectives to determine whether students might pose a threat to the health or safety of others in the University community. The panel assimilates pertinent information from relevant members of the University community to review students of concern, and is empowered to withdraw students who pose sufficient risk to the welfare of the University community.
The panel comprises the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, the Associate Dean of Student Health and Wellness, the Director of Student Health and Wellness, the Director of the Student Health Center, the Director of the Psychological and Counseling Center, an academic dean from the school in which the student of concern is enrolled, a representative from the Office of General Counsel, and other specifically-designated, relevant personnel as may be needed.
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Vanderbilt University is subject to the provisions of federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also referred to as FERPA). This act affords matriculated students certain rights with respect to their educational records. These rights include:
- The right to inspect and review their education records within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access: Students should submit to the University Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) they wish to inspect. The University Registrar will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the University Registrar does not maintain the records, the student will be directed to the University official to whom the request should be addressed.
- The right to request the amendment of any part of their education records that a student believes is inaccurate or misleading. Students who wish to request an amendment to their educational record should write the University official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the student will be notified of the decision and advised of his or her right to a hearing.
- The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records to third parties, except in situations that FERPA allows disclosure without the student’s consent. These exceptions include:
- Disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A “school official” is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support-staff position (including University law enforcement personnel and health staff); contractors, consultants, and other outside service providers with whom the University has contracted; a member of the Board of Trust; or a student serving on an official University committee, such as the Honor Council, The Appellate Review Board, or a grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility.
- Disclosure to parents if the student is a dependent for tax purposes.
- Disclosure to appropriate individuals (e.g., parents/guardians, spouses, housing staff, health care personnel, police, etc…) where disclosure is in connection with a health or safety emergency and knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
- Disclosure to a parent or legal guardian of a student, information regarding the student’s violation of any federal, state, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if the University has determined that the student has committed a policy violation with respect to the use or possession and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure to the parent/guardian.
FERPA provides the University the ability to designate certain student information as “directory information.” Directory information may be made available to any person without the student’s consent unless the student gives notice as provided for, below. Vanderbilt has designated the following as directory information: the student’s name, addresses, telephone number, e-mail address, student ID photos, major field of study, school, classification, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weights and heights of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student, and other information that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Any student who does not wish disclosure of directory information should notify the University Registrar in writing. No element of directory information as defined above is released for students who request nondisclosure except as required by statute.
The request for nondisclosure does not apply to class rosters in online class management applications, or to residential rosters—or rosters of groups a student may join voluntarily–in online, co-curricular engagement applications, or rosters of other information on the websites of student organizations that a student may join. Neither class rosters in online class management applications, nor residential rosters in online co-curricular engagement applications, are available to the public. Students may configure their privacy settings in co-curricular engagement applications to further restrict availability of information in those applications.
As of January 3, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances under which students’ education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records—including Social Security Numbers, grades, or other private information—may be accessed without consent. First, the U.S. Comptroller General, the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to student records and PII without consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal- or state-supported education program. The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.
Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to education records and PII without consent, to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when the University objects to or does not request such research. Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the third parties that they authorize to receive PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over the third parties.
In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without student consent, PII from education records, and may track student participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.
If a student believes the University has failed to comply with FERPA, he or she may file a complaint using the Student Complaint and Grievance Procedures as outlined in the Student Handbook. If dissatisfied with the outcome of this procedure, students may file a written complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920.
Questions about the application of the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act should be directed to the University Registrar or to the Office of General Counsel.
Individual listings in the online People Finder Directory consist of the student’s full name, school, academic classification, local phone number, e-mail address, local address, box number, and permanent address.
Student listings in the People Finder Directory are available to the Vanderbilt community via logon ID and e-password. Students may choose to make their online People Finder listings available to the general public (i.e., viewable by anyone with access to the Internet), to add additional contact information such as cell phone, pager, and fax numbers, or to block individual directory items.
Students who have placed a directory hold with the University Registrar will not be listed in the online directory. Directory information should be kept current.
Students may report address changes, emergency contact information, and “missing person” contact information via the Web by logging in to YES (Your Enrollment Services) https://yes.vanderbilt.edu and clicking on the Address Change link.
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In general, the policies and regulations in the Student Handbook apply to students registered for Vanderbilt study-abroad programs, and some additional regulations may apply. Students on academic or disciplinary probation, or those with a financial hold, may be prohibited from participating in study-abroad programs. Specific regulations for students enrolled in study-abroad programs are available from the program directors, from the Global Education Office, or from the offices of the deans of the undergraduate colleges and schools.
Provisions of the Student International Travel policy apply to students studying abroad.
The resident directors or faculty leaders of Vanderbilt study-abroad programs (Vanderbilt-In-[country] programs and short-term faculty-led programs) are responsible for academic matters. In consultation with the Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, they are also responsible for co-curricular and accountability matters, within the limits of the policies established by the University. (See “Conduct in Study-Abroad Programs,” in Chapter 3: “Student Accountability.”)
Students participating in University-approved, direct-credit programs administered by third-party providers (CET, CIEE, DIS, IFSA-Butler, IES, SIT, etc.), or direct-enroll/exchange programs at host institutions must abide by the conduct policies and regulations set forth by the institutions, in addition to the those in the Vanderbilt Student Handbook.
Students are required to abide by the laws of the respective countries in which they reside, study, or travel, with respect to the age at which alcoholic beverages may be consumed. Otherwise, the policies with respect to alcoholic beverages and controlled substances included in the Vanderbilt Student Handbook apply. Students are subject to accountability sanctions, including expulsion, and referral for prosecution for violation of these policies.
Undergraduate students enrolled in a study-abroad program will be charged for only a portion of the Student Activities Fee.
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The rights and responsibilities of students and of the University concerning inventions, discoveries, rights in technology, and literary and artistic works, including patents, are defined in the Faculty Manual. For more information, visit Part III, section 4 of the Faculty Manual.
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In consideration of Vanderbilt University’s providing opportunities to participate in both academic and co-curricular programs and activities, students acknowledge the receipt and sufficiency of this consideration, and, by enrolling in Vanderbilt University, agree to release, relieve, discharge, and hold harmless Vanderbilt University, its officers, trustees, faculty, administrators, employees, representatives, and elected and volunteer leaders designated by Vanderbilt University, from any and all liability or claim of liability, whether for personal injury, property damage, or otherwise, arising out of, or in connection with, their voluntary participation in activities and travel associated with programs sponsored by the University or any of its departments, student groups, and other entities.
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Vanderbilt Visions is a first-semester, University core program of The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons. Through a curriculum of discussions and activities, small groups facilitated by faculty members and undergraduate peer mentors address the social, academic, cognitive, and cultural transitions students experience during their first semester at Vanderbilt University. All first-year students must observe the attendance policy of Vanderbilt Visions. Failure to do so may result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process.
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The Honor System
- Statement of the Honor Code
- Undergraduate Honor Pledge
- General Information
- Honor Code Violations
- The Honor Code Applied to Preparation of Papers
- Tests, Examinations, and Other Exercises
- Tips for Success:
- Responsibility of the Individual Student
- Undergraduate Honor Council
- Student Advisers
- Faculty Advisers
- Procedures of the Undergraduate Honor Council
- Withdrawal from the University Before Hearing
The Vanderbilt Honor System was instituted in 1875 with the first final examinations administered by the University. Dean Madison Sarratt summarized the system as follows, “Let every individual who contemplates entering Vanderbilt University ask himself[/herself] first this important question: ‘Am I strong enough to give my word of honor and then live up to it in spite of every temptation that may arise?’”
The purpose of the Honor Code is to preserve and promote academic integrity. Ideally, a student’s personal integrity is presumed to be sufficient assurance that in academic matters one does one’s own work without unauthorized help from any other source. The Undergraduate Honor Council (“Honor Council”), is an organization of students which seeks to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his or her name if innocent and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students.
The Honor System is only one of the elements provided to Vanderbilt students with which each may develop creative thinking, intellectual maturity, personal accountability, and respect for honesty, integrity, and truth. The goal of the Honor System is to have all students leave Vanderbilt not only as graduates, but also as citizens of integrity.
I pledge to pursue all academic endeavors with honor and integrity. I understand the principles of the Honor System, and I promise to uphold these standards by adhering to the Honor Code in order to preserve the integrity of Vanderbilt University and its individual members.
Undergraduate Honor Pledge
The Undergraduate Honor Pledge, a short-form version of the Honor Code, to be signed on all tests, quizzes, and similar work is: “I pledge my honor that I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this examination.”
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All students are required to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Honor System through the information in this Handbook. Undergraduate students may obtain further information from the dean of each school, from the Honor Council at Vanderbilt University, PMB 351598, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37235-1598, telephone 615 32(2-7868), from the Honor Council website, from the Honor Council adviser or from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. Graduate and professional students may obtain information from the office of the dean of their respective school or college.
Undergraduate students are subject to the jurisdiction of the Undergraduate Honor Council. The policies and procedures of the undergraduate Honor System stated in this Student Handbook apply to all students enrolled in undergraduate courses of all the schools and the Division of Unclassified Studies, whether full-time or part-time, or whether regularly enrolled, transient, or cross-registered from a neighboring institution.
Graduate and professional students are subject to the jurisdiction of the student body that implements the Honor System in the graduate and professional schools: School of Graduate Studies Honor Council, Student Honor Council of the School of Medicine, Honor Council of the Law School, Divinity School Honor Council, Honor Council of the School of Nursing, Owen Graduate School of Management Honor Council, and Peabody Honor Council (for students in professional programs at Peabody College). Graduate and professional students must check with their individual schools or advisers for further regulations beyond procedures cited in this Handbook, which may affect their studies and observances of Honor Codes.
Students are responsible for obtaining from their professors an explanation of the freedom they may exercise in collaboration with other students or in use of outside sources, including:
- the student’s own work prepared and submitted for another course;
- assignments that permit students to discuss the assignment or to collaborate, including during group study sessions;
- all limitations placed on take-home examinations, including use of class or outside materials or discussion with classmates;
- use of examinations or other materials from previous sections of the class; and
- use of Internet or other electronic resources, including proper attribution.
In the event that a student does not obtain a clear explanation of the application of the Honor Code from an instructor in any class, the student must assume that the Honor Council will follow the strictest interpretation of the Honor Code with respect to that class.
Cheating, plagiarizing, or otherwise falsifying results of study is prohibited. The System applies not only to examinations, but also to all work handed in (including drafts), such as papers, reports, solutions to problems, tapes, films, and computer programs, unless excepted by the instructor. The system also applies to any act that is fraudulent or intended to mislead the instructor, including falsifying records of attendance for class, for events for which attendance is required or for which class credit is given, or for internships or other work service.
Violations of the Honor Code are cause for disciplinary actions imposed by the appropriate honor council.
Possible violations include but are not limited to the following:
- Falsifying or cheating on a report, paper, exercise, problem, test or examination, tape, film, or computer program submitted by a student to meet course requirements. Cheating includes the use of unauthorized aids (such as crib sheets, answer keys, discarded computer programs, the aid of another person on a take-home exam, etc.); copying from another student’s work; unauthorized use of books, notes, or other outside materials during “closed book” exams; soliciting, giving, and/or receiving unauthorized aid orally or in writing; or similar action contrary to the principles of academic honesty.
- Plagiarism on an assigned paper, theme, report, or other material submitted to meet course requirements. Plagiarism is defined as incorporating into one’s own work the work or ideas of another without properly indicating that source. A full discussion of plagiarism and proper citation is provided in the section below.
- Failure to report a known or suspected violation of the Code in the manner prescribed.
- Any action designed to deceive a member of the faculty, a staff member, or a fellow student regarding principles contained in the Honor Code, such as securing an answer to a problem for one course from a faculty member in another course when such assistance has not been authorized.
- Any falsification of class records or other materials submitted to demonstrate compliance with course requirements or to obtain class credit, including falsifying records of class attendance, attendance at required events or events for which credit is given, or attendance or hours spent at internships or other work service.
- Submission of work prepared for another course without specific prior authorization of the instructors in both courses.
- Use of texts, papers, computer programs, or other class work prepared by commercial or noncommercial agents and submitted as a student’s own work.
- Falsification of results of study and research.
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- Papers are to express the original thoughts of the student. If a topic for a paper has been discussed fully among students prior to an assignment, then the students should consult the instructor about writing on that particular topic.
- Failure to indicate any outside source of ideas, expressions, phrases, or sentences constitutes plagiarism.
- A student may not submit papers substantially the same in content for credit in more than one course, without specific and prior permission of all instructors concerned.
Students often have trouble distinguishing between privileged information and common knowledge. An idea is often considered common knowledge if it is encountered at least three times in separate sources during one’s research into a particular subject. (Reprints of one source do not constitute separate sources.)
Students should understand that sources of common knowledge can be plagiarized. Copying or close paraphrasing of the wording or presentation of a source of common knowledge constitutes plagiarism.
Students should realize that an act of plagiarism may include some degree of premeditation or may be the result of carelessness or ignorance of acceptable forms for citation. Regardless of intent or premeditation, the act is plagiarism and is a violation of the Honor Code. Students, therefore, must be conscious of their responsibilities as scholars under the Honor System, to learn to discern what is included in plagiarism as well as in other breaches of the Honor Code, and must know and practice the specifications for citations in scholarly work. The following examples illustrate the kinds of problems that can arise.
A student turned in a paper with the following paragraph:
“The characters in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at once. Characters like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. It is Shakespeare’s achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life in terms of social and cosmic symbols. In this paper I will discuss the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and actions with which the characters give meaning to the play.”
The instructor gave the paper to the Honor Council, citing this paragraph as evidence of plagiarism. The instructor presented the following paragraph from Introduction to “The Tragedy of Othello” by William Shakespeare, edited by Alvin Kernan. Copyright © 1963 by Alvin Kernan.
“Here is the essence of Shakespeare’s art, an ability to create immediate, full and total life as men actually live and experience it; and yet at the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance to and derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends and reaches back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic powers that operate through all time and space. His plays are both allegorical and realistic at once; his characters both recognizable men and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature. I have discussed only the more allegorical elements in Othello, the skeleton of ideas and formal patterns within which the characters must necessarily be understood. But it is equally true that the exact qualities of the abstract moral value and ideas, their full reality, exist only in the characters.”
The instructor delineated four examples of plagiarism:
(1) A change in wording:
STUDENT: The characters in Othello are both allegorical and realistic at once. Characters like Iago and Desdemona are recognizable both as persons and at the same time, demigods, devils and forces in nature.
KERNAN: His plays are both allegorical and realistic at once; his characters both recognizable as men and at the same time devils, demigods and forces in nature.
The instructor explained that this is plagiarism because the ideas presented in both cases are the same, with the student adding only a few of his own words to alter Kernan’s original phrasing.
(2) Use of a catchy word or phrase:
STUDENT: In this paper I will discuss the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and actions with which the characters give meaning to the play.
KERNAN: I have discussed only the more allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas and formal patterns within which the characters must necessarily be understood.
The instructor stated that this sentence constitutes plagiarism because the student used the catchy phrase “the skeleton of ideas.” Again, the student retains Kernan’s phrase and his ideas, changing only some of the wording.
(3) Undocumented paraphrasing:
STUDENT: It is Shakespeare’s achievement as an artist that he is capable of creating visions of life as people live it at the same time that he is able to understand life in terms of social and cosmic symbols.
KERNAN: Here is the essence of Shakespeare’s art, an ability to create immediate, full and total life as men actually live and experience it; and yet at the same time to arrange this reality so that it gives substance to and derives shape from a formal vision of all life that comprehends and reaches back from man and nature through society and history to cosmic powers that operate through all time and space.
This, the instructor said, was paraphrasing, and unless acknowledged, it is also an act of plagiarism. Students must clearly indicate each use of paraphrasing with a footnote or a reference technique suitable to the instructor.
(4) Word-for-word copying:
STUDENT: . . . are both allegorical and realistic at once . . . recognizable . . . devils, demigods and forces in nature . . . the allegorical elements in the play, the skeleton of ideas . . .
KERNAN: . . . are both allegorical and realistic at once . . . recognizable . . . devils, demigods and forces in nature . . . the allegorical elements . . . the skeleton of ideas . . .
The instructor noted that had the student put Kernan’s words in quotation marks and properly footnoted them, there would have been no offense.
Plagiarism extends to preparation materials as well. For example, should the student forget to note on research cards the source of material and then fail to footnote the source when the paper or report is prepared, the student is still committing a plagiaristic act. Not knowing how or when to footnote is not considered a sufficient excuse.
Students are expected to follow the general rules of footnoting for each discipline. One footnote is not sufficient if additional material from the same source is included in a student’s work. Footnotes should express the extent of ideas or expressions of others that are used. All direct quotes must be in quotation marks or in block quote format. Simply providing a footnote without using quotation marks or block quote format is a violation.
Material found on websites or other Internet sources can–and should be–cited. Students should consult a citation manual or the course instructor for the appropriate format.
For further information about footnoting, refer to A Manual for Writers by Kate L. Turabian or the MLA Style Sheet.
A general rule is: when in doubt, always footnote. The following rules outline a proper footnote form:
- Number footnotes consecutively throughout the paper in Arabic numerals.
- First references should include the following information in order given:
- author’s name (first name or initials listed first)
- title of work (in italics or underlined, or in quotation marks if part of a book)
- name of editor or translator, if any
- place and date of publication
- volume number, if any
- page number(s)
- Subsequent references to works already cited should be abbreviated but clear.
- When it is not necessary to cite author and edition (e.g., in a discussion of an assigned text), page or line references may be incorporated within parentheses in the body of the paper. Proverbs, familiar quotations, line references for short poems or page references for standard works, such as the Bible, need not be acknowledged, unless the material cited appears only in the particular edition used.
Examples of Footnotes
1Rene Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of Literature (New York: Scribner’s, 1949), p. 191.
1Raymond Gram Swing, “Father Coughlin: The Wonder of Self Discovery,” The Nation, January 2, 1935, pp. 9-11.
2Swing, p. 12.
Any student uncertain about the application of the plagiarism and citation rules should consult the instructor. A student who plagiarizes out of ignorance is still guilty of an Honor Code violation
Students are on their honor not to ask for or give information pertaining to any portion of an examination before or after they have taken it, in such a way as to gain or give an advantage over other students.
The written pledge (see also “Undergraduate Honor Pledge”.) signifies that the work submitted is the student’s own and that it has been completed in accordance with the requirements of the course as specified by the instructor. In addition, each student and faculty member is expected to establish a clear understanding of the requirements in each course.
Any student uncertain about the application of the pledge to a particular course requirement should always consult the instructor. The Undergraduate Honor Pledge, or an abbreviation thereof, should be included in all written work completed by the student and submitted for a grade. Any work handed in for credit, however, will be considered “pledged” unless otherwise stated by the instructor.
The Honor Code Application to Group Work
- Students are responsible for any work submitted in their name for the fulfillment of a course, program, or assignment.
- Students should ask their instructors before collaborating on any assignment with a classmate.
- Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help you with any assignment.
- All group members are responsible for the data and the content of labs, reports, assignments and projects.
- The guidelines for appropriate collaboration and task division pertaining to group work vary among classes and instructors. It is therefore the student’s responsibility to obtain a clear understanding of appropriate collaboration from the instructor.
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- Students should read the course syllabus, and follow all policies, guidelines, or instructions outlined therein.
- Students should make sure that they are aware of any guidelines or restrictions on specific class assignments or examinations. Students should get any instructions from the instructor if they miss a class.
- Students should ask their instructors before collaborating on any assignment with a classmate.
- Students should ask their instructors if a tutor or other individual may help with any assignment.
- When unsure whether or not to cite a phrase or fact, students should cite.
- Students should ask their instructors or consult a citation manual to learn how to cite online sources.
- If an instructor tells students not to use outside sources, students should not (nor should they take the instruction as an excuse not to cite sources if they are used).
- Students should ask their instructors before sharing lab reports, results, or other data with classmates or a lab partner.
- Students should ask their instructors before reviewing tests administered for the same course in a previous semester.
- Students should not turn in an assignment from a previous course without the permission of both instructors involved.
- Students should not assume that whatever they are doing is okay. If they cannot say with complete certainty that any particular conduct is permissible, they need to consult the course instructor.
- If permitted by the instructor, students should check over group members’ work before it is submitted; this includes labs, data, and other reports.
- Students should keep copies of original data used for group projects and assignments.
- When in doubt, ask the instructor.
Without the support and cooperation of the entire student body, the Honor System will not work. Students must insist on the absolute integrity of themselves and their fellow students. It is the obligation of every student who suspects an honor violation to take action in one of the following ways, determining the choice of action by the flagrancy and/or certainty of the violation.
If a student has reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor Code has been committed, he or she must:
- Issue a personal warning to the suspected student, or
- Report the incident to the Honor Council at https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?VanderbiltUniv&layout_id=2 for action by the president, or
- Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify, if possible, the person(s) suspected.
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The Undergraduate Honor Council is an organization of students that seeks to preserve the integrity of the Honor Code at Vanderbilt University. It aims to secure justice for any student under suspicion of dishonesty, to vindicate his or her name if innocent, and, if guilty, to protect the honor and standing of the remaining students by his or her punishment as set forth in the bylaws.
The members of the Honor Council are selected from all classes and all undergraduate schools. Members are chosen by a system that includes a student committee and elections. All Honor Council representatives must maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
The Honor Council elects its own officers during the last general body meeting of the fall semester. The officers include a president, who must be either a junior or senior and who must have previously served a minimum of one year as a member of the Honor Council; three vice-presidents; and up to three recording secretaries .
Summer Honor Council: Each spring the regularly selected Honor Council has the authority to transfer jurisdiction over all infractions of the Honor System during the summer session to the Summer Honor Council, which has the same authority as the regular Honor Council, as that authority pertains to hearings. The Summer Honor Council’s procedures are described in Article V of the Honor Council bylaws.
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Student advisers are members of the Undergraduate Honor Council. An adviser is assigned to each accused student to explain the procedures of the Honor Council regarding investigations and hearings and the penalties that may be assigned.
Every accused student will be assigned a student adviser from the body of Honor Council Members. However, a list of all possible student advisers will also be given to the accused student, who may select an adviser from it during the investigation, the hearing, and the appeal. The accused may also select an adviser from the University community: faculty, staff, or student. However, persons related to the accused or who have formal legal training are not eligible to serve as advisers.
An adviser may answer questions about the Honor Code or help students understand responsibilities under the Honor Code. If a student is not sure what constitutes a violation or does not understand what actions to take after witnessing a violation, an adviser may assist.
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The Provost or the Provost’s designee appoints faculty advisers to the Honor Council. The president of the Honor Council, or the Honor Council adviser assigns one faculty adviser to attend every hearing. Faculty advisers may ask questions and participate in the discussion. In a large panel hearing, the faculty adviser does not have a vote in the outcome, but the faculty adviser does have a vote in the outcome of a small panel hearing.
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Proceedings of the Honor Council—investigations, interviews with potential witnesses, hearings, etc.—may be recorded by the University. Recordings not authorized by the Honor Council adviser or the Honor Council officers hearing a case, or by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, are prohibited.
- When an alleged violation of the Honor Code is reported, a member of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic integrity—which may include graduate students and one or two Honor Council members—will immediately be assigned to the case as investigators.
- The investigators shall interview, without undue delay, the accuser, and later, persons other than the accused who might have been a part of, or witness to, the alleged violation. They will collect all available physical evidence. Having assembled their findings, they will prepare a statement of the charge against the accused.
- The statement includes, in addition to the specific charge, an explanation of the possible consequences if the accused student is found guilty of a breach of the Vanderbilt Honor Code. This statement must be prepared in duplicate, one for the accused and one for the Honor Council’s files.
- The investigators shall meet with the accused, explain that they are there as representatives of the Honor Council, present the accused with the written statement of charges, and inform the accused how to access relevant sections of the Student Handbook. The accused is required to respond to the investigators’ inquiries within a reasonable period of time, and the Honor Council may send a notice to the Registrar’s office to enter an Incomplete on the accused’s transcript, along with the notation “Honor Council investigation pending,” if the accused is not compliant or if the investigation or hearing will continue past the end of the semester. The accused will be informed at the meeting with the investigator of all the available evidence in the case and of the procedures that will be followed.
- The investigators will ask the accused to sign the Statement of Charges indicating that he or she understands the charge, possible penalties if found guilty, and the procedures to be followed. Signing the Statement of Charges does not imply or acknowledge guilt.
- The investigators will ask the accused to explain his or her own account of the events surrounding the alleged violation. The accused may choose not to make any statement at the time of the first meeting, but rather to defer making any statement until an agreed upon time prior to the hearing.
- The investigators will inform the accused of his or her right to obtain material witnesses. The accused is required to notify the investigators of the witness(es) before the hearing has been scheduled so that the investigators may contact the witness(es) and prepare a statement for inclusion in the investigative report. No witness will be allowed to testify at the hearing unless he or she has previously given a statement to the investigators. The investigators will also inform the accused student of his or her right to obtain one character witness to testify at the hearing. The investigators will not interview the character witness and it is the responsibility of the accused student to notify the character witness of the time and place of the hearing and to ensure his or her attendance. In addition, as explained above, the accused may have an Honor Council adviser or a University faculty, student, or staff adviser, who is not related to the accused, and who has not had formal legal training, present with him or her during the presentation of testimony, who may speak with the accused, but who may not speak directly with Honor Council members on the hearing panel. An accused may obtain professional legal representation, advice, and counsel. However, an attorney may not participate in or be present during an Honor Council interview or hearing. The Honor Council is a student tribunal untrained in the law. An attorney representing an accused may work directly with the Office of the General Counsel.
- The investigators should explain the procedures of the hearing in full detail to each witness and the accused. They should explain to the accused the importance of honesty in the proceedings and inform him or her that he or she will be called on to enter a plea of guilt or innocence. The investigators will also inform each as to the place and time of the hearing; however, the accused student is responsible for arranging the attendance of his or her character witness. The hearing should not be held earlier than seventy-two hours after the investigators initially have met with the accused unless an earlier time is agreed to by the accused.
- The investigators are to arrange any details necessary for conducting the hearing, such as reserving rooms where the witnesses and the accused may be placed during the hearing.
- The investigators will assemble the evidence and testimony in a concise, logical report. At least twenty-four hours before the hearing, the accused student will be presented with a copy of the investigators’ report so that he or she may comment at the hearing on any corrections or clarifications the accused student feels are necessary or appropriate.
- The investigators will provide the investigative report to the president of the Honor Council, who will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant a hearing by the Council. If the president determines that a hearing is necessary, he or she will also determine whether the charges will be heard by a full panel or a small panel.* If the student pleads not guilty or if the student has a previous Honor Council conviction, a full panel hearing is required. Guilty pleas typically will be heard by small panels, unless substantial factual issues exist or the violation is sufficiently serious that a penalty greater than one semester suspension may be appropriate. Cases involving more than one student must be heard by a full panel if one of the students involved pleads not guilty.
- Given the nature of University judicial proceedings (including the proceedings of all University honor councils), the testimony of and information derived from experts, such as reports of handwriting experts, are not admissible and will not be considered, except in rare circumstances. In those rare cases, determinations as to the admissibility of testimony of or evidence derived from an expert will be made in the sole discretion of the Director of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. The Honor Council president may appoint a faculty member as an expert witness. Under no circumstances, however, will the use of polygraph examinations be permitted.
*Note: Although a student who admits guilt during an investigation has the right to request a small panel hearing, since a decision by a small panel must be unanimous, and since the president of the Honor Council (or another member of the Executive Board) is a member of the small panel, the president may determine that a case should be referred to a full panel, rather than being heard by a small panel.
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If after an investigation, the Honor Council president determines that there is enough evidence that a violation may have been committed, then a hearing will be scheduled.
Attendance of the Hearing by the Accused Student
All students, including the accused student, are required to cooperate with investigations and at hearings conducted by the Honor Council. In the event an accused student refuses to participate in, or cooperate with, an Honor Council investigation or hearing, the hearing may take place without the participation of the accused student. All reasonable efforts will be made to inform the accused student of the time and place of the hearing and the findings of the proceeding. In addition, the accused student may inform the Council that he or she will not attend the hearing and submit a written statement regarding the charges.
Full Panel Hearing
A six-member hearing panel (consisting of a chair and five members appointed by the president) will hear the evidence in the case. A faculty adviser will also be present. (For training purposes, observers may be allowed to be present, but may not speak or take part in the proceedings.)
1. Presentation of investigator’s report.
a. Investigators are sworn in by the recording secretary.
b. Evidence is presented: the interviews with witnesses are reported briefly and impartially; the material evidence is presented and explained without opinion.
c. The investigators read the statement of charges issued to the accused and any statement written by the accused.
d. The Honor Council may question the investigators. At no time do the investigators express their opinion(s) concerning the guilt or innocence of the accused.
2. Testimony. The accused student and the accuser are allowed to be present during the presentation of all testimony. If witnesses are to testify in person (as opposed to through written testimony), they will appear separately and await their appearances alone. When called, each (with the exception of the character witness) is sworn in by the recording secretary.
a. Accuser. If the accuser testifies in person, the chair will invite a general account of the events in question. Then the Honor Council may direct its questions to the accuser. The investigators may question the accuser, waiting until the Honor Council has concluded its questioning, to clarify points that may have been obscured. In the case of the accuser’s absence, the Honor Council will proceed to the testimony of the witness(es) and/or the accused student.
b. Material Witnesses. First, the chair invites a general account of the events in question. Then the Honor Council may direct its questions to the witness. The investigators may question material witnesses, waiting until the Honor Council has concluded its questioning, to clarify points that may have been obscured.
c. Character Witness. One character witness may answer questions concerning the background of the accused. A character witness is not allowed to testify or express an opinion concerning the alleged offense. Discretion will be exercised to avoid questions that a character witness is not allowed to answer. Generally, a character witness will be asked the following three questions:
- “How long and in what capacity have you known the accused student?”
- “Can you please tell the panel about a time in which you placed trust in the accused student?”
- “In general, and without reference to this case, can you please describe the accused student’s character?”
d. Accused Student. The chair presents to the accused the charges and asks if he or she is familiar with the charges, the evidence, and the possible penalties if found guilty. The accused student enters his or her plea of guilt or innocence. The chair asks the accused to state his or her account of the events in question. At this time, discrepancies in testimony, contradictions, and specific charges are brought forth. The chair should detail the facts and charges in light of the testimony that has been introduced in support of the charges. The investigators may question the accused, waiting until the Honor Council has concluded its questioning, to clarify points that may have been obscured.
Small Panel Hearing
During the course of an investigation, an accused student who wishes to plead guilty may request a small panel hearing of his or her case. A case may proceed to a small panel hearing only if no facts surrounding the violation are in dispute and if the president determines that the likely penalty involves no more than one semester suspension. A guilty plea does not guarantee that the case will proceed to a small panel. If there are two or more students involved in a single case, all must plead guilty and request a small panel hearing in order for one to be conducted. If one of the accused students requests a small panel hearing and others do not, a full hearing must be conducted for all the students involved. In addition, if the student has a previous Honor Council conviction, a full panel hearing is required.
If an accused student informs the investigators that he or she would prefer a small panel hearing, the investigators will inform the Honor Council president of the accused student’s request. The president will review the investigative report and determine whether a small panel hearing would be appropriate. If a small panel would be appropriate, a date, time, and location will be chosen for the hearing.
A small panel hearing shall consist of a faculty adviser, the president of the Honor Council, and one additional member chosen by the president. At the hearing, the three panel members will be present, along with the investigators, the accused student, his or her adviser, and a character witness for the accused if he or she so desires.
The procedures employed during a small panel hearing will be the same as those outlined above for large panel hearings.
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When the Honor Council is satisfied that all pertinent testimony has been received, the accused student, the student adviser, and the investigators leave the hearing room so that the panel may deliberate. The panel will proceed to discuss and decide the question of guilt or innocence. The proof that a person is guilty of a charge must satisfy a “preponderance-of-the-evidence” (or, more-likely-than-not) standard. A majority of the six members of a full panel must vote “guilty” to find the accused guilty.
1. If the accused is found guilty, the Honor Council determines a fitting penalty based upon
(a) the flagrancy of the violation
(b) premeditation involved in the offense, and
(c) the truthfulness of the accused throughout the investigation and the hearing
These three factors are ranked on a scale of low, medium low, medium, medium high, or high.
2. Although the presumptive penalty for a first offense is failure in the course, potential penalties include an Honor Council reprimand, with a recommendation for failure on the assignment or exam at issue, failure in the course, suspension for one or more semesters, or expulsion. The minimum penalty for a second offense is failure in the course and suspension for not less than a semester, and depending upon the severity of the violation, the penalty may be suspension for multiple semesters or expulsion. The penalty for a third offense is expulsion.
3. A small panel may assign a penalty no greater than failure in the course and suspension for one semester. Each penalty requires a unanimous vote of the small panel.
4. If, at the discretion of the chair, mitigating circumstances exist with regard to the commission of the violation in question, then the chair may introduce those circumstances to be considered in the discussion of penalty. Such circumstances may not relate to the possible ramifications of the panel’s decision.
5. Expulsion must be approved by a vote of at least five of the six panel members. (Note that for a third offense, a vote of guilty by five of the six panelists imposes a penalty of expulsion, automatically.) All other penalties require only a simple majority vote of the six members.
6. Decision. The accused, student adviser, and investigators are brought back into the hearing room for presentation of the Honor Council’s decision. After stating the decision, the chair (and others) may talk with the accused. At this time it should also be explained to the accused that he or she has the right of appeal.
After the Hearing
1. At the conclusion of the hearing, the chair will gather all the material evidence, investigative reports, notes, and other records of the investigation and hearing and place them in a file in the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity
2. If the accused student is found guilty or pleads guilty, written notice of the decision is sent to the following parties: (a) the accused student, (b) the accuser, (c) the dean of the school in which the student enrolled, (d) the registrar of the school in which the student is enrolled, (e) the University registrar and assistant registrar, (f) the instructor concerned (in cases in which the accuser is not the instructor), (g) other relevant University personnel, and in cases resulting in suspension or expulsion, (h) the parents of the accused student. A copy of the notice must also be kept in the permanent files of the Honor Council.
3. A member of the Honor Council Executive Board will then prepare a summary of the proceedings.
4. The accused student may file an appeal from a full or small panel decision with the Appellate Review Board, but must do so within ten days of the date the student is notified of the panel’s decision. Requests for extensions of time must be submitted to the Chair of the Appellate Review Board prior to the end of the ten-day period. The appeal petition and the entire record of the case will be sent to the Chair of the Appellate Review Board who will determine if there are sufficient grounds for an appeal based on the criteria delineated in the appeal procedures. If the Chair affirms that there is sufficient reason for an appeal, the student’s petition is sent to the Honor Council president, or the officer who chaired the hearing, who will draft a response to the student’s appeal upon receipt of the appeal. This response will be sent to the accused student for review and additional written comment or reply, if any. The appeal, the Honor Council response, the student’s reply or additional comments, and copies of all appropriate evidence are then reviewed and considered by the Appellate Review Board. (For more information on grounds for appeal and the procedures of the Appellate Review Board, see the discussion of “Appeals” in Chapter 3 of the Student Handbook.)
5. The Honor Council adviser maintains records of Honor Council proceedings and investigations in the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. Records of convictions and penalties will not be released outside the University absent a written release from the convicted student or unless otherwise required by law in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). However, students should be aware that they may be required to sign such a waiver when applying to graduate or professional schools or in the course of any employment or governmental background check. If a student receives failure in the course as a sanction, the student may retake the course (in accordance with the rules of the student’s school or college) and replace the failure in his or her GPA. However, the original failure will continue to appear on the student’s transcript (although nothing will appear on the transcript indicating that the failure was attributable to an Honor Council conviction).
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If a student who has been reported for a suspected violation of the Honor Code withdraws from the University before a hearing has been conducted, the fact will be recorded by the Honor Council. A letter will be sent to the accused stating that he or she is suspected of an Honor Code violation, that an investigation has been or will be conducted, and that a hearing may be held.
The accused may respond in one of three ways: return to the campus for a hearing, waive the right to give testimony personally, thereby acknowledging that the hearing may proceed in his or her absence, or waive the right to appear and send a written, signed statement to be presented on his or her behalf at the hearing. Failure by the accused to respond will be considered a waiver of the right to appear.
During the time prior to the hearing, a notation will be placed on the transcript of the accused stating that an Honor Council case is pending. A letter will also be sent to the University registrar and to the registrar of the school in which the accused was enrolled indicating that an Honor Council case is pending. If the accused attempts to re-enroll before the case is heard, the registrar will notify the president of the Honor Council. The case must be resolved before the accused may re-enroll.
If a case cannot be heard before the end of the grading period, the instructor will submit a grade of “I” until the Honor Council can act on the matter. A notation will be placed on the transcript of the accused stating that an Honor Council case is pending.
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- Violation of University Policy
- Threat, Harassment, Stalking, Intimidation: Directives to Desist
- Fireworks, Firearms, Other Weapons, and Explosives
- Damage to Property
- Conduct at Athletic Events
- Conduct in the Libraries
- Conduct in Study-Abroad Programs
- Use of University Computers and Data Networks
- Use of the University Telephone System
- The Accountability System
- Accountability Procedures
- Appeals and the Appellate Review Board
Although the University values personal freedom, celebration, and recreation, the policies and regulations that apply to student conduct at Vanderbilt are also informed by principles that value the health, safety, and well-being of students and other members of the University community, as well as their academic and personal success. The University’s goal in establishing policies and holding students accountable for complying with them is to help students understand how their choices can affect not only their immediate neighbors, but also the University community as a whole.
When students fail to meet University standards, they ultimately risk separation from the University community. Vanderbilt’s system of graduated sanctions and structured accountability action plans is designed to effect students’ voluntary compliance with the policies and regulations established to protect themselves, other students, and the community. Vanderbilt hopes that educational conferences, deferred probations, and probationary periods with accountability action plans will be sufficient to help students make better choices so that separation from the community never becomes necessary.
Violation of University Policy
Students and student organizations are expected to comply with all University policies, which are derived from tradition and evolve with contemporary practice. Grounds for corrective action cannot always be the subject of precise statement; however, when commonly held standards of conduct are broken, students must be held accountable if the University community is to be sustained.
Students are subject to corrective action when, individually or as members of a group, they violate University policy, rules, or regulations, including but not limited to the following:
- Obstruction or disruption of teaching, administration, University procedures and activities, or other authorized activities on University premises;
- Physical abuse of any person, including assault and other unwanted physical contact;
- Sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence including stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence (See Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence,” for policies and procedures governing incidents of sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence, as defined therein.);
- Conduct that may endanger the health or safety of members of the University community;
- Unauthorized entry or use of University facilities or unauthorized possession or use of University property or property of others;
- Damage to University property or property of others, including, but not limited to, vandalism;
- Disorderly conduct;
- Lewd or lascivious conduct or expression;
- Threats of violence against another person or harassment (see also University policy on harassment based on bias), stalking, or intimidation that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another person;
- Forgery, alteration, or misuse of University documents, records, or identification, impersonating a University official;
- Furnishing false information to the University:
- Possession or use of any false identification or identification belonging to another person;
- The unlawful possession, use, distribution or facilitation of the distribution of alcohol, controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia (including possession or use of prescription medication belonging to another person and distribution or sharing of prescription medication; see also “Alcohol and Controlled Substances” in Chapter 6 for a more detailed statement of alcohol and drug policies.);
- The operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;
- Intoxication (See also “Alcohol and Controlled Substances” in Chapter 6 for a more detailed statement of alcohol policies.);
- Failure to comply with authorized directives of, or, furnishing false information to, University officials or representatives of accountability bodies acting in performance of their duties;
- Violations of policies governing conduct at athletic events and in libraries and other University facilities;
- Violations of University computer or telephone system policies, and unauthorized access to private information;
- Possession of fireworks, firearms, other weapons, or explosives;
- Facilitating, aiding, or abetting a violation of University policy;
- Retaliating against persons who have filed a complaint or submitted an incident report, or who provide information as witnesses in any University investigation or proceeding.
Violations of regulations of residences, libraries, resource centers, Traffic and Parking, Mail Services, and other areas of University life may also result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process. For further policies pertaining to campus residences, see Chapter 4, “Residential Life”.
Organizations or individual hosts are responsible for the conduct of their members and/or guests, and students are responsible for what occurs in their rooms or residences, both financially and in terms of misconduct by guests. These responsibilities include compliance with federal, state, and local law and University policies. Those who fail to meet these responsibilities will be subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process, and/or referral for prosecution by government authorities.
The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may initiate corrective action, institute restrictions on, or withdraw registration from organizations that violate University policy and regulations, and may also impose restrictions or require conditions be met by organizations that are found to be in violation of policy.
Students are expected to observe the standards of the University during activities that occur off campus. In cases of misconduct that occur off campus in which the University determines that it has an interest, an organization may be subject to corrective action including the loss of its registration, or, individuals may also be subject to corrective action. Factors in the decision may be whether Vanderbilt University property or property of members of the University community is involved; whether the parties in a dispute are members of the University community; whether the misconduct occurred at an event sponsored by a Vanderbilt group or by a University department; and whether such misconduct may affect the welfare of the University community.
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Vanderbilt University expects students to refrain from conduct that threatens or, through intimidation, harassment, or stalking, unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another member of the University community by any means, including through the use of electronic communications, social media, computers, or data networks. Such conduct is a violation of University policy and may result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process.
A student who feels that she or he is the target of such harassment, etc., may request from the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, or the Director’s designee, an order to the identified student to desist from the conduct in question. When a request is filed, the Director or the Director’s designee will determine whether the alleged conduct warrants the issuance of an order prohibiting the continuation of the conduct. The student whose conduct is the subject of the request will be notified of the request and any resulting charges.
If the Director or the Director’s designee determines that the conduct complained of may constitute harassment, stalking, intimidation, or threat that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another member of the University community, the Director or the Director’s designee will issue an order prohibiting the identified student from engaging in that conduct. The Director or the Director’s designee may also impose other appropriate restrictions. Any charges brought at the time the order is requested will be resolved in the same manner as any other violation of policy.
Violation of an order by the student who is subject to the order will result in the filing of a charge against that student. This charge will be addressed according to the usual accountability procedures. The accountability meeting will be conducted by the authority that issued the order. If the accountability proceedings result in a finding that the student is responsible for violating the order, corrective action will be taken.
The determination of whether an order should be issued, and any order that may be issued, will not be considered an accountability proceeding for purposes of the student’s record unless separate charges are brought and addressed in an accountability meeting. A subsequent accountability meeting to address whether the student has violated the terms of an order will constitute an accountability proceeding in the ordinary sense of that term and will become a part of the student’s record to the same extent that any other accountability proceeding would become part of the record.
Harassment of any individual based on sex (see Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence”), race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, or disability is unacceptable and may be grounds for corrective action, and may also constitute a violation of federal law. Equally unacceptable within the University is the harassment of any individual on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, or harassment because of one’s perception of another’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The policies and procedures governing cases involving sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence, including sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence, may be found in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”
The Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services office (EAD) is available for consultation on other types of harassment as well. Upon receipt of a written complaint, an investigation will be conducted. After evaluating the specifics of the complaint, the EAD will issue a finding to the appropriate University official and seek to resolve the matter, usually within ninety (90) work days of receipt of the written complaint. In cases in which a student chooses not to file a formal complaint, the University may still take appropriate action being mindful of the complainant’s desire for privacy. The University is committed to protecting those filing complaints from retaliation.
Other campus offices such as the Office of Housing and Residential Education, the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, the Center for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response (Project Safe), the Office of LGBTQI Life, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the, the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, and the Psychological and Counseling Center are available to provide counseling and support to students who believe they have been subjected to harassment.
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The use or possession of fireworks, firearms, other weapons, explosives, or any type of ammunition on University premises is prohibited, with the exception that Vanderbilt University complies with Tennessee Code TCA 39-17-1313. Student use or possession of these materials is prohibited off campus, as well, when such use or possession is illegal or may endanger the health or safety of members of the University community, or the community at large.
Sports weapons must be kept in the custody of the Vanderbilt Police Department, which is open twenty-four hours a day. It is a felony in the state of Tennessee to carry a weapon on a campus for the purpose of going armed. Air rifles and “BB” guns are considered to be firearms, the use and possession of which are prohibited on campus. The use and possession of realistic-looking or imitation firearms, which may include water guns, paintball guns, etc., is also prohibited.
The use or possession of stun guns, flying Tasers, cattle prods, liquid stun guns, or other devices designed to disrupt the human neurological system for the purpose of incapacitation is prohibited. The use or possession of any other device, object, or substance (or imitations and facsimiles thereof), designed to cause injury, or the use of any object capable of being a weapon as a weapon is also prohibited.
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Damage, vandalism, littering, or theft of University property or property of a University community member or campus visitor by a student or student groups may result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process as well as the responsible student(s’) being held financially responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.
For example, a student may leave a window open during cold weather causing burst pipes and the flooding of student rooms and common areas. Or, a student may cause a fire triggering the building’s sprinkler system causing both water and smoke damage to student rooms and common areas. In these cases, the students committing the acts may be held responsible not only for accountability purposes, but also for the financial losses suffered by other students and the University resulting from these events. Students may be held financially responsible for damages or losses resulting from accidents or negligence. Students who suffer losses under such circumstances must take their claims to their own homeowners or renters insurance carriers. These companies may subrogate the claims to the carrier of the responsible student’s insurance.
(Note: Among the most common occurrences is water damage caused by the triggering of interior sprinklers as a result of horseplay, or hanging objects from sprinkler heads.)
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State law requires each college and university in Tennessee to adopt a policy prohibiting hazing. Hazing is defined in the law as “any intentional or reckless act in Tennessee on or off the property of any [college or university] by one (1) student acting alone or with others which is directed against any other student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger his or her mental or physical health or safety. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions, and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization.”
While including the statutory limitations of hazing above (i.e., student acts directed at students on or off campus), the University expands its definition of hazing to include any act that may produce, or is intended to produce, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule, or any acts that are humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning, or that endangers the health and safety of another person. Such acts include—but are not limited to—paddling in any form, inducement of excessive fatigue, required exercise inconsistent with the mission of the organization, or physical or psychological shocks; personal servitude; implementing or participation in treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, or road trips that are not pre-approved by the appropriate University office; publicly wearing apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts, morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; drinking games, or, other organized activities, late work sessions, and other obligations which interfere with scholastic purposes of the organization; and any other activity inconsistent with the purposes of the organization’s constitution, by-laws, standing rules and policies, or University policy. Students are subject to federal, state and local laws, and policies and regulations of the University.
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The University prohibits the throwing of objects from the stands and abusive language or gestures at athletic events. Student spectators who throw objects at athletic events will be ejected from the contest and may be subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process. Other spectators will be treated similarly by local authorities. The possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited at athletic events, as is the use of tobacco, electronic smoking devices, and other nicotine delivery systems.
Fan Access Policy
The Southeastern Conference Fan Access Policy states: “In all sports, access to the competition area shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals, at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.” Students violating this policy–including by rushing a court, field, or other competition area–are subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process, and may be required to pay a fine. In addition, individuals who improperly enter the competition area may be expelled from the facility, arrested for trespassing, or lose future ticket privileges.
Signs, Banners, and Artificial Noisemakers
Students may paint themselves, using the common names for Vanderbilt teams (e.g., Dores, Vandy, VU). Students and/or registered student organizations may submit banners to be displayed at the game to the appropriate Student Athletics official, prior to the game. Banners with obscene, offensive, or derogatory messages—as determined by Student Athletics personnel–will not be displayed. Efforts will be made to display all banners submitted and approved. Students are permitted to bring hand-held signs to athletic events provided that the signs meet the following guidelines:
- The signs must be no larger than one piece of standard-size poster board (22″ x 28″);
- Signs may not display abusive, offensive, or obscene words or drawings—as determined by Student Athletics personnel; and
- Names of commercial products other than the official broadcast networks of the contest may not be mentioned on the sign.
- Dry erase boards and the like are prohibited. Signs must be completed and approved prior to the event, and may not be changed once approved.
Event staff has the discretionary authority to determine whether a sign meets the guidelines. Signs that do not meet these guidelines may be confiscated at any time during the event. Students in possession of a sign that does not meet the guidelines may be ejected from the contest if they refuse to comply with the policy stated above.
Artificial noisemakers (cowbells, vuvuzelas, inflatable balloon-stick clappers, etc.), are prohibited at any athletic event, with the exception of musical and percussive instruments used by official team bands in accordance with South Eastern Conference regulations.
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The Jean and Alexander Heard Library seeks to create a welcoming, comfortable, and safe environment for its users. The library is a place for learning and reflection, and the library staff supports these efforts by providing helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable service. Mutual courtesy and respect among users and staff are essential to the University’s educational mission, and the role the library serves in fulfilling it. Among the library’s most important goals is to create a setting where its users feel free to pursue research and study without compromising their privacy or safety. The various libraries comprising the Jean and Alexander Heard Library system provide a variety of spaces for quiet study. Collaborative study spaces are also offered, which enable conversation and interaction among students. Library users are asked to be courteous to others, and to be aware of the potential impact of their conversations and use of electronic devices in open areas. All conduct should contribute to the research and scholarship of the Vanderbilt community.
More information about Library policies may be found on the Library website.
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Students who participate in Vanderbilt University study-abroad programs are representatives of Vanderbilt, and their respective countries, for the duration of the specific programs in which they are enrolled, and for any period immediately before or after that, should they extend their respective visits abroad. Participants are expected to conduct themselves appropriately and respectfully, and to abide by the policies and regulations set forth by the University, the Global Education Office (GEO), their respective program directors, on-site program staff, study-abroad program providers, the host foreign institutions (in the case of exchange and direct-enroll programs) and facilities in which they reside. Students are also expected to abide by the laws and customs of the countries in which they are studying or traveling. In addition, provisions of the Student International Travel policy apply to students studying abroad.
Given the nature and function of study-abroad programs, student-participant adherence to policies, procedures, and directives is crucial. The paragraphs, below, set out the accountability process for resolving alleged violations of program and University policies, procedures, and guidelines by Vanderbilt study-abroad participants.
Should there be an allegation of a violation of policy, resident directors or faculty leaders of Vanderbilt-administered study-abroad programs may conduct investigations and hold accountability meetings for conduct matters that occur abroad. Resident directors and faculty leaders may consult with GEO and the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee) throughout the process. At the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee) and in consultation with the resident director or faculty leader, the Dean of Students (or designee) may assume jurisdiction for, and render a decision on, any cases involving students abroad. Cases involving sexual misconduct or other forms of power-based violence, including stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence during study-abroad programs must be addressed according to the policies and procedures outlined in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”
The resident director or faculty leader will interview or receive statements from all witnesses, and will present the identified student with the allegations, which are to include the specific regulation or policy allegedly violated. At the accountability meeting, the student presented with allegations may testify personally and present witnesses on his or her behalf. The student may examine all information that may form the basis for corrective action.
The student may present testimony and make arguments not only with regard to the offense, but also with regard to justification or mitigating circumstances. The student may also speak to the question of the appropriateness of any particular corrective action or sanction that he or she may incur. The decisions of the Vanderbilt resident director or faculty leader will be based on information presented and statements taken and will be made using a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.
If the student is found responsible for a violation of applicable policies or regulations, the finding will specify the violating behavior and the policy or regulation violated, and the corrective action to be taken. The decision will be delivered to the student promptly, and take effect immediately. Due to the logistical challenges presented by conducting investigations at some distance from campus, findings made by resident directors or faculty leaders in accountability proceedings conducted for students in study-abroad programs are final.
The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity holds concurrent jurisdiction and may take further action upon the student’s return to the University. For non-Vanderbilt students, the student’s home institution may also be notified of any policy violations and corrective actions taken by Vanderbilt resident directors or faculty leaders.
Students enrolled in study abroad programs not directly administered by Vanderbilt (i.e. direct enroll or exchange programs, or programs operated in conjunction with third-party providers) are subject to accountability proceedings as outlined by the relevant program or institution. Generally speaking, these institutions will inform and work with the Global Education Office and the GEO will in turn inform and work with the Vanderbilt Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity to investigate and respond to alleged violations of policies or regulations.
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Use of University Computers and Data Networks
Students, faculty, and staff are expected to comply with The Computing Privileges and Responsibilities Acceptable Use Policy. Among other things, this policy prohibits violation of copyright laws, including illegal file sharing, the transportation of obscene materials across state lines, and unauthorized access to private information, whether obtained through direct “hacking” or by “social engineering” methods. In addition to sanctions through University accountability proceedings, computing and data network privileges may be revoked in appropriate circumstances.
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Students should identify themselves to the persons called on the telephone and may not use the telephone system to harass another by threats, obscenities, or repeated calls in which they fail to identify themselves. Examples of improper use of the telephone include the following: calling repeatedly and breathing or not speaking into the telephone receiver; describing sexual activity without identifying oneself; and anonymously subjecting the listener to obscene names. Harassment by telephone is a violation of state law and will subject the caller to criminal prosecution as well as corrective action through the University’s accountability process. Students who experience such calls should report the matter to a residential staff member, and/or, to the Vanderbilt University Police Department. Some harassment by telephone may be sexual harassment, as defined in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence,” and the policies and procedures outlined in that chapter should be followed.
Unauthorized use of the University telephone system with the intent to avoid payment of long distance charges is unlawful and may result in corrective action through University’s accountability process. Misuse includes the unauthorized acceptance of long distance collect calls, third party calls charged against the University, and use of a long distance authorization (V-Net) number not issued to the user.
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Note: General provisions of the University’s Honor System, may be found in Chapter 2, “The Honor System.” Policies and procedures governing cases involving sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence are outlined in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”
The bodies that comprise the accountability system are the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, the Appellate Review Board, the Undergraduate Honor Council and the honor councils of the Graduate School and the professional schools. For matters specific to their areas, delegated to them by the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, authority may also be exercised by the Interfraternity, Panhellenic, and National Pan-Hellenic Councils, and Vanderbilt Student Communications, Incorporated. The nature of specific areas of authority is described in the constitutions or bylaws of each of these bodies.
In consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, the Dean of Students may assume jurisdiction for cases before the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity or any of the several Honor Councils. The Dean of Students also appoints students to the Appellate Review Board (acting as the Chancellor’s designee), and—under special circumstances—to the Undergraduate Honor Council. Such circumstances include the Honor Council’s inability to convene a hearing panel of elected members (perhaps due to absences during the summer or extended breaks, perhaps due to disqualification of members to sit on a given panel due to excluding criteria as delineated in the constitution and by-laws of the Honor Council). Students appointed by the Dean of Students to the Honor Council serve only for the duration of the circumstances that effected their appointments. The Provost, or the Provost’s designee, appoints faculty members to serve as advisers to the Honor Council. The Chancellor, or the Chancellor’s designee, appoints faculty members to the Appellate Review Board.
Rights of students or student organizations suspected of misconduct are addressed through the following procedures, which are designed to provide a fair process and just findings. The basic elements of the process are as follows:
- Written and timely notice of charges against students, including possible consequences.
- Opportunity for students to present all relevant information at an accountability meeting, to challenge adverse testimony and information, to speak on their own behalf, to call witnesses, and to be accompanied by a Vanderbilt student, faculty, or staff adviser of their own choosing, to whom they are not related, and who has not had formal legal training (except in cases involving students in the Law School).
- Findings reached on the basis of the information presented, proof to the panel or accountability staff for a finding of responsibility using a “preponderance-of-the-evidence” standard, University regulations, and the character of the students.
- An unbiased appellate body to which students may appeal.
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All persons taking courses or participating in activities of the University as students, even if not registered primarily at Vanderbilt, fall under the jurisdiction of the accountability system. This includes those taking part-time courses of study; participants in summer programs such as PAVE, Governor’s School, etc.; participants in programs of the English Language Center; transients during the summer or other sessions; and students cross-registered from a neighboring institution. Accountability proceedings for these students are the same as for full-time Vanderbilt students. A notification of the findings of an accountability meeting will be sent to the appropriate officer of the institution in which the students are primarily registered.
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The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity has original jurisdiction in all cases of nonacademic misconduct involving undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
The procedures provided herein apply to both individuals and groups. A student facing potential corrective action, or an officer in the case of an organization, will be informed in writing of a charge at least three days before an accountability meeting. Either may waive the three-day waiting period and request an earlier meeting. The charge notice will include the specific regulation or policy allegedly violated.
The student or officer (hereinafter “student”) may testify personally and present witnesses on his or her behalf. The student may examine all information that may form the basis for corrective action. The student may present one character witness as well.
Given the nature of the University’s accountability process, the testimony of, and information derived from experts, such as reports of handwriting experts, will not be considered, except in rare circumstances. In those rare cases, determinations as to the appropriateness of testimony of or information derived from an expert will be made in the sole discretion of the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. Under no circumstances, however, will the use of polygraph examinations be permitted.
The student facing potential corrective action may choose a Vanderbilt faculty, staff, or student adviser who is not related to the student, and who has not had formal legal training (except in cases concerning students in the Law School), to accompany him or her during the accountability meeting. The adviser may not address the staff member, but may consult with the student during the meeting. No person who has a substantial interest in the case, or in a related case as a student facing potential corrective action, or as an adviser to such a student, may serve as an adviser. Persons not convened (e.g., the panel) or summoned (e.g., the student, the student’s adviser, witnesses, etc.), by the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, are prohibited from attending an accountability meeting, and from being present at interviews during the course of an investigation.
Persons conducting the accountability meeting, and considering statements against a student facing potential corrective action (for example, statements in the student’s file), must advise the student of the content of the statements and give the student an opportunity to rebut inferences that might be drawn. The student may present testimony and make arguments not only with regard to the alleged violation of policy but also with regard to excuse, justification, and mitigating circumstances. The student may also speak to the question of the appropriateness of any particular corrective action or sanction.
The findings will be based on information presented at the accountability meeting. Information acquired through unauthorized searches will not be considered. A search of a student, a student’s possessions, or a student’s on campus premises may be authorized by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee if there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of University policy is occurring or has occurred.
If the student is found responsible for misconduct, the finding will specify the acts of misconduct for which the student is responsible and the corrective action to be taken or the sanction to be imposed. The finding will be delivered to the student promptly and, at the time of its delivery, the student will be reminded of the opportunity to appeal and of the time limits and procedures involved in an appeal.
Accountability meetings may be recorded by the University. Recordings not authorized by the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, are prohibited. The Chair is custodian of the records of the meetings. A written record of findings, corrective actions, and sanctions assessed must always be filed in cases resulting in corrective action. These elements become a part of the record and may be examined by the student in the case.
Investigations and accountability meetings are not publicized or open to the public. Accountability staff members must hold in confidence, the matters related to both the investigations and the meetings.
If a member of an accountability body has a conflict of interest, he or she is ineligible to consider a case or to hear an appeal. Individuals with a conflict of interest must declare themselves ineligible. In addition, the specific body may, by a majority vote, declare any member ineligible due to a conflict of interest.
Students may be accountable to criminal and/or civil authorities as well as to the University for acts that constitute violations of law and of University policies and regulations. Students investigated for alleged violations of these policies and regulations are subject to University accountability proceedings delineated in this Handbook while criminal or civil proceedings regarding the same conduct are pending. Students in these circumstances may not challenge the University’s accountability process on the grounds that criminal charges or civil actions regarding the same incident are pending, may be initiated, or have been terminated, dismissed, reduced, or not yet adjudicated. When appropriate, the University may refer matters to federal, state, and local authorities for prosecution.
The policies and procedures governing cases involving sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence are outlined in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”
Procedures for the study abroad programs of the University are stated in the section on “Study Abroad” in Chapter 1.
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The Appellate Review Board (the “Board”) is a University-wide body consisting of faculty and students appointed by the Chancellor (or the Chancellor’s designee) to review appeals from findings of administrative offices and bodies that have the authority to impose sanctions upon students in academic and co-curricular matters. The Appellate Review Board comprises two divisions: the Appellate Review Board for Academic Matters (for cases heard by Honor Councils), and the Appellate Review Board for Co-Curricular Matters (for cases heard offices and bodies that exercise accountability authority, with exceptions noted below). Information on the policies and procedures governing appeals in cases involving sexual misconduct and other forms of power-based personal violence may be found in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence.”
The Appellate Review Board may also, in consultation with the University Office of General Counsel, the Dean of Students, the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, and other appropriate University officials, review and propose updates of the procedures used by the persons and bodies whose findings are subject to appeal to ensure that students are treated fairly.
Appellate Review Board for Academic Matters
The Appellate Review Board for academic matters reviews appeals from decisions of bodies having the authority to impose penalties in academic matters.
Any Vanderbilt student, having been found guilty of a violation of the applicable honor code (the “Petitioner”), with resultant imposition of penalty by any of the following hearing bodies, may petition the Board for a review of the determination:
- The Undergraduate Honor Council;
- The honor council of any graduate or professional school
Appellate Review Board for Co-Curricular Matters
The Appellate Review Board for co-curricular matters reviews appeals from decisions of administrative offices and bodies having the authority to impose sanctions in co-curricular accountability matters. (Exceptions are noted, below.)
Any Vanderbilt student or organization, having been found responsible for a violation of University policy (the “Petitioner”), with resultant imposition of penalty by any of the administrative offices and hearing bodies, below, may petition the Board for a review of the determination.
- The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity;
- Such other bodies and administrative offices not here enumerated but which do, in fact, exercise accountability authority, with the exception that appeals of decisions by the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, or the National Pan-Hellenic Council, are heard by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee
Appeals involving cases of sexual misconduct or other forms of power-based personal violence are discussed in Chapter 7, “Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence[FW27] .”
Composition of the Board
The Board is composed of members appointed by the Chancellor (or the Chancellor’s designee), as follows: a Chair and a Vice-Chair (who acts in the absence, disability, refusal or inability of the Chair to serve) for each division–The Appellate Review Board for Academic Matters, and the Appellate Review Board for Co-Curricular Matters–who are members of the tenured faculty; and thirty-eight general members appointed by the Chancellor (or the Chancellor’s designee), who serve on both academic and co-curricular cases and who are faculty members at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher, selected from among the schools as follows: four from the College of Arts and Science, two from the Blair School of Music, two from Peabody College of Education and Human Development, two from the School of Engineering, and one each from the remaining six schools of the University. Two full-time students from each of the ten schools of the University also serve. Both faculty and students are appointed for two-year terms, which should be staggered to the extent practical, to ensure continuity.
Petition for Appeal
A petition for appeal, signed by the petitioning student or appropriate officer of a petitioning organization, must be submitted in writing, to the Appellate Review Board at either 310 Sarratt or at the following address:
Appellate Review Board
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1508
The appeal must be submitted no later than ten (10) calendar days following the date the student or the organization is notified of the determination of the administrative office or hearing body. Requests for extensions must be submitted prior to the expiration of the ten-day period. The petition must include the follow: a statement of the grounds for appeal, supporting explanation, and copies of, or reference to, all evidence the Petitioner asks the Board to consider. Except as explicitly provided below, no documents or other evidence may be included with an appeal unless previously submitted to the original authority.
The grounds for appeal are as follows:
- Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the finding of the original authority.
- Insufficient information to support the finding of the original authority.
- New information that was not reasonably available for presentation to the original authority, the introduction of which could reasonably be expected to affect the finding of the original authority.
- Harshness of the penalty/sanction imposed by the original authority sufficient to show an abuse of discretion by that authority.
Standards of Review
The standards for review used by the Board in considering the grounds for appeal are provided, below:
“Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the finding of the original authority.” Original authorities are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with their policies and procedures. Deviation from those policies and procedures which render their actions fundamentally unfair constitutes a sufficient basis for an appeal to the Appellate Review Board. Procedural irregularities that are considered by the Board to be harmless and that did not, in the judgment of the Board, adversely affect the process, are not a basis for upsetting the determination of the original authority.
“Insufficient information to support the finding of the original authority.” It is not the role of the Appellate Review Board to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the original authority if there is a reasonable basis for that authority’s finding. Deference must be given to the judgment of the original authority, which had the opportunity to hear the witnesses and to assess their credibility and demeanor. The Board may not alter the finding of the original authority unless the determination of the original authority is clearly erroneous and cannot be reasonably supported by the information considered.
“New information that was not reasonably available for presentation to the original authority, the introduction of which would reasonably be expected to affect the finding of the original authority.” All available information, including testimony of witnesses, is expected to be presented to the original authority. Only on that basis can the authority reach fair and reasonable findings. A student or student organization that seeks to introduce new information has the burden of demonstrating that the information was not reasonably available for presentation to the original authority, and that the introduction of such new information can be reasonably expected to affect the finding of the original authority. If the Appellate Review Board determines that the student or student organization has satisfied this burden, the Board remands the case to the original authority with instructions to reconsider the case in light of the new information.
“Harshness of the penalty/sanction imposed by the original authority sufficient to show an abuse of discretion by that authority.” Again, deference should be given by the Board to the penalties, sanctions, etc., imposed by that authority. At the same time, the Board should recognize that an original authority can make errors in judgment sufficient to show an abuse of discretion. Abuse of discretion does not necessarily imply an intentional wrong or bad faith, but simply the failure to exercise reasonable judgment under the circumstances.
Consideration of Petition and Determination of Appeal
When the Chair of the appropriate Appellate Review Board (Academic or Co-Curricular) receives a petition, the Chair will instruct the original authority to notify all persons who were sent formal notification of the findings of the original authority that a petition for appeal has been filed and that penalties/sanctions of the original authority should not be implemented pending the result of the appeal. A delay in implementation, however, does not preclude the University from taking interim actions to ensure the safety and security of the campus community.
Upon receipt of the petition, the Chair will also request from the original authority the entire record of the case, including, for example, test papers or other documentary information, summaries of witness testimony, and audio or video recordings of the proceedings. The Chair will then proceed to review the petition (including all supporting information provided by the petitioner), and the record, with all deliberate speed to determine whether the petition, when considered in the light most favorable to the petitioner, sets forth a basis sufficient to provide the relief sought by the petitioner. If the Chair determines that the petition does not set forth a basis sufficient to provide the relief, the Chair dismisses the petition (or such parts of the petition that the Chair has determined do not set forth a basis sufficient to provide relief). The Chair’s decision is final.
If the Chair determines that the petition (or parts of it) does set forth a basis sufficient to provide the relief, the Chair forwards a copy of the petition to the original authority with instructions to respond to it (or such parts of the petition that the Chair has determined set forth a basis sufficient to provide relief). The original authority provides its response to the Chair within ten (10) calendar days of receiving the Chair’s notification that the Board will hear the petition. Upon receiving the response from the original authority, the Chair sends the response to the petitioner offering the petitioner an opportunity to reply. Replies must be submitted within five (5) calendar days. The Chair forwards a copy of this response to the chair of the original authority for informational purposes.
From among the membership of the Board, the Chair selects three (3) faculty members and three (3) student members to serve on a panel (the “appeals panel”) to consider the petition. In the case of an appeal by an undergraduate student or undergraduate student organization, at least one student member of the panel will be an undergraduate student. In the case of an appeal by a graduate or professional student or a graduate or professional student organization, at least one student member of the panel will be a graduate or professional student from the school in which the petitioner is enrolled (in the case of a student), or with which the group is affiliated (in the case of an organization).
The Chair makes available to members of the appeals panel a copy of the petition and all supporting documents submitted by the petitioner. The panel reviews the petition and, by majority vote, determines whether the petition presents sufficient grounds for an appeal. If the panel determines that the petition does not set forth sufficient grounds for the appeal, the petition is dismissed. If the panel determines that the petition does set forth sufficient grounds for the appeal, the panel proceeds to a full consideration of the appeal. In making this preliminary determination, it is not necessary that the entire panel be convened. The vote may be taken at a meeting or by any other means of communication, such as by email, telephone, mail, or facsimile transmission.
As stated above, if the appeals panel determines that sufficient grounds for appeal are presented in the petition, the appeals panel proceeds to consideration of the appeal. The panel’s consideration of the appeal must be based only on the records created by or provided to the original authority, the petition, any new information the Board determines should be considered, and all responses to the petition.
After reviewing the record, the appeals panel, by majority vote, decides whether to affirm, modify, or reverse the finding of the original authority or to remand the case to the original authority with instructions. In cases where there has been a procedural error on the part of the original authority or the appeals panel deems that new information should be considered, the panel remands the case to the original authority with instructions.
Only in extraordinary circumstances would the Appellate Review Board ever reconsider an entire case de novo. In the event of reconsideration, standards of procedure are, in substance, those for original hearings and accountability meetings, but the Board may provide additional procedural rules, if necessary.
The Chair notifies in writing the petitioner and the original authority (which, in turn, notifies all persons who were sent formal notification of the original finding) of the Board’s decision and the reasons for its decision.
While a case is pending, policy changes that might affect a case cannot be considered in the appeal.
If the Board has a question about the meaning or application of a University policy or procedure, the Chair may consult with the Dean of Students and Office of General Counsel to determine how best to proceed. At no time may the Chair or the Board substitute its own opinions or values for University policy.
No person, including the petitioner, may appear before the appeals panel, except at the invitation of the Chair.
No member of the Board may participate on an appeals panel if the member has a conflict of interest that might render the member’s objectivity questionable. Each member of the Board is responsible for determining whether a conflict of interest exists and may consult the University Compliance Office, if necessary. However, a member may be disqualified upon a motion by a member of the Board and by subsequent affirmative vote by a majority of the appeals panel. If a member of the appeals panel is disqualified, the Chair selects an alternate. If neither student from the petitioner’s school may serve on an appeals panel due to conflicts of interest, the Chair, of necessity, will appoint students from other schools.
Once a final determination has been made, all records of the original authority are returned to that authority.
Additional Petition for Expulsion
Students who have been expelled from Vanderbilt University may, upon completion of the appeals process, submit a written petition within ten (10) calendar days to the Provost or the Provost’s designee, requesting reconsideration of the penalty of expulsion. The decision of the Provost or the Provost’s designee is final.
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Vanderbilt’s system of graduated sanctions and structured accountability action plans, is designed to educate and effect reflection on the part of students and their organizations, as well as to effect students’ and student organizations’ voluntary compliance with the policies and regulations established to protect themselves, other students, and the community. Vanderbilt hopes that educational conferences deferred probationary periods and probationary periods will be sufficient to help students and their organizations make better choices so that separation from the community never becomes necessary.
Given the educational nature of University accountability proceedings, many factors can be–and are–considered when determining sanctions and the components of an accountability action plan. In addition to a student’s or a student organization’s previous record, the circumstances surrounding the violation or infraction–such as the nature and severity of the event, the impact on others–may also be considered. Finally, a student’s or a student organization’s level of cooperation and honesty throughout the accountability process may inform the appropriate response to a policy violation.
The following, although not exhaustive, is a list of common sanctions and components for accountability action plans:
- Restriction. Loss of privileges that are consistent with the violation and the rehabilitation of the student. This may include directives to refrain from entry to certain areas of campus or contact with particular individuals, or the loss of campus parking and driving privileges
- Restitution. Repair or replacement of lost or damaged property or compensation for other costs arising from a violation.
- Fines/fees. Fees or fines to cover the expense of educational or work service programs may also be imposed.
- Letters of apology. Letters of apology may be used when a violation has a specific impact on another member of the University community or larger Nashville community.
- Online tutorials. Completion of online tutorials designed to educate the student on a particular topic that is relevant to the violation and/or designed to improve the student’s decision-making may be required.
- Research or reflection essays. Completion of research or reflection essays designed to educate the student on a particular topic that is relevant to the violation, or that requires the student to reflect on the violation and its consequences, may be required.
- Work Service. Work service may be assigned when a violation involves damage to property or the making of an unusual mess, and may include picking up litter from campus lawns, cleaning lobbies, restrooms, and stairwells of campus residences, etc.
- Counseling, evaluation, and treatment programs. In some cases of misconduct, such as those committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, participation in an evaluation and/or treatment program by an approved counseling service may be required as a part of a corrective action plan or sanction. Such treatment may also be a condition of readmission to the University or a condition for remaining in the University.
- Educational Conference: Such conferences involve a structured discussion between the student and the Office of Student Accountability, Community Service, and Academic Integrity, about the violation, individual accountability, the impact on the community, and improved decision-making. An educational conference is an educational sanction, and is not reported to agencies outside the University.
- Deferred disciplinary probation. In some instances, a probationary status, as described below, may be deferred and will be implemented only if the student fails to complete all the components of an accountability action plan by the required deadlines. If the components of the accountability action plan are completed in a timely manner, the deferred probation is considered an educational sanction and is not reported to agencies outside the University.
- Disciplinary probation. Places a student in a probationary status that takes away the privilege of holding office and may also include social or other restrictions. Probations are entered upon the student’s permanent disciplinary record (which is maintained in accordance with the document retention policy delineated below), and are reported to agencies beyond the University, as needed. Probation may, but does not always, restrict a student’s activities on campus. Violation of probation may lead to further restrictions or suspension.
- Suspension. Dismissal from the University for a specified or indefinite period of time. Suspensions are entered upon the student’s permanent disciplinary record (which is maintained in accordance with the document retention policy delineated, below), and are reported to agencies outside the University, as needed. A notation is placed on the student’s transcript for the period of the suspension. Suspension, pending an accountability meeting, may be imposed when there is reason to believe the action is necessary to maintain University functions or to protect the safety of individuals. Conditions may be placed upon a student’s return to campus.
- Expulsion. Permanent dismissal from the University. Expulsions are entered upon the student’s permanent disciplinary record (which is maintained in accordance with the document retention policy delineated, below), and are reported to agencies outside the University, as needed. A permanent notation is placed on the student’s transcript.
In all cases, accountability bodies have authority to establish various sanctions and accountability action plans appropriate to violations or infractions. Routine sanctions and accountability action plans may be established for certain infractions and may also be appealed to the appropriate body according to prescribed appeal procedures. Sanctions and accountability action plans may also be applied in combination. For example, a student may be suspended for one term and reenroll subject to restrictions (as in probation) for the next term. A student’s previous record may be considered when a sanction or accountability action plan is imposed. When sanctions and/or accountability action plans are indicated for a student organization, the group’s prior record may be considered in determining the appropriate sanction or plan.
Aggravated Offenses—Bias-Related Offenses
Sanctions for violations of University policies may be increased by one level of severity when it is determined that the violation was motivated fully or in part by discrimination toward the victim because of the victim’s–or the violator’s perception of the victim’s–race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Thus, an educational conference may become deferred disciplinary probation; deferred probation may become disciplinary probation; probation may become suspension; and suspension may become expulsion.
If a student admits to being, or is found to be, in violation of University policy, the findings of the case, including any sanction, may be made known to appropriate persons, including, but not limited to, the complainant (only where applicable and as required), the appropriate academic dean, the faculty adviser, appropriate staff members, and the responsible student’s parents or guardian.
Upon completion of cases involving a sanction, the appropriate University official will take action to implement the decision of the accountability body, and the dean of the school in which the student is enrolled will be notified if the finding will affect the student’s academic status. However, action is normally not taken until the accountability process, including an appeal, if any, is completed.
Sanctions effective for an indefinite period are rarely imposed, but on occasions when they are, the accountability body imposing the sanction will consult appropriate University administrators to recommend the conditions that must be met to bring the sanction period to a close.
Withdrawal Before a Hearing
If a student who has been reported for an alleged violation of University policy withdraws from the University before accountability proceedings have been concluded, a notice will be sent to the student stating that he or she is alleged to have violated University policy, that an investigation has been or will be conducted, and that an accountability proceeding may be held.
The student may respond in one of three ways: return to the campus for the accountability proceedings, waive the right to give testimony personally, thereby acknowledging that proceedings may go forward in his or her absence, or waive the right to appear and send a written, signed statement to be presented on his or her behalf at the proceedings. Failure by the student to respond will be considered a waiver of the right to appear.
During the time prior to the proceedings, a notation will be placed on the student’s transcript, stating that accountability proceedings are pending. A letter will also be sent to the University registrar and to the registrar of the school in which the student was enrolled indicating that such proceedings are pending. If the student attempts to re-enroll before the matter is resolved, the registrar will notify the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee). The matter must be resolved before the student may re-enroll.
Withdrawal and Readmission
Students may leave the University involuntarily for academic failure, failure to meet financial obligations to the University, or circumstances outside the University’s jurisdiction. Withdrawal from the University under these circumstances does not constitute disciplinary sanction; therefore, re-enrollment after such withdrawal is handled through normal administrative processes. Students who voluntarily–or involuntarily–withdraw from the University for medical or mental/emotional health reasons must be cleared by the appropriate University officers before being permitted to re-enroll.
Upon graduation or withdrawal from the University, student records in the Office of Housing and Residential Education and the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity are maintained for a period of seven years, after which time they are destroyed. Records of students who are suspended or expelled from the University may be maintained indefinitely.
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The Office of Housing and Residential Education provides a comprehensive development program for students living in University residential units. In partnership with faculty and staff from across the University, residential education professionals work to build a living-learning community where values of scholarship and leadership are nurtured in a culture of collegiality. Residential education staff effect interactions among students and faculty and support students’ scholarly pursuits. Values of civility, accountability, discovery, and celebration are at work in Vanderbilt’s residential community.
The Office of Housing and Residential Education employs a compassionate group of upperclass, graduate, and professional students as resident advisers (RAs) and head residents (HRs). Professional, in-residence staff supervise the student staff. The collective residence-life staff, in cooperation with Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) and other campus partners, organizes and coordinates social, educational, and recreational programs throughout the residences.
The residential experience is regarded as an integral part of a Vanderbilt undergraduate education. The mission of the Office of Housing and Residential Education is to provide the residential experience to as many undergraduate students as can be physically accommodated.
The residential requirement, established by the Board of Trust in 1952, states that “All unmarried undergraduate students, except those who live at home with their families in Davidson County, must live in residence halls on campus during the academic year, May session, and summer sessions. Authorization to live elsewhere is granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments in special situations, or when space is unavailable on campus.”
Undergraduate students with children, married undergraduate students, and undergraduate students who are 21 years of age or older with University-registered same-sex domestic partners may call or write the Director of Housing Assignments for assistance with housing arrangements.
In general, first-year students are housed separately from upperclass students. When there is insufficient space in the regular first-year-student housing system or in special situations, first-year students may be housed with upperclass students. All undergraduates make housing arrangements through the Office of Housing and Residential Education in Branscomb Quadrangle.
First-Year Student Assignments
Procedures for first-year student housing assignments will usually be posted on the Housing and Residential Education website by no later than February 1, of the year in which students will enter the University.
Admission to the University does not guarantee assignment to a particular type of room or building. Further, the University population is fluid, and demand for housing may change considerably in a relatively short period of time. In circumstances in which the number of first-year students enrolled exceeds the number of spaces for first-year students in regular rooms, it may be necessary to house students in triple rooms, in single rooms, in upperclass areas, in apartments, or in alternative accommodations (such as study rooms on residential floors) for a few weeks, for a semester, or for the entire first year.
Sophomore and Upperclass Student Assignments
Returning unmarried upperclass students receive their housing assignments through a random selection process in the spring. Eligibility for participation in the random selection is determined by the Director of Housing Assignments with advice from the Vanderbilt Student Government.
Students who participate in any Vanderbilt study abroad programs, or who graduate, withdraw, or take a leave of absence, may request cancellation of their housing contracts by writing to the Office of Housing and Residential Education, sixty days prior to the beginning of the semester.
Requests to Live in Off-campus Housing
Vanderbilt is a residential University. All unmarried undergraduate students are required to live in on-campus residential housing unless the University grants a student authorization to live off-campus. The residential requirement is binding for the student’s entire undergraduate education. Therefore, off-campus authorization is a privilege, not a right.
Only students who have been authorized to reside off campus by the Director of Housing Assignments or the Director’s designee may do so. Students should not make deposits or sign leases until they receive written authorization from the housing assignments director to reside off campus. The Office of Housing and Residential Education maintains an off-campus referral service (https://apphost1a.its.vanderbilt.edu/housing/Main/). Most of the rental property listed is close to the campus, but cost, furnishings, and conditions of the accommodations vary greatly.
Authorization to live off-campus is granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments and may be revoked at any time for good cause, as determined at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments. Reasons for the revocation of off-campus authorization include, but are not limited to, violations of University policies or regulations; failure to abide by the tenets of the “good neighbor guideline;” or behavior that adversely affects the University’s relationship with the neighborhood community.
When Vanderbilt receives notice of a landlord in a community whose practices are violating local law and/or endangering the safety and well-being of student tenants or neighbors, then Vanderbilt reserves the option of denying students the privilege of living off-campus at properties owned by such landlords.
If a student is living in an off-campus residence alone or with one or more other students or non-students, and the residence is found by the University to be in violation of the “good neighbor guidelines” or is adversely affecting the University’s relationship with the neighboring community, all residents may be considered in violation of the good neighbor guidelines even though a specific individual responsible for the conduct cannot be identified. A student whose authorization to live off-campus is revoked will be required to return to campus immediately and live in on-campus housing assigned at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments.
Students directed to return to on-campus housing will be charged, on a pro-rata basis, the standard University housing fee, effective the day assignment to on-campus housing is made. Authorization to live off-campus will be granted only on the condition that the student agrees that the University will not be liable or responsible for any contractual arrangements or agreement into which a student has entered, such as a lease agreement for off-campus housing, if authorization is revoked and the student is required to return to, and live in, assigned on-campus housing.
Requests to Live in a Fraternity or Sorority House
Students who want to live in fraternity or sorority chapter houses must file the necessary forms each semester, May session, or summer session with the Office of Housing and Residential Education. Requests for residency in the chapter houses for the spring semester must be filed thirty days before the beginning of spring semester. During the academic year, requests to move from a campus residence to Greek housing cannot be granted unless accompanied by a request from a Greek house resident to move to the University residential system. A maximum of six officers, preferably of junior or senior class standing, may live in each chapter house. Approval to live in a Greek chapter house must be obtained from both the Office of Housing and Residential Education and the Office of Greek Life. Approval to live in a Greek chapter house is not equivalent to authorization to live off-campus.
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Rooms designated for students are rented (and students are liable for the room rent) for the entire academic year, exclusive of Thanksgiving break, semester break, spring break, and Commencement Week. Students who graduate or withdraw in the first semester are not liable for the spring semester rent if written notice is given sixty days before the opening of the spring semester. Students who graduate or withdraw from the University during the semester must vacate their rooms within twenty-four hours.
Students who withdraw for medical reasons may receive a pro rata refund. Students who withdraw or who are suspended or expelled during the semester may be entitled to partial refunds of rent. Rooms may not be sublet or used for any purpose other than as a residence for those to whom they are assigned. Residential rooms and services (data network, etc.) may not be used for business purposes. Student rooms may not be used for publicized events, including meetings of organizations, Bible studies, social events, etc.
Campus residences are generally open for occupancy on the day before registration begins for each semester, and close at 9am on the day following the last day of classes before holidays and at 9am on the day following the last day of examinations at the end of the semester. Campus residences generally reopen after holidays at 9am on the Sunday prior to the first day of classes. Following semester break, they open at noon on the Friday prior to the first day of spring semester classes.
Campus residences are officially closed during Thanksgiving break, semester break, spring break, and the week prior to commencement. Students are not contractually entitled to occupy their rooms during these periods. However, at the discretion of the Senior Director for Housing Operations or the Senior Director’s designee, students may occupy their rooms during these periods if they register to do so with the Office of Housing and Residential Education. Prior to these breaks, students will receive notice of which buildings and floors may be occupied and instructions for registering to stay. Failure to register may result in exclusion from the residences and/or corrective action through the University’s accountability process. Residential houses on the Ingram Commons are not open during the week prior to commencement and first-year students may not register to stay after the conclusion of final examinations.
By no later than 9am the day after their last spring semester examination, all residents–except graduating students–must vacate their rooms and depart campus. Only graduating seniors may occupy their rooms during commencement week. Graduated students must vacate their rooms by no later than 1pm the day following commencement.
Other than graduating seniors, only students with official roles in sanctioned commencement events, whose residency has been approved in advance by the Director of Housing Assignments (or the Director’s designee), may stay in residence halls during commencement week. At the sole discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments (or the Director’s designee), such students may be required to move from their spring room assignment to a commencement-week assignment by 9am the day after their last examination and vacate their commencement week housing no later that 1pm the day after commencement.
Expiration and Termination
A room contract will be terminated upon a student’s graduation, completion of his or her program, or withdrawal or dismissal from the University. Under these circumstances, the student must vacate the apartment or room within twenty-four hours. Resident contracts may be terminated only when, at the discretion of Director of Housing Assignments, unanticipated and major changes occur in a student’s situation that would justify such termination. Contracts may not be broken to enable students to obtain lodgings elsewhere, or because a student has placed a deposit on, or signed a contract for, off-campus accommodations.
Residents must check-in with residential staff when they arrive on campus. Residents will be issued a key and/or combination and a room condition report. The resident must complete, sign and return the room condition report to document any problems with the room when it is initially occupied. A resident may be held responsible for any damage to his or her living space that is found when he or she moves out unless the damage was noted on his or her room condition report at check-in, is the result of normal wear and tear, or is the result of a properly-reported maintenance problem that arose during the year (please see Damage to Propertyunder “General Residence Life Policies”).
As residents vacate their rooms, they must return their keys and schedule a check-out meeting with the residential staff to review and sign their room condition reports. Residents will be held responsible for all room damage and corresponding charges incurred between the check-in check-out dates recorded on the room condition report. If the room condition report is not reviewed and signed, then the resident may be held financially responsible for all damages above and beyond those noted on the original room condition report.
Students may not move from their assigned spaces to other spaces without the prior approval of the Office of Housing and Residential Education. Room change requests are granted at the discretion of the Director of Housing Assignments. Students who make unauthorized room changes are subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process.
Students who make unauthorized room changes will (1) not be permitted to reserve their current assignments for the following academic year; (2) lose a point for random selections for the following academic year; (3) lose a class in seniority for the off-campus authorization process for the following academic year; (4) be denied authorization to reside in a Greek House for the following academic year; or any combination of the above.
Gender designations of buildings, floors, lodges, suites, or apartments are made on an annual basis. Single students who share bedrooms must be of the same gender.
The University offers a variety of living accommodations for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
The University recognizes and respects the desire for privacy. Designated staff members are authorized by the University to enter any University premises. Authorization for entry includes, but is not limited to, custodial services, maintenance and repair services, and inspections. Staff conduct inspections for a variety of reasons that include–but are not limited to–fire and safety issues, health and welfare issues, maintenance or damage issues, and closing for breaks and end of an academic session. Although inspections are generally announced, circumstances may dictate that an inspection be unannounced.
A search of a student, a student’s possessions, or a student’s premises may be authorized by the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee, if there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of University policy is occurring or has occurred.
During searches and inspections of residential units (rooms, suites, apartments, etc.), University personnel may confiscate items prohibited by University policy.
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The following policies and regulations are specific to residential living, and the University expects students to abide by these policies. Further, students are expected to govern themselves according to all University policies and regulations, as well as state, federal and local laws. The University reserves the right to make other regulations as necessary, without notice, to ensure comfort and safety.
Care, Cleaning, and Repair of Rooms
Students are expected to keep their rooms clean. Students may be required to clean their living accommodations, including appliances, if the area coordinator or associate director for the area determines that the room, apartment, or specific appliance presents a health or safety hazard. Inspections for damage and/or cleanliness will be conducted by University staff. Students are expected to clean rooms and appliances, sweep floors or vacuum, and remove all trash and personal items prior to vacating a room or apartment. The housekeeping staff will clean the bathrooms and general public areas of apartments and suites once every two weeks.
Students are prohibited from painting their rooms and University furniture, including headboards. Adhesives (e.g., glow stars) are also prohibited. Pictures and bulletin boards may be hung only from the picture rail. (Hooks for picture rails may be purchased in the University bookstore.) Use of tape, staples, adhesive holders, screws, brackets, tacks, and nails is prohibited on the walls, woodwork, floors, ceilings or furnishings. Non-staining putty may be used. The use of over-the-door hangers is prohibited due to the damage that these devices cause. Only tension rods may be used for curtains or other window treatments.
Concrete blocks, cinder blocks, and bricks are prohibited from University residences because of the potential damage to walls, floors, and carpets caused by their use. Plastic crates are acceptable substitutes as long as their use does no damage. The height that one may elevate a standard bed is limited to 13″ from the bottom of the bedspring to the floor. Wooden “bed-risers” are permitted as long as they conform to the specifications established by the Director of Housing Facilities, and may be purchased at the University bookstore and from other authorized local vendors. Weightlifting equipment is not permitted in campus residences. Water beds, hot tubs, lofts, and bunk beds (other than those provided by the University), are prohibited. The unauthorized construction of walls and partitions in University housing is prohibited.
Satellite dishes or antennae may not be affixed to, or mounted on, any interior or exterior area of a campus residence in any manner or fashion.
Residences are heated and cooled by central systems. As a consequence, residents should keep their windows closed. Heating or cooling problems should be reported to the area maintenance supervisor (AMS).
Residents are expected to maintain and leave the residence at checkout in the same condition of repair as it was when they checked in, normal wear and tear, excepted.
Students will be charged for any damage to rooms and public areas of campus residences, which results from misconduct or misuse. Charges for damages for which responsibility cannot be determined will be prorated among the residents of a residence hall or living unit. In order to control the quality of the craftsmanship in campus living areas, students may not make repairs to avoid damage charges. Residents should report needed repairs to the area maintenance supervisor (https://apphost2.its.vanderbilt.edu/housing/Facilities/Main/Request.cfm), the Office of Housing and Residential Education, or the building’s residential staff members. The University will make all needed repairs and do all redecorating, including painting, at its discretion. Authorized University personnel may enter at any reasonable time, or in emergencies, to inspect and repair property and equipment or to investigate allegations of policy violations.
The common areas of suites, apartments, and lodges are intended as joint living space for the residents. Students are not permitted to use these rooms as bedrooms. Furnishings in these rooms may not be moved to individual bedrooms.
Residents must report immediately to the Student Health Center any case, or suspected case, of a communicable disease.
Damage, Collective Damage, and Liability
The University is not responsible for personal property and is not liable for damages to student property caused by vandalism, mischief, or other students’ negligence. The University is not liable for damages caused by electrical or mechanical failures or difficulties, or broken water pipes, unless, after being notified, the University fails to take reasonable means to correct the failure or difficulty. Students are strongly encouraged to arrange for insurance coverage for all valuables and belongings they bring to campus. Students should check the provisions of parent/guardian homeowners/renters insurance and/or consider obtaining personal coverage. See Loss of Property/Insurance Coverage.
Damage to Property
Damage, vandalism, littering, or theft of University property or property of a member of the University community, or of a campus visitor, by a student or student groups, may result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process as well as the responsible student(s’) being held financially responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.
For example, a student may leave a window open during cold weather causing burst pipes and the flooding of student rooms and common areas. Or, a student may cause a fire triggering the building’s sprinkler system causing both water and smoke damage to student rooms and common areas. In these cases, the perpetrators may be held responsible not only for accountability purposes, but also for the financial losses suffered by other students and the University resulting from these events.
Students may be held financially responsible for damages or losses resulting from accidents or negligence. Students who suffer losses under such circumstances must take their claims to their own homeowners or renters insurance carriers. These companies may subrogate the claims to the carrier of the responsible student’s insurance. (Note: Among the most common occurrences is water damage caused by the triggering of interior sprinklers as a result of horseplay, or hanging objects from sprinkler heads.)
Damage and vandalism are costly and undermine the quality of life in the residential community. The University expects members of the residential community to aid in the prevention of vandalism. Residents are jointly and severally responsible for damage to their living units and furnishings, and are collectively responsible for damage to common areas.
Residents of a building, or part thereof, may be assessed charges for repair of damage to common areas.
Interruption of Services
Interruption or curtailment of services maintained in a residential building, if caused by strikes, mechanical difficulties, or other causes, does not entitle residents to any claim against the University or to any reduction in rent. Noise from service vehicles, construction activity, or other normal and necessary activities does not entitle residents to any claim against the University or to any reduction in rent.
Small items such as radios, sound systems, electric blankets, clocks, lamps, and coffee makers with enclosed heating elements are permitted in rooms, but no appliances with exposed heating elements, or grills (for either outdoor or indoor use, including “George Foreman” grills and like devices), are allowed. Appliances that draw a large amount of current from each circuit, such as hot plates, air conditioners, electric heaters, and instant water-heating elements, are prohibited. In addition, washers, dryers, and dishwashers are not allowed. Microwave ovens less than six years old, having a maximum power of no more than 800 watts and an interior capacity of no more than one cubic foot are permitted. Refrigerators less than six years old that have no more than a four-cubic-foot capacity may be used. The residential staff of a building may require that any appliance be placed in storage if the manner in which the appliance is used causes interruption of service or endangers the health, safety, or well-being of members of the residential community.
All appliances used in campus residences must be in good condition, with special attention given to seals, electrical cords, and plugs. Only power strips with circuit breakers may be used as extension cords. In consideration of fire safety, halogen lamps or light sources are prohibited in campus residences. The Senior Director for Housing Operations reserves the option of revoking authorization for the use of any appliance in individual buildings or throughout the residential campus.
Because the University provides ubiquitous wireless data network coverage in all its residences, consumer electronic devices that emit a wireless signal (routers, AirPorts, etc.), are prohibited, and settings for smartphone hotspots or wireless connectivity for printers, must be disabled. (See also “Wireless Data Network.”)
No University furniture, plants, or other furnishings, including those in lounges or reception areas, may be exchanged with anyone, stacked, or moved from one room to another. Headboards and footboards may not be removed from beds and University furnishings may not be removed from rooms. Anyone who moves furniture or mattresses without authorization will be responsible for the costs incurred in moving these items back to their proper positions (or the cost of repair or replacement, if an item is damaged or lost) and will be subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process. Doors and window screens may not be removed.
Student-owned furniture brought into campus residences and Greek houses must meet the hospitality/contract-grade furniture fire-safety specifications of either the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 260, or the California Technical Bulletin 117, section E. (Furniture that complies with either standard will be appropriately tagged by the manufacturer.) Student-owned furniture must be removed before the student checks out of his/her room at the conclusion of the period of occupancy. Failure to comply may result in the assessment of charges for removal as well as corrective action through the University’s accountability process.
Visitation and Overnight Guests
Visitors are allowed in residences throughout the 24-hour day. However, residents must remain sensitive to the safety and security concerns of the residential community as well as the privacy needs of roommates/suitemates/lodgemates/apartmentmates. Prior to a visitor’s arrival, resident hosts should discuss with the persons with whom they share space, the fact that visitors are expected. Residents are responsible for the conduct of their visitors and violations of University policy may be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity. Visitors should be escorted at all times when in the residence halls. Lending ID cards or room keys to visitors and sharing access codes are prohibited.
A student who wishes to host an overnight guest must complete a guest registration form located on the Anchor Link page of the appropriate residence hall or house. The request should be made at least 24 hours prior to the arrival of the guest. The relevant Area Coordinator will review the request and send a message regarding the status of the registration. Host students should seek the permission of roommates and others with whom they share space (suitemates, e.g.,) before completing the registration form. Guests’ stays are limited to three consecutive nights. Guests must be escorted at all times in the residences. Lending student ID cards or room keys and sharing access codes are prohibited. Residents are responsible for the conduct of their guests and violations of University policy may be referred to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity.
Guests During Breaks
A Vanderbilt student who lives in a residence that closes during breaks may be invited to stay as a guest in the room of a student who remains on campus. The host must be present during the break. The host must obtain the authorization of all the roommates, suitemates, lodge mates, or apartment mates, in order to offer a place to stay during a break, to a student who is not a resident of the unit. The guest must register online or at the appropriate desk in compliance with posted or published procedures.
Most campus residences have ID card access readers at one or several entrances. Access schedules vary by building and by entrance. For reasons of safety and security, students may not enable building access to persons they do not know to be residents of that building.
Lost ID cards should be reported immediately to the Vanderbilt University Card Office, 184 Sarratt Center, 615-32(2-2273)—C-CARD on campus phones, on the Web at https://services.jsatech.com/login.php?cid=16, or to any facility that accepts the Vanderbilt Card, such as Campus Dining outlets or Varsity Markets. Lost cards may also be reported to the University Police Department at 615 32(2-2745).
Keys and Access Codes
Keys and access codes to residential rooms and other necessary keys, if any, are issued to residents upon check-in to their rooms. Residents may not duplicate keys or share access codes. No deposit is required, but if a key is lost or not returned when a room is vacated, the lock will be changed and the resident charged for the replacement. If it is determined that access codes have been shared, the code will be changed and the resident(s) charged for the change.
Linens and Laundry
The University does not supply towels, washcloths, linens, blankets, or pillows. Coin- or Commodore Card-operated washers and dryers are provided for campus residents in each of the seven residential areas.
Every student is responsible for his or her own property and should consider obtaining personal coverage or having coverage under his or her parent’s homeowner’s policy for items brought to campus. Coverage should include both losses of University property and losses of property owned by others, that a student may cause.
Music Practice Rooms
Certain rooms in campus residences have been designated for use as music practice rooms. Due to their proximity to residential space, their use requires policies that preserve the quiet of the halls for the residents. Policies and specified times for the use of these spaces will be posted in each space. Except for University-supplied pianos, no amplified or percussion instruments are permitted. Use of these rooms for music practice may be terminated by the Office of Housing and Residential Education.
Gatherings in residential spaces with alcohol present must be registered, regardless of their size. Gatherings with alcohol are permitted only in Carmichael Towers East suites, Carmichael Towers West, Mayfield Place, Chaffin Place, Morgan House, and Lewis House. All gatherings must abide by all other University and residential policies (noise, alcohol, visitation, etc.). The registration form is located on each residence hall’s individual Anchor Link page. Registrations should be submitted no later than 24 hours prior to the proposed event. The form, once submitted, is sent to the Area Coordinator for approval.
Students may not have pets and other animals in University residences. Students are also prohibited from keeping or providing for animals on University property, and visiting animals must be kept outdoors and leashed. Students who violate this policy are subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process, and will bear any associated costs in rooms where animals are found in violation of this policy. Fish may be kept in aquariums, but flesh-eating and dangerous fish (e.g. piranha) are prohibited.
Students who are found to be in violation of University policy may be required to change room assignments or vacate University housing as directed by the Office of Housing and Residential Education.
Quiet hours are in effect from 7pm until 7am., Sunday through Thursday, and midnight until 10am, Friday and Saturday. During these hours, residents must cease all activities that might disturb study or sleep. Radios, televisions, etc., should be turned to low volume and other noisy activity curtailed. During reading and examination periods, quiet hours are in effect 24 hours a day. In addition, the residents may vote to alter quiet hours, in accordance with the provisions for residential autonomy. Non-quiet hours are not “noisy” hours. “Courtesy” hours are in effect 24 hours a day.
The use of electric guitars, other amplified instruments, drums, and other instruments producing loud volume, is prohibited in campus residences.
Because of their propensity to be heard and felt through solid materials, subwoofers in stereo speakers or other audio equipment are also prohibited.
Safety and Fire Prevention
Residents must abide by the fire safety practices and regulations listed below:
- Combustible materials may not be stored on the premises.
- Cardboard boxes may not be used for storage of items in storage areas.
- The Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Fire Code prohibits the use and storage of grills within ten (10) feet of any combustible materials on any balcony or patio of a multifamily dwelling. Use or storage of grills is prohibited on any balcony or patio, or in any residential facility.
- Motorcycles, mopeds, and other internal combustion machines may not be kept in University housing.
- Bicycles may not be stored in hallways, stairwells, or other common areas because they may block emergency egress. Bicycles may be stored in student rooms.
- Candles, other devices that produce open flames, oil lamps, and incense, are prohibited in the residence halls, and subject to confiscation, whether or not they are lit at the time they are discovered. Exceptions for registered events sponsored by University departments may be made at the discretion of the Senior Director for Housing Operations, or the Director’s designee.
- Walkways, stairs, and corridors must be kept clear at all times for emergency egress. Student property may not be stored in these areas.
- Heat producing appliances (coffee makers, heating pads, slow-cookers, etc.) must be attended when turned on.
- Flammable materials may not be used to cover or obstruct light sources, heating/cooling sources, or fire-safety fixtures,
- The University’s smoke-free campus policy limits smoking to designated outdoor areas. Extinguishing or disposing of smoking materials by any means other than the urns provided is prohibited.
- Access to windows and doors must be kept clear for emergency egress.
- Emergency exits may be used by residents or guests only for emergency exit or exit during drills. Other use is prohibited.
- Failure to evacuate a building when a fire alarm sounds is prohibited.
- Additionally, the following are prohibited and will likely result in corrective action through the University’s accountability process, which action may include possible suspension from the University or a prorated damage charge among the residents of a particular area if the responsible person(s) cannot be identified (see Collective Damage):
- Tampering with door alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler heads, water flow or other control valves and other fire-safety equipment,
- Tampering with smoke detectors, emergency phones, building access systems, elevator systems, surveillance cameras or other safety and security equipment,
- Tube lights and string lights, except that string lights may be used under the following conditions: Such lights may be used only in individual rooms and not in common areas. The lights must be UL approved and in good condition. No more than three strands of such lights may be strung together, and must be plugged directly into an outlet or into a surge protector that is plugged directly into an outlet.
- Items suspended from the ceilings, sprinkler heads, overhead piping, or on or near water pipes,
- Use or possession of fireworks,
- Disabling fire alarm systems,
- Arson/igniting fires,
- Tampering with or damaging fire-exit lights, signs, horns, strobes or other notification devices,
- Tampering with or obstructing emergency-exit doors,
Safety and Security
Residents must abide by the safety and security practices and regulations listed below:
- Nothing may be thrown from windows. Objects may not be placed on window ledges or on roofs.
- Tampering with card access readers is prohibited.
- Removing window or door screens is prohibited.
- Propping open emergency exits or any door controlled by card access readers is prohibited.
It is essential that residents cooperate with the University in every way to safeguard the residential community and the belongings of residents. Students should keep their room doors locked, keep money and other valuables out of sight, and report thefts and suspicious persons immediately to their head residents, resident advisers or the Vanderbilt Police Department.
Periodically, officers from the Vanderbilt Police Department may enter campus residences, Greek houses, and other campus facilities to assess their safety, security, and compliance with University policies.
At certain hours, students may be required to show Vanderbilt identification to gain entrance to campus residences. (See also “ID Card Access Readers.”)
Vanderbilt University is a smoke-free campus. Smoking and the use of electronic cigarettes, etc, are prohibited in all buildings on campus, including University residence halls and Greek chapter houses, and on the grounds of the campus with the exception of designated outdoor smoking areas. Locations of additional designated smoking areas for campus residents may be found at on the Housing and Residential Education website. Greek organizations may elect to designate outdoor smoking areas on their house grounds.
Designated smoking areas will be marked with signs and include cigarette urns for disposal.
Vanderbilt University is committed to providing a healthy, comfortable and productive environment and offers several resources for smoking cessation.
Solicitation in Residential Units
In general, solicitation in campus residences is prohibited. Room-to-room solicitation for any reason is not allowed. Those students or student organizations who wish to organize clothing, food, blood, book, or other drives in the residence halls must request authorization from the Senior Director of Residential Education.
Student-Election Campaigning in Residential Units
Residence hall campaigning is permitted for Vanderbilt Student Government, Honor Council, and Outstanding Senior elections, only (i.e., those with campus-wide or specific residential-unit interest). Room-to-room solicitation or campaigning is specifically prohibited. As a practical matter, campus-wide elections generate more posters than can be accommodated on residential bulletin boards. Students running for office may post two flyers per bulletin board in residences, but may not cover or remove flyers already in place. Posters larger than 11″ x 17″ in size are prohibited. The internal and external use of residential windows, doors, walls, and bathroom stalls is prohibited. Candidates are responsible for removing flyers within 48 hours of the conclusion of an election.
In the lobbies of certain residences, it is appropriate to hang banners of campus-wide interest. In these lobbies, candidates running for campus-wide offices may hang banners limited to three (3) feet in width and five (5) feet in length. Candidates wishing to hang banners in residential lobbies must contact the appropriate Area Coordinator for authorization and guidance. Candidates may reach appropriate Area Coordinator by calling the Office of Housing and Residential Education at 615-32(2-2591).
During the school year, there are limited storage facilities in most residence halls for large luggage items. (Students are expected to keep weekend bags in their rooms.) Storage is available on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Each stored item must be labeled with the student’s name, room number, home address, and date stored, using the storage stickers provided on site. Charges may be assessed for special handling. The University does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage for items students place in storage.
Items may be stored in trunks, metal trashcans or plastic storage containers with lids. Fire regulations require that no cardboard boxes be used for storage of items. Each student may store a maximum of two storage items, but furniture may not be stored in University storage areas.
Student summer storage facilities are designated for each of the upperclass residential areas. Students may store two items–one of which may be a refrigerator–in the respective residential areas in which they will reside when they return the following fall. Any personal property remaining in living spaces, or in individual floor or corridor closets or storage rooms at the termination of the housing contract, or in the storage rooms past the removal deadlines, will be considered abandoned and may be disposed of without notice at the discretion of the Senior Director of Residential Education. All stored items must be logged in. Students should retain receipts for their records. The University does not accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, stored items.
Substance Free Residences
Residential areas for first-year students are designated as substance free by the Office of Housing and Residential Education. The use of tobacco products and the possession or use of alcohol or illicit drugs in these substance-free areas (in either private rooms or common areas) by residents or their guests, are prohibited.
The University does not provide telephone connections in student rooms.
The University has implemented a wireless data network throughout campus residences. Wireless consumer electronic devices—sometimes called routers, access points (APs) or AirPorts—interfere with the University wireless data network, and, in worst-case circumstances, could even take down the data network. Manufacturers of such devices include Apple, Belkin, D-Link, Linksys, etc. These devices are prohibited. In addition, settings for smartphone hotspots or wireless connectivity for printers and other devices, must be disabled to prevent interference with University wireless APs.
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- Advisers to Registered Student Organizations
- Communications, Student
- Freedom of Expression
- Funding (See also “Sale, Solicitation, and Fundraising.”)
- Governance, Student
- Organization Mailboxes, Student
- Publicity Promotions and Advertising
- Event Registration, Space Reservation, and Event Planning
- Sale, Solicitation, and Fundraising
- Sound Amplification and Noise
Contributing to the University’s mission of teaching and learning, student-engagement opportunities help build a community in which students may develop not only as scholars, but also as well-rounded individuals. Engagement in co-curricular endeavors provides a balance of challenge and support designed to enhance students’ intellectual and personal development. Participation aids students in becoming ethical, responsible, and self-disciplined leaders; challenged to develop an appreciation for civility and diversity; prepared for community leadership and citizenship; and supported in an environment that embraces discourse and the exchange of ideas.
Students receive advising in their student-organization roles in areas such as organizational behavior, financial management, ethical decision-making, accountability, and recruitment/retention. Finally, through opportunities to become engaged in the community, students celebrate their own, and each other’s contributions to University life and the larger community.
Registered student organizations are required to have faculty or staff advisers. Assistance may be obtained from Student Organizations and Governance concerning financial responsibilities, interpretation of policies and procedures, and methods for obtaining a faculty or administrative adviser.
Advisers are available to counsel and advise officers and members of the organization regarding their responsibilities and to help oversee the activities and finances of the organization. The adviser is expected to be aware of the financial status of the organization to help ensure that the organization remains solvent. Advisers do not have the authority to prohibit the expression of editorial opinion by a campus publication. A more detailed listing of guidelines and requirements may be found on the Student Organizations and Governance website.
Any student organization, supported directly or indirectly by the University, financially or otherwise, wishing to print and distribute a newsletter, must be registered by Student Organizations and Governance. Newsletters should inform members of the organization or interested persons about news and activities relevant to that student group, but may not be a journal of opinion.
Vanderbilt Student Publications
Publications for general distribution to the University community or to persons outside the membership of a student organization and publications funded directly by the student activities fee are under the exclusive authority of VSC.
Vanderbilt Student Communications, Incorporated (VSC), is a nonprofit corporation, affiliated with the University, which publishes and supervises The Vanderbilt Hustler, the campus newspaper; InsideVandy.com, online student community site; the Commodore yearbook; The Vanderbilt Review, an annual literary/arts magazine; The Torch, a libertarian and conservative publication; The Slant, a humor publication; Orbis, a liberal and minority viewpoint publication; The Vanderbilt Political Review, an academic journal; WRVU, an online and HD FM radio station; Vandy Radio, an online radios station; VUFinder, a documentary production group; The Liberator, an African-American issues magazine; HerCampus, a women’s issue website; GlobalVU, an international issues journal; and Vanderbilt Television, VTV Channel 6.
Distribution of publications not produced by Vanderbilt organizations must conform to University policies regulating the use of University facilities.
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- Meetings open only to members. A campus organization may invite any person to address its members, but organizations must follow normal procedures for reservation of space with the Office of Reservations and Events in Sarratt Student Center, and demonstrate its ability to pay for associated costs.
- Meetings open to the Vanderbilt community. An organization may invite any person, approved by the majority of its members, who represents a point of view pertinent to the occasion to speak to an assemblage of the Vanderbilt community, provided that the sponsorship of the event is consistent with the purposes of the organization.
- Registered student organizations may also order films to show on campus. The motion picture titles shown on the Vanderbilt campus are cleared by the distributors for public performance exhibition. This means that Vanderbilt has the legal right to show titles before groups of students, faculty, and their friends on campus. The “home use” versions of these same titles, obtained from video stores, etc., are not cleared by the distributors for public performance use by the University, because proper licensing fees to the copyright owners have not been paid for such use. Films, videos, or DVDs may not be shown to dorm audiences, clubs, fraternities, sororities, or other organizations, without first obtaining a public performance license. The Office of Reservations and Events, Sarratt Student Center, 615-32(2-2448), can provide additional information.
- Procedures for assemblies described above include registering in advance with the Office of Reservations and Events, Sarratt Student Center, so as to ensure the adequacy of arrangements, minimize schedule conflicts, reserve space, and demonstrate ability to pay for costs incurred.
- Meetings open to the public. For open meetings sponsored by campus organizations, procedures for reserving space through the Office of Reservations and Events must be followed.
- Disruptive activity. Vanderbilt students engaging in disruptive action or disorderly conduct, particularly that which obstructs or disrupts teaching, administration, or other authorized activities on University premises, are subject to University corrective action, including suspension or expulsion, through the University’s accountability process. Vanderbilt students and others may also be subject to criminal prosecution.
- Limitations on meetings. The University may restrict the times and places of organization meetings on University premises. A campus organization denied permission to sponsor an assembly may appeal the decision to the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee.
- Sponsorship. A registered student organization that sponsors an activity will be responsible for registration, arrangements, publicity, costs incurred, and the conduct of the participants. The Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, must approve access to University facilities for requests from registered student organizations that wish to use the facilities for a speaker of their choosing. Off-campus groups may cooperate with a registered student organization in a campus event, but the campus organization remains fully responsible for the conduct of the off-campus group, and the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee must pre-approve the arrangement. Student organizations’ fronting for off-campus groups is prohibited. Off-campus groups or individuals wishing to use University facilities independently must conform to University policies and must request access through the Office of Reservations and Events.
- Physical distribution of printed statements or electronic media. Persons who distribute printed materials or materials on electronic media are responsible for the contents. Students may distribute leaflets, informational sheets, compact discs, or similar materials on Rand Terrace or outside the building in which a meeting has been scheduled by another organization, if the distributors position themselves twenty feet from the entrance and so as to avoid restricting access. For outdoor events, distributors may position themselves twenty feet from the reserved lawn or area, again in a manner so as to avoid restricting access. There may be no charge or requested donations for these materials and the name and contact information of the distributing individual or organization must be provided on each piece.
Information about the sale of printed statements, etc., and the display of posters can be found in the sections “Sale and Solicitation and Fundraising” and “Publicity, Promotion, and Advertising.” Campus organizations sponsoring events involving controversial persons or views are responsible for providing for the safety and well-being of their guests. Arrangements that fulfill this responsibility must be made through the Office of Reservations and Events.
Funding (See also “Sale, Solicitation, and Fundraising.”)
Students enrolled in Vanderbilt University pay a Student Activities Fee. On an annual basis, the Activities Fee Committee of Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) recommends to the Dean of Students allocations of these fees for registered student organizations that sponsor programs, projects, and services that benefit the students who have paid the fees. Applications for a regular allocation for funding in the subsequent academic year are available—and due—according to the schedule announced annually by the AcFee Committee, In general, programs must demonstrate a wide campus appeal, be available to all students (including graduate and professional students), be free of charge or provided at a reduced rate for students, and must enhance the overall educational, social, or cultural climate available to all students.
Due to the nature of the activities fee’s purpose, only registered student organizations and their respective programs are eligible for activities fee allocations. Further, funds allocated through the AcFee Committee’s recommendation process are subject to some restrictions on their use. More information on student organization eligibility and programming restrictions for activities fee allocations, may be found on the Student Organizations and Governance website.
See also “Fees, Co-Curricular” in Chapter 1, “Policies and Regulations.”
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Graduate & Professional Student
The Graduate School and all of the professional schools and/or programs have representative student organizations that serve as channels for student opinion.
Graduate Student Council of the Graduate School. Membership comprises one elected representative from each department, but any graduate student may participate.
Peabody Graduate Student Association. Membership comprises representatives elected by students in each department. This body coordinates academic, social, and other activities significant to the student community and is also available to the administration and faculty for consultation regarding concerns of the students in Peabody College.
Vanderbilt Bar Association. Membership comprises students of the Law School who are directed by a Board of Governors elected by the classes.
Divinity School Student Government Association. Membership comprises editors of the two student publications and representatives from the various levels of academic training.
Council of Class Officers (School of Medicine). Membership comprises elected officers from each class.
Graduate Nursing Council. Membership comprises representatives of each of the five clinical majors in the M.S.N. program.
Owen School Student Association (OSSA). The Executive Council membership comprises five second-year representatives and four first-year representatives, but all registered candidates for Owen School degrees may participate in OSSA activities. OSSA provides leadership and coordination for professional and social activities.
The University recognizes a representative student organization that serves as a channel for student opinion for each school. Recognition has been extended by the University, in consultation with the Office of the Dean of Students, to the following governing bodies:
Arts and Science Council. Membership includes the presidents of all registered academic majors’ associations, one first-year student, and one sophomore representative. Students of the College of Arts and Science elect the president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.
Blair Council. Membership is represented by elected members from the classes and by an elected Executive Committee.
Engineering Council. Membership includes elected representatives from each of the classes, the president, and one elected representative from each registered professional society.
Student Association of Peabody College. The association is directed by an Executive Committee, whose members are elected at large by students of Peabody College. Each class also has a representative on the Executive Committee.
Panhellenic, National Pan-Hellenic, and Interfraternity Councils. The Panhellenic Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), and the Interfraternity Council (IFC), which govern the activities of the Greek social organizations, are composed of representatives from registered national sororities and fraternities on campus.
Vanderbilt Student Government. Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) represents student interests, concerns, and aspirations, to the faculty and administration. In addition, the organization sponsors and coordinates activities and programming promoting student involvement and interaction with faculty. Student interests are addressed through the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the organization. The Senate comprises elected students representing the four undergraduate schools and the residence halls.
In accordance with University policies, the purpose of the Vanderbilt Student Government is as follows:
- to provide a means whereby undergraduates may effectively express their views and interests to other components of the University and to the outside community in matters which affect their social, cultural, physical, and academic welfare;
- to stimulate effective student organizations and to coordinate their activities for the benefit of the Vanderbilt community; and, to provide for the development and coordination of activities and services beneficial to Vanderbilt students and the University community;
- to serve as a liaison between students and the University; and,
- to maintain effective student representation and participation in the decision-making process of the University.
To be eligible for participation in any contest or activity other than a social one, or to act as a representative of Vanderbilt in any public exercise, a student must be a full-time student of the University (as determined by the academic policies of the school in which he or she is registered, and published in the University catalogue). A student on disciplinary probation may not hold a leadership position, including (but not limited to) Admissions Tour Guide, VUceptor, Resident Adviser, head or business manager of a Vanderbilt Student Communications division, or head or business manager of a registered student organization. Registered student organizations and University departments may have additional eligibility requirements.
To be eligible to hold office in a student organization or to be a division head or business manager of a Vanderbilt Student Communications division, a student must be enrolled full time (as above), and may not be on academic or disciplinary probation. Also, an undergraduate student must maintain a cumulative 2.0 average. For clarification, see “Nonacademic Undergraduate Class Designation” in Chapter 1, “Policies and Regulations.”
Student organizations or their governing bodies may set eligibility standards that exceed these minimum standards, as long as such eligibility standards comply with the University’s nondiscrimination policy.
Requests for exception or waiver of eligibility regulations should be made through the Office of the Dean of Students with the recommendation of the appropriate governing body.
If a student’s participation in co-curricular endeavors threatens academic performance, the University may counsel the student about the scope of the activities. In addition, restrictions may be placed on a student’s participation in University co-curricular activities for the duration of an accountability sanction.
The University regulates the campus activities of organizations and groups whose activities relate to the University’s educational and service purposes.
Student Organizations and Governance registers undergraduate and graduate student organizations within the Vanderbilt community. Sport clubs must have approval from the Director of Campus Recreation or the director’s designee. Religious groups must have approval from the University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life. Political groups must be approved by the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee. Volunteer and/or service organizations must be approved by the Director of Active Citizenship and Service. Greek-letter social organizations requires membership in one of the three Greek-letter governing bodies..
Student organizations must reapply for registration annually. Typically, the deadline for registration is in April for the subsequent academic year. Registration expires July 1 for organizations that fail to re-register, or that are unsuccessful in completing the registration process. All organizations must have a current membership roster and constitution and/or bylaws on file with Student Organizations and Governance.
The registration process requires the submission of a constitution or bylaws, which include a statement of purpose, criteria for membership, rules of procedure, and, names and contact information for officers and advisers. During the registration process, the organization must affirm that it does not discriminate unlawfully or in violation of University policy. (See “Equal Opportunity” section in Chapter 1 “Policies and Regulations.) Registered student organizations must be open to all students as members and must permit all members in good standing to seek leadership posts. Single-sex organizations are permissible to the extent allowed under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681. Inquiries or complaints should be directed to Anita J. Jenious, J.D., Director; the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department; Baker Building; PMB 401809, 2301 Vanderbilt Place; Nashville, TN 37240-1809. Telephone 615-32(2-4705) (V/TDD); FAX 615-34(3-4969.)
Detailed information regarding organization registration may be found on the Student Organizations and Governance website.
Organizations must affirm that they will conduct their activities in accordance with all University policies and federal, state, and local laws.
To be eligible for registration, an organization must:
- be organized and run by officers who are full-time Vanderbilt students,
- have at least one full-time, permanent, Vanderbilt faculty or staff member as its adviser,
- maintain all funds on deposit in an account of good standing through the Office of Financial Affairs and follow appropriate accounting procedures (Special conditions apply to fraternities, sororities, and Vanderbilt Student Communications divisions.),
- be funded by its members or the University,
- limit its voting membership to Vanderbilt students, faculty, or staff members (A limited number of other persons may be elected to honorary or associate membership without voting privileges.),
- have purposes that do not overlap significantly with those of any other registered organization.
Through established policies and procedures, registered student organizations may seek
- to use the name “Vanderbilt University,” or titles indicating institutional affiliation, such as “Black and Gold,” “VU,” or “Commodore,” in the name of the organization,
- financial support from the University (Activities Fee allocation, and other sources when available).
- to use the University accounting system to obtain financial planning consultation,
- to use University facilities for conducting regular business (as in the case of campus publications),
- to use University meeting rooms and facilities at no charge or at a reduced rate,
- to use University electronic resources (e.g., Anchor Link, listservs, email@example.com electronic mail boxes, University hosted website), and to subscribe to the student leader listservs maintained by Student Organizations and Governance,
- to use common space allocated for registered student organizations,
- to use storage space allocated for registered student organizations,
- to solicit funds from, or make sales to, members of the University community on campus,
- to use a campus address, an organizational mailbox, and campus mail services,
- to participate in the annual Student Organizations Fair
- • to advertise and promote the organization and its purposes on campus, and to advertise in Dean of Students supported publications and other media,
- to publish events on Anchor Link and in the University Events Calendar,
- to use campus bulletin boards and kiosks to promote the organizations activities.
- to use the University accounting system including certain business tools,
Registered student organizations may use the University’s name for purposes generally consistent with the organizations’ purposes and their usual activities or to identify themselves as campus groups (such as the Vanderbilt International Student Association). However, no organization is authorized to make either contractual commitments or binding statements on behalf of the University.
An organization may not use slogans or make statements that purport to speak for the University. For example, statements or slogans such as “Vanderbilt Backs Libertarians” may not be used by organizations unless they have been authorized to speak for the University. Published statements must carry the name of the responsible individual or organization. Unauthorized use or imitation of the official Vanderbilt stationery, logos, or marks, is prohibited.
Fraternities and Sororities
Fraternities and sororities must register annually with Student Organizations and Governance. The Greek advisers assist with both registration and coordination of their activities. The Greek advisers serve as liaisons between these student groups and the University and between the University and the fraternity and sorority national organizations. For information about policies relating to these groups, visit the Greek Life website. Fraternities and sororities must be members of the Interfraternity, Panhellenic, or National Pan-Hellenic Councils, which have governing responsibilities and accountability authority over their member groups. Corrective actions may be taken for fraternities and sororities by the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the Panhellenic Council, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) for violations of fraternity, sorority, or University policies. Violations of University policies may also fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.
The IFC and Panhellenic Council administer the recruitment programs for their member groups. NPHC organizations each administer its own recruitment program.
The IFC, Panhellenic Council, and NPHC set a minimum academic requirement to join a Greek organization; however, most chapters have higher academic standards. To be eligible for fraternity or sorority membership, students must have carried and passed twelve semester hours. In addition, those seeking membership in Panhellenic or IFC organizations must have achieved a cumulative GPA of 2.5. Those seeking membership in NPHC organizations must meet minimum GPA requirement established by their individual chapters ranging from 2.3-3.0. Advanced Placement credits are not applicable and summer school credits apply only for sophomores and upperclass students.
Establishing Additional Fraternities and Sororities
Proposals for the establishment of additional fraternities and sororities may be made to, or initiated by, members of the Interfraternity, National Pan-Hellenic, or Panhellenic Councils. If approved by the appropriate council, the proposal will be forwarded to the Greek Advisers for consideration. Upon the recommendations of the councils, the Greek Advisers, and the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee, the University may invite a national organization to colonize a new fraternity or sorority.
Registered student organizations share a large space in Rand Hall suitable for conducting business and interacting with other registered student organizations. Although accessible to any student, the space is designed for use by registered student organizations. Student organizations are prohibited from establishing offices, social spaces, or living quarters, off-campus.
Registered student organizations desiring University mailboxes may apply to the director of Student Organizations and Governance.
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Distribution of Notices in Campus Mail Boxes (See “Mail Services,” In Chapter 1, “Policies and Regulations.”), Display of Posters, Banners, and Printed Announcements
Notices that provide information regarding student activities or academic matters, or make announcements pertinent to the business of the University may be posted on campus. Commercial advertising matter and posters unrelated to the University are prohibited since advertising opportunity is provided in campus publications. Individuals who advertise services to students (e.g., typing or sale of books) may post small notices on bulletin boards.
Notices must carry the name of the responsible campus organization or department.
Notices, posters, flyers, banners, etc., may not use logos or trademarks of alcoholic beverages, or mention or refer to alcoholic beverages or their availability at an event. “B.Y.O.B.,” as shorthand for “Bring Your Own Beverage,” may be used on postings, etc., for events that have been registered B.Y.O.B. during the event registration process.
Nails, tacks, tape, or staples may not be used to attach posters to trees or buildings, but posters and banners may be tied to tree trunks with string.
Stakes bearing signs may not be driven into the ground. From time to time, University departments may install directional signs similar in design to those signs placed in yards for political campaigns. Student organizations desiring to use such signs must obtain authorization from the Director of Student Organizations and Governance, or the director’s designee. Note that the use of such signs is reserved for directions, only, that they may not be used for general advertising or promotion, and that they must be removed immediately at the conclusion of the event for which they are installed.
Posters and fliers may be posted by registered student organizations on the bulletin boards at The Commons Center, Sarratt Student Center | Rand Hall, The Kissam Center, and The Student Life Center with the authorization of building management, obtained at the reception desks of these facilities.
The kiosk at Stevenson Center may be used for poster display. Bulletin boards in classroom buildings, however, are reserved for announcements concerning academic programs. Notices may be attached to kiosks or bulletin boards with thumbtacks, but they may not be stapled or taped anywhere. Notices may not be posted on automobiles.
Registered student organizations may place posters that measure no more than 24” x 36” on the posting boards attached to the exterior walls of Rand Hall. Each organization is limited a single poster or flyer, regardless of size, on each board.
Permission to display banners in any residence must be obtained from the appropriate Area Coordinator for Housing and Residential Education. Permission to hang posters in the dining spaces of Rand Hall must be obtained from the Director of Vanderbilt Campus Dining. Permission to display banners in The Commons Center, Sarratt Student Center| Rand Hall, the Kissam Center, and the Student Life Center must be obtained from building management at the reception desks of these facilities, and is issued only rarely, if at all.
Student organization use of the banner display devices on the east side of Sarratt Student Center | Rand Hall requires no prior authorization. However banners must comply with the requirements for notices, above.
Greek chapters with houses may hang banners from their own facilities. Student organizations seeking to hang banners from Greek houses must secure the authorization of the chapter.
The University may remove posters, banners, or other advertising that remain three days after the date of an event, and may charge the person or organization responsible for them. Organizations will be held financially responsible for enforcing these policies with candidates for their respective offices. If an organization continually violates these policies, it may lose the privilege of posting notices or have its registration withdrawn.
Hand-Painted Signs and Banners
Hand-painted signs and banners should be made with acrylic latex house paint, which can be cleaned up with water. This paint will not dissolve in water or run, once dry. If a poster or banner stains the surface to which it is attached, the responsible student or organization will be charged for the stain removal. Space for making hand-painted signs and banners is available on the third floor of Rand Hall.
Banners may not be hung from trees, or between trees, or from or between other objects such as lampposts. With the endorsement and cooperation of student government, a series of poles with rigging especially designed for the hanging of banners has been installed on the east side of Rand Hall, to consolidate the display of banners.
Permission to paint designated windows in the dining or housing areas must be obtained from the Director of Vanderbilt Campus Dining or the Director of Housing Facilities, respectively.
Chalk, “Tagging,” etc.
The use of chalk on any surface other than a chalkboard is prohibited, and the use of chalkboards in classrooms is limited to instructional or meeting purposes.
Using markers, paint, or any other medium on any surface other than banners, posters, or flyers, is prohibited, as is using self-adhesive labels or stickers on surfaces other than banners, posters, or flyers. Individuals and organizations may be charged for repair or cleaning of damaged surfaces.
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University organizations are required to register all co-curricular programs and special events (meetings, concerts, lectures, etc.) with the Office of Reservations and Events, Suite 100 Sarratt Student Center 615-32(2-2448). Registered student organizations, administrative offices, or academic departments may reserve space on campus.
The University has established a priority system for events and a means to oversee the policy. These events in order of priority are:
1. University Events (e.g., orientation programs, Commencement). No other events may be scheduled during these times.
2. Primary Events (e.g., Alumni Reunion, move-in weekend, Family Weekend). Other events may be scheduled only with the approval of the coordinator of the primary event or the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee.
3. Campus Events (all other co-curricular programs and activities).
Scheduling conflicts will be resolved by the Office of Reservations and Events, Suite 100 Sarratt Student Center, 615-32(2-2448). Appeals of scheduling decisions regarding University, Primary, and Campus events may be made to the Dean of Students at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registered student organizations are eligible to reserve and use space in campus buildings and other facilities. Reservations must be made in advance.
For nonacademic uses of most Vanderbilt facilities, reservations are made with the Office of Reservations and Events, Suite 100 Sarratt Student Center, 615-32(2-2448), whose personnel can make referrals to the appropriate offices for the rare exceptions.
A basic charge is made for most facilities. Some facilities are available for use by student organizations without charge; if, however, the facilities require more than ordinary housekeeping services after use, the organization will be charged for the additional service.
The Office of Reservations and Events recommends that organizations plan and make reservations for space on campus up to one year in advance. The types of space available are described in detail at the Reservations and Events website. To determine availability and cost of space, those seeking to reserve space may call the Reservations and Events office at 615-32(2-2448).
Each registered student organization may request up to two standing (recurring) room reservations per year, provided appropriate space is available. For example, an organization may book a room for every Wednesday from 8pm to 10pm for an entire academic year, provided that a room is available. (Accommodation may be made by using two or more rooms across the duration of the reservation, if no single space is available for every occurrence.) Standing reservations may be made through the on-line reservation system, over the telephone 615-32(2-2448), or in person at the Reservations and Events office, 100 Sarratt Student Center.
For single-event reservations, Reservations and Events suggests a minimum of five days notice to reserve space.
Once space is reserved, Reservations and Events personnel may determine that a group be required to undertake the Special Event Registration process. (See “Special Event Registration.”)
- The Reservations and Events office supports the coordination of space and resources on campus by guiding the Vanderbilt Community through the event planning process. Reservations and Events asks that students discuss their events when making reservations and be prepared to present their needs for resources at the Special Event Registration [FW17] Committee meeting, should an appearance before the committee be required.
- Meetings and events scheduled on weeknights must end at 11pm so as not to interfere with students’ sleep or study. When planning their events, organizations and departments should be cognizant of–and sensitive to–religious observances of a particularly solemn nature. A calendar of religious observances and holy days may be found on the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life website.
- Postbaccalaureate groups may serve alcoholic beverages to members who are of legal drinking age, if nonalcoholic beverages and food are also provided. All other applicable policies must be observed. (See Chapter 6, “Alcohol and Controlled Substances.”)
- Undergraduate groups may not serve alcoholic beverages except with the authorization of the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee. Undergraduate students who are of legal drinking age may possess and consume alcohol at events registered and approved for consumption of alcohol. (See Chapter 6, “Alcohol and Controlled Substances.”)
- Authorization must be obtained through the “Special Events Registration” process, to hold a social event or other meeting to which persons other than Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff will be invited.
- The Special-Event Registration process is designed to support all outdoor events, large scale events (events open to the entire student population, or to the Vanderbilt or Nashville communities) and events with alcohol.
- For fraternity or sorority functions, additional forms must be completed and submitted to the Office of Greek Life.
- Events which require amplification (for musical instruments, stereos, vocal performances, or public address) may not take place at times during which, or in locations at which, they will interfere with scheduled classes or other previously scheduled events, and must be approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.
The Special Event Registration process is designed to support outdoor events, large-scale events, and events with alcohol. The Special Event Registration Committee is charged with approving such events on campus. The committee consists of representative(s) from Reservations and Events, Traffic and Parking, Vanderbilt University Police Department, Plant Operations, Health and Wellness, and a designee of the Dean of Students. The committee meets Wednesday, 2:30pm-3:30pm in Rand/Sarratt 306.
Reservations and Events can assist students with special event planning and ask that students discuss their events with the Registration and Events staff when making reservations, and that students be prepared to present their need for resources at the Special Event Registration Committee meeting. (See below.)
The following types of events must be registered through the Special Event Registration Process:
- Outdoor events requiring services from Traffic and Parking, VUPD, Plant Operations, or Production Services (sound systems, etc.).
- All events with undergraduate students—on or off campus—at which alcohol will be present (excluding parties at sorority/fraternity houses, because such parties are registered through a parallel process in the Office of Greek Life).
- Events open to the general public.
- Events with outdoor amplification.
- Registered student organizations, administrative offices, or academic departments may reserve space on campus.
- Outdoor events with tents require registration three and a half weeks in advance because acquiring a tent permit from the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County government takes three weeks. Events requiring other services should be registered at least two and a half weeks in advance to ensure the availability of the required services.
- Reservations for outdoor events not requiring any services must be made at least five days in advance. In such circumstances, the Reservations and Events office may determine that a group need not go through the Special Event Registration process.
- If an event is to be cancelled, or does not take place, reservations must be cancelled at least one business day in advance to avoid charges. Student organizations and University departments will be held responsible for all expenses incurred as a result of any commitments made to facilitate the event.
- Outdoor events that have amplification may not take place at times or locations that interfere with scheduled class times or other previously scheduled events.
- Security may be required at the following events:
- Activities open to the general public.
- Band parties and concerts.
- Events at which cash transactions will occur.
Tasks to complete before attending the Special Event Registration Committee meeting:
NOTE: Event registration will not be approved until the steps below are completed, and the required information submitted.
- Students must first consult the University Events Calendar (http://calendar.vanderbilt.edu) and Reservations and Events staff to see what other events are already scheduled for that date. Students may not add an event to the University Calendar until it has been approved through the Special Event Registration process.
- Students may then schedule a date with Registration and Events staff to attend a Special Event Registration Committee meeting. Students must be on the agenda to be admitted the meeting.
- Students must create the link in Anchor Link before attending the designated meeting:
- The organization must obtain the approval of the group’s faculty or staff adviser in Anchor Link prior to the meeting.
- The organization must provide the center number of the sponsoring organization.
More information may be obtained from Reservations and Events at 100 Sarratt Student Center, or 615-32(2-2448). Office hours are 8am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.
Vanderbilt registers and assumes responsibility only for those official overnight or out-of-town trips sponsored and directed by an administrative division of the University (e.g., the Spirit of Gold Marching Band). The University assumes no responsibility for events sponsored by groups such as sororities and fraternities. However, such organizations must–in advance of the trip–inform their advisers (the Greek advisers in the case of fraternities and sororities), and report information regarding out-of-town events to the Office of Reservations and Events.
Any student who wishes to travel on behalf of, or as a representative of, Vanderbilt University or any registered student organization must receive written authorization in advance from the appropriate dean. (See also the section entitled “Universal Waiver,” in Chapter 1, “Policies and Regulations.”)
Provisions of the Student International Travel policy apply to students traveling abroad in University programs, including those of a co-curricular nature, or on University business.
Requests for Exceptions
The responsibility for compliance with the foregoing regulations for social events lies with the sponsoring organization. Requests for exceptions should be made at the time of registration through the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee.
These regulations apply to the sale or distribution of goods and services and the solicitation for, promotion of, and advertising of any item, program, charity, or service.
The following guidelines generally apply:
- Sale and/or promotion are limited to activities permitted under municipal, state, and federal laws, and of those, activities permitted by University policy. Individuals and groups must conform to local licensing laws and University trademark and licensing policies. Authorized sales and/or promotions must not disrupt the normal operation of the University. Vendors, promoters, and advertisers may neither claim, indicate, or imply University support, and must avoid the appearance of University endorsement.
- Tax-exempt property of the University may not be used as the place of business of on- or off-campus groups, businesses, or individuals unaffiliated with the University. Facilities of the campus, including Alumni Hall, Rand Terrace, Sarratt Student Center | Rand Hall, The Student Life Center, The Commons Center, The Kissam Center, Vanderbilt Stadium, the Recreation and Wellness Center, and Memorial Gymnasium, may not be used for the sale or promotion of activities that are not related to the University except by arrangement with the appropriate University office.
- Sale of newspapers and newsletters must be authorized by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration or the Vice Chancellor’s designee. Papers may be sold in vending machines on Rand Terrace and in specified, pre-approved residences.
- Concession arrangements for athletic events and all events at Memorial Gymnasium are made with Student Athletics.
- Arrangements for sale of event tickets through the Sarratt Box Office may be made through the Office of Reservations and Events.
- Arrangements for solicitation in Sarratt Center | Rand Hall or on Rand Terrace, by registered organizations or by University departments, are made with the Office of Reservations and Events. (See the paragraph, on sale and solicitation by student organizations.)
- Businesses may not use a University post office box as a business address, nor may anyone use University space, voice network, or data network for business purposes not authorized by the University.
- Businesses may distribute materials to campus mailboxes via postage-paid, US mail, only.
- Campus student agents for businesses must register with the Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, and may solicit business through advertising in student publications under the purview of Vanderbilt Student Communications, Inc.
- Door-to-door solicitation or promotion in residences is strictly prohibited. Very rare exceptions to the policy require written authorization of the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, for student door-to-door solicitation, promotion, or distribution of literature. Solicitation for insurance and the like may take place in residence halls only with the invitation of a resident student. Campus newspapers and other similar publications may be distributed in the lobbies of residence halls where containers to prevent littering are provided by the registered student organization.
- Sale or solicitation of sale of event tickets by a registered student organization, is permitted to the members of the group and/or to the campus community.
- No approval is required for the operation of dining rooms by fraternities and sororities in their respective chapter houses.
- The sale of tickets for admission to concerts, performances, and the like requires no authorization. However, these activities may not be promoted off campus except when the activity also serves the similar interests of other academic institutions and, therefore, is promoted on other campuses as in the case of films, concerts, and lectures. The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee must authorize any advertising or publicity to the general public.
- Registered student organizations may engage in the distribution of items for a suggested donation when the funds raised are for the use of the organization in its regular activities (including philanthropic efforts) and are deposited into the organization’s University account. Organizations undertaking such distribution must comply with University policies regarding the ordering of merchandise and licensing. With the exception of event tickets, organizations are prohibited from offering items for sale. Locations for distribution for donation or sale must be arranged through the Office of Reservations and Events (See also the section on Event Management in Chapter 6, Alcohol and Controlled Substances.)
- The location of the sale(s) must be approved by the Office of Reservations and Events.
- The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may regulate times and places of delivery of items to residences, including foodstuffs such as cakes and pizzas, or gifts such as flowers.
- The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee must authorize the solicitation for donations by Vanderbilt student organizations, of off-campus agencies, groups, businesses, etc.
- Fundraising events—or “bar nights”—in “limited service restaurants” (bars)—as defined by Tennessee statutes—or at any location where money is collected at the door, or through any other arrangement, with an establishment involving financial transactions that circumvent the University’s accounting system, are prohibited.
- Service auctions must comply with the conditions delineated, below.
Co-Sponsorships or Department Allocations
Some registered student organizations and their programs can be subsidized by grants or allocations from academic or administrative departments. If the program or organization derives from an academic discipline (e.g., the Chemistry Majors Association) or complements the academic experience, the corresponding academic department is the best place to solicit funding. Many administrative departments may also be willing to supplement programs or services. To solicit their financial support, it is best to schedule an appointment with a member of that department to discuss partnerships which benefit both the organization and the department. For more information on co-sponsorships, consult the Student Organizations and Governance website.
Dues, Ticket Sales, and On-campus Fundraisers
Registered student organizations are entitled to charge dues to their membership. Dues must be deposited in an organization’s University account upon receipt. Registered groups may also charge admission to events, provided that the primary purpose of sales is to raise money for the benefit of the organization, or for the benefit of a charitable group, and not for the benefit of individual members of the organization. In accordance with Tennessee state law, students may not sell tickets for a raffle or lottery. Drawings for door prizes awarded to ticket-holding participants at an event are permitted.
No approval is required for the sale of tickets for admission, or for the distribution of items for suggested donation for fund raising when raised funds are solely for the organization or its charity and are deposited into the organization’s University account. Students must make arrangements with Reservations and Events in Sarratt Student Center to reserve a table or room to sell tickets or distribute items.
Students must secure the approval of the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee in order to sell or deliver items door-to-door in campus residences.
Organizations wishing to sell event tickets using the Commodore Card must make arrangements with the Sarratt Box Office for Ticketmaster setup, and must comply with the requirements for such sales. Ticketmaster may be used for ticket sales, only. There is no option for sale of items or collecting donations on the card.
Some registered student organizations might choose to undertake auctions or silent auctions as an element of a fundraising event. In so doing, the sponsoring organization must ensure compliance with applicable statutes and University policy. Tobacco, alcohol, or promotional items for these products may not be used for auctions or any other fundraising activity. The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may prohibit other items at the Dean or designee’s discretion. Such items might include animals, gift cards or other items from adult entertainment establishments, etc.
Distribution of items for a suggested donation and other promotional activities must be conducted by members of the registered student organization. No organization may sponsor the sale of goods or services to students on behalf of a non-Vanderbilt commercial enterprise, except where the sales activity provides a value-added service during a traditional Vanderbilt event, such as orientation, Homecoming, or Rites of Spring. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.
For information regarding other on-campus sources of funding, consult the Student Organizations and Governance website.
The auction of services to other students, to faculty, staff, and other members of the Vanderbilt community is permitted within the following limitations:
Only specific services may be offered (e.g., a car wash, the preparation of a meal, etc.). The offering of unspecified labor—for either a specific period of time, or an open-ended period–is prohibited.
Offering services that require a license (haircuts, manicures, massages, etc.), is prohibited, as is the offering of services that are in violation of the law or University policy, and services that potentially endanger the health, safety, or well-being of students or others.
The “auction” of individuals is prohibited, as is the auction of unspecified services of individuals.
Advertising and promotional materials for service sales and auctions must list the services on offer.
Advertising and promotional materials must provide the name of the organization(s) receiving the funds raised.
The Dean of Students reserves the option of denying approval of, or cancelling, events whose arrangements fail to comply with the delineated limitations or which seek to circumvent their purpose.
If an organization has exhausted sources of funding on campus, it may be possible to solicit funds from sources off campus. Funds can be obtained in several ways: through solicitation of parents and alumni, solicitation of area merchants and large corporations, and invitations for co-sponsorship or gifts in kind from businesses.
Guidelines for Soliciting Parents and Alumni
The Office of Annual Giving holds access to limited historical records of registered student organization membership, and may be able to provide a registered student organization with mailing data of the organization’s alumni. To obtain the mailing data (usually provided as a set of labels), a group may submit a request to Student Organizations and Governance to determine if there is a list of its organization’s alumni. If such a list exists, the registered student organization may obtain written approval from its adviser, and provide the approval letter and a copy of its solicitation letter to the office Student Organizations and Governance for review. If approved, the mailing data will be provided. The Office of Annual Giving requires a month’s notice to process requests, so student organizations should submit requests to Student Organizations and Governance at least six weeks in advance.
Provided mail and email lists are made available by the Office of Annual Giving for one-time use, only. Once the fundraising project is complete, or a list has been held for more than thirty days, the list is out of date and must be discarded. If after thirty days the project has not been completed, a new list must be requested. By statute, the University is required to update alumni, parent, and friend communications preferences (such as mail or email subscription drops), continually. Using an out-of-date list subjects the University to the risk of potential violation of statutes such as the CAN-SPAM Act.
Registered student organizations may obtain authorization to solicit funds from the parents of its membership by submitting a proposal to Student Organizations and Governance. The proposal must include a statement of the purpose of the appeal, a sample of the solicitation mailing, and the proposed date of the appeal. Student Organizations and Governance will forward the proposal to the Office of Annual Giving for review.
Guidelines for Solicitation of Area Merchants and Corporate Sponsors
Area merchants and corporations can contribute to registered student organization endeavors in two ways: by a simple donation of money, items, or merchandise, or by a donation of money, items or merchandise in return for some recognition, an arrangement sometimes known as co-sponsorship.
1. An organization that plans to solicit an area merchant or corporation for a simple donation or gift with a value of less than $1000, must obtain authorization from Student Organizations and Governance. If authorization is granted, the organization is limited to soliciting those merchants whose names appear on a list provided by the Office of Annual Giving, and must instruct donors to send contributions to the Office of Gift Processing.
2. An organization that plans to solicit an area merchant or corporation for a simple donation or gift with a value greater than $1000, must obtain authorization from Student Organizations and Governance. If authorization is granted by the Office of Annual Giving, the organization must instruct donors to send contributions to the Office of Gift Processing.
3. Generally, student groups may acknowledge the assistance or contribution of co-sponsoring merchants or corporations in programs, banners, displays, or event memorabilia (party favors, T-shirts, caps, etc.), and the event website. Sponsorship is the passive listing of the name or logo of a sponsor tastefully displayed on a T-shirt, banner, or event website, or listed among sponsors in a program. (It is not intended to solicit business. It simply acknowledges the support for the team, the event, etc. The Office of the Dean of Students does not endorse advertisements for off-campus businesses, such advertisements being those that are designed to bring more business to the off-campus concern.) Student groups may not permit co-sponsoring merchants or corporations to conduct sales or sales promotion, or distribute free samples in conjunction with any student organization program or event, unless the sales promotion activity provides a value-added service during a traditional Vanderbilt event, such as orientation, Homecoming, or Rites of Spring. Exceptions to this policy must be approved in advance by the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee. Co-sponsorships by alcoholic beverage or tobacco brands or distributors are prohibited.
As is the case with student organization and departmental co-sponsors, groups are strongly advised to develop a written co-sponsorship agreement with external co-sponsors. Written agreements should list time and date of program, the agreed-upon responsibilities of all co-sponsoring parties, and the required signatures of all co-sponsoring parties. Sample agreements can be obtained from Student Organizations and Governance once co-sponsorship plans are approved. The sponsoring organization must instruct co-sponsoring agencies to send contributions to Gift Processing.
Grants and Foundations
Many private and corporate foundations and federal agencies have funds or grants available for organizations seeking funding for educational or service programs. Grant writing requires a great deal of research, but can yield positive results. The Office of Sponsored Research 615-32(2-2631) is a good resource for additional information.
Soliciting for Charity
Registered student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, may solicit the student body for charitable purposes. The following guidelines apply:
- Solicitation must be registered and approved by Student Organizations and Governance.
- Up to fifteen percent of the gross funds collected may be used to recover costs incurred in the solicitation; the rest must be turned over to the recognized charitable organization.
- Donations to reimburse expenses incurred by the student organization over the fifteen percent may be solicited independently if the purpose of this solicitation is clearly stated.
- Financial reports of expenses, income, donations, sales, and disbursements must be made available to Student Organizations and Governance, and the appropriate student governing body.
- The collection of entry fees for events such as fun runs and walks is allowable, but entry fees, and cash awards for, events that involve an element of chance such as a raffle, a card tournament, a “rubber duck drop,” or a casino night, are prohibited by both University policy and government statutes.
- Organizations may solicit using Vanderbilt in their names if they comply with these policies.
Students should be aware that although policy does not prohibit them from sending charitable solicitations to faculty and staff, persons on the University payroll may run afoul of University policy should they forward those solicitations to their colleagues.
Violations of these policies will subject the organization and the officers of the organization to corrective action by the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity and the student governing bodies with jurisdiction. The organization may also lose its registration. Organizations failing to distribute at least 85 percent to the charity may be required to make up the difference from other organization funds.
Requests for exceptions to these guidelines should be made in writing to the Office of the Dean of Students at least two weeks before the solicitation.
Student Organizations and Governance has responsibility for effecting compliance with these policies and prescribing the conduct of those who participate in charitable solicitation. It is the responsibility of the individual student or organization doing the solicitation to comply with these policies and the prescribed conduct. Student organizations soliciting for charitable purposes will be required to comply with state and local laws regulating charitable solicitations.
Vanderbilt University Charitable Giving Policy
As a not-for-profit educational institution, Vanderbilt University seeks and receives the support of the community through its delivery of health care, its athletic programs, its participation in the commercial real estate market, and its status as a corporate citizen, as well as in other ways.
Nashville has a strong tradition of charitable fundraising and a tradition of generous participation in charitable dinners by the corporate community. Although Vanderbilt University raises funds in the Nashville community for its own academic and research programs, it actively participates in this tradition both through in-kind contributions to community services, particularly in those areas that are related to Vanderbilt’s mission, such as education, and on occasion, through financial contributions to fundraising events.
Charitable donations in lieu of sending flowers in memory of the bereaved may be made by the University if the donation does not exceed fifty dollars ($50.00).
All contributions will be made in the name of Vanderbilt University and Medical Center.
Soliciting for Religious Activities
The University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life coordinates religious activities. Student religious groups, after being registered by Student Organizations and Governance, will be assisted by the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life in fulfilling their aims insofar as these are consistent with other University policies.
Campus religious groups must be registered, and registered religious groups must have faculty advisers. Representatives of off-campus organizations may be invited onto the campus for specific purposes, but these representatives may not interfere with the self-determination of campus groups. Representatives of religious organizations may visit rooms in campus residences only with the prior invitation of the resident students of those rooms.
Off-campus representatives of religious organizations may meet with groups on campus and assist them in fulfilling their aims (when these are consistent with procedures established in this section of the Student Handbook), only after securing the written authorization of the University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life. This authorization may include a letter of introduction to the University provided by the University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life and will specify procedures to be followed. The University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life will assist in providing meeting places.
Solicitation for religious purposes by on- or off-campus groups or individuals is governed by the same regulations stated in the sections “Publicity, Promotion and Advertising” and “Student Organization Fundraising.” Specifically, persons are strongly discouraged from approaching individuals whom they do not know in order to recruit them for religious reasons. Note that employees may not engage in religious solicitation in their job settings. Visits to residences by individuals from off campus are to be at the invitation of a particular student, for a particular time, in that student’s room, only, and with the permission of that student’s roommates, if any. For example, persons who are invited to visit in a resident’s room may not recruit on the hall among other students. This policy also prohibits the use of any common spaces in dormitories or campus buildings for recruitment, training, prayer groups, or any other activities unless the group is a registered student organization.
Vanderbilt does not infringe on any individual’s religious freedom. Indeed, the University encourages the free flow of religious ideas as well as lively debate among persons from various religious persuasions. However, Vanderbilt will endeavor to protect students and others in the University community from unauthorized solicitation.
For further information concerning religious solicitation, students may consult the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life.
Soliciting for Employment
Students may note that employment representatives (including current students who may be employed with an organization) who wish to recruit students for any type of job must register with the Vanderbilt Center for Student Professional Development, 220 Student Life Center, 615-32(2-2750). Arrangements must be cleared in advance and specific procedures must be followed.
Organizations recruiting anywhere on campus must obtain permission from the Center. Recruiting includes the posting of bulletin board notices for jobs, hosting employment-related meetings, or distributing materials on campus. All approved notices must clearly state the organization, product or service involved, and a job description. Notices may not be posted on automobiles, distributed in campus residences, or posted on any other unauthorized space on campus.
Employers who wish to post positions electronically for internships or full-time permanent employment should forward notices to the Center by email at email@example.com. To post part-time jobs or student employment jobs electronically, employers should call Student Employment in the Financial Aid Office at 615-32(2-3591) or visit the website. Failure to comply with these guidelines may result in the prohibition of future recruiting activities by the offending organization.
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Functions or special events which require electronic sound amplification (for musical instruments, stereos, vocal performances, or public address) must be registered with the Special Events Registration Committee and approved by the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee. Electronic amplification may not be used in the vicinity of classroom buildings, the library, or the hospital. Use of outside amplification at any event or function held in close proximity to campus residences must involve consultation with the Office of Housing and Residential Education.
Sound amplifiers may not be positioned without authorization in such a way as to provide outside amplification (e.g., inside buildings or on porches).
Due to the capacity of certain automotive speaker systems to disturb the quiet of the campus, use of these systems at sufficient volume to be heard outside of the vehicle is prohibited.
Authorization for late evening concerts or events to be held outside and where campus-wide attendance is expected may be granted for Friday and Saturday nights, with the hours set at the discretion of the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee. Individual groups having parties primarily for the benefit of the group may be granted authorization for afternoon or twilight concerts or events, as appropriate. Outdoor amplification equipment may be used with activities such as late afternoon or early evening pep rallies, speak-out programs on Rand Terrace, twilight concerts, and carnivals, etc., so long as they do not interfere with scheduled academic or administrative activities.
Moderate sound amplification for informal listening on decks and patios of Greek chapter houses and campus residences is permitted from 4pm to 8pm on Fridays, and noon to 8pm on Saturdays. The Dean of Students or the dean’s designee may issue additional guidelines for activities routinely permitted without specific authorization, such as weekend music playing on Greek row. These guidelines may be revised upon the recommendation of the Interfraternity, National Pan-Hellenic, or Panhellenic Councils, or other student representative groups, or upon the initiation of the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee.
Sound amplification-whether specifically authorized or informal, inside or outside-may be monitored by University officials, student representative groups, or IFC or Panhellenic representatives. Monitoring may include on-site inspections and the use of a decibel meter.
Local laws prohibit the use of amplification outdoors between the hours of 11pm and 7am if a facility is within fifty feet of a residence except when exempted for a special event or gathering and if a permit is issued by the Metropolitan Nashville Government. At all times, consideration should be given to the neighboring communities as stated in the “Good Neighbor Guidelines.”
Amplification which violates University policy or local ordinances may be discontinued at the discretion of the Dean of Students or the dean’s designee, or a representative of the Dean of Students (including officers with the University Police Department, or directors in the Office of Housing and Residential Education).
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Alcohol and Controlled Substances
Vanderbilt University is deeply concerned about the health and welfare of its students. University policies and regulations in general–and alcohol and controlled substances policies in particular–reflect that concern. The purpose of University policies, and the purpose of articulating them in great detail, is to enable students to make informed–and, it is hoped, intelligent–choices, as well as to enable them to understand the consequences of making poor choices. In compliance with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Campuses regulations, Vanderbilt has adopted a policy that includes the expectation that students will comply with federal, state, and local laws, including those relating to alcoholic beverages, narcotics, and other drugs.
The University prohibits the unlawful possession, use, distribution, or facilitation of the distribution of alcohol and controlled substances by students, faculty, and staff, on its property, or as part of any University-sponsored activity. The prohibition extends to off-campus activities that are officially sponsored by Vanderbilt, its schools, departments, or organizations. In addition, the prohibition extends to off-campus professional or organizational activities, including attendance at conferences, when participation is sponsored by the University, or when the participating student, faculty member, or staff member is representing the University. Finally, the prohibition extends to “private” events off campus where the University may have an interest (e.g., if a student were to provide alcohol to underage students at an off-campus location).
In addition, the improper use of prescription drugs is a serious problem on college campuses. For this reason, it is a violation of University policy for a student to be in possession of, or use, another person’s prescription medication or for a student to distribute medications to one person that have been prescribed for another.
To underscore the seriousness with which it takes the issue of health and welfare of its constituent populations, the University will impose sanctions on students, faculty, and staff–up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, and possible referral for prosecution–for violation of the alcohol and controlled substances policy. Conditions of continued employment or enrollment may include the completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program.
In addition to the standards of conduct prohibited by law and University policy, students, faculty, and staff are subject to the additional requirements, standards, and procedures promulgated by their respective schools, departments, and organizations. Additional standards of conduct, standards, and procedures may be found elsewhere in The Student Handbook, in the Faculty Manual, and in the Medical Center Alcohol and Drug Use Policy (Policy No. 30-im08), in the Human Resources policy, and any applicable union contract. Students, faculty, and staff may refer to these documents for details.
Alcoholic Beverage and Controlled Substances Policies
The following regulations apply to the possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances by individual students and their guests:
- The legal drinking age in the state of Tennessee is 21 years old.
- Subject to statutory exceptions available under Tennessee law, alcoholic beverages may not be provided (served, distributed, furnished) to persons under the legal drinking age (21 years old) in the state of Tennessee.
- The use of any false identification or identification belonging to another person to purchase or procure alcohol is prohibited.
- Possession of open containers of beer or other alcoholic beverages, regardless of the type of container, in the lobbies of residences or about the campus, is prohibited, except where expressly permitted by this chapter.
- Because of the danger that drunk drivers pose to themselves and to others, the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is prohibited.
- Due to the danger that intoxicated persons pose to themselves and to others, as well as to the disruption that intoxication can bring to the living/learning community, intoxication is prohibited.
- Effecting excessive and/or harmful consumption of alcohol through games, peer pressure, subterfuge, or other activities is prohibited.
- The use of common containers of alcoholic beverages such as kegs, pony kegs, coolers, or punch bowls by undergraduates, on or off campus, is prohibited.
- The use of pure grain alcohol is prohibited.
- The use of devices, such as funnels and beer bongs, designed for the rapid consumption of alcohol is prohibited.
- Drinking games are prohibited.
- The only places on campus where students (who must be of legal drinking age) may routinely possess and consume alcoholic beverages are as follows:
- the rooms and apartments of students in upperclass residences (with the exception of substance-free floors and buildings),
- fraternity houses, and
- The Overcup Oak (beverages sold on the premises, only).
- Students may not consume alcoholic beverages elsewhere, except in common areas designated by student vote in upperclass residences in accordance with residential autonomy procedures and in other locations or at special events designated by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.
- Individuals hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. If non-compliant, individuals are subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process, and to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.
- All events hosted by individuals at which alcoholic beverages will be consumed must be appropriately registered according to the regulations set forth in this chapter. (See also “Event Registration, Space Reservation, and Event Planning” in Chapter 5, “Student Engagement.”)
- Possession, use, distribution, or facilitation of distribution of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia is prohibited. The term distribution includes “sharing” of any drug and does not require the exchange of money.
- Possession or use of prescription medication prescribed to another person and distribution or facilitation of distribution of a medication prescribed for one person to any other person are also prohibited. The term distribution includes “sharing” of any prescription drug and does not require the exchange of money.
All of the regulations outlined above apply to organizations. In addition, the following regulations also apply to the possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances by groups, by University departments, or by an organization’s members and invited guests:
- Alcohol may not be used as an award or trophy for any event or program of the University or by any University organization, group, or individual.
- Notices, posters, flyers, banners, etc., may not use logos or trademarks of alcoholic beverages, or mention or refer to alcoholic beverages or their availability at an event.
- “B.Y.O.B.,” as shorthand for “Bring Your Own Beverage,” may be used on postings, etc., for events that have been registered B.Y.O.B. during the event registration process. (See requirements of the registration process.)
- The beverage at B.Y.O.B. events hosted by student organizations is limited to “beer,” only, as defined by the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 57, Chapter 5 (i.e., those alcoholic beverages that can be found in convenience and grocery stores); students and guests are prohibited from bringing liquor, wine, and other alcoholic beverages to such events. The limitation on the quantity of the authorized beverage (beer) is six (6), twelve-ounce (12oz) cans or plastic bottles per person. Glass bottles are prohibited except at those registered events where attendees are required to check their alcoholic beverages with a third party bartender responsible for distributions throughout the event. On such occasions, the beverage must be transferred to a non-breakable paper or plastic cup for consumption.
- The use of common containers of alcoholic beverages such as kegs, pony kegs, coolers (portable water coolers, ice chests, etc.), or punch bowls at any student organization sponsored event, on or off campus, to which undergraduates have been invited, or at which they are present, is prohibited.
- The use of pure grain alcohol at any student organization sponsored event, on or off campus, is prohibited.
- The use of devices–such as funnels and beer bongs–designed for the rapid consumption of alcohol at any student organization sponsored event, on or off campus, is prohibited.
- Drinking games at any student organization sponsored event, on or off campus, are prohibited.
- Officers of an organization hosting an event are responsible for ensuring compliance with University policies and state and local law. If non-compliant, organizations and associated individuals are subject to corrective action through the University’s accountability process, and to prosecution by the state of Tennessee, and/or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County.
- All events at which alcoholic beverages will be consumed must be appropriately registered according to the regulations set forth in this chapter. (See also “Event Registration, Space Reservation, and Event Planning” in Chapter 5, “Student Engagement.”)
- Fundraising events—or “bar nights”—in “limited service restaurants” (bars)—as defined by Tennessee statutes—or at any location where money is collected at the door, or through any other arrangement, with an establishment involving financial transactions that circumvent the University’s accounting system, are prohibited.
Immunity for Seeking Emergency Treatment
It is in the best interest of students’ welfare that persons who overdose or become intoxicated be brought to the attention of medical personnel. For that reason, it is University policy that a student seeking medical attention for intoxication or overdose will be eligible for immunity for the simple illegal use or underage possession of alcohol or other drugs and the resulting overdose or intoxication, provided that the sole reason the student’s intoxication or overdose was discovered by University officials was through the seeking of medical care (by the affected student or by others).
Immunity for alcohol violations extends to individuals seeking help for the intoxicated student. Students granted immunity will be required to complete a course of evaluation, counseling and, where indicated, treatment. Failure to complete the prescribed course and/or treatment can result in the revocation of immunity.
Seeking emergency treatment for one who has overdosed or become intoxicated does not relieve a group or organization of responsibility for a violation of policy, such as providing alcohol to an underage person resulting in the intoxication for which emergency treatment is sought. However, the fact that an organization sought help for an intoxicated student will be considered favorably in determining any sanction for policy violations.
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Harm Reduction – BASICS
Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is a process for providing helpful information to students about their use of alcohol and other drugs. Following a “harm-reduction” approach, the program seeks to motivate students to reduce the risk of adverse consequences from use of alcohol and other drugs. After completing an extensive assessment instrument, students go to the Psychological and Counseling Center (PCC) for an individual meeting with a trained counselor who reviews the results with them and provides additional information about reducing their risk. If there is substantial risk of further substance-related or mental health problems, referral is made for the appropriate services at PCC.
There are several campus resources for students or campus professionals who want to learn more about talking to students about alcohol and other drugs:
- Alcohol/Other Drug Team or Outreach Coordinator at the Psychological and Counseling Center 615-32(2-2571)
- Student Health and Wellness 615-32(2-0480)
- Office of Wellness Programs and Alcohol Education 615-34(3-4740)
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Event Policies for Graduate and Professional Students and Organizations
Graduate and professional students and organizations must register their events with the office of the relevant school’s dean. In certain cases, as when an event is to take place on a campus lawn, once the dean’s office approval has been secured, the event must also be registered with the Office of Registration and Events, and, if alcoholic beverages are to be present, authorized by the Special Events Registration Committee. The stipulations of event management below may be superseded by additional requirements of facilities management when an event occurs at a location other than the relevant school.
If an undergraduate student organization cosponsors an event with a graduate or professional student organization, or if undergraduates are invited or present at an event, the policies governing undergraduate events must be followed. In addition, graduate or professional student organizations and their officers are subject to corrective action through the University’s student accountability process if there are violations of the underage drinking law or University policies and regulations at their events.
- Events, including those for which off-campus facilities are arranged, must be registered with the relevant dean’s office, as above.
- If alcohol is among the beverages available, the organizers of the event must meet the following requirements:
- On an annual basis, complete “Host Responsibility Training,” provided by the Office of Wellness Programs & Alcohol Education, prior to the first event of the year 615-34(3-4740).
- Provide alternative beverages and food during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing both nonalcoholic beverages and food.
- Ensure that students serving alcoholic beverages have successfully completed “Host Responsibility Training” as delineated above. (The practice of “self-serve” is prohibited.)
- Comply with the appropriate dean’s office standards that effect the engaging of security officers or third-party bartenders (e.g., an event with a band or DJ, or guests invited from outside the Vanderbilt community, might require security, but it is unlikely that a wine and cheese reception for a visiting scholar would).
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Event Policies for Undergraduate Students and Organizations
For special events, a space may be designated as a place where the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by those of legal drinking age is permitted. However, such occasions must be registered, approved, and advertised five days in advance as an event at which alcohol may be consumed. Sponsoring organizations may arrange for the provision in two ways.
- They may register the event as “B.Y.O.B” (“bring your own beverage”).
- With the authorization of the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee, they may arrange for licensed vendors to sell distilled spirits and wine. (Beer is generally excluded because statutes prohibit the sale of beer within certain distances of buildings whose purpose is considered educational in nature.)
- Events (on campus or off) at which alcohol will be available must be registered and arrangements approved by the Special Events Registration Committee at least four weeks in advance of the event. Fundraising events—or “bar nights”—in “limited service restaurants” (bars)—as defined by Tennessee statutes—or at any location where money is collected at the door, or through any other arrangement, with an establishment involving financial transactions that circumvent the University’s accounting system, are prohibited.
- On an annual basis, organizers of events at which alcohol will be available must attend Host Responsibility Training, provided by the Office of Wellness Programs & Alcohol Education, prior to its first event of the year 615-34(3-4740).
- Fraternity and sorority events must be registered with the Office of Greek Life, and must comply with the alcohol policies of the pertinent Greek governing body as well as the University.
- Events of religious organizations or affiliated ministries, which employ exceptions to state law regarding the age requirement for consumption of alcohol, must be registered with the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life.
- Security must be provided at all events at which alcohol will be consumed. Security arrangements for an event must be reviewed and approved by the Special Events Registration Committee in advance of the event.
- Undergraduate organizations, groups, individuals, students, faculty, and staff may not serve alcoholic beverages to undergraduate students, except by special authorization from the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee.
- The sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited with the exception of occasions for which the Special Events Registration Committee has approved the engagement of a licensed vendor. This prohibition includes the sale of tickets that can be traded for alcoholic beverages, or the sale of t-shirts required for entry into an event where alcohol is distributed, or any scheme masking the distribution of alcohol. (See “Events that Include the Sale of Alcohol.”)
- Any time alcoholic beverages are served or permitted, alternative beverages and food must also be provided during the entire period that alcoholic beverages are available. Students organizing the event are responsible for providing nonalcoholic beverages and food.
- Individuals who wish to invite guests to a gathering in their apartments, suites, or lodges must have authorization from the Area Coordinator for the residential area, or the AC’s designee. The authorization forms for these events may be found on the respective Anchor Link pages of the residences in which such gatherings are permitted: Carmichael Towers East suites, Carmichael Towers West, Chaffin Place, Lewis House, Morgan House, and Mayfield Apartments. For the event to be authorized, a majority of the hosts must be of legal age to drink alcoholic beverages. (See “Party Registration” in Chapter 4, “Residential Life.”)
- In keeping with the University’s policy prohibiting student organizations from making contractual commitments (whether formal, understood, or implied), student organizations may not hold events at off-campus locations without the express approval of the appropriate adviser and the completion of appropriate contractual documents approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee. A number of registered student organizations with oversight from their national organizations have secured exceptions from the Dean of Students to this approval process.
- Undergraduate students who have reached the legal drinking age in the state of Tennessee (21 years old) may possess and consume alcoholic beverages at events registered and approved for consumption on a “bring-your-own” basis. B.Y.O.B. practices contemplate that an individual student of drinking age may share alcoholic beverages with a date or a companion who is also of legal drinking age. However, any subterfuge or device to evade the spirit of the University policy prohibiting the use of common containers by undergraduates or the provision of alcoholic beverages at undergraduate functions, will subject both students and organizations to corrective action.
- Policies of the student centers prohibit B.Y.O.B. events. (See “Events that Include Sales of Alcohol” for alternative arrangements.)
- The beverage at B.Y.O.B. events hosted by registered student organizations is limited to “beer,” only, as defined by the Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 57, Chapter 5 (i.e., those alcoholic beverages that can be found in convenience and grocery stores); students and guests are prohibited from bringing liquor, wine, and other alcoholic beverages to such events. The limitation of authorized beverage (beer) is six (6), twelve-ounce (12oz) cans or plastic bottles per person. Glass bottles are prohibited except at those registered events where attendees are required to check their alcoholic beverages with a third-party bartender responsible for distribution throughout the event. On such occasions, the beverage must be transferred to a non-breakable paper or plastic cup for consumption.
- Arrangements must be made for a third-party vender to sell alcohol.
- Staff of the student centers will assist student organizers of events in obtaining third-party vendors.
- The arrangements with the vendor must be reviewed by the Special Events Registration Committee and approved by the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee. Only the Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may sign a contract with a vendor for the sale of alcohol.
- Student organizations or other event sponsors are prohibited from obtaining alcohol for resale by the vendor.
- Student organizations or other event sponsors are prohibited from receiving proceeds from the sale of alcohol.
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The purpose of any sanction and accompanying accountability action plan for a violation of University policy is to educate and prompt reflection on the part of the student or student organization, effect voluntary compliance with the policy, and ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community.
Vanderbilt University will impose sanctions on students or student organizations, ranging from an educational conference or deferred probation to disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion, and may also make referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and controlled substances policy. With the exception of expulsion, sanctions may be accompanied by an accountability action plan. As is the case with violations of other University policies, sanctions imposed will be appropriate to the severity and circumstances of the violation. The student or organization’s previous record, honesty and cooperation, and the seriousness of the offense will be taken into account in the determination of sanction.
University Sanctions for Students
The minimum sanction for simple purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol in violation of University policy is an educational conference for the first offense. The completion of an appropriate assessment will also be required.
The presumptive sanction for first-offense intoxication is disciplinary probation. Standard indicators of drinking to the level of intoxication may include lack of balance, loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, odor of intoxicant, etc.
The minimum sanction for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is disciplinary probation and loss of campus driving and parking privileges.
Unlawful provision, distribution, or sale of alcohol by a student in violation of University policy will result in serious disciplinary action, which may include suspension or expulsion for the first offense, and may also result in criminal prosecution. The presumptive sanction for a student who illegally distributes alcohol to an underage student will be disciplinary probation for the first offense. Persons who unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students.
Distribution or facilitation of distribution of illegal drugs (including unlawful distribution of prescription medication) may result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense; unlawful distribution includes incidents in which no money is exchanged. In addition, the possession of controlled substances or alcohol in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off campus is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion. Evidence that a student has distributed drugs is grounds for interim suspension from the University and/or expulsion from University housing pending the findings of accountability proceedings. Students found to have distributed drugs to others may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by the students under the influence of the distributed substances.
The presumptive sanction for a third violation of alcohol or controlled substances policies is suspension.
Violations involving behavior that injures persons, that damages property, or that injures or damages the community at-large, will increase the presumptive strength of the sanction given.
In addition, sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Students will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”
University Sanctions for Organizations
The minimum sanction for a violation of event registration or management policies by a student organization is an educational conference for the first offense.
The presumptive sanction for student organizations that provide alcohol to those not of legal drinking age, whether through direct purchase or other group activities, is probation, during which time the organization will not be permitted to host or participate in any events, on or off campus, where alcohol is present.
Student organizations that unlawfully furnish alcoholic beverages to students who are not of legal drinking age, may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by underage, intoxicated students.
In addition, sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the provision or use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Student organizations will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”
Accountability Action Plans
With the exception of expulsion, sanctions may be accompanied by an accountability action plan to help students and organizations understand the potential consequences of policy violations and improve decision-making.
Accountability action plans for violations of alcohol and controlled substances policies may include one or more of the following components:
- evaluation through BASICS or by an alcohol and drug counselor at the Psychological and Counseling Center, and treatment or enrollment in a counseling program when indicated by the results of the evaluation,
- required attendance at alcohol or drug education seminars,
- implementation of an alcohol or drug educational program for peers,
- work service (such details might include picking up litter from campus lawns, cleaning lobbies, restrooms, and stairwells, of campus residences, etc.),
- completion of educational programs or on-line tutorials,
- drug testing,
- research or reflection essays,
- restitution, or
- letters of apology.
State of Tennessee Sanctions
[This document contains a summary of state and federal sanctions for the unlawful use of controlled substances and alcohol. Portions of the summary were provided by the federal government, and while the summary is a good faith effort to provide information, Vanderbilt does not guarantee its accuracy.] Under state law, it is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one (21) to buy, possess, transport (unless in the course of their employment and over the age of 18), or consume alcoholic beverages, including wine or beer. It is also unlawful for any adult to buy alcoholic beverages for or furnish them for any purpose to anyone under twenty-one years of age. These offenses are classified Class A Misdemeanors punishable by imprisonment for not more than eleven months and twenty-nine days, or a fine of not more than $2,500, or both. (T.C.A. §§ 1-3-113, 39-15-404, 57-5-301.) The offense of public intoxication is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by 11 hours of community service, possible revocation of driver’s license, imprisonment of not more than thirty days or a fine of not more than $50, or both. (T.C.A. § 39-17-310.) Under Tennessee law, the offense of possession or casual exchange of a controlled substance (such as marijuana) is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor (eleven months twenty-nine days and/or a fine of $2,500). For the third and subsequent offense of possession of 1/2 oz. or less of marijuana, punishment is one to six years of imprisonment and a $3,000 fine. If there is an exchange from a person over twenty-one years of age to a person under twenty-one, and the older person is at least two years older than the younger, and the older person knows that the younger is under twenty-one years of age, then the offense is classified as a felony. Possession of more than 1/2 oz. of marijuana under circumstances where intent to resell may be implicit is punishable by one to six years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for the first offense. (T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417, 39-17-418; 21 U.S.C. § 801, et seq.)
State penalties for possession of substantial quantities of a controlled substance or for manufacturing or distribution range up to a maximum of fifteen to sixty years of imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. (Title 39, T.C.A., Chapter 17.) For example, possession of more than twenty-six grams of cocaine is punishable by eight to thirty years of imprisonment and a $200,000 fine for the first offense.
The state may, under certain circumstances, impound a vehicle used to transport or conceal controlled substances.
United States Penalties and Sanctions for Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance
21 U.S.C. 844(a)
First conviction: Up to one year imprisonment and fine of at least $1,000.
After one prior drug conviction: At least fifteen days in prison, not to exceed two years, and fine of at least $2,500.
After two or more prior drug convictions: At least ninety days in prison, not to exceed three years, and fine of at least $5,000.
21 U.S.C. §§ 853(a)(2) and 881(a)(7)
Forfeiture of personal and real property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance if that offense is punishable by more than one year imprisonment.
21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(4)
Forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft, or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance. [An automobile may be impounded in cases involving any controlled substance in any amount.]
21 U.S.C. § 844a
Any individual who knowingly possesses a controlled substance in a personal use amount shall be liable to the United States for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each such violation.
21 U.S.C. § 862
Denial of federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses, up to one year for first offense, up to five years for second and subsequent offenses.
18 U.S.C. 922(g)
Ineligibility to receive or purchase a firearm or ammunition.
Revocation of certain federal licenses and benefits, e.g., pilot licenses, public housing tenancy, are vested within the authorities of individual federal agencies. Violations of federal trafficking laws that involve either (1) distribution or possession of controlled substances at or near a school or University campus, or (2) distribution of controlled substances to persons under twenty-one (21) years of age, incur doubled penalties under federal law. (See chart: Federal Trafficking Penalties.)
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As an educational institution, Vanderbilt University is primarily concerned with helping the individual student achieve academic goals and develop as a person. When health problems do arise, the University may assist and guide a student whose mental or physical health is threatened. Because of the health hazards associated with binge drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse, students who choose to drink alcohol should imbibe only in moderation. Should students or their friends have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, there are several places on campus where they can receive assistance:
- The Resident Adviser (RA), Head Resident, or Residence Life professional is available to listen to students with such problems and make a referral if necessary.
- The Office of Student Health & Wellness and the Office of Wellness Programs & Alcohol Education can provide information, resources, and referrals.
- The Psychological and Counseling Center has a team of alcohol and other drug specialists available for assessment and treatment.
- The Student Health Center has professionals who can assist in identifying appropriate resources.
- Students may wish to talk to someone in the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life.
- The Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction (VITA) offers specialized treatment programs.
These campus and community resources are available and ready to assist. Calls will be handled in a confidential manner.
- Your Resident Adviser and Head Resident
- Your Associate Director and Area Coordinator
- Your Dean
- Your own physician/psychiatrist/psychologist
- Office of Student Health & Wellness 615-32(2-0480)
- Office of Wellness Programs & Alcohol Education 615-34(3-4740)
- Student Health Center 615-32(2-2427)
- Psychological and Counseling Center 615-32(2-2571)
- Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life 615-32(2-2457)
- Office of Housing and Residential Education 615-32(2-2591)
- International Student and Scholar Services 615-32(2-2753)
- Emergency Room (VUH) 615-32(2-3391)
- VITA (Vanderbilt Institute for Treatment of Addiction) 615-93(6-3555)
- AA (call Friendship House, 202 23rd Avenue North, telephone 615-327-3909, for meeting times)
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The following is a summary of known health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol.
A general concern for all substances that alter self control or level of awareness is the risk of exposure to physical risks such as sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault, and dangerous decision making such as choosing to drive while under the influence.
Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Acute: Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior. Even low doses significantly impair the judgment and coordination required to drive a car safely, increasing the risk that the driver will be involved in an accident. Motor vehicle and other types of accidents are the leading cause of death among individuals aged fifteen to twenty-four years. Most are related to drinking and driving. Poor decisions and aggressive acts such as sexual assault are almost always associated with alcohol use. Studies suggest that low to moderate levels of alcohol also increase the incidence of a variety of aggressive acts, including spouse and child abuse. Moderate to high doses of alcohol cause marked impairments in higher mental functions, severely altering a person’s ability to problem solve, to process information and to remember information. Very high doses cause respiratory depression and death. If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system such as benzodiazepines, much lower doses of alcohol will produce the effects just described.
Chronic: Repeated, long-term use of alcohol can lead to physical dependence. Sudden cessation of alcohol intake in chronic users is likely to produce withdrawal symptoms, including severe anxiety, tremors, hallucinations, and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol, particularly when combined with poor nutrition, can also lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver. Some studies suggest that brain cells are actually permanently lost (killed) by high levels of alcohol.
Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome. These infants may have abnormalities such as deficits in impulse control, and impaired concentrating, affecting academic performance, and be at risk for irreversible physical abnormalities and mental retardation. In addition, research indicates that children of alcoholic parents are at greater risk than other youngsters of becoming alcoholics.
Effects of Other Drugs
The National Institute on Drug Abuse website features a page on the health effects of a number of drugs. To assist the public in keeping current on drug related issues, the NIDA website also features a page on emerging drugs.
Illegal (Non-prescribed) Drugs:
Marijuana: Marijuana and related compounds are usually used for their “relaxation” effects or to produce an altered sense of reality, a “high.” In higher doses, marijuana can increase anxiety due to interaction with brain receptors for cannabis. Marijuana is usually smoked, and like tobacco, it is very toxic to the lungs. There is evidence that early use of marijuana puts the user at increased risk for development of major psychiatric disorders that may include psychosis, altering the lives of individuals significantly. This is a risk that cannot be predicted in advance for individual brains. Chronic use may negatively affect motivation to learn, or to engage in usual activities. Disorders of memory (loss) and of mood often occur in chronic users.
Herbal Incense, Chaos, and Spice (Synthetic Cannabis/Marijuana-like): These products can be dangerous and produce a psychotic-like reaction with hallucinations.
Cocaine (stimulant): Cocaine, crack, and related forms are usually used for stimulation and to produce a sense of euphoria. All forms of cocaine are highly addictive, producing a habit that is extremely difficult to stop. In some individuals, cocaine may produce fatal cardiac rhythm disturbances. Cocaine use affects the dopamine system of the brain and can lead to severe mood dysregulation and at times psychotic level of thinking. This can result in dangerous behavior leading to safety risks for both the user and others in the environment. Chronic cocaine use negatively affects concentration and memory.
Amphetamines (stimulants): Amphetamines, and their new derivatives “crystal,” “ice,” and Ecstasy, are used for stimulation. These compounds are very addictive and may produce psychotic and violent behaviors.
- Ecstasy and “Molly” (possibly a purer form of ecstasy) or MDMA is a drug of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class. Both drugs are used to induce euphoria, diminish anxiety and possibly increase a sense of intimacy. These drugs can cause fatal cardiac arrhythmias, or lead to severe mood dysregulation and psychosis.
- Bath salts (Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky, or Bliss): These synthetic powder products contain various amphetamine-like chemicals. Many side effects have been reported varying from agitation, high blood pressure, increased pulse, chest pain, to hallucinations and suicide.
LSD and PCP (hallucinogens): These chemicals are used to produce “altered states” to escape reality. In changing perceptions, these drugs can result in very poor decision making which can lead to accident or death. They can cause psychosis in some individuals. PCP is notable for the effects on mood, potentially leading to severe agitation and aggression. Individuals with a PCP psychosis can be aggressive and full of rage, increasing risk of danger both to the individual and those in the environment. The negative effects of PCP may continue after the drug is out of the system.
Heroin (narcotics): These are among some of the most addictive substances known. They produce a high or euphoria. Withdrawal can produce seizures or even coma. Overdose is common and can result in death. Needle-drug users are in a high-risk group for infection with human immunodeficiency virus, the precursor of AIDS.
Many medications and prescribed drugs have the potential for abuse. Those listed below are some of the most abused, addictive and dangerous.
- Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, etc. are stimulants and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). These drugs are often prescribed for students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD. They are, however, used by some individuals who have do not have ADHD to increase alertness or recreationally for a “high.” Studies do not show improved academic performance when these stimulants are taken by students without ADHD. The risk from misuse of these drugs ranges from lack of sleep and weight loss to the more severe risk of psychosis with severely disorganized thinking. Individuals who develop psychosis have very poor insight and judgment and so continue to use the drugs in excess. For individuals abusing these stimulants, abrupt withdrawal may lead to significant mood changes including severe depression with a risk of self harm.
- Codeine, Hydrocodone (Lortab and Vicodin), and Oxycodone (Percocet and OxyContin) are medications that are prescribed for severe pain. All these drugs can be addictive and may be abused for feeling anxious, sedation, falling asleep or to get a “buzz” or “high.” Addiction to pain medications is common and withdrawal can be very difficult to manage.
- Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed for acute anxiety and panic attacks. Use of all benzodiazepine compounds can lead to psychological and physiological dependence. Symptoms associated with withdrawal from these drugs can be severe and include seizures. Barbiturates are also sedative medications that can be addictive. Barbiturates are no longer commonly prescribed, but are potentially addictive. As with all sedatives, withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and severe. Combination of these drugs with other central nervous system depressants can be dangerous.
How can you help prevent prescription drug abuse?
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, especially if you are unsure about its effects.
- Keep your doctor informed about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications.
- Read the information your pharmacist provides before starting to take medications.
- Take your medication(s) as prescribed.
- Keep all prescription medications secured at all times and properly dispose of any unused medications.
- Do not share your medications with others, or consume medications prescribed for others.
If you have concerns or questions regarding the use and/or abuse of these prescription medications or others, ask for professional advice.
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Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Increased boredom or drowsiness
- Change in personal appearance (increasingly unkempt or sloppy)
- Change in friends
- Easily discouraged; defeatist attitude
- Low frustration tolerance (outbursts)
- Violent behavior and vandalism
- Terse replies to questions or conversation
- Sad or forlorn expression
- Poor classroom attendance
- Dropping grades or poor work
- Apathy or loss of interest
- Change in sleep pattern ranging from excessive sleep to inability to sleep
- Frequent excuses for absences from planned activities
When such signs appear in friends,
- Express your concern and caring
- Be ready to listen
- Communicate your desire to help
- Make concrete suggestions as to where the student can find help or how he or she might cope with a given problem
- Try to get the student to seek professional help
- Ask for assistance from campus resources
- Be persistent
- Understand the definition of friendship to include making difficult decisions that may anger your friends
- Take the situation lightly or as a joke
- Be offended if the student tries to “put you off”
- Take “I don’t have a problem” as an answer
- Try to handle the student alone-ask for assistance
- Lecture about right and wrong
- Promote guilt feelings about grades or anything else
- Gossip: speak of it only to those who can help
- Excuse behavior because “everybody does it”
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Sexual Misconduct and Other Forms of Power-Based Personal Violence
Vanderbilt University desires to establish and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all members of the University community, guests, and visitors. The University, by providing resources for prevention, education, support, reporting, investigation, and a fair disciplinary process, seeks to eliminate all forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ead/ea_laws.html#a3). Sexual misconduct of any kind represents socially irresponsible behavior. Sexual misconduct, as described and defined in this policy, will not be tolerated and will subject a perpetrator to penalties up to and including expulsion.
Sexual misconduct offenses include the following:
- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse
- Non-Consensual Sexual Contact
- Sexual Harassment
- Actions that fall within the broader range of “sexual misconduct” as described in “Other forms of sexual misconduct”
Definitions of sexual misconduct offenses:
- Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any vaginal and/or anal penetration – however slight – by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and/or oral copulation (mouth to genital contact), by any person upon another without effective consent.
- Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any contact of a sexual nature – however slight – with the breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth, or body part of another, by any person upon another without effective consent. Sexual touching also includes an individual causing someone else to touch him or her with, or on, any of these body parts.
- Sexual Harassment is
- unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent (as determined using a reasonable person standard) such that
- it interferes with, limits, or deprives a student of the ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities from the University’s educational programs or activities, and can be based on power differentials,
- the creation of a hostile environment,
- or retaliation.
- Other forms of sexual misconduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Invasion of privacy of a sexual nature
- Procuring, offering, or promoting prostitution
- Intentional transmission of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or another STD (sexually transmitted disease)
- Attempts to commit sexual misconduct
- Aiding in the commission of sexual misconduct as an accomplice
Force includes physical force (such as pushing, hitting, pinning down), threats (direct or indirect expressions of harm to self or others), intimidation (implied or indirect threats), and/or other forms of coercion.
To coerce is to attempt to cause another person to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation; to compel is to coerce.
Blacking out is an amnesia-like state that may be brought on by drugs, heavy drinking, or intoxication; blacking out is not necessarily incompatible with the ability to engage in simple or even complex behavior. Afterwards the person has no recollection of all or part of the events that occurred during the blackout. There is a distinction between passing out (falling asleep or becoming unconscious) due to drug or alcohol use and blacking out in that a person in a blackout remains conscious and operative.
Incapacitation includes the inability to make a rational, reasonable decision. Incapacitation can result from the taking of GHB, Rohypnol, Burundang, Ketamine, or other sedatives or “date-rape” drugs, or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs. Evidence of incapacity may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
- slurred speech
- bloodshot eyes
- the smell of alcohol on the breath
- shaky equilibrium
- outrageous or unusual behavior
- elevated blood alcohol level
- blacking out
It is the burden of the person wishing to engage in sexual activity with another to specifically determine the capacity of that potential sexual partner to provide “Effective Consent,” as explained below.
Intoxication refers to a state of stupefaction, exhilaration or euphoria resulting from the ingestion of alcohol or other chemical substances.
Blacking out, incapacitation and intoxication do not provide a valid explanation or excuse for violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy.
Effective Consent is consent that is informed, freely and actively given, and consists of mutually understandable words or actions indicating a willingness to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.
- Because of the need for clear communication, the person who wishes to engage in sexual activity with another bears the burden of specifically asking permission if effective consent is in question or ambiguous.
- Mutually understandable effective consent must be obtained and maintained by both parties throughout the sexual interaction.
- Effective consent to sexual activity may be revoked at any time, at which point sexual activity must cease immediately.
- A person who is the object of sexual aggression is not required to physically or otherwise resist a sexual aggressor in order to convey or demonstrate a lack of effective consent. The Sexual Misconduct policy is predicated upon the requirement to obtain effective consent (communicating “yes” by word or action) rather than denial (saying “no”).
- Previous sexual relationships of the accused or the accuser with others are irrelevant, but previous and/or a current sexual relationship between the accused and the accuser may or may not be relevant depending on the facts and circumstances, as to whether effective consent was sought or obtained.
- Effective consent expires. Effective consent lasts for a reasonable time, depending on the circumstances. For example, effective consent on one occasion, whether on the same day or another day, may not carry over to another time.
- Effective consent cannot be implied by attire, inferred from the buying of dinner, the spending of money on a date, or being invited to a person’s residence.
- One who is incapacitated as a result of alcohol or other drug consumption (voluntary and/or involuntary), or who is unconscious, unaware, asleep, or otherwise physically helpless, is incapable of giving effective consent. Because effective consent must be informed, an individual may not engage in sexual activity with another whom the individual knows, or should reasonably know, is incapacitated.
- Incapacitated persons are considered incapable of giving effective consent because they lack the ability to appreciate the fact that the situation is sexual, and/or cannot rationally and reasonably appreciate the nature and extent (who, what, when, where, why and how) of that situation.
- Because effective consent may never be provided by an incapacitated person, one must assume effective consent has been withdrawn should an individual become incapacitated at any point during a sexual act or encounter.
- Agreement or acquiescence obtained through the use of fraud or force (actual or implied), whether that force be physical force, threats, intimidation, or other forms of coercion, is not effective consent.
- A person’s age may be a factor in determining the ability to give effective consent. Each determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Agreement or acquiescence is not effective consent when given by the following:
- individuals with a cognitive disability or other conditions that significantly limit their ability to fully understand the nature or extent of the action for which effective consent was requested;
- incapacitated persons. (See “Incapacitation.”)
Depending on the facts and circumstances, proof of intent may or may not be required to find a violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy. For example, engaging in intercourse without obtaining effective consent constitutes a violation of the policy regardless of intent. On the other hand, intent may be an appropriate consideration in some sexual misconduct complaints (such as when one person brushes up against another person in a sexual manner in a crowded room), and in other actions that fall within the broader range of sexual misconduct.
The Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services Department (EAD) investigates all complaints pertaining to alleged sexual harassment/sexual misconduct. Retaliation against a person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages one to file, or opposes discrimination is prohibited.
Students who believe they have been the subject of a violation of University policy pertaining to matters of sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation should contact the EAD. Complaints may be filed at any time; however, it may be to the complainant’s advantage to contact the EAD as soon as possible after the act in question occurred. If the EAD is not the proper place to handle the complaint, it will direct the complainant to the appropriate department.
Students also have the right to contact the Vanderbilt University Police Department or the Metro Nashville Police Department and to file a complaint with them. The filing of a police report or the pendency of civil or criminal proceedings does not preclude the EAD or any other department of Vanderbilt University from proceeding with its investigation and determination.
Vanderbilt University Police Department
2800 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37212
Emergency – 911 or 615-42(1-1911)
Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters
200 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, TN 37201
Emergency – 911
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How to File a Complaint
To file a complaint pertaining to the Sexual Misconduct policy, please contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Anita Jenious, the Director of the EAD, at 615-32(2-4705), visit the office, or write.
Baker Building, Suite 808
110 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240-1809
If a complainant calls or visits the EAD, a staff person will assist with the preparation of a brief summary of the incident. A complainant should provide as many details about the incident as possible and answer all questions as fully as possible. Names, dates, places, and details of what happened should be as accurate as possible. Supporting documents, such as emails, photos, or text messages can help to support allegations. If witnesses were present, it is important to identify them, state what they may know, and inform the EAD how they can be contacted. If a complainant writes to the EAD, the following information should be included: what happened and when; names of all parties involved, including witnesses (if any); supporting documentation (if any); and contact information. Students are encouraged to complain about sexual misconduct or sexual harassment even if some or all of the information outlined above is unavailable or cannot be provided.
An EAD staff person will assess the nature of the complaint and either submit the complaint to the Director or refer the complainant to the appropriate department. If the complaint falls within the EAD’s purview, an investigator will contact the complainant to set up a time for further discussion. If appropriate, the investigator will assist the complainant in completing a complaint form, and once signed, an investigation will follow.
Other campus offices such as the Office of Housing and Residential Education at 615-32(2-2591), the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at 615-32(2-4843), Project Safe at 615-32(2-7233), the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life at 615-32(2-2457), Student Health at 615-32(2-2427), and the Psychological and Counseling Center at 615-32(2-2571) are available to provide counseling and support to students who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment, which includes the forms of sexual misconduct delineated above.
Reports, cases, investigative information, findings, and sanctions are kept private to the extent possible and are only disclosed to those who have a need or a right to know. In certain situations (e.g., where disciplinary action is taken against a respondent), particular disclosures may be required by applicable laws and regulations.
Students should be aware that employees of Vanderbilt may have an obligation to report an incident to their supervisor, or the police, or the EAD, or other offices. If students wish the details of an incident be kept confidential, they may speak with a mental health professional at the Psychological and Counseling Center, a health practitioner at Student Health, or members of the clergy and chaplains acting in those capacities when an incident is reported to them. Students should also be aware that Tennessee law requires child abuse, including sexual abuse, to be reported to the authorities, even if the information is given or received on a confidential basis.
Directives to Desist:
Given the nature of sexual misconduct cases, students may request use of a “Directive to Desist.” These directives often require that the complainant and a respondent have no contact with each other during the course of the investigation and/or thereafter. The University may also employ such directives at its own discretion as deemed necessary. Additional information about such directives may be found in Chapter 3 of the Student Handbook under the section, “Threat, Harassment, Stalking, Intimidation: Directives to Desist.”
Charges, Investigations, and Determinations:
Upon receipt of a complaint, the EAD will open a formal case file and assign an investigator who will direct the investigation and confer with the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity as to interim accommodations for the complainant and any other interim actions that are appropriate. Note that mediation will not be used to resolve cases of sexual misconduct.
Before beginning the investigative process, the EAD investigator will provide a copy of the complaint and any additional statements or information provided by the complainant to the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (or designee), who will determine the charge(s) to be brought, if any, and present the charge(s) to the respondent. After the presentation of the charge(s), the respondent will have the opportunity to agree or disagree with the charge(s). The Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity will then refer the respondent to the EAD for the investigative process.
The process will then follow EAD’s standard investigative protocol. The EAD investigator will seek a response from the respondent. The investigator will interview relevant persons who may have pertinent knowledge. Supporting documentation may be collected and analyzed. The EAD staff may ask the complainant to clarify some aspects of the complaint. If the complainant learns or remembers any additional information, the complainant should notify the EAD investigator immediately. Note that the past sexual relationship between the parties may or may not be deemed relevant to the investigation by the EAD. For example, past sexual encounters between the parties may provide insight on communication patterns for purposes of determining effective consent.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the EAD will determine, based on the preponderance of the evidence, whether the alleged acts occurred and violate the Sexual Misconduct policy. Where there is insufficient evidence to support a violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy, the EAD will provide its determination in writing to the complainant and the respondent, notifying them that the matter will be closed with no action taken. Where there is sufficient evidence to support a violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy, the EAD will provide its determination in writing to the complainant and the respondent. The determination and a full investigative report will also be forwarded to the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity for sanctioning where the respondent is found responsible for the alleged violation(s).
The Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (or designee) will determine the sanctions if and when the EAD determines the Sexual Misconduct policy has been violated by the respondent. The following procedures will apply:
- The Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity will review the EAD’s investigative report and render an appropriate sanction.
- If, upon reviewing the materials, the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity requires clarification or additional information from the EAD before rendering a decision as to sanction, the Director may request such clarification or additional information from the EAD.
The guidelines provided in the “Sanctions” section of Chapter 3 of the Student Handbook will apply. The following policies will also apply:
The recommended guidelines for sanctions are set forth below. The Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity may deviate from the range of recommended sanctions when it is appropriate based on all the facts and circumstances to do so.
- The presumptive sanction for any student found responsible for Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident and other relevant considerations, and taking into account any previous conduct infractions.
- Any student found responsible for Non-Consensual Sexual Contact or other forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, may face a sanction ranging from a reprimand to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous conduct infractions.
- Psychological counseling will be required for any student found responsible for a violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy who receives a sanction other than expulsion. In addition to this condition, in cases of suspension, the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity may set other conditions for readmission to Vanderbilt.
The complainant and the respondent have the right to appeal the determination of the EAD and the sanction (if any) rendered by the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.
Such appeals will be decided by an Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct. Officers will be faculty or academic administrators appointed by the Chancellor (or the Chancellor’s designee) for two or three year terms, who will receive training on issues involved in sexual misconduct. Assignment to cases will be on a rotating basis.
A petition for appeal, signed by the petitioning student, must be submitted in writing, to the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct at either 310 Sarratt or at the following address:
Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1508
The appeal must be submitted no later than ten (10) calendar days following the date the student is notified of the determination of the EAD (when the student is found not to have violated the policy), or following the date the student is notified of the sanction. Requests for extensions must be submitted prior to the expiration of the ten-day period. The petition must include the following: a statement of the grounds for appeal, supporting explanation, and copies of, or reference to, all evidence the Petitioner wishes the Officer to consider. Except as explicitly provided below, no documents or other evidence may be included with an appeal unless previously submitted to the EAD.
Grounds for Appeal
The grounds for appeal are as follows:
- Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the determination of the EAD and/or the decision of the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.
- The EAD and the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with their policies and procedures. Deviations from those policies and procedures that render their actions fundamentally unfair constitute a sufficient basis for an appeal to the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct. Procedural irregularities that are considered by the Officer to be harmless and did not, in the judgment of the Officer, adversely affect the process, are not a basis for upsetting the determination of the EAD and/or the decision of the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity.
- All available evidence, including testimony of witnesses, is expected to be presented to the EAD. Only on that basis can the EAD render fair and reasonable decisions. A student who seeks to introduce new evidence has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence was not reasonably available at the time of the original process, and that the introduction of such new evidence can be reasonably expected to affect the determination of the EAD. If the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct determines that the student has satisfied this burden, the Officer remands the case to the EAD with instructions to reconsider the case in light of the new evidence.
- Insufficient evidence to support the determination of the EAD.
- It is not the role of the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct to substitute his/her judgment for the judgment of the EAD if there is a reasonable basis for the EAD’s determination. Deference must be given to the findings of the EAD, which had the opportunity to hear the witnesses and to assess their credibility and demeanor. The Officer may not alter the determination of the EAD unless the determination of the EAD is clearly erroneous and cannot be reasonably supported by the evidence.
- New evidence that was not reasonably available for presentation to the EAD, the introduction of which could reasonably be expected to affect the determination of the EAD.
- Harshness of the penalty imposed by the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity sufficient to show an abuse of discretion.
- Deference should be given by the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct to the penalties imposed by the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity. At the same time, the Officer should recognize that the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity can make errors in judgment sufficient to show an abuse of discretion. Abuse of discretion does not necessarily imply an intentional wrong or bad faith, but simply the failure to exercise reasonable judgment under the circumstances.
Consideration of Petition and Determination of Appeal
- When the Appellate Officer for Sexual Misconduct receives a petition, the Officer instructs the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity to notify all persons who were sent formal notification of the determination of the EAD and the sanction (if any) that a petition for appeal has been filed and that the sanction (if any) should not be implemented pending the result of the appeal. This does not preclude the University from taking interim actions to ensure the safety and security of the complainant, respondent, or campus community.
- The Officer will then proceed to review the petition and the record with all deliberate speed to determine whether the petition, when considered in the light most favorable to the Petitioner, presents sufficient grounds for an appeal.
- If the Officer determines that the petition does not set forth sufficient grounds for the appeal, the petition is dismissed. The Officer’s decision is final.
- If the Officer determines that sufficient grounds for appeal are presented in the petition, the Officer forwards a copy of the petition to the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity as well as the non-petitioning student with instructions to respond to it (or such parts of the petition that the Officer has determined set forth a basis sufficient to provide relief). The EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity as well as the non-petitioning student must provide their responses to the Officer within ten (10) calendar days of receiving the Officer’s notification that the appeal will be considered further. Upon receiving the responses from the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity as well as the non-petitioning student, the Officer sends the responses to the Petitioner offering the Petitioner an opportunity to reply. Replies must be submitted within five (5) calendar days. The Officer forwards a copy of the responses to the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity for informational purposes.
- The Officer then proceeds to consideration of the appeal. The Officer’s consideration of the appeal must be based only on the original records created by or provided to the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity and the petition, any new evidence the Officer determines should be considered, and all responses submitted by the involved parties.
- After reviewing the record, the Officer decides whether to affirm, modify, or reverse the determination of the EAD and/or the decision of the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity or to remand the case to the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity with instructions.
- In cases where there has been a procedural error on the part of the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, the Officer remands the case to the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity with instructions.
- In cases where the Officer deems that new evidence should be considered, the Officer remands the case to the EAD with instructions.
- The Officer notifies the complainant, the respondent, the EAD, and the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (who, in turn, notifies all persons who were sent formal notification of the original determination of the EAD and decision of the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (if any)) of the Officer’s decision and the reasons for the decision.
- While a case is pending, policy changes that might affect the case cannot be considered in the appeal.
- If the Officer has a question about the meaning or application of a University policy or procedure, the Officer may consult with the Dean of Students and Office of General Counsel to determine how best to proceed. At no time may the Officer substitute his/her opinions or values for University policy.
- An Officer may not address an appeal if the Officer has a conflict of interest that might render the Officer’s objectivity questionable. Each Officer is responsible for determining whether or not a conflict of interest exists and may consult with the University Compliance Office, if necessary. If a conflict does exist, the case is assigned to the next panelist in the rotation.
- Once a final determination has been made, all records of the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity are returned to that authority.
- Upon receipt of the petition, the Officer will also request from the EAD and/or the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity the entire record of the case.
Additional Petition for Penalty of Expulsion
Students who have been expelled from Vanderbilt University may, upon completion of the appeals process, submit a written petition within ten (10) calendar days to the Provost or the Provost’s designee, requesting reconsideration of the penalty of expulsion. The decision of the Provost or the Provost’s designee is final.
Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Respondent:
As the person responding to the complaint, you will be informed of the allegations and given an opportunity to ask questions, provide information, and offer names of witnesses or other people with relevant information. The EAD attempts at all times to protect you from unfounded allegations. As such, it expects full and truthful cooperation from you and that you will respect the confidential nature of the process.
If it considers it appropriate to further its investigation, the EAD may request access to premises, records and documents relevant to the complaint. Your cooperation can help foster a fair decision on the complaint.
Consistent with Vanderbilt’s policies, you must not retaliate against a person who files a complaint, participates in an investigation, encourages one to file, or opposes discrimination. In addition, you must not interfere with an investigation.
The investigative process will typically be completed within 60 calendar days. Given the many variables and factors that may arise in such cases, additional time may be needed in some cases. Any deviation from the 60-day time frame will be communicated in writing or by email to both the complainant and the respondent, along with a new timeline.
Limited Disciplinary Immunity for Complainants and Witnesses:
Individuals with information about sexual misconduct complaints may hesitate to come forward out of fear that their own violations of University policy would be revealed in reporting sexual misconduct. Students should not be discouraged from reporting incidents of sexual misconduct and assisting victims in times of crisis. Vanderbilt University does not condone infractions of policy, but considers reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to be of paramount importance. Therefore, the University may extend limited immunity for alcohol or substance abuse violations to potential witnesses in order to facilitate reporting and resolution of sexual misconduct complaints.
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