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Oct. 2, 2020 – READ: Critical COVID-19 update for students

Posted by on Saturday, October 3, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt Students,

We have reached the halfway point of the semester. The hardest work, both academically and personally, of this fall is now ahead of us. We have had so many successes to celebrate thus far, but we also know there are gaps to address to ensure the rest of the semester continues successfully and that our plans for spring, which we will be announcing shortly, may proceed.

The vast majority of our students are following our university protocols and guidelines. Thank you immensely for Anchoring Down and Stepping Up to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, there are some students who are not following university protocols and are not being forthright during contact tracing efforts. These students are not Anchoring Down and Stepping Up.

Each time a student shirks their responsibilities and exposes themselves to COVID-19, they are undermining the safety of our community and turning their friends into possible close contacts. Such actions disrupt their friends’ and classmates’ lives by potentially sending them into quarantine. These students are also endangering their own and others’ lives, disrupting their academic progress, impacting their families, and potentially impacting their ability to remain on our campus.

Don’t become a close contact. Keeping our community safe from COVID-19 and avoiding close contact isn’t just about one action; it’s about the combination of multiple actions. Only by wearing a mask and physically distancing by six feet and avoiding groups of people larger than 10 can you avoid becoming a close contact and being required to quarantine.

Understand the consequences. The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity addresses all reports of intentional or reckless disregard for the COVID-19 policies and protocols on or off campus. Sanctions can include probation, suspension or expulsion, and a first violation can lead to serious consequences. Those behaving recklessly with drugs and alcohol on or off campus also face arrest and risk building a criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Students who don’t have a clean disciplinary record may lose their ability to return in the spring and may be required to study remotely from their permanent or family home.

Be honest. We have enjoyed outstanding cooperation from the majority of our students in the contact tracing process. However, some students have been dishonest in this process. All students must understand that lying or failing to disclose information to contact tracers not only jeopardizes the safety of our community; it comes with disciplinary action.

Remember, students who provide information about their prior possession or use of alcohol or other drugs, or prior violation of COVID-19 protocols, during contact tracing or Title IX investigations will be eligible for immunity from disciplinary action.

Secure your future. To those students who are not stepping up, poor choices now will hurt you in your future endeavors by jeopardizing your health, your academic career, your future job options and possibly your relationships with your friends and families. Those students who are renting in local apartment complexes and are being disrespectful to neighbors and building managers and flouting rules will likely have indicators show up on future apartment applications flagging that they did not comply with guidelines at their previous residences or were problem tenants.

Take responsibility for others. Some of our students have many options when it comes to where they live and study, but for many others, this campus is the only safe and secure option. Some of your classmates don’t have other places to go if we must go remote for the remainder of the semester. Vanderbilt is the best place for them, and those students who do not follow protocols could potentially be taking away that option for them.

To all the students stepping up and doing the right thing, again, thank you. Keep on going. Keep holding each other accountable. If you notice COVID-19 protocols are not being followed, report it by calling the Public Health Hotline at 615-343-1352. Continue to care for one another, support one another, and be there for one another as only Commodores can. We believe in you and are here for you. Together, and only together, we can and will succeed.

Sincerely,

Mark Bandas
Associate Provost and Dean of Students

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