Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
To the Vanderbilt Student Body:
Vanderbilt Student Government stands unequivocally in support of survivors of sexual violence on and off our campus. Sexual violence is not unique to our campus, but as student leaders, we bear a unique responsibility in combating it. It is our promise to the student body to work tirelessly to ensure all survivors are heard and supported on this campus. Furthermore, it would be irresponsible to promise action without first acknowledging the larger systems of power that perpetuate this violence and injustice. This is a stark reminder of the disproportionate rate at which Black women and the LGBTQ+ community are victimized by sexual violence as well as by the systems that claim to protect them. It is evident that university systems have failed, particularly within Greek Life and in the Athletics Department. As members of Vanderbilt Student Government, we promise not only accountability to the student body in this fight, but dedicate ourselves to holding Vanderbilt University accountable as they navigate how these systems must be restructured to better support our peers, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent instances of sexual violence from occuring entirely.
As we navigate this persistent pattern of power based sexual violence in our community, we commit to doing so with a focus on transparency and accountability. Over the last few days, members of Vanderbilt Student Government have worked tirelessly to increase access pathways for students to share their experiences, concerns, and expectations moving forward. Below you will find access to an anonymous Google Form with multiple choice and open answer survey questions. Our intention is to gather your responses and stories to produce a list of recommendations for university administrators. Furthermore, the final deliverable will include student feedback and anonymized stories from the open response questions in an effort to amplify student voices and reflect the urgency of this situation. The final deliverable and survey results along with VSG’s recommendations will be made public to the student body through our social media. We believe taking these steps is critical not only in light of the experiences brought to the forefront over the past several days, but because of the university’s ongoing adaptation to the Title IX rule changes announced by Secretary of Education Betsey DeVos this May. In this time of transition it is imperative that we recognize the structural and institutional flaws that have perpetuated this issue and actively seek to remedy them.
Link to the survey: https://forms.gle/oggNXuMwaxfwjaFCA
Like many of you, we recognize that this widespread call to action is well overdue on Vanderbilt’s campus. We also recognize the challenges that come with these conversations. This is exhausting. This is frustrating. And at times it feels insurmountable. But our job is not to relent, our job is not to give up, our job is to be your partners in accountability. For those of you who we will be fighting alongside, thank you for your bravery. For those of you who need to prioritize yourselves and your mental well-being, thank you for your bravery. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay not to be okay right now. It is okay to know your limits and acknowledge past trauma. However you chose to be a part of what’s next, we want to support you in whatever ways we are able. To begin, below you will find a list of resources on and off campus.
Resources for the Black Community:
Resources for the LGBTQ+ Community:
- Trevor Project Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
Finally, to those of you who have shared your stories, we are overwhelmed in collective gratitude for your bravery and in sorrow that we didn’t take action sooner. We stand with you. We believe you. The university systems that have failed you have not only allowed an insidious rape culture to go unchecked on our campus, but have allowed it to flourish. Vanderbilt has the responsibility and resources to battle sexual violence with the integrity and respect students deserve, and we will be working tirelessly to make this happen.
Vanderbilt Student Government Executive Board
Veer Shah, Student Body President
Shun Ahmed, Student Body Vice President
Kate Petosa, Speaker of the Senate
Hitha Uday, Chief of Staff
Vanderbilt Sexual Assault and Prevention Committee
Josie Weck, VSAP Chair
Maya Sood, VSAP Vice Chair