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Aug. 19, 2020 – URGENT: Message about start of classes

Posted by on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt students and families,

As the headlines fill with stories of universities being forced to suspend in-person classes after reopening due to outbreaks on campus, we write to reiterate the utmost seriousness with which you, and every single member of the Vanderbilt community, must take our public health and safety requirements.

Every student must know that the parties and disregard for face masks, physical distancing and gathering size causing universities to abandon in-person classes will not be tolerated at Vanderbilt. One person’s decision to shrug off their responsibility for a night of fun can be the reason an entire class misses its senior year, or why a student, for whom Vanderbilt is the safest home they know, is forced to leave.

You must take personal responsibility for the safety of your fellow students while on campus and off campus and for our dedicated faculty and staff who are devoted to your success, and you must prioritize what is most important.

All students should also know that flouting public health requirements in Nashville doesn’t just result in student conduct violations—it can carry real criminal penalties, as was the case with the recent arrest of the hosts of a reckless party in our city. These criminal penalties and disciplinary actions will follow students and derail their future chances for attending graduate, law, medical, nursing and other professional schools or securing their dream job.

We write this not to scare you but to be perfectly plain that the situation happening at other universities can be avoided at Vanderbilt, but only if you anchor down, step up, and do your part. Only if you make the right choices.

You were accepted to Vanderbilt because you distinguished yourself from tens of thousands of students who wanted the opportunity you have earned. You chose Vanderbilt because of its excellence in academics and the chance to be part of a community united by shared values. You are the students who can demonstrate that at Vanderbilt, we take care of one another, we make sacrifices, and we do the right thing.

Not all students were able to return to campus this fall because of the pandemic. For those of you who were able to return, your choice states that physically being here at Vanderbilt in Nashville for your education is the most important thing in your life at this time. By sending you here, your families have also decided that this hard choice is worth it. We are counting on all of you to prove it by showing the leadership, caring, intelligence and determination that brought you to Vanderbilt in the first place.

Your responsible actions this fall will be the reason that your degree will stand out from others, as five, 10, 15 years from now people will remember that Vanderbilt students responded to the pandemic with strength, responsibility, integrity and courage. Your actions in the coming weeks will show that Vanderbilt will indeed, in the words of our alma mater, conquer and prevail.


Daniel Diermeier

Susan R. Wente
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs