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Digital Citizenship

According to the Vanderbilt University Community Creed, Vanderbilt students strive to promote a culture of civility grounded  open, respectful, and neighborly interactions. This value extends beyond the Vanderbilt physical campus and into the digital environment where community members learn, work, and interact daily. This digital environment includes classroom learning platforms and social media platforms used for communication, including email, Brightspace, Zoom, Yik Yak, Twitter, GroupMe, Instagram, Greek Rank, etc.

As defined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), digital citizens “recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical.” To this end, the University has developed the Digital Citizenship Guidelines listed below in order to complement the Community Creed and help create, promote, and sustain a virtual world that is civil and respectful while demonstrating an openness to engage in productive conversations and online exchanges that acknowledge and value difference of opinion in a respectful way. While using technology and operating in the digital environment, Vanderbilt students are expected to abide by the tenets of these guidelines, as well as the policies and regulations delineated in the Student Handbook, which apply to all students enrolled at Vanderbilt.

It is important to note that harassment of any individual, whether it takes place in person or in the digital environment, based on sex, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, or genetic information is unacceptable and may be grounds for corrective action and may also constitute a violation of 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 Equal Opportunity and Access Office handles complaints of harassment on these grounds involving students in accordance with the Student Discrimination Policy.  Additionally, sexual harassment is prohibited and complaints of sexual harassment involving students will be addressed by the Title IX Office in accordance with the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Harassment not based on a protected class will be addressed through Student Accountability.

Digital Citizenship Guidelines

Treating others with respect.

Refrain from offensive name-calling, using hateful language, sending intimidating messages, engaging in unsolicited contact with others, or publicly disclosing someone else’s personal information (i.e., doxxing). Additionally, always consider whether you have appropriate consent before using, reposting, or sharing the images of or content created by others.

Being mindful of statements you make related to your safety and the safety of others.

In order to ensure the safety and security of individuals and the community at large, any perceived threats to self or others–including hyperbole, emotional rhetoric, or those made in jest–must be taken seriously and may result in University response.

Utilizing technology resources and devices thoughtfully and responsibly.

When communicating and interacting with others in the digital environment, refrain from reckless behaviors including spoofing, creating fake profiles, messaging en masse, and sharing passwords.

Understanding, respecting, and abiding by the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

As a reflection of Vanderbilt’s academic mission and learning environment, properly cite and adhere to copyright laws in and outside of the classroom.

Being a helpful bystander.

Maintaining a respectful community is everyone’s responsibility. Help stop the spread of misinformation by verifying content with reputable sources before sharing with others, utilizing the host platform’s reporting and safety features so that degrading and/or harmful content can be flagged, reviewed, and/or removed, and refraining from liking, sharing, or commenting on malicious or harmful information that has been posted about others.

Personal Safety Tips

As a user of technological resources and devices, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and mitigate risks in the digital environment including:

  • Fully exploring and utilizing the privacy settings on your email, social media, and other online accounts to control who has access to you and your information.
  • Utilizing the host platform’s reporting and safety features so that malicious and harmful content can be flagged, reviewed, and/or removed.
  • Asking the offender to stop and then avoiding or ignoring further engagement with the person or the person’s content.
  • Being aware of phishing and scam emails and taking care to verify messages before responding to messages, opening any links, or disclosing personal and identifying information.
  • Preserving all evidence if you are the victim of harassment, including messages, emails, comments, postings, etc. If you would rather not continue to see these messages, consider allowing a trusted friend to handle this task for you.

Freedom of Expression in the Digital Environment

As an institution of higher learning dedicated to research, teaching, and service, Vanderbilt is firmly committed to academic freedom and freedom of expression and will maintain the conditions of freedom of inquiry, thought, and discussion on campus and in the digital environment. Students are considered as partners in this endeavor and, while in a diverse community the views and ideas of its members will inevitably conflict at times, Vanderbilt expects all members of the community to be respectful of each other and to contribute in positive ways to an orderly and civil exchange of diverse ideas and opinions. Vanderbilt seeks to foster a sense of belonging for all students where they can feel welcome and as safe as possible in an environment dedicated to the critical discussion of complex and challenging ideas. Freedom of expression extends to all members of the Vanderbilt community, even when that expression directly challenges the beliefs and ideas of another and even when that expression may be deemed disagreeable or possibly even offensive.  With that, the University has an obligation to review any concerning behavior brought to its attention through the lens of the policies and procedures outlined in Student Handbook to ensure the health, safety, and security of our community at large and individuals within it.



Campus Resources

Phone: Non-Emergency (615) 322-2745//Emergency 911 or (615) 421-1911

 National Resources

           Provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.

           An initiative whose mission is to combat online abuses that threaten civil rights and civil liberties.

Phone: CCRI Crisis Helpline 844-878-CCRI (2274)

            A community dedicated to helping those experiencing online harassment.

           A project of Break the Cycle and California Coalition Against Sexual Assault that addresses the use/misuse of technology in sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking (including cyber stalking) cases.

Help Centers and Reporting Options for Popular Social Media Platforms