Letter: Vanderbilt University Imposes Severe Sanctions For Student Violations Of COVID-19 Policies

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I have just written to Representative Mindy Domb and State Senator Jo Comerford about Vanderbilt University’s new rules for enforcing student compliance with that university’s Covid-19 safety protocols (see below). These rules are much more stringent – and sensible – than those of UMass, including in applying with equal force to on and off-campus risky behavior. Notably, Vanderbilt is prepared to sanction any student’s first violation with suspension – for a minimum of one semester – up to expulsion.

I wonder if we could use these as a model for leveraging more responsible community-protective and student-protective policies from UMass.

Richard Sclove

Richard Sclove is resident of Amherst. 


From The Office of The Dean of Students
Vanderbilt University

Dear Vanderbilt Students,
By now, you should have had time to review the University’s policy for on- and off- campus gatherings. In light of the cancellation of in-person activities we have seen at other universities, I want to emphasize the importance of abiding by any and all University policies.

Given the importance of safety at Vanderbilt, I am writing to share a revision to the student accountability sanctions for violations of the University’s COVID-19 policies and protocols. Any intentional, pervasive, or repeated violations of COVID-19 policies and protocols, including requirements related to face mask/coverings, physical distancing, and the maximum gathering size, will be addressed through the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity (Student Accountability). In particular, I must impress upon you the severity and potential campus-wide impact of violating the University’s Gatherings policy, either on- or off- campus. The minimum sanction applied by Student Accountability if a student is found responsible for hosting a gathering that violates the policy will be suspension for a minimum of one semester; a first sanction may be as severe as expulsion, depending on the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation. Attending, participating in or otherwise supporting, and/or concealing a gathering that violates the policy may also result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense.

Please think carefully about your choices. Your actions on- and off- campus may directly affect your continued enrollment at the university, as well as impact opportunities for all of your fellow students. Our policies were established to protect the entire community and each of us has an important role to play in abiding by these policies.

Mark Bandas
Associate Provost and Dean of Students

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