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Vanderbilt pushes social justice resources to help students deal with ‘systemic racism’

Vanderbilt University has launched a new website that lists the parade of resources it offers to connect students with social justice-based opportunities, resources and counseling.

“Vanderbilt’s Student Care Network recognizes that our Black students are struggling with systemic racism in our society. We recognize that our Asian students are also experiencing discrimination, distress, and prejudice arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the website states.

The site, rolled out April 7, plugs the Social Justice CARE program, which stands for Community, Action, Restoration and Education. It gives students access to a vast array of resources regarding social justice issues, restoration and self-care, and education at the private, Tennessee-based campus.

“We recognize that so many other students of marginalized identities have been and continue to experience anguish and harm from conscious and subconscious bias as well,” the website states.

“The Student Care Network strongly condemns and rejects acts of racism, police brutality, violence toward Black people, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and classism.”

In addressing these issues, the website offers resources to direct students toward “affirming community” and “deepening self care.”

For example, the initiative features “Identity Drop-In Consultations,” which sorts students with counselors according to race and sexuality. The website argues these identity-based consultations exist to give students an “affirming space.”

Among the identities listed for specialized counseling are: student athletes; Black students; LGBTQIA+ students; Asian Pacific students; international students; and neurodiverse students.

Additional resources include: affinity groups for racial minorities; emotional and sexual assault support programs; financial counseling; substance abuse screenings; and counseling for a variety of disorders.

The campus also boasts a Black Cultural Center, which offers trainings and “critical dialogues.”

Vanderbilt’s media relations department did not respond to a request for comment.

Like many college campuses, Vanderbilt made an overhaul to their diversity initiatives after the death of George Floyd. The university made a commitment to double-down on its diversity efforts in an open letter to the student body. Vanderbilt states that it doubled the budget for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and built a Multicultural Community Space.

“We must do whatever it takes to create an environment in which all members of our community can thrive and contribute to their full potential,” the letter reads. “And while we have been working for a long time to make Vanderbilt a more diverse and inclusive community, we must ask ourselves: How can we do more?”

However, research shows that these sort of pricey diversity initiatives generally do not work and tend to exacerbate racial tensions on campus.

Sociologists Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim have argued that initiatives such as Vanderbilt’s are “likely to damage race relations and to make campus life more uncomfortable for everyone, particularly black students.”

Furthermore, Vanderbilt has long had a problem with political representation of conservative perspectives on campus.

Of Vanderbilt professors, 99.37 percent donated to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, according to reporting by the Vanderbilt Hustler.

In the 2020 election, donations also overwhelmingly flowed to Joe Biden over Donald Trump, according to data compiled by Open Secrets.

MORE: Vanderbilt investigates student government election after white, Jewish candidate maligned

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About the Author
Corey Walker -- University of Michigan