Vanderbilt students disappointed by university’s response to racist email

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Students at Vanderbilt are disappointed in the university’s response to a racist email sent to faculty and staff. 

“It’s not surprising, which is the worse part. It’s very disappointing and change really needs to happen,” Sydney Banks, President of the Vanderbilt chapter of the NAACP, told News 2. 

MORE: Vanderbilt condemns racist email sent to students, staff

IT analysts at Vanderbilt are still trying to figure out where the email that appears to have come from an official Vanderbilt account came from. Right now, Vanderbilt officials believe it was an external attack made to look official. 

The university’s Provost Susan Wente said it was sent to a number of people and calls it a “deeply disturbing e-mail” that “contained racist language and promoted white supremacy.” 

Banks, who is a junior at the university, said while the content in the email is hurtful, it’s not the first of its kind on campus. 

“A lot of feelings of hurt and disappointment, but people weren’t surprised honestly. This isn’t the first time that has happened and it’s not an isolated event. My freshman year me, along with a bunch of my peers, were added to a group chat calls Trumps Disciples the day after he was elected and they had daily events called daily lynching’s so that was one of the other things, last year, my sophomore year, Milo Yiannopoulos, who is a white supremacist was invited to Vandy by college Republicans and also some white nationalist flyers were put up last year,” Banks told News 2. 

The university addressed the e-mail overnight in a series of tweets and then the Provost sent out an email Tuesday morning saying, “equity, diversity and inclusion are bedrock values of the Vanderbilt community.” 

Banks said an email is not enough. 

“Racism is engrained in Vanderbilt’s culture rather they like it or not. It was built on racism and now it’s time to change it. I think curriculum change is one thing, I think more training with the faculty and staff so that they are more inclusive and aware of diversity.” 

Banks said her peers plan to flood officials with emails expressing their concerns, in hopes change will come. 

Samantha Zern, Editor-in-Chief of Vanderbilt Hustler, the student-run newspaper, sent News 2 the following statement, saying, “Our campus is certainly shaken at the moment and I have a feeling this is going to be part of an ongoing conversation about how instances of racism are handled on campus and the university’s overall mission of inclusion.”  

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