Inclusion and respect are essential to the quality of education at Sweet Briar and are therefore central values of the College community.
Each of us enters a world limited by very specific circumstances. Education expands those limits. We learn the languages of other nations, explore historical periods we haven’t lived in, study philosophies based on assumptions we never imagined, contemplate works of art that baffle us. We learn that life looks more intricate through a microscope and the sky looks even grander through a telescope. Education, when it’s good, shows us a bigger and more diverse world than personal experience could ever allow us to know. Human diversity, as lived experience, is therefore an essential component of a first-rate education.
Inclusion is central because the essence of a fine education is the open sharing of information, perspective, analysis and interpretation. It is simply impossible for such open discourse to occur in an environment contaminated by personal invective, racism, bullying, harassment or prejudice. The Honor Code, of which we are so proud, inspires us to treat each other with respect and civility. Sweet Briar’s policies on discrimination and harassment also affirm our commitment to an inclusive, civil and respectful community.
It is also essential to our educational missions for contentious or “politically incorrect” thoughts to be expressed, examined, and debated. And it is essential for educated people to disagree vigorously with those whose views they believe are mistaken, to stand up proudly for what they care about, and to express convictions with passion. But it is equally essential to do all that within the bounds of respect for persons and respect for evidence. Sweet Briar students are expected to speak their minds, ask challenging questions and explore provocative ideas. But they are expected to do so in a spirit of respect, civility and intellectual responsibility.
Embracing inclusivity and instilling respect are central to our College’s mission and excellence. The College understands racist, bullying, or harassing behavior to be a violation of the rights of others and therefore not consistent with the values of the Honor Code. The student body promotes cultural, religious, political and sexual orientation diversity through a variety of student-led organizations and clubs and international clubs. Further, students, faculty and staff are held to an anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policy, contained in the Student Handbook and the Employee Policy & Guidelines Manual.
The College recognizes that there are many types of diversity. Our use of the term “diversity” is meant to include not only racial and ethnic diversity but also diversity of religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, sexual identity, physical ability, nation of origin, language spoken in the home, and political conviction.
Some of the ways in which we encourage and support inclusion at Sweet Briar College:
Common Ground: Peer Mentor Program/Network
The peer mentoring relationship is designed to foster a network of support for new underrepresented students at SBC, particularly those students who may be the first person in their family to attend college.
Upperclass student mentors serve as peer support for new students (Mentees) and share program goals and responsibilities aimed at ensuring a positive transition and experience for students.
Upperclass students and faculty/staff are closely involved in developing the maximum potential of these first-year students.
|Through our general education courses and classes specific to students’ majors, students are educated about aspects of human diversity in the context of their larger academic programs.|
The Faculty Diversity Committee regularly discusses the role of diversity in the academic program.
Recent readings for the campus Common Reading have highlighted important diversity issues.
Sweet Briar’s faculty is famous for its engaged and interactive teaching style, which emphasizes the importance of each student “finding her voice” and contributing her point of view, whatever it may be.
The College’s international studies office contributes to Sweet Briar’s diversity by:
Sweet Briar’s Tusculum Institute advances research on the history of African-Americans at Sweet Briar.
Sweet Briar provides an accepting environment for students, faculty and staff regardless of gender identity or status.
The College has had a same-sex domestic partner policy for employee benefits, including healthcare and tuition benefits, for many years. Partners of our employees — whether by marriage or by other commitment — may be listed in our printed directory.
GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever), a student-organized club whose mission is to make Sweet Briar a more accepting, open, and safe place for people of any sexual orientation or gender identity. Recent activities include a staging of 8 (a play about California Proposition 8), a Drag Workshop, and a Lavender Grad celebration for LGBTQ seniors.
The Office of Student Spiritual Life seeks to promote faith, values and spirituality on campus.
Spiritual Life at Sweet Briar includes numerous weekly student-led small groups around different religious expressions, called Life Groups. We strive to create new Life Groups to include the diversity of faith traditions represented. They include spiritual practices that assist students in coping with stress, in exploring vocation, and in creating community.
The Hubbard House for Spiritual Life offers space for students to explore practices of hospitality, inclusion, and welcome in a home-like atmosphere, around shared meals and conversation.
Transportation to off-campus services and faith communities can be facilitated by the chaplain’s office.
The Office of Student Spiritual Life also sponsors religious diversity events and initiatives aimed at cultivating the College community’s spiritual life. Recent events include Habitat for Humanity volunteerism, Gospel Fest, Ash Wednesday services and a monthly bagel bash to help informally build our community.Activities and services are open to all members of the campus community regardless of religious affiliation.
Any member of the Sweet Briar community who feels that he or she has been the subject of any form of discrimination should promptly report the incident to the following college officials:
• Student complaint: Dean of co-curricular life, Cheryl Steele [email protected]
• Faculty complaint: Dean of the faculty, Amy Jessen-Marshall [email protected]
• Staff complaint: Director of human resources, Carolyn Burton [email protected]