student life


Inclusion and respect are essential to the quality of education at Sweet Briar and they are therefore central values to 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 don’t live in, study philosophies based on assumptions we never imagined, contemplate arts that baffle us. We learn that life looks different through a microscope and the sky looks different through a telescope. Education, when it’s good, shows us a bigger and more diverse world than our own personal experience could ever allow us to know. Human diversity, as lived experience, is therefore an essential component of a first-rate education.

Inclusion comes into it because the essence of 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. Our policies on discrimination and harassment also affirm our commitment to an inclusive, civil and respectful community. It is appropriate for contentious or “politically incorrect” thoughts to be expressed. And it is essential for educated people to disagree vigorously with those whose views we believe are mistaken, to stand up proudly for what they care about, and to express their convictions with passion. But it is equally essential to do all that within the bounds of respect for persons and respect for evidence. (From Page 73 of our Student Handbook)

Sweet Briar Students are expected to speak their minds, ask challening 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 therefore central to our College’s mission and its excellence. Sweet Briar students uphold their Honor Code by respecting and appreciating the differences that every individual brings to the College. 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 (Student Handbook, p.66).  

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 diversity at Sweet Briar College:

Common Ground:  Peer Mentor Program/Network

Caring Sisters:  Sweet Briar College Resource Program for Students

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.

The primary goals are to support the academic, emotional and socio-cultural adjustment of new students to college life at SBC. 

Upperclass students and faculty/staff are closely involved in developing the maximum potential of these first-year students.

Staff members serve as volunteer resource persons for students to encourage, empower, support and engage students at the College. They respond to student questions, serve as sources of information about the College and community and act as referral resources on campus.

Gloria Smith, administrative assistant, co-curricular life — second floor, Prothro Hall, Ext. 6134 or 6352

Masia Miller, admission counselor, admission office — 2nd floor, Ext. 6720

Kerri Bond, assistant director of admission, admission office — 2nd floor, Ext. 6142

Jean Hazelwood, director of athletic facilities and sports information, Fitness and Athletics Center, Ext. 6545


Academic Diversity

Cultural Diversity

Gender Diversity

Religious Diversity
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:

  • facilitating Sweet Briar students’ study abroad to experience another culture through summer-, year- or semester-long programs
  • hosting various international events on campus throughout the year and sponsoring an international themed housing hall in a student residence hall
  • supporting student organizations like Unity and the International Club


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 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 that embraces a variety of lifestyles, hosts many different events on campus to increase awareness and promote diversity. Coming Out Day is one way GLOW celebrates diversity.

The Office of Student Spiritual Life seeks to promote faith, values and spirituality on campus through weekly opportunities for worship, study and community service.

In addition to Christian services in Memorial Chapel, a Jewish Shabbat is held every Friday and a non-denominational prayer room in Memorial Chapel encourages spirituality of all kinds. Transportation to services off-campus 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 csteele@sbc.edu

Faculty complaint: Dean of the faculty, Amy Jessen-Marshall ajessen-marshall@sbc.edu

Staff complaint: Director of human resources, Carolyn Burton cburton@sbc.edu