IN PHOTOS: Students March in Protest of Wendy’s

On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, a group of students held a protest against Wendy’s. They were upset that Wendy’s refuses to sign an agreement guaranteeing fair conditions for workers.

Protesters marched through Rand Dining Hall, chanting and singing about their boycott of Wendy’s.

The band of passionate students hung posters and distributed flyers in every corner of Vanderbilt’s campus.

Protesters chanted and waved signs in a gathering by the Rand Wall. Protesting student Tristan Abbott discussed his cause with Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion George Hill outside of Rand.

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

The Vanderbilt Board of Trust: Explained

At its meeting last Thursday, the Vanderbilt Board of Trust voted to name the new college halls after former trustee E. Bronson Ingram. Ingram served on the board for nearly three decades and served as chair for five years.

Approving building name changes is one of the many functions of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust. But what else does the Board do?

As stated on its website, the Board of Trust’s mission is as follows:

“to help Vanderbilt University achieve its goal to become one of the top ten research and teaching universities in America and to be admired for its service to the community.”

As partners in the long-term success of the university, the Vanderbilt Board of Trust is continually working to ensure the university’s progress towards its goals. The Vanderbilt Hustler delved into the topic to learn more about the functions, structure and impact of the Board of Trust.

What does the Board of Trust do?

The Board of Trust’s main objective, as stated in its bylaws, is to act as the general government of the University. The Board is the fiduciary of the university and works to ensure that the university makes progress towards its goals.

Additionally, the Board has the responsibility of determining the operating budget for the university. This includes approving capital projects that will cost more than two million dollars.

The Board approves new majors, degrees, or schools through voting. It also approves naming of buildings on campus, such as the new E. Bronson Ingram college hall. Additionally, the Board approves tenure appointments and vice chancellor appointments.

“One of their major functions is also development, and they are fiduciaries of the university, so anything that happens at this university on a major scale is as a result of what the board has decided to do,” said Secretary to the Board of Trust Maribeth Geracioti.

On a large scale, the Board of Trust stays informed on the running of the university. For example, the Board of Trust did not play a formal role in the newly-announced Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience (DIVE) program. DIVE is a part of the university’s Academic Strategic Plan, which the Board of Trust approved. However, throughout the DIVE creation process, the Provost simply reported to the Board of Trust on the program’s progress.

The Board’s structure

The Board of Trust is comprised of seven standing committees: Academic and Student Affairs, Athletics, Audit, Compensation, Executive, Governance and Board Affairs and Investment. Ad-hoc committees are created as the Board sees fit to create.

Each committee meets by its own schedule according to the bylaws. Some meet at every full-board session while others meet intermittently throughout the year.

The Executive Committee has four officers: the Chairman of the Board, the two Vice Chairmen of the Board and the Secretary of the Board. The Chancellor of the University also serves on the Executive Committee as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trust. The Executive Committee is empowered to act when the full board isn’t in session, and can therefore approve faculty appointments or make other decisions in a timely manner.

The Chancellor and the Chairman of the Board are both ex-officio members and full voting members of several committees.

The Athletics Committee is an advisory committee- it reviews the athletic budget, which is part of the university’s overall operating budget, and advises the athletic director in development efforts.

“They meet with and have discussions with student athletes to keep the board involved with the life of student athletes and what’s happening in our department of athletics,” Geracioti said.

As Secretary to the Board of Trust, Geracioti has the responsibility of ensuring that board governances are followed and that all of the board’s process are noted properly. Her roles are that of an archivist for the board and a liaison between the Board of Trust and some senior members of the university administration.

Board of Trust members

To develop new nominations to the Board of Trust, the Chancellor sends out solicitations asking for recommendations from current members of the Board. These are reviewed, and potential new trustees are nominated and voted on at a full-board meeting. The nomination and voting process are essentially one action.

The bylaws stipulate that the Board must have a minimum of five trustees and a maximum of 46. There are currently 29 voting members, and several new trustees will be added after being approved at the Board’s meeting last week.

Trustees serve five-year terms, and can serve two consecutive terms. They may serve on the Board again after a one-year leave, but this is uncommon. Trustees can no longer serve on the board after they have reached the age of 70.

Each trustee is a voting member of one of the seven committees. Each trustee has some connection to the university- whether they are alumni of an undergraduate or graduate school, have a child who attended Vanderbilt, or have a different connection to the University.

As previously mentioned, the Chancellor of the university is an ex-officio member and full voting member of several committees. He is also a full trustee of the Board. The Board of Trust charges the Chancellor with the running of the University, and the Board works through the Chancellor to meet its goals.

Each year, an outgoing undergraduate senior is selected to become the Young Alumni Leader (YAL). This was previously called the Young Alumni Trustee, but the name and selection process were changed several years ago. Students can apply to be the YAL during the fall of their senior year, and are vetted throughout the academic year. They are nominated into the position at the board’s spring meeting.

The YAL serves on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association Board for three years after being nominated, and then serves on the Board of Trust for two years afterwards with full voting privileges.

Every other year, the Alumni Association nominates its outgoing president to the Board of Trust. This way, there are always alumni connected to the Board of Trust.

The Board of Trust also has Emeriti Trustees- former trustees who are still engaged in the university.

“Emeriti Trustees are former trustees who are still very involved with the university and committed to Vanderbilt,” Geracioti said.

Board of Trust meetings

The Board of Trust meets in full board session at three yearly meetings- one in November, February and April. Each meeting is held over a day-and-a-half period. For example, last week’s meeting was held over Thursday and Friday.

The full Board meets for several hours each day. During the remaining time, several committees will meet and discuss their committee-specific topics.

There are several topics that the Board hears about at every meeting: a financial update, an update from the Faculty Senate, an academic affairs update, and a legal update. The Board also approves capital expenditures at each meeting.

A variety of strategic topics are addressed at each meeting, and these vary. The Board hears about topics from faculty, students, and administrators and holds discussions.

Each fall, the president of Vanderbilt Student Government gives a report to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.

At this past week’s meeting, the Board specifically held elections for new trustees, reviewed its capital campaign, and held a financial review for its 2018 fiscal year budget.

How does the Board affect students?

The Hustler talked with Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente to learn how the Board of Trust is connected to Vanderbilt students.

As Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Wente is an officer of the university. The Board of Trust looks to her to be running the university, similarly to the Chancellor’s responsibility. Wente meets with the Board of Trust regularly and reports to the full Board, the Executive Committee, and to subcommittees. She ran several committee meetings at the meeting this past week.

As Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Wente works with the Academic and Strategic Affairs Committee. She works with committee members to ensure that they are informed about what is happening at the university.

For example, Wente led a strategy session at the Board meeting this past week on big data and data science. She has seen how students and faculty are interested in the topic and is keeping the Board up-to-date on what’s happening on campus in this area. If a major in this area is introduced in several years, the Board of Trust will be prepared because they already have background information about the topic.

While the Board isn’t actively involved in creating new majors or implementing the Academic Strategic Plan, they are always aware of what’s happening on campus.

“They’re always very concerned about what’s the campus climate like, what are students thinking, how are we supporting students, what opportunities are we giving them,” Wente said.

She describes the trustees as partners in the long-term success of the university. For example, trustees gave input on the Career Center when it was created and serve on search committees for dean positions.

“They want to really understand what the student experience is like,” Wente said.

Students will recognize the name Martha Rivers Ingram- Ingram was a trustee when she gave a financial gift that made the construction of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons possible. Many trustees have given financial gifts to make projects around the university possible.

Secretary of the Board of Trust: Shirley Collado

Shirley Collado graduated from Vanderbilt in 1994 with degrees in Human and Organizational Development and Psychology. Now as Secretary of the Board of Trust, Collado reflects on her time as an undergraduate.

“As a New Yorker and as a first-generation college student, coming to Vanderbilt was a transformative experience,” Collado said. “It was something I had not anticipated when I thought about college.”

She says that Vanderbilt was less diverse and international while she was a student, but still an extraordinary community. It  pushed her boundaries and how she thought about community.

Collado has been an officer of the Board as Secretary for three years. Previously, she served two terms on the Alumni Association Board.

As an officer, she supports the general work of the Board and works closely with the Executive Committee. As secretary, she is responsible for oversight of their meetings and keeping an official record of what has transpired at their meetings. This includes taking minutes that are approved by the Board and put into record.

Collado is also a Chair of the Academic and Strategic Affairs Committee. Her experience in higher education prepared her to work on this committee.

Collado works with Provost Wente on the Academic and Strategic Affairs Committee. Wente acts as Collado’s liaison to the administration for the committee.

“We, along with our committee, the chancellor and the officers of the board, decide what are the kind of topics that the committees need and want to focus on during the year,” Collado said.

Collado chaired the ad-hoc committee that was charged with looking at the name of Memorial Hall, formerly Confederate Memorial Hall.

“My job as Chair was to facilitate a substantive and fair process that would allow us as a committee, and we were a group of trustees representing all walks of life, all backgrounds, all kinds of opinions, to do our due diligence on behalf of the board, do our homework,” Collado said. “We made then, after great discussion, a unanimous recommendation to the Board of Trust on the renaming of the hall.”

Collado sees the largest responsibility of the Board as taking a long-term perspective of what is best for the university and for the students.

“What really will this decision (about the hall) carry forward for our university when we’re no longer the Board members?” Collado asked herself.

Collado says that as a Board member and secretary she is most proud to be able to serve her alma mater.

“It’s so real for me to be a first-generation college student that was so transformed by Vanderbilt- and that experience was not an easy one,” Collado said. “My experience was not roses. It was complicated. It was messy. I love my alma mater for all of those experiences… For me, the greatest thing is, it’s just such an honor. I never imagined as a student serving on the Board of Trust.”

category: Campus

EXCLUSIVE: Do Vanderbilt students care about Vanderbilt sports?

In Vanderbilt’s nearly 150+ year existence, its athletic teams have never been more impressive.

Since 2011, Vanderbilt Football has made four bowl game appearances, and won three of them. The Men’s Basketball team has made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The Baseball team won a national title in 2014, and the Women’s Tennis team won one in 2015.

So, with all of that success, it may come as a shock that Vanderbilt student attitudes towards athletics may be at an all-time low.

The Vanderbilt Hustler conducted a survey to get a better idea of student sports viewing habits. 230 students from across Vanderbilt’s classes and undergraduate schools responded to the survey. The results show a student body that may have plenty of students that care about the school’s teams, but may not show it in terms of attendance.

We asked students how many football, basketball and baseball games they attended during this season. Here is what they said:

Over 50 percent of respondents said they had been to two or fewer football games, and well over 50 percent of respondents said they went to three or fewer basketball games. The baseball results may be slightly different than reality, as the survey was conducted before the baseball season was complete.

So, why do students seem apathetic in what is supposed to be the heyday of Vanderbilt sports?

Eric Jones, assistant athletics director for ticketing, points to demographic changes in the student body as a potential reason for this dropoff in interest.

“The current-day Vanderbilt students are notably different from the predecessors, going back even 10 years,” he said. “Sport is something that is a large, widespread phenomenon. But, that is viewed from inside of Vanderbilt or inside of the United States. We are a more global campus as opposed to a lot of other folks. I think that when you get a lot of other cultures into the mix, interests are going to start to vary. Some of those will vary greater than even the findings in the survey. We’re an international brand at Vanderbilt University. Each student here is a unique individual brand.”

The old excuse was that if Vanderbilt’s teams could improve and win more, then more students would attend their games. Now that the teams are improving, but the attendance is not, some might be scratching their heads.

Greger Peterson, a freshman, who attended four football games this past season, said that “Same Old Vanderbilt” stigma might still be lingering.

“Even though Vanderbilt had a pretty good season, there’s probably some lingering sentiment of just generally ‘we’re not that competitive, we’re not that good, we’re just going to get destroyed by these teams,’ even though that really wasn’t necessarily the case this year. I think that’s definitely a factor. Even going forward, hopefully if people have the idea and understand “Okay, we’re fighting for a good bowl game, this is something that’s pretty feasible, we’re kind of competitive.'”

Alyssa Blanchard, a senior, who said she attended one football game this season, thought that if Vanderbilt’s teams built on this newfound success, they could wake up an otherwise uninterested portion of the student body.

“I think ‘winning’ would help people to get interested in Vanderbilt sports,” she said. “When I watch a game (particularly live), I’m very invested in who wins and I’ll be bummed if my team doesn’t win. For me, the only sport where I don’t mind too much if my team wins is baseball. However, I think Vanderbilt has a less sports-inclined student body than other SEC schools, and there would be a ceiling to the percentage of the student body that could be persuaded to attend games.”

Other results of the survey stand out as well. We asked students if they watched Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball’s NCAA Tournament game and if they watched Vanderbilt Football’s appearance in the Camping World Independence Bowl. The dichotomy in the results may be surprising.

It is worth noting that the NCAA Tournament game took place on a Thursday while school was in session, while the Independence Bowl was played on December 26th while students were on break.

Still, it may come as a surprise that far more students were able to take a couple of hours out of a busy Thursday to watch an NCAA Tournament game, while they decided not to sit in front of a TV on winter break to watch the bowl game.

We also asked students if they were sports fans outside of Vanderbilt’s teams. 56.5 percent of respondents said they were sports fans outside of Vanderbilt. On top of that, we asked students how much they cared about Commodore sports on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing total apathy and 10 being “complete diehard” status. While the most popular response was a “3” with 14.8 percent, the second, third and fourth-most responses were a “7” (14.3 percent), “6” (13 percent) and “8” (10.9 percent).

So, if a good chunk of students care about these teams, and a majority of students are sports fans in general, why doesn’t that translate into attendance? Jones thought it could be a number of factors, including how busy Vanderbilt students can be.

“I think change is the one thing and we have a very diverse campus in terms of a lot of different backgrounds,” he said. “The other thing is that there’s a heck of a lot to do in Nashville. All of that, I think though, is secondary to the fact that I think that the Vanderbilt student body is very focused on their schoolwork and their careers. I’ve heard from a lot of students ‘Can’t we work on getting game times standardized?’ I think not being able to know game times for football factors into that on a weekend.”

Athletic department policy bars student attendance numbers from being released to the public, but other differences in attendance are noticeable. Six or seven years ago, if you weren’t camped out in front of Memorial Gym five hours before tip-off, you weren’t getting in to see Vanderbilt play Kentucky. This past season, students walked in midway through the first half and got decent seats.

In order to counteract this dropoff in attendance, Jones also thought that the athletic department needs to have meaningful conversations with students about what they are interested in and what would get them to come out to Vanderbilt Stadium, Memorial Gym or Hawkins Field for a game.

“I think it’s got to be an open dialogue,” he said. “Any time you have an open dialogue, just by definition, it’s got to be two-way communication. We’ve got to do a better job in athletics of reaching out to students, finding out how they tick. Everybody is at a different spectrum in terms of age and in terms of availability and in terms of interest. I think that it really all starts with communication. We have to try harder on the athletics side to engage students in an open dialogue. It’s got to be two ways, it’s got to be regular and it’s got to be things that are followed up on.”

Hustler sports staff picks year-end Commodore standouts

While none of the so-called revenue sports stood out during the 2016-17 school year, Vanderbilt fielded competitive teams in nearly every sport for the first time in a while.

The Commodore football team found its way back to its first bowl game since the 2013 season, while men’s basketball exceeded expectations and baseball looks on pace to make the 2017 NCAA tournament. The soccer squad finished in the SEC’s top half, while women’s tennis, bowling and men’s golf continued to dominate.

But there were a few athletes and moments that stood out since last August. Here, our sports staff picks the best.

Dansby Swanson Male Athlete of the Year Award: Zach Cunningham, football

Is there really any other choice? Cunningham was Vanderbilt’s first consensus First-Team All-American in football since 1984 and the first position player to achieve the feat since 1958. He did so by leading both his team and the SEC in tackles and being the linchpin on a defense that was the calling card for the Commodores. Coming into the season, we knew that the fortunes of the Commodores would rest on his shoulders, and he delivered week in and week out.

Perhaps what he will be remembered most for was his out of this world performance on homecoming at Georgia. He tallied 19 tackles, including the game-winning tackle on fourth-and-1 with under two minutes to play, to will Vanderbilt to its biggest win in head coach Derek Mason’s tenure as head coach, sparking the Commodores for their great finish to the season. He now has the chance to be the first Vanderbilt football player selected in the 1st Round of the NFL draft since tackle Chris Williams went to the Bears with the 14th pick in 2008. Cunningham was a program-changing player in every sense of the word. – Jack Fader, sports reporter

Runner-up: Jeren Kendall, baseball

Astra Sharma Female Athlete of the Year Award: Astra Sharma, women’s tennis

Sharma also won this award last year, so we might as well name it after her at this point. While teammate Sydney Campbell had a similarly impressive season, Sharma’s No. 4 national ranking in singles and dominant record against first-singles competition give her the edge. After leading the Commodores to a 20-5 overall record, No. 2 national ranking and SEC regular-season and tournament championships, Sharma currently holds a 29-7 overall record. Her 11-2 individual mark in SEC play trails only sixth singles player Fernanda Contreras, who went 11-1. Sharma ran up an elite record against extremely tough competition and was the best player on perhaps Vanderbilt’s best team, so she earned this award. – Robbie Weinstein, Sports Editor

Runners-up: Sydney Campbell, women’s tennis; Courtney Clayton, track and field

Coach of the Year: Geoff Macdonald, women’s tennis

Macdonald holds the same trump card Sharma does, as he coached one of Vanderbilt’s best teams and helped continue the winning tradition he built after taking over the program in 1995. The Commodores’ head man built a tremendously challenging schedule that prepared his team for SEC competition, and the team’s results improved as the season went on — four of Vanderbilt’s five losses came before conference play started. To top that all off, Macdonald did all this despite starting freshmen at two of the six singles spots for most of the year. As long as the women’s tennis program stays near the top of the sport, Macdonald could win this award every year. – Robbie Weinstein, Sports Editor

Runner-up: John Williamson, bowling

Rookie of the Year: JJ Bleday, baseball

With the shift of Jeren Kendall from right field to center field this year, the Commodores needed to find a replacement. They had a few options to plug in there, but head caoch Tim Corbin ultimately called upon freshman JJ Bleday to take over the position. With a batting average of .280 and an OPS of .801, Bleday has been impressive in the middle of the lineup this year. He is just one of two players on the team with more walks (23) than strikeouts (17) this season. His 29 games started are the most among any freshman on the team, as he appears destined to be a mainstay in this starting lineup for years to come. With Kendall likely gone next year, Bleday is on track to be the team’s prominent outfielder if he can keep up this season’s success. – Josh Hamburger, Editor in Chief

Game of the Year: Men’s basketball vs. Florida, 2017 SEC tournament

This one really could have been any of the three wins over the Gators, as the Commodores thrived against one of the top teams in the nation this year. However, the 72-62 overtime victory in the SEC tournament takes the cake.

Going into the game, Vanderbilt was projected to be one of the last teams into the NCAA tournament, likely needing a victory to clinch a spot, and it delivered in thrilling fashion. After a neck-and-neck 40 minutes, highlighted by a double-double from Luke Kornet, Joe Toye rejected Florida’s last second shot attempt to send the game to OT. From there, Vandy would never look back. Jeff Roberson’s slam in the final minute to cap off the win proved to be the iconic moment of Vanderbilt basketball’s season, and in an otherwise up and down year, this win was as sweet as they come.

The Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee football game came in a close second here, and while the excitement level for that game was just as high, it was neither a one-possession game, nor did it clinch a bowl spot like the Florida game likely did. The SEC tournament game was simply put, as clutch as it gets, and that’s why it holds the spot as the best game of the year in Vanderbilt athletics. – Max Schneider, sports reporter

Runner-up: Football vs. Tennessee

Play of the Year: Cunningham tackle saves ‘Dores at Georgia

Typically an award for Play of the Year goes to a buzzer-beating three-pointer, a walk-off home run or something flashy of that nature. But of all the great plays made by Commodore athletes this year, the best was Cunningham’s 19th tackle against Georgia.

With just over a minute to go, Vanderbilt was clinging to a one point lead when the Bulldogs decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 at Vandy’s own 41-yard line. Rather than handing the ball off to star running back Nick Chubb, Georgia gave it to wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie. Cunningham immediately recognized the play, and flew from the middle of the formation to the outside, where he yanked down a full-speed McKenzie by using his incredible arm strength.

While this play may not have made many national highlight reels, the determination, instinct, and athleticism that Cunningham showcased on this play was too impressive to go under-appreciated. The tackle clinched Mason’s first road SEC victory in his third year as the head coach. The win also got the team out of a two-game slump and injected a jolt of confidence that helped carry the team to their first bowl game of the Mason Era. – Steve Sherk, sports reporter

Runner-up: Cunningham hurdles offensive line for field-goal block at Auburn

Meme of the Year: Hugh Freeze got his own player ejected

Vanderbilt’s meme of the year emerged from one of the most complicated and confusing plays of the football season. During Vanderbilt’s penultimate regular-season football game vs. Ole Miss, a Vanderbilt wide receiver Donaven Tennyson was carrying the ball when he was hit hard, causing him to lose control of the football. The ball went out of bounds before Ole Miss linebacker DeMarquis Gates could recover it. The officials reviewed the play to see if the fumble had truly gone out of bounds and, in the process, discovered that the original hit was actually targeting and proceeded to eject Gates.

Therefore, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze got one of his own linebackers ejected.

Now, some may say that the officials called for a booth review, not Freeze. To that, I say…Shut up.

So, never forget: Hugh Freeze got one of his own linebackers ejected.

Runner-up: Commodores take the Champions of Life Belt

category: Featured, Sports

Sam Dobbs leads efforts as Commodore football sorority video goes viral

When Vanderbilt tight end Sam Dobbs posted his latest video to YouTube, he hoped for a few thousand views on what was a well-edited and produced final product.

“I knew it was a pretty good edit, I felt like it was a pretty good video, and everyone loved it on the team and throughout the other sports teams,” Dobbs said. “So I knew it was gonna get some exposure, but I had no idea it was gonna blow up.”

The video, of course, is the “VF” sorority recruitment video that has gone viral over the past week, raking in nearly 500,000 views on YouTube alone. Picked up by outlets like Sports Illustrated and Barstool, it drew rave reviews across a broad spectrum of viewers.

While the inspiration for the video is obvious, how it actually came together is anything but. The team had been brainstorming ideas for a video for the annual Black & Gold Banquet, a sort of social event for Vanderbilt student-athletes. Offensive lineman Ean Pfeifer came up with the idea, and Dobbs helped put it in motion on an April Sunday afternoon. Everything came together over a single weekend, and the filming process took only two hours despite the lack of an involved, detailed plan.

Dobbs’ only request? Go big, or go home.

“It’s one of those things where you gotta go all-in, or you can’t go in at all,” Dobbs, who’s produced his own videos for years, said. “I said in the big group chat of the football team, ‘If you guys want to do this, let’s do it. But we need guys going 100 percent.’”

Although all the filming took place in one day, Dobbs spent hours sifting through sorority recruitment videos online in preparation. All the details had to be just right, from the music selection all the way down to the players’ attire. Dobbs’ use of a drone to capture some of the footage added to the production value, which he saw as one reason for the video’s success.

“I tell you what, I looked at so many sorority recruitment videos online,” Dobbs said. “I honestly had to clear my search history after that. Looking at all those videos, I got all these shot ideas. … I basically knew I was gonna fly the drone over the stadium and over the practice field just to get that overall intro look.”

Perhaps one of the most iconic shots from the video comes when players ride in the back of a white pickup truck down Jess Neely Drive between the McGugin Center and Vanderbilt Stadium. The idea represented something Dobbs had wanted to try for a while, and Commodore kicker Tommy Openshaw’s contributions helped make the scene happen.

“I’ve always wanted to experiment with following a vehicle down a road, and I just think that looks really cool,” Dobbs said. “Tommy Openshaw let us use his truck, and it worked perfectly. it’s white, just like the t-shirts, so it was matching.”

Dobbs told teammates to meet him on the practice fields if they wished to take part in the video, and the turnout was better than he expected. What he wasn’t surprised by, however, was their ability to improvise and to play their roles while keeping relatively straight faces.

“I was not surprised, because a lot of the guys you see, they’re always goofing off and having a good time,” Dobbs said. “So it kind of comes natural to them to just be themselves, and that’s basically what I told them to be. … I didn’t give them lines to say or anything.”

While Dobbs carried much of the load in terms of filming and production, his teammates also chipped in with their own ideas for different scenes. Offensive lineman Jared Southers suggested including a copious amounts of sarcasm that resulted in Pfeifer’s description of how the locker room’s anchor represents how the team is “anchored together.” Another scene featured quarterback Shawn Stankavage berating teammates for stealing his pizza rolls.

Dobbs says he “took whatever looked the best” out of the various scenes and didn’t micromanage. Some cuts didn’t make the final video, and the team ran out of time to shoot a pool scene that had drawn enthusiasm among the players.

One particular teammate, however, wasn’t quite sure about participating until filming was underway. Starting quarterback Kyle Shurmur was hesitant to make his acting debut, but he ultimately warmed up to the idea and featured in what Dobbs considers his finest video to date.

“He at first came onto the field and was like, ‘Man, this is not going on YouTube,’ and I was like, ‘OK, you can leave if you don’t want it on YouTube,’” Dobbs said.

One of the things Dobbs likes most about the video and its popularity, however, is how it shows that Vanderbilt student-athletes don’t just eat, sleep and breathe sports. Players may not get chances to show their personalities through football, making this video a fun opportunity for them. At a school that make a point of producing well-rounded student-athletes, the video highlights the players’ unique non-football interests.

“We’re not just football players, we’re also human beings that are living the college life and having fun,” Dobbs said. “We’re not football machines. … Even though we’re bogged down with football and academics, there’s always room for having fun every now and then.”

category: Featured, Football, Sports

IN PHOTOS: Rites of Spring 2017

Photography by Claire Barnett, Bruce Brookshire, Blake Dover, Jenn Li and Ziyi Liu

This past weekend, indie and hip-hop artists came to Vanderbilt for yet another Rites of Spring, the annual campus music festival that has been going strong since 1986.

On Friday, married couple and Nashville natives JOHNNYSWIM kicked off the main lineup with a fun indie folk set, featuring songs like “Heart Beats” and upbeat ballads like “Home” to get the crowd warmed up for the weekend.

New York synthpop act St. Lucia was up next, bringing their cheerful hits to the stage. Backed by a mesmerizing LED screen, the band rocked out to songs like “Dancing on Glass,” “Physical,” and “”Elevate” while the crowd danced in the rain.

The Shins rounded out Friday night, playing tracks from their new album Heartworms while throwing in a few old favorites like “New Slang” and “Simple Song.”

On Saturday night, Aminé was a crowd favorite, engaging with the audience as he wandered down the center barrier. Of course, “Caroline” and “REDMERCEDES” were highlights, but Aminé surprised with a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Novacane.”

Ty Dolla $ign got the crowd fired up by addressing Vanderbilt students directly before launching into the loudest set yet, with songs like “Blase” and “Or Nah.”

Finally, pop rappers Rae Sremmurd closed the festival with the hypest concert on the bill. Not only did they perform smash hits like “Black Beatles,” “Swang,” and “Unlock the Swag” (which thoroughly unlocked everyone’s swag), they even premiered some songs from their upcoming LP SremmLife 3.

category: Arts & Culture, Music

Cunningham, Holden have bright forecasts for upcoming NFL draft

In recent years, the Commodores have had little success with getting players drafted to NFL rosters, mostly due to a lack of talent overall.

In 2015, no ‘Dores were drafted, and 2016 saw just one player — outside linebacker Stephen Weatherly — picked, and even that did not come until the seventh round. Furthermore, the school has not seen one of its alumni picked in the first round of the draft since the Chicago Bears took offensive tackle Chris Williams 14th overall in 2008. This year, however, Vanderbilt boasts two bona fide NFL prospects in linebacker Zach Cunningham and offensive tackle Will Holden, both of whom will surely be selected during the April 27-29 draft.

Cunningham projects as one of the best defensive prospects that Vanderbilt has ever produced. The ‘Dores have not had a defensive player off the board in the first round since 1984, but Cunningham has a chance to break that drought. The junior linebacker just finished off one of the most accomplished careers in Vanderbilt’s history. In his third season, he led the SEC in tackles with 125, including 16.5 tackles for a loss, en route to earning All-SEC honors as well as becoming the first unanimous All-American in the Commodores’ history. That season included several defining moments that cemented his star status, including his 19-tackle performance against Georgia and the highlight-reel field goal block against Auburn.

As such, Cunningham has drawn significant interest from NFL teams needing help in the middle of the defense. Multiple mock drafts have the linebacker pegged as a first-round pick, including The Ringer writer Danny Kelly’s (27th overall to Kansas City), writer Charley Casserly’s (24th overall to Oakland), and writer Dieter Kurtenbach’s (22nd overall to Miami). The general consensus across all of the notable platforms has Cunningham projected as a late-first- to early-second-round pick.

“It’s been fun and stressful I’d say,” Cunningham said of the draft preparation process. “A mix of both.”

Cunningham fits the ideal mold for his position in the changing NFL. Defenses in today’s league need to be fast and versatile at the linebacker and safety positions. Players such as Tyrann Mathieu, Ryan Shazier and 2017 prospect Jabrill Peppers embody this shift in focus. In Cunningham, an NFL team will find a supremely quick and versatile player who has the potential to excel as either an inside 3-4 linebacker or an outside 4-3 guy. He also has the athletic ability to be a factor in pass coverage, which is becoming absolutely essential for a successful defense in the pass-happy NFL. Furthermore, if Cunningham can improve his technique as a pass-rusher, his natural burst off the line gives him the potential to become a truly complete player at the next level.

As for potential landing spots for Cunningham on draft day, a few notable ones come to mind. The first is the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 27 overall, as projected by The Ringer. Longtime star linebacker Derrick Johnson is 34 years old and coming off a late-season Achilles tear. Even if the potential future Hall of Famer can return to form for another season, the Chiefs need to start grooming someone else to take the reins of the defense. Cunningham possesses a similar frame and playing style to Johnson, and has already drawn comparisons to the 12-year pro from sites such as

Another potential spot for Cunningham is the Cincinnati Bengals at 41st overall. The Bengals are desperate for more athleticism at the linebacker position, and could definitely utilize Cunningham’s versatility to help return their defense to elite form.

Furthermore, Patriots head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick attended Cunningham’s pro day at Vanderbilt.

“I met with him [on pro day] in a film session, and just being in the same room as a guy that I watched growing up,” Cunningham said. “… It’s been a crazy experience for me.”

Given that the Patriots have since re-signed linebacker Dont’a Hightower, the position has become less of a glaring need, but New England could be a possible landing spot. The Patriots don’t have a pick until the third round as of now but have been known to make moves on draft day. If they like Cunningham enough, don’t be surprised to see them trade up.

Khari Blasingam (23) and Will Holden (74) as Vanderbilt defeated Middle Tennessee State with a final score of 47-24 at Vanderbilt Stadium, September 10, 2016.

As for Holden, the senior left tackle started 25 consecutive games at left tackle to end his career and had 34 total starts as a Commodore. He had drawn little NFL buzz until this season, but a late invitation to the Senior Bowl helped to get Holden the recognition needed to start climbing up draft boards.

“Obviously you hear chatter and things like that so … human nature it feels good, but I try to stay away from it as much as possible,” Holden said of his rapidly rising stock. now projects Holden as a third- or fourth-round selection, but given the relatively weak overall class at the tackle position, a team with a serious need for depth on the line could reach for Holden as early as the end of the third round. Should that happen, it would be the first time since 2008 that the Commodores had two players selected in the first three rounds.

Looking at the draft board, there is one destination in particular that stands out for Holden. The Seattle Seahawks have a compensatory selection at the end of the third round, No. 106 overall. The Seahawks’ troubles on the offensive line have been disastrous over the past couple of seasons, preventing the perennial contender from getting past the divisional round in each of the past two years.

According to, “The first need should be left tackle and the second need should be right tackle.” That is how desperately this team needs help on the line, and Holden could provide some much needed relief.

Regardless of how the board plays out next week, you can expect both prospects to make an NFL roster next season and possibly even have serious roles out of the gate. Some success in the NFL from Vanderbilt alumni could help head coach Derek Mason attract some more high-level talents such as Cunningham and Holden in the future.

category: Football, Sports

New residential college to be named after E. Bronson Ingram after $20 million gift

The newest college hall, currently under construction and scheduled to open during fall 2018, will be named after E. Bronson Ingram, following contributions totaling $20 million from his three children: Robin Ingram Patton, John Ingram and Orrin Ingram.

“The Ingram family’s closely held values and tradition of providing transformative philanthropy have long empowered Vanderbilt to pursue its bold aspirations,” said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos in a press release announcing the gift. “With these gifts, the family continues that inspiring legacy of leadership. We are deeply grateful to Robin, John, and Orrin for their generous support that enables the university to continue to develop living-learning communities that allow students to fully immerse themselves in campus life.

Bronson began his 28-year tenure on the Board of Trust in 1963, following his father, Hank Ingram’s death. He served as the board president from 1991 until he died in 1995. 

“Early on, Bronson was already a tireless champion for this special university,” Martha Rivers Ingram said in the press release. “He followed in his own father’s footsteps in this way, telling others of remarkable Vanderbilt stories. His passion was matched by his governance and his vision — always conceiving of how to make Vanderbilt even greater. This college reflects his special interest in the student experience and the value of community that distinguishes Vanderbilt.”

The Ingram family has a long history of supporting the university. Martha River Ingram, Bronson’s wife and the namesake of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, served as the Board of Trust’s first female chairman, and John and Orrin each served on the board as well. All three of Bronson’s children have made contributions to the university in the past as well. 

The residential college system is a key component of the university’s Academic Strategic Plan. The first step in this plan, the Ingram Commons, opened in 2008 as a living-learning community for first-year students. In 2014, Warren and Moore Colleges opened as the next step in the residential college system, this time for upperclassmen on main campus. The new E. Bronson Ingram College, to  be located on the site of former Vanderbilt and Barnard halls, will be the next stride in this initiative.

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

The barre3 workout experience and community

All around Nashville there are many new, trendy exercise studios to get a great workout, but many of these fitness classes are impersonal, outrageously expensive and only last for an hour of your day. I checked out barre3 at Paddock Place and spoke with the co-owner of the studio, Holly Coltea, and I can definitely say that barre3 is an extremely rewarding choice for not just a great workout but for fostering a sense of community and personal motivation.

Barre3 is unique in that the classes aren’t just centered on yoga, pilates or barre, but rather all three combined.  We did really unique exercises I had never encountered before that engaged muscles I never knew I had. The workout was centered on balance, finding a deep burn in the legs and core through a mixture of yoga, pilates, and barre poses, and engaging not only the body but the mind to unwind and refresh. You’ll leave the class sweaty but completely recharged after activating muscles you don’t normally use.  

Coltea explains that this effect of refreshment and clarity has been her intention since barre3 opened at Paddock Place.

“My ideal is to create an environment where Nashvillians feel very welcome and unintimidated, and they get a kick-butt workout in a way that is smart for and kind on their body,” she said. “There’s no other place in Nashville where I can go and get my heart-rate up but also achieve a really strong mind-body connection.”

She also explains that barre3 is not just a “barre studio” but rather a community that practices a healthy lifestyle. The 3 in the name “barre3” is actually the most important part of the name and the brand: the three core values of barre3 are exercise, nourishment, and connection.

“My goal is to educate our clients in a way where they leave here and all day long feel taller, make wiser food choices, and get better sleep,” she said. “This workout is the starting point for a whole lifestyle of smart choices.”

To create this lifestyle, barre3 has partnered with nutritionists to post recipes on their online magazine and has reached out into the local area to partner with philanthropies and other organizations to offer classes to the community. The sense of community in the studio itself is overwhelming: at six a.m. on a Thursday, in a full class of thirty people, most everyone knew each other, knew Coltea (who is not just the co-owner but also an instructor), and clearly had established barre3 as part of their weekly morning routine. Coltea knew each student and knew what their typical endurance level was—she always encouraged students to modify an exercise if it wasn’t feeling right for them or was too much. Even though the studio is small, the community of barre3 in Nashville is much larger.  

For Coltea, the most rewarding part of being a co-owner for barre3 has been seeing how her business and lifestyle is positively affecting not only her children but other young girls as well. “The power of a woman opening a business about wellness and seeing my children witness that has been incredible,” she said. “Every woman struggles with body image, and the earlier you can influence girls with the idea of ‘healthy body, healthy mind,’ the more set up for success they are in life. I want to imprint on my three children—and hopefully others as well—the importance of wellness.”

Barre3 is located at Paddock Place as well as The Gulch, and offers classes every day of the week. Whether you’re looking for a great new workout studio, you want to kickstart a healthy lifestyle, or you simply just want to start getting into fitness, I recommend barre3.   

Record Store Day in Nashville

As the shambliness and debauchery that is the Rites of Spring festival looms ahead, it’s easy to forget that Saturday is the 10th annual Record Store Day, the day where participating record stores sell rare, exclusive or limited edition pressings and represses of vinyl albums. If you’re new to the holiday or just want to know where to go in Nashville, here are some quick suggestions.

Where to go


One of the more well-known record stores in the area, Grimey’s has two locations, both located on 8th Avenue. They will be hosting local bands and DJ’s throughout the day such as headliners Idle Bloom, as well as several giveaways for concert tickets for bands like Mastodon and the Pixies. They will provide food from Frothy Monkey and Crankees Pizzeria, and of course the RSD exclusive releases will be available.

The Groove

Along with the RSD special releases, the Groove will be offering a 15%-off sale storewide, as well as bargain bins on CD’s, vinyl and more. A lineup of local artists that will be performing is on their website, with All Them Witches headlining. There will be plenty of beverages and food from local breweries and restaurants including Mas Tacos. For directions and more information, check their website.

Third Man Records

In addition to the RSD special releases, Jack White’s Third Man Records storefront will offer an exclusive reissue of Bob Seger’s “2+2=?”, a brand new book detailing Jack White’s Blue Series 7” singles, and an exclusive vinyl press of Jack White’s most recent single “Battle Cry”. Several Nashville-based acts will be performing throughout the day, and the storefront will offer food from Matchless Coffee Co. and Las Paletas.

Other locations to check out

Fond Objects Records


For details on Record Store Day 2017 and the full list of RSD special releases, check out the official website here.

Record Store Day in Nashville

As the shambliness and debauchery that is the Rites of Spring festival looms ahead, it’s easy to forget that Saturday is the 10th annual Record Store Day, the day where participating record stores sell rare, exclusive or limited edition pressings and represses of vinyl albums. If you’re new to the holiday or just want to know where to go in Nashville, here are some quick suggestions.

Where to go


One of the more well-known record stores in the area, Grimey’s has two locations, both located on 8th Avenue. They will be hosting local bands and DJ’s throughout the day such as headliners Idle Bloom, as well as several giveaways for concert tickets for bands like Mastodon and the Pixies. They will provide food from Frothy Monkey and Crankees Pizzeria, and of course the RSD exclusive releases will be available.

The Groove

Along with the RSD special releases, the Groove will be offering a 15%-off sale storewide, as well as bargain bins on CD’s, vinyl and more. A lineup of local artists that will be performing is on their website, with All Them Witches headlining. There will be plenty of beverages and food from local breweries and restaurants including Mas Tacos. For directions and more information, check their website.

Third Man Records

In addition to the RSD special releases, Jack White’s Third Man Records storefront will offer an exclusive reissue of Bob Seger’s “2+2=?”, a brand new book detailing Jack White’s Blue Series 7” singles, and an exclusive vinyl press of Jack White’s most recent single “Battle Cry”. Several Nashville-based acts will be performing throughout the day, and the storefront will offer food from Matchless Coffee Co. and Las Paletas.

Other locations to check out

Fond Objects Records


For details on Record Store Day 2017 and the full list of RSD special releases, check out the official website here.

Explosions in the Sky take Nashville to church

While most people spent Sunday celebrating Easter or awaiting a second Kendrick Lamar album that never came, Texas post-rock band Explosions in the Sky coincidentally spent their Easter Sunday in a church: the Ryman Auditorium.

The night began with the group Thor & Friends, led by Swans’ Thor Harris. The group consists of a rotating cast of Austin-based musicians, many of whom are percussionists like Thor. They played a concise 20 minute set of dancing xylophones and vibraphones accompanied by two violinists. Despite a short set, the audience enjoyed the group’s antics as well as their classical-esque stylings and gave the group a huge ovation.

Next was Explosions in the Sky, who walked out unassumingly and began to set up. Guitarist Munaf Rayani said a few grateful words about the chance to play in the Ryman. The band then launched into their nearly two hour set without stopping once. The setlist spanned almost their entire discography, including songs from 2016’s The Wilderness all the way back to 2003’s The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Flanked by two walls of light emanating from LED strips on the floor, the band captured the audience’s attention while the LEDs pulsed in time with the music or changed color to match the mood of the song.

Although some of the crescendos from the band’s more recent albums seemed lacking when played after their older material, the show was nevertheless captivating and grandiose. With a variety of constantly layered textures such as electronics, shakers, tambourines and an EBow, the show never grew monotonous.

The night ended with a cut from the band’s classic album The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place titled “The Only Moment We Were Alone”. Following the typical post-rock formula, the song began with a slow melodic piece but escalated to the most impressive crescendo of the night, a dynamic contrast so undeniably potent it was nearly impossible not to have chills.

Upon finishing this crescendo, the band immediately cut their sound and turned out the lights, leaving the audience in a silent, black vacuum of awe, followed by a rousing standing ovation.

To receive such fanfare in a venue as revered as the Ryman is one of the greatest feats in live music, and Explosions in the Sky more than earned it that night.

Photos by Kathy Yuan

category: Music

Explosions in the Sky take Nashville to church

While most people spent Sunday celebrating Easter or awaiting a second Kendrick Lamar album that never came, Texas post-rock band Explosions in the Sky coincidentally spent their Easter Sunday in a church: the Ryman Auditorium.

The night began with the group Thor & Friends, led by Swans’ Thor Harris. The group consists of a rotating cast of Austin-based musicians, many of whom are percussionists like Thor. They played a concise 20 minute set of dancing xylophones and vibraphones accompanied by two violinists. Despite a short set, the audience enjoyed the group’s antics as well as their classical-esque stylings and gave the group a huge ovation.

Next was Explosions in the Sky, who walked out unassumingly and began to set up. Guitarist Munaf Rayani said a few grateful words about the chance to play in the Ryman. The band then launched into their nearly two hour set without stopping once. The setlist spanned almost their entire discography, including songs from 2016’s The Wilderness all the way back to 2003’s The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Flanked by two walls of light emanating from LED strips on the floor, the band captured the audience’s attention while the LEDs pulsed in time with the music or changed color to match the mood of the song.

Although some of the crescendos from the band’s more recent albums seemed lacking when played after their older material, the show was nevertheless captivating and grandiose. With a variety of constantly layered textures such as electronics, shakers, tambourines and an EBow, the show never grew monotonous.

The night ended with a cut from the band’s classic album The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place titled “The Only Moment We Were Alone”. Following the typical post-rock formula, the song began with a slow melodic piece but escalated to the most impressive crescendo of the night, a dynamic contrast so undeniably potent it was nearly impossible not to have chills.

Upon finishing this crescendo, the band immediately cut their sound and turned out the lights, leaving the audience in a silent, black vacuum of awe, followed by a rousing standing ovation.

To receive such fanfare in a venue as revered as the Ryman is one of the greatest feats in live music, and Explosions in the Sky more than earned it that night.

Photos by Kathy Yuan

category: Music

FutureVU EXPO shows university plans to increase green spaces, sustainability long term

On the first floor of the Wond’ry, visitors caught a glimpse of Vanderbilt’s past, viewing the original Kirkland Hall in virtual reality or historic images on large display boards. The second floor showed a plan for Vanderbilt’s future, with table sized, 3D models of campus and of the new Vanderbilt Barnard College Halls. On the third floor, sustainable transportation and parking initiatives round out the extensive display. This was the FutureVU EXPO, an unveiling of the university’s 30 year plan for the future of campus.

The event was meant to show the ideas for the future of Vanderbilt campus that have been developed over the past two years. According to Leigh Shoup, Chief of Staff to the Vice Chancellor for Administration, over 940 people have been involved in the process of designing the long term plan, from faculty advisory boards to student focus groups.

“A lot of what FutureVU is about is the 30 year vision for the campus and our goal was to make this as inclusive as possible, the process,” Shoup said. “And what we’re showing today is sort of a high level first take of where we think things may go. Obviously, when something’s thirty years long it could morph and change but we’re kind of displaying our principles.”

One of the driving ideas behind the FutureVU plan is increasing the amount of green space on campus. Methods for doing this include reducing the paved parking areas around Greek Row, replacing parts of the Branscomb Quadrangle with an outdoor amphitheater and consolidating housing on Highland to open up more and larger green areas. In addition to green spaces, the expo also showcased improvements to buildings around campus, such as the Eskind Biomedical Library and the Divinity School, and exhibited partnerships with rideshare companies and transportation networks as a means of developing sustainable transportation initiatives. 

The ideas shown at the expo are future plans, and based on Vanderbilt community feedback and research, the university will move forward with deciding a timeline for implementation.

“Going on from here, everything’s going to be prioritized and there’s going to be a whole process that goes into that so I can’t say necessarily what’s going to be next,” Shoup said.

Overall, Shoup said the sentiments expressed at the expo were generally good and a lot of people were very excited about what they saw. The only downside she heard expressed was that many attendees wished the changes could be made sooner so they would be able to see them.

“It’s kind of a long term vision, it’s very high level but people seem to be excited about this idea of beautifying areas that don’t feel as green or sustainable, this idea of making things more inclusive,” Shoup said.

category: Campus

Three up, three down: Vanderbilt drops two of three to Florida

Vanderbilt (22-15, 7-8) hosted the 10th-ranked Florida Gators (24-12, 8-7) this weekend in what proved to be an exciting weekend series right in the heart of SEC play. The Vanderbilt bullpen struggled on Thursday night, but Kyle Wright bounced back Friday, not needing them at all in a complete-game shutout. The Gators dominated Vandy’s pitching on Saturday, however, to take the rubber game of the series and jump ahead of the Commodores in conference play.

Three up:

Kyle Wright looks dominant in three-hit shutout

Maybe moving from the No. 1 starter to the No. 2 was all the motivation Wright needed. He was flawless on Friday night, hurling all nine innings for the Commodores, allowing just three hits and striking out a career-high 13 batters in a win. Wright had been struggling earlier in the year, sporting an ERA that sat at a whopping 5.59 at one point. But he has really settled down as of late, and this is his second start in a row with no earned runs allowed. In front of 37 scouts from Major League teams, Wright proved why he remains a projected top-10 pick in this upcoming draft, showing excellent command of all four pitches in his arsenal and constantly keeping the Florida hitters off-balanced.

Will Toffey continues to rake

After a lackluster performance last season, Toffey has been red-hot nearly all season long for the Commodores. That didn’t change this past weekend, as Toffey wasted no time blasting a shot off the top of the left-field wall to open Thursday night’s game. He would finish with five total hits in the series, and if not for a couple great defensive plays by the Gators, that number easily could have been seven. Even when Toffey hasn’t gotten hits, he finds a way to get on base. The junior third baseman is hitting .318 on the year but has gotten on base at a .467 clip, ranking first on the team.

Small ball

It’s no secret that head coach Tim Corbin loves to mix it up a bit to manufacture runs. How many other coaches have their top-five prospect square to bunt in his first two at-bats?

The small ball was on full display on Thursday night, as the Commodores scored their first two runs of the game off bunts from Alonzo Jones and Connor Kaiser. They followed it up in the fourth inning when Jones reached on an error and groundouts from Kaiser and Ro Coleman scored the runs. Friday was much of the same, with Kaiser dropping down a suicide squeeze with two strikes to score what would prove to be the deciding run. Nearly every starter squared to bunt at some point against the Gators, with most of them getting them down. The hitting has been strong, but if it begins to struggle, Corbin has a lethal weapon in his back pocket.

Three Down:

Fellows struggles again

SEC hitters just refuse to be kind to Drake Fellows. Saturday marked the second straight start in which the true freshman failed to get through three innings of action, after getting roughed up for two home runs in the top of the first. In front of a sold out crowd at Hawkins Field and thousands more watching on ESPN2, the nerves seemed to get to Fellows early.

He found himself leaving a large number of his pitches in the dirt and left a couple more right over the heart of the plate. Corbin might decide to move Fellows to the mid-week role starting next week, as his ERA has skyrocketed from 1.00 to 3.67 since the start of conference play.

What’s going on with the bullpen?

Now more than halfway through the year, the Commodores don’t have a reliable formula out of the bullpen. Just a week after tossing seven scoreless innings of relief, Matt Ruppenthal walked the first two batters he faced in Thursday’s game. Reed Hayes came in to close the ninth and was tagged for five runs to blow the save opportunity.

Saturday was no better. Vanderbilt trotted out six pitchers after Fellows exited the game in the top of the third inning. Those pitchers gave up 15 runs in the next seven innings, highlighted by an eight-run third inning in which Collin Snider allowed five runs without even recording an out. His ERA jumped a full two points in the process. In fact, the game that Vanderbilt won this weekend proved to be the only one in which it didn’t use the bullpen at all.

History not on the Commodores’ side

If you want to find the last time Vanderbilt gave up 20 runs in a game, go all the way back to 2002 in a loss to South Carolina. The coach then: Roy Mewbourne.

That’s right, it’s the most runs that this team has ever surrendered in a game under Corbin. The Commodores are also four losses away from equaling last year’s loss loss total, yet they’re 21 games away from the win total. If Vanderbilt takes anything away from this series, it’s that it can compete with any team in the country on any given night, but with this level of inconsistency, it’s going to need to right the ship fast.

category: Baseball, Sports

ROHLFING: How Vanderbilt gets away with paying some RAs $4.16 an hour

While Vanderbilt has made immense progress in its efforts to combat institutional inequality at our school, there are still many aspects of campus life that must be improved. The payment system for resident advisors (RAs) on campus disadvantages students from lower income brackets. When resident advisors apply for employment through the Office of Residential Education, they are told that their salary will cover housing, plus an additional stipend of around $2000. However, if a student with an aid package that crosses the threshold for housing to be covered works as an RA, their financial aid decreases by about $8000. Instead, they pay for their housing and receive the same stipend of $2000, essentially negating the money saved through Opportunity Vanderbilt.

One of Vanderbilt’s biggest selling points is its comprehensive financial aid system that meets 100 percent of demonstrated need. Unfortunately, its structure disproportionately disadvantages students on need-based financial aid when they choose to work for the Office of Housing. Extensive interviews I performed with resident advisors on campus drew attention to several imperfections within the resident advisor system that must be addressed by administration in order to reform Vanderbilt as an institution and provide equality of opportunity to all of its students and prospective students. Vanderbilt must not neglect socioeconomic status and income as a point of difference to mend.

The issue of the utmost importance is that of the resident advisor payment system. When a resident advisor’s salary replaces need-based housing aid, approximately $8000 in aid disappears. Compared to other opportunities for student employment on campus, resident advisors on need-based financial aid are essentially only making $2000 a year compared to their previous financial situations. Resident advisors are expected to work approximately 15 hours a week, and student employment rules cap working hours at 20. Thus, if a resident advisor were to pursue an additional campus job, they would only be able to earn five extra hours of pay a week. The $2000 stipend is spread out over eight months, with the Housing Office paying RAs $250 a month for 15 hours a week, and assuming a month is four weeks, resident advisors work 60 hours a month. $250 divided by 60 hours is a measly $4.16 an hour.

Furthermore, all resident advisors get paid the same, meaning that those who work on the Commons, where much responsibility and weight is placed on RAs for transitioning and programming for first-year students, will not only receive the same salary for more work, but also even less if they are on financial aid because of the money that disappears. Commons RAs have to stay on campus until commencement, which is a week after the last final exam ends. The Commons community could make a demanding job like being a resident advisor worth it, but even so, $4.16 an hour cannot sustain someone on the 8 meal plan, let alone allow them to do the typical Nashville things that Vanderbilt students do. Students of lower socioeconomic statuses already feel excluded from Vanderbilt’s culture even with Opportunity Vanderbilt, due to the overwhelming presence of campus Greek Life or social pressures to spend money downtown on bars and restaurants in addition to the money spent on Übers and Lyfts to get there. One Commons RA noted that had he wanted to join Greek life or a club sport, the job would have prevented him from doing so, not only financially, but also because of the time and emotional drainage accompanied with being an RA. Being a student here is hard enough if you don’t have all that money. Also, the money taken away from financial aid packages closes off different avenues on campus for RAs, even though RAs are supposed to open up those paths for their residents.

While resident advisors are supposed to work 15 hours a week, an interviewee said that most RAs, particularly on Commons, work much more than that, which creates further stress and financial inequality because of the extra hours put in for no extra compensation. Even though it shouldn’t be about the money, the RA job carries with it a disproportionate amount of responsibility for those on financial aid.

The Office of Residential Education said nothing about the loss in financial aid until after one Commons RA took the job. This lack of transparency in the hiring process triggered shock and stress for him–if he had known he would only be paid $2000, he would have seriously debated not taking the job. He had to vastly change his plans for the next three years, due to Res Ed’s failure to disclose to RAs on financial aid that they would receive $8000 less in their packages. If you are on financial aid, you might know that these packages aren’t sectioned off for housing or meals or other fees–you simply receive a lump sum and have to scour some way to pay for the rest. Students who are not on financial aid have to pay for whatever the total is anyway, but they get $8000 more help to do so; meanwhile, one of the interviewed RAs on financial aid uses every cent of the $2000 stipend to pay for Vanderbilt’s tuition. This disparity manifests itself in other students’ attitudes towards RAs on financial aid–in one instance, one RA was told to stop complaining and be grateful that he got to receive aid; this comment, combined with the other social pressures to be wealthy at Vanderbilt, made him feel undeserving of being at Vanderbilt.

A broader complaint made by some RAs was that there seemed to be a disconnect in communication between themselves and the Office of Residential Education. Furthermore, Res Ed often deflects complaints to the financial aid office, denying their power on campus. In bureaucratic systems, it often takes extensive time and effort to change traditional procedures, and The Office of Housing is no exception. In interviews, RAs voiced complaints on a number of issues.

A common complaint was the procedure that requires RAs to come to campus two weeks early and stay through Commencement. On Commons, RAs live alone for over a week without a meal plan to help Main Campus RAs in the move-out process. Similarly, Main Campus RAs have to come early to help with Commons Move-In. Both sides complain that they are not actually needed in these respective positions, and they’ve found that they are often just obstacles to the process.

Two RAs expressed concerns over summer employment opportunities offered through the Office of Housing. If RAs choose to stay and work over the summer, they receive free housing. Some RAs felt that they had been misled in the process because their employers assured them that they would have access to this summer housing opportunity. This year, however, so many people applied that many current RAs did not receive summer employment. They learned about this too late to change their summer plans, and they were stuck having to pay for housing in Nashville for the summer. Such a lack of communication greatly disadvantages RAs who cannot afford to live in Nashville for three months without some form of financial assistance.

RAs cite a number of complaints, but when asked if they would approach the administration about the matter, they say that it is not worth it. The bureaucracy is slow and not responsive to such criticisms. RAs would rather complain in a GroupMe than enter the emotionally strenuous process of reforming a broken system. This makes sense, given the fact that these individuals are overworked and underpaid, and they cannot add fundamental structural change to their to-do lists. When asked why he didn’t just quit if the system was so difficult to work with, one RA cited the sense of community he feels within his job as a reason that made everything worth it. He stays on because he feels that he is a leader in his residence hall, and he stays for his friends who are working with him in these strenuous circumstances. He feels, however, that the administration takes him for granted. He believes that reform must come from the Office of Housing itself, as it lacks institutional memory and communication between departments appears to be poor. Residence halls are broken into blocks, and one area coordinator is in charge of each block. RAs meet with these coordinator on a bi-weekly basis, but they have little contact with administrators higher up in the Office of Housing.

The Office of Residential Education is good at saying that they support their resident advisors, but they are not good at actually doing it. Their claims that RAs will have housing taken care of is simply incorrect, considering that RAs whose aid packages cross the threshold will be paid $8000 less. The sections on aid packages are not designated anyway, so those RAs just get a lump sum that is significantly less than a normal need-based calculation. Res Ed should not let students assume they are getting paid $10,000–this number can encourage some people to apply to the job, but the realities behind Res Ed’s lack of accountability will indeed deter qualified people from wanting it due to the increasing socioeconomic diversity on campus. If Vanderbilt wants to claim increasing diversity and inclusion, it should start with prioritizing their resident advisor staff in the same way they encourage RAs to treat their job as a priority.

Antonia Rohlfing is a sophomore in the Blair School of Music. She can be reached at

category: Opinion

Hustler Reviews: Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.”

On Good Friday, Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar released his fourth major studio album, DAMN. Kendrick is best known for good kid, m.A.A.d city from 2012 and To Pimp a Butterfly from 2015, albums that redefined what a rap concept album can be. Many critics rank these records as among not only the greatest hip-hop projects of all time, but also among the most important records ever made across all genres. Where could Kendrick possibly go from there?

Is it wickedness? / Is it weakness? These questions herald the beginning of “BLOOD.”, establishing themes of duality that will prevail across the thirteen tracks to follow. This short track features Kendrick telling a story of trying to help a blind woman on the street, only to be shot dead by her. For the rest of the album, Kendrick frantically reflects on virtues of his life as he is violently pulled by both wickedness and weakness.

“DNA.” is the first standard song on the album, and it is the definition of a banger. Here, Kendrick’s wickedness shines through as he spits some of the most braggadocious lyrics he has ever written. By the second verse, producer Mike WiLL Made-It switches the beat to one of the hardest hip-hop instrumentals in years, and Kendrick’s lyricism grows more and more rapidfire as he proudly proclaims his intrinsic greatness defined by his heritage.

“YAH.” follows, bringing Kendrick to his “weakness” side as raps about temptation as a star. In this track, backed by a grimy laid-back beat made by DJ Dahi, Kendrick first introduces the religious themes of DAMN. with references to the Book of Deuteronomy, comparing himself to the exiled Israelites in the Bible. It’s a bit short, but the beat alone makes it well worth a listen.

The wickedness then returns with “ELEMENT.”, an anthem of pride as Kendrick raps about overcoming the extreme adversity he faced growing up dirt poor in Compton, and how despite all that, he is still greatest. Next, the weakness overcomes him on “FEEL.”, a track that will please fans of To Pimp a Butterfly with its jazz-inspired instrumental. Here, Kendrick is paranoid and alone, desperate to know if people are still looking after him, making for one of the more intimate tracks in his discography.

Rihanna appears in the next track, “LOYALTY.” This song finds Kendrick venturing into a more mainstream pop-rap sound, but he does so without sacrificing his sound or the depth to his lyrics. It’s a gorgeous song, and Rihanna fits surprisingly well alongside Kendrick as he sings (yes, sings) about how much he values loyalty in the people around him.

“PRIDE.” is perhaps the most beautiful song on the record. The production is flawless; there are guitars that sound straight off of Frank Ocean’s Blonde, and Anna Wise, a regular collaborator, contributes her splendid voice for the chorus. It’s also a dark song, with Kendrick introspectively exploring the perils of pride. The album’s lead single, “HUMBLE.”, is another track that finds Kendrick out for blood. His wickedness is at its height, telling every rapper out there to sit down and be humbled by his lyricism. It’s worth noting that Kendrick is unapologetically boastful on “HUMBLE.” yet vulnerable on “PRIDE.”, again emphasizing duality and poetic contradictions.

The wickedness continues on “LUST.”, an Outkast-like song produced by BADBADNOTGOOD in which Lamar dissects monotony in the life of his stardom. Paired with this song is “LOVE.”, one of the sweeter and poppier songs Kendrick has done.

“XXX.” features U2. On paper, in 2017, this should never work, but miraculously it’s fantastic. Bono lends his vocals to this track about Kendrick receiving a call about the death of a friend’s son. The U2 feature makes perfect sense; three decades ago, they too explored spiritual dislocation in America, just as Kendrick has been doing, so it’s a match made in heaven.

“FEAR.” is by far the crown jewel of DAMN. It is in this song that all the pieces fit together. With an amazingly smooth beat by the Alchemist, Kendrick discusses fear first as a seven-year-old growing up in a house rife with domestic violence, then as a seventeen-year-old thrown into the gang life of Compton, then as a twenty-seven-year-old rapper afraid of losing his identity and his legacy. With the final verse, the concept of DAMN. finally clicks:

I’m talkin’ fear, fear of losin’ creativity / I’m talkin’ fear, fear of missin’ out on you and me / I’m talkin’ fear, fear of losin’ loyalty from pride / ‘Cause my DNA won’t let me involve in the light of God / I’m talkin’ fear, fear that my humbleness is gone / I’m talkin’ fear, fear that love ain’t livin’ here no more

I’m talkin’ fear, fear that it’s wickedness or weakness / Fear, whatever it is, both is distinctive / Fear, what happens on Earth stays on Earth / And I can’t take these feelings with me / So hopefully they disperse / Within fourteen tracks, carried out over wax / Searchin’ for resolutions until somebody get back.

Finishing up DAMN. is “GOD.”, a cloudier song in which Kendrick imagines what God feels like. “DUCKWORTH.” ends the album, telling the fascinating story of Kendrick’s father. Mr. Duckworth worked at a KFC, befriending a local gangster with free chicken and biscuits. When this gangster decided to commit armed robbery at this KFC, he spared Kendrick’s father. The criminal wound up being the founder of Kendrick’s record label. If not for those free biscuits, perhaps Kendrick’s dad would be dead and Top Dawg Entertainment would have never been founded.

Admittedly, DAMN. as a whole feels subpar upon the first listen. After all, how could anything live up to Kendrick’s catalog so far? But with repeated listening, everything fits together more. It is an amazingly constructed record ready for the mainstream, yet put together with architectural precision with its themes consistently woven through each track. DAMN. beckons the listener to question it and theorize. Is the cover Kendrick being shot by the blind woman? Is there significance for releasing it on Good Friday? After really examining “FEAR.”, I think it’s one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever written, and I do not say that lightly. The combination of production and lyricism is unparalleled nowadays.

Somehow, Kendrick Lamar managed to live up to To Pimp a Butterfly. It seemed impossible, but it is further proof that his artistic prowess absolutely demands attention and respect as one of the greatest artists in the entertainment industry ever. DAMN. is a brutally honest manifesto that keeps Kendrick’s streak of amazing albums going.

Key Tracks: All of ‘em

category: Arts & Culture, Music

Commodores top off intense regular season with SEC title

As No. 5 Vanderbilt battled No. 1 Florida on Sunday for the SEC regular-season title, a memorable scene unfolded at the Currey Tennis Center.

Commodore fans of all shapes and sizes packed the stands. On an 80-degree day, some sat in the court-side bleachers, using umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun beating down on their backs. One attendee’s Jack Russell Terrier lapped at the tip of a water bottle as the action played out.

Vanderbilt senior Sydney Campbell was unfazed. Shortly before reaching match point, she had thrown away her chance to serve for a team victory by stringing together multiple errors. But Campbell manipulated Florida’s Josie Kuhlman over a multi-shot rally before forcing a short return off to her right side.

Even with her mistakes in the past game, everyone knew then the back-and-forth match was over.

And so it was. Campbell charged toward the net and laced a forehand winner down the line, as her teammates exploded with excitement and greeted her on the court. The pressure was released, and the Commodores had earned their first regular-season league championship in Geoff Macdonald’s 23 years as head coach.

“Imagine that pressure she was just under and to handle it like that,” Macdonald said of Campbell. “I liken it to having to kick a field goal to win the Super Bowl into the wind from 45 yards — for about half an hour. The pressure’s amazing. You have to be really resilient and regroup if things don’t go your way, and she did.”

Campbell’s 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory put a bow on a historic regular season for the ‘Dores. After dropping four non-conference matches, all to teams ranked inside the top 15 nationally, Vanderbilt ripped through the SEC to finish 12-1. A 4-2 win at current top-five team Georgia signaled the Commoores’ toughness early in conference play, and they now ride an eight-game win streak into this coming week’s SEC tournament at the Currey Center.

After playing one of the hardest schedules in the country, Macdonald’s team had been well prepared for matches like Sunday’s. Twenty-one of the Commodores’ 22 matches have been against major-conference competition, and yet they sport a 17-5 overall record.

“We sort of believe in playing such hard competition that you learn this level and you just come to accept this is gonna be hard,” Macdonald said. “There are going to be bumps, and this is how you respond. I give them a ton of credit. It’s a hard level, and they’ve risen to it.”

This particular match fit exactly what Macdonald described. Florida entered the week with a sizable lead over No. 2 Georgia in the ITA rankings, and none of the individual matchups were walkovers. Without Campbell’s win, Vanderbilt would have needed unranked freshman Emma Kurtz to mount a comeback against 37th-ranked singles player Anna Danilina.

By the time Campbell clinched the match, Kurtz trailed 3-6, 6-6. Florida probably would have won if not for the senior’s clutch first-set tiebreak win.

“Kuhlman’s a really tough out,” Macdonald said. “That’s a great Florida team. They were really classy in a tough loss. But for Sydney to win on Senior Day at home, it’s really amazing.”

Led by Campbell and junior Astra Sharma — who defeated Belinda Woolcock 6-2, 6-4 Sunday in a showdown between elite singles players — Vanderbilt has a chance to double its glory next week at the conference tournament. By earning the No. 1 seed, the ‘Dores will avoid facing Florida or Georgia until the final round.

While the conference’s strength means most opponents will provide stiff competition, holding the top seed still represents a significant advantage. That made Sunday’s win even more important as the team looks ahead to Friday’s 3 p.m. CT quarterfinal match.

“We often think of the SEC and conference tournament as as intense and difficult as the NCAA tournament,” Macdonald said. “There’s no difference. You’re playing the best teams in the country. To take both would be amazing, but right now we’re just going to enjoy this.”

category: Featured, Sports

Student-run clinic provides free healthcare to Nashville residents

Since 2004, Vanderbilt medical students who volunteer at the Shade Tree Clinic have worked to provide free medical care to patients in Middle Tennessee. The clinic is one of the largest student-run free clinics in the country.

Shade Tree provides two clinics every week that are open for anyone in the Nashville community to receive free medical care from medical students. Daniel Hong is a student in his second year at Vanderbilt Medical School who is involved with the clinic and its fundraising efforts.

With the clinic being purely run by medical students, volunteers are responsible for checking patients in, gathering information, filling out prescriptions, handling clinic finances and acting as clinic directors.

“There are typically two med students with a patient, a preclinical and a clinical one,” Hong said. “From the moment you step into the clinic, there’s a med student behind the counter who takes your information and another who takes your vitals and gets a history from you.”

Hong explained that preclinical and clinical students are at different stages of their education, with a preclinical student still in the lecture stage of medical school and a clinical student having more experience working in a hospital.

“It’s really great because you have some student-to-student teaching and an older med student learns how to conduct interviews and gather information, which is probably the most important thing that we learn in the first few years,” he said.

I think that it’s a bit more of a rich and immersive experience than traditional shadowing

The clinic is overseen by an attending physician, to whom all the medical students working in the clinic on a given day report to. The clinic, on Dickerson Pike, is able to provide lab tests and some medications to its patients and is able to utilize the Vanderbilt medical center’s resources.

Hong said that the clinic also runs with the help of some undergraduate students.

“We have a lot of undergrads who volunteer,” Hong said. “The most popular one is probably acting as a translator. A large portion of our patients are Spanish-speaking only, and we have undergrads who volunteer and act as translators and they can really help speed the clinic along.”

Undergraduate students also volunteer at the clinic’s front desk, assisting the clinic coordinator with scheduling and making charts. In addition, undergraduate students have the opportunity to shadow the medical students in the clinic.

“I think that it’s a bit more of a rich and immersive experience than traditional shadowing, just because it is student-run and med students are a lot more likely to let undergrads get involved and maybe ask a few questions, or explain why they asked a question or what they’re doing,” Hong said.

Hong said his first experience treating a patient in the clinic was memorable for him because of the opportunity to not only observe, but also learn about providing medical care.

“When I shadowed doctors before, there was a big disconnect for me as the non-medical person trying to understand what they were thinking,” he said. “It was so different for me being in a med student run clinic, though. I could relate to their questions and how they were thinking. I was able to better learn how to more efficiently use time and how to ask appropriate questions in a manner that makes the patient more comfortable .”

We’re able to not only provide care, but we provide continuity of care

The clinic’s impact on the community is evident in its growing numbers and the investment of time and money that keeps it running, according to Hong.

“Everyone we see is uninsured, so a lot of them are just swept under the system and wouldn’t get healthcare otherwise,” Hong said.  “They vastly appreciate it and it’s great because we have a lot of patients who come back consistently. We’re able to not only provide care, but we provide continuity of care, too, by being open for so long.”

The clinic has two main fundraisers: the Shade Tree Benefit Dinner and the Shade Tree Trot, an annual 5k that is taking place on Saturday, April 21, 2017.

“It’s a really fun community event that underlies the  community goals of care that Shade Tree is all about, and it’s for a good cause,” Hong said. “We love having people involved and participating, and there’s a lot of opportunities to be involved as an undergrad, whether it’s coming to the clinic or being there on race day.”

category: Campus

Campus land use plan to eliminate parking, introduce greenways

A campus-wide plan to introduce “greenways” to campus will eliminate more than 600 parking spaces near Towers and Greek Row. Parking spaces to replace them will not be added elsewhere, according to Vice Chancellor for Administration, Eric Kopstain.  

The College Halls at Vanderbilt-Barnard are currently under construction, and soon after their completion, the “West End Neighborhood” — the area from West End Avenue to Vanderbilt Place which includes Towers East and West, the West Side Row houses (the Women’s Center, K.C. Potter Center and NPHC Houses) and the Greek houses — will see changes.

“I think we have ample spots for people to park in now, albeit some that are further away.” said Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor for Administration.“The residents of the West End Neighborhood enjoy an advantage in terms of parking that is unique to that neighborhood and is not enjoyed by any other set of students.”

Kopstain said there’s a need to take a futuristic view of the issue of cars and parking on campus. The university has had several transportation working groups, committees convened by the land use team to study a certain issue on campus and make recommendations. They are exploring the possibility of expanded Vandy Van schedules up to 20 hours a day or subsidizing ride sharing programs such as Uber. Additionally he said the future of self-driving cars in the next few decades could help to reduce the need for students to bring cars to campus.

Greenways, pedestrian-friendly green spaces, are planned to extend through campus to better connect different areas and make it easier to walk on campus. The new green spaces are part of the university’s plan to make the campus more park-like.

“To have a green and beautiful, sustainable campus, you can’t have 25% of the campus’s land mass be parking,” Kopstain said.

Plans for the West End Neighborhood are currently in the conceptual phase, and the university is expected to begin hiring architects in the near future. Changes are unlikely to affect students until at least fall 2018.

More images and information about FutureVU and the future of land use at Vanderbilt will be available at the FutureVU Expo, which will be held on April 19 at the Wond’ry. 

category: Campus, Featured

Non-tenure track faculty moves forward with petition to unionize

In November, a group of Vanderbilt non-tenured faculty members approached Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205 looking for help in organizing a collective bargaining unit composed of full and part time non-tenured faculty members. The organizing group already had a campus presence due to a partnership with a group of graduate students also looking to unionize.  

According to Amy Cooter, a lecturer in the department of sociology and a member of the unionization effort organizational team, the push for unionization stemmed from faculty concerns about the need for cost of living increases, transparency in the hiring process and clearly defined responsibilities for different faculty positions.

“In general, people are concerned about things like having cost of living wages that match Nashville’s massively expanding cost of living, that’s something that Vanderbilt frankly has not done a very good job of,” Cooter said. “Also, making sure that non-tenure track faculty are respected and have a voice in their departments, and making sure that they have access to the resources they need to be the best teachers they can be.”

The SEIU filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in February, requesting an election to decide whether or not they would represent a collective bargaining unit on campus.

The union is trying to impose a model on an organization where it does not fit

The unionization effort has faced push back from the university, which argues that the union model does not fit at a school like Vanderbilt. According to Vice Provost John Geer, the decentralized nature of the university, in which full time faculty cycle through administrative positions, means that the employer/employee dichotomy of a union isn’t practical.

“Basically, the union is trying to impose a model on an organization where it does not fit,” Geer said. “And that’s the core problem, that’s the core university objection. The university has no problem if our adjunct and part time non-tenure track want to have a union, that is their right, and we would support an election, we wouldn’t oppose it, you make that call. It’s the full time is the problem.”

At the center of the university’s argument is the difference in responsibilities between full and part time non-tenure track faculty. Regardless of tenure or non-tenure track, full time faculty have the opportunity to take on administrative positions and play roles in the running of the university. Geer emphasized that the university is not anti-union and has worked with Laborers Local 383, the union that supports dining, craft and maintenance employees, since 1972. The difference, he said, is that that union has a very clear employer and employee dynamic, while that dynamic doesn’t exist for full time faculty.

Vanderbilt has 46 different faculty titles. Because the university allows individual colleges to determine the titles and roles for faculty in their department, a title in one school might mean a very different thing in another school. While Geer sees this as a positive way in which the university promotes autonomy, Cooter said that the lack of clearly defined job titles and responsibilities leads to confusion and a lack of transparency.

“Right now, there aren’t very clear expectations for people with the same job title across different department lines,” Cooter said. “Part of having a union would make it where we have to be transparent, and we have to make sure everyone is treated fairly.”

Having a union would make it where we have to be transparent

After the petition was filed in February, the university and members of the union effort met to discuss their relationship and options moving forward. On March 29, they reached a compromise and set a date for an election on April 10th.  Prior to the election, however, the university withdrew its agreement to hold the election, and the decision of whether or not the SEIU will represent a union of non-tenure track faculty members will be made by the NLRB.

The initial petition for collective bargaining included faculty from the College of Arts and Science, the Blair School, the Divinity School and Peabody College. However, the March 29 agreement stipulated that only full and part time lecturers and adjunct faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Divinity School would be allowed to vote in an election to determine whether or not those faculty members wanted to form a union. According to Geer, the compromise meant the university was giving up their values for the sake of keeping Peabody College and Blair School of Music from being included in the unionization effort.

Following the agreement, faculty from Peabody and Blair petitioned to form their own union. While they were within their rights to do this, the administration saw it as a breach of bargaining in good faith.

“We had an agreement actually, a compromise with the union, and the union broke it. They broke it thirty minutes after signing it,” Geer said. “We had a compromise, they got something, we got something, it was sacrificing our principles but we thought okay we’re compromise here because we can all move forward together.”

I really believe that it will be good for the university, for our students, for our co-workers

As a result of administration pulling their support for the election, the petition will go back to the NLRB for review. A decision is expected to be reached in May. ML Sandoz, Director of Forensics and senior lecturer, said a union would improve relationships within the university.

“I really believe that it will be good for the university, for our students, for our co-workers,” Sandoz said. “I think that there are other institutions, some of them peer institutions, that have very good working relationships with this type of model. It can bring transparency and avenue to listen to one another, engage in dialogue in an effort to make the university a better place for students and a better place of employment for employees.”

The SEIU has assisted other universities in forming non-tenure track faculty unions in recent years as part of their nationwide Faculty Forward campaign. In 2016, Duke, The University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis and others successfully petitioned for unions. WashU has ratified their union contracts and both Duke and UChicago are still in the negotiation process.

Because of the successful formation of unions at other universities, Cooter is optimistic that the NLRB will rule in favor of moving forward with the union process.

“Frankly at this point I don’t think that [not forming a union] is likely,” Cooter said. “If it weren’t to work out, I think that there would be some paths forward but they would be less efficient quite frankly. Part of the reason we’re doing this is because administration has had a while to learn about this, to collect data, to address problems that individuals and individual departments have brought up, and nothing has happened. What collective bargaining in general does is make administration take us seriously and treat us as equals. So that’s why that has become the goal and I personally think we have more than enough support to make that happen.”

category: Campus

Florida dominates Vandy 20-8, takes series

After a gem from Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright on Friday night, fans packed the stands to see what was sure to be a thrilling rubber game in this weekend series. Instead, a sold out crowd at Hawkins field witnessed a hitting clinic from the Florida Gators that put this game out of reach early.

Saturday also marked the honoring of former Vanderbilt pitcher Donny Everett, who died tragically last season, and would have turned 20 on Sunday. The Commodores retired Everett’s number 41, and his parents threw out the first pitch.  Susan and Teddy Everett have spent ample time with the team this season, and they sat in the dugout with the team for the series finale against Florida.

“They’re remarkable people when you look at them,” head coach Tim Corbin said of Everett’s parents.  “It makes the loss of Donny in a lot of ways really hurt because he was a replica of them.  They’re such easygoing people.  That’s the blessing we get.”

Florida’s bats had been silenced by Wright, but they came to life Saturday to the tune of 20 runs on 20 hits, featuring an eight-run third inning to take a commanding lead. From there, they never looked back. It was the most runs that Vanderbilt (22-15, 7-8 SEC) has surrendered under head coach Tim Corbin and tied for the most given up since 2002, when South Carolina plated 20 in a win.

Drake Fellows struggled out of the gate, surrendering two home runs in the first inning before Vanderbilt even got a chance to swing the bats. It was the second straight start in which Fellows failed to get through three innings, despite a stellar run by the freshman to begin the season.

“You’ve got to take the good with the good and the bad with the bad,” said Jason Delay, who had to block a lot of pitches in the dirt out of the hand of Fellows.  “Just get back out there and try to get their confidence back.  At the end of the day we just have to go out and compete.”

Florida’s starting pitching wasn’t much better, but sophomore right-hander Jackson Kowar had a big lead from the moment he stepped on the mound. He went five innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits, striking out six in the process. It was by no means a great outing for Kowar, but his offense provided enough firepower to keep him undefeated on the year at 6-0.

The Gators started off the game with a bang, as Dalton Guthrie blasted a homerun to left-center field to give Florida the lead with one out in the first. After an error by Will Toffey and a hit-by-pitch, Nelson Maldonado turned around a fastball from Fellows, blasting it over the top of the left-field wall to put the Gators up 4-0.

After a 1-2-3 inning in the second, things really started to unravel for the Commodores in the third. Fellows walked Austin Langworthy to lead off the inning, and an RBI single from Ryan Larsen, who picked up his seventh hit of the series. That was all Corbin needed to see.

Fellows was replaced by Collin Snider, who proceeded to give up five runs without recording an out, bumping his ERA up to 5.64 on the year. Snider walked Maldonado and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch to put runners on second and third for JJ Schwarz.  Schwarz delivered, blasting a two-run single right back up the middle, breaking his (aluminum) bat in the process. The Gators added four straight hits following Schwarz’s single, and Maldonado provided another base hit with two outs to push the lead to 12-0.  The Gators sent 13 men to the plate in the inning, batting around before even getting a single out.

Vanderbilt did its best to respond in bottom the third, putting up a five-spot. Jeren Kendall and Stephen Scott both singled to start off the inning, and Toffey and Julian Infante followed up with singles of their own, plating Kendall and Scott to put the Commodores on the board. A two-run double from Jason Delay inched them a little bit closer, and JJ Bleday quickly replaced him with a double to deep right field.

The two teams traded runs in the fifth, when Paxton Stover gave up an RBI double to Longworthy. A leadoff double from Ethan Paul and an RBI single from Delay got the run back for Vanderbilt.

Florida continued to keep its foot on the peddle in the sixth, when a single from Keenan Bell put a runner on with one out. Mark Kolozsvary drove in Bell with his second double of the game. Deacon Liput followed suit, ripping an RBI triple down the first base line, his third hit of the ballgame.

Vandy pushed one across in the sixth on Paul’s third hit of the game, but despite their persistence with the bats, the Commodores still trailed by eight heading into the final innings.

Schwarz proved why he remains a first-round prospect in this upcoming MLB draft by blasting a solo home run to dead center off Penn Murfee in the top of the seventh. The Gators tacked on another run in the inning on a single from Kolozsvary.

Guthrie added his second homer of the game in the eighth off freshman pitcher Jackson Gillis, and Schwarz drove in another on a groundout.

Infante’s eighth-inning single scored a run for Vanderbilt. The Commodores had eight runs on 17 hits in the loss.

The Commodores will look to bounce back on Tuesday when they take on Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro.

category: Baseball, Sports

Hustler roundtable: NBA Playoffs edition

On Saturday, one of sport’s most popular and culturally relevant two-month marathons begins: the NBA Playoffs. A number of record-breaking individual performers will attempt to translate their success to long series against teams that have days, even weeks, to game plan, as 14 teams will try to knock off the two clear favorites in each conference. As Grammy award-winning artist Pitbull would say, the Hustler sports staff is ready for the Playoffs (yeahhhh).

Max Schneider, sports reporter: This NBA season was all about the MVP race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook, and those two have completely distracted basketball fans around the country from the truth, and that is the fact that in a league with 30 teams, the finals has been set since July 4 when Kevin Durant agreed to sign with the Golden State Warriors. They have also distracted fans from the fact that the real Most Valuable Player every single time he steps on the floor is LeBron James.

In his 14th season, LeBron had one of his best years of his career, averaging 26-9-9 on 55 percent shooting, making him the only player in NBA history to do so. He’s also averaging a career high in rebounds and assists at age 32. Oh, and when he doesn’t play, the “stacked” Cleveland Cavaliers are 0-8.

While Westbrook and Harden battle it out in the West to see who gets to lose to the Spurs in the second round, LeBron will be cruising through the East, not because it’s necessarily weaker, but because he makes it look like it is every single year. And this one will be no different. The Cavs might be struggling heading into the playoffs, but when more than half of the teams in the league make the playoffs, the first round or two are really warmups for the real test.

Look for this season to culminate in another fantastic series between the Cavs and Warriors, and if the Cavs repeat, it will push King James over the threshold, and declare him the greatest player in the history of basketball. But for now, keep leaving him out of the MVP conversation.

Max Herz, sports reporter: Everyone knows the Warriors made the biggest splash of the 2016 offseason with the signing that would push the team with the best regular-season record in NBA history back to championship glory. The perfect complement to superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, this new acquisition missed some key games with the Warriors down the stretch due to circumstances out of his control, but he’s back for the playoffs and ready to prove that all the offseason hype was worth it.

I’m talking, of course, about former Vanderbilt Commodore, reigning NBA D-League Player of the Month, and soon-to-be NBA Finals MVP Damian Jones. DJones would never blow a 3-1 lead. Warriors over Celtics in the Finals.

Jordan Grapentine, sports reporter: #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6 #BucksIn6

Robbie Weinstein, Sports Editor: For the third straight year, we’re set for what should be a great group of second-round matchups. While last year featured a pair of all-time series in the final two rounds, the Miami-Toronto and Oklahoma City-San Antonio slugfests also produced great drama early on. Toronto-Cleveland (assuming #BucksIn6 doesn’t end up being a thing) will pit the clear two best teams in the East, while a Houston-San Antonio series could produce NBA Finals-level basketball just a couple of weeks into the postseason.

If you’re a basketball fan who doesn’t watch the NBA regular season, that’s understandable. But if you aren’t watching the NBA playoffs from the second round on, you’re missing (by far) the best basketball in the world.

Cutler Klein, Assistant Sports Editor: Go Knicks *sobs uncontrollably*

Elias Ukule, sports reporter: There are multiple story lines in both conferences heading into the playoffs. The East has a Celtics team that has risen to relevance after years on the fringes since their Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce era going up against a dysfunctional Bulls team that managed to pull it together just enough to squeeze into that last playoff spot. A young and athletic Bucks team led by Jason Kidd on the sidelines and the Greek Freak on the court should trouble a Raptors team that has come back to life after the acquisition of defensive toughness in Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. And in Scott Brooks’ first year as Washington head coach, the Wizards, who have mustered an incredible turnaround since their dismal start led by their star-studded backcourt, will face an Atlanta team that has managed to stay afloat despite losing four of its five starters that won 60 games two seasons ago. And oh. Almost forgot. There is this team called the Cavaliers, and they have this player named Lebron, who has been to the finals six straight times going against a team he faced regularly in the conference finals in his Miami days, the Indiana Pacers led by Paul George, though they have fallen quite a bit since then.

Now to the West. After their blockbuster acquisition of Kevin Durant to pair arguably the second best player in the world with the third to have a chance to beat a certain Mr. James, the Golden State Warriors will face a dangerous Blazers side who, led by their killer back court, rallied behind the acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic to clinch the No. 8 seed. The always-relevant-as-long-as-Popovich-breathes Spurs, led by “The Claw,” have managed to win 60 games once again and will face the grit and grind of Memphis. After wrestling for home court until the very last game of the regular season, the Clippers and the Jazz go into the playoffs with very different mindsets. For the Jazz, this is just the beginning, having a run to build on in future years after the emergence of Hayward as a star. But for the Clippers, this might represent a last chance to win with this core in tact since Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick might all be free agents come summer. And who can forget the mouth-watering matchup of the two leading MVP candidates. James Harden, now a point guard, is leading an offensive revolution, with his Houston team redefining what can be done from downtown with the license of seven-seconds-or-less Mike D’Antoni. Russell Westbrook has singlehandedly willed his team into the playoffs by rewriting the history books after averaging a triple double for the season and posting a triple double in 42 games, over half of the 82 in the regular season.

Of all these teams though, only two will matter come June. Lebron James is, well, Lebron James, and he will carry his Cavaliers team to a third straight finals appearance. No one out East is good enough to challenge them despite their defensive frailties. Even without adding Durant, the big-three in the Bay Area would be favorites to go to the finals, but with his addition, they just make the game unfair. Although San Antonio, with their reliable system and regular-season showing against the Warriors, and the Rockets, with their remodeled offense, might cause some trouble, it still won’t prevent a third straight meeting between the Dubs and the Cavs, a great rivalry in the making. In the end, the Warriors will sweep aside the Cavaliers 4-1 as the Spurs did to James’ Heat in 2014, despite his huge numbers. I just think the Cavs have shown too many weaknesses to just flip the switch against a team this good. Besides, the hunger in Cleveland to end the title drought and for Lebron to fulfill “the promise” is gone.

Torben Ginsberg, sports reporter: There are so many potential storylines and exciting matchups in these playoffs that I’m starting to lose track. Even in a year when the Finals matchup seemed predetermined from Day 1, the NBA has managed to provide us with the most entertaining and compelling regular season in recent memory. As a result, we head into the playoffs with plenty of thrilling questions that need answers. Is this the year that LeBron finally falls to a challenger from the East? Will Houston’s offensive prowess translate to postseason success? Will the new pseudo-contenders Washington and Utah make deep playoff runs? Can anyone really challenge Golden State?

Even with so much going on, however, there is really only one thing that I can’t stop thinking about: Playoff Russ. This man, Russell Westbrook, has just wrapped up one of the most individually transcendent seasons we have ever seen, making the extraordinary seem ordinary on a nightly basis. He averaged a triple double…What??? Even with all the excessive media coverage, this historic feat has still gone under-appreciated. I think he will win MVP and, with apologies to Harden and Kawhi Leonard, I think he deserves it.

But there is a better scenario than Westbrook winning MVP. The better scenario is the voters giving the award to Harden. “Why is this better?” you ask. Picture this: James Harden is being handed the MVP trophy in front of a sell-out crowd before Game 5 in Houston. The Rockets are up 3-1 in the series, and by all accounts seem ready to finish things that night at home…only suddenly they run into a fire-breathing dragon with revenge on his mind. Mark my words: if Russell Westbrook is forced to watch in person the MVP trophy being given to someone else, all hell will break loose. I don’t even know what to expect. Is a 60-20-20 line in play? 100 points in a game? 200??? I really don’t know. What I do know is that I’m excited and a little scared to find out.

[Editor’s note: NBA awards for this year will actually be announced June 26 on TNT rather than mid-Playoffs, which is the only reason the NBA should need to scrap this new plan now.]

category: Sports

Three thoughts: Wright dominates as Commodores take Game 2 over Florida

After a disappointing Thursday night loss to open its series against No. 12 Florida, Vanderbilt scratched its way to a 2-0 Game 2 win on Friday. The Commodores (22-14, 7-7 SEC) rode star pitcher Kyle Wright and scattered 11 hits in one of their cleanest performances of conference play. Here are three takeaways from the win.

Complete-game gem a major step forward for Wright

Starting pitcher Kyle Wright’s up-and-down season has been well chronicled. The junior righty entered Friday’s game with a 4.81 ERA, but against Florida he showed the talent that’s made him a consensus high first-round pick in the upcoming MLB draft.

Wright rolled through the game, baffling Florida’s hitters while using few pitches to do so in a virtuoso complete-game, shutout performance. With a career-high 13 strikeouts, no walks, only three hits allowed and a whopping 73 of his 99 pitches thrown for strikes, Wright dominated a Gator lineup that racked up 17 hits and 10 runs the night before. With Patrick Raby and Drake Fellows looking good as the Commodores’ first and third starters, respectively, Vanderbilt still has the potential to contend for the SEC East title if Wright continues to pitch like he did Friday.

“He was efficient with his pitches. He executed everything that he wanted to throw, he executed everything that [pitching coach Scott Brown] asked him to throw,” head coach Tim Corbin said. “He was just on point. That’s him. I’ve fielded a lot of questions about him; there’s nothing wrong with Kyle Wright. It’s not easy to be that targeted guy; I don’t care who you are or where you are. … That’s leadership.”

Bunting improvement results in game-winning run

Early in the year, bunting was a problem for Corbin’s squad. The Commodores struggled to consistently bunt runners over to third base, and they couldn’t always rely on a sacrifice bunt when needed. Between Thursday’s and Friday’s games, however, Vanderbilt laid down no fewer than four excellent bunts. Some of those played key roles in getting runs on the board in a pair of close games. Will Toffey bunted for a base hit in the sixth inning of Friday’s win, but the big bunt came an inning earlier. Connor Kaiser successfully executed a suicide squeeze to bring home Jason Delay, putting the ‘Dores up 1-0 against Florida’s Brady Singer, who carried an imposing 1.60 ERA into Friday’s game.

“I just think that the longer you go and the more you work on it almost every day, it becomes part of their routine, and you start doing it against velocity and personalities of pitches, it’s not easy to do,” Corbin said. “It’s just gotten better with time and concentration. … And [Kaiser] had to bunt a tough pitch, too; it was away from him.”

Big game for Delay after bad Thursday night

After accounting for two passed balls and a 1-for-4 day at the plate Thursday, Delay made up for it Friday. The senior catcher went 3-for-4 and scored both of Vanderbilt’s runs, all while working with Wright to shut down Florida’s offense. He even came home to score the Commodores’ first run of the game on Kaiser’s aforementioned squeeze. Batting .283 on the season, Delay’s had a good overall year for the ‘Dores. But continued success as a hitter could help bolster a Vanderbilt lineup that lacks elite depth. As strong a season as Singer has had, Vanderbilt got 11 hits of of him in eight innings. Delay played a big role in that.

“[Hitting coach] D.J. [Svihlik] talked to all of us before the game, going into it. We didn’t really have one plan for everyone, it was kind of an individualized thing,” Delay said. “For me, I was just trying to see the ball well, kind of back off the plate, because [Singer]’s got that sinker that he wants to run inside.”

category: Baseball, Featured, Sports

Kyle Wright shuts out Florida, as Vanderbilt evens up the series

Vanderbilt rode a dominant start from Kyle Wright in a 2-0 victory against the No. 12 Florida Gators on Friday night. The Commodores mustered two runs on 11 hits off of starting pitcher Brady Singer, who entered the game with an impressive 1.60 ERA.

Wright, who has struggled this season, looked much more like an ace that he had entered the season as and earned just his second win of the year. He struck out a career-high 13 batters in the complete game shutout, allowing just two hits during the night. It took him just 99 pitches to finish the game.

“Breaking ball command,” Wright said about what made the difference in this game. “That’s been a pitch I’ve kind of struggled with command pretty much this whole year and this week just got a minimal mechanical tweak that allowed me to get that big breaker back.”

Neither team really threatened offensively until Vanderbilt loaded the bases in the fourth inning with just one out. Will Toffey doubled to right field following a Harrison Ray infield single, putting both men in scoring position. Julian Infante then drew a walk, but Stephen Scott struck out and Reed Hayes grounded out to end the inning.

Florida got a man on third in the fifth inning after a leadoff single after two strikeouts, but Wright struck out Florida designated hitter Jonathan India to end the inning. Florida’s only other baserunners came in the first inning on a two out single and to lead off the ninth. Neither of them got past first base.

Vanderbilt would put a run on the board later in that inning. Jason Delay, who had lined a double to right field to open the inning, as part of a 3-4 day at the plate. Ethan Paul, who played in his first game since March 28 because of an injury, moved Delay to third on a single but was thrown out trying to advance to second. Then Kaiser laid down a terrific bunt to score Delay and made it safely to first on a throwing error by the catcher.

“It’s important, it’s definitely a momentum swing to score first,” Delay said about his fifth inning run. “That’s one of our team goals.”

The Commodores would pick up another run in the seventh inning via a Kendall sacrifice fly to center field. Three singles from Delay, Paul and Kaiser opened the inning, giving Kendall the opportunity to double Vanderbilt’s lead.

“In order to win that game, we almost had to match one another,” head coach Tim Corbin said. “The difference was a bunt, the difference was a sac fly.”

After Vanderbilt allowed leadoff baserunners in six straight innings yesterday, which led to their loss, Wright only faced that issue twice. This efficiency also kept the bullpen out of the game after Vanderbilt used four relief pitchers yesterday.

“I know last night we used several of our guys,” Wright said. “So that was kind of my goal, to go as deep as possible and keep the arms in the bullpen.”

Wright seems to enjoy playing against the Gators, as he also pitched a three hit shutout against them last year on May 14. He surpassed his season-high in innings pitched (7), which he put up nearly a month ago against Ole Miss and didn’t walk a batter for the second time this year.

While Wright pitched Vanderbilt to victory, Singer also through a complete game but was credited with the loss. He allowed two runs on 11 hits, while striking out eight Commodore batters. However, that would not be enough to beat Wright.

“When you’re doing well, it’s fun to play baseball,” Wright said.

Vanderbilt will face Florida again on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to determine the series.

category: Baseball, Featured, Sports

Three thoughts: Commodores start series by blowing lead to Florida

Patrick Raby took his time

To begin the game, Raby was dealing and working quickly, setting the Gators down in order in the first and working a relatively easy second. He would get the ball out of his hand about as soon as it got there on the throw from catcher Jason Delay, and the game had a great pace early on. As runners began to get on against Raby, however, his pace changed drastically. Whereas in the beginning of the game Raby could get off around three pitches per minute, the number dropped to one with runners on base. It seemed that he was being a bit too cautious about the runners on the base paths, as the slower pace also induced more balls to Gator batters. What was a lively game for the first few innings became a drawn-out, methodical affair simply based on the pace of Raby. If there were any time for a pitch clock with runners on, it would have been Thursday.

Florida leadoff runners allow it to claw back

Starting in the fourth inning, the Gators got the leadoff runner on in each remaining inning against Vanderbilt pitching, leading the Commodores to have to work hard to get through the innings. By getting the leadoff runners on, Florida put a good amount of pressure on the Commodore pitching staff and extended innings, mounting pressure on the pitchers as the innings wore on and the score crept closer. Florida kept rallies going by continually establishing an offensive presence as soon as its half of the inning began, keeping it in the game even when the score was tilted in Vanderbilt’s favor.

The leadoff runner getting on also forced the Commodores to work out of the stretch, and it was clear that the pitchers were a bit fazed by the runners on. As runners got on early, counts began running higher. The Vanderbilt pitch count soared while the Gators worked the count in their favor, wearing down the Commodore pitching staff before the Gators broke the game open in the ninth.

Vandy played small ball for its runs

As they have in prior games this year, the Commodores tacked on runs playing small ball. In the second inning, Vanderbilt capitalized on good base-running and Florida errors to score two runs on bunts from Alonzo Jones and JJ Bleday. In the fourth inning, the Commodores got more good fortune from the Florida defense. With a man on first, a sharply hit ball from Jones up the middle bounced off the glove of Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie, putting men on second and third with no outs in the inning. The Commodores pushed both runs across without recording a hit, scoring on groundouts by Connor Kaiser and Ro Coleman, respectively.

All in all, Florida starter Alex Faedo gave up one earned run, but Vanderbilt scored five with him on the mound simply due to Gator errors and good base-running. Jeren Kendall broke the streak of small ball with a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning that gave the Commodores a 6-3 lead.

category: Baseball, Sports

Vanderbilt drops opening game to Florida after tough ninth inning

Vanderbilt blew a ninth-inning lead to the No. 12 Florida Gators on Thursday night, as the Commodore pitchers struggled to keep their opponents off the base paths for the latter part of the game. Vanderbilt took advantage of two crucial errors early in the game but allowed five runs in the ninth to give the Gators the comeback win.

The Commodores struck first as the Gators made a throwing error to first base on an Alonzo Jones bunt after singles from Jason Delay and JJ Bleday to open the second inning. Delay scored from second during the play, which Connor Kaiser followed up with an RBI sacrifice bunt to bring in Bleday. A sharp liner from Will Toffey up the middle scored Jones from second, giving Vanderbilt an early 3-0 lead.

After cruising through the first inning, in which he struck out two batters, Patrick Raby made it through just 4.1 innings before being relieved by Matt Ruppenthal. Two weakly hit singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Gators in the third inning, which led to two runs from a sacrifice fly and single right after.

Vanderbilt answered with two runs in the fourth inning off another error with Jones at bat. After hitting a hard grounder up the middle that could have created a double play, the ball bounced off the shortstop’s glove. That allowed for Bleday to get to third, as Jones moved to second. Kaiser and Coleman drove both of them in with infield groundouts, moving Vanderbilt’s lead to 5-2.

The Gators would get one run in the fifth after a leadoff single and a well executed hit and run that put men on the corner. Ruppenthal then entered the game and walked the next two batters, which brought in a run to make it a two-run game. However, he was able to induce a groundout to end the inning with the lead.

Coming up in the bottom of the inning, Jeren Kendall faced an 0-2 count and already had two strikeouts in the game. That changed quickly, as he launched a home run off of Florida starting pitcher Alex Faedo just over the right fielder’s glove, giving Vanderbilt its final run of the game.

“I thought we did a good job against him,” Head Coach Tim Corbin said. “…We put six runs on him, that’s not easy to do.”

However, the scoring would be all for Florida after that. A leadoff double in the sixth would come home after two sacrifice hits. A leadoff single and double soon after would get a run in the seventh to bring the game within one run.

In the eighth inning, Florida got two men on after a single and passed ball strikeout with just one out. Corbin called on closer Reed Hayes to replace Ruppenthal, who struck out the first batter he faced. However, he walked the next batter, loading the bases. Then Hayes threw a pitch that got past Delay, prompting the Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie to sprint home. But the ball bounced hard off the wall right to Delay, who tagged the leaping Gator to end the inning and preserve the lead.

Hayes, who hadn’t let in a run all year, allowed three straight singles to open up the ninth inning, including Ryan Larson’s fifth hit of the game that brought in the tying run. After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, Guthrie would redeem himself, lining a single up the middle for the go-ahead run. Jackson Gillis then came into relieve Hayes but let up a three run double to the first batter he faced, improving Florida’s lead to 10-6. Vanderbilt wouldn’t respond with any runs of their own in the ninth, giving the Gators the opening game win.

“We needed to have better pitch execution,” Corbin said . “…I don’t think there were many pitch counts that we won. I thought that they had leverage counts the whole night and when you get leverage counts all night, you’re going to have a lot of balls hit hard like (Ryan) Larson.”

Leadoff at-bats hurt the Commodores throughout the night, as they allowed runners on base in six straight innings, from the fourth to the ninth. The Gators would score one run in three of those innings and five in the ninth to make a comeback, as the Vanderbilt bats couldn’t get it going. Alex Faedo ended the game with six runs allowed, but only two of those were earned, and he struck out seven. Florida’s relief pitchers combined for three scoreless innings and allowed just one hit against them. As a team, Florida outhit Vanderbilt 17 to 9 throughout the night.

“That dooms you, especially (against) a team that really moves their legs and can move the bat,” Corbin said.

Vanderbilt hadn’t lost a game all season when leading after eight innings until tonight. In fact, they had just one loss after leading through six innings. The teams will matchup again tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. with Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright taking on Florida’s Brady Singer.

category: Baseball, Sports
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