Vanderbilt Off-Broadway presents Greenday’s “American Idiot”

The show was performed Jan. 11, 13 and 14 despite backlash from the Vanderbilt theatre community over its angsty and politically charged content

Three thoughts: Lee, LaChance power Commodores past LSU

The Vanderbilt Commodores finished on the right side of a thrilling finish at home, picking up a much-needed victory over the LSU Tigers 77-71 after four straight losses.

With Matthew Fisher-Davis out again with a right shoulder injury suffered against Kentucky, Riley LaChance picked up most of the scoring load, and Payton Willis ate some of the minutes on the court left behind by Fisher-Davis’ 11.9 points and 27.7 minutes per game, per Basketball Reference.

On Fisher-Davis’ injury and the possibility of season-ending surgery, Coach Drew responded that the team is still waiting on an update.

“When we talk to the doctor we’ll get more information,” he said. “I’m not good on shoulders, I can’t really talk about what the doctor’s going to recommend for him.”

Here are three thoughts from Saturday’s win.

Riley LaChance puts on a Dazzling Display

LaChance needed a bounce-back game after back-to-back poor performances, as he put up just five points against Mississippi State and six points against Kentucky. It was clear early on that today’s game would be different, as 12 minutes into the game, he had already poured in 11 points, showing off his sweet shooting stroke.

The senior sharpshooter finished with 26 points on 8 for 14 shooting, including 4 for 7 on three pointers. His makes came through a beautiful collection of twisting jumpers from deep and nifty runners off the backboard. He also made two clutch free throws, shooting 6 for 6 on free throws overall, a welcome sight after his misses down the stretch against Kentucky.

This season, LaChance has averaged 8.1 field goal attempts per game, per Basketball Reference, but today he attempted 14 field goals with Fisher-Davis out.

When asked if he should be more aggressive in taking shots, LaChance said he doesn’t think so.

“Just playing within the offense,” LaChance said. “[Today], I think I took a little bit more, and guys did a good job finding me and creating open shots for me.”

The Commodores will need him to continue to exhibit his senior leadership and play on the court. In games where LaChance does not provide a strong scoring performance, the Commodores have very little chance of picking up a win.

Continued Struggles Defending Bigs

Vanderbilt has had its struggles defending in the post this season, and today looked no different. Duop Reath of the LSU Tigers shot 13-20 for 31 points, many through the post.

Djery Baptiste was mainly responsible for Reath, with Clevon Brown and Ejike Obinna seeing a few possessions on him as well. Baptiste gave a strong and disciplined effort, absorbing Reath’s bumps, maintaining good positioning and staying out of foul trouble. He avoided picking up his first foul until there was 8:56 left in the game, and finishing with just three fouls.

However, his performance was not effective enough, as he was a major part of Reath scoring 18.6 points above his season average of 12.4, per Basketball Reference.

Drew provided a mixed review on Baptiste’s defense.

“He had three blocks,” he said. “I think that’s a positive. [He’ll] try to get a little better at contesting at the end of it, but his positioning was much better today. That next step will be after you’re in the right position, what can you do to help stop them from scoring.”

Until the Commodores find greater success defending big men, they will continue to cede an advantage in the matchup at the center position. Obinna and Brown have not proven to be consistent answers either, and doubling the post has seen mixed results.

Saben Lee’s Continued Growth

Commodore fans are well-acquainted with Saben Lee’s ability to pull off impressive dunks with his speed, handle, and athleticism. He delivered the exclamation points of today’s game in clutch time with a one-handed dunk in transition and an incredible runner off the backboard while being fouled.

Early on, after the third game of the season, a win over UNC Asheville, Drew already recognized Lee’s talent, but also his room for growth as a floor general.

“[Lee] does a lot of things out there you can’t teach,” Drew said after that win early in the season. “I think he got winded a little bit. He’s a freshman, so there’s a lot of decisions out there that hopefully as the year progresses he’ll make better reads.”

Not only did he take over today’s game down the stretch, but he also continued to demonstrate maturity in making better reads and creating offense for his teammates, as well as playing really strong defense.

He made multiple impressive passes, including a hook pass to the opposite wing for a LaChance three, an on-target look to a cutting Roberson for the easy layup, and one-handed bounce pass feeds to the post.

Lee is a highlight waiting to happen, but it is his progress in contributing to the flow of the offense through good decision-making that should encourage fans the most.

Drew highlighted his patience.

“He was really working on the defensive end,” he said. “I thought he did a tremendous job. I think he was really patient, a good sign of good maturity. When his time came, he definitely took advantage of it.”

He took over the game at the end, but there is one play he probably wants back. With the Commodores in possession of the ball, up four with less than 40 seconds left, he threw a cross-court pass that was nearly stolen.

Lee has opportunity for growth still, and that is exciting.

Vanderbilt snaps losing skid with 77-71 victory over LSU

In a welcomed change, the Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the LSU Tigers 77-71 thanks to some late-game heroics from Saben Lee and Riley LaChance.

LaChance led the Commodores with 26 points on 8 for 14 shooting. The bulk of those points came from long distance, as he was 4-7 from three-point range.

The Commodores never seemed to jump to a comfortable lead in the first half, with LSU hovering around. The score was 34-28, with Vanderbilt needing every bit of LaChance’s 13 points to maintain the lead.

However, the team was able to extend their lead in the beginning of the second half in large part due the lethal combination of Jeff Roberson and LaChance. The duo combined for 46 points.

At one point, Vanderbilt stretched its lead to 16 points, but LSU used a 8-0 run to narrow the gap to 56-54.

Duop Reath was the catalyst for the Tigers, converting tough looks in the post as well as drawing fouls on the offensive end. The Commodores didn’t have an answer for him. Reath was constantly winning in the post, leaving head coach Bryce Drew scrambling to find an answer. The combination of Djery Baptiste, Clevon Brown, and Ejike Obinna weren’t enough, as Reath had 31 points on 20 shots.

Both teams traded baskets for several minutes down the stretch. The Commodores then went 4:15 without a made field goal before LSU took their first lead of the game on a Reath bucket with 2:21 left in regulation. From there, it was a hotly contested back-and-forth affair, with Lee’s heroics rescuing the Commodores from an all-too-familiar position.

Lee came in clutch in the final minutes of the game with a signature dunk following a steal on the other end of the floor. That gave the Commodores a lead they would not relinquish with a minute left to play.

Shortly after, Lee converted a layup and drew a foul on LSU’s Reath. Lee roared with passion after that play, energizing the crowd and the bench.

Lee scored 10 of the team’s final 12 points to seal the game. Drew had effusive praise for the freshman from Phoenix, noting a “great pace and great calmness about him.”

While Lee’s offensive brilliance shined in the final two minutes of the game, it was his defensive hustle in the first half that Drew highlighted.

“He did a tremendous job on Tremont Waters,” he said. “His patience showed a lot of maturity. His deflection and dunk on the other end were huge for us.”

An underrated part of the game in the first half was Lee’s ability to distribute the ball for his teammates. He had four assists, leading all players in the first half. Those recipients were able to draw fouls or score easily as a result of Lee drawing the defense around him.

In the second half, he started taking more shots, and they were falling. By the end of the game, he had 12 points on 5 for 7 shooting.

This was a well-deserved and much-needed win for the Commodores. Drew was proud of his guys, calling it “great to see our hard work rewarded,” after being on the losing end of the previous 4 games.

It was also “a tremendous redemption story” for senior Riley LaChance, according to Drew. LaChance had some noted late-game struggles, including four missed free throws against Kentucky just a week ago. He put a lot of extra work in the gym working on free throws and his shooting technique. It paid off this game in the form of four made free throws in the last two minutes of the game.

The Commodores follow this game with a matchup against the 21st-ranked Tennessee Volunteers on January 23rd in Knoxville. Tip off is at 6:00 PM.

Stay fit during the coldest months in Nashville

A snow day can be stressful for those who rely on regular spin classes at the Rec Center or jogs around campus. However, a snow day does not necessarily mean that you’re snowed in. Whether you choose to brave the outdoors for your daily sweat session or remain indoors to sport your favorite running shorts, these eight workout ideas will help any gym rat survive the most brutal winter weather.

1. Online videos

When the hike to the nearest on campus gym is even more perilous than those intimidating barbells in the corner, online workout videos are a great alternative. For some videos, weights, resistance bands or a yoga mat may be needed, but for many, one’s body weight is sufficient. A personal favorite is fitness and health guru Christine Bullock, who has a series of free workout videos on YouTube, as well as workouts that are downloadable from her website, christinebullock.com. Evolution 20 (total of twelve 20-minute workouts) is $32.95, and Super Shredded (total of four 20-minute workouts) is $24.95. Bullock offers modified alternatives to difficult exercises as well as advanced moves.

2. Dorm stairs as a track

If jogging is more your speed, running up and down the stairs in your dorm is a fantastic option. The landings often have enough space for cardio bursts such as jumping jacks and knee pulls, as well as for deep stretches. One idea is to start at the bottom level and run all the way to the top of the building to warm up, stretch at the top level and continue to go up and down the stairs. Just remember to cool down, or you could risk sore or pulled muscles.

3. Do you want to build a snowman?

Building a snowman is a creative way to break a sweat while still having fun with friends. As everyone who grew up in a state with snowy winters, this activity starts off being easy but then literally snowballs into exercise that incorporates cardio and weight lifting.

4. Let’s throw snow

Snowball fights are perfect for competitive, mischievous friend groups. Vanderbilt’s campus is especially conducive to these melees because its numerous buildings, trees, bushes and sculptures can act as makeshift ambush spots and walls of protection. Snowball fights are a high-energy way to practice agility and speed.

5. Snow sports

Just because the temperature is low and snow covers the ground does not mean that football, soccer or any other game is off the table. This option is especially good when the snow is not fantastic for making snowballs or snowmen, but you still want to do a group activity with your friends. Make sure to wear shoes with some grip, such as winter boots, and bundle up with some extra padding in case you slip.

6. Zen walk

A hike across campus is a very simple and peaceful way for light-to-moderate exercise. You can go alone or with a group, perhaps even setting a museum, restaurant or coffee shop as your final destination. Add in a photoshoot or pit stops at interesting stores to spice up the trip or get some hot chocolate at Munchie Mart or Starbucks to keep you warm as you explore.

7. Lunch tray sledding

Sledding on cardboard boxes or lunch trays down campus hills is another great option for hanging out with friends that doubles as a fairly intense workout. Most of the exertion comes from running back up the hill while dragging a sheet of cardboard. Sledding down is more than worth the frantic scrambles up the incline afterward.

category: Featured, Life

“Listen With Me” takes mental health awareness to social media

There is no shortage of dialogue about mental health on campus. The Chancellor’s Office and Vanderbilt Student Government have both facilitated dialogue on the subject in an attempt to create a healthier campus culture. The “Go There” campaign provides a forum for students to break the stigma surrounding mental health and getting help. The Hustler has a column dedicated to mental health issues. This year, the Psychological Counseling Center is being transitioned into the University Counseling Center to better accommodate the new short term model of care.

However, several Vanderbilt undergraduates saw the potential for mental health awareness to spread through another platform: social media.

“It originally got started with a small group of people just thinking about mental health on campus and really wanting to, you know, promote more open conversation,” said Kyle Gavulic, one of the students who was part of the inception of the campaign.  

Gavulic describes the founders of “Listen With Me” as a group of friends, many of whom had personally dealt with mental health challenges. Since the campaign’s inception, the student leader have been collaborating with the Chancellor’s “Go There” initiative, VSG’s Mental Health Roundtable and the Center for Student Wellbeing’s Imperfection Project.

To spread the word about de-stigmatizing mental health, Listen With Me is asking students to create sixty to ninety-second videos featuring a domino effect of some sort. If you would like to make a video, here are a few helpful guidelines. You should start with the phrase, “I’m here to listen, and here’s why,” before explaining why you support mental health awareness. You should then thank three people who have supported you, and challenge those three people to make a video as well with the words, “Will you listen with me?”. Finally, set off your domino effect. Videos should be posted to Facebook with the hashtags #ListenWithMe and #GoThereVandy.

The “Listen With Me” campaign raises awareness by promoting a social media video campaign on Friday, January 19, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)

Gavulic hopes that Listen With Me will ultimately encourage Vanderbilt students to stop covering up their mental health challenges, and openly discuss them with others.

“We’re just putting that ‘perfect self’ out, when really we’re all human and we should be talking about or mental health like we talk about our physical health,” he said.

The “Listen With Me” campaign raises awareness with a demonstration outside of Rand on Friday, January 19, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)

Women’s March 2.0 to take place Sat., featuring conference in addition to public demonstration

This Saturday, the Women’s March 2.0: Power Together TN will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature a conference in addition to the public march. The event will take place approximately one year since the nationwide women’s marches that occurred following the 2017 presidential inauguration.

This year’s march will begin with a conference at TSU Avon Williams campus, followed by the march to Public Square at 2 p.m. and a closing rally at Bicentennial Mall. According to Shawn Reilly, a Vanderbilt senior who is on the Women’s March leadership team, the event will help those supporting women’s rights to get involved beyond the rally.     

“Basically, last year, when we planned the rally and march, we had planned for this conference afterward because we had literally thousands and thousands of people, all super excited to get involved. So, we had this conference, and it was very poorly attended,” Reilly said. “That was kind of disheartening for us because we had all this power, right? But we didn’t know exactly how to get them into the room and train folks, and get folks really excited about actually putting in work. So, this year is really about moving from protest to actual politics. Getting folks to write to their legislators, getting folks to run for office, getting folks to do community organizing and make art.”

This year is really about moving from protest to actual politics

In order to empower attendees to do more for women’s rights beyond the march, the conference will have events and workshops focused on ‘artivism,’ faith and spirituality, grassroots organizing, legislative skills and issues and understanding elections. Additionally, there will be youth-specific workshops for high school and college-aged students.

By having a specific area of the conference dedicated to youth, Reilly hopes that younger people will feel more comfortable speaking up.

“Making sure young people have a space and a voice in the conference and the rally because so often, young people don’t have a seat at the table,” Reilly said. “And if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu, as one of my close friends likes to say. I think it’s very true. If you’re not going to speak for yourself, people are going to speak about you and for you. And I don’t think it’s appropriate. We need a number of different identities.”

In order to incorporate as many people as possible in the state-wide Women’s March, there will also be satellite marches across the state of Tennessee for those who cannot travel to Nashville. For more information on the rally and for conference tickets, click here.

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

Our obligations at Vanderbilt eclipse our appreciation of the people back home

“Todd, there’s an incoming ballistic missile heading towards Hawaii. No matter what happens, know that I love you.”

It was 12:14 PM on Saturday when I heard those words from my father, a workaholic who had said the word “love” fewer than five times in his entire life. During that 57 second phone call, nothing felt real. Just moments before, I had been curled up over my computer, filling out applications and getting ready to join the waves of students looking for summer internships. As the reality of the outside world broke through, I called my mother and turned to Twitter for news. In seconds, my parents would be gone, vaporized in an attack that would plunge the world into chaos.

Thankfully, like a diver breaking through the surface, I could finally breathe again once I found out that the missile alert was a false alarm. I called my dad and mom again to check on them, relieved to hear their shaky voices. Someone had flipped the wrong switch. Crisis averted. No World War III.

After that morning, the world itself seemed like a dream come true. The laughter of my friends was music to my ears. The thought of my parents still smiling under the Hawaiian sun warmed me amid the snow, as if I was right next to them. For the first time in awhile, I could feel how lucky I was to have them all in my life.

When the adrenaline high fell to a low buzz later that evening, I was able to introspect. Looking at my current situation, I realized how life at Vanderbilt isolates its students from the outside world. It filters out more than messy parts of reality, like responsibility and privilege. It insulates us from our roots. It makes us forget how we got here.

We rush from class to class, scurry from one club meeting to the next and pile our plates high with activities meant to secure our futures. We have an opportunity at this university to make something of ourselves, so we give our all. When we put in the work, we honor those who have helped us become who we are today. Nonetheless, it’s still important to keep perspective.

It took the threat of nuclear war to show me just how quickly everything can disappear.

Loved ones can vanish in an instant. A sorority sister can drop out of college. A mentor can fade into the background. A parent can die before they get a chance to see the light of their life on that stage with a diploma in hand. It can happen to any of us.

This story, however, is not about the uncertain future. It’s about the precious present. No club meeting should be worth a friend’s birthday. No homework should stop anyone from celebrating Valentine’s Day with their loved one. No internship application should stop you from picking up a call from a parent hard at work to pay tuition this semester.

We can’t wait for holidays and birthdays to start caring for those we love. Whether they’re across the state, across the country or across the world, make time for them. Cancel that Writing Studio appointment. Skip that optional extra-credit lecture. Take one of those free unscheduled absences from class. Let’s thank our ‘ohana, our family of cheerleaders and supporters, with our time and attention. It’s least the least we can do.

Todd Polk is a sophomore in Peabody college. He can be reached at todd.o.polk@vanderbilt.edu.

category: Featured, Opinion

Blessing Ejiofor making tough transition from Nigeria to Nashville

In any American high school gym, you could find kids as young as six years old playing recreational basketball on the weekends.

Most rec leagues have all the fix-ins, such as uniforms and referees and coaches.

However, that wasn’t the experience for Vanderbilt Freshman center Blessing Ejiofor. She had never played a real basketball game with an officiating crew until she was a freshman in high school in Ebonyi, Nigeria.

“Usually I would go to the basketball court and watch people play,” she told The Vanderbilt Hustler. “And when they would leave, I would shoot free throws.”

Before her first basketball game, that was the extent of freshman center Blessing Ejiofor’s basketball experience.

“Basketball is huge in Nigeria, but here in America, you have all the facilities you need,” she said.

She mentioned how many Nigerian NBA and WNBA players are coming back to the country to build basketball courts, which is a welcome change from five years ago, when most players did not even return home to give back to the community.

Two of Ejiofor’s role models are Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike, the Nigerian-American sisters who starred at Stanford before both were first overall picks in the WNBA draft. Both return to Nigeria almost every year to run basketball camps.

Although the basketball infrastructure in Nigeria has been improving, realized she could find greater opportunities elsewhere and moved to Paterson, New Jersey, for her sophomore year of high school.

She was initially supposed to attend a school in North Carolina, but was informed once she landed in the United States that there was no host family available to house her there.

“I was just excited to be in America,” Ejiofor said.

Adjusting to a new life in New Jersey was difficult. She called her mother daily, but still admitted that the transition was tough, as even minute cultural differences could sometimes cause friction.

Ejiofor said that in Nigeria, “when someone older is talking to you, you don’t look them straight in the eye.” However, she found that in the United States, that was considered to be a sign of disrespect.

She cited the higher quality education and vast opportunities in America as the reasons she worked through such differences and finished high school in Paterson.

When the time came to choose a university to continue her academic and athletic career, Ejiofor had many options. Duke, LSU, Syracuse, and Miami were among the 20th-ranked center’s many offers. Vanderbilt’s unmatched academics stood out to her and her father, and were a major factor in her signing with the Commodores.

“I always wanted to go to Vanderbilt even when I was back in Nigeria,” Ejiofor said. “I knew I was going to come here.”

Everything was looking up for Ejiofor, but an immigration snafu had other ideas.

In September 2016, she was forced to take a year-long leave of absence when her visa expired. Her visa needed to be renewed in Nigeria after every two years, but she was unable to go back and renew it in time.

Last year, she joined a gym and worked out four to five days a week to try to stay in shape in preparation for when she could rejoin the team.

“I wasn’t in great shape, but I wasn’t out of shape completely,” Ejiofor said.

Even though she couldn’t be with the team has head coach Stephanie White took over the program, she still felt like a Commodore already.

“They were really supportive,” she said of her teammates and coaches at Vanderbilt. “They did everything they could possibly do to get me back.”

Her coaches even wrote to the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to speed up the process of obtaining a new visa for her.

After a year of paperwork and waiting, Ejiofor was granted a visa to return to the United States, and she enrolled at Vanderbilt this year.

Being out of school for a year made the academic transition crazy and stressful according to Ejiofor. With the help of her academic counselor, assistant coach Carolyn Peck, and her teammates, she was able to handle the workload.

Like many Vanderbilt students, Blessing remarked that she had to learn how to study once she experienced the university’s rigorous academics.

On the court, Ejiofor has come off the bench in 15 games. Her 6’5” frame has been useful against taller SEC competition.

Coach White’s fast-paced style of play was the complete opposite of what Ejiofor had been accustomed to.

“Back home, they just wanted me to be in the paint,” she said. “But here [the coaches] try to make you go out of your comfort zone as a post player.”

Ejiofor is optimistic about this team, which she describes as resilient and passionate.

“We have a vision, and we are going to get there soon,” she said.

Vanderbilt keeps it close but falls to defending champs South Carolina

Vanderbilt fell to defending national champions and 10th-ranked South Carolina 95-82. 

The game likely would have been more one-sided if All-American forward A’ja Wilson was not sidelined with an ankle sprain. Wilson is the two-time defending SEC Player of the Year and a leader for South Carolina.

Vanderbilt’s starting lineup of Rachel Bell, Cierra Walker, Chelsie Hall, Christa Reed, and Autumn Newby had no match for the Gamecocks’ height early in the night. Only Newby is over six feet tall, while South Carolina started three players taller than that.

South Carolina jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after the game’s first two minutes thanks to their superior rebounding. The Gamecocks finished the night with 31 rebounds, including 25 on defense.

With six minutes left in the first quarter, Coach Stephanie White subsistuted Kayla Overbeck and Kaleigh Clemons-Green into the game. Shortly after, Erin Whalen entered the game. This taller lineup fared better against a physical South Carolina defense, and Vanderbilt ended the first quarter down by only four points.

South Carolina’s defense was ferocious all night. The Gamecocks seemed to always be in the faces of Vanderbilt’s players and rarely let a shot go uncontested.

Whalen and Reed found success against that defense, though. In the first half, Whalen finished with 15 points on 75% shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 on three-point shots. Reed added another 14 points.

Notably absent from the scoring sheet early in the game were Bell and Walker, who combined for just five points through the first two quarters. Walker found other ways to contribute, grabbing five rebounds and tallying three assists in the first half.

After two quarters of play, Vanderbilt trailed South Carolina 48-40.

The crowd was passionate throughout the game. After every controversial foul call, the fans screamed, and after every basket, they cheered as if it was the game-winning bucket.

White stuck with a taller lineup in the third quarter, and Whalen and Overbeck led an aspiring comeback. Each scored six points in the third quarter.

Early in the quarter, Vanderbilt’s defense got sloppy and started to give up easy open shots to South Carolina, but the Commodores tightened up as their offense began closing the gap.

With two minutes left in the third quarter, Vanderbilt was down by only two points.

Going into the fourth quarter, South Carolina led Vanderbilt 73-60. South Carolina forward Alexis Jennings sank a buzzer-beating three-point shot to close the third quarter and take some momentum away from the Commodores.

Still, everything seemed set up for a Commodore comeback heading into the fourth quarter. Calls started going Vanderbilt’s way, and Cierra Walker made two three-pointers early in the final quarter.

But South Carolina showed why it was a top-10 team even without its best player.

They went on a 19-7 run that started when they lead 64-62 with less than two minutes left in the third quarter and concluded not long after Overbeck fouled out four minutes into the fourth quarter.

Whalen ended the night with a career-high 25 points.

“She’s had some really good practices and came out and was aggressive,” White said of Whalen.

Reed finished with 23 points, and Walker scored 13 points to lead the Commodores.

“Christa’s been really solid,” White said. “She does so many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”

South Carolina’s leading scorers were Alexis Jennings with 27 points and LeLe Grissett who added 22 points. Both shot over 90% from the field and combined for 22 rebounds.

“They were absolutely unstoppable. They played like All-Americans,” White said of the duo.

One thing to note was that for the entirety of the game, White stood on the sideline coaching and encouraging her team, while South Carolina’s head coach Dawn Staley remained on the bench unless she was arguing a call to a referee. The Commodore bench replicated White’s passion by standing up and cheering after every basket. Their energy and intensity can make this team competitive against the mid-level SEC competition they will soon face.

Vanderbilt visits Alabama on Sunday at 2 PM.

Q&A with Jelani Cobb, University of Columbia professor and staff writer for the New Yorker

Jelani Cobb came to Vanderbilt Jan. 18th to discuss racial protest in America with Chancellor Zeppos in the first Chancellor’s Lecture of the year. Late last year, Cobb wrote a column titled “From Louis Armstrong to the NFL: Ungrateful As The New Uppity” that discusses the rally where President Trump called out the NFL players for kneeling and his decisions as president. The Hustler had the opportunity to speak with Cobb prior to his lecture about the role of protest and media in this day and age.

Vanderbilt Hustler: Can journalists be purely unbiased and should they be?

Jelani Cobb: No, we can’t be because we are all human beings and we all have families and educational experiences and various institutions that we’ve been in contact with that have shaped our lives and our outlooks. You know, if you are someone who was raised in the military and moved around a lot that’s different than someone who was from a small town that has been stationary for their whole lives, and so we bring a particular set of outlooks to our world. The best that we can do is say that to recognize we are not objective and we are not unbiased, but then try to take steps to actively counteract our biases. The easiest way to do that is to talk to people you might not normally come in contact with. Talk to people who have different backgrounds from your own. Talk to people who have different ideological outlooks, you know, different politics, different faith relationships than yours. And that becomes a way of kind of actively creating a counterweight to the way that we like being conned to think as a default.

The best that we can do is say that to recognize we are not objective and we are not unbiased, but then try to take steps to actively counteract our biases.

VH: Do you think protest on campuses make a different impact than city wide protest? If so, how?

JC: I think they all have their own place. So for students that are organizing and being involved in activist work on campus you would have particular concerns that don’t relate to the concerns of the bigger community like a city. But more fundamentally probably students have an advantage in that they’re in closer proximity to the people who have power. Like most of the time you can walk right across the campus and there’s the president’s office or the chancellor’s office or whoever it is that is in charge. That’s different than your city council member or your congressional rep or the person who is enacting a policy that you may disagree with or whom you may want to get to act on your behalf in some way. And so I think that they’re not greater or lesser, but I think that they’re very distinct and kind of different undertakings.   

VH: Do you think institutions properly honor MLK day? If not, what should they be doing differently?

JC: There’s a wide array, I think, of approaches to King day. Some that are better than others, and I think that the most valuable thing that people do or can do in recognition of King day is to give service to other people. I think that’s been the best innovation in terms of saying this is not a day off, but a day on. This should be a day that people can think about the struggles that have yet to be completed in the society. Do we have a full equality for everyone regardless of their race, their religion, their ethnic background, their sexual orientation, their physical abilities or disabilities. There’s all these categories of people who have been excluded in one shape or form at different times in our society. I think that is the spirit of King day, and I think it is why we should kind of recognize in the most humble and social-change oriented way.

Vanderbilt Hustler conducts interview of Jelani Cobb moments before he speaks to the audience at Langford Auditorium on January 17th, 2018. (Photo by Brent Szklaruk)

VH: Do you think nowadays we can have movements the way we had the civil rights movement? Can we ever get the Million Man March or are people’s views too divided?

JC: If you are asking if we could have broad based mass popular movements, then yes I do. I think that there are lots of divisions in society, but there were divisions in society then and people were able to find a way around them. So there were people who were a part of the Civil Rights Movement who were not particularly religious, but it was a movement led by, for the most part, religious people. There are people who are not in the south, northerners, there are college students, there are white people who are involved in it. The whole kind of crux of this is for people to get beyond their particular points of entry in society and say these are the kind of common values we hold and common concerns that are confronting us and we can organize on the basis of that. That’s not just the civil rights movement. Every movement that we think about has had to go through some stage of that. The labor movement did, the movement for rights of gays and lesbians. Nobody starts out with a perfect choreography. They all have to go through the work of getting on the same beat.

VH: How do you think the NFL kneeling movement has raised questions about the impact of patriotism in America?

JC: It’s funny I had this conversation earlier. I think that there are different versions of patriotism. One of the versions that places a great deal of emphasis on respect for, admiration for and appreciation for the United States as is. And I think there’s another version that places a great deal of emphasis upon, maybe those things, you know, respect and admiration for what it is and has been, critically, but also a very big component of what it should and can be. And when those two definitions are in proximity they seem to clash. So there’s some people who thought that what Colin Kaepernick did was unpatriotic, but there were other people who thought that it was a reflection of patriotism. Remember the First Amendment in this country is to protect free speech. Literally the first one in those enumerated rights. Free speech is meant to be a mechanism by which the people get to offer corrective arguments to people who have power over them, and I think that is what he was attempting to do. So it’s not necessarily a question of whether we agree with it, but it’s a much bigger question of do we agree with the right to speak your mind?

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

SEC Power Rankings: Is the SEC the best conference in basketball?

This is no typical year in SEC basketball.  On the backs of an impressive showing in the NCAA Tournament as a last year, the Southeastern Conference is beginning to stake its claim for the top conference in college hoops.  Joe Lunardi of ESPN projects eight SEC teams in the tournament field this year, just one team behind the ACC for the most by a conference.  If you’re looking for a reason why, it’s the level of parity that is unprecedented.  While the SEC is usually a conference characterized by teams chasing the Kentucky Wildcats, the narrative has changed.  Every team but one is above .500, and every game feels ever-so important in trying to weed out the pretenders from the contenders.  Here are the Vanderbilt Hustler’s SEC power rankings just a few games into conference play:

  1. Florida

The Gators already had a very strong backcourt returning from an Elite Eight run a year ago, but it’s not Chris Chiozza and KeVaughn Allen leading the way scoring the basketball.  That distinction goes to transfer guards Jalen Hudson and Egor Koulechov, who combine to average nearly 32 points per game for this electric Florida backcourt.  Mike White’s group took the top spot in our early season power rankings, and after a slight fall from grace in the form of a three-game losing skid, the Gators are back on top of the ranks with the best record in SEC play.  Behind one of the top all-around point guards in the nation in Chiozza, elite shooters, and center John Egbunu on his way back from injury, Florida could make a splash in San Antonio come April.

2. Tennessee

Make no mistake about it, the Tennessee Volunteers are for real.  Rick Barnes coaches a battle tested team that has faced off against Purdue, Villanova, North Carolina, and Kentucky this season, winning two of those four.  The last of which, a double-digit victory at home over Kentucky, solidified Tennessee’s standing as a legitimate top contender in the SEC.  The Volunteers are led by Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams, two forwards who are undersized in the height department, but more than make up for it with muscular frames that allow them to bully taller defenders.  Grant Williams proved that en route to 37 points against Vanderbilt just last week.  Those two are surrounded by shooters on the perimeter that give Tennessee the balanced attack necessary to win the conference title.

3. Kentucky

There are three certainties in life.  Death, taxes, and a Kentucky basketball team dominated by freshman.  John Calipari has not shied away from his ways, starting five freshman routinely for his team.  With that, however, comes growing pains, perhaps more than we’re used to seeing in Lexington.  Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox have played up to par, but have yet to break out into the players that usually shoulder the load and carry this team (i.e. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, etc.)  Freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looks like he might be ready to step into that role, but even if he does, don’t expect Kentucky to break away from the pack.   The Wildcats have proved to be mortal in the SEC this season, dropping conference games to Tennessee and South Carolina.

4. Auburn

Is there any team in the nation more surprising than the Auburn Tigers right now.  Bruce Pearl has turned a team that hasn’t been in the conversation for best team in the conference since 1999 into a legitimate contender.  Auburn lost just its second game of the season Wednesday night, snapping a 14-game win streak.  A high-flying offense that ranks 16th in the nation in scoring with just under 86 points per game, the Tigers look to junior guard Bryce Brown and freshman guard Mustapha Heron to push the tempo and score in bunches.  Perhaps the most impressive part of this surprise surge for Auburn is the fact that this team might not have even tapped into its ability to shoot the basketball at a high clip yet.  Brown shoots just 39.5% from the field, while Heron shoots 43%, including 28% from beyond the arc.  If Pearl’s two stars can really find their stroke, Auburn could become even more dangerous than it already is.

5. Texas A&M

The Aggies looked like one of the best teams in college basketball after an opening night destruction of West Virginia in Germany.  Now however, A&M is tied for the worst conference record, dropping its first five SEC games and falling out of the AP top 25 for the first time all season.  In order for Billy Kennedy to turn things around in College Station, he has to go back to the basics.  The Aggies sport arguably the best frontcourt in the country, with D.J. Hogg, Robert Williams, Tyler Davis, and Tony Trocha-Morelos giving this team NBA size with the talent to match.  With a win over Ole Miss on Tuesday night, Texas A&M will look to go back to the dominating brand of basketball that had this team looking like a powerhouse less than a month ago.

6. Arkansas

The Razorbacks have a rare combination that makes them scary to any opponent: A trio of senior guards that can all defend.  Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon, and Anton Beard are SEC veterans at this point, and understand what it takes to win big games, and in particular, close games.  Arkansas’s comeback win against Tennessee proved that Mike Anderson’s guys play 100% until that final whistle.  Barford is the leader of the group, and likely an All-SEC first-team selection at the end of this season with his proficiency at both ends of the floor.  The one caveat for the Razorbacks is that they have yet to win a true road game all season.  This is a team that thrives off the crowd in the Bud Walton Arena, and unless the SEC and NCAA Tournaments are going to move all their games to Fayetteville, something has to change.

7. Alabama

While Tua Tagovailoa might be the hottest name in Alabama athletics right now, Collin Sexton isn’t far behind.  The 6’3 freshman point guard out of Mableton, Georgia is averaging upwards of 19 points per game and is in full control of coach Avery Johnson’s offense.  Sexton is a lottery pick waiting to happen, as evident by his 40-point performance against Minnesota in a wacky 3-on-5 game that almost completed an epic comeback.  While Sexton has made this team go all season, the Tide has showed in likely its most important game thus far that it’s not just a one-man show.  With Sexton sidelined, Alabama pulled off the upset against Auburn, ending the Tigers’ win streak.  With Braxton Key working his way back into the lineup and John Petty starting to become a force offensively, Alabama is proving that this is a well-rounded team that deserves a place in the field come March.

8. Missouri

This is about where people thought Missouri would sit just over halfway through the season.  13-5 with a 3-2 conference record seemed feasible with the addition of Michael Porter Jr., the second-ranked freshman in the class with NBA star written all over him.  However, when Porter Jr. went down just a couple minutes into the team’s season opener against Iowa State with a back injury, all those lofty expectations went out the window, deeming the season a lost cause.  Instead, the Tigers haven’t broken stride, winning ten of their first twelve games without Porter Jr.  This looks to be the best team Missouri has had since the days of Marcus Denmon and the Pressey brothers, and Cuonzo Martin will look to continue silencing the doubters.

9. Georgia

Everything discussion about Georgia basketball starts and ends with Yante Maten.  The 6’8 senior has established himself as one of the best big men in the nation, and he is the primary reason why the Bulldogs sit at 12-5 heading into the thick of conference play.  Maten sets the tone on both ends of the floor with his 19.7 and 9.1 line that will no doubt earn him a first-team nod.  Georgia wins games by controlling the pace of play, making teams play a halfcourt game that favors a very deliberate Bulldog offense.  With Maten in the middle, Georgia ranks 18th in the country in rebounds per game and 28th in points allowed.  The Bulldogs likely aren’t good enough to compete for an SEC title without help for Maten, but if William Jackson or Juwan Parker can shoulder a little more of the load, Georgia has a real shot to surprise people and sneak into the dance.

10. LSU

It’s funny how basketball works out in Baton Rouge.  First the Tigers make the tournament as a nine seed, then they land the top player in the nation in Ben Simmons and miss out on the tournament.  Then they fall to the very bottom of the SEC in 2017, and now this team is 11-6 and knocking on the door for a tournament bid.  LSU may be tenth in our power rankings, but Will Wade has done a tremendous job with this program in his first year as head coach.  The Tigers have quality wins over Michigan and Texas A&M, and are in every game, losing to Kentucky by just three points.  Tiger fans can thank Tremont Waters for their success.  The freshman point guard is a very skinny 5’11, but he possesses the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, making him a one-man highlight reel.  Among these jaw-dropping shots is a 30-footer with under a second to play against Texas A&M to give LSU an enormous victory.

11. Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are 14-4 on the season, coming off an 18-point home win against Vanderbilt.  So how come this team couldn’t crack our top ten?  Probably for the same reason that they aren’t in the projected tournament field despite a strong record.  Mississppi State just hasn’t played anybody.  In the Bulldogs’ 13 non-conference games, they played zero power five teams, and just one top 25 team, 25th ranked Cincinnati, who beat them by 15 points.  A 1-3 start to conference play didn’t help quell the critiques.  Ben Howland’s bunch did just come off a big home win, however, and led by junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, the Bulldogs will look to knock off a few tough conference foes to throw their hat in the ring.

12. South Carolina

South Carolina is another team with a quality record, but an incredibly weak non-conference schedule.  The Gamecocks lost their only non-conference game against an RPI Top 50 team, a 64-48 loss to Clemson.  Frank Martin has faced a tall task trying to live up to the surprise Final Four season a year ago, especially after losing his top four guards from last year to the NBA, graduation, and suspension.  Still, South Carolina was able to pull off an impressive home win over the Kentucky Wildcats on Tuesday, highlighted by 27 points from Chris Silva.  The win was the epitome of the parity of the conference this season.  The 12th ranked team in our power rankings was able to knock off the 3rd ranked team by eight points.  Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, one quality win isn’t enough to vault this team into contention.

13. Ole Miss

Mississippi has seen all too well what happens when a team loses its best player two years in a row.  The departure of Stefan Moody in 2016 turned a tournament team into an SEC cellar-dweller, and the departure of Sebastian Saiz last season hasn’t helped.  Having said that, Ole Miss still sports a 10-8 record and a signature victory over our top-ranked Florida Gators.  If that’s not enough, the Rebels have the best names in the conference locked up.  Just ask Marcanvis Hymon, Justas Furmanavicius, Dominik Olejniczak, Illya Tyrtyshnik, and Breein Tyree, all featured on the team’s 14-man roster.

14. Vanderbilt

Oh how the mighty have fallen.  After two straight tournament appearances, and an impressive run in conference play last season that featured three wins against the Florida Gators, Vanderbilt now finds itself in last place in the SEC.  The loss of Luke Kornet appears to be too much of a burden to bury, as the Commodores find themselves sitting at 6-12, on the outside looking in to any form of a postseason berth.  If Commodore fans have anything to hold their hat on, however, it’s the possibility of a complete turnaround next season, as top-ranked recruits Simi Shittu, Darius Garland, and potentially Romeo Langford will don black and gold and attempt to rejuvenate this program.

Plan your weekend (1/19-1/21)

We’re looking ahead to a weekend of games, comedy and Nashville’s Women’s March (2.0). It’s up to you to seize these opportunities. If these events don’t fit with your existing weekend plans, browse Anchor Link for more campus happenings.

Disclaimer: Source of event information is Anchor Link and Facebook. 




What: The 85 South Comedy Show at Zanies
When: Sunday, January 21 at 7:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.
Where: Zanies Comedy Club
Why: The last few years, the 85 South Show has been shaking up the podcasting scene with improvs and freestyles by some of the fastest rising comedic talent from the South. Join DC Young Fly, Karlous Miller and Chico Bean as they bring their talents to Music City.
Who: The 85 South Show

Health & Wellness

category: Featured, Life

Philly’s Low Cut Connie to play Mercy Lounge

On January 25, Philadelphia rock band Low Cut Connie will be performing at Mercy Lounge. Fresh off of 2017’s Dirty Pictures (part 1) their fourth studio album- the band will be bringing it’s critically acclaimed brand of rowdy rock and roll with local openers RI¢HIE and Chloe Kat.

Just in the past few years, the band has been included on NPR Fresh Air’s Top Ten Albums of 2017, Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Albums of 2017 and President Obama’s 2015 summer playlist, among other accolades. The band has even made a fan of Sir Elton John who interviewed them and played some of their songs on his Beats1 radio show.

Check out their single “Revolution Rock ‘n’ Roll” off their last album here and purchase tickets for their Nashville show here.

category: Featured, Life, Music

Let’s Talk About Sex, Vandy: Some barrier methods you might want to give a try

STIs are mostly transmitted when parts of our bodies come in contact with body fluids. Barriers help us limit that contact while still allowing us to engage in fun and safe activities. We all know about external condoms and why we should use them. They prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections at the same time when used correctly. Still, there are a lot of barrier devices out there that people don’t know about or don’t think are worth using, like dental dams and finger cots, which says a lot about what we think about oral and manual or digital sex. Many people believe that oral and digital sex are less intimate or less of a commitment than vaginal or anal sex. While that is a debate about values, ultimately a large risk is still being taken when you engage in these behaviors unprotected and without knowing your partner’s status. Dental dams and finger cots get a bad rap, but the more you know about them, the safer you can become.

Dental dams, or cunnilingus drapes as my friend likes to call them, are usually rectangular pieces of latex or polyurethane that limit contact between the mouth and the vulva or anus during oral sex. Because it completely covers the genital areas, dental dams are great at protecting against STIs like condoms when used properly. Still, dental dams can move out of place and accidental skin-to-skin contact or skin-to-fluid contact might occur so it is important to be careful and hold it with your hands while using it. Some might think that it limits the fun, but if you place a dental dam on your hand and blow it, you can still feel the sensation. Also, if lube is placed on the vagina or anus prior to the oral sex, that might help increase the sensation as well. Like condoms, dental dams also come in flavors, making it fun for all parties involved. If you don’t have a dental dam on hand or can’t find them in stores, you can always make one by cutting an unrolled condom lengthwise (those without spermicide) or by using a glove. Dental dams should not be reversed or reused and never should be flushed down the toilet just like condoms. Honestly, if you’d protect your genitals, why not protect your mouth?

Finger cots are basically like condoms for your fingers. They’re typically used if there are cuts or wounds on your fingers to prevent the spread of infections. While the risk of getting an STI from digital sex is much lower than that for oral, vaginal and anal sex, gloves and finger cots are still important to use and can make the experience all the more pleasurable. Vaginas and anuses are very sensitive and our fingers and nails can be rough or uncomfortable, especially when there are hangnails. Finger cots and gloves create a uniform surface that is smooth and won’t create any genital tears. They also can help you move from vagina to anus and vice versa by easily changing out the finger cots without the worry of having to wash hands in between. Finger cots can also cover small toys which is important when toys are being used between partners.

With a little practice and consistent use, barriers are usually easy to use! If you’re thinking about it too much, don’t feel experienced enough when using them or don’t know how to use them in ways that feel good just yet, they can seem pretty intimidating, but once we feel confident and capable using them, they become easy to learn to like. Keeping barrier methods around not only promotes safe and healthy sex, but protects our and our partner’s health, which is ultimately the most important.

Space Jam: Virgin Galactic

Last week, high above the Mojave Desert, a spacecraft known as the VSS Unity completed its eleventh test flight. Unity, currently considered one of the brightest potentials in private spaceflight, is owned and operated by Virgin Galactic.

To put that in context, Virgin Galactic is part of the larger Virgin Group, owned by Sir Richard Branson, a quintessential eccentric old Briton if ever there was one. Virgin is or has been involved in such disparate things as mobile phone coverage (Virgin Mobile), music (Virgin Records), retail (Virgin Megastores), British trains (Virgin Rail and Virgin Trains East Coast), air travel (Virgin Atlantic), cruises (Virgin Voyages) and even, briefly, Formula One (Virgin Racing). To wit, space tourism is simply another cell in a much larger keiretsu. And, considering Virgin’s remarkable strength in those other ventures, it might be expected that Virgin Galactic would also be a success.

So has it?

Virgin Galactic has been in existence since 2004. Initial signs were promising; it inherited the design of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 had become the first private manned spacecraft to reach space. Virgin Galactic immediately set about commissioning a new craft: SpaceShipTwo. It was promised to be a breakthrough for private spaceflight.

In mid-2008, while building hype for SpaceShipTwo, Branson quite optimistically predicted that Virgin Galactic’s maiden space voyage would take place “in 18 months.”  By late 2009, that estimate had become “in 2011.” When 2011 came around, that estimate once again became “18 months from now.” In early 2013, Branson announced that he would personally be on the first public flight of SpaceShipTwo, on Christmas Day, 2013–a flight which, once again, did not actually materialise.

Still, the first SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise, continued relentless test flights, achieving powered flight in 2013 and breaking the stratosphere. Alas, perhaps the most tragic setback of all came on the thirty-first of October, 2014, when the Enterprise broke up mid-flight, killing its co-pilot and severely injuring its pilot. Virgin Galactic quite rightfully temporarily halted operations in the aftermath.

That, however, left the VSS Unity as the second SpaceShipTwo, the successor to the Enterprise. Unity began test flights in 2016, its name chosen by Stephen Hawking. The aforementioned eleventh test flight has not even seen Unity fly under its power– although we’re promised that it will come close. It is probably worth pointing out that Branson in October 2017 said publicly that Unity could reach space “within three months.” Well, it’s been three months since then, and while there has undoubtedly been progress, Unity hasn’t done anything of the sort.

Virgin Galactic exemplifies some of the problems with private spaceflight. Virgin Galactic is explicitly a space tourism firm. Space tourism may be appealing as a means of shortening bucket lists for Earth’s wealthy, but in reality offers extremely little of scientific or technical value. Additionally, space travel historically has taken a concerted effort by entire countries to even be remotely possible. If an enterprising individual with all the resources and passion of Branson struggles to even show anything for over a decade of work, then the dozens of other Silicon Valley-inspired startups promising simple and clean colonisation of Mars are even less likely to be anywhere close to successful.

category: Featured, Space Jam, Voices

Hundreds of Vanderbilt students fight flu virus

During the past few days, Vanderbilt students have experienced an increased number of flu cases. According to Dr. Louise Hanson, Medical Director of the Zerfoss Student Health Center, the center saw between 50 to 75 cases Monday, 75 to 100 on Tuesday and over 100 cases on Wednesday. Before break and last week, the center had been seeing 10 to 15 cases per week.

While Dr. Hanson noted that the flu is ravaging much of the U.S.–especially the Southeast–a spike in flu cases during this time of year is not all that unusual. Several factors contribute to this year’s surge on campus, including a relatively inefficient vaccine and the coincidence of flu season with Panhellenic formal recruitment.

“The flu vaccine is thought to be less effective than usual, which is probably contributing,” Hanson said. “Unfortunately, our big flu spike is usually seen in late January or early February and doesn’t usually coincide with recruitment in sororities. So it’s the “perfect storm”–less than perfect vaccine, lots of exposures and an earlier flu spike than usual.”

Most of the cases diagnosed at student health have been in either Panhellenic women or in potential new members of Panhellenic organizations, Hanson said. She speculates that this is because Panhellenic formal recruitment, which began last weekend and will continue this weekend, brings approximately 150 women into each house during each party and creates a breeding ground for the virus.  

Hanson recommends frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with those infected with the flu. Healthy adults are contagious beginning one day before symptoms develop until five to seven days after they become sick, Hanson said.

“People with flu can spread the virus to others up to about six feet away,” she said. “Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”

Students who are experiencing fever, aches, cough or other flu-like symptoms, can either call Student Health and make an appointment or walk in if all appointment slots are filled. Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used to treat the flu, is available by prescription. If taken within 48 hours of the emergence of symptoms, Tamiflu can reduce the duration and severity of flu symptoms as well as prevent the spread of the flu.

Tamiflu may also be prescribed to students who have had close contact with someone who has the flu in order to prevent them from contracting the virus. Students who wish to obtain a preventative prescription should contact their Student Health provider through the My Health at Vanderbilt portal. If a student doesn’t have a regular provider, they can call the Student Health Center or walk in to receive the medication.

Many students who have tried to obtain Tamiflu from local pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid have been met with disappointment as the pharmacies, met with a sudden increase in demand, have run out of the drug. However, the medicine is still available at the Student Health Center for approximately $140 without insurance. Most insurance providers will cover a large portion of the cost of the drug.

For more information about flu prevention, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm.

Student Health Center

category: Campus, Featured

IN STYLE: Vanderbilt students bundle up against the cold

When we came to Vanderbilt, many of us arrived from colder climates and set aside our parkas and wool socks. Yet here we are, drudging through icy campus paths in single digit temperatures. Some of us react to the lack of class cancellations by begrudgingly trekking from building to building in baggy sweatpants and slippers. Others view the powdery white backdrop as an opportunity to don their best winter fashion. Take notes from this week’s featured students on how to handle the cold without sacrificing style.

Rami Lieberman
Winter staple: “The beanie.”

Paul Gomez // Photograph by Hunter Long

Paul Gomez
Winter staple: “Dry boots.”

Tanya Wadhawan
Winter staple: “This Zara scarf because it doubles as a blanket. I can use it to sleep wherever I am.”

Michael Moblui
Winter staple: “I’m wearing H&M joggers with zippers on the side. I have a nice warm blue bomber that keeps me warm. Definitely had to pull my fur out today.”

Erin Primdahl // Hunter Long

Erin Primdahl
Winter staple: “My hat.”

Paul Garrard // Hunter Long

Paul Garrard
Winter staple: “Patagonia jacket.”

Rachel Anand // Photograph by Hunter Long

Rachel Anand
Winter staple: “I really like my tank top. Everyone has already yelled at me for wearing it, but I wear it in the classroom because it balances out the indoor and outdoor temperatures.”

Jeremy Mani
Winter staple: “This sweater was on hella sale. I’m from Houston, so this is pretty much what I’m wearing for the next 30 days.”

Lauren Lipa // Photograph by Hunter Long

Lauren Lipa
Winter staple: “My handmade crochet scarf. It would get wet if I wore it sledding though. Extra socks are also important. My toes are pretty numb right now.”

Sion Henry // Photograph by Hunter Long

Sion Henry
Winter staple: “My mom’s old coat and a hat that I got a long time ago. I’m wearing a bunch of stuff that I had before.”

category: fashion, Featured, Life

Talk Foodie to Me: A look at Nashville’s best kept food secrets

We hope you aren’t sick of food from the holidays, because we are bringing you a few of Nashville’s best kept food secrets. These places are too good to be kept under wraps, so check them out before the secret gets out.

  1. Rabbit Hole. This restaurant, opened by the chef of the Henley, is a one of a kind dining experience– if you can figure out how to get a reservation. To reserve a ticket customers have to scroll the Henley webpage until an icon of a rabbit pops up, which they chase around the screen and click to open the reservation page. The restaurant is hidden behind a secret door and boasts a 24 course tasting menu, and it is elevating the definition of fine dining in Nashville.
  2. Yeast Nashville. This East Nashville Bakery is best known for their Kolashes, a Danish breakfast staple consisting of a yeast dough with various sweet or savory fillings. The bakery makes their Kolaches fresh every morning, and there are plenty of things to pair with their signature item. We recommend the Tex-Czech!
  3. The Treehouse Restaurant. This restaurant and bar has something for everyone and has a surprisingly sophisticated feel despite being modeled like the interior of a treehouse. Their menu changes daily depending on which local vendors they are buying produce from, and they also offer beer on tap and great cocktails. Don’t miss out on their late night menu, available until 1 am!

We know you probably feel inspired to try new things this coming year, so add these three spots to your 2018 bucket list and check them off ASAP. You won’t regret it.

Sexual misdemeanor charge against Board of Trust member surfaces

During winter break, the Hustler staff received an envelope in the mail from an anonymous source containing court documents from a 2001 case involving Shirley Collado (‘94), the president of Ithaca College and a member of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust, having an improper relationship with a patient while she was training to be a trauma therapist in Washington, D.C. The maximum sentence for the charge was 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine.

The case ended with Collado, who has been on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust since 2014, pleading guilty “nolo contendere” (no contest) to one count of misdemeanor sex abuse, making her a second degree sexual offender. Collado’s sentence required her to complete 120 hours of community service, participate in counseling for health care providers who sexually assault their patients and write a letter of apology to the victim. In an interview with The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student newspaper, Collado said that there have never been other allegations of sexual misconduct against her.

Vanderbilt University was not aware of these charges when Collado was appointed to the Board of Trust.

“Shirley Collado spoke openly and publicly about this issue at the time of her vetting and appointment as president of Ithaca College, which is when Vanderbilt became aware of the matter,” Vanderbilt University said in a statement to the Hustler. “She has consistently denied these accusations. These accusations will not affect her status on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust.”

The Hustler reached out to Ithaca College for comment on Jan. 13. Days later, Collado wrote a letter to the Ithaca College community explaining the context of the allegations. In the letter, Collado denied the charges and discussed several hardships that led her to plead guilty in the case, including her husband’s suicide.

“In light of the resurfacing of this legal action, I want to unequivocally state now, as I did then, that the accusations in the court documents are simply not true,” Collado wrote in the letter. “If I had had more resources and was not dealing with my significant loss, I probably would have fought the charge. But I did what I felt was in my best interest at that time and followed my lawyer’s advice.”

Collado was a part of the first class of Posse Scholars, and received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt in 1994. She went on to pursue M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University. Collado served as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Middlebury College until 2014. In this position, Collado was responsible for developing sexual misconduct and judicial policies, among other functions.

At Vanderbilt, Collado chairs the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, is a member of the Executive Committee and Campaign Committee, and recently completed a membership on the Land Use Committee. In 2015, she was given Peabody’s Distinguished Alumna Award. Collado was named the president of Ithaca College in February 2017.

At the time of the case, Collado was training to be a trauma therapist at the Washington Psychiatric Center Traumatic Stress Syndrome Ward, shortly after completing her Ph.D. According to the Government’s Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing from the case, while Collado was working at the Center, a patient stated that she and Collado “began a sexual relationship” in May 2000, when the two women kissed. According to the victim, Collado told her that these actions, which included fondling and kissing, would be “therapeutic for the victim; that it would bring her out of her shell,” the government memorandum states.

In her interview with the Ithacan, Collado denied this allegation. One of Collado’s former co-workers told the Ithacan they believe the patient’s allegation that she and Collado had a sexual relationship.

After the victim was discharged from the Center in June of 2000, she claimed that she moved into Collado’s house and that their sexual relationship continued. According to the government memorandum, the victim recorded these events in her journal. While Collado confirms that the victim moved in with her, she denies any sexual contact.

The victim notified other therapists at the Center of her sexual relationship with Collado in November of 2000. The victim forwarded emails that she had received from Collado as well as photographs from a trip she took with Collado to the therapists.

“As for us, I must tell you that not a day goes by that I don’t regret mixing everything up, setting poor boundaries and misleading you/[name omitted]/etc. In any way… Anyway, all this is to say that I am not good for you, [victim’s name]… As far as [adult male acquaintance of Collado] is concerned, we are working on many things including what we gained and lost from being intimate with you, building trust between us, deciding what we can be open about at this point…” read one of the emails, which was included in the government memorandum.

After this, founders of the Center were notified. Due to the evidence from the photos and knowledge of the victim, the Director of the Center believed her allegations. The Director of the Center has not responded to the Hustler’s attempt to contact her.

In the defendant’s memorandum, which is cited by the Ithacan article, Collado’s lawyer stated that had the case gone to trial, Collado’s roommate would have testified–and an expert witness would have confirmed–that the victim accessed Collado’s computer while staying in her home, and that the victim authored the emails that she forwarded to the Center as evidence of her relationship with Collado.

The Center viewed the outside relationship between Collado and the victim as an ethical violation and grounds for immediate termination. In her interview with the Ithacan, Collado claimed that she never had a conversation with the directors despite her attempts to contact them.

“The laws and ethical rules prohibiting sexual and outside relationships with former or current patients are designed to prevent the very activity that occurred in this case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Marcus-Kurn, who prosecuted the case, wrote in the government memorandum. “The law recognizes that individuals that are wards of psychiatric institutions are extremely vulnerable to being abused and taken advantage of. The laws are designed to protect them and punish anyone who violates the therapist/patient relationship.”

When the Director of the Center confronted Collado, she admitted that she’d lived with the victim and had been in the area of the Center where the victim claimed sexual contact took place, but denied any type of sexual relationship occurred.

The victim claimed she was too emotional to write a formal letter to the court about the impact that these events had on her. However, she expressed her feelings over the phone with the following statement:

“It brings on such immense pain and it is very very intense feelings of confusion. I start hearing her calling her name, I start smelling her, I start remembering her telling me that it would be good for me to sleep with Steve, and I remember being raped, and I have blocked that all out and I’m afraid that it would kill me if I start dealing with it right now. She has hurt me beyond belief and it’s like so bad that I can hardly touch it because it hurts so bad. I have to take it really slow. I know that I feel a lot inside but I’m not really sure what all of those feelings are because I try really hard not to feel them but I know that they are painful as hell. I literally feel that I will fall apart every time i think I’ll deal with it. And it hurts too much. And I’m really angry that she slept with me and that she convinced me to sleep with her boyfriend and I feel that I was raped and that there is nothing I can do with it because I believe it isn’t against the law in D.C.”

Collado continues to deny that any sexual relationship occurred between the two women at any time, despite the victim’s claims in the government memorandum.

“I can’t speculate why the therapists reported what they did,” she told The Ithacan. “What I can tell you, in a very general way, without disclosing her whole medical profile… this is someone who was treated multiple times — not just by me, by multiple hospitalizations and therapists — had a very serious psychiatric disorders that have lasted years upon years in a pretty serious profile when you look at dissociative disorders, psychotic disorders, things like that.”

The government memorandum, however, states that both of the victim’s two other therapists at the time believe her allegations against Collado, having known her for a long period of time and finding her to be an “extremely truthful person.”

“Although she may have flashbacks of prior abuse or may relive traumatic experiences, her therapists have stated that she does not fabricate or hallucinate things that simply did not happen,” the government memorandum said. “In other words, she has not experienced psychotic episodes and has never been diagnosed as psychotic.”

Ithaca College knew about this matter when they appointed her as president last year.

“We were provided with detailed information regarding this situation, and Dr. Collado was extremely forthright in answering all our questions,” the Board stated. “Then, as now, she vehemently denied the allegations that were made against her.”

The Ithaca Board of Trustees affirmed their support for Collado today.

“Since becoming president of Ithaca College, Dr. Shirley M. Collado has proven to be a great leader, demonstrating not only her commitment to students, faculty, and the broader college community but also to an openness and inclusiveness that are important assets for our institution moving forward,” the Board stated. “One of the things that set Dr. Collado apart during the search process was her compelling personal and professional story, which included not only significant accomplishments in her work life but also a background of achievement and overcoming individual challenges that made her the right choice for a college like Ithaca at this time.”

Tom Grape, the chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees, defended Collado in an interview with the Ithacan.

“My own perspective about it is this is something of almost 20 years ago that was adjudicated in court and has been settled,” Grape said. “And I think for us to sort of go back and ask people, well, something that happened 20 years ago when there’s since been a 20-year history of behavior that is spotless, to me, the matter was settled with the court action 20 years ago.”

Full Statements

Collado's LetterIthaca College Board of Trust's Statement

From President Collado

Recently, I learned that an anonymous source has been circulating misleading information to other colleges and universities and their news outlets about a traumatic time in my life that took place almost 20 years ago. Seeing how profoundly the facts and my character are being misrepresented and being forced to relive the pain of that time have left me feeling upset, perplexed, and targeted. I do not know who is disseminating this information or how widely it is being shared.

I have been candid about this very trying chapter of my life, and how it has influenced the way I approach my work and my personal path. I have discussed it over the years with confidantes and with leaders I’ve worked for. I discussed it with the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee during my candidacy for president. While trying to maintain a degree of privacy and confidentiality for myself and other individuals, I shared the broad details of this story in an interview<https://www.ithaca.edu/president/news/incoming-president-shirley-m.-collado-shares-her-story-part-1-43846/> published by the college as part of my introduction to the campus community last spring.

Because the story is personal, it’s very hard to describe the details more publicly than I have in the past, with a campus community who is still getting to know me. However, after intensive reflection, I have decided that I must follow my commitment to owning our full stories with humanity and insight.

In 2000, less than a year after finishing my Ph.D., I was in training as a trauma therapist in a mental health center in a hospital in Washington, D.C., working with patients suffering from very severe psychiatric disorders that limited their ability to function independently. A short time after I began this work, my husband of three years killed himself in our home. He was my best friend and my rock, and I could not understand why he did this to himself and to us. I was devastated, and took a leave of absence to try to work through my overwhelming grief.

During my leave of absence, a former patient sought me out for help when she was in crisis and had no place to stay. Worried for her safety, I invited her into the home I shared with my roommate, but after a brief period I realized that I could not provide the support she was looking for while I myself was trying to heal. So, I let her know that she could no longer stay with us and helped her move out.

Shortly thereafter, I received the news that she was making allegations about me to the staff at the hospital. I suddenly found myself fighting a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge for allegedly having touched her once in a sexual manner above her clothing while she was under my treatment at the center.

I fought the charge to the best of my ability, but my fighting spirit was limited by so many things. I was in my twenties, had very little money and resources, and was grieving a profound personal loss.

And so, I juggled two very strong and opposing instincts: to defend myself aggressively against a painful, false accusation or to devote my energy to healing from my loss. My lawyer recommended pleading no contest to the misdemeanor charge so that I could just end the matter quickly and move on. After a lot of soul searching, I took his advice. I pled no contest, or nolo contendre, to the misdemeanor, ending the matter, and moved back to New York to be with my family, where I completed probation and community service.

In light of the resurfacing of this legal action, I want to unequivocally state now, as I did then, that the accusations in the court documents are simply not true. If I had had more resources and was not dealing with my significant loss, I probably would have fought the charge. But I did what I felt was in my best interest at that time and followed my lawyer’s advice.

I could have let this terrible episode discourage me from advocating for people with mental illness and limited resources, but there are so many people like my former patient who have experienced great trauma and illness and face extraordinary challenges related to health care, housing, employment, education, safety, and more. I actively continued teaching in the areas of trauma and the intersections of trauma, mental health, race, culture, and gender. And, I devoted a great deal of effort to improving services, support, policies, processes, education, training, and prevention related to sexual misconduct and gender-based violence during my tenure at both Middlebury College and Rutgers University–Newark.

I believe that the experience helped sharpen a sense of humanity and empathy that has been with me throughout my career in education. I have always worked to ensure that people’s full humanity is respected and understood, without reducing them only to their most visible labels, diagnoses, or social markers. When I work with students, staff, and faculty dealing with hardships, difficult decisions, big mistakes, losses, or trauma, I have a personal lens that is informed by my own experience and the amazing resilience that I know we all have within us.

I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support and compassion I have received from the board and from all those with whom I’ve discussed this difficult story. And I want to thank you, now, for giving me the time to share this deeply personal and painful part of my life.

Shirley M. Collado

A message of support for President Shirley M. Collado from the Board of Trustees

President Collado has the full support of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. Since becoming president of Ithaca College, Dr. Shirley M. Collado has proven to be a great leader, demonstrating not only her commitment to students, faculty, and the broader college community but also to an openness and inclusiveness that are important assets for our institution moving forward. One of the things that set Dr. Collado apart during the search process was her compelling personal and professional story, which included not only significant accomplishments in her work life but also a background of achievement and overcoming individual challenges that made her the right choice for a college like Ithaca at this time.

The board of trustees, with the assistance of our search consultant Spencer Stuart, conducted extensive due diligence as part of our final candidate vetting process. This thorough background check included a leadership profile analysis and reference checks with a number of individuals we identified as having knowledge of her skills, character, leadership style, and accomplishments.

During the process, we learned of a legal action brought against Dr. Collado, nearly 20 years ago. We were provided with detailed information regarding this situation, and Dr. Collado was extremely forthright in answering all our questions. Then, as now, she vehemently denied the allegations that were made against her. She discussed at length the incredibly difficult circumstances she was facing at the time, and we came to understand the courage with which she navigated the tragic loss of her husband and the devastation of accusations leveled in this vulnerable moment. We know that her decision to resolve the legal action quickly was an extremely difficult one, made on the advice of legal counsel, to try to gain a sense of closure at a very fraught time for her.

As part of the search process, many people who knew or worked with Dr. Collado throughout her career provided answers to a wide range of questions that we had, including on the legal action. Their responses reinforced to us that Dr. Collado had the experience, drive, and personal qualities to make an exceptional president for our college.

It is important to note that, in addition to providing us with details on the incident, she proactively discussed it in an interview<https://www.ithaca.edu/president/news/incoming-president-shirley-m.-collado-shares-her-story-part-1-43846/> that was published by the college last March, shortly after she was announced as our next president. That interview remains publicly available on the Office of the President website.

It is evident that Dr. Collado’s subsequent life experiences, her professional successes, and her empathetic nature demonstrate resilience of character and an ability to both learn and grow from an extremely challenging set of circumstances.

As we stated earlier, Dr. Collado has our full support. She was the right choice when she was named president of Ithaca College last year, and her first six months in office have only reinforced our belief in what an exceptional person and leader she truly is.

Sam Zern, Dallas Shatel, Gracie Pitman and Jenna Moldaver contributed to this report. 

Editor’s Note: The victim’s name has been redacted in this article. 

category: Campus, Featured

‘The Post’ stands as a tribute to press and gender equality

Millions of dollars in bribes, decades of deception, three presidencies and one big lie to the American public. Steven Spielberg’s The Post chronicles the U.S. government’s systematic cover-up of failures in the Vietnam War and the press’s struggle to uncover the truth. Head to the theater this weekend for a familiar collision of federal indiscretion and journalistic intrigue.

The year is 1971. The Vietnam War has raged for sixteen years, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of American dollars. In what soon became known as the Pentagon Papers, war analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaks top secret files to The New York Times that detail the truth of the Vietnam War. The American public has been lied to for decades, denied of the truth that the conflict in Indochina had become a lost cause. Now, the floundering Washington Post must decide whether to publish more of the Pentagon Papers and face possible annihilation at the hands of the Nixon administration. The Post is a high-stakes drama that recounts one of America’s most unsettling scandals.

Of the year’s biggest dramas, The Post touts the most prominent cast and directorship. One of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors, Steven Spielberg, returns to the big screen with an equally accomplished cast. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the Post’s chief editor, and Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham, the nation’s first female newspaper publisher. Both are seamless in their roles and draw on decades of experience and dedication to their characters. They’re flanked by supporting talent that follows suit, including Sarah Paulson as Bradlee’s wife Tony and Bob Odenkirk as Post journalist Ben Badikian. While The Post remains faithful to the true story at the expense of its own vitality, its cast and directorship ensure its place among 2018’s best films.

Meryl Streep’s performance as an undaunted female in an all-male industry is the heart of The Post’s story. It is ultimately Graham’s decision to publish the story that will shock millions, and her journey from incapable heiress of the Washington Post to its confident, rightful publisher is impactful. Spielberg’s film carries this struggle for gender equality to the point of inundation at times, reminding us of the institutional and social oppression Graham faces a few too many times. Still, Streep’s performance as the embattled publisher is a must-see and is deserving of the Oscar attention that will surely come her way.

Overall,The Post tells a fascinating true story but fails to add new substance. Viewers who are passionate about freedom of the press will find Spielberg’s latest drama captivating and timely. Others that are less interested in the topic may be won over by the superb casting and deliberation. However, The Post never fully drew me in. The dilemma of whether or not to publish the Pentagon Papers never distracted me from the historical fact that they were in fact published, which prevented me from fully investing in the drama unfolding on screen. The Post takes advantage of an unbelievable story but fails to recount it in a way that elevates the source material. Nonetheless, Spielberg’s latest film is a powerful story of freedom of speech and the courage to do what’s right no matter the odds. The Post comes in at a 7/10 in my book. See it this weekend for a study break you won’t regret.

IN PHOTOS: Students brave snow to attend classes

Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Despite inches of snow and freezing temperatures, most classes went on as scheduled. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Despite inches of snow and freezing temperatures, most classes went on as scheduled. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Despite inches of snow and freezing temperatures, most classes went on as scheduled. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Despite inches of snow and freezing temperatures, most classes went on as scheduled. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. Despite inches of snow and freezing temperatures, most classes went on as scheduled. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snow hits the Vanderbilt campus on January 16, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu // The Vanderbilt Hustler)
Snowy weather visits Vanderbilt on Tuesday, January 16, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett // The Vanderbilt Hustler)

Students able to access New York Times with free subscription through the university

For the next two months, Vanderbilt students will be able to request a free subscription to the New York Time. Their accounts will give them full online access to thousands of articles dating back decades, be it through their laptops, phones or tablets. Danielle Evans, the economics major responsible for program, said the next two months are a trial program meant to gauge whether or not enough students would utilize the free subscription.

“With this trial program, what we’re trying to do is get as many subscribers as possible and get a continuous readership,” Evans said. “That way, Vanderbilt can sign a permanent contract with the New York Times, and hopefully we can extend that to the Wall Street Journal.”

Evans began trying to bring the free subscription to campus during the 2017 spring semester. After coming back from a semester abroad, she discovered that Vanderbilt had discontinued its free print newspaper program, which gave students access to free copies of a number of major national newspapers, like USA Today and the New York Times. Although the university ensures that students can access research articles and scholarly journals free of charge, access to newspapers has been less consistent, with only print editions of the Wall Street Journal provided to the students in recent years.

Eager to get news access back on campus, Evans worked to secure almost 2,000 undergraduate signatures.

“People were actually really interested in the [newspaper] program, they really wanted it,” Evans said. “They just didn’t even know that it existed in the first place.”

Evans herself admits that she found her first copy by accident while in Central Library.

“That’s why they had some many leftover papers,” Evans said. “It was really hidden.”

During a presentation on the program, Evans was quick to stress the importance of papers like the New York Times in a university setting.

“This is a partisan time, and national newspapers that include different opinions and writers promote inquiry, discourse and understanding,” Evans said. “Though it can be argued that every newspaper has a bias, national newspapers are more reliable when subjected to fact-checking.”

She also likes to remind students that Vanderbilt provides free subscriptions to HBO, rather than to newspapers.

“Can you believe that we don’t have the New York Times and we have HBO?” Evans said.

With the trail program now live, undergraduate students can secure their own subscription at www.nytimesaccess.com/vanderbilt/, where they can make an account in less than a minute. Their accounts work on the New York Times mobile apps. The trial program will last for two months. After the program expires, university administration will decide whether the number of readers will warrant a full contract.

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

VSG talks first semester platform progress, end-of-year goals

When students returned to campus this semester, they were greeted with Vanderbilt Student Government’s annual Mid-Year Report, which detailed the organization’s major accomplishments for the year. According to VSG President Jami Cox, the main focus has been ensuring that the platform points are addressed and that VSG communicates its progress with students.

“I think one thing that we really tried to do this year is stick to getting the platform done,” Cox said. “In a lot of years past it’s really hard once you get into the cycle of VSG and everyone’s coming up with new ideas and initiatives. It’s really hard to do what you said you were going to do the in the first place, so that was something we actually wanted to keep track of. We made sort of 20 platform promises and we’re at about 14 or 15 of those being done or in progress.”

In their initial platform, Cox and Vice President Ryan Connor emphasized the need for greater student involvement in VSG initiatives. They campaigned on the promise to include more students in meetings with administrators and to host listening sessions to gain perspective from students. During first semester, they hosted listening sessions with the Multicultural Leadership Council and Lambda and brought members of Vanderbilt SPEAR to meetings with administrators regarding the environmental sustainability of new buildings on campus. They hope to continue to host more sessions this semester, while also keeping in mind that organizations already have a lot of their own work to do.

We made sort of 20 platform promises and we’re at about 14 or 15 of those being done or in progress.

Another major initiative for the year is financial inclusivity. During the fall semester, VSG created a Economic Inclusivity ad-hoc committee, which will begin looking into best practices surrounding financial inclusivity during the spring semester.

The Economic Inclusivity Task Force was something that we did immediately after we were elected,” Cox said. “We made an ad-hoc committee focused solely on economic inclusivity, for which Ryan Coyne and Ryan Connor are chairs. Their committee has been working on sort of a two-fold thing, because this is something that faculty and administrators are also caring about, so they’re working on a partnership with faculty for peer institution research for economic inclusivity.”

While VSG says 70 percent of platform points have been addressed thus far, some have had to be discarded. One of the points that is no longer being pursued is the separation of VSG from AcFee, the student led organization that is charged with distributing nearly $1.7 million per year to student organizations. According to Cox and Senate Speaker Molly Gupta, the organizations have grown apart over the years and VSG has largely severed its managerial involvement with AcFee, as old policies that required VSG members to oversee AcFee committees were done away with. Still, the organizations are financially tied together, and this year’s VSG leadership realized that separating the two entirely would be less productive than focusing on reforming the organizations instead.

“If we were to sever that there would be no student organization startup fund,” Gupta said. “So we thought that preserving that startup fund was more important than just taking off that platform AcFee piece.”

One way that VSG is looking to reform AcFee is by making it more accessible to the student organizations. By building relationships with vendors, Cox hopes that they will be able to bring down costs associated with running a student organization, like the price of t-shirts or pizza for events, for which organizations would often use AcFee funding.

In addition to partnering with vendors to alleviate student organization costs, VSG has also focused on building partnerships to increase access to Nashville for students. This year, Cox and Gupta met with Lyft to work on bringing less expensive rides to Vanderbilt students looking to explore the city or get to the airport. VSG was able to provide Lyft discount codes to students getting to the airport during Thanksgiving and Winter break, and has an ongoing partnership that gives students 50 percent off rides when travelling to Passport to Nashville sites.

During the spring semester, Cox hopes to continue expanding rideshare options to students, particularly to students who have to travel off campus for things like external mental health providers or doctor’s appointments.  They are also hoping to work with the university to allow student tailgates for baseball games as a means of increasing game attendance. However, Gupta said that it is hard to know for sure what all will be feasible in the coming semester.

“Jamie and Ryan ran on a set of platform points and when you enter office there are another set of things that you have to deal with besides the things that you anticipate,” Gupta said. “We were aware, but because a lot of things are confidential to you until you are elected you are not informed of the timeline of how things work, so while you’re working on your platform you have to be responsive, and even now, looking forward to this coming semester, I can’t say a full agenda because I know I have half of my goals and then the other 800 percent will be responding.”

In addition to meeting with VSG leaders, The Hustler asked members of the VSG cabinet and senate to talk about their accomplishments during the fall semester and how those decisions affected and will affect the campus community.  

Executive BranchCabinetCommiteesSenate

Jami Cox, VSG President
As President of VSG, I worked with the executive board to provide student input in administrative meetings, support the initiatives of each branch, and strengthen the organization’s relationship with the campus community. As a representative of the students, I serve on various committees including the search committee for the Vice Provost for Equity Diversity and Inclusion and the University Transportation Strategy group. In coordinating VSG’s continued support of FutureVU initiatives, I sought to integrate each branch into implementation strategies. An example of such work is orchestrating the Campus Life committee’s new partnership between the university and Lyft. However, the most rewarding aspect of my role has been interacting with the student body, whether speaking to various student leaders in organizational visits or attending Common’s house events to get to know first years. I look forward to continuing this work with the rest of the executive board this semester.

Ryan Connor, VSG Vice President
Throughout my first-semester as Vice-President, I’ve worked alongside my committee members to lay the foundation for the Economic Inclusivity committee and prepare for our final administrative report. I’ve also worked with the executive board to advocate and empower students’ voices through a myriad of different initiatives. For instance, making a concentrated effort to invite students to our monthly meetings with Chancellor Zeppos has been an initiative that has proven successful and has been a great example of us leveraging VSG resources to empower students. Overseeing the committee branch has been an incredible experience, and witnessing the work of all the committee chairs and committee members has been amazing. The work they do changes campus in so many ways and it has been such a privilege to be their branch head this year.

Olivia Solow-Niederman, Chief of Staff
As a member of Exec and Cabinet, I am especially proud of the organization’s focus on and commitment to making sure that VSG remains transparent, accessible, and connected to campus. In Cabinet, we manage a lot of the behind the scenes logistics of the organization, from mentorship to professional development to volunteering to PR (we are so excited to have officially launched our VSG Instagram account @vanderbiltstudentgov). In addition, we have also been striving to expand our focus outwards through initiatives, partnerships, co-sponsorships, and the external student body email. In particular, two new positions to Cabinet this year— the Director of Active Citizenship and Service and the Director of Campus Outreach— have been working towards this goal by partnering with student organizations and administrative offices to develop campus responses to natural disasters and current events and by spearheading a Cabinet initiative to create an online guidebook to the many student organizations on campus, respectively. I am very motivated by the work that we have done so far as a Cabinet, as an Exec Board, and as an organization this year and I am looking forward to finishing the year even stronger!  

Phyllis Doremus, Deputy Chief of Staff
This past semester I had the opportunity to work on a number of different initiatives, but the one that I am probably the most excited about is making Green Dot Training mandatory for all members of VSG. As student leaders, we are responsible for promoting the safety of students across campus and combating sexual assault. Completion of Green Dot training is critical to equipping students with the skills and confidence to safely and appropriately intervene to reduce, disrupt, and prevent sexual and intimate partner violence. Throughout the semester, I worked heavily with Sara Starr, the Chair of the Vanderbilt Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee, and Project Safe to coordinate training times and ensuring that each member was aware of the policy. Although we are still in the process of training all members, I am hopeful that this initiative can help continue to create a norm of mandatory Green Dot Trainings for student leaders across campus.

Julianna Hernandez, Director of Publicity
As the Director of Publicity, I successfully set up a PR Request form for other organizations to use as well as an Instagram page. The PR Request form allows all campus organizations to utilize VSG’s resources to publicize their events, therefore encouraging more attendance and outreach for various organizations. The Instagram page allows the campus community to easily see upcoming VSG events and co-sponsorships, as well as gain insight on the projects VSG does to improve campus life.

Lanier Langdale, Programming Coordinator
This fall semester I continued working on the Vanderbilt Mobile App. We added features that include viewing campus dining menus and nutrition, viewing your order status at the Pub, downloading football tickets, seeing your class schedule, reserving rooms, viewing your laundry status, and so much more. All of these changes work towards the ultimate goal of consolidating all of Vanderbilt’s resources into one mobile app as well as giving students easier access to the resources available to them!

Isabel Futral, Director of Programming
The programming team was able to co-sponsor 23 different events for 20 different student organizations over the course of the fall semester to spotlight everything from gaming conventions to cultural dinners and vibrant dance showcases. Our focus on providing funds to as many organizations as possible allowed us to learn about and support events both monetarily and through volunteership. These funds help student organizations host more events throughout the year by alleviating some of the budgetary constraints large events can have, and our work with the PR team increased awareness across campus of co-sponsored events.

Robert Travis, Director of Technology
My main initiative for the fall semester was increasing the visibility of the Judicial Branch online. This is the first year that they have been featured on the website, so having their biographies and the services they provide has been a huge step in increasing their accessibility. Two ongoing initiative that I will be launching over the weekend are the expansion of the website’s document hub to include Judicial decisions and the publishing  of biographies on all of the Senators. These initiatives seek to expand accessibility to branches that are sometimes underutilized but provide vital resources to both the organization and the student body.

Andrew Brodsky, Director of Active Citizenship and Service
One of the largest initiatives that I tackled throughout the fall semester was Vanderbilt’s disaster response initiatives. Through working with campus partners such as OACS, the BCC, Athletics, and dining, we were able to raise thousands of dollars and donate several truckloads of clothing and supplies to communities impacted by the many natural disasters that affected communities across the country. Through this work, we were able to connect Vanderbilt to the larger U.S. community, while also supporting those members of the Vanderbilt community whose homes were affected by these disasters.

Carter Powers, Director of Human Resources
As Director of Human Resources, my main responsibilities include maintaining the VSG Attendance Policy and developing mentorship events to benefit our first-time members. We are in the process of planning a mentorship event for mid-February, and we hope to feature discussions revolving around how to take one’s VSG experience past VSG to other organizations and vice versa. In the attendance policy, we require our members to be actively engaged in the campus community by participating in our events or our Co-Sponsorships. Members earn 1 point for attending an event and 2 for volunteering. In the first, our members accumulated over 500 points. Through participating in these events, we hope that our members are more actively engaged in the community they serve and bring new perspectives back to VSG to more effectively advocate for students and groups across campus.

Zack Ely, Chief Justice of the Judicial Court
I major in Molecular and Cellular Biology, and this is my second year on the Judicial Court. As Chief Justice, I am responsible for facilitating Judicial Court proceedings and serving as the Court’s representative to the rest of VSG and the student body. In this academic year, we resolved an issue regarding an election for the Blair College Council President, and we revised our bylaws to reflect the current state of VSG and its Constitution. For the spring semester, we plan to update our archive of previous Judicial Court decisions with a concise summary, which should provide a useful reference for both the Court and the student body.

Sam DeFabrizio​, Academic Affairs
The Academic Affairs committee produced a wealth of research regarding registration periods, mentorship programs, sample schedules and more. The work accomplished this semester lead to more thoughtful scheduling, better resources for incoming students, and more equity of opportunities surrounding the classroom.

Christine Lim​, Campus Life
This semester, the VSG Campus Life Committee served as a bridge between students and administrators with the goal of creating better student experiences on campus. The Campus Life Committee collaborated with Lyft, the Rideshare Committee, Parking Services, and the administration on providing monthly discount codes to events. We also worked on rideshare programs that focus on economic inclusivity and safe rides, both on campus and throughout Nashville. We also launched a Vanderbilt mobile app, centralizing various campus services including laundry, tickets, dining, and other services into one location. In collaboration with Campus Dining, we have started to have monthly meetings where we discussed students’ suggestions in order to make better dining experiences for students. Several dining initiatives that we have launched include Chobani and Quest Bars as sides and increased dining options on campus and at events. Looking ahead, we are working on the annual dining survey, which will be sent out to students soon in order to gather feedback. Lastly, Campus Life worked with the Dean of Students on adding outdoor seating outside of Rand.

Brianna Watkins​, Community Building, Outreach, and Diversity (CBOD)
During the fall semester the VSG Community Building, Outreach, and Diversity Committee worked on a number of initiatives. Some of our most successful initiatives so far has been working with the Career Center to increase information regarding post graduate opportunities for international students, collaborating with campus organizations to develop an accessibility checklist for campus events, working with administration to improve transfer students’ process of transitioning to Vanderbilt campus, and establishing a partnership with the MLC.

Nico Gardner​, Executive Steering
Executive Steering has been busy this semester reforming the way we as VSG run candidate elections. We introduced and passed reform that provided more resources to the elections commission in order to ensure that elections are fair and better publicized. We also developed a new reimbursement policy for Senate candidates for their campaign expenses. We also sought to create an electoral system that was accessible and public to everyone, regardless of financial background and I strongly believe we have done that.

Simon Silverberg​, Residential and Environmental Affairs
During the first semester, one of our most successful initiatives involved interviewing and surveying campus residents about gender inclusive housing, and we hope to expand gender inclusive housing options for incoming first-years. We have also pursued an array of environmental initiatives and are especially excited about an upcoming environmental education seminar that we will host alongside SPEAR. Additionally, the VSG Residential and Environmental Affairs committee has played a crucial role in promoting and supporting the Vanderbilt Green Fund and FutureVU initiatives.

Sam Garfield​, Student Health and Wellness
As Chair of the Student Health and Wellness Committee, I do a lot of work with existing health and wellness organizations on campus. During the fall semester my committee created a Mental Health Roundtable to bring together campus leaders focused on mental health to centralize our efforts and discussions. Additionally, we were able to volunteer and work with grassroots campaigns such as #ListenWithMe and Health Guardians. Next semester, we hope to create an Advisory Board for the Recreation and Wellness Center and continue to advocate for more substance use education and awareness, as well as increased satellite services for campus institutions like the Center for Student Wellbeing on Commons.

Sara Starr​, Vanderbilt Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention (VSAP)
In the fall semester, VSAP began our efforts to create a safe community for survivors, which can so far be best seen through the events we have held that seek to provide all survivors with a comfortable space to partake in events with each other. We are working to further establish these opportunities in order to create a community in which survivors can come together and support each other. We also successfully passed a bill that mandates that all of VSG must receive Green Dot training as part of our continuing efforts to create a campus community that is accountable for one another. We are continuing to work on creating ways to serve as a more truly representative committee and helping organizations across campus find their voices on these issues. We also intend to reissue our biannual Student Perspectives report by the end of this semester.

Barton Christmas, West House Senator
My name is Barton Christmas, and I’m a first year student from Paducah, KY studying History and Secondary Education. I currently serve in VSG as the Senator for West House. Over the course of the year, I’ve been meeting with various campus administrators in pursuit of shifting the school from Early Decision to Early Action as the primary admissions plan. I’m also working on legislation requesting the ability to host pets as guests, similar to the current ResEd policy of allowing registered human guests for up to three days. Hoping to make this school a more economically diverse and animal friendly kinda place!

Tam Wheat, Moore College Senator and Health & Wellness Liaison
I’m currently serving as a member of the undergraduate senate and as a committee liaison for VSG’s Student Health and Wellness Committee. In the past two semesters, VSG has hosted two town halls in collaboration with the Chancellor’s Strategic Planning Committee on Student Health and Well-being in order to receive student feedback on how to improve mental health on our campus. Some of the VSG senate’s formal requests for the administration are that off-campus referrals for psychological counselors are continually reduced, on-campus counseling centers become more adequately staffed and trained (particularly in regard to cultural competency) and that faculty continue to work with students to ensure that the classroom environment meets various mental health needs. As the senate representative for Moore College, I have been also been responding to the requests of Moore residents, working alongside committee chairs to install more water bottle filling stations both within Moore and other residence halls and to grant red line Vandy Van access to Kissam. The last initiative on which I am working is a campus beautification project– I would like to see more student-commissioned artwork showcased on campus, so I am collaborating with the Campus Life committee to achieve this goal.

Kate Petosa, East House Senator
I’m a first-year senator for East house and I have really enjoyed representing my dorm and the rest of the student body as a member of Senate. This year I have acted as a liaison on my house’s HAC, ensuring that every stays informed on senate legislation and VSG activities. I also co-sponsored a bill advocating for a better distribution of parking permits between Greek organizations and the student body. In the future I look forward to working with the Speaker of the House to plan a joint session between Student Senate and Faculty Senate to facilitate dialogue.

Chris Marcus, Murray House Senator
Chris Marcus is a First Year majoring in Economics and Political Science from Brookline, Massachusetts. In his free time, he enjoys running, watching sports and traveling.This year, he has been focused on increasing campus sustainability and improving Senate’s communication with constituents. This semester, he is interested in working on the reallocation of Senate seats as well campus dining reform.

Christian Cox, Peabody Senator
This year as the Peabody College Senator, I’ve been working on several initiatives. Together with VSG’s Executive Steering committee, I’ve helped create legislation that changed VSG’s election procedures to make positions more accessible to the student body. I’m also beginning to work on reallocating the Senate as Vanderbilt opens new residential colleges so that all students can be fairly represented.

Keeheon Nam, Blair College Council President
My name is Keeheon and I’m a senior clarinet performance major at the Blair School of Music. I serve in the VSG Senate as the representative of the Blair Student Council, for which I am serving as president. Currently, I am in the Health and Wellness Senate liaison group and we’ve been working with the committee to get their voice heard by writing legislation, as well as feature health and wellness issues and concerns of Blair students.

Lucija Tacer, Deputy Speaker and Highland Quad Senator
I currently serve as the Highland Quad Senator and Deputy Speaker. This past semester, I worked on a resolution responding to a student-led petition to improve music practice rooms on campus. Due to the legislation, the Senate was able to ensure the update of existing practice rooms with better sounds systems and the application of these recommendations to practice rooms in newly built dormitories. On Highland Quad, I worked on improving laundry services. The Highland laundry rooms were often out of order or required long waiting periods, because of the slow and unreliable processing of the swipe machines. After communicating with IT personnel, the cards readers now process significantly faster.

Austin Konkle, A&S Senator
My name is Austin Konkle and I have had the honor to serve as a senator for the College of Arts and Science for the 2017-2018 school year. I’m passionate about service and this year I’ve found that there’s no greater satisfaction than being able to serve our incredible community of students. Pressing onward into the spring semester, I plan on investigating further one of my original senate campaign platforms, heightening campus safety with increased lighting where necessary, as well as assist in restructuring the university’s community creed to more accurately reflect and channel the values of the current student body.

Kevin Zhang, A&S College Council President
Kevin Zhang is a Senior from Naperville, Illinois studying Economics and Political Science. Kevin is actively involved in the undergraduate business scene and has a passion for helping students find career pathways. In VSG, Kevin serves as the President of the College of Arts & Science Council and represents the College of Arts & Science Council in the VSG Senate. Kevin serves on the Committee for Economic Inclusivity and recently launched an initiative aimed at creating a digital version of the org fair so it’s easier for students to find their home on campus.

Patrick Timmins, Towers III & IV Senator
This year, I am working with the Chair of the Executive Steering Committee and members of VSG exec on reforming elections to be more financially inclusive. We aim to eliminate monetary barriers for campaigns, so that all students who wish to run are able. I am also working with the Office of Greek Life, Traffic and Parking, and Greek leaders to increase the number of F spots on Main Campus. My goal is to make parking more equitable by converting excess Greek spots into F/Zone 3 Parking.

category: Campus, Featured, Hustler

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Basketball, sorority recruitment, snow & more

Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses to Tennessee 92-84 January 9, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
The Vanderbilt Commodores fall to the University of Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. (Photo by Brent Szklaruk)
The Vanderbilt Commodores fall to the University of Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. (Photo by Brent Szklaruk)
Saben Lee takes a shot while falling during the game on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)
Snow and ice cover Vanderbilt’s campus on Friday, January 12, 2018, one day after 65-degree weather. Classes were canceled, creating a four-day weekend for students. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses to Tennessee 92-84 January 9, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
Snow and ice cover Vanderbilt’s campus on Friday, January 12, 2018, one day after 65-degree weather. Classes were canceled, creating a four-day weekend for students. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses to Tennessee 92-84 January 9, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
Vanderbilt women participate in Formal Sorority Recruitment on Sunday, January 14, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
Saben Lee drives to the basket during the game on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (Photo by Hunter Long)
Snow day on the Vanderbilt campus as Nashville is hit with snow and ice on January 12, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
The Vanderbilt Mens Basketball Team plays the University of Tennessee in Memorial Gym on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
Snow day on the Vanderbilt campus as Nashville is hit with snow and ice on January 12, 2018. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses to Tennessee 92-84 January 9, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
Vanderbilt Off-Broadway presents Green Day’s “American Idiot” in Blair’s Ingram Hall from Thursday, January 11 through Saturday January 13, 2018 (Photo by Emily Goncalves).
Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses 74-67 to Kentucky January 13, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
The Vanderbilt Commodores fall to the University of Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. (Photo by Brent Szklaruk)
Snow and ice cover Vanderbilt’s campus on Friday, January 12, 2018, one day after 65-degree weather. Classes were canceled, creating a four-day weekend for students. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
The Vanderbilt Mens Basketball Team plays the University of Tennessee in Memorial Gym on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)
Vanderbilt cancels classes on Friday, January 12, 2018 due to inclement weather (Photo by Emily Goncalves).
Vanderbilt Off-Broadway presents Green Day’s “American Idiot” in Blair’s Ingram Hall from Thursday, January 11 through Saturday January 13, 2018 (Photo by Madison Lindeman).
Vanderbilt Men’s Basketball loses to Tennessee 92-84 January 9, 2018 at Memorial Gym. (Photo by Ziyi Liu)
Vanderbilt Off-Broadway presents Green Day’s “American Idiot” in Blair’s Ingram Hall from Thursday, January 11 through Saturday January 13, 2018 (Photo by Emily Goncalves).
Vanderbilt women participate in Formal Sorority Recruitment on Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Photos by Claire Barnett, Emily Goncalves, Madison Lindeman, Ziyi Liu, Hunter Long and Brent Szklaruk // The Vanderbilt Hustler

Happiest and Healthiest: #GirlsWhoLift

In the words of my Orangetheory trainers, “For all the ladies in the house, just a reminder: lifting weights won’t make you bulky; it’ll just make you stronger.”  To give you some context, Orangetheory offers workouts that vary by type throughout the week. Some days will be endurance days, some power, some strength and some that combine all three. This disclaimer, delivered fairly consistently on (you guessed it) strength days, always sticks with me, partially because I agree wholeheartedly — but mostly because I know that a lot of other women in the room do not. In fact, I used to be one of them.

Our brains, for better or worse, like to categorize things so we can better understand them. Good and bad, black and white, weak and strong. While these categorizations are not always inherently positive or negative, I believe that most would agree that strength is almost invariably a positive identifier in our world. We like our buildings, bridges and cell phones to be strong. When the road gets rocky, we tell ourselves and our loved ones to “be strong.” Ask anyone, female-identifying or not, this question: “Do you want to be weak, or do you want to be strong?” I guarantee just about everyone will answer “strong.” Now, ask women if they want to lift heavy. Suddenly, the answer is not so unanimous.

For a large part of my life, and most intensely during high school, I was self-conscious about my arms. Despite being a naturally thin person, I always thought my arms looked too large or “flabby” in sleeveless tops. I searched endlessly for solutions, workouts that would make my arms smaller. “Low weight, high reps, lots of cardio,” I read. “Don’t lift anything too heavy,” I read. And believe me, I tried. Like so many of us, I wanted to look like the women in the magazines. I wanted to look like the models who probably, pulling from one of my favorite That’s So Raven one-liners, don’t even look like their own photos. For some reason, I bought into the idea that having super-thin arms was the essence of femininity and that having muscles would place me in the opposite “category” of masculinity. That somehow, there was no space in the middle for me to exist.

Fast forward through years of lessons learned to now, and you’ll find me in the weight room (with some modest muscles) not giving a damn what my arms look like. Ironically, I love them all the more. At some point in my search for arms so small they didn’t exist, I simply gave up. At some point in the “giving up” period, I learned about CHAARG, joined CHAARG, became an exec and started lifting with 5 lb dumbbells. Slowly, at first with little more than a “why not?” attitude, 5 pounds became 10 pounds and 10 pounds became 15 pounds. Roughly around the 15 pound mark, I started noticing myself in the mirror in a way that was reactive instead of demanding. In other words, I saw the tiny muscles building and marveled at my body’s work instead of searching for the specific changes I was begging it to produce — an attitude that is certainly much more rewarding and realistic. Now, 15 pounds is becoming 20 pounds and I hope to start some barbell work soon.

To be clear, I do have more muscle definition than I’ve had in my whole life, but I am by no means “bulky.” Having lots of muscle requires impressive effort and tireless dedication to what is essentially the “art” of bodybuilding. Beyond lifting a lot of weight, workouts must be frequent and nutrition must be adjusted to provide the muscles exactly what they need to grow, creating a unique lifestyle that is shaped around bodybuilding. If you’re like me, eating what makes you feel good and lifting about two times per week is simply not going to make your arms rip out of your sleeves.

That said, having even a little more muscle will grant you countless other benefits in your daily life. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, even when your body is resting. Muscles protect your joints and prevent injury during both everyday activities and your cardio workouts. Above all, there is the basic function of muscles — to move your limbs and allow you to move other things! Life is a constant struggle of you vs. your packages from Station B, you vs. your ten grocery bags that you refuse to carry in two trips and, of course, you vs. your friend who’s having a better (or worse) night than you. At some point, life might be you vs. your child asleep in your arms or you vs. the weight of the patient who needs your help. When these tests come, you’ll want and need your body to work for you. When the aforementioned anonymous interviewer asks you, “Do you want to be strong,” you can answer, “I am.”

Some favorite quotes from my favorite people:

“The team focuses a lot on developing good form with whatever exercise we are doing to prevent injuries and practice better form for stunting — a lot of the same motions are involved. I personally think that the most important part of strength training is developing good life-long habits. Not only do you prevent injuries, but you make recovering from injuries easier, too.” – Courtney Bair, Vanderbilt Cheerleading

“I love lifting and the friends it brought me. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. We all start somewhere and I promise that people are more than willing to point you in the right direction and give you tips. For most of us, this is a passion and we love to share with whoever will listen. And don’t ever let someone tell you, “You’re strong for a girl.” No, you are just strong. Period. Your gender doesn’t define you and you just have to refuse to let someone put you in their little box based on your gender alone.” – Alexis Smith, CHAARG Exec

Plan your week (1/16-1/19)

Between Milky Chance at Marathon Music Works and Jelani Cobb’s lecture at Langford, this week offers a wide array of events on campus and around Nashville. Browse below to see what you should be up to between Jan. 16-19.

Disclaimer: Source of event information is Anchor Link and Facebook






Health & Wellness

category: Featured, Life

Consent is not a nicety

It was the first weekend back from winter break. Everyone wanted to get all their fun in before they had to buckle down for the semester. After going out, I woke up the next morning, got breakfast and listened to my friends describe their nights.

One of my friends said that he was at a pregame, talking to a girl. The rapport was pretty flirty. One thing led to another, and they ended up in the guy’s room. They started making out, and clothes started coming off. When he asked the girl if she wanted to do anything more, she gave an unclear answer. She was drunk, he was drunk—he decided that he’d be taking advantage of her if they had had sex. She wasn’t in a state of mind to be giving consent. And so he bid her goodnight and they went their separate ways. What shocked me was not the story itself, but what followed.

After hearing this, two of my girl friends said that that “was so sweet of him” and that “he’s such a good guy.”

Men violate women’s consent so often on college campuses that when they don’t, they’re treated like heroes. The standards are so low that consent is treated like a cordiality instead of a basic human right.

It would be ridiculous to compliment someone for not stealing another person’s wallet. Being a not-horrible human being is not cause for celebration—it should be cause for nothing. Decency should be assumed. When it is not assumed, those who practice it are exalted. They become the nice, sweet guys.

At Vanderbilt, the men who don’t rape are the good guys. This means that we don’t assume that the norm is to respect women’s consent. And that says a lot about our expectations and our culture.

category: Featured, Opinion

Three Thoughts: Vanderbilt squanders upset bid against Kentucky

With just 29 seconds left in the game, the Commodores found themselves in the mix of a thriller at Memorial Gym.

A late foul on a three-point attempt gave Riley LaChance an opportunity to cut the Kentucky lead to just one with three made free throws.  Even one or two free throws would have made it a one-possession game.  Yet, for a team that seemingly hasn’t caught a break all year, last night wasn’t going to be the exception.

LaChance struck iron on all three attempts, effectively ending Vanderbilt’s upset bid.  It was the latest in a string of tough losses for the Commodores, who were coming off a hard-fought game in which they fell to Tennessee.  This game, however, was far different from the Tennessee game.

Here are three thoughts from Saturday’s loss.

Night and Day for Drew

Bryce Drew faced a lot of heat for his team’s inability to defend in the post Tuesday night against Tennessee, and for good reason.  Grant Williams torched Vanderbilt’s bigs to the tune of 37 points on 60% shooting, including a 13/15 night from the stripe.  I criticized Drew heavily for the lack of double teams thrown Williams’s way.

However, Drew’s gameplan against Kentucky was nothing short of brilliant.  From the get-go, the Commodores were swarming Kentucky’s bigs with double teams, forcing errant passes, and doing all they could to prevent giving up easy buckets in the post.  14 points combined for Nick Richards and P.J. Washington, Kentucky’s starting big men, proved its effectiveness.  The Wildcats hesitated to pull the trigger on threes that Vanderbilt gave them, trying to force it inside anyway, which resulted often times in blocked shots and missed free throws.  Drew actually outcoached John Calipari in this game, and if not for a couple more made threes or free throws, the scoreboard may have reflected that.

They’re Free!!!

Once again, a team widely known for its sharp-shooting acumen missed the mark.  Vanderbilt left eight free points at the foul line Saturday.  Those eight free points are the difference between a seven-point loss and a one-point win.  Of course, basketball doesn’t always work that way, but Vanderbilt witnessed, in its most painful form, the effect of missed free throws.  It’s the fourth time in as many losses that the Commodores have struggled from the charity stripe, shooting 70%, 68%, 70%, and 71%, respectively.

For a team with a very small margin of error, missed free throws are inexcusable, and they took Vanderbilt right out of a game that easily could have been won, particularly in the closing moments.  If the Commodores are going to right the ship going forward, it’s going to have to start with making free throws.

Sophomores Step Up

Maybe Djery Baptiste and Clevon Brown are tired of hearing about how badly they’re getting beat in the post.  Maybe it took an opponent like Kentucky to light a fire under them.  Whatever the reason, Baptiste and Brown came to play.  It will rarely show up on the stat sheet, particularly on Baptiste’s end, but the two sophomore bigs held Kentucky’s frontcourt in check, attacked the offensive glass, and blocked four shots.  It didn’t go unnoticed by their teammates

“When he plays hard, there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Jeff Roberson of Baptiste.  “He’s a big guy.  When he plays hard offensively and defensively, he’s fighting for position and rebounds.  He’s a huge asset to our team.”

Vanderbilt’s lone sophomore guard stepped his game up in a big way as well.  Payton Willis looked like the team’s best backcourt player all night, picking up two huge steals down the stretch, and two timely threes to cut into Kentucky’s lead and bring the crowd back into the game.  Willis has taken over a lot of the on-ball duties, and Drew’s confidence in him has grown as the season has progressed.

“Payton did a really good job of moving the ball and got some loose balls, some 50-50 balls that we needed to get some momentum going our way, so his play has definitely been a positive,” said Drew.

With Matthew Fisher-Davis battling a shoulder injury, Willis might garner a bigger role in the lineup going forward.

Commodores back LaChance after crunch-time misses in loss to Kentucky


When senior guard Riley LaChance, an 89% free-throw shooter entering the game, stepped to the charity strike with 29 seconds remaining in the second half and the Commodores trailing by four points, those were the odds he’d miss all three of his free throws.


Inexplicably, those odds proved to be in Kentucky’s favor, as LaChance proceeded to miss all three of his attempts.

Those misses proved to be the final nail in Vanderbilt’s coffin, as Kentucky finished off the Commodores by a final score of 74-67.

Combined with a free-throw miss earlier in the half on the front end of a one-and-one, LaChance was 0-4 from the line in the game. However, according to senior Jeff Roberson, that’s not the stat line that shows who Riley LaChance really is.

“We talked about it as a team after it,” he said. “Coach Drew especially made it clear that those free throws don’t define him. We’d rather have him on the line than anybody else. We trust him regardless. He’s going to shoot, he’s going to keep shooting and he’s going to make them. It doesn’t define him, he going to keep his head up and not lose confidence because he is a great player.”

Photo by Ziyi Liu.

LaChance was visibly upset with himself afterwards. Normally a sharpshooter, he missed all of his free-throw attempts and three-point attempts in this game, scoring just six points.

Even for a seasoned veteran like LaChance, that kind of game can take a toll on confidence. It’s the mark of a true athlete to be able to put something like that behind you.

Head coach Bryce Drew expects nothing more than that from LaChance going forward.

“He really doesn’t have a choice,” Drew said. “If you want to be a basketball player, you’ve got to have confidence. We talked about it in there, missing these three free throws doesn’t define you. You need to come back and get in the gym and we’re going to work tomorrow and we’re going to get better.”

“That’s the only choice he has. If he chooses a different path, it won’t be the choice that our program is going. He’s only going to have one choice in our program which way to go with his confidence.”

LaChance’s misses at the line did not cost the Commodores a lead or the game, however, as Kentucky was one step ahead of the Commodores the whole way through. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a thorn in Vanderbilt’s side throughout the afternoon, putting up 22 points and adding six assists. Jeff Roberson led the way for the Commodores with 20 points.

Vanderbilt did pretty much everything right defensively for most of the first half. They had four steals in the first half and picked up 11 defensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. If it weren’t for a few less-than-stellar foul calls and some breakdowns in the final minutes of the half, the Commodores could have held the Wildcats to less than 30 points in the half.

Kentucky players found themselves double-teamed every time they got the ball in the post. Drew said that was a game plan development that they beat to death in practice.

Photo by Ziyi Liu.

On the offensive side, it was a different story. After a great three-point shooting performance against Tennessee earlier in the week, Vanderbilt was 1 for 11 from long-range in the first half. They kept themselves alive and within a few points for most of the first half thanks to seven offensive rebounds.

Roberson said the team severely underperformed from long range in the first half.

“Their zone is pretty long, but I think we still had very good shots that we just didn’t knock down that we’re more than capable of,” he said. “We got a few more to fall in the second half, but it was just a matter of being ready to shoot. A couple of guys passed up some shots.”

Freshman phenom Saben Lee struggled with Kentucky’s sheer size on defense, getting stuffed at the rim on multiple occasions. However, he did get free for a highlight-reel alley-oop. Lee finished the first half with two points, two rebounds and an assist. He picked up his play in the second half to finish with 12 points and three assists.

Djery Baptiste made the all-hustle team in the first half. Despite some offensive blunders, his effort did not go unnoticed. Midway through the first frame, he missed an easy layup, but quickly made up for it with a block and an offensive board on the ensuing possession. Baptiste did pick up a pair of fouls, but still managed two blocks, two boards and two points in the first half.

Vanderbilt kept the score within six points for most of the half, but went the last 4:25 of the first half without a field goal and the last 2:50 without a point. A P.J. Washington free-throw and Sacha Killeya-Jones put-back layup in the dying second of the half brought Kentucky’s advantage to 36-27 at the half.

The second half started out as the polar opposite of the first half. Vanderbilt started hitting their shots, but looked as if they lost a step on defense. Kentucky had an easier time getting penetration in the paint and Gilgeous-Alexander started getting hot. A Payton Willis corner three-pointer got the Commodores within two points, but a quick bucket by Gilgeous-Alexander and a steal-and-score by Kevin Knox took the Wildcats’ advantage back up to six points at the under-12 minute timeout.

Photo by Ziyi Liu.

Drew said his defensive gameplan didn’t change in the second half to let Kentucky get more tough buckets.

“I think in the first half they just scored once on our double-teams and in the second half they got more just flat-out driving the ball,” he said. “I want to say over half of their baskets were non-assist baskets, so that’s just one-on-one driving it at us.”

Willis gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the half with a layup with 7:58 to go, but Kentucky quickly responded with a Washington dunk. Kentucky was clinging to a one-point advantage at the 6:19 mark.

Vanderbilt struggled to hit shots as the game approached the three-minute mark. A Knox and-one and follow-up layup put Kentucky ahead 64-59 with three minutes to play. Even after a Roberson up-and-under layup, a Hamidou Diallo corner three-pointer essentially clinched it for Kentucky.

The Commodores wouldn’t go down quietly, though. LaChance hit a layup and followed up a steal by getting fouled on a three-point attempt. However, his three rare misses from the line sealed Vanderbilt’s fate.

This was Vanderbilt’s seventh loss this season by ten points or less. That fact was not lost on Roberson, who is ready to start winning some tight ball games.

“We do have confidence,” he said. “We’re in every game, we’ve just got to find a way to break through and win these games. Being close is not good enough. It’s old. Everybody’s sick of it. We’ve got to win.”

Vanderbilt will hit the floor again on Tuesday when they take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville.

Pop-up yoga classes bring another dimension to Vibhu Krishna’s Open Studio

Vibhu Krishna, winner of Vanderbilt’s 2016 Margaret Wooldridge Stonewall Hamblet Award, will be giving pop-up yoga classes as a part of her art installation, Open Studio, from Jan. 12-15 in Space 204 in the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Art Center. Krishna is a yogi and current Columbia University medical student. Her creative and professional goals have slowly merged healing spaces and design thought to solve modern health issues.

This comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to her medical studies was born from an epiphany during her semester abroad at the Sydney College of the Arts. Krishna had finished her finals and discovered that the University of Sydney has one of the largest libraries in the Southern Hemisphere. Deciding to take advantage of the library while she had the chance, Krishna perused the stacks and found a book called Change by Design. She took it to the beach to read and found herself considering the possibility of using a creative perspective to tackle life problems.

“I ended up deciding that I still wanted to pursue an MD but approach it from an artistic lens, so I’ve been exploring integrative modalities, and how art and creative thinking and design thinking and those kinds of skills that are shaped from doing art can actually inform healthcare decisions and make really impactful solutions in patient lives,” Krishna said.

Krishna’s interest in holistic approaches to medicine also influenced her art. The Hamblet award comes with a $25,000 grant to travel and study art before putting on a solo show on campus. Krishna spent her year touring Southeast Asia, visiting monasteries, Ashras and becoming a yogi.

Krishna appreciated the importance of self-study in yoga and likens the energy to the creativity and illuminating power of art; it’s part of her rationale in holding yoga classes in the art gallery.

“Yoga itself means to yoke, or to form a union. It’s meant for you to commune with the universe,” Krishna said, “to yoke with this primordial energy, which I also see in the practice of art.”

The combination of creative thought, internal study and healing energy all play a part in her Open Studio installation. While all of the pieces are based off a circle, some of the pieces themselves were created in a fashion that pulled from all of these disciplines. Krishna would trace a Petri dish, go into a yoga pose, stay in the pose as long as it takes to feel the essence of the pose (a subjective criteria determined by her) and then go back to draw within the traced circle with the finest point pen she could find.

Why a Petri dish?

“The Petri dish is kind of like a microcosm, it’s a small little environment where there’s thriving growth. If you trace back throughout art history, there’s the idea of the circle representing self,” Krishna said. “The Petri dish just seemed like it had all of these great things tucked into one object that it made sense for me to use it as a tool so there’s a microcosm, there’s a cell, there’s tons of study, so it becomes a really great symbol.”

To find and sign up for the pop-up yoga classes, see the gallery or meet the artist, click here. While pop-up classes are only from Jan. 12-15, the gallery will be open in Studio 204 from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1.

category: Featured, Life, Nashville
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