Hustler

Victims in Plain Sight: The Importance of Sharing Your #MeToo Story

Content warning: sexual violence, dating violence

“They force you to shut down, then judge you for not opening up” -R. H. Sin

We are living in a new age, and it has finally dawned on me that I shouldn’t let the fear of others’ repercussions stop me from releasing my anger that has been boiling under the surface for two years. I have learned over time – with nightmares, flashbacks, bouts of anger and frustration, social isolation, depression and an eating disorder – that the only way to move on from my own past is to address it head-on. Here is my story, in its naked truth, with personal characteristics and identifiers removed.

I am a survivor of dating violence, and I have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have been quietly attending group therapy sessions at my university’s center for sexual misconduct prevention and response, speaking to a confidential Victim Resource Specialist one-on-one, seeing a therapist once a week at my university’s psychological counseling center and meeting with a therapist in my hometown.

Why haven’t I spoken up in the past two years? The answer is simple: my abuser is one of the most charismatic, well-liked boys in any crowd (and no, he is not a man; real men do not hurt women). In fact, people are so quick to take to him, I was afraid that everyone would turn against me if they knew. I saw this fear materialize with the reactions surrounding White House aide Rob Porter, who was revealed to have abused his ex wives. Our President rushed to Porter’s side, claiming that the allegations were false – despite photographic evidence – and that he wished him well during this “tough time.” In a society with this victim-blaming approach, how could a survivor have the courage to speak about her experience?

Not only are there many potential social repercussions, but there are legal obstacles as well. A victim who speaks out about her experience will be almost immediately contacted by campus officials and implored to start an investigation, as is directed under Title IX. Additionally, there is a wave of perpetrators claiming that the #MeToo allegations are false, and they are suing the victims for defamation. With all of these deterrents, it is easy to understand why so many victims have remained silent for so long.

“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” -Paulo Coelho

The boy in my narrative started out as a goofy, fun-loving guy. This transitioned to drunken nights punctuated with light roughhousing. Then – before I could even fathom it – it escalated to him blacking out and being careless with my body. In his many stupors, he broke my nose, bit down on my lip, bruised and scratched my neck, shoved my face under a running faucet, suffocated me with his body on my face, and almost drowned me. This was all occurring with the constant thought: is he doing this purposely, or is he just so unaware of his level of intoxication and his size? I chose to believe the latter, as I was infatuated with him, and so this occurred over a period longer than it should have. Regardless of the truth in his intentions, I’ve come to realize that what I have experienced is just as wrong in either case. I was abused, and I was my only witness.

During all of this, verbal and emotional abuse coincided with each incident: calling me names, gaslighting, body shaming, belittling, victim blaming, threats to break up, etc. The physically violent incidences are all memories that have slowly been coming back to me over the past two years, out of a repressed corner of my mind, as is characteristic of PTSD.

I didn’t realize the impact that his actions had had on me until one day, several months after we cut things off, I had my first panic attack. I realized that I needed to finally address what I had downplayed all this time. It took months before I could say “abuse” instead of “the a-word.” Like many other victims of interpersonal violence, I experienced shame, numbness, insomnia, anxiety, depression, overwhelming anger and guilt. However, the fact that I am able to write out this experience and share it with others is a sign of improvement, and I want this to serve as a beacon of hope for victims who have not yet reached this stage.

“and here you are living, despite it all” -Rupi Kaur

With the #MeToo movement, we have begun to recognize that there are many victims hiding in plain sight. There are people who you know dearly and care for who likely have not shared their story. There are many reasons, as I mentioned earlier, for why a victim is hesitant to come forward. Above all, no one wants to be labeled as crazy, and everyone wants to be taken seriously. Putting our most vulnerable selves into the public eye – to be potentially subjected to scrutiny, criticism and outright denial – is possibly the most stressful action a survivor can take. Especially in a campus setting, where many perpetrators are socially adept and well-liked by others, it is almost assumed that the friends of the accused will turn against those who speak out. Because of this, I have come to accept that there will be those who do not believe me, despite a plethora of evidence.

However, it is not only therapeutic for us survivors to put our experiences into words, but it is also helpful to demonstrate to the world the extent of this heinous problem. The importance of speaking out does not just apply to females; survivors are men as well. If we all were able to express our past without fear of retribution, and without the ridiculous level of sympathy others have for our perpetrators, the world would be more informed and more driven to action than ever. I encourage the Vanderbilt community to share your stories without fear, as I and many others like you are here to support you. If you don’t have a story to tell, share this one and others like it to demonstrate that this is a bigger problem than people realize. It is time to take action, now more than ever.

Project Safe is available to anyone who may need support and resources for issues of intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence. The Project Safe 24-hour hotline is 615-322-SAFE (7233). Any mandatory reporters who have questions about their responsibilities in regards to this story can contact Project Safe at 615-875-0660 or at projectsafe@vanderbilt.edu. The Project Safe Center is located near Alumni Lawn at 304 West Side Row (Cumberland House).

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A look at the Vanderbilt transfer experience

If past trends repeat themselves, the first wave of transfer admission decisions will go out this week. Each year, approximately 210 transfer students join the Vanderbilt community. Of the most recent transfer class, 79.7 percent entered as sophomores, 11.2 percent entered as juniors and 9.1 percent started at Vanderbilt classified as first-year students. This means that at any given time, transfer students make up roughly nine percent of the student body.

The top feeder schools for the Vanderbilt transfer program are New York University, Belmont University and Boston College, respectively. Other significant feeder schools for the Vanderbilt transfer program include Emory University, George Washington University and Boston University.

For the class of 2020, Vanderbilt boasted a first-year retention rate of 96.6 percent, with only about 55 of the class’ members choosing to not return for their sophomore year. By accepting over 200 transfer students each year, Vanderbilt is increasing its graduating class sizes after freshman year.

“We look at transfers to level-set all the class loads” said Douglas Christiansen, Vice Provost of University Enrollment Affairs. “As we’re thinking about when students go to study abroad, there is a capacity that we’re keeping within our classes. Instead of being kind of high and then low, we just try to level [class loads]. That’s why [we take so many transfer students].”

Aside from pragmatics, administrators see other reasons to accept transfer students.

“[Transfer students] also bring, we’ve thought, a little bit of a flavor from some other schools” Christiansen said, citing the diversity of experience that transfer students have. “They bring different thoughts and ideas.”

Christiansen notes that transfer students perform at the same level as students who were accepted for freshmen year and that it’s not an easier process for transfers to get in.

Using data from the past three years, average GPAs of sophomore transfer students have been nearly identical to sophomore students who attended Vanderbilt their freshman year. In fact, during the 2016-2017 school year, sophomore transfer students had an average GPA of 3.46, which is slightly higher than the 3.41 average GPA of non-transfer sophomores.

Despite performing at the same level as non-transfer students, transfer students have reported sometimes feeling forgotten.

“What I noticed when I took on transfer student orientation in the fall of 2016 was that I think the transfer students were kind of feeling like the red-headed stepchildren” said Christiana Russell, the current director of the Office of Transition Programs. “There’s just a big to-do for the first year students; I personally think that our move-in and the way we welcome students here at Vanderbilt is just second to none.”

In the two years that Russell has been in charge of the Office of Transition Programs, she has overhauled the transfer orientation program. Russell has moved transfer student move-in to Friday instead of Saturday, arranged for a transfer student group picture similar to that of entering first-years, and has increased the role of Transfer Student Leaders.

“I wanted to do something to make [transfer students] feel like they’re welcome, they’re important, they’re an important part of the Vanderbilt community” Russell said.

Since the 2017-2018 school year, Transfer Student Leaders go through four days of training before being assigned a group of about 15 transfer students. Along with a co-leader, Transfer Student Leaders help to facilitate the transition process both during and beyond the three day transfer orientation.

“The idea is to welcome, integrate, and kind of  allow [transfer students] to blossom and be members of the Vanderbilt community” Russell said. “By the time you’re graduating from here, you are a Vanderbilt student and this is your community, this is your school.”

Transfer applications are up nine percent over the last year, and although they might not know who they are yet, the Office of Transition Programs has high hopes for this year’s transfer class.

“I’m just really, really proud of where we’ve been able to bring the program” Russell said.

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Women’s Golf ousted in SEC championship match play

After advancing to match play as the seventh seed in the SEC Championships this past weekend, the Vanderbilt women’s golf team fell to second-ranked Alabama 3-2.

The top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play advanced to match play in the conference championship’s new format this year.

After the first round of stroke play, Vanderbilt was third in the standings with an eight-over 296. Louise Yu led the team with a two-under 70, and Virginia Green carded a two-over 74.

Abbey Carlson hit a hole-in-one, her first in competition, on the 150-yard second hole.

The second round of stroke play did not go as well for the Commodores, who ended the day with an 18-over 306.  

Yu and Green, the team leaders after the first 18 holes, carded an 80 and 81, respectively. Morgan Baxendale shot an even-par 72, and Carlson bounced back from a first-round 78 to shoot a 3-over 75.

Courtney Zeng shot a 79 in the second round after a first-round 76.

Vanderbilt stormed back in the third round to clinch a spot in match play. Carlson shot an even-par 72, and Baxendale and Yu scored 73s on the day.

After stroke play, Vanderbilt sat at 899, 35 shots over par.

In match play, Vanderbilt faced Alabama, the top-ranked team in the nation.

Alabama’s Kristen Gillman defeated Virginia Green 6&4, which means she was ahead by six holes when there were only four holes left to play.

Louise Yu earned a point for Vanderbilt after winning the last hole to beat Cheyenne Knight 1 up. The match was tight the entire time, and no player was ever up by more than one hole.

Courtney Zeng lost to Lauren Stephenson 5&3. Stephenson is currently the 6th-ranked amateur golfer in the world.

Morgan Baxendale earned Vanderbilt’s second victory with a 2&1 win over Lakareber Abe. Baxendale was behind or tied for the entire front nine, but pulled away over the back nine.

Carlson lost a tough match to Angelica Moresco. Carlson never led, but fought her way back multiple times to cut Moresco’s lead to one or two strokes before Moresco won the seventeenth hole to clinch the win for Alabama.

Vanderbilt is expected to make NCAA regionals when the field is announced on Wednesday. The regionals are May 7-9 at locations all over the country.

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Black in Medicine: The importance of representation and support

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It’s time to invest In Memorial Magic

When any student submits his or her application to Vanderbilt, chances are that bragging rights between their friends about which school has the best sports teams is not high on their list of priorities. When late March rolls around, most students will be concerned with finals, not the Final Four.

While some of Vanderbilt’s other sports, such as Tennis and Bowling, may be making successful campaigns, some of the most fun memories in college can come from cheering on major teams getting national attention. Vanderbilt has never been an athletic powerhouse or even a perennial contender, but the potential of next year’s Men’s Basketball team has sparked great excitement for everyone around campus.

If the university decides to back the program with the financial support it needs, students may someday dream of coming to Vanderbilt not just for the opportunities in the classroom, but also to root for a team that has the chance to cut down the nets at the end of March.

It’s impossible to expect the school to evolve into a powerhouse overnight, but next year provides an incredible chance for Vanderbilt to take a step in the right direction. If the university chooses to invest more strategically, we could reach a point in which Vanderbilt is competing for titles rather than competing in the SportsCenter Not Top 10. The Southeastern Conference lacks any depth in basketball powerhouses, with the Kentucky Wildcats being the only team consistently competing late into March. Additionally, Vanderbilt’s central location in a fun city like Nashville offers great promise in terms of recruiting.

While there will always be conservative spenders who believe that big investments can wait, it’s clear that Commodore Basketball is about to be ready for primetime. While they may have just come off of a tough season, head coach Bryce Drew has brought in a few incoming players who could change everything. For the first time in a long time, Vanderbilt is bringing in more than one High School Senior marked as “Five Stars,” meaning they are the most elite in the nation. Simi Shittu, Darius Garland, and potentially Romeo Langford are all top players in their respective states, and make up three of the top 15 spots on ESPN’s recruiting rankings.

In a sport in which a few key players are all that is needed to make a team great, next season looks very promising. If subsequent recruiting classes classes see these commits succeed and see the university fund internal improvements and demonstrate that it is dedicated to the team, Vanderbilt Basketball could turn over a new leaf. The Commodores are finally being presented with a real chance to be a national success, and the university needs to do its part and invest in a winning team.

Another factor pointing to Vanderbilt’s potential success on the court is how similar it is to other successful basketball programs. Villanova, who just dominated Michigan in the most recent NCAA Basketball championship game, has just under 7,000 students. Schools even smaller than Vanderbilt, such as Butler and Xavier, also are consistently competitors. Furthermore, while it is often a struggle for especially academically rigorous universities to pull in recruits, schools like Duke show that this is hardly an obstacle for the nation’s top basketball stars.

Other schools are taking this initiative with even less potential for success. For example, Northwestern University just underwent a total renovation of their arena after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2017. The only difference between Vanderbilt and these schools: they’re willing to spend the money.

On a larger scale, American interest in basketball is rising at an incredible rate. As parents worry about the lasting effects of concussions on their children, youth football is fading slowly as the basketball fan base grows and grows. The gameday experience of college basketball is unparalleled by any other, and Vanderbilt’s famous “Memorial Magic” is especially electrifying. That being said, any sports fan in Memorial Gym immediately feels the antiquity of their surroundings, and the arena desperately needs new seats, an updated concourse and modern  suites that recruits are taken to as a showcase of the school’s basketball prowess.

If even a fraction of the financial attention Vanderbilt constantly gives to its academic institutions and housing facilities was redirected to this project, these amenities could make fans feel less like they are at a high school gym built in the 1980s and still hold on to the historic atmosphere that makes Memorial Gym such a great place to watch basketball. Instead of having the program’s official website boast about how old its facilities are (even putting itself on a “Top 25” list that is downright embarrassing), Vanderbilt needs to put the money in so that someday that website can boast a Final Four berth, or even a championship.

The best part about investing in new amenities for our basketball program is the huge scope of its potential effects. Not only will the Men’s Basketball players and prospective recruits be ecstatic, these same improvements will be enjoyed by the Women’s Basketball team. The same resources dedicated to making the Men’s Basketball program would help make the Women’s program a championship contender under coach Stephanie White.

Most importantly, Vanderbilt is constantly promoting its plans to renovate the university under the name “FutureVU,” all with the goal of creating a deeper sense of community on campus. What better way to do that than to give students, faculty, and alumni the rallying point of a basketball team that could make runs to the Final Four?

It’s time for Vanderbilt to put its money where its mouth is.

After all, if the choice is between just one more opulent Yale-like dormitory guaranteeing 22-year-olds still have to live on campus and a championship-level basketball team, I think most of us know what we would choose.

Bryan Hollis is a first-year in the College of Arts and Science. He can be reached at bryan.p.hollis@vanderbilt.edu. 

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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Rites of Spring, Variations concert & more

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Next Steps; Vanderbilt’s inclusive higher education program

Hoping to continue her family’s tradition of attending Vanderbilt, Elizabeth Story applied to the Next Steps program when it was first implemented at the university. She was accepted to the program, eager to gain a true college experience. After graduating with the first class of Next Steps students in 2011, Story reflects on the impact it has had for her.

“I hope that the Vanderbilt community learns through seeing Next Steps students on the campus how important it is for everyone to have a college experience and that the Next Steps students are just like them,” Story said.

Next Steps is an inclusive higher education program at Vanderbilt that provides educational, social and career development opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. Next Steps students work with Ambassadores, who are peer mentors that strive to build relationships and support students in academics, social life and personal development.

In addition to spending time with her Ambassadores, one of Story’s favorite memories with the program was meeting two singer/songwriters during one of her first year classes and learning how to write a song. When the group of students finished writing their songs, the singer/songwriters performed them at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Story recalls this as an especially impactful moment over her two years with the program.

“I am so glad that Next Steps at Vanderbilt exists and that other universities are creating programs like it on their campuses because everyone deserves to have a college experience,” Story said.

Story also said that cultivating increased independence over the course of the program was an influential part of her time at Vanderbilt. She now works at the Susan Gray school, after beginning her involvement there before her time with Next Steps.

Next Steps Beginnings

Next Steps started as a two year program and accepted its first class of students in January 2010. There have been a total of nine classes of students accepted, and since 2010, 55 students have come through the program. Tammy Day, the Director of Next Steps, first learned about this type of inclusive programming in colleges around twelve years ago when she was a special education teacher. At this point, there were not inclusive higher education programs at universities in Tennessee, but Day helped make the program a reality at Vanderbilt. A task force worked to create programming in Tennessee, with Day serving as a local educator on the task force.

“After this task force had been going for about three years, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities knew if we don’t put some money behind this to do a pilot in our state, I don’t think we’re ever going to get anywhere,” Day said. “So because of a very very generous donor in the community that matched the grant, they joined and Vanderbilt was awarded a three year pilot grant which allowed them to hire a director and to get started.”

Next Steps at Vanderbilt is one of five similar programs in the state for inclusive higher education, and Vanderbilt is the only top 20 university with an inclusive higher education program like this. The task force that initially worked to create the programs evolved into the Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education Alliance, with Day currently serving as the chairperson. The group works with legislators and coordinates with the programs throughout the state. One of the pieces of legislation the group worked to pass was the Step Up scholarship, which provides scholarships to students entering any of these five programs.

Last fall, Next Steps was approved as a four year program, meaning that the upcoming academic year will be the first year with juniors as part of Next Steps. Transitioning from a two year program to a four year program allows for increased growth for the students and an opportunity to expand its impacts.

“Going forward with our four year expansion, our goal is to have 40 students, so accepting 10 students a year,” Day said.

Daily Life of Next Steps

Each Next Steps student takes a combination of three Career and Community Studies (CCS) classes and one or two Vanderbilt classes. CCS classes are specific to the program and focus on topics such as independent living, self awareness and career development. This has been the structure for the two year program, but independent study may be an option for juniors and seniors in future years of the program.

Next Steps students also participate in internships in many different career fields. Lindsay Krech, Assistant Director of Career Development, coordinates field trips for first semester students to help them explore various career options and reflect on what works best for them. First year students can then begin internships during second semester. Sophomores also participate in internships, further exploring potential career directions. Students work with job coaches in their internships to learn required job tasks and develop skills.

“For juniors our goal is that they have paid internships,” Krech said. “Most of them will be out in the community and then by senior year we hope that they’re in a paid job in their field of interest that they can continue to work in after they graduate. That’s our goal for our four year plan.”

In addition to classes and internships, Next Steps students are involved in many different campus organizations. Peach Chinratanalab, a second year Next Steps student, says that going to acapella concerts with friends and helping groups such as the Melodores table at Rand are some of her favorite parts of social life with Next Steps.

“My favorite part is hanging out with friends and getting the opportunity to form many different career fields,” Chinratanalab said.

Kristi van Wulven is a first year Next Steps student who participates in the Special Olympics and Best Buddies in addition to attending campus events such as concerts.

“I’m in the Campus Life Ambassadore athletic group,” van Wulven said. “And I’m in two different groups. I’m in the athletic group and we go to different Vanderbilt athletic events on campus and off campus. So we go to baseball, basketball, bowling, and football. And I’m also in the arts and music group.”

John Cayton, Director of Student Supports and Campus Life, works with Next Steps students and Ambassadores to coordinate between the groups and facilitate involvement on campus. He emphasized the importance of inclusivity in organizations around campus and bridging the gap in knowledge about the program throughout the Vanderbilt community.

“I just hope that we can spread awareness that these are your peers––they’re college students and they have access to participate in any area of campus life that they hope to be a part of,” Cayton said. “I think that’s the biggest thing right now. You know Peabody side knows, but when you go across the bridge there’s a lot of ‘I don’t really know what’s going on.’”  

Ambassadores Program

Ambassadores are Vanderbilt students who work with students in the Next Steps program in various capacities. There are four roles that an Ambassadore can take on, including tutor, workout buddy, daily planner, and lunch buddy. There are currently around 80 Ambassadores working with students, but Cayton hopes this number will grow next year as more students will be enrolled in the program due to the four year extension.

The number of Ambassadores that each Next Step student works with depends on the individual student. While each session can vary depending on the needs of the student during that particular time, one consistent aspect of these sessions is the opportunity to form a relationship between peers. Pooja Santapuram, President of Next Steps, underscored the impact that her involvement as an Ambassadore has had on her Vanderbilt experience.

“What I see as the biggest takeaway for both Next Steps students and Ambassadores is friendship,” Santapuram said via email. “Both the Next Steps students and Vanderbilt Ambassadores benefit tremendously from their relationships with one another. I have built many strong friendships with the students I have worked with over the years, to the point where many of them seem to know me better than I know myself at times.”

Both Chinratanalab and van Wulven echoed the sentiment that cultivating friendships with Ambassadores was an important part of the program.

“My favorite part of Next Steps is getting to know people and getting to know the Next Steps staff and students and Ambassadores,”  van Wulven said.

Beyond Vanderbilt

One of the most important aspects of Next Steps is providing students with the tools to discover their career path of interest and pursue employment opportunities. Working with the Vanderbilt and Nashville community offers opportunities that some students may continue to be involved in post-graduation.

“Nationally a little under 20 percent of people with disabilities are currently employed,” Krech said. “And that compares with our employment rate of our alumni which is just shy of 90 percent.”

For Elizabeth Story, independence was an essential takeaway from her time with Next Steps. Beyond just employment, the intangibles of the program are just as important for students within the program and alumni.

“Now I am living in a condo with one of my friends and I think without Next Steps I would still be living with my parents,” Story said.

As Next Steps welcomes its first class of juniors, the program continues to bring value to the Vanderbilt community through its inclusivity and emphasis on educational and social opportunities for every student.

“Vanderbilt prides itself on excellence, but to me you can’t be excellent if you’re excluding part of the population,” Krech said. “And so Vanderbilt University as a whole is a better place because our students are here. And people often think of the reverse of that––that our students are better because they’re at Vanderbilt. Yes, but Vanderbilt’s better because our students are here.”

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Vanderbilt getting player looking for fresh start in Matthew Moyer

On Thursday, former Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer announced he is transferring to Vanderbilt.

Moyer, who just finished his redshirt freshman season, will have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have two years of eligibility at Vanderbilt. He averaged 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 35 games for the Orange last season.

Despite those low numbers, Moyer could have the chance at a fresh start with the Commodores. His potential seems to be beyond his stat lines. Sam Rubinoff, Syracuse Basketball play-by-play broadcaster for WAER radio, said he saw a lot of potential in Moyer this past season.

“I was on the call for the Syracuse game at MSG this year against Uconn,” Rubinoff told The Vanderbilt Hustler. “In the first half Moyer flew out of no where on the baseline and threw down at put back dunk off a missed three. He finished that game with 12 pts and 8 rebounds. In that game he showed what a talented and athletic player he is and there were flashes throughout the season.”

After that, things began to fall apart for Moyer. He sprained his ankle against Boston College on January 24 and missed a game. When he came back, he just didn’t have the same touch. Moyer eventually lost his spot in the starting lineup.

That might have weighed on him mentally.

“After that, his confidence was gone and he turned into a black hole with the basketball,” Rubinoff said. “It seemed as almost if he knew he was on the way out of the program and he was just out there trying to show off what he could do.”

It’s unclear what type of role he will play at Vanderbilt, especially because the 2019-20 roster will largely be determined by how many of their 2018 recruits stay past their freshman year. Given his size, and Vanderbilt’s considerable lack of size this past season, Moyer will likely be competing with Yanni Wetzell, Matt Ryan and possibly Simi Shittu for playing time at the power forward position. However, his 6’7” frame could make him a good candidate to play the small forward position as both Wetzell and Ryan are both 6’10”.

However, it will likely all come down to attitude, something head coach Bryce Drew has always stressed in his players.

“My overall take is the mindset that he brings to every game,” Rubinoff said. “You know which Matt Moyer you have at the under 16 timeout. He’s either high flying and ready to play or just going through the motions without much confidence.”

With Moyer’s commitment, Vanderbilt now has just one scholarship spot left for the 2018-19 season. Coveted five-star recruit Romeo Langford could take that spot when he announces his decision on April 30. Vanderbilt will also host Illinois graduate transfer forward Michael Finke for a visit, per CBS Sports insider Jon Rothstein.

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Women’s Tennis wins second-straight SEC Tournament title

Just a week after clinching the SEC regular season title, the No. 2 Vanderbilt Women’s Tennis team rolled straight into Knoxville and won the 2018 SEC Tournament with a 4-0 clean sweep of the No. 9 Florida Gators on Sunday.

With the win, the Commodores claimed both SEC titles for the second year in a row. It’s also their third tournament win in four years.

Vanderbilt dominated from the get-go, claiming the doubles point with 6-1 wins by both Christina Rosca/Amanda Meyer and by the powerhouse duo of Astra Sharma and Fernanda Contreras. It was just the second time since March 25 that the Sharma/Contreras dynamic duo had been paired together. The 22nd-ranked pair had just come off a dominant 6-0 win over a top-10 Ole Miss pairing in the semifinal.

In singles play, Vanderbilt made some quick work of the Gators. While top singles player Sharma had all she could handle against Florida’s Anna Danilina, her teammates were helping to take care of business. Meyer got off the court first with a blitzing 6-1, 6-2 win over Victoria Emma in the No. 4 match.

After having her contentious first-set tiebreaker cut short by Vanderbilt’s clinch in Saturday’s semifinal, Summer Dvorak was fired up and looking to dominate. She came out with a head of steam and dismantled Florida’s Katie Kubicz 6-2, 6-1 on the sixth court.

With a 3-0 edge and just one more match needed to clinch the title, Vanderbilt’s ace-in-the-hole in Contreras took over. On the second singles court, Contreras put together her second straight-set performance of the weekend and beat Florida’s Josie Kuhlman 6-2, 6-1 to clinch Vanderbilt’s second consecutive SEC tournament championship.

At the clinch, Sharma was locked in a tight battle with Danilina in the second set. This was Vanderbilt’s first clean sweep of the tournament, having beaten Texas A&M and Ole Miss by scores of 4-1 to advance to the Final. Now, Vanderbilt will move on to the NCAA tournament for the 24th consecutive season under head coach Geoff Macdonald. They will be seeking their second NCAA title in program history, having made the semifinals of the tournament in each of the last two seasons.

The NCAA regionals begin on May 11 with the championship rounds starting on May 17.

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Vanderbilt contributes ‘mission-critical’ component of TESS satellite

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The Vanderbilt Finance Development Program hopes to offer students recruiting in finance a level playing field

Recruiting for a position in the financial sector is an intensive process and something that many Vanderbilt students are interested in. According to the 2015 Graduating Student Survey, 15.9 percent of the Class of 2015 was employed by a finance, real estate or insurance firm.

In order to graduate with an employment offer at a financial firm, there is a common path that most people take. It begins with business or finance experience in the summer following their sophomore year, and then an internship the summer following their junior year that will hopefully result in a return offer of full-time employment post-graduation. This timeline, however, has been moving rapidly forward over the past few years. Four years ago, firms were recruiting for junior year internships between October and December, with some firms recruiting early during the spring semester. However, this timeline has been propelled forward by firms in a “race to the bottom” where companies attempt to undercut each other at the possible cost of sacrificing standards held by the firm.

“Each bank would try to be the first bank to recruit and then give what they call exploding offers very aggressive timelines, usually one to two weeks,” said Tom Carroll, a founding member of the Finance Development Program.

Often times, students attempt to accelerate interviews at other firms, but that is not always a possibility. Advancing the interview timeline has been an effective strategy for many firms, and each consecutive year, the timeline has been pushed earlier and earlier, with the majority of firms recruiting for junior year internships in the spring of sophomore year. This early recruitment process means that students have less experience going into the recruiting season and are less prepared for crucial interviews. This was where Tom Carroll and his fellow program directors, Jennifer Pema, Josh Abreo, Olivia Cherry and Gloria Liu stepped in.

The Finance Development Program (FDP) was started by a group of students in the fall of 2017 with the intention of leveling the playing field for Vanderbilt students interested in working in the financial sector after graduation.

“In investment banking, there are three things that you need to do to get an internship,” explained Carroll. “You need academic performance, you need business experience, and you need somebody to advocate for you.”

Carroll and his peers noticed that Vanderbilt students excelled academically, but many were lacking in the second and third requirements. For students without connections in business, it can be difficult to receive an internship after sophomore year because many of these positions are found through informal means. This also plays out in a lack of personal advocates when applying for junior year internships at large firms.  FDP steps into the networking challenges many people face by introducing members to Vanderbilt alumni in the finance realm and by encouraging members to seek out meetings with professionals in the field. Additionally, Carroll hopes that alumni of FDP will be instrumental in providing a path to internships for future FDP members. FDP also prepares students for internship interviews.

The members of FDP meet weekly and come prepared with a news article that they have read about an issue that would move financial markets. Student advisors will then ask members follow up questions, similar to what would happen in an interview setting. Students also have weekly technical homework assignments, as well as questions designed to make them reflect on their interest in finance.

“I’ve gotten tons of FDP participants come up to me after their interviews and say, ‘I got that exact question I did in the homework assignment’ or ‘I had to pitch a stock and I pitched the exact same stock I wrote about in my assignment and they asked me to send my assignment because they wanted to see the in-depth analysis’,” said Carroll.

Without a formal business major at Vanderbilt, these are things that many students have not been exposed to by the time recruiting season comes around. FDP also provides its members access to firms when they come to Vanderbilt.

The Financial Development Program at Vanderbilt is not the first of its kind. The founding directors studied the success of programs at the Kelley School of Business, UVA and Duke amongst others. They decided what facets of the various programs would be successful and most beneficial for students at Vanderbilt. In creating FDP, the program directors decided to ask the Career Center to decide who would be accepted into the program in the hopes of avoiding any partiality on the parts of the directors.

“We have this pool of high quality applicants and we can pitch them to firms. We have had exclusive information sessions and resume drops with large investment banks, asset management firms, you name it,” said Carroll. “We’ve seen tremendous success in that respect.”

FDP is also actively trying to improve Vanderbilt’s recruiting prospects in terms of the quantity and quality of firms which recruit on campus. One of the roles of the directors is to advocate on behalf both Vanderbilt and members of FDP with large investment firms and banks. Due to the reliance on networking in finance recruiting, placement of Vanderbilt graduates in firms will serve as a great advantage to future Vanderbilt students.

“If we place more Vanderbilt students on an absolute level into these firms, then eventually Vanderbilt will have greater placement in the financial services industry and more firms will realize that and want a slice of the Vanderbilt talent pool,” said Carroll.

The directors of FDP plan to evaluate the success of the program in the long term by looking at the job placements of their members. According to Carroll, their goal is not 100 percent job placement in the financial sector, but 100 percent satisfaction on the part of their members with the jobs offers they receive.

“We have some of the smartest students, some of the most ambitious students,” Carroll said. “There is no reason we should not be placing them into these excellent opportunities across the globe at the same rate as some of our peer institutions.”

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Christine Lim, Incoming Financial Product Sales & Analytics at Bloomberg L.P.

Entering Vanderbilt as a first generation college student, senior Christine Lim says she was fortunate to find a supportive community as a recipient of the Posse Scholarship, a four-year, full tuition leadership scholarship for ten students from New York City offered by the Posse Foundation.

“The idea of the Posse Scholarship is to bring ten student-leaders together who will serve as one anothers’ support system and help each other through each year of college,” Lim said. “For me, that was very important because I was the first in my family to attend college, so the transition was really hard, but it was easier because I had my posse.”

Lim stepped foot on campus seeking to enact change, which she has been able to fulfill through her activities as chair of the Campus Life Committee of Vanderbilt Student Government, a position she has served in since sophomore year. Lim has been instrumental in developments such as getting Uber on the Commodore Card, making Chobani yogurt a side and acquiring Lyft promotional codes.

“I’m very passionate about making sure I’m helping students advocate and improve their Vanderbilt experiences,” Lim said. “People say college is the best four years of your life and so I want to make it exactly that.”

Initiatives such as getting Uber on the Commodore Card, which required over a year of regularly held meetings with the administration and Uber Nashville, allowed Lim to sharpen the soft skills she needed for professional success.

“I often work with administrators and students so I like to think of my role in campus life as the bridge between them,” Lim said. “Communication is key and sometimes it can be hard for students to understand why changes can’t be made, so I’m in a role where I have the opportunity to pass on the message and explain that we’re working on an issue but certain ideas are not feasible, so instead other plans are in the works.”

Lim took the opportunity to enrich the student experience not only through VSG, but also through Vanderbilt Programming Board’s Venue, which provides late-night, nonalcoholic programming, and First VU, a new initiative seeking to support the transition to college of first generation students like herself. Academically, Vanderbilt has also provided many chances for exploration for Lim, who knew she wanted to pursue a career in business.

“I came in as an econ major first because I thought that if I wanted to go do business, I had to be in econ,” Lim said. “I learned a lot that summer, but I figured out that I didn’t really like to focus solely on the numbers, so I explored other options and learned about HOD. I thought it was very practical and broad. I learned about the corporate strategy minor through looking at classes that I was interested in, such as marketing and finance. I really enjoyed the classes, so I picked up the corporate strategy minor.”

During her sophomore year summer, Lim sought to explore her professional interests in the realm of finance as a sales and trading intern at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“Being the youngest on the trading floor was very hard because I had never even heard of how to perform a portfolio evaluation,” Lim said. “I learned a lot that summer, but I figured out that I didn’t really like the numbers. I still wanted to be in finance, but I wanted to do a different part of it, so that’s why I looked at Bloomberg because it touched on so much of finance.”

One aspect of Bloomberg that particularly fascinated Lim was the Bloomberg terminal, a software system used by virtually all bankers. Lim interned with Bloomberg during her junior year summer, working with their tradebook function.

“There, I learned more about the terminal and its usage and strategies and I fell in love with it. I found my passion in finance and technology after my internship which is why I finally decided to take the full time offer at Bloomberg.”

Lim will have more opportunities to work with the Bloomberg terminal in her future work with the Financial Product Sales & Analytics department at Bloomberg in her hometown of New York City.

“I think Vanderbilt has prepared me well to go into the real world and I know there’s a big alumni network in New York City, so i’m actually pretty excited,” Lim said. “I will really miss my experience at Vanderbilt, but I think I’ve gained so much, and developed so much.”

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Plan your weekend (4/20-4/22)

Looking to try something new this weekend? Peruse the events below and make a point to attend something outside of your comfort zone. For more offerings, check out Anchor Link.

Educational

Educational

What: VUARC Kit Building Session
When: Friday, April 20 at 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: The Wond’ry Room 212
Why: Vanderbilt students and staff are invited to come to VUARC’s workshop to learn how to build a simple electronic kit. The tools and parts will be provided, and you can keep your creation.
Who: Vanderbilt University Amateur Radio Club

Cultural

Cultural

What: #UNITY
When: Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Library Lawn
Why: Watch excellent performances, get a taste of real Nashville food and take part in fun cultural activities to celebrate the success of marginalized people on campus.
Who: Hidden Dores

Recreational

Recreational

What: Rites of Spring
When: Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 21 at 5 p.m.
Where: Alumni Lawn
Why: The annual Rites of Spring is here again! This year will feature DNCE, Gucci Mane, Born Animal and more. Gates open at 5 p.m., and tickets are still available for one or both nights.
Who: Vanderbilt Programming Board

What: Vanderbilt Gamecraft’s Finals Game Night
When: Friday, April 20 at 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: Commons Dining Upstairs
Why: De-stress before finals with Gamecraft’s wide variety of board games. Everyone is welcome!
Who: Vanderbilt Gamecraft

What: JCF De-stress Fest
When: Sunday, April 22 at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Buttrick 201
Why: JCF will be serving coroquette and sushi roll and doing t-shirt printing to de-stress before finals week begins. Stop by Buttrick to learn more about Japanese culture and enjoy the end of the weekend.
Who: Japanese Cultural Foundation

Arts

Arts

What: Taalenated: A Fusion Concert
When: Sunday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Sarratt Cinema
Why: Join Vandy Taal and Melanated A Capella for a joint end of the year concert with food. Additional special guests will also perform.
Who: Vandy Taal

Cover photo from Rites of Spring 2017 by Claire Barnett

Editor’s note: Sources of event information are Anchor Link and Facebook.

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VSG announces Uber Campus Pass opportunity

Vanderbilt students now have the ability to receive a discount on uberPOOL and uberX rides in Nashville through the purchase of an Uber Campus Pass. Tariq Issa, incoming VSG president, spoke with the Hustler about the pass and why it is being offered to students.

“Uber is testing out a new way to get more students to use the app. Similar to how to how our Lyft codes attract riders to use the service because it makes the ride cheaper, Uber is trying to do the same,” Issa said. “Uber has already been using this program for a few months now and some riders in Nashville have enjoyed this program since, in the long term, you save money on the rides. We are advertising this pilot program so that they can just test how effective devoting a pass for Vanderbilt students is and so that we can see if students like this new feature.

Jacqueline Cox, current VSG president, sent an email to the Vanderbilt Community yesterday alerting everyone of the short opportunity. Students must have an Uber account and connect it to their Vanderbilt emails by 6 p.m. on April 19th to get the information Uber will send about the pass.

“The end of the semester launch date was actually selected by Uber. Uber has recently been releasing flat rate ride packages in certain cities,” Cox said. “Now, they are trying to move to a college campus model. When they brought the idea to VSG we wanted to make sure we could follow their timeline in order to bring the deals to students as quickly as possible.”

Issa said that the pass will cover a large area of Nashville.

This geofence is relatively large. There is a Ride Pass currently existing in Nashville that covers popular areas including Broadway, the Green Hills area, and 12 South. Some ride passes cover trips to Opry Mills while others will cover airport trips,” Issa said. “That means that any UberPool from the airport to campus, or vice versa, will be at a much lower cost than before. That alone will be very attractive for students as the Campus Ride Pass is launched.”

Uber will be reaching out to students once the pass is available for purchase.

Follow the instructions below if interested in the pass.

  • You do have an Uber account, and your Vanderbilt.edu email address is linked

No action is necessary – keep an eye out for an email from Uber on how to purchase your Campus Ride Pass.

  • You do have an Uber account, but your Vanderbilt.edu email address is not linked

Fill out this form indicating the phone number associated with your Uber account, so that Uber can give you access to purchase the pass*

  • You do not have an Uber account

Click here to set up an Uber account – make sure you use your Vanderbilt.edu email address when setting it up

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Student Ability Alliance pushes for creation of Disabilities Community Center

According to SAA co-president Andie Defreese, most Vanderbilt students don’t think twice about printing papers. They merely swipe their cards at the nearest residence hall, library or student center before rushing off to class with their documents in hand. However, for students with visual impairments, using a braille printer requires scheduling an appointment at the EAD (Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department), which is only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This lack of accessibility on campus is currently being addressed by a proposal for a disability community center, headed by the co-presidents of the Student Ability Alliance, DeFreese and Lexie Garrity.

“Many students with disabilities need resources like accessible printers and computers with certain capabilities, so we think that a space offering all of these resources would be extremely beneficial to the community,” Garrity said.

In addition to serving as a resource to students with disabilities, the community center would serve as a welcoming space for all Vanderbilt students to engage in the conversation surrounding disabilities.

“This space would be a good platform to continue what SAA wants to do, possibly hosting monthly talks with different professors and individuals in the community, conducting group discussion tables about what people want to see change on campus in relation to disabilities, and providing a community space where individuals with or without disabilities can come to study and do homework,” DeFreese said. “We’re focused on all students, regardless of ability. We just want them to feel safe and welcomed in this space.”

SAA recently found an ally for the community center in Vanderbilt Student Government.

“We just started working with VSG,” DeFreese said. “The plan is to collect data from different students on campus in order to obtain facts backing up why this space is needed and how it would be used. Early next fall, VSG is going to propose a bill to Vanderbilt to get us the space.”

In the meantime, SAA continues to fulfill its mission of increasing accessibility to disability at Vanderbilt. It is a diverse organization composed of students of all abilities, visible or not, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. SAA has completed projects mapping wheelchair accessible routes throughout campus, and they have utilized various ventures, such as TED Talks and Dean’s Dinners, to increase the minimal campus conversation surrounding disabilities.

“There are a lot of issues everyone has emotions tied to, whether it’s race or gender, and on campus there has been a great initiative to talk about these issues and make these minorities feel included, but I feel like the one aspect of diversity that’s not included in that conversation is disability,” DeFreese said.

As students who identify as having a disability, DeFreese and Garrity have experienced firsthand the difficulties of discussing disabilities with their peers and professors.

“People don’t realize that on your diversity statement, disability is there, and that’s what makes Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt- because of the diversity we have,” Garrity said.

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GCC China Forum, “Xi’s Not My President” movement spark conversation about Chinese constitutional change

*Names have been changed.

At universities throughout the United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong, many Chinese students have been protesting Xi Jinping for his constitutional amendment that would allow him to stay in power indefinitely. In March, posters in Chinese and English proliferated at many university campuses outside mainland China, with phrases such as “not my president” and “I disagree” written across pictures of Xi Jinping’s face.

Believed to be run by anonymous Chinese university students through the Twitter account @StopXiJinping, the “Xi’s Not My President” movement became a medium for Chinese students studying abroad to discuss the implications of Xi’s constitutional amendment. Even for Chinese students studying at American universities, the subject remains difficult to hold open conservations over.

While the movement does not currently exist at Vanderbilt, organizations such as Global China Connection (GCC) have created platforms for Chinese students to discuss political events with each other, while interacting with the larger Vanderbilt community.

In particular, GCC’s first China Forum on Apr. 7 presented an opportunity for Chinese students to connect with future leaders and discuss topics on Chinese politics, philosophy, education, art and journalism. With its theme of “Unlocking the Current State of China,” the 2018 China Forum included a full-day agenda of speakers, panels and discussions. In addition, the China Forum gave undergraduates a chance to network with professionals and companies based in China, such as Embark China, Infervision, Veritas Academy and Ofo.

The forum’s keynote speaker featured Dr. Cheng Li, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institution and a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

“Dr. Li has a more moderate voice,” said Sam*, a Chinese student who attended the forum. “His viewpoints find a middle point that connects people.”

Li’s speech focused on “The Trajectory of the Middle Kingdoms and US-China Relations: A Paradox of Hope and Fear.” The “hope” mentioned lies in the economic growth of China during Deng Xiaoping’s leadership, with the establishment of age and term limits and regional bureaucratic representation.

Li’s “fear” involved Xi Jinping’s new era and political repression, viewing Xi Jinping’s tightening political control and his abolition of term limits as a threat to political freedom. Li identified three groups that serve as obstacles to Xi Jinping’s reforms: liberal intellectuals in China, Chinese political elites who appreciate Deng Xiaoping’s ideas and critics overseas – such as Chinese students studying abroad.

Many Chinese students use the social networking app WeChat (which functions similarly to Facebook) as a platform to discuss events such as Xi Jinping’s constitutional change.

According to Sam, WeChat is the most popular way to receive news in China; while the app is monitored to some extent, she uses WeChat to discuss political events with her friends both in China and at American universities.

“Many of my friends are angry about how easily the Constitution can be changed without a rigorous examination of the impact,” Sam said. “People were scared that China will go back from a lot of the progress it’s made since its pre-revolution stage.

“Many of my friends are angry about how easily the Constitution can be changed without a rigorous examination of the impact."

According to Sam, the initial reaction to Xi Jinping’s constitutional change was an emotional one. Later, Sam saw her university friends develop two schools of thought on the change.

“Our world is currently under the narrative that the world is powered by the West, and that’s how every country should play the game,” Sam said. “However, this can be a new way to rule a strong country. Maybe democracy is not the best way, and Chinese characteristics can be good.”

According to Sam, this Western narrative argument has become more popular in the past couple of years, especially among Chinese students who have graduated from elite American universities and returned to China to start careers. After a technological boom in the twenty-first century, many Chinese students are excited about economic changes in China, which they believe could not be possible without strong one-party growth.

According to Sam, the second reaction she has noticed in her network is a worrying one; if Xi Jinping can change the Constitution, it means that other leaders can easily change it as well.

“Xi Jinping made a lot of changes in China after 2012,” Sam said. “The Party got rid of a lot of bad influences and emphasized the judicial branch. Xi’s next steps are to strengthen military power and solve territorial issues. People think that he wants to solve that within his own time. If we have a weak leader after Xi, the progress he made will not be accomplished. But the change risks a sad prospect. The very institution he wants to change is weakened by his own act.”

According to Sam, her peers in the Vanderbilt Chinese community are less politically vocal than Chinese students in other top universities. While GCC’s China Forum presented an excellent opportunity to discuss political issues, Sam hopes that continuous and informal conversations will spark a general interest in Chinese politics.

“So many things can be changed in the next five to ten years, that no one wants to be super vocal without really knowing what’s happening,” Sam said. “There’s no right answer at this point, but worry and uncertainty is moving on everyone’s hearts.”

“So many things can be changed in the next five to ten years, that no one wants to be super vocal without really knowing what’s happening."

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Women’s Golf using momentum from Brickyard going into SEC Championships

The SEC Women’s Golf Championships begins this Wednesday in Birmingham, and the Commodores have some crucial momentum after winning the Brickyard Collegiate last week.

“I think anytime you’ve got momentum on your side, it just gives you a chance to go and play really well,” said coach Greg Allen.

Vanderbilt, which is ranked No. 25 in nation, took home both team and individual honors, as freshman Morgan Baxendale placed first out of 78 golfers in the field. Baxendale shot a 3-under 213 over three rounds and won SEC Freshman of the Week honors for her performance.

“That girl doesn’t slow down, doesn’t stop,” said Allen of Baxendale. “And she’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around in my 20 years of coaching.”

Sophomore Abbey Carlson and freshman Louise Yu tied for fourth place at 3-over 219.

Even with an impressive showing at the Brickyard, Allen thinks this team still has room to get better and reach their potential.

Carlson leads the team with a stroke average of 73.04 and Baxendale is close behind with an average of 73.33. Louise Yu’s average of 73.52 and Courtney Zeng’s 73.54 average are also remarkable.

The sophomore has improved the most in the past year, taking almost a stroke and a half off her average.

“Her ball striking is unbelievable,” Allen said of Carlson. “But I would say the biggest thing for Abbey is that her chipping has improved.”

The SEC Championships have a different format this year. In addition to the traditional 54 holes of stroke play, the conference championship will now feature a second round in which the top eight teams from stroke play compete in match play for up to three additional rounds.

Allen said, “I’m excited about the possibility of match play. It mirrors the national championship now, and it mirrors what the guys do.”

While the team has not played in match play in any tournaments this season, Allen emphasized that they play matches in practice, and match play is very common on the summer amateur tours.

Greystone Golf and Country Club hosts the tournament on its Legacy course.

Carlson, who played the course at last year’s SEC Championships, said, “it’s a course that all around tests your game, but you’re rewarded for good shots.”

The competition will be tough, as Arkansas and Alabama are both top-five teams and South Carolina, Florida, and Auburn are also fellow top-25 teams.

This team’s chemistry could play a factor in keeping the Commodores loose in a competitive and pressure-packed tournament.

“This is probably one of the best teams I’ve had in terms of chemistry in a really long time,” said Allen, who has coached 11 seasons at Vanderbilt after leading Arizona’s squad for seven years.

Carlson said, “Our team just all around gels really well. Last tournament, we all got ice cream after a round and just sat and talked in the van for 20 minutes.”

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First online course for undergraduates to be launched for summer session

This summer, students seeking to earn Vanderbilt credit from off campus locations will be able to enroll in a new for-credit online course, ENGM 3100: Finance and Accounting for Engineers. This 6-week course will be headed by Professor David Berezov, who regularly teaches the class on campus.

The purpose of this online course is to offer greater flexibility to Vanderbilt’s undergraduate community and will exclusively be offered to Vanderbilt students, according to Professor John Sloop, Associate Provost for Digital Learning, and Dr. Gayathri Narasimham, Associate Director of Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning, both of whom played a critical role in the ideation and execution of the course.

“Although we have some degree programs now that are largely online, we had done very little experimentation directly with online courses for our undergraduate population,” Sloop said. “Vanderbilt is very dedicated to our full-time students, so the question was, how can our full time undergraduate students benefit from the work that we’ve been doing? We thought it would be interesting to experiment with an online summer school course that could be taken by undergraduates not able to be on campus, so we reached out to the associate deans for courses that students might need, and Finance and Accounting for Engineers was highly recommended. This is our attempt to see if online courses are something that would benefit our undergraduate population and help them move towards their degree with more efficiency while freeing up their time in other areas.”

The course will be broken down into multiple modules and consist of video lectures, graded online assignments and midterm exams, which will be proctored through LockDown Browser, a program that temporarily limits other computer functions to prevent cheating. Students will have access to a calculator and modified excel program on LockDown Browser. Two digital textbooks will be required for the class, one of which is a standard eTextbook, and the other which is an interactive online textbook that offers multiple options for individualized practice through MindTap, including concept quizzes that allow students to delve as deep into the material as they would like. An adaptive test bank will be available for students to select particular sections for extra practice.

“Some students will begin the course already understanding some of the content, so there are many exercises they will not have to do,” Berezov said. “On the other hand, some students will have to concentrate on certain skill sets and there is a tremendous amount of content to help them practice on their own with interactive feedback, which is the most important aspect of an online course and should help fill the gap of not being in class.”

In addition to the interactive features available on MindTap, additional content support will be available through Berezov, who will host live office hours online.

“I will be stationed near a computer throughout the entire course and I’m pretty good about getting back to students, so there will be support along the way,” Berezov said.

Should students run into any technical difficulties with Brightspace, the Center for Teaching will be available to troubleshoot and handle any issues.  

The online course is flexible enough for students pursuing internships or other professional opportunities over the summer. Exams will be open for a period of several days.

“Students will be able to progress through the course in a number of ways,” Berezov said. “Some students will work for an hour or two each evening to complete the online course. Others will get jammed up during the week and prefer to put in 6 to 10 hours during the weekend.”

In addition to scheduling flexibility, students can take advantage of accessibility features such as close captioning and transcripts for lecture videos. The etextbook includes audio features that will read the text aloud.

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IN PHOTOS: Holi 2018

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Vanderbilt Bowling wins second NCAA title in typical Vanderbilt fashion

When John Williamson helped found the Vanderbilt Bowling team in 2004, a moment like Saturday’s NCAA Championship match was something that only existed in his head.

He was an assistant on Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin’s staff before he was tapped to run the startup program. Within three years, he had already made school history by winning the first-ever NCAA title for Vanderbilt in 2007.

It took 11 long years of near-misses and heartbreak, but Williamson and his team reached the pinnacle again when they won the second NCAA title in program history and fourth title in school history on Saturday in a thrilling seven-game victory over McKendree.

“Being a young program that hadn’t done anything, I didn’t necessarily think that we would be the first,” Williamson said after throwing out the first pitch at Vanderbilt Baseball’s game on Sunday afternoon. “But, we sort of struck gold in 2007 and at that time, I thought that they were easy to win because it was only our third year. It turned out that it wasn’t that easy. We’ve had some chances to win it, but it took 11 to get the second one. I’m hoping it won’t take 11 to get the third.”

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

This year’s championship team took after the first one in many regards, primarily in its team chemistry. According to Williamson, fielding a team as tightly-knit as this year’s squad was hard to find. The 2017-18 bowlers did not have the expectations that past teams have had, but they had the bond of champions that Williamson had only previously seen in his 2007 champions.

“We haven’t had the best season during the regular season, but I think this is probably the most fun I’ve had as an entire group,” said junior Kristin Quah. “We all just really got along as a team and I think that really helped.”

An elite-level bond wasn’t the only stereotypically Vanderbilt thing about this squad. Their road to the trophy was typical of a Commodore team in its convoluted nature. After cruising through the first two rounds of the tournament, Vanderbilt had to face Sam Houston State for the second time. In the double elimination format, the Bearkats won their Friday night match to force a decisive match on Saturday morning for a shot at the title.

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

With their backs against the wall, the Commodores never stopped fighting and won both the traditional match to force a decisive “Baker match” game to advance to the championship game later that day. It was the adversity of the moment that brought the Commodores together.

“I think, after the morning match, we had such a great match against Sam Houston in the Baker game that it actually helped our evening match,” Quah said. “We played fantastic, probably the best we played all season in that five-game Baker match against Sam Houston. It helped us settle down in a way. It could have been a blessing in disguise that we had to play that morning. I haven’t felt that great as a team all year.”

Of course, the road wouldn’t get easier in the traditional best-of-seven final. Vanderbilt found themselves down 3-2, but managed to claw their way back and force a seventh game thanks to a massive 10th-frame from Maria Bulanova. Game seven was all Commodores, as they took the final game 220-191 to clinch the championship.

It was typical Vanderbilt: making it as hard as possible, but still pulling through as a cohesive, hard-nosed team.

“It’s kind of funny because we were joking about it that ‘Oh yeah, we’re Vanderbilt, of course we’re going to take it to seven,’” Quah said. “We seem to always do that. We’re always going to extend it as far as possible before we actually do something. I think it’s just a testament to how we will always push back. People can show their fight but we’re always going to try and give more.”

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

The road to the top was typical of a Vanderbilt team, and so was the team’s attitude. Commodore teams can never rest on their laurels. It always comes down to a mentality, and that’s exactly what the Commodores had: a winning attitude.

It was that attitude that pushed someone like Bulanova to bowl perfectly in the 10th frame to win Game Six of the championship matchby three points. It was that attitude that pushed them to win two huge matches on Saturday morning to push them into the title game.

It’s the same attitude that has made Vanderbilt Bowling a premier program in the country.

“I give them all the credit in the world because the girls found something in themselves that just allowed them to believe,” Williamson said. “We have some messages and themes and things like that that we try to instill and give them sort of a roadmap on how we think to get to where we wanted to go, but when it’s all said and done, they’re driving the car. I’m so happy for them because they’ve put in a lot of work. They’ve sacrificed a lot and now they can reap some of the rewards.”

Now, Vanderbilt looks to the future with hope and confidence. Winning is only fun if you do it a lot, and Williamson thinks this title can have long-lasting effects.

“Every opportunity for our program to bowl for a national title helps our team three, four, five, six, even 10 years later because the little girls that are watching it that are bowling see Vanderbilt on TV,” Williamson said. “That just helps us continue to stay sort of in the forefront in the conscious of the youth bowling world and that’s where we want to be.”

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Commodores reach into bag of tricks to upset Rebels

When the desire to win is strong, baseball players will do whatever it takes to see a “W” next to their name.

For the Vanderbilt Commodores, “whatever it takes” includes some trickery and some Sandlot-style strategy.

In the fifth inning of Vanderbilt’s second seven-inning game of a doubleheader against the Ole Miss Rebels, Ole Miss’ Nick Fortes doubled to score two runs and tie the game for the Rebels. The Commodores were set to face the next batter with two runners in scoring position and no one out.

That’s when Vanderbilt took after its namesake and hustled the Rebels.

After receiving the cutoff throw from the outfield, third baseman Austin Martin gave first baseman Julian Infante a look that only Infante could recognize.

The trick was on. With pitcher Reid Schaller pulled off the mound next to Infante, Martin quickly tagged the baserunner at third base when he briefly stepped off the bag.

Vanderbilt had executed the hidden ball trick.

The Rebels, having been successfully swindled out of a baserunner, would not threaten for the rest of the inning. However, they took the lead in the next inning, and it took a three-run double from catcher Ty Duvall to give the Commodores an 8-7 win to seal a huge series win over a top-five team.

Whether it’s a hidden ball trick or just a clutch hit, the attitude from the Commodores is the same: never say die.

“This group is really tough,” Duvall said. “We work extremely hard and I feel we’re as prepared as anyone that steps on the field. I try to remind the guys of that. No one does what we do, no one works as hard as we do. When you get out there, just do your thing because you’re more ready than anyone.”

That fifth inning was one of many instances on Sunday in which the game, and the series, could have gotten away from the Commodores. In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Commodores were down to their final outs multiple times. In the seventh inning, Martin hit a two-out infield single off the glove of the second baseman that plated the tying run. In the first extra inning that followed, they were down 7-6 when Ethan Paul launched a towering solo shot to tie it. Then, with the bases loaded, an Ole Miss wild pitch brought the winning run across.

Vanderbilt caught breaks. But the age-old idiom remains true: you have to be good to be lucky.

“They outhit us both games I think,” coach Tim Corbin said. “In some ways, you have to, and the hits have to be timely. Really, that’s what it boils down to. You get a timely hit, the two home runs were certainly timely and then Duvall’s hit was timely with the bases loaded and that’s really what you need at the end of the day is just to come up and get big hits and we did. That was great to see.”

The difference between any other team in the country and a Corbin-coached team is effort. Vanderbilt may not win every game, but they will give 110% in each and every one. There has never been a single Commodore that has quit on a game. If they have, it was the last time they were on the field in a Vanderbilt uniform.

However, that doesn’t mean that Vanderbilt can dominate any game. They can win ugly, and in the case of the 2018 Commodores, they have mastered the art of the ugly win. It’s why they’re sitting in the Top 25 with two straight SEC series wins under their belt.

“We’re not always pretty, we’re not always the most cosmetic team in college baseball, but at the same time, you just wanted to see that,” Corbin said. “You wanted to see the passion, grit and the ability to take a punch and then come back. There were a lot of tough moments in the first game, a lot of tough moments in that second game too. But, they withstood the punches and they got back on their feet and answered the bell.”

After an 11-3 beatdown at the hands of the Rebels on Friday night, some might have counted out the Commodores in the series against their toughest opponent since facing the top-ranked Florida Gators. With two shortened games on the schedule on Sunday thanks to poor weather on Saturday, Vanderbilt had plenty of time to put Friday behind them and just believe in themselves.

The Rebels came out hard in both games and gave the Commodores everything they had. But for every punch Ole Miss gave, Vanderbilt hit back twice as hard. Moving forward, that attitude will come in handy as the games get more important.

“This was a tough series against a tough team,” Martin said. “The way that we were able to bounce back after every inning. They just kept coming at us and I was really proud of the team just being able to come back and get these two wins today.”

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VSG bill calls for university to eliminate $675 price disparity between residential college halls and other living spaces

The University will charge a residential college experience fee of $337.50 each semester for residents of Warren and Moore and E. Bronson Ingram college halls upon Board of Trustees approval, according to the 2018-2019 Guide to Housing Assignment Process. The fee is intended to fund community programming, which could include the cost of speakers, food, setup and marketing materials.

The Vanderbilt Student Government Senate passed a bill on April 4 that urged University administration to reconsider the extra costs involved with being a member of the residential colleges since, “ a differential cost among certain residence halls may lead some students to choose not to live there,” according to the bill.

“Extravagant amounts of money are spent on programs and activities that aren’t well attended,” said Moore Senator Tam Wheat at the VSG Senate session. “At the least, I think that there could be a reduction in these costs.”

Dean of Students Mark Bandas said that the residential housing fee will help the university actualize the residential college experience by funding programming, which will make the community model on the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons available to students for all four years.

“We believe that students and parents will see, in a very tangible way, how that cost is providing a tremendous value to the residential experience,” said Bandas.

At a town hall in February, Senior Director of Housing Operations Jim Kramka said that Vanderbilt was committed to keeping a flat rate for housing costs in order to be inclusive to all financial situations on campus.

“Vanderbilt is committed to a unified housing regiment,” said Kramka. “You pay the same. You don’t want people to have to not live somewhere because they can’t afford it. We have seen that in the past.”

According to Bandas, students were informed throughout the housing process about the fee and the fee information was provided when in the housing application, which students had to sign. Bandas said that the colleges were very popular with the student body and around five students applied for each available residential college spot.

Additionally, students will see a change to the meal plan offerings in the coming year. Instead of a 12 meals per week plan, students living in the residential colleges will be required to participate in the 14 Meal Plan for residential colleges. Plans will cost the same regardless of whether they’re residential or not, but residential meal plans include access to residential meal events. 

“Meal plan rates received a 4.5% increase to accommodate a number of increased costs including food inflation and significant wage increases to our service level employees,” said Executive Director of Campus Dining Dan ter Kuile.

These rising costs will continue to be covered by different aid programs such as Experience Vanderbilt and Financial Aid.

“For students who are receiving Opportunity Vanderbilt (need-based) funding, that additional fee will be added into each student’s cost of attendance just as any other tuition and fee charge and will be used to determine eligibility for need-based financial aid,” Bandas said.

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Senior Carsen Smith represents Vanderbilt in Jeopardy! College Championship

Carsen Smith was a contestant on this year’s Jeopardy! College Championship this past Thursday, competing alongside other college students for 100,000 dollars.

Each year, Jeopardy! holds the tournament and allows 15 students to compete on the show, filming 5 episodes with 3 students each, with the top scorers advancing into later rounds. The episodes from this season air Apr. 9-20.

Smith, a biological sciences, Russian studies and Cinema & Media Arts major in the School of Arts & Sciences, learned about the opportunity to tryout for the show online from another Vanderbilt student last year.

“I looked over his shoulder and fed him some answers and realized I actually knew a lot of the trivia,” Smith said. “He told me that it was his dream to be on the show and that the online test is the way to get on.”

Jeopardy! was not Smith’s first time participating in trivia tournaments, as she served as captain of her high school’s trivia team. After taking the test online in October, she was selected for an in-person audition in Chicago in November. Originally scheduled to be filmed in January, the show’s taping was pushed back until spring break after host Alex Trebek underwent surgery.

On the show, Carsen finished second in her round with an ending total of $2,000, but it is unlikely she will advance to the next round.

After the show aired, Smith experienced an unexpected amount of attention over social media, she said.

“It’s more attention than I ever imagined I’d get. On the night the show aired, I ended up with 900 new Facebook and Instagram requests,” she said. “I feel like Kanye. If Kanye were a silly blonde white girl on one episode of a game show.”

While the comments she’s received range from marriage proposals to accusations of being too “smug” on the show, Smith isn’t taking the online attention too seriously, even noting that the “mean tweets” are her favorite part of the experience.

Another highlight for Smith from her chance to appear on Jeopardy! is the entrance into the world of jeopardy alumni.

“Being a contestant on Jeopardy! is like joining a really exclusive club,” she said. “I’ve already had multiple former contestants reach out to me to grab lunch or coffee. All of us are in a Facebook group together so now I have this awesome network of a few thousand very smart, interesting people who have all had this wild experience.”

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Vanderbilt defeats Ole Miss 8-7 in rubber match

No. 15 Vanderbilt defeated fifth-ranked Ole Miss 8-7 in the second, seven-inning game of a Sunday doubleheader. With a passionate crowd braving the cold to cheer on the Commodores, the squad gutted out their second win of the day in another back-and-forth contest.

“Every time we were down, we never felt like we were out,” said catcher Ty Duvall, the breakout star of the game.

Ole Miss scored an early run off Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman. Grae Kessinger walked before Ryan Olenek hit a double to left field. Thomas Dillard grounded out to bring Kessinger home and give the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ole Miss right hander James McArthur made quick work of the Vanderbilt offense in the bottom of the first.

Starting with the second out in the bottom of the first inning, when Alonzo Jones struck out swinging, eight straight at bats between both teams ended in strikeouts, six of those looking. The game figured to be a pitcher’s duel until Vanderbilt charged back in the bottom of the third inning.

Stephen Scott was hit by a pitch from McArthur, and Ty Duvall hit a triple to right field to score him. Julian Infante came to bat next. Infante sent a sacrifice fly all the way to the warning track in right center field to score Duvall and give the Commodores a 2-1 lead.

Duval made his first SEC start of the year and delivered four timely RBIs. Duval was unfazed by the pressure of conference play. He said, “when the time came, I knew I was ready because of all the time and effort I put in.”

Coach Corbin said of Duvall, “even in limited time last year, he always put good at-bats together.”

In the top of the fourth, Ole Miss’ Nick Fortes smashed a double over Alonzo Jones’ head in center field, but Hickman retired the next three batters.

Pat DeMarco led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a powerful home run that cleared the left field wall and hit Memorial Gym. Philip Clarke walked, and Stephen Scott homered to right to stretch the lead to 5-1.

Scott already has five homers in just 29 games this year, and he only had two all of last year when he played nine more games.

Will Ethridge relieved McArthur, who ended the day with five earned runs allowed in 3.1 innings of work.

In the top of the fifth inning, Ole Miss came out swinging. The first six batters reached base.

Tyler Keenan led off the frame with a home run to left center. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Ryan Olenek, who singled to bring in a run.

Mason Hickman was relieved by Reid Schaller. Hickman gave up five runs and seven hits in four innings.

Nick Fortes doubled to score two runs and advance Olenek to third. The RBI double tied the game up at 5-5.

Then, Austin Martin pulled off the “hidden ball trick” on Olenek and tagged him out at third. Martin never threw the ball back to Reid Schaller, but instead Martin kept it in his glove. When Olenek started to take a lead off of third base, Martin tagged him out.

“It was just a gut feeling. I’ve never done that in my life,” Martin said of his trick. He credited Julian Infante with helping him sell the ruse by heading to the mound to talk to Schaller.

Schaller was then replaced by freshman Hugh Fisher, who got the last two outs of the frame.

Ethridge responded by striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth, the second inning of the game in which all three Commodore batters struck out. McArthur also struck out the side in the second inning.

The Rebels took a 7-5 lead in the top of the sixth. Pinch hitter Cooper Johnson hit a single past a diving Ethan Paul to drive in Will Golsan, who led off the inning with a single. Kessinger hit a single to left field with runners on the corners to score Tyler Keenan. Earlier, Keenan had walked, then reached third on Johnson’s single.

Paul, Kaiser, and Infante teamed up to turn a double play and end the threat.

DeMarco and Clarke both singled to the left side of the field to start the bottom of the sixth inning. Connor Kaiser bunted to advance them into scoring position. Stephen Scott walked to load the bases with one out for Ty Duvall.

Duvall hit a liner along the right field line that fell fair by just a few inches. His one-out double cleared the bases to help the Commodores retake the lead 8-7.

Lefthander Jackson Gillis entered the game in position to earn the save.

Austin Martin dropped the ball as he was about to make a throw to first base, and this error allows Nick Fortes to reach base. Fortes stole second base a few pitches later.

Fortes was caught stealing third for the second out of the inning. Cole Zabowski struck out looking at Gillis’ masterful curveball to end the game.

Vanderbilt hosts Evansville on Tuesday at 6:30 PM.

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Commodores win first game of Ole Miss doubleheader in exciting, walk-off fashion

In the first game of today’s doubleheader at Hawkins Field, the 15th ranked Commodores sent Patrick Raby to the mound to take on on the 5th ranked Rebels of Ole Miss. With a strong overcast throughout this matchup, fans were just hoping they would get to see both games before the rain came down.

The Commodores took the field with two straight opportunities to redeem themselves, after losing to Ole Miss on Friday, 11-3.

The first inning may not have started the way Coach Corbin and the Commodores had hoped, as Patrick Raby opened with back-to-back full count walks. The Rebels were able to run up his pitch count, but after a quick (and early) mound visit from Corbin, Raby recollected. A quick fly out to center and a fantastic job by Raby himself covering first on the proceeding double play ended the first inning without any damage.

Raby seamlessly settled into a groove with a one-two-three inning in the second. That said, the Commodores couldn’t make any noise behind the plate, giving Raby very little room to work with.

Through just two innings, Vanderbilt’s Patrick Raby and Ole Miss’ Brady Feigl had quickly declared this game a pitching duel.

Players, fans, and spectators began to wonder one thing: which pitcher would make the first mistake?

In the bottom of the third inning, the Commodores finally showed up, but not for long. After Julian Infante broke up the mutual no-hitter with a double to deep left, Vanderbilt showed little plate discipline. Davis and Martin made it a lot easier for the Rebels, who had little to worry about after the two grounded out on the first pitch they saw.

It took nearly four frames for either team to break this game open. Luckily, after Paul was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a groundout, Philip Clarke lined a double down the first base line to score a run.

The key to Clarke driving in a run? Precisely what the Commodores lacked the inning before: Baseball IQ.

Not only did Clarke have the plate discipline to wait for his pitch (the RBI double came on the fifth pitch of the at-bat), but he continued to flaunt his intelligence on the bases. He reached third base on a Demarco ground out, but then a bizarre series of events took place: Connor Kaiser appeared to have grounded out to end the inning, but a second or two after the throw reached first base, the umpire called Kaiser safe. From his angle, the first baseman’s foot came off the bag, and of course, Clarke never stopped running. In fact, he didn’t even pick his head up. By the time Ole Miss realized, they sprinted back to the field (many had began walking towards the dugout after the throw to first), but Clarke had already scored the Commodores second run.

In the top of the fifth, Raby let up his first two hits of the game–a single then a double–allowing Ole Miss to tack on their first run. Once again, Raby showed his maturity, as he remained unfazed. He proceeded to strike out a batter and force the second to groundout, getting out of the inning with very little damage.

Coach Corbin decided that the one run was not enough to warrant pulling Raby from the game, so he continued to ride his workhorse into the sixth.

The result? Raby may have retired the side in just four batters, but of course, the second of those four knocked a solo home run to left center.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Vanderbilt sought to take the lead once again and make amends for Ole Miss’ game-tying home run.

The Commodores quickly loaded runners to first and second with one out, forcing Ole Miss to pull their starting pitcher, Brady Feigl.

The reliever, Parker Caracci, struck out the first batter before quickly finding himself in trouble.

The two words that will haunt Ole Miss in the coming days: Philip Clarke.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Clarke only needed to see three pitches this time around. He knocked a double into deep left field, driving in two more runs and starting a rally. The next batter, Connor Kaiser, drove in Clarke with a base hit up the middle.

Heading into the seventh, Corbin called in Zach King to relieve Patrick Raby, who let up three hits and two runs in six innings pitched. At this point, the Commodores held a 5-2 lead, their largest lead of the day.

Safe to say, King did not have the performance Corbin had expected. He quickly left the game, forcing freshman Tyler Brown to dig himself out of a bases loaded, no-out mess.

The result?

Brown beamed the first batter he faced, forcing in a run. The next batter bounced one to Julian Infante at first, who decided to go for the safer force-out at first, allowing yet another run to score. At this point, Vanderbilt led by just one, with Ole Miss runners on first and second and only one out. Vanderbilt fans expressed their concern with the decision; Infante appeared to have enough time to get the runner at home, but still decided to go for just one at first.

All it took was a deep sac fly and an infield hit for Ole Miss to score two more, taking the lead 6-5.

After Infante made a questionable call at first, Kaiser did just the same: with a slow roller to the the third base area, he didn’t communicate well with third baseman Harrison Ray. As the ball rolled closer, their lack of communication forced Kaiser to call of Ray, while Ray seemed to have the closer, faster angle to the ball. Additionally, Kaiser was forced to throw a somewhat off-balance beam to first, which the runner was able to beat out. Ultimately, the miscommunication allowed Ole Miss to take the lead in the top of the seventh.

In accordance with NCAA regulations, today’s game was only seven innings long, as the Commodores were set to play again just 45 minutes after the first game ended.

In the bottom of the seventh, Scott was hit by a pitch and was able to swipe second due to a mishap from the player handling the catcher’s throw. Julian Infante then struck out, bringing pinch hitter Ty Duvall to the plate. Duvall’s sac fly to deep right field brought Martin to the plate, needing a hit to score the game-tying run.

The Commodores caught a lucky break.

Martin hit a weak ground ball to second, and while he may have had the speed to beat out the throw, Ole Miss’ second baseman made an inexcusable mistake. He charged toward the ground ball with his glove a little too high.

The ball went straight past his glove, allowing the game-tying run to score.

Vanderbilt extended this game to the 8th inning (technically an extra-inning due to the doubleheader) tied at 6, only for Brown to quickly give up a double. Jackson Gillis quickly entered the game in relief with a runner on second and no outs.

Ultimately, the Rebels regained the lead with a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning.

Key word: regained. This game was far from over.

Vanderbilt led off the inning with an incredibly clutch solo home run from Ethan Paul, followed by a Pat Demarco base hit. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Vanderbilt had a runner on first with no outs. All they needed was to score once more to win the game.

Ole Miss fans held their breath as their worst nightmare came to the plate once more.

This time, the Rebels handled Philip Clarke, who simply grounded out to move the game winning run to second base. A Connor Kaiser bloop single and an intentional walk on Stephen Scott loaded the bases.

With Ty Duvall at the plate, Vanderbilt caught yet another lucky break. A wild pitch by Ole Miss drove a run home, allowing the Commodores to win the first of the doubleheader, 8-7.

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Vanderbilt Bowling wins second National Championship

Believe it or not, the Predators are not the only team in Nashville fighting to make history in the playoffs.

The Vanderbilt Commodores Women’s Bowling team captured their second national title in team history and fourth in school history with a thrilling come-from-behind win over McKendree University. The Commodores won two straight games, including a decisive game seven, to win the match.

In Vanderbilt’s storied athletic history, just three varsity teams have shared the honor of taking home the most coveted achievement in collegiate sports: a national championship.

Most recently, the 2015 Women’s Tennis Team defeated UCLA to win its program’s one and only championship. Likewise, a year prior, the 2014 Baseball team beat Virginia to join the club. The third and final program, the Vanderbilt Women’s Bowling team, took home Vanderbilt’s first national championship over a decade ago, defeating the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks in 2007.

While the baseball and women’s tennis teams have experienced their fair share of recent success, the women’s bowling team remains at the helm: in just fourteen years as a varsity team, the ‘Dores have appeared in three national championships.

Today, at the Tropicana Lanes in Richmond Heights, Missouri, Vanderbilt made their fourth title appearance, facing the defending champions from McKendree University. Once again, they were posed with the opportunity to make history and become the only Vanderbilt team with two national championships.

Vanderbilt entered the day looking to ride the hot hand of Junior Maria Bulanova. Bulanova, born and raised in Moscow, Russia, is an All-American who propelled the Commodores to the title game with a clutch strike against Sam Houston State.

McKendree entered the day as favorites, but Vanderbilt proved their worth early in this match.

In the first few frames of game one, McKendree struggled. The Bearcats (not to be confused with the Commodores’ last opponent, the “Bearkats” of Sam Houston State) seemed to experience small lapses in focus and Vanderbilt quickly took advantage. It took just 5 frames for Vanderbilt to find themselves ahead of McKendree by a total of 23 pins.

As an underdog in a best of seven series, it was crucial that Vanderbilt won game one. The result was nothing less, as the Commodores finished the first game strong: they ended with four straight strikes in rounds seven, eight, nine, and ten, winning the first game by twenty pins.

The second game got off to an exciting start, as each team began with two strikes. Vanderbilt’s Katie Stark released her ball and appeared to bowl a third, but before the ball knocked over all ten pins, she lost balance. Stark slipped and fell; her hand landed in front of the line, leading to a foul. The crowd had gone silent as if she had been injured, while McKendree proceeded to capitalize with yet another strike.

The Bearcats continued to dominate the second game; after finding their stroke, they dominated. They won by well over thirty pins to knot the series up at one game a piece.

Game three was nothing like the first two, as the score was dead even through the first three frames. The fourth frame was Vanderbilt’s break, but the neck-and-neck competition continued. Ultimately, McKendree spared the tenth frame, forcing Vanderbilt’s Maria Bulanova to spare an impossible three pins just to tie. They didn’t get the outcome they had hoped, and McKendree took game three, leaving the total score at 2-1 in favor of the bearcats.

Vanderbilt dominated the fourth game to tie it up at 2-2, but of course, the nature of this back-and-forth match remained. McKendree blew out the Commodores in the following game, fueled by six straight strikes in the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth frames. 

Heading into game six, McKendree was up 3-2. They needed just one more game to win the National Championship. Did anyone really expect the Commodores to go down without a fight?

Today, we learned that the Commodores bowling team has that clutch gene the Predators could’ve used in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. They gave McKendree their best effort and was able to send this to game seven with a tight win in the sixth game.

Now, two of the most exciting words to a sports fan: game seven. These words may invoke pressure within most athletes, making them increasingly nervous, but the Commodores remained unfazed. Her foul may have began the downwards trajectory for Vanderbilt early on, but Stark managed to tally her tenth strike of the day and propelled a huge rally for the Commodores. Everything seemed to go right for them in game seven, as they strung together five straight strikes and proceeded to win the national championship.

Today, the Commodores bowling team accomplished something no Vanderbilt team has done before. After being put in a due-or-die situation in game six, they managed to avoid elimination, winning two straight games. They beat the Bearkats, then the Bearcats, to secure their second national championship, the only program on campus to do so.

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New sustainability report includes comprehensive data on university’s environmental impact

A redesigned sustainability report evaluates Vanderbilt’s environmental impact during the calendar year of 2016 under new criteria. In the past, the annual report, developed by the Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO), focused primarily on greenhouse gas emissions and included the Vanderbilt Medical Center in its data. It now examines only the university campus and integrates water use, food waste, recent environmental initiatives and student-inspired Green Fund projects into its evaluation.

The report presents Vanderbilt’s 2016 energy emissions in three categories: 31 percent coming from on-campus sources, 33 percent from purchased electricity and 36 percent from a combination of factors like commuting, air travel and waste. Vanderbilt hosted 17 LEED certified buildings, 97 hydration stations and spent $150,000 on Green Fund projects.

“As a university, there’s always so many different ways in which energy is being used,” Daniel Shaykevich, Vanderbilt senior and president of Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR), said. “We have to consider a lot of ways in which we’re contributing to environmental issues while also as an institution of higher education working to solve them.”

Students can be involved in university decisions concerning sustainability through programs like the Green Fund and student organizations which collaborate with university administration.

“[SPEAR] meets with SEMO regularly, on a monthly basis, and we try to make sure that the student voice is represented and… that we’re working in line with what the administration is hoping for,” Shaykevich said.

Since reports from previous years include both the university and the medical center, this year’s cannot be directly compared to those in the past, but can serve as a point of comparison for reports in the future.

“It’s become more of an exciting report to see what steps the university has taken,” Shaykevich said. “Sustainability has started to play a larger role in the past few years, especially with the land use plan and FutureVU.”

Vanderbilt’s long-term development plan, FutureVU, details recommendations on environmental issues ranging from water management to transportation in efforts to maintain sustainable values as the campus grows. The new sustainability report includes information on two studies launched in 2017 which explore renewable energy and the energy efficiency of potential building sites.

“It’s a good tool that people can look at… and realize what sort of sustainability initiatives are going on around campus that maybe they hadn’t considered or noticed before,” Shaykevich said.

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Men’s Golf riding high going into Mason Rudolph Championship

After winning two major tournaments and several individual honors, the Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team comes home this weekend to play the Mason Rudolph Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin in what could become a triumph parade of sorts in their last regular season outing.

As of the publication of this article, Vanderbilt Men’s golf ranks 4th in the nation according to the NCAA, only behind Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma St. With the exception of California, it’s worth noting that all of the schools in the top 10 are in the Southeast because Vanderbilt has faced most of them already this season.

Whether you can’t make the drive out to Franklin this weekend or simply want more golf, fear not: Vanderbilt is likely to get a nearby Regional location during the D1 Men’s Golf Selection Show (May 2nd, 5:30 PM on the Golf Channel.) But until then, here’s a quick recap of the season so far and a primer of what to watch this weekend.

“The Alligator Bit My Hand Off!”

The Spring season started out with some off-course excitement when a committee of professionals associated with college golf named Will Gordon, Theo Humphrey, and Patrick Martin to the Ben Hogan Award Watch List, the first step in a process that evaluates a player’s performance from June-May after their success in the fall season. (The list of ten semifinalists will be announced on April 11.)

Individual honors aside, Vanderbilt had work to do as a team going in the SunTrust Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Florida. After jumping to the lead on the first day of competition, the Commodores held on to a -18 team victory, which was 8 strokes better than second-place Florida, the tournament host. Gordon and John Augustein tied for fourth, with Humphrey finishing 8th overall—suprising, considering that Humphrey is the consensus star of the Vanderbilt squad this year, but still not far behind.

Spring Breakers

Like most spring breakers who visit the Mexican seaside resort town, the Vanderbilt Men’s Golf team hoped that the losses that happened in Cabo would stay in Cabo.

To be fair, the Querencia Cabo Intercollegiate tournament was practically an early season simulation for later rounds of the NCAA Tournament with all the top programs in attendance. In the proud Vanderbilt tradition of playing difficult non-conference games early in the season (seriously, compare the schedules of Baseball, Golf, and both Men’s and Women’s Basketball and you’ll see it), the Commodores were southbound for a real test. Vanderbilt finished 11th as a team after the first day of competition with Humphrey tied for third place. They were still 11th after the following day, though Humphrey moved up to second place but still trailed the leaders by three shots.

Humphrey would finish third, but the Vanderbilt team would improve their own fortunes to place eigth in a tournament that went down to the wire between Cal Berkeley and Oklahoma St. with the Cowboys winning it. Cooper Sears, the redshirt freshman playing in the contested sixth slot, wavered with the high scores of 80 and 81 over the first two days, respectively, but rallied on Sunday to post a 76. Gordon and Augustein both contributed scores of 69 in the final round, which was critical in the Commodores’ rally.

Though echoing the team’s disappointment, Limbaugh said he was impressed by the team’s maturity when it came to making up for lost ground. He also memorably said in an interview with VUCommodores.com “We have learned that our good is pretty good and our average has not been good enough. The biggest challenge for any team is to continue to own who they are and their results.”

(No More) Statesboro Blues

After Cabo, the Commodores would fly northward to the Forrest Heights CC in Statesboro, GA for the Schenkle Invitational. Vanderbilt finished third in the 49-year-old tournament last season, but forecasts were optimistic for an even more favorable finish given the Vanderbilt squad was without their top player last year, All-American Matthias Schwab, who was off winning awards at the Palmer Cup in England at the time. Coach Limbaugh said outright the Statesboro tournament was a team favorite when he said, “We love this event because of how the community wraps their arms around us and makes it so special for all of us.”

That mutual affinity shined ever so brightly that weekend for the “golden golfers.” Vanderbilt held a commanding nine-shot team lead over second-place Kentucky after the first round of play. Vanderbilt clearly fed off of the individual lead of Humphrey. Surprisingly, the senior, whose chipping is normally the cornerstone of his game, struggled from 90 feet-and-in throughout the tournament. Ultimately, he was able to retain his composure enough to hold on to a sweet score of 66.

Not much changed during the second and final round of play that Sunday, as the Commodores cruised to victory as a team with an eight-shot, 29-under par victory over tournament hosts Georgia Southern.

Freshman Harrison Ott, who is the Commodore’s sixth man (a position that competes individually and does not contribute to the team score) at the moment, shot a respectable 75 on the final day after struggling on Saturday. Vanderbilt’s top three finishers, who all were in the tournament’s top 20, were Augenstein (T-17th, -2), Gordon (T-5, -9) and the individual tournament champion Humphrey with an impressive, -29. The individual race was far closer than Vanderbilt’s team landslide, with Humphrey barely beating out contenders from NC State and Georgia Southern by two strokes. Nevertheless, the senior would be named co-SEC Player of the Week for his performance.

After what seemed to be a concise, critical look at the team’s mid-season makeup in the post-Cabo conference, Coach Limbaugh was unafraid to sing the player’s well-earned praises after Statesboro.

“I am so proud of this group,” Limbaugh said, “and how they responded to the challenge this week. I want the guys to enjoy this because they earned it.”

In the manner of a consummate coach’s coach, Limbaugh soon turned his focus forward, adding “The challenge is for us to continue to have a group mentality so we can have a group identity and I want us to embrace that.”

Identity Follows Mentality.

The phrase doesn’t exactly affix itself to a bumper sticker like Form Follows Function, but it’ll do for the rest of the season. But what does it mean for the golfers? Gordon thinks that every member of this particular squad, even more so than in years past, is called on to contribute consistently good outings.

“Mattias (Schwab) isn’t on the team anymore, but I think this year’s team can still be excellent. Theo’s been great to look up to,” Gordon added.

After helping build up a program, Humphrey was able to look at the matter from the atmospheric perspective of a senior, saying, “Sure, every team is going to be a little different, but I think this team is really similar to the one we had last year, in a positive way.”

On leadership, Humphrey added that, “As a senior, I feel that I have to be more careful about what I say because people are listening or, I should say, I hope they are. Because I know that’s what I wish I had done more of as a freshman—I mean I listened a lot, but coming in I thought I had a lot more figured out than I actually did.”

Limbaugh, who is in his sixth season as Vanderbilt’s head coach after a stint as an assistant at Alabama, unsurprisingly also emphasized this season as the continuation of a longer process.

“If you’re recruiting the right guys, they’re pretty internally motivated,” he said.

Although not necessarily done with intent and certainly biased towards the magnetic poles of amateur golf, the geographical diversity of the Men’s Golf team is fairly representative of Vanderbilt’s student body as a whole. Gordon hails from Davidson, NC, while Humphrey, a Phil Mickleson fan, is from Connecticut (like many Vanderbilt students, he says ‘New York City suburbs’ to save time.)

But getting back to the point, former basketball coach Kevin Stallings was a master recruiter, and yet Vanderbilt struggled to make runs in the NCAA tournament for fifteen years. While Limbaugh will talk about a “day-to-day mentality” like most coaches, it’s evident he actually believes in it.

Take this quote from Limbaugh after Vanderbilt struggled on Friday in Cabo: “Tomorrow is important for us because it affects where we want to go as a team.”

Sports are, or at least should be, about the actions of the players on the field, which can lead to some pretty formulaic press conferences. But sometimes, a quote recorded by a camera can speak volumes about the inner workings of a program playing in front of it, which in the case of the most successful ones, is a carefully cultivated environment.

The quote seems incredibly vague at first glance, and that’s because it is, but there lies the importance. Where the team is going doesn’t refer to the rest of the Cabo weekend, or even the rest of the season, but to this grander, multi-year strategy of achievement –whatever that might mean on a group or individual level—that everyone on the team seems to be articulating in their own words.

The Commodores’ success on the links suggests that Limbaugh doesn’t give himself, or his staff, enough credit when it comes to the value that they add to each day in that “day-to-day” approach, especially when one looks at them in the context of years.

Limbaugh, alongside Vice Chancellor David Williams, has presided over the construction of a new state-of-the-art clubhouse for both the men’s and women’s golf programs, which puts both Vanderbilt and the Legends course on the map of amateur golf. Additionally, Vanderbilt has scored sposnorships from major golf brands like Nike, Bridgestone and PXG, though players are granted a degree of leeway when selecting what goes into their golf bags.

A key piece to the chemistry puzzle came this off-season when Limbaugh named Gator Todd (yes, that might be the best golf name ever) as assistant coach. Todd, who was an Alabama golfer during Limbaugh’s tenure there and coached on the competitive courses of Wisconsin with Marquette University, has been a fine addition to Vanderbilt’s coaching tree for his golf know-how as well as sharing the experience of golfing under Limbaugh. Todd stepped in to fill the position left vacant following Dusty Smith’s departure for the head coaching job at Mississippi State.

Run Run Rudolph

The Mason Rudolph Championship will take place this weekend with the matches lasting all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The tournament, which bears the name of a legendary golf coach who worked with Vanderbilt players from 1992-2011, will take place at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, TN, which is about 30 minutes away from campus if you take the highway.

Though there are storms in the forecast, skies should be clear enough to make for pleasant spring days with temperatures in the low 70s.

“We finished 3rd last year, and won the whole thing my freshman and sophomore years,” Humphrey said, “so it should be a good opportunity for the team to show what we’re truly capable of.”

The post Men’s Golf riding high going into Mason Rudolph Championship appeared first on Vanderbilt Hustler.

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