The Spit Experience: weekly Vanderbilt COVID-19 testing review

Spitting into a tube with 150 of your closest friends


Mattigan Kelly

Outside the Vanderbilt Recreation Center for COVID-19 testing.

Sophie Price, Staff Writer

All roads lead to the recreation center, or however the saying goes, for the social event of the week: UNIV 0099 i.e. the COVID-19 spit test. In a bygone era, this would have been another box to check on the Vanderbilt student to-do list. Spoiler alert: times have changed. Given that the test is some students’ only social interaction of the day, week or even month, we’re reestablishing this interactive event as the “Vanderbilt Spit Experience.”

To really create the feel of a social event, Vanderbilt has placed two identification check stations before one can enter the main testing room (talk about exclusive). It’s like a bouncer waiting to check your ID before entering a club with flashing lights and music, except without the music—and the only place you are entering is a drafty former workout room. The efficiency is unparalleled. 

Immediately, the room is transformed into something reminiscent of the Westminster Dog Show. The walking path lines and thigh high picket fences really show you the way, how inviting.  The anticipation builds as everyone waits for the judges (read: test administrators) to give a Best in Show ribbon.

The spit test forms can be completed almost entirely via your cell phone. (Mattigan Kelly)

Now this part’s exciting. The time has come for you to take off your mask around other students. The unmasking feels slightly “Phantom of the Opera”-esque since not a soul really remembers what anyone looks like below the bridge of their nose. 

Truly, the best part of the whole Spit Experience is trying desperately to fill the tube quickly and without making eye contact with others. This is easier in some locations than others. When worse comes to worst, looking at the trash can right to the side of the personal table is always an interesting and endearing focal point. 

On the way out the door, make sure to observe everyone else who did not spit as gracefully. Hopefully they will get the hang of it by the end of the semester.  Dropping the test tube into a bucket with other samples is probably as close as you will get to other students this semester.  Leaving the saliva and 149 students behind, the Spit Experience, the social highlight of the week, is over.

It is not as if COVID tests have a rating system like Michelin stars or Yelp reviews. However, all I will say is that I would absolutely spit here again (oh wait, I already have to).