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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vandy Mutual Aid is helping struggling community members meet their financial needs

A new program aims to help members of the Vandy community meet their financial needs by crowdfunding within the community.
Vandy Mutual Aid Instagram page. Screenshot by Jessica Barker

Vandy Mutual Aid is a new student-run, crowdsourced program to help struggling community members financially meet their needs, created in mid-August as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Started by senior Amelia Taylor and junior Matt Chvasta, Vandy Mutual Aid provides aid to all members of the Vanderbilt community, including, but not limited to, undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, according to Chvasta.

“Both of the major capitalist parties have failed the American people, and what you see is that a lot of people all over the country and at Vanderbilt are in need and not having their needs met,” Chvasta said. 

Edie Duncan, a senior who runs the Instagram page for Vandy Mutual Aid, stated that it is not a charity. Charities, Duncan said, are organizations where the donors get to choose the recipients that they deem the most deserving. Instead, Duncan claims that Vandy Mutual Aid is a loosely-organized monetary fund that collects small donations from community members. 

Money is distributed through a short application process. Per Chvasta, potential recipients need to fill out a Google Form and briefly describe their need level and what they need funds for. Then, they receive money through Venmo.

According to a post on the Vandy Mutual Aid Instagram page, the top three reasons for requesting aid are rent, food and medication. Per another post on the account, the fund has already raised over $1,000 and sent aid to dozens of members of the Vanderbilt community.

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A post shared by Vanderbilt Mutual Aid (@vandymutualaid) on

“It’s so important to recognize that not everyone experiences the same Vanderbilt,” Duncan said. “Some people can fly smoothly through safe and secure and have all their needs met. Then, some people are struggling to meet their basic needs on top of already working through academics.”

Vandy Mutual Aid has also partnered with a new student organization called the Student Basic Needs Coalition (SBNC). Seniors Maddie Nicholson and Carlissa Arrow created the Vanderbilt chapter of SBNC over the summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The priorities of the national organization, per the SBNC website, are to achieve affordable food, housing, health services and safety for all students. According to Nicholson, the goal of SBNC is to partner with student organizations that align with SBNC’s values and to raise awareness campaigns for them. 

As for the partnership with Vandy Mutual Aid, SBNC will help to promote the program.

“We can support Vandy Mutual Aid by providing more resources as far as donations,”  Arrow said. “Also, getting the word out that the resource exists. I don’t think many people know about it.”

Students including first-year Jake Underwood and Ethan Bers said they think the mutual aid network is a good idea.

“I just came to Vanderbilt. It’s my first year, but I’m already finding how much people at Vanderbilt care about one another,” Bers said. “I think this is another great way to show that.”

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About the Contributor
Nathan Miao
Nathan Miao, Staff Writer
Nathan Miao ('23) is a College of Arts and Science student studying public policy and economics. You can reach him at [email protected].
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3 years ago

Go Edie!! Proud of you and glad that Vandy Mutual Aid was covered here
-Alexa (