The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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

GUEST EDITORIAL: Class of 2021, it’s our time to leave a legacy

As the Class of 2021 reaches the final moments of our time on campus, we have a unique opportunity to forge a path ahead for the next generations of graduates.
Class of 2021 student body. (Photo courtesy Vanderbilt University)

Editor’s Note: Grant Brown is the President of the Senior Class Fund (SCF).


One of the aspects of the Vanderbilt community that I admire most is the culture of giving back. From the endlessly helpful conversations I had with upperclassmen freshman year (about classes, student orgs and life in general) to the more than 80 community service organizations listed on Anchorlink to the innumerable stories of students stepping up in the spirit of “One Vanderbilt” during the pandemic, helping others is part of the fabric that defines Vanderbilt. We are made keenly aware that Vanderbilt inspires people to extraordinary action beginning with our first moments on campus. As soon as you glimpse the mob of over-caffeinated Move Crew members shouting “Anchor Down!” at the top of their lungs before 8 a.m. on a weekend, you know that this is not a typical community.

While the pandemic has changed the way that our community interacts with one another in many ways (apologies to any first-year who didn’t experience Move-In Day), one thing that I am sure of is that we remain bound by our core values, including service. Moreover, the challenges of the last two semesters have made giving back as a student more important than ever before.

As the leaders and senior-most members of our student organizations, the Class of 2021 must maintain and strengthen Vanderbilt’s unique student experience. We are the generation of students that has experienced Vanderbilt’s on-campus culture at its best, and we owe it to both current and future students to ensure that the organizations we have enjoyed can continue to provide them with similar experiences. By making a collective commitment to volunteer our time, energy and financial resources, the Class of 2021 can jumpstart Vanderbilt’s return to normalcy and aid the University’s continued success. 

The Senior Class Fund offers the most effective donation method for seniors looking to make an impact. Donations through the Senior Class Fund donation page allow students to target resources toward student organizations and parts of campus that are most important to them and multiply the impact of any small (or large) donation. Some of the ways that seniors’ donations can impact the Vanderbilt community include bolstering student organizations’ operating budgets, aiding financial inclusivity efforts and increasing Vanderbilt University’s prestige in university rankings (per the U.S. News & World Report ranking guidelines). Senior giving efforts also provide a collective picture of seniors’ campus priorities, data which informs and guides administrators when making budgetary decisions for future academic years. 

For example, about one third of the gifts from the Class of 2020 via the Senior Class Fund were directed to Experience Vanderbilt (EV). The funds from these student donors have allowed EV to expand its budget and provide funding to many more students that wish to participate in fee-based extracurriculars. 

According to Nick Laning, president of Experience Vanderbilt, “Donations through the Senior Class Fund were key in allowing EV to expand its budget to $350,000 and helped fund 1,226 students for the 2020-2021 academic year.” 

EV is just one of the hundreds of worthy organizations that seniors can donate to via the Senior Class Fund. In 2019-2020, over 160 unique organizations received funding from the Senior Class Fund’s donors. 

Each of us has been fortunate enough to receive the benefits of numerous selfless actions by members of the Vanderbilt community. Some of these generous acts are grandiose and far-reaching, while many more are small and impact us individually. The result of many small-scale acts of kindness by individuals giving up their time (Move Crew and VUceptors), energy (Mic Men and Tour Guides) and resources (donors via Senior Class Fund and Experience Vanderbilt) is that the Vanderbilt experience is enhanced for all of us. The lofty achievements of exceptional individuals garners most of the fame and praise, but the vast majority of us are impacted more deeply by our immediate peers and mentors than by anyone else. This might seem like an obvious conclusion, but it can be incredibly empowering to realize that you have the ability, regardless of your power or position, to positively impact the lives of your peers.

Let’s come together as the Class of 2021 and as a Vanderbilt community to renew our commitment to Vanderbilt’s ideals, beginning with a firm emphasis on giving back, and ensure that our one-of-a-kind culture endures.

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About the Contributor
Grant Brown, Former Author
Grant Brown ('21) studied human and organizational development and economics from Orange County, California. Grant enjoys going to the beach, podcasts and exploring the South.
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