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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.

Randwich lines no more: The exclusive student-athlete McGugin Dining Hall

Serving student-athletes and Blakemore House residents, the Hendrix Room dining facility offers rotating dining options—including high-protein dinners, custom smoothies and an omelet bar.
Saky Nguyễn
Photo depicting the Hendrix Room at the McGugin Center, as photographed on Sept. 27, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Saky Nguyễn)

The Hustler took a look into the Hendrix Room dining facility at the McGugin Center, which offers a rotating menu of protein-rich meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, made-to-order smoothies, an omelet station and a spice bar. Located across from FirstBank Stadium, the Hendrix Room is under the jurisdiction of Vanderbilt Athletics—not Campus Dining—and exclusively serves varsity student-athletes and residents of Blakemore House. 

Renovated in 2012, the Hendrix Room offers dinner, a salad bar, fruit, cereal and a drink station on one side of the facility. A separate station for made-to-order smoothies lies on the opposite side of the room. Tables are evenly spaced out, each with between two and ten chairs.

Though the dining facility is designed for student-athletes, a university representative told The Hustler that Blakemore residents are allowed to eat there during dinner hours due to a partnership between the Office of Housing and Residential Experience and Athletics. Sophomore Lydia Liu said she appreciates this access because of Blakemore’s isolation from other parts of campus, especially residential college dining halls and Munchie Marts. 

Sophomore and Lewis House resident Shaun Karakkattu said he believes Highland residents should be granted the same accommodations as Blakemore residents due to Highland’s distance from dining halls.

“For Highland residents, not having access to a dining hall especially for dinner is a huge issue,” Karakkattu said. “Every other student population has access to hot food, while Highland students don’t in a less than 10-minute walk. I think it causes students to be out on main campus for longer, even if they don’t want to, and causes many inconveniences.”

Madyson Wilson, a first-year student-athlete on the women’s track and field team, said she likes the exclusivity of the dining hall.

“I like that [the Hendrix Room] is exclusive to athletes because the chefs know what we [student-athletes] need to eat to fuel our bodies,” Wilson said. “I think another good dining hall that’s open to everybody is Rothschild.”

Sophomore Gigi Clifford, a women’s cross country and track and field student-athlete, praised the Hendrix Room for providing athletes with their own community space and all-you-can-eat dining.

“It’s nice because it’s mostly athletes, so it’s like our little hub away from the craziness of this school,” Clifford said. “I feel like it’s a bit healthier, and it’s nice because we can get as much food as we want, so when we’re hungry after practice, we can come here and eat a bunch.” 

Per Clifford, each team has at least one nutritionist that advises student-athletes on optimal foods for their athletic and nutritional needs. 

“[The nutritionists] are always around, so you can ask questions, which is nice, and they help with the smoothie bar and omelet station,” Clifford said.

Erlan Corral, a cook at the Hendrix Room, said his favorite things about working there are the flexibility the cooks have in creating their own menus and the direct feedback he receives from students and nutritionists. 

“Every day we change up the menu, so we always have different options,” Corral said. “If [students] end up not liking a certain dish, we usually change it, so that [they] have something [they] will like. I like that back-and-forth between the student body and our team.”

Sophomore Blakemore resident Evan Gladstone said the Hendrix Room offers the highest quality food of any dining hall on campus, and he wants to see some of its options introduced to other dining locations.

“The number of options, especially high-protein options, is incredible,” Gladstone said. “Just the quality of some things, like the great quality of fruit here, proves that they [the university] could have better produce and better meats at the other dining halls.”

Emmy St. John, a sophomore and student employee at the Hendrix Room, similarly praised the food’s quality. However, she cast doubt on the feasibility of introducing the same high quality of food to other dining halls. 

“The food is definitely a bit more home-cooked. I think that makes sense because there is less food compared to one of the bigger dining halls, so the chefs have the ability to add their personal touch to it,” St. John said. “I feel like this quality of food would be nice at every dining hall but just logistically, when you’re making a bigger quantity of food, it’s harder to be more personal with it.”

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About the Contributors
Brina Ratangee
Brina Ratangee, Editorial Director
Brina Ratangee ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in medicine, health & society and neuroscience. She previously served as News Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys trivia nights, solving NYT crosswords and biking around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Saky Nguyễn
Saky Nguyễn, Former Staff Photographer
Saky Nguyen ('26) is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in computer science and cinema media and arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. Nguyen was a sports photographer for her hometown and her own photography business throughout high school, which she plans to continue during her time at Vanderbilt. Outside of photography, she films music videos and models for companies. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (2)

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R. Gapusan
1 year ago

On a tour of the athletic facilities, the coach of one of the teams (lacrosse) said this dining hall can be utilized by all students at Vanderbilt.

1 year ago
Reply to  R. Gapusan

Hi, thank you for your comment! Only student-athletes and Blakemore House residents have entry access to this dining hall. Other students would have to be let in by a student-athlete or a Blakemore House resident to gain access to the dining hall. Hope this clears that up!