Students react to Wesley Place outdoor, rooftop event ban

Students and alumni expressed remorse over the policy change, citing Wesley tailgates’ inclusivity and centrality to Vanderbilt game days.


Miguel Beristain

Wesley Place Apartments, as photographed on Oct. 20, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Brina Ratangee, Deputy News Editor

Wesley Place property management announced a ban on outdoor, rooftop gatherings—a traditional venue for tailgates—on Oct. 20. Students criticized the decision, denied property management’s allegations and defended Wesley as an inclusive space for students. 

The change comes as a result of alleged policy infractions and lease violations during the Oct. 8 homecoming tailgate, including “playing excessively loud music” and “using the trash chute room as a restroom,” per an email property management sent to residents. Property management also fined each unit $20 for the amount of trash property management had to remove from the chute after the Oct. 8 tailgate, according to an Oct. 13 email obtained by The Hustler. The email added that an additional $20 would be charged to every unit if the rooftop was not cleaned by Oct. 17. Senior and Wesley Place resident Martín Alemán said that Wesley residents were not fined the additional $20. 

A group of Wesley residents sent a letter to property management and Vanderbilt’s Office of Student Accountability on Oct. 21, stating that they cannot be held responsible for inviting all of the guests to the Oct. 8 tailgate. They claimed that the tailgate’s attendees included returning Vanderbilt alumni as well as students visiting from other colleges over their fall break, adding that many students simply show up due to knowing of the tradition. The letter added that the allegedly excessive trash scattered about the rooftop courtyard was a result of recent storms, rather than the actions of guests. 

“As Wesley residents, we write this letter with empathy for Vanderbilt and their dissatisfaction in tailgate behavior. We also write in unity, understanding the importance of the Wesley common  space for inclusivity and recreation,” the letter reads. “We promise again that no Wesley resident will encourage or approve of urination in the trash chute or anywhere else not in a bathroom, that no Wesley resident will encourage or approve of roof-climbing, that no Wesley resident will sponsor an event where more than the allotted number of individuals are invited.”

The letter calls for property management to work with the residents to “build a safer space and community” and re-allow outdoor, large-scale, rooftop gatherings by installing additional security measures and providing extended time allotments for event clean-up. The residents emphasized that the ban is a loss of a crucial Vanderbilt tradition and urged management to reverse the decision. 

“We started our first game day our freshman year at Wesley, and we would greatly appreciate it if you allowed us to celebrate our last one here as well,” the letter reads.

Junior Elise Farley said in a message to The Hustler that Wesley Place events offered students an opportunity to experience Vanderbilt’s social scene in an inclusive and accessible way. 

“Wesley tailgates allow everyone in the Vanderbilt community to gather under one name regardless of greek life status, social circles, or grade level,” Farley said. “These events encourage a stronger bond between students of all backgrounds. There is no comparable opportunity in which our entire community is able to connect outside of schoolwork.”

Farley added that she believes campus culture will become more fractured as a result of this policy change. 

“Banning these gatherings forces students to split into factions, creating segregation in our community. [Men] who are not a member of the specific fraternity hosting an event cannot attend. [Women] who do not feel comfortable at these events have nowhere else to go. They simply must watch from the sidelines as other students find a way to enjoy themselves after a long week of work,” Farley said. “This move directly creates a toxic environment which discourages students from finding a constructive work life balance that allows for inclusivity.”

Sophomore Alyssa Coladipietro attributed Wesley’s significance to its role in Vanderbilt culture and tradition. Tailgates have been held on its rooftop for over a decade, according to the residents’ letter.

“Wesley being banned is extremely disappointing because it is one inclusive place where people of all backgrounds, social circles, and grade levels can gather together. It is a way for people of many communities to interact and form bonds, and it has been a tradition for many years, yet it is being taken away from us,” Coladipietro said.

Ali Hussain, a junior, expressed frustration with the actions of their peers that forced property management’s intervention. He emphasized how these actions have created ramifications for the entire student body. Farley, Coladipietro and Hussain do not live at Wesley Place.

“Wesley provided an opportunity for anyone to experience Vanderbilt social life, regardless of Greek life affiliation or social status,” Hussain said. “It’s incredibly frustrating that the careless actions of a few individuals caused this bastion of Vanderbilt’s ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic to no longer exist.”

Faith Kwentua (’22) attended the Oct. 8 tailgate and said Wesley was a central part of her Vanderbilt experience and a place where she made her most fond memories.

“I’m sad to see that Vandy students can’t go to Wesley anymore before games. It was my favorite part of tailgating, especially since I got to hang out with those that I usually wouldn’t see during the week,” Kwentua said. “I was there during Homecoming weekend, and it was so much fun celebrating with alumni as well as current students.”