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.

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Bittersweet beginnings

My plans for leading The Hustler for my second and final year.
Barrie Barto
Editor-in-Chief Rachael Perrotta, as photographed on Oct. 5, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

Dear Vanderbilt, 

Welcome home! The beginning of the year has always been my favorite time at Vanderbilt; everyone’s energy is so high, ready to try new things and return to old favorites. This year, I’m honored to be returning to serve as Editor-in-Chief of The Hustler for another year. 

As a senior, this year is bittersweet for me. I’m beginning many of my lasts — my last first day of undergrad, my last college football game and my last year leading and writing for The Hustler. The Hustler has been a constant in my life during my time at Vanderbilt, offering me my first connections to the university during the virtual nature of my first year and quickly becoming my main campus involvement. It’s been a luxury to be able to explore the corners of campus through the lens of so many of you and to make your stories heard.

You might already know me from my time working with The Hustler, and I’m excited to continue working alongside you. For those who don’t know me, I’m thrilled to meet you! One of my most prominent goals this year is to earn more community members’ trust, and I believe that trust starts with honesty, empathy and mutual understanding. Here are some basics about me to start forming that baseline: I’m from Cranston, R.I., and triple-majoring in cognitive studies, political science and communication of science and technology. After graduation (which is scarily quickly approaching), I plan to attend law school and pursue a career in civil rights law, potentially involving Title IX or the First Amendment. Playing tennis and going for walks on campus are my favorite ways to relax, and I pride myself on being an expert on Vanderbilt’s best outdoor study spots. My 2301 smoothie order is — without fail — blueberries, peaches and bananas with orange juice and milk, and pictures of my two cats (Phoebe and Max) take up way too much storage on my phone. My brother recently transferred to Vanderbilt as a sophomore (look out for a taller version of me with short hair on campus!), and I’m so excited to share my second home with him. Most importantly, I’m a Vanderbilt student just like many of you. I understand and am a witness to many of the issues and successes you face and will continue to use that proximity to tell your stories with fervor and accuracy.   

Many people have asked me why I’m interested in leading The Hustler for a second year. I understand their apprehension — the role requires near-constant availability as well as significant time, patience and dedication. Despite these factors, my passion for reporting on your stories and the rush I get when clicking “publish” remains. I’m lucky to have an incredibly talented group of editors and writers who have helped make serving as Editor-in-Chief my favorite part of my time at Vanderbilt. I cherish the unique opportunity to be able to work with them again all this year — many even for the third or fourth year — and to work with you, too. 

Last year, Hustler headlines were quite tumultuous. Ranging from the tragic Covenant School shooting, legislation dismantling gender-affirming care and trans rights, the Tennessee Three, satirical but successful VSG elections, football SEC wins, a new dorm and debates about ChatGPT, the year was never short of news. I look forward to continuing our thorough coverage of happenings that affect the “Vanderbubble.” To do so most effectively, The Hustler will be expanding our Multimedia coverage and in-depth coverage this year. With the immense help of my section editors, I piloted the Podcasts section and reorganized our visual reporting into the Photography section last year. These initiatives helped pave the way for the continued expansion of our Data section this year. The Hustler published our first large-scale survey on Monday, which was an in-depth look at the graduating Class of 2023’s time on campus and future plans. Alongside junior Katherine Oung who leads our data team, I am excited to engage in more investigative and quantitative reporting this year. In this spirit, we will be launching our inaugural First-Year Survey this week, which is aimed at obtaining an in-depth profile of the newest class of Commodores. Class of 2027, look out for an email about this project in your inboxes on Aug. 28!

We’re also expanding our coverage to include happenings around the world. During the 2022-23 academic year, 589 students studied abroad. While our coverage is centered on campus and in Nashville, it is important to tell the stories of the many Vanderbilt students who live and learn elsewhere. We will be piloting an “international desk” of sorts this year, in which students who are studying abroad will write about the Vanderbilt study abroad experience. They also hope to cover major happenings in various countries around the world that affect Vanderbilt students studying there. Please reach out to me if you are interested in this type of reporting!

Sometimes, your story isn’t fit to be told by someone else. I’m happy to continue working with the many Vanderbilt community members who work to publish guest editorials and letters to the editor in The Hustler. The format and submission process for these pieces this year is different than in the past; you can read more about these changes and our new Editorial Director, junior Aaditi Lele, here.

While some aspects of The Hustler may be changing this year, my main goal this year is to promote the continuation of the relationships and production systems I fostered last year. I believe that achieving goals is always the ideal but maintaining those standards is even more important. These aims include cross-section collaboration and connection within The Hustler, continued focus on our area of interest and expansion of our staff and coverage. This summer, we’ve already trained over 64 new writers — if you’re interested in joining our team, fill out our interest form here and attend a general training session on either Aug. 30 at 7:30 p.m. CDT or Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. CDT at Featheringill 132! 

Notably, I will be also continuing the Hustler Connects program, in which I and other editors meet with various student organization leaders on a monthly basis to learn more about happenings in their groups. These peer-to-peer connections help us to report accurately and regularly on the issues and events that matter to you and play a part in building your trust in The Hustler and me as its leader. If you’re interested in meeting with our team, click here. I will also be visiting tables at the Student Organization Fair to meet you face-to-face. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or tips you may have; you can reach me at [email protected].

On my final first day of class at Vanderbilt, I can’t help but be grateful for my past 3-ish years at Vanderbilt and at The Hustler. This year, I similarly encourage you to take special note of the bright spots in your life and cherish your time here. I look forward to one more year of telling your stories — and, of course, to return to editing outside Suzie’s. 

Good luck, and anchor down!


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About the Contributors
Rachael Perrotta
Rachael Perrotta, Senior Advisor
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and is majoring in cognitive studies, communication of science and technology and political science in Peabody College. She was previously Editor-in-Chief and News Editor. If she's not pressing you for a comment, she's probably trying to convince you that she's over 5 feet tall, cheering on the Red Sox or wishing Nashville had a beach. She can be reached at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Senior Staff Photographer
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with a minor neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. Outside of The Hustler, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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