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.

Vanderbilt to host 2024 commencement ceremony at Geodis Park

Some seniors expressed regret that the ceremony would not be held on Alumni Lawn in accordance with tradition.
Josh Rehders
Vanderbilt Soccer plays Middle Tennessee State University at Geodis Park, as photographed on Sept. 10, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Vanderbilt announced the 2024 commencement ceremony will be held at Geodis Park, about four miles east of campus, in a Feb. 2 email to the student body. Geodis Park, located at 501 Benton Ave., is the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and Canada and is home to Major League Soccer team Nashville SC.

The email describes Geodis Park as a “unique backdrop” for the class of 2024’s commencement ceremony.

“The 30,000-seat stadium, four miles from Vanderbilt’s campus, is Nashville’s newest sports and entertainment venue,” the email reads.

The email also suggested the ceremony would be held at Geodis Park “rain or shine.” Last year, Vanderbilt held its commencement ceremony at Bridgestone Arena following a last-minute change from Alumni Lawn to accommodate inclement weather.

The university declined to comment on why the location was changed from Alumni Lawn to Geodis Park this year or whether students and parents were consulted on the decision. In a statement to The Hustler, the university said the park offers “many advantages” regarding the commencement ceremony.

“Our graduates and their guests will be comfortable and can easily view the ceremony from any spot within the venue,” the university said. “We strive to provide the best Commencement experience possible for our graduates and guests.”

The university also did not specify plans for inclement weather but pointed out that seats in Geodis Park are covered by awnings.

“Each year we have an inclement weather plan for our outdoor ceremonies and this year we will have the added bonus of having covered seating and concessions in the stadium,” a university representative said.

Students had mixed reactions to the news that the 2024 commencement would also be moved off campus. 

Senior Mark Rogers said he thinks the decision “spit in the face” of one of Vanderbilt’s longest-standing traditions.

“Geodis has no real connection to campus life in any way, and I think the commencement location should,” Rogers said.

Scott Coberly, also a senior, noted that though it would be “great” to graduate on Vanderbilt’s campus, he sees the Geodis Park location as “more practical.”

“As someone who saw the chairs all over the place on Alumni Lawn last spring — some quite literally so close to a tree that is all a person would be seeing, I think Geodis is much more practical,” Coberly said. “I’m a little nervous about parking, but I think it definitely makes sense given what the alternative was.”

Senior Russell Hughes called the news of the location “disheartening,” alleging that the challenges of hosting commencement at Geodis would outweigh the benefits. 

“It is a shame that they have moved [commencement] from Alumni Lawn once again, taking away a tradition from the class of 2024, which has seen many traditions scrapped, mostly in our first year,” Hughes said. “Moving to Geodis Park might appear to solve some logistical problems that Alumni Lawn has, but it adds many others, given that it is far away from campus, has little parking around it and is not fully covered.”

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About the Contributors
Parker Smith
Parker Smith, Deputy News Editor
Parker Smith ('24) is majoring in computer science and political science in the School of Engineering. He enjoys playing guitar in his spare time and is a former Starbucks barista and self-proclaimed coffee expert. He can be reached at [email protected].
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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Carl Vanlandingham
2 months ago

Great…..moving the graduation ceremony of one of the greatest universities in the South to a fairground and flea market location makes total sense. Honor the graduates with rides on unsafe roller coasters, have the proud parents judge the most amazing hogs, let little sis enjoy sticky cotton candy, and everyone can guess the weight of the bearded fat woman from Arkansas. Then, you can open the hatch on the Lexus SUV and scarf up a case of slightly damaged Prell shampoo and return it to your local Walmart at a tidy profit. Forward ever be our watchword, conquer and prevail!