Nashville Scene reporter arrested on campus, press denied entry to Kirkland Hall

The journalist, Eli Motycka, was reporting on the ongoing sit-in at Kirkland Hall when he was arrested by VUPD for alleged attempted trespassing.
Eli Motycka, a Nashville Scene reporter gets arrested by VUPD on Vanderbilt Campus, as photographed on March 26, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)
Eli Motycka, a Nashville Scene reporter gets arrested by VUPD on Vanderbilt Campus, as photographed on March 26, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)
Josh Rehders

Hours into an ongoing sit-in by Vanderbilt Divestment Coalition members at Kirkland Hall, the press — including student journalists — continue to be denied access to the building. A Nashville Scene reporter, Eli Motycka, was also arrested by VUPD while reporting on the sit-in. 

After being arrested at around 1:30 p.m. CDT for alleged attempted trespassing at Kirkland Hall, Motycka was later released and police returned him to campus at around 4 p.m. CDT. Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk told the Scene that he will not press charges against Motycka or any reporter “for peacefully doing his or her job.” Motycka was not charged with a crime due to Judicial Magistrate Timothy Lee of the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County General Sessions Court not finding probable cause to hear Vanderbilt’s charges against him.

Motycka added that he is unsure whether he will be arrested if he returns to campus to continue reporting on the sit-in. In a statement to The Hustler, the university claimed that Motycka was warned multiple times before he was detained. Motycka denied being warned by officers before his arrest. 

“I was very surprised to be put in handcuffs,” Motycka said. “I certainly didn’t get a clear warning that I was going to be arrested, and I didn’t really hear any officers say anything about trespassing.” 

In a statement to The Hustler, a university representative said Motycka was arrested for repeatedly trying to enter Kirkland Hall, claiming the building was “closed for ongoing construction.” The statement later modifies the status of the building operation, stating that the building is “closed to the public for ongoing construction.” 


University representatives have denied The Hustler’s requests to allow student reporters and photographers into Kirkland Hall, claiming it is closed due to construction. The university previously told The Hustler that renovations were done in February. Furthermore, on March 19, The Hustler interviewed Chancellor Diermeier at Kirkland Hall, and the construction site is listed as complete on the FutureVU website. A university representative previously told The Hustler that, once Kirkland Hall’s renovations were complete, it would be open to Vanderbilt community members “with business in the building.” The university representative also previously stated to The Hustler that Kirkland Hall was resuming full business operations in mid-February 2024 after its renovations. Signs on Kirkland Hall’s doors state that the building is closed for construction and access is prohibited by anyone but those with offices in the building. Vanderbilt employees have been seen leaving the building at the end of the work day.  


Sign claiming Kirkland Hall is under construction and entry is restricted to faculty and staff, as photographed on March 26, 2024 (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

This breaking story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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About the Contributors
Aaditi Lele
Aaditi Lele, Former Editorial Director
Aaditi Lele ('24) is majoring in political science and climate science with a minor in South Asian Language and Culture in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as News Editor. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her crocheting, practicing calligraphy or counting down the days until she can see her dog. She can be reached at [email protected].    
Katherine Oung
Katherine Oung, Data Editor
Katherine Oung ('25) is majoring in political science and computer science and minoring in data science in the College of Arts and Science. They are from West Palm Beach, Fla., and were previously Deputy News Editor and Managing Editor. Katherine enjoys working on freelance journalism projects and making incredibly specific Spotify playlists. They can be reached at [email protected].
Rachael Perrotta
Rachael Perrotta, Former Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and majored in cognitive studies, communication of science and technology and political science and minored in gender and sexuality studies in Peabody College. She was also previously Senior Advisor 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].
Miguel Beristain
Miguel Beristain, Senior Staff Photographer
Miguel Beristain (’24) is a philosophy and cellular and molecular biology double major in the College of Arts and Science from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When not shooting for The Hustler, he can usually be found playing Magic the Gathering, exploring new restaurants or practicing guitar. He can be reached at .
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former 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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Comments (4)

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2 months ago

Odd to report the times of arrest/release in Central Standard Time when Daylight Saving Time is currently in effect…

Shocked Grad
2 months ago

This is disgusting conduct by the administrators. Your idea of “principled neutrality” is arresting press, while being caught in blatant lies about the status of construction projects? Horrible, I hope more students get involved in the protests.

2 months ago
Reply to  Shocked Grad

Press credentials do not grant a person (in this case a non-student) access to private property. Trespassing is a reasonable charge.

George Orwell
1 month ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Keep licking the boots of power