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.

Students speak out against suspension of Kirkland Hall sit-in protesters

A group of resident advisors wrote a petition calling for suspended protestors to be able to remain in on-campus housing, and a separate petition calling for the revocation of students suspensions was submitted to the VSG petition website Roadmaps.
VUPD+vehicle+in+front+of+Kirkland+Hall%2C+as+photographed+on+March+26%2C+2024+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FMiguel+Beristain%29%0A
Miguel Beristain
VUPD vehicle in front of Kirkland Hall, as photographed on March 26, 2024 (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

A group of resident advisors and other Housing and Residential Experience staff submitted a letter to university administration on March 28 calling for the 27 students suspended for their involvement in a sit-in at Kirkland Hall to be granted permission to remain in on-campus housing. 

Another petition calling for the revocation of student suspensions and criminal charges was submitted on Roadmaps, the Vanderbilt Student Government petition website, and on Change.org, a website which allows non-Vanderbilt affiliated individuals to sign the petition.

As of publication, the letter from the RAs was signed by 50 people, including one faculty in residence, one former faculty in residence, one associate professor, nine head residents and 38 RAs. The Roadmaps petition, submitted by junior Helena Spigner, gained 636 signatures, and the Change.org petition gained 3,806 signatures. Spigner declined The Hustler’s request for comment on March 31. 

Vanderbilt Muslim Students Association also released a statement in an April 2 Instagram post calling for the university to repeal the suspensions and dismiss criminal charges against students who participated in the protests.

“Threatening students with legal repercussions for exercising their constitutional rights to assemble actively works to silence and beat down marginalized and minority voices,” the statement reads. “It sends a clear message that free speech is only reserved for the wealthy and powerful.”

The RA letter said that the removal of students from university housing goes against the mission of RAs as staff members of the university.

“In our roles, we spend our time aiming to build community for our residents and support them as they navigate college and life,” the letter reads. “We do this to create a safe home right on campus, somewhere where students feel empowered to learn, make mistakes, grow and figure out who they are and what they want to accomplish in life.”

The letter further encouraged administration to allow students to live in university housing while the Student Accountability review process takes place.

“Regardless of their actions and the accountability processes that follow, we are appalled that Vanderbilt would strip them of their homes,” the letter reads. “Regardless of rules that were broken, Vanderbilt has created housing insecurity for these students and, in doing so, directly contradicts their mission to create a safe environment for students to ‘dare to grow.’”

A head resident from Centennial, an area of housing on campus containing Rothschild College and Zeppos College, granted anonymity for protection from professional retribution, described the removal of students from campus housing as “distressing” in an email to The Hustler.

“Because it seems like the student accountability process can take days to weeks at a time, the interim suspension leaves students unhoused with the expectation that they will find funding to pay for housing,” the Centennial HR said. “Students must do this all while navigating the student accountability process, which takes away from their ability to focus on academics and prepare for their hearings.”

The Centennial HR further explained how students who were removed from Kirkland Hall around 6:30 a.m. CDT on March 27 were told to leave campus by 5 p.m. CDT that same day.

“Students had to navigate finding alternative housing day of with the assumption that they may or may not have the financial and logistical means to find a safe bed for the night,” the Centennial HR said.

The Centennial HR also said the letter from the RAs represents the concerns of many RAs about the loss of safe and affordable housing for students involved in the protests.

“I am surprised that this is a practice at Vanderbilt, and I hope that in the future the values of the residential requirement are upheld by allowing all students equal access to on campus housing,” the Centennial HR said.

A head resident from Commons also being kept anonymous for protection from professional retribution said it was “troubling” that students were removed from the dorms and campus they pay to access.

“It was important for us to express our condemnation of the university’s actions as an act of solidarity with the suspended students and to make clear that although we may work for the university and act as regulating agents on their behalf on occasion, we do not stand with their decision to remove these students from their homes and that we want to hold the university accountable for their unfair and unjust actions against these students,” the Commons HR said.

The petitions submitted to Roadmaps and Change.org have similar text as each other with slightly different phrasing in a few places to accommodate for the different audiences. The petitions outline the past efforts of groups such as Vanderbilt Divest Coalition to protest the removal of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions amendment from the VSG constitution by university administration and advocate for criminal charges and disciplinary actions against students to be dropped.

“Protestors acted only with the intent to practice their right to free speech and assembly — nothing more,” the petition reads.

The petitions concluded by calling on university administration to reinstate the referendum to amend the VSG constitution.

“All students have the right to protest and advocate for what they believe in,” the petition reads. “We believe amending the VSG constitution to avoid funding companies that directly support Israel’s genocide in Palestine is a first step to giving students an active voice in determining the use of their funds.”



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About the Contributors
Jacob Stoebner
Jacob Stoebner, News Editor
Jacob Stoebner ('26) is from Franklin, Tenn., and is majoring in biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering. When not writing for The Hustler, you can usually find him running, hiking in parks around Nashville or reading. He 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 .
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Comments (8)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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K
Killer Marmot
2 months ago

It makes sense that these students were completely removed from campus. So long as that were on campus, there was the possibility that they would continue to violate policies, or convince others to do the same.

C
Comrade Commodore
2 months ago

I find it funny that The Hustler will protect the anonymity of student leaders in housing will blast faculty and staff. At the end of the day, these students are protesting their Opportunity Vanderbilt grants, normal operations of their university, and making a fool of themselves. As the kids say, “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” Being a Vanderbilt student is a privilege, not a right. If you don’t like it, go to another school and make space for someone who is deserving and appreciative of the opportunity to earn a Vanderbilt education. The protesters of the 60s and 70s left their colleges and didn’t look back. If you want that energy, do the same. The privilege of these kids is insane! Get rid of the dissenting residential life team, that includes the faculty head of house.

S
Suds
2 months ago

Is this the “They must have been right because the mob supports them” argument?

Vanderbilt kids embarrassing themselves with historical ignorance of Israel/Palestine conflict and failure to condemn Hamas Palestinian terrorism atrocities.

N
Nacho
2 months ago

Misleading headline. A few students have protested. The overwhelming majority agree with this outcome. Wouldn’t know it from reading the Hustler, however.

A
Anonymous
2 months ago

They need to accept that protesting on private property is not acceptable. They need to be held accountable for their actions..

P
PROFESSOR EMERITUS
2 months ago

The Opinion by our Chancellor in the Wall Street Journal yesterday was unbelievable. I can only conclude from the tone of his Opinion is that he is trying to justify what he did to the protestors. I can see no other reason why he wrote this Opinion.WHY IS OUR CHANCELLOR AIRING VANDERBILT’S DIRTY LAUNDRY ON SUCH A NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL FORUM.

A
Anonymous
2 months ago

Expel ’em!

P
Peggy
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Have a panel/forum so that hopefully the protestors will understand why Meir thinking is wrong! Think of a way that this can be a learning experience on why Israel and the Jewish people need to be supported in the elimination of HAMAS in Gaza!

Last edited 2 months ago by Peggy