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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.

Fact checking Vanderbilt’s response to Kirkland Hall sit-in

The Hustler fact-checks two university emails sent to the Vanderbilt community in response to the sit-in.
Students+protesting+outside+Kirkland+Hall%2C+as+photographed+on+March+26%2C+2024+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FMiguel+Beristain%29
Miguel Beristain
Students protesting outside Kirkland Hall, as photographed on March 26, 2024 (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

UPDATED: This piece was updated on April 6 at 3:15 p.m. CDT to include additional information about the position of magistrates within the Metro Nashville General Sessions Court.

Vanderbilt administrators have sent three emails to the Vanderbilt community addressing the March 26 sit-in at Kirkland Hall. The Hustler identified inconsistencies in two of these statements compared to information independently verified by The Hustler. 

The first email, from provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs C. Cybele Raver, was sent to the Vanderbilt community at around 10:45 p.m. CDT on March 26. It addressed the events of that day and included video footage of student protestors entering Kirkland Hall. Chancellor Daniel Diermeier sent the second email at around 3:45 p.m. CDT on March 27 and included further details about the situation as well as updates on  students’ arrests and suspensions. Raver sent a third email today about sanctions administered to student protestors, with which The Hustler found no inconsistencies.

Read on for fact-checks of Vanderbilt administrators’ emails about the Kirkland Hall sit-in. 

What is the construction status of Kirkland Hall?

Raver’s email states that Kirkland Hall is “closed for ongoing construction.” Hustler reporters and photographers were denied access to Kirkland Hall during the sit-in by a university representative claiming the building was closed due to construction. Similarly, in his April 2 WSJ op-ed, Diermeier described Kirkland Hall as a “closed administrative building.” Signs outside the building also state it is closed due to alleged construction.

However, a university representative previously told The Hustler that business operations in Kirkland Hall would resume in mid-February. Vanderbilt’s FutureVU website lists Kirkland Hall’s renovation as complete, and Vanderbilt employees have been seen leaving the building at the end of work days. Construction equipment is not located outside the building. The Hustler held an interview in Kirkland Hall with Diermeier on March 22. The university did not immediately respond to The Hustler’s request for an update on the alleged construction. 

When and why did the protesters leave Kirkland Hall?

Diermeier’s email also states that student protestors left Kirkland Hall voluntarily at around 6 a.m. CDT on March 27. Diermeier’s op-ed similarly states that 25 students remaining in Kirkland on the morning of March 27 left voluntarily. 

However, students reported to The Hustler that they were woken and escorted out of the building by police officers, which was confirmed in video footage obtained by The Hustler. Students left the building after 6 a.m. CDT, at around 6:30 a.m. CDT. 

Two students left during the night due to medical and family emergencies and three students were placed under arrest for assault, leaving 22 students who were escorted out of the building by police.

Video footage reviewed by The Hustler shows officers holding unarrested students’ hands behind their backs as they escorted them out of Kirkland Hall, suggesting their exit was not voluntary. Protestors told The Hustler that this situation led them originally to believe they were being arrested.

What are the legal consequences for the student protesters?

Diermeier’s email also explained the arrest of and criminal charges against four students involved in the protest.

“The Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Magistrate’s Office has charged three students with Class A misdemeanor assault for pushing a Community Service Officer as well as a staff member who offered to meet with them as they entered Kirkland Hall on Tuesday,” the email reads. “A fourth student has been charged with vandalism after breaking a window in the building’s exterior Tuesday evening.”

The Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Magistrate’s Office does not exist. According to the website of the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County General Sessions Court, five judicial magistrates comprise a “viable and productive” extension of the court but do not appear to constitute a distinct office. Additionally, judicial bodies do not charge individuals; rather, prosecutors do.

How did the protesters enter Kirkland Hall?

Raver states in her March 26 email that students entering Kirkland Hall assaulted a Community Service Officer and pushed staff members who offered to meet with them. In his op-ed, Diermeier said a CSO officer was hurt during the sit-in, and students “pushed staff members and screamed profanities.”

Blurred video footage released by the university shows students engaging with a Community Service Officer, but the alleged interactions with other staff members in the building are not seen in the footage. The video does not contain audio. The university denied The Hustler’s request for additional and unblurred video footage.

What happened to Nashville Scene reporter Eli Motycka?

Raver’s first email and Diermeier’s email only refer to the detainment of Nashville Scene reporter Eli Motycka. However, a university statement to The Hustler used the phrase “detained, arrested, and released without charges filed” to describe the incident. Motycka’s arrest was also witnessed and photographed by The Hustler.

Both emails report that Motycka was asked to leave campus before he was arrested, a claim Motycka denied in an interview with The Hustler.

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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 (4)

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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Y
You Are Getting A Criminal Record
1 month ago

You realize there is more than one security camera that documented the assaults on staff members, right?

F
Free Palestine
1 month ago

why doesn’t vanderbilt release the footage if it’s so damning?

It’s because they’re lying about what happened. Wake up

T
Tired Student
1 month ago

What do y’all mean “the Magistrate’s Office does not exist”? Most likely they were charged via Night Court, which falls under the Magistrate Office.

See here: https://gscourt.nashville.gov/departments-services/night-court/

A
angry vanderbilt student
1 month ago

every time diermeier lies, another child in gaza dies