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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.

Vanderbilt hosts Anchor Day for Class of 2028, students protest

MOSAIC Weekend was hosted several weeks later than past years to coincide with Anchor Day — a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of race-based affirmative action.
Lana English
Student sits on Wyatt Lawn, as photographed on Oct. 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Lana English)

Vanderbilt welcomed admitted students from the Class of 2028 to campus on April 13 for Anchor Day, which coincided with MOSAIC Weekend for the first time. Current students, including Vanderbilt Divest Coalition members, protested at the weekend’s activities with posters, banners and marches. 

Each year, some admitted students are invited to Vanderbilt for a weekend through MOSAIC to shadow student hosts on Commons, learn about diversity on campus and connect with Vanderbilt’s multicultural student organizations. This year, MOSAIC weekend coincided with Anchor Day due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of race-based affirmative action

This year’s Anchor Day was the university’s highest-attended, with it hosting 530 admitted students, compared to 511 in 2023 and 412 in 2022. According to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, this year’s weekend featured more specific programming than in the past, including informational sessions on Immersion Vanderbilt, the Student Care Network and the Career Center, as well as tours of residential living and a mock class discussion with professors and current students. 

Admitted student reactions

“I liked seeing how their discussion played out and how students presented their differing ideas to each other,” incoming first-year Kate Lu said. “We also got to see a model dorm room and learn about various student resources and opportunities such as study abroad programs.”

Admitted student Chloe Blacknall, a MOSAIC participant, said some sessions cleared up confusion while others sparked more questions than answers. She expressed appreciation for the “kind and passionate” students who oriented her to campus.

“I loved the study abroad/Immersion session because I was initially confused about the programs based on the website,” Blacknall said. “I did leave campus with more questions about academics because we weren’t able to sit in on a class. I think there should have been a presentation on AXLE to explain the new Core curriculum.”

Incoming first-year Melanie Valdez, also a MOSAIC participant, said the weekend’s activities “really immersed” her into the Vanderbilt community. 

“My hosts were amazing, and all the current students were super welcoming and just wanted to answer any and all questions,” Valdez said.

Student protests

Amid MOSAIC and Anchor Day programming, protests were staged in response to the expulsion of three students and suspension of one following a sit-in at Kirkland Hall that called for a BDS vote to be reinstated on the VSG ballot. 

Members of VDC greeted prospective students and families outside Memorial Gym, where the Class of 2028 arrived to check in and attend a general welcome session. They held banners and signs, including one that read “Welcome to Vanderbilt, #1 in Student Suppression.”

Blacknall expressed surprise toward the protesters and what she viewed as a lack of acknowledgement by the administration. 

“I read a few articles about [the protests] before, but seeing it in person made it real,” Blacknall said. “I don’t think it made me change my mind [about attending Vanderbilt], but it did make me look differently at the administrators who didn’t mention the protesters.”

VDC protesters distributed pamphlets at school-specific academic info sessions later that morning. At 3 p.m. CDT, during the End of Day Celebration, students held a silent protest on Wyatt Lawn. 


Poster attached to a tree on Wyatt Lawn that reads “Ask your tour guide why we arrested a journalist,” as photographed on April 13, 2024. (Hustler Staff/Shyla Lensing)
(Shyla Lensing )
Poster that reads “Protesters Expelled: 3. Rapists Expelled: 0,” as photographed on April 13, 2024. (Hustler Staff/Shyla Lensing)
(Shyla Lensing)

Other students also attached posters to trees around Commons that read “Ask your tour guide why we arrested a journalist” and “Protesters Expelled: 3. Rapists Expelled: 0.” Senior Sam Sliman, former VSG president, said the content was meant to promote awareness of ongoing campus happenings.

“The posters were essentially calling attention to the fact that expulsion was not a fair consequence for the protestors as we have students found guilty of sexual assault (among many other things) who faced lesser consequences,” Sliman said. “We also handed out flyers that had the same text as the posters, and we talked with prospective students and parents about the ongoing situation at Vanderbilt.”

Sliman said the decision to post and distribute flyers on Anchor Day was spurred by a desire to capture administrators’ attention.

“It’s clear that they [administrators] don’t listen to student voices, so we are attempting to sway prospective students and alumni donors, who the university actually cares about,” Sliman said. “If students stop being interested in coming, and donations start to dry up, the university might actually have to start paying attention.”

OUA emphasized its support for free speech on campus in a message to The Hustler about the Anchor Day protests.

We are supportive of Vanderbilt’s longstanding commitment to free expression and practice of civil discourse, which includes constructive and respectful debate and the exchange of ideas and viewpoints,” OUA said. 



View comments (8)
About the Contributors
Lauren Lamson
Lauren Lamson, Staff Writer
Lauren Lamson (‘27) is from Madison, Wis., and is majoring in communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. When she’s not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys running, attempting to solve crosswords and drinking lattes. You can reach her at [email protected].
Brina Ratangee
Brina Ratangee, Editorial Director
Brina Ratangee ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in medicine, health & society and neuroscience. She previously served as News Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys trivia nights, solving NYT crosswords and biking around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Shyla Lensing
Shyla Lensing, Staff Writer
Shyla Lensing (‘27) is from Corte Madera, Calif., and is double majoring in human and organizational development and public policy studies in Peabody College. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her running, solving NYT mini crosswords or eating an obscene amount of popcorn. She can be reached at [email protected].
Lana English
Lana English, Staff Photographer
Lana English (‘27) is from St. Louis and is majoring in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of The Hustler, you can find her drinking coffee, doing New York Times word games or getting nostalgic looking at old pictures. You can reach her at [email protected].
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Comments (8)

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4 days ago

Awesome job on reporting

Last edited 4 days ago by Sulekha
7 days ago

Great job on the reporting

1 month ago

The expelled students were criminally charged with assault causing bodily injury, because they are on video committing assault against a university employee. Obviously, they had to be expelled. It would be unserious to say that their punishment isn’t warranted – this furor is only about the optics of not punishing other kinds of crimes.

Anytime Vanderbilt fails to expel an SAer, they’ve egregiously failed the student body. It needs to never, ever happen. But this isn’t an “either-or” matter – both crimes needed to be met with punishment. That’s the bare minimum, to communicate to the student body, “We care about your safety and will not allow students who inflict physical harm upon community members to remain at the school.” In this case, because it is on video and resulted in criminal charges, the school had slam-dunk evidence that they don’t have in most SA incidents. It would be disingenuous to ignore how clear-cut the cases against these students were. Unfortunately, the facts are rarely this plain for other types of crimes.

Robert L Hutton
1 month ago

My son and I attended Anchor Day. There was a bit of irony to the protests, as some students held or otherwise displayed signs claiming that “Vanderbilt suppresses free speech”, when the mere fact that they were able to do so throughout the day contradicted their underlying premise. There is a difference between free speech, which is an exchange and expression of ideas, and disruptive behavior that interferes with the rights of others–which has all to often today been erroneously characterized as an exercise of free speech. Actions to forcibly occupy or damage property belonging to someone else, and thereby disrupt other people’s lives is not speech. Actually, in those instances the “protestors” are actually impeding free speech, as they are obstructing the ability of others to speak, congregate and conduct business as they choose.
My son has chosen to attend Vandy, and is looking forward to being on campus this fall. If anything, the student protests and actions of the administration have reinforced my confidence in my son’s choice for higher education–as Vanderbilt allows differing views and the peaceful exchange of ideas on campus–but will also act to impose consequences when students interfere with the rights of others.

1 month ago

Ask the protesters why they injured a security guard.

1 month ago
Reply to  Nacho

Was he injured? I haven’t seen that reported anywhere

1 month ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Some students were charged with assault causing bodily injury. The initial Vanderbilt statement said, “the university will take action when … people intimidate or injure members of our community.” Several people who were involved in the protests posted point-by-point refutations of Vanderbilt’s claims, but I haven’t seen any of them deny that they injured someone. Seems like they are all intentionally dancing around that, so I see no reason to doubt the university statement and what they were charged with – they probably injured someone as part of this protest.

George Albu
1 month ago

Great job on the reporting 🙂