On Oct. 12 from 3-5 p.m. CDT, the Development and Alumni Relations Office, Seniors Give Back and the Student Alumni Board hosted the Commodore Carnival, which offered free food, lawn games and prizes to students, on Alumni Lawn.
Volunteers from the Alumni Relations Office managed stations for ring toss, bucketball and AstroShot Gemini. Earning checkmarks for these three games gave students the opportunity to spin a prize wheel for an assortment of Vanderbilt merchandise. Other games included cornhole toss and giant versions of Jenga, checkers and Connect 4.
Before redeeming their game cards for a prize, students had the opportunity to write thank you postcards to alumni who have donated to the university. According to Associate Director of Development Maggie Musick, 23 percent of the over 140,000 alumni give back to Vanderbilt each year. However, the guide for GOLD Class Agents—alumni volunteers who promote philanthropy among young alumni—reports that approximately 26 percent of Vanderbilt alumni give back each year.
“The goal of this event is to educate students on the importance of [giving back], so when they become alumni, we can get that number up,” Musick said.
Alongside one edge of Alumni Lawn were tables with carnival food, including salted pretzels, popcorn, donuts and cookies.
“I have never really attended such events before, so I’m definitely looking forward to playing the games, trying the food and exploring what else there is to offer,” senior Mark Wilkins said.
Prior to participating in any of the supervised activities, students were asked a trivia question about Vanderbilt history.
“We’re trying to teach students about Vanderbilt and increase Vanderbilt pride,” Associate Director of Shared Interest Groups Beth Porter said. “One question I’ve been asking is: ‘What building was built in 1925 and is Vanderbilt’s first student center in memory of the 44 Vanderbilt men who lost their lives in World War I?’ The answer is Alumni Hall.”
Porter, who is also a 2010 Vanderbilt alumna, provided her perspective on events like the carnival.
“I think it’s really cool to have events like this,” Porter said. “I didn’t know that students didn’t know some of these facts, so I like being able to share this information and help build the community.”
First-year Andy Niser said he saw the carnival as an opportunity for him to have fun and engage with the campus community.
“The event was pretty enjoyable,” Niser said. “I just stopped by, got some free food, won a prize and had a chance to support the university.”
Development and Alumni Relations Engagement Officer Nelson Arent shared that his office is planning events like the carnival to reoccur a few times every semester.
“Alumni that give back are a reason that a lot of stuff is able to go on, so we’re trying to make sure that they feel appreciated, and that students recognize that those people are there trying to make these things happen,” Arent said.