On this edition of the CommonsCast Dean Melissa Gresalfi shares helpful information on learning in her Dean’s Minute, Andrei has your weekly events in the Commons Calendar and then conducts a great interview with Dr. Frank Dobson, the Associate Dean of the Commons and the Head of House at Gillette.
Archives for August 2019
I Too, Am Vanderbilt
First-Years, Juliana Anuakpado and Bryce Emanuel, scoured the campus looking for a diverse set of students to talk about their experiences at Vanderbilt. Here are their stories.
What has your Vanderbilt experience been like so far?
I think it’s a nice place, people are really kind and they are ready to help. I feel more at home although I’m still so homesick. Things are getting better. I think the people are really, really nice–more than I imagined. My group, it’s called Oliver, It’s really been helpful. I feel like I can relate to people and share my experiences.
What has your Vanderbilt experience been like so far?
Um … so far I can say it’s been really nice. When I arrived here on Tuesday I felt very homesick. I felt that I was going to be really, really alone. I feel more at home right now. It’s been good meeting new people and getting to interact with my mentors. It’s been really fun for the small time I’ve been here so far.
As a student of color, how has your Vanderbilt experience been?
I think it’s been pretty good. I’ve gotten to make better connections with other people of color, so I think that’s been really good.
What is the advice you would give incoming freshman of color on how to survive campus life?
I would definitely say if you come from an area where there are a lot of people of color, definitely try to like find that group and have a good support system ‘cause there are a lot of people of color on this campus. Find your group and stick with them because they really will help make your Vanderbilt experience so much better.
As a student of color, how has your Vanderbilt experience been?
There are always times where one feels uncomfortable on campus but I think those times are becoming few and far between as Vanderbilt administration, educators, professors, and student body continue to become more diverse and have a focus and emphasis on how important intersectionality and ideas or different backgrounds play a role in how we live our lives.
As a person of color, what has your Vanderbilt experience been like so far?
I would say overall, compared to where I actually grew up, it’s actually a lot better. I grew up in a predominantly white community, so when I actually arrived at Vanderbilt I was actually surprised by how many people of color there were in general. But obviously, a lot of people come from like more metropolitan areas are like, “Oh this is still a predominantly white institution.” I do see that now, but overall I feel like I personally enjoyed my experience here. I’ve gotten to know more about the culture in terms of like being a person of color and that really does span beyond being black and of African heritage but also learning more about other people of color and their backgrounds and things like that. So I’ve definitely enjoyed my time at Vanderbilt.
Interviews conducted by Juliana Anuakpado. Photography by Bryce Emanuel.
QUIZ: Which Scientific Vandy Alum Are You?
The Best Study Spots and How to Find Them
Photos By: Elicia Osigwe
Text By: Jessica Barker
Take a breath of fresh air while studying for your first week of class. You can follow a picturesque route all the way from the Commons Center to the Alexander Heard Library and ace your classes without slugging through construction zones.
The first place that you can try to get some work done is the space directly outside the Commons Center. Green Adirondack-style modern chairs serve as a shady place to catch up on some reading for class and grab a snack at the same time. When the heat gets to be too much, just move inside to one of the bar-height tables in the lobby or use one of the lounges to relax with air conditioning as you read.
For more in-depth study, head across Peabody Esplanade. This should be the only construction you encounter on your hunt for study spots, and with clear-cut sidewalks and paths, it’s super-easy to navigate. Once you get through the construction, hang a right at the Administration building and walk to the building to the right of it. It will look almost identical, but it should have some banners outside and say “Peabody Library” over the door. Once you walk inside, be ready to look up.
Peabody Library greets you with a stained glass atrium that gives the lobby a warm glow.
Directly in front of you is a doorway, beyond which you can see shelves upon shelves of books. Check out some books (if you want) before you go back to the lobby and go downstairs.
Once you get downstairs to the study area, you will easily find your way to a large room with lots of tables, chairs, and even smaller rooms that let you have vast desks all to yourself with plenty of outlets and light to see. The Peabody study spaces offer everything you could need for a productive afternoon studying inside.
As a bonus, if you go downstairs just one more time, there is a spot called the Iris Cafe serving Frothy Monkey coffee and pastries so you can have fuel to get you through the grind. This library is perfect for Peabody majors (even though it’s open to anyone) and is a nice place to study close to Commons.
Farther away from Commons is the Stevenson Science and Engineering Library, which is perfect for STEM majors who may also want to consult professors for more confusing concepts. To get there, leave the Peabody Library and swing left, walking all the way by the playground and turning left to cross the footbridge.
Once you have crossed, follow the path around the perimeter of Stevenson until you see a grassy courtyard with a spiral staircase. Then, you can walk inside Stevenson Library.
There are so many places for you to find your own space. You’re greeted by an open library but can just as easily find stalls to study in all by yourself.
There are also small classrooms with tables for group study and whiteboards to work out equations and other concepts if you prefer group study time as well.
The computer lab can also help you stay connected even when your laptop dies, making it a perfect place to study for hours on end if need be.
Not only does the Stevenson Library have a lot to offer inside, but the courtyard with the spiral staircase is perfect to sit on a blanket and work outside, not too far from the comforts of the great indoors.
Next to the Stevenson Library, to the left of the courtyard with the spiral staircase, is the Alexander Heard Library. The Alexander Heard Library is nestled behind a group of silver chairs and tables.
The entrance to a cafe, Food for Thought Café, sits next to the library entrance.
Once you walk inside, you can explore the eight floors that the Alexander Heard Library has to offer. The different elevators actually travel to different floors with some elevators traveling to evenly numbered floors and some elevators traveling to oddly numbered floors. Each floor has a common room all its own with a community room on the sixth floor.
Outside of the Alexander Heard Library, there is another perfect place to put down a blanket and study or have a post-study picnic. With so many places to study and to unwind, the Alexander Heard Library has a lot to offer as a study space away from the grime of construction.
Ace your first few weeks of class and enjoy the space you do it in with this helpful Commons study crawl.
MCL News Minute, August 28, 2019
Kerissa has the info you need to navigate this week on campus, including details about Dean Gresalfi’s dessert reception, the VU Night Kickoff Cookoff, and the First-Year Tailgate before Vandy’s home opener against Georgia.
As soon as I set foot on Vanderbilt’s campus, I knew immediately the school was filled with a rich history. I had to know more. I rummaged through countless rolls of microfilm of Vanderbilt’s student newspaper, The Vanderbilt Hustler, which go as far back as 1888. I found out so much about Vanderbilt’s past, and I couldn’t wait to share my findings with you. Welcome to Vandy Rewind!
I started with the year 1929 because not only was it exactly 90 years ago, but also the first year of the Great Depression.
So, move-in day 2019 was a hassle in this crazy Tennessee summer heat! I know everyone was wishing they could have avoided it. In 1929, Vanderbilt freshmen moved in on Sept. 27, which must have been awesome! Not only was it probably cooler, but they also had an extra month of summer.
I was so happy to see the Vandy Boys, Vanderbilt’s baseball team, win their second College World Series Championship this summer! I laughed when I read that 90 years ago, the Vandy Boys were ranked on the “tail end of the division.” It only took 85 years to win our first one in 2014, but we made it!
I noticed that the 1929 copy of The Hustler contained a section called “Co-eds.” It focused on the female students on campus. I had no idea women were called “co-eds,” becauseI originally thought the paper was referring to coeducational dorms. I also found a gossip column called “Hellenistic Tea,” where I read all of the “tea” about campus of the late 1920s. The author talked about “backstabbing” and “bloodthirsty girls.” Spill the tea, sis!
Top 11 Ways to Make Friends at Vanderbilt
We know that the transition to college can be difficult, which is why we’ve compiled a list to help you get to know student around campus.
Rooftop Vandy: Episode 1
Join fellow first-year students Will, Warren, JB, and Bobby as they dish out some helpful tips for how to navigate your first week on campus. Including, but not limited to, a helpful video tutorial on lofting (or un-lofting) your bed, and the new sport of box racing.
PODCAST: CommonsCast-Episode 29, August 21, 2019
Welcome to the Season 2 premiere of the CommonsCast, the official podcast of the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt. On this edition you’ll get some helpful welcome words of wisdom from Dean of the Commons Melissa Gresalfi in her Dean’s Minute, learn about events on the Commons this week in the Commons Calendar, and first-year student Estelle has a terrific interview with Dean Gresalfi in the Humans of the Commons segment. Listen up, subscribe below, and get to know your new home!
Opinion: Paper Towelgate
We need paper towels in bathrooms on Commons. Our only option is to use questionable hand dryers that release a stream of air only slightly more powerful than that of a senior citizen blowing out birthday candles. Vanderbilt must act swiftly and place paper towel dispensers in every bathroom on Commons.
“Paper Towelgate”, the lack of paper towel dispensers in dorms on Commons, Vanderbilt’s first-year living program, must be addressed now. One does not realize how useful paper towels are until they are missing when you need them most. Any small spill or any time a towel is forgotten when hands or a face are washed, students on Commons are forced to make the embarrassing walk back to their room to get a towel.
Hand dryers have been criticized for spewing bathroom germs back onto the user’s hands. According to a recent study, in lab settings, hand dryers were shown to facilitate the growth of bacteria in petri dishes. Personally, I wash my hands in the hopes of making them clean, so the idea of having bacteria sprayed onto my hands every time I use the restroom is rather off-putting.
Hygiene is important everywhere, but it is especially important in first-year college dorms, such as those on Commons. With hundreds of students from different places all using the same facilities and spending time with each other almost every day, proper hand washing is a first-year student’s best defense from sickness. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal,“paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment. From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers. Paper towels should be recommended in locations where hygiene is paramount…”
Personally, I am afraid that the poor hand dryers found in bathrooms on Commons could facilitate the passage of illnesses from student to student. Maybe hand dryers are to blame for “Commons Plague,” the yearly round of sickness that affects many first-year students at Vanderbilt. So the question remains: Is Vanderbilt potentially compromising our health?
I can only assume that Vanderbilt’s hand dryer woes are the result of their continued efforts to make our campus greener by reducing paper product waste. While I wholeheartedly agree with this mission and respect Vanderbilt’s moves to decrease waste where they can, I still cannot reconcile their choice to not place paper towels in dorms on Commons.
Paper towels can actually be helpful for the environment if disposed of properly. Although they cannot be recycled, they can be composted. Stanford Health Magazine notes that “the bacteria or food on them will break down during the composting process. If an airport, public building or school already has a composting program, it should not be too much trouble to place collecting bins in restrooms.” If Vanderbilt were to introduce receptacles for disposal that could later allow paper towels to be composted in the already existing composting program in the Commons dining hall, we could minimize the wastefulness of the towels, and even minimize the energy usage required to power the hand dryers (even if they are barely powered).
Upon moving into Commons, it will become almost immediately apparent that “Paper Towelgate” must be solved. I am calling for immediate introduction of hand towel dispensers in every bathroom in every dorm on Commons, with an appropriately labeled composting receptacle to go with it. No longer should students on Commons suffer with inadequate hand dryers. Every day that we are silent is another day that no action is taken, and another one of our fellow first-years could be exposed to potentially dangerous bacteria.
The time for justice in the form of paper towels is now.