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Residential Colleges as Incubators

Posted by on Thursday, December 1, 2016 in News.

On Saturday, November 5, I watched about 150 students venture out across campus on Commodore Quest, which was created, planned, and executed by four Warren students. The Warren budget and staff, particularly L Hildner, helped with funding and organization, but this was an exemplar of student-driven programming all along the pipeline. The event was open to students across campus, who were attracted by a variety of media and the station the organizers set up at the Rand Wall.

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Teams assemble in Kissam MPR — the air was thick with anticipation

Commodore Quest participants, who signed up in advance in teams of four, were each given a pamphlet with clues to locations around campus (e.g., Wilson, Furman, Alumni, Rand, Library Lawn, Calhoun), which in turn held the real clues for solving the Quest’s interconnected puzzles. These subproblem solutions, together with a final clue, contributed to a single global solution. The organizers developed ingenious clues, as well as means that allowed teams to participate, and have the possibility of prizes through raffles, even if the team didn’t solve all the puzzles. I walked the course myself and reflected on the clues. Next year, I am taking help 🙂

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Mysterious clues inside Furman Hall

The Quest started at the Kissam MPR at 1:00 pm, and ended several hours later at the same place, when prizes were given and dinner from Maggiano’s for all. The Dean of Students and Campus Dining were all looped in. In addition to raffled prizes to individuals, the first team returning to Kissam MPR with the correct global solution received the grand prize. The team name and the names of its members will be engraved on a trophy that will contain the names of future winners as well. We are looking for a place for the Commodore Quest Trophy in Warren now. These videos show the start of the Quest.

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A Commodore Quest assistant at one of the unfathomable clues!

The organizers want Commodore Quest to become a student organization. Is this something that bothers me? No, far from it. These students have provided a marvelous example of how a residential college like Warren can be an incubator for student initiatives that then become part of the larger campus culture. I support them in taking the next step. If they want to take the trophy with them, then we’ll turn it over happily, but they have indicated that they’d like it to stay at Warren, as an acknowledgement of the Quest’s origins.

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Prizes were given out in a raffle, and a grand prize cup with winner names, this year and for subsequent years, will live at Warren College

Thanks Jonathan Amaro-Barron, Maddie Aroner, Chandler Barnes, and Katherine McGee for creating and organizing Commodore Quest!

Doug Fisher is the Faculty Director of Warren College. This post reflects Doug’s opinions and not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University.


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