Annie Young

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Stop the stigma. Stop the silence.

Survivor hold signs with quote that abuser said. Photo courtesy of Maura Carroll.

College rape cases are a widespread epidemic with UNC Charlotte ranking tenth in the nation for reported rape cases in 2014. In many situations however, rape victims do not report their attack and keep their suffering silent.

Maura Carroll, the founder of Charlotte Breaking Out (CBO), began the club as an English project in which she took pictures of rape victims with posters that summed up their assault or quoted a line their abuser said during the attack.

The response to Carroll’s project was so substantial that she grew it into a club on UNC Charlotte’s campus.

“When I first started the club, I did not really know which direction to take it in but I just knew I wanted to create a safe place for survivors and all students who support the cause,” Carroll said.

CBO is a place where assault survivors can talk about their experience in a safe environment and begin the healing process alongside of other survivors.

Carroll explained, “Our goal is to not only serve as a safe community for victims and concerned students, but to shine a light on the reality of sexual assault and the ways we can prevent and educate students on these issues.”

CBO plans to hold events, meetings and bring in guest speakers to help bring awareness to the rape culture on college campuses. Their slogan is “Stop the Stigma. Stop the Silence.”

Rape culture affects all college campuses. Make a difference by supporting organizations like Charlotte Breaking Out and educating yourself about the rape culture epidemic.

Alpha Chi Omega runs to end relationship violence

Racers get ready to begin at starting line. Photo by Daniel Head.

UNC Charlotte’s Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) hosted the Cupid Shuffle 5K on Feb. 11. The race is held during AXO’s Healthy Relationships Week to raise money and fight against domestic violence.

Four hundred and sixteen participants raced to fight against relational abuse and raise awareness about the ever growing problem. Statistics show one in three women experience domestic violence during their college years.

“One in three, that means that in just our chapter alone, around 48 girls have been in, are in, or will be in an abusive relationship before they graduate,” Race coordinator Tori Clymore said.

Eighty-five percent of the proceeds go to Charlotte’s Safe Alliance domestic violence shelter while the remaining 15 percent go towards the AXO’s foundation.

Sponsors like Stifle, A&R Painting, American Campus, Honey Baked Ham, Graphic Cow, Trader Joes, Ale’s University, Mabe Trucking, Discount Tire, Brickhouse Grill, Westminster American Insurance Company, Badger Color and Rodgers Building showed their support for healthy relationships by helping raise money for the cause.

UNC Charlotte fraternities Sigma Chi, Zeta Beta Tau, Phi Delta Theta, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Delta Sigma Phi and Alpha Sigma Phi sponsored the race as well.

First, second and third place participants received medals in the women’s, men’s and couple’s categories.

“Because of the statistics, because of the long term effects of abuse, we won’t stop until every man and woman on our campus is aware of the signs and the resources available for people in abusive relationships. Abuse knows no gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation… it can affect anyone and that’s why we work so hard to raise awareness on our campus,” Clymore said.

Racing to gold

Racer poses with Norm the Niner on the Irwin Belk Track. Photo by Kristopher Harris.

UNC Charlotte Recreational Services hosted its 16th annual Gold Rush 5K in which the Charlotte community showed their support for the 500 racers on Feb. 4. Businesses and vendors set up tents with games, food and warm beverages for the participants on the chilly morning.

Racer Kaiti Stewart commented on the community support, “(The race) is way more than I thought it would be. I like how many sponsors there are and coming out to support us in the cold.”

The race is held to raise money for Recreational Services student scholarships and to bring together the Charlotte community.

LaVella Hall, event coordinator, said “The net proceeds go towards Recreational Services Student Development Scholarships, but the race is also a way to bring together UNC Charlotte students, alumni and community members.”

Participants also had the opportunity to donate to Girls on the Run, the philanthropy partner for the Gold Rush 5K. Last year donations reached $400 and Hall hoped to exceed that this year.

Over 94 awards were given to participants after the race. Each winner received a medal, DICK’s Sporting Goods gift certificate, free smoothie card and a ticket to the UNC Charlotte men’s basketball game that evening. Overall male and female winner also received a Norm statue.

The race began at 9 a.m. at the Irwin Belk Track. The 3.1 mile race looped around the football stadium, back down to Craver Road and Mary Alexander Road, which led them to Alumni Way and Toby Creek and finished them back at Irwin Belk Track.

Stewart and her friends Matt Bulen and Hollyann Walker all agreed that “the second mile was the hardest. It was all uphill.”

Even though they were exhausted, their faces gleamed with joy, which was mirrored by all the participants who had completed the race.

Saving lives one pint at a time

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UNC Charlotte held its annual 49ers4Life blood drive on Jan. 24.  This is the eighth year UNC Charlotte has partnered with the American Red Cross in saving lives all over the world.

The goal was to receive 800 pints of blood at this year’s drive and thanks to the help of the 1,300 students that volunteered, 773 pints were filled.

Maya Franklin and Jillian Butler, communication coordinators for the American Red Cross, explained for every one pint of blood, three lives are saved.

Junior Derrick Young explained that it was his twentieth time giving blood.

“I started giving blood when I was 17 with my parent’s permission … It takes 15 minutes out of my day to save three lives. It’s not a hard sacrifice,” Young said.

Many others joined Young in helping save lives. Franklin explained that during the holidays there is an emergency need for blood.

“At the American Red Cross, we want to make sure there is always a blood supply for patients who need it,” Franklin said.

Thanks to the UNC Charlotte family there is.

The blood drive partners with Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, Cantina, Chartwells, Jimmy John’s, Wing Zone and many other businesses to provide gifts, giveaways and raffle items for blood donors.

Donors received t-shirts, free food and a chance to win one of two UNC Charlotte parking passes as well as gifts from the book store.

“It’s a small way of saying ‘thank you,’” Butler said.

UNC Charlotte holds annual Veterans Day conference

UNC Charlotte hosted their annual Veterans Day Conference on the third floor of the Popp & Martin Student Union.

David Vacchi, the associate director of Student Veteran Affairs briefly spoke about UNC Charlotte’s veteran’s association before introducing the guest speaker for the night.

“UNC Charlotte is home to a growing veteran population on campus and I could not be more proud,” said Vacchi.

Guest speaker, Colonel Sonny Simpson of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, also referred to as the 30th , spoke to the audience about his time in the military serving overseas and his time at UNC Charlotte.

Simpson, attended UNC Charlotte in the 1980s for two years as an engineering student. It was here that he decided to join the military and serve his country.

The 30th Brigade is one of the oldest military combat teams in the United States and was started by President Andrew Jackson. In World War Two, they were the first unit to enter Germany and cease a German city.

The 30th was also the first unit to enter Iraq in 2003, where Simpson served his first deployment in the Middle East. He returned to the Middle East in 2015.

In 2016, Simpson was deployed to Kosovo with the 30th yet another time.

“I spent the last 18 months in Kosovo mending relations with Serbia. Our mission was to build relations with the police and work with them to make (Kosovo) a safer place,” he said.

Simpson spoke on behalf of all service men and women that day.

“It takes support of family, employers, and community for us to be ready to go back … today, let us reflect on the brave Americans who risk their lives to protect the United States every day,” said Simpson.

 

‘It goes down in the DM’

Students dance to raise money for Levine Children's Hospital. Photo by Austin Chaney.
Students dance to raise money for Levine Children’s Hospital. Photo by Austin Chaney.

UNC Charlotte’s Charlotte Dance Marathon partnered with Levine Children’s Hospital to dance the night away Friday.

The annual 12-hour dance marathon began at 7 p.m. and ended at 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Over 300 participants came to support Levine Children’s Hospital and raise money for families with sick children.

The night began with a throng of children and UNC Charlotte students running up the third flight of stairs in the Student Union, to the main conference room.

The conference room was transformed into a dance floor with massive projector screens playing slide shows of other fundraisers they have done. There were neon lights and balloons strung across the ceiling and walls. Even a bounce house was provided when participants needed to take off their dancing shoes for a little bit.

Participants were dressed in various colors to show support for their color group. They wore tutus, colorful socks and face paint—whatever they thought showed the most support for their team.

The color groups competed against each other throughout the night in hopes of winning the spirit stick at the end of the night.

“I am really proud of the [UNC Charlotte] campus and community participation. It’s really encouraging and we’re so thankful for everyone” Danielle Miller, a coordinator for Charlotte Dance Marathon events, said.

Charlotte Dance Marathon raises money for Levine Children’s Hospital by partnering with business and community involvement. They also hold events such as Rent a Puppy and Sweets Showcase to raise money.

Seventeen Miracle kids attended the event. These are children who are in Levine Children Hospital or have been recently released. “They are symbols of what we’re dancing for,” Miller said.

Keenan Calbreath was one of the Miracle Kids that attended Friday’s event. He has participated in the Dance Marathon for the past three years. “I love everything about it. It is so inclusive and fun. That’s what keeps me coming back,” Calbreath said.

As the night wore on, participants were taught a morale dance, participated in a Zumba lesson and played games. Families who have been affected by Charlotte Dance Marathon spoke throughout the night as well. The crowd was signaled by the lyrics of “We Are Family” playing over the loud speakers when a family was getting ready to tell their story.

At the end of the night the total amount of money raised was announced. A total of $50, 858.82 was the final count of funds raised throughout the year.

All of the proceeds go to the Levine Children’s Hospital and to the families affected by child-illnesses.

Petition started to appoint Chief of Diversity position

Due to increasing student enrollment each year and recent riots and protests that have occurred in the Uptown, a UNC Charlotte faculty member has started a petition that would include a new Chief of Diversity position.

Regarding recent events in the Charlotte area and student protests on campus, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois has encouraged students to exercise their right to speak about the recent conflicts.

Dr. Jan Warren-Findlow, the Master in Public Health (MPH) program director and professor for the Department of Public Health has recently created a petition urging Dubois to add a Chief of Diversity position to UNC Charlotte administration.

“The idea to create a petition came about during a community circle meeting in the Union,” said Warren-Findlow. “The petition is not just in response to the recent events in Charlotte, but to the overarching theme of a growing diverse population at UNC Charlotte.

According to the petition which was created online, it states that many universities that are similar to UNC Charlotte in size and student population have a Chief of Diversity Officer among their administration. The petition specifically notes UNC Chapel Hill as an example of a UNC system school to have such a position.

The petition also states whoever would hold the position of Chief of Diversity would advance plans for UNC Charlotte’s Diversity Plan and it’s many diversity initiatives. Additionally, the position would improve official responses in regards to incidents of violence, intolerance and other offenses linked to racial discrimination.

The Future of the Faculty Committee also recommended to Dubois that at the University establish a Chief of Diversity position last year.

Upon learning about the petition, Dubois provided a statement.

“As Chancellor, I believe that it is my duty and responsibility to serve as chief diversity officer,” Dubois said.

Since his appointment of chancellor to the University in 2005, Dubois has used this viewpoint in his decision towards diversity related issues.

Since his 2006 installation remarks, he has encouraged the Council on University Community to work individually and as a team to welcome diversity and address any issues that arise.

“That Council is comprised of the vice chancellors of academic affairs, student affairs, business affairs, university advancement and the director of athletics. These individuals are responsible, individually and collectively, for ensuring that diversity issues are addressed in each and every division of the university,” Dubois said.

To support the council, Dubois has funded $150,000 each year for the council to hold diversity events, bring in speakers and many other things to promote diversity and inclusion.

Dubois also makes sure the University’s business connections reflect the same inclusion that the UNC Charlotte community does. These actions have been locally and nationally recognized over the past several years.

“It is very encouraging to know the Chancellor supports (diversity) events on campus and the freedom for civic engagement,” Warren-Findlow said.

She agrees the University has done a good job with inclusion and supporting diversity; yet with the growing numbers of the UNC Charlotte community she believes that a Chief of Diversity would suit the University well.

“We all need to be leaders … this is an opportunity to improve the campus” Warren-Findlow said. “I encourage students and staff to read the petition and sign it if they are in agreeance with it.”

Information about the petition was sent out through several student groups and by word of mouth.

“This is just one possible solution to the growing population of UNC Charlotte,” Warren-Findlow said.

Chancellor Dubois offered some closing remarks regarding the petition and his stance inclusion on campus.

“I remain committed to ensuring that UNC Charlotte creates a climate of open discussion, civility and inclusion on campus, as is called for in the petition … I acknowledged my responsibility as Chancellor to bringing coherence, visibility and accountability to our efforts and I continue to hold myself and my senior team accountable for doing that,” Dubois said.

To view the petition visit: https://www.change.org/p/chancellor-phil-dubois-hire-a-chief-diversity-officer-for-unc-charlotte.

Fighting police brutality through fellowship

A candlelight vigil, in remembrance of Keith Scott and Justin Carr, was held Sept. 28.

The event was held in the Student Activity Center where posters were on display titled, “I Do This For…” “Candle Dedication” and “White Light Vigil” along with eight candles which were later lit in honor of the recent victims of police brutality. Building Better Brothers (B3) hosted the event to “promote fellowship among everyone.”

Event Coordinator Spencer Blackwell stated the purpose of the vigil is to “spread more love and peace in the community.”Many students and faculty attended the event and listened to the variety of guest speakers. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Arthur R. Jackson spoke on the current divide in the United States titling it “Two Americas.”

He stated the divide is between the northern states and southern states, in which the northern states have made more progress than the southern states when addressing racial issues. Jackson urged the audience to continue to peacefully fight for justice. “[Each new obstacle] gives chance for constructive not destructive change,” said Jackson.

Dean of Students Dr. Reid Davis spoke words of encouragement and support through tearful eyes stating that she has never been more proud of students than she has been this week. She concluded her speech with the quote, “let your revolution start with your education.”

Members of Voices of Eden sing during the candlelight vigil for Keith Scott and Justin Carr. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Members of Voices of Eden sing during the candlelight vigil for Keith Scott and Justin Carr. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

UNC Charlotte’s gospel choir, Voices of Eden sang “From the Inside of Me” and “Lean on Me” throughout the vigil. Their harmonious strains tugged at the hearts of all those in attendance. Their songs provided inspiration and fellowship among everyone in the room.

Following Voices of Eden, were speakers like President of the UNC Charlotte National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Deandre R Collins and Brent Campbell, a campus minister.

Campbell provided biblical words of inspiration with the message that the recent events are not problems between races, rather it is between “those who value life and those that don’t,” said Campbell.

He spoke of how the police system is operational. The people have to change in order for the brutality to stop. Blackwell stated that he was very proud of the assembly.

“The Brothers of B3 want everyone to know that even though there is some fear of being brutalized by police officers during an encounter, we have never felt more powerful and confident in being black men in America. We will continue to stand united and fight for the cause,” said Blackwell.

Engineering professor awarded $3 million towards research funding

Dr. Peter Tkacik, a UNC Charlotte mechanical engineering professor, was awarded with over $3 million for research funding through the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Teaching Professorship.

This award is given to a professor who goes above and beyond teaching. They enrich, motivate and lead students through their education.

Tkacik is described as all of the above and more from his students and coworkers.

Ph.D. student Jerry Dahlberg states, “He is part of the reason I stayed at UNC Charlotte to pursue my graduate degree … he spends countless hours every week in the lab mentoring numerous senior design teams, above and beyond what is expected.”

When asked to describe what motivates Tkacik’s passion and creativity in the classroom, he responded with a childhood story.

“When my Lotus sports car caught fire in 1978, my uncle said he would trade a busted Porsche for it. When I said I couldn’t fix it, he said he could so if I tried and got stuck, he would “unstick” me. It was great and I use that logic to get my students to take on bigger projects than they are comfortable with. With support and guidance, you can do anything.”

Tkacik has been at UNC Charlotte since 2007 teaching mechanical engineering. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Engineering/Technology for Caraustar Industries, but says that “becoming a professor was about the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Tkacik spent 12 years at Michelin Research and developed a Tire Mechanics course based off of the knowledge gained from his experience. He believes that when combining all types of engineering you get mechanical engineering.

His Tire Mechanics course illustrates just that.

“My mechanical engineers can and have done everything from programming and wiring like an electrical engineer, statistical production studies like an industrial, to heavy iron work like a civil.”

Tkacik will receive $100,000 of his $3 million research grant every 4 months.

He is helping develop a military technology course with the Office of Naval Research and has worked on Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education to attract new students to UNC Charlotte and the Engineering department.

As of right now he does not have specific future plans but is excited about the various options waiting to be explored.

“I expect that the range of experimental topics I’ve mastered allows me to apply for a wider range of research,” said Tkacik.

To list a few of his past projects: Super-sonic Schleiren flow measurement in rocket nozzles, ultrasonic medical sensors for blood pressure, passenger car production plant capabilities, heavy truck aerodynamics and tire axle improvements, the only Tomographic PIV (3D flow) system in the nation.

SGA breaks the ice with students

On Sept. 14, UNC Charlotte’s Student Government Association hosted SGA Breaking the Ice tabling event in response to the confusion and upset caused by the add/drop period.

SGA and Academic Affairs wanted to hear the student body’s opinions, questions, and concerns about student life and UNC Charlotte which led to the organization of Breaking the Ice.

Tracey Allsbrook, secretary of Academic Affairs, said “we [Academic Affairs] felt that having another way to hear what students were concerned about could help us focus our goals for the year.”

The members from Academic Affairs answered a vast array of questions from students.

Questions like, “why is setting up advising appointments so hard?” and “what is the easiest way to contact the dean of students?”

As incentive to ask questions, SGA provided ice cream for the audience members who voiced their questions.

SGA is currently researching and answering the proposed questions during the tabling event.

They will be responding to the students by personal contact information provided by the student during the event.

“All in all the event was so assure students SGA is working hard for them and we do want them to rest assured their voice is heard,” said Allsbrook.

Photo by Sonali Patel.
Photo by Sonali Patel.

Moodle or Canvas?

Many students have noticed as they return to classes that UNC Charlotte has made several campus-wide changes, including the transition from Moodle to Canvas.

The transition began in September 2015 when the Learning Management System (LMS) Evaluation Committee discussed Moodle and whether or not it was fulfilling the needs of UNC Charlotte’s students and faculty.

The determined answer was “no” and the LMS Committee agreed that UNC Charlotte needs an LMS that is more reliable, faster and easier to use.

Canvas was one of several options considered for replacing Moodle, which has been used since 2008.

After pilot testing, the LMS Evaluation Committee agreed that Canvas is the best replacement for Moodle.

The transition from Moodle to Canvas began in the 2016 spring semester. Many say that canvas has proven to be more reliable, faster and easier to use in comparison to Moodle.

Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Dr. Garvey Pyke supports the LMS transition.

“Moodle is a product that is no longer reliable and does not have the development community behind it that it once did several years ago … Canvas, on the other hand, is more open and flexible and certainly more reliable, which is more in keeping with our growing university,” said Pyke.

However, not all professors are required to use Canvas. Pyke states that faculty have the freedom to use whatever tools they wish. The university simply “provides academic technologies to help faculty to engage students and to save time.”

For students who need help using Canvas, instructional videos can be found at canvas.uncc.edu under the “For Students” section. Instructional classes are also provided for faculty who need help using.

Canvas also provides 24/7 support through live chat and telephone support. Pyke states that the readily available support has received very positive feedback from students and faculty.

Pyke speaks on behalf of the LMS Evaluation Committee: “We hope Canvas makes it easier for students and instructors to interact with each other and to manage things like turning in assignments and keeping their gradebooks up to date.  When students know how they are doing in a course and get feedback about their performance on a regular basis, they do better in the course.  We hope Canvas helps with that process and more.”

UNC Charlotte Hosts Military Veteran Conference

Veterans Speech , photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Veterans Speech , photo by Pooja Pasupula.

On March 1 UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services hosted Military Culture: Have You Ever Served? A day-long conference discussing the needs of military veterans.

Mario Pantano, the head of the North Carolina Veteran Affairs, was the first speaker of the day. He discussed the working group of service members, veterans and their families.

Pantano was an infantry Sargent in Iraq during Desert Storm and spoke with fervent passion about helping veterans transition to civilian life after military service.

“The face of war is changing,” said Pantano. There are more people doing less to help our veterans when they return to civilian life. This in turn creates a huge burden for veterans coming back home.

Pantano urges listeners to create a “sea of goodwill”, where people act out of love rather than moral obligation when helping returning soldiers.

North Carolina is home to 800,000 veterans and the third largest military force in the United States. Pantano claims that many vets come home to North Carolina only to quickly leave because there is not enough help for those who need it.

He explains that veterans are a key part of society. They offer discipline, morale and diversity in the work force and to the public.

The NC Department of Veteran Affairs is now working with the Department of Commerce and Department of Health to aid and support veterans as they make the transition back home.

“We have created jobs, working to end veteran homelessness and challenging the stereotype ‘veterans as victims’,” said Pantano. “If we focus on ‘veterans as victors’ then the wounds of society begin to heal, people become more comfortable around vets. If you come from love the problem resolves and the fear is unpacked.”

Since working with the Department of Commerce and Department of Health, veterans have a lower unemployment rate than non-veterans and homelessness appears to be declining.

Likewise, measures are being taken to break down the barrier between vets and non-vets through the Governor’s Working Group. The group meets once a month to discuss veteran affairs. These meetings include both military personnel and civilians.

The floor was opened for questions. Listeners asked about various programs for veterans and what else can be done to help.

The topic of new challenges facing the VA was addressed. Pantano explained that the budget has increased three times the usual amount due to healthcare and labor unions. The need for volunteers has increased as well.

Pantano reiterated that more people are doing less to help and it is affecting the military on many levels.

His closing words encouraged listeners to get to know veterans and act from a place of love to build the notion of “veterans as victors.”