Alexandria Sands

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Alexandria Sands is the Niner Times' community editor. She is a senior majoring in Communication Studies with a double minor in Journalism and English. Her work has been published in Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Business Journal, Creative Loafing, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star and The State Port Pilot. When she's not in the newsroom, you can catch her reading a book at her home in Oak Island. Reach her at community@ninertimes.com or @alexsands_.

Details about UNC Charlotte shooting emerge

Less than 24 hours after a shooter opened fire in the Kennedy building at UNC Charlotte, details are emerging about the crime, and hundreds are expected to gather on campus tonight to honor the lives lost at a student-organized vigil.

The two students who died have been identified as Riley Howell, 21, and Ellis “Reed” Parlier, 19.

Howell is hailed as a hero by the campus community and Charlotte police. At a press conference today, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Howell tackled the gunman.

“Having no place to run or hide, [he] took the fight on,” Putney added. “His sacrifice saved lives.”

From Waynesville, North Carolina, Howell was an environmental studies major who enrolled in UNC Charlotte in the fall as a transfer from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

Ellis “Reed” Parlier, 19, was from Midland, North Carolina. He wanted to major in computer science after enrolling at UNC Charlotte in the fall of 2017.

UNC Charlotte has approved degrees in memoriam for both Howell and Parlier. The University plans to find other ways to honor their lives. There have also been conversations about what to do with the classroom of the scene, but no decisions have been made.

Those injured include Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex; Sean DeHart, 20, of Apex; Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saudi Arabia; and Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte. They are all expected to recover.

The majority of information regarding the investigation is not being released, but CMPD did provide some details. The handgun the suspect used was purchased legally. Putney said the suspect had “quite a bit of ammo,” but he did not give an exact number. He also did not provide information about potential motives.

A student-organized candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. tonight in Halton Arena. There will also be a livestream on the UNC Charlotte website.

“I truly appreciate how, in the last 24 hours since this tragic shooting, this community has held together and held Charlotte strong,” said Mayor Vi Lyles. 

UNC Charlotte will return to regular operations starting tomorrow at 12 a.m. Exams are canceled for students through Sunday. Professors are being asked to provide “maximum flexibility” for students during final exams, the Chancellor said. He added that students who intended to walk at graduation but are impacted by the incident will walk regardless. Commencements will go as scheduled.

UNC Charlotte Police Chief Jeffrey Baker. Photo by Alexandria Sands.

‘I’ve never run that fast in my life’: Deadly shooting at UNC Charlotte shakes students

Two people are dead and four are injured after a school shooting on UNC Charlotte’s campus Tuesday.

The suspect started firing in a classroom in the Kennedy building at approximately 5:40 p.m. A NinerAlert sent minutes after the gunshots warned the campus community: “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.”

In the hours that followed, students and professors across the campus took shelter, locking and barricading doors, turning off lights and phoning loved ones.

At 7:45 p.m., University officials announced a suspect was in custody and the campus was secure. “No reason to believe anyone else involved,” tweeted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, ending rumors that there were multiple shooters on campus. Police then went room by room to release students and checked empty rooms with guns drawn.

The suspect in custody is Trystan Andrew Terrell, a 22-year-old former student. A person who was in the room during the shooting told Niner Times the class was Science, Technology, and Society with Professor Adam Johnson.

Tuesday was the last day of classes for the spring semester, and students had planned to celebrate with a baseball game and Waka Flocka concert that night. Instead, it became “the saddest day in UNC Charlotte’s history,” as Chancellor Phil Dubois called it in an email to the campus community.

A Niner Times sports writer, Drew Pescaro, was one of the six students shot. He is out of surgery and recovering.

Nick Brooks, 22, hid for over two hours in the Panda Express kitchen on campus. He said he was taking a study break at the fountain outside of Kennedy building when he saw the suspect, someone he recognized from riding the light rail, walk into Kennedy. Seconds later, he heard shots fired.

“It was like, ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and that’s when we all started to lay on the ground,” he said. “You could feel the vibration. I don’t know if it was just, like, nerves. You could just feel it in your chest.”

He said a student came running out of the building, yelling about an active shooter. It was then that Brooks got up, grabbed his backpack and sprinted to Cone building where a group of roughly 35 people had gathered. “I’ve never run that fast in my life,” he said.

Brooks said he had a strange feeling about Terrell and he remembered an odd interaction with the suspect at a NoDa apartment complex. “He was in the elevator and the doors were closing and he was just staring at me,” Brooks said. “You could tell something was up with him. It’s like he had no emotions.”

In Dubois’ statement, the Chancellor praised UNC Charlotte Police and Public Safety and CMPD for their quick response. He added that counseling services would be provided to students affected by the tragedy, starting Wednesday morning.

Currently, the University is under suspended operations. Exams have been canceled through Sunday.

Shooting reported at UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte’s main campus is on lockdown after a shooting was reported near the Kennedy building.

At 5:50 p.m., the University sent out a NinerAlert to the campus community, warning, “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are still investigating.

Update, 6:48 p.m.: Police are evacuating students from buildings, starting with Atkins Library. People inside should prepare to identify themselves, put their hands up and follow officer commands, according to a NinerAlert sent by the University.

Update, 6:57 p.m.: CMPD is asking that students go to the Harris Teeter near campus to reunite with their families. That address is 8600 University City Blvd.

Update, 7:40 p.m.: A shooter is in custody, officials say. “No reason to believe anyone else involved.” CMPD tweeted at 7:39 p.m.

Update, 7:50 p.m.: A NinerAlert sent at 7:45 p.m. says there is no ongoing threat to campus, but people on campus should stay in place as police continue to clear buildings.

Update, 10:26 p.m.: The class the suspect attacked was Science, Technology and Society with Professor Adam Johnson, says a student who was in the classroom.

Most-read Niner Times stories of 2018

The 10 most-read stories on NinerTimes.com in 2018 were moments in history for the UNC Charlotte community. We covered the beginnings, such as the long-awaited opening of the Haven49 student apartment complex; we reported the rebirth of old stories, such as the #DropTheUNC movement; and we wrote the endings, such as those of Moore and Sanford halls and Gray’s Bookstore. In 2019, the Niner Times hopes to cover more of what’s important to our readers, but for now, here’s a list of the top stories of 2018 based on page views:

1. Moore and Sanford scheduled for demolition

After 49 years of towering over the campus, Moore Hall closed for demolition at the end of fall semester. Sanford Hall will remain open for the rest of the academic year but demolished soon after. The two towers will be replaced with a combined residence hall, costing $58.5 million, that will house anywhere between 750-800 students.

2. Haven49 remains untenable

Students moved into the Haven49 apartment complex following three months of delays. The original move-in date was pushed from Aug. 14 to Nov. 10 as the company struggled to finish construction and pass inspections. Students who had signed leases relocated to hotels or friend’s couches while they waited for the occupancy approval of their new apartments. Many accrued over $1,000 in stipend money as compensation.

3. UNC Charlotte basketball player arrested for assault

Najee Garvin was arrested on Sept. 20 for assault on a female. Garvin was a junior forward for the 49ers basketball team but was suspended indefinitely following his arrest.

4. Longtime UNC Charlotte retailer Gray’s Bookstore announces store closing

Gray’s College Bookstore, which sold textbooks and fan merchandise, announced in February they were closing their doors after 23 years. According to Amber Livingston, director of the store, online shopping put a strain on the business over the years.

5. Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion 25 Years Later

Arts & Entertainment writer Aaron Febre looks back on the album “Violator” (1990) in 2018. “The album and the World Violation tour saw Depeche Mode become one of the biggest bands in the world,” he wrote. “Their transition from synthesized teen-pop from the early ’80s to the intense electronic band at end had been complete. ‘Violator’ was the ultimate culmination of that transition.”

6. Three fraternities suspended after investigations

Three fraternities were suspended throughout the 2017-18 academic year. Delta Chi and Phi Sigma Kappa were both charged with hazing, providing alcohol to minors, and acts of harm. Lambda Chi Alpha was suspended for the same charges as well as disruption of normal university activities and failure to comply.

7. Lynching display outside of Rowe Recital Hall. 

In December, a student used a noose to hang a sculpture of a white body dangling from a tree. The display was an end-of-semester art project submitted by a student of color.

8. Should we be the University of Charlotte? 

Conversations about changing the name of UNC Charlotte reemerged on Twitter with the hashtag #DropTheUNC. The idea of a name change has been floating around for over a decade, but the hashtag gained momentum after a sign that celebrated UNC Chapel Hill’s 2017 men’s basketball national championship was installed near the University. Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said a name change is unlikely during his administration.

9. UNC Charlotte professor files discrimination lawsuit

A professor filed a discrimination lawsuit claiming Nancy Gutierrez, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, gave promotions to less-qualified female candidates. Court documents show that Dr. Coria-Sánchez filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court citing discrimination on the basis of race and gender in the workplace.

10. 49er fans have Tar Heel sign removed from I-85

The North Carolina Department of Transportation removed a sign from I-85 that celebrated UNC Chapel Hill’s 2017 men’s basketball national championship after outrage from 49er fans. The sign was originally placed between W.T. Harris Boulevard and Mallard Creek, but soon relocated closer to the South Carolina state line on I-77.

If you have a story you want the Niner Times to cover in 2019, contact us at editor@ninertimes.com.

This UNC Charlotte professor may have lost the race for Bosnian presidency, but he still wants to “be a spark of change” for the nation.

Before Mirsad Hadzikadic left UNC Charlotte to campaign across the globe for his home country’s presidency, he said that, regardless if he won or lost, he hoped to change mindsets.

Fast forward to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Election Day on Oct. 7, the computer science professor was with his group of campaign volunteers when the central electoral commission accidentally released votes early. Over the past five months, the independent candidate was relatively unknown, significantly underfunded and up against popular politicians with deep pockets, but now he was ahead of the competition.

“Whether it was a sign of how much [votes were] stolen or something, I don’t really know, but that gave them hope,” he said Monday at a public discussion in UNC Charlotte’s Center City building.

As the evening went on, however, it became apparent he would not win. His team was crushed.

But the next day, Oct. 7, they awoke to newspapers and analyst talking about the 50,000 votes Hadzikadic had received as an “incredible story.” He finished in fourth place with 9.5% of the vote in the six-person race.

On the third day, Oct. 8, he says it was “euphoria.”

“Wow, look at this,” he said, describing the moment. “We’ve done this. We are changing Bosnia. So, what do we do now?”

Getting in on the run

Hadzikadic left his Yugoslavia home in 1984 at 29-years-old to come to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar at Southern Methodist University. He has spent more than three decades at UNC Charlotte, working his way up to executive director of the university’s Data Science Initiative.

But when a friend called him last fall from Bosnia and Herzegovina to propose he run for president, Hadzikadic felt an overwhelming sense of duty. Despite concerns about his safety, the burden it would put on his family and the pay cut he’d take if he won, Hadzikadic went through with it.

The Guardian referred to Bosnia and Herzegovina as “home to what is most probably the world’s most complicated system of government.” A peace agreement after the Bosnian War included plans for how the country would run. Three presidents — one Bosniak, one Croat and one Serb — rotate out as chairman every eight months over a four-year term.

Following the war, which ended in 1995, the country became divided along social, religious and cultural lines. Hadzikadic predicts nationalists will be successful in efforts to separate the country within seven to 10.

“That was [my friend’s] fear: if we let the nationalists win this election, they will drive the country into the ruins,” Hadzikadic told the Niner Times in April.

The plan

Hadzikadic ran his campaign on three focuses: “Bosnia First,” economy and youth.

His overall goal was to end national policies that distinguish people as Croats and Serbs and instead view citizens as “Bosnians who live in Bosnia” before anything else. “Bosnia First” stresses people to think of the country as a whole rather than what would benefit one’s party or own well being.

“Think about the country first,” he said. “Like John Kennedy, right? ‘Ask not.'”

His plan to boost the economy included enforcing laws, getting investments from overseas and creating tax incentives for new companies.

His third focus was reflected in his campaign team; every member was under the age of 40. Hadzikadic says 70,000 Bosnians have left the country since the beginning of the year, most to Germany, due to a lack of jobs and the overall state of the country. He said his campaign made an impact on the youth more than any other population.

Two days before the election, he was walking to a meeting at Hotel Europe when he was stopped by a young man on the street. The man thanked Hadzikadic for bringing hope to the youth. When Hadzikadic asked for his name and what he did, the young man responded that he was in musical academy.

“I said, ‘What are you going to do when you’re done?'” Hadzikadic recalls. “Then he turned to me and he said, ‘Well that, Mr. President,’ he said, ‘that depends on you.'”

First on the agenda

However, what Hadzikadic would have done first has little to do with his three-part plan.

It became first on the agenda for him when he spent three days participating in the country’s Peace March, an annual event in July that commemorates victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide by hiking the way people took to escape Serb persecution. It concludes on the third day with a mass funeral to bury remains that have been found in the past year.

On his hike, Hadzikadic stayed at the homes of volunteer hosts. On night one, he entered a couple’s house. As he sat waiting for the husband to prepare a cup of tea, the wife put her hand on Hadzikadic’s knee. “Did you see the creek by the house? It saved our lives,” she said, going on to explain how they hid while their neighbors were raped for days and had their necks slit. Ten minutes later, she asked again, “Did you see the creek by the house?”

And again. And again.

“She lives through it every 10, 15, 20 minutes,” Hadzikadic said. “Cannot create new memories to erase the old ones.”

He met other people throughout the journey who had lost multiple family members, so when he attended the mass funeral, it struck him that politicians entered the first 20 rows for prayer while the people who lost loved ones stood in the hills. He decided then the first order he’d make as member of presidency would be not allowing politicians to enter the first 20 rows of prayers for the mass funeral.

“It would do nothing for the country, but it would raise hopes of so many people,” he said. “It’s time for a different value system.”

Unknown and underfunded

Hadzikadic had trustworthiness behind him, but money became an obstacle. Without the funds for a professional campaign manager, he relied on volunteers.

“We realize at some point that it is all about money,” he said. “In the end, you have no money, you cannot get to people.”

Few citizens knew him due to a lack of exposure. In addition to not being able to afford TV time, Bosnian public service media are owned by parties who blocked him from the channels.

Then, one day someone told him what he had to do: “Shock the nation,” so people would talk about him “whether they like it or not.”

The opportunity came at two candidate debates. During one, he was put up against two of his opponents (three did not show up) and they were all asked if they believed in same-sex marriage.

“In Bosnia, that’s a death sentence,” he said at Monday’s lecture.

The first candidate answered no. The second also said no. Then, when they got to Hadzikadic, he answered yes. His response dominated media coverage for weeks to come.

At another debate, the 15 candidates were divided depending on whether they were considered a major or lesser contender. Put into the lesser category, Hadzikadic disagreed with the message it sent to the public, that these were the opponents they shouldn’t bother to vote for.

So when he was asked to introduce himself as a first question, Hadzikadic used his 60 seconds to explain why he disagreed with that system. Then, even as he was being cut off, he used 20 more. At 80 seconds, he walked out.

“They call now, in Bosnia, ’80 seconds that changed the politics,'” he said.

“Scandal in the studio” ran as a headline.

What’s next

Despite his efforts though, he was beat in the Bosnian position by a nationalist. A nationalist also won the Serb seat. The third presidential council seat went to a moderate Croat.

But Hadzikadic is not letting the loss be the end. It’s been less than a month since Election Day and he already has an answer to the question “What’s next?”

A movement for political cohesiveness.

People can register online to become members of the movements, also called “Sparks,” a play on his campaign slogan, “Be a spark of change.” During his campaign, people would message him saying, “I’m a spark, too.” When someone registers, they receive an email telling them which number “Spark” they are.

As of Monday, there were over two thousand people signed up to be “Sparks” of change.

“Finally I have a cause or something I believe in deeply that I want to think about it 24 hours a day, which is how to improve the lives of people, society,” he said.

Before Hadzikadic left Charlotte for Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said that, regardless of if he won or lost, he hoped to change mindsets.

And regardless that he lost, he is doing just that.

“White Consciousness” event receives mixed reactions

UNC Charlotte’s Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement is hosting “White Consciousness Conversations,” aimed to help students and staff with “understanding” their whiteness, and it’s confusing some people.

An original post on the campus events website said the spaces were “for white people.” That post was taken down and reposted days later with updated language clarifying the events do not exclude other races. The current post says the spaces are for “all undergraduate and graduate students.”

The group-based events will explore how racism is “perpetuated individually, culturally and systemically,” according to the website.

“We expect a diverse group of participants to converse about topics, including the reality of racism and discrimination in the lives of individuals of color,” said Stephen Ward, a UNC Charlotte spokesperson.

Still, some students disagree with the university hosting the events.


“What possessed y’all to create this? This is a clear and evident slap in the faces of your students of color and different nationalities,” one student tweeted.

Timothy Wayne Collie, a 1996 alumnus, said he gave $1,200 last week to the school’s donation campaign Niner Nation Gives. Then, he was disappointed to see the University putting on the event.

“I passionately disagree with the term ‘white privilege’ universities today are using far too easily,” he said.

Collie describes himself as a first-generation college student from a “rural” family. “A large part of our 130,000 alumni come from white, rural, financially-challenged communities,” he added.

Some students are backing up the event. Cody Derce, a senior, said it’s a relevant program on campus. Last September, a photo of a “colored” sign hung above a UNC Charlotte water fountain circulated on social media.

“I think it’s important to bring awareness to white privilege and discuss how it can be utilized for good,” he said. “In a lot of cases, people don’t realize when their privilege is used because most of today’s oppression is implicit.”

Earlier this month, University of Maryland received backlash after promoting a group as a “safe space for white students.” It was later changed to “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group.”

The “White Consciousness Conversations” are just one of the events regarding “important and timely issues” the University is hosting, Ward said. There will also be “Women of Color Conversations” throughout the semester.

The White Consciousness Conversations for students will be held Oct. 25 and Nov. 29 at 9 a.m. in Room 261 of the Student Union.

Student Government to conduct investigation of Jerry Richardson Stadium name concerns

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association scrapped a controversial resolution that would have challenged the Board of Trustees decision to keep Jerry Richardson’s name on the football stadium. Instead, SGA will conduct an “investigation” of student concerns.

The Stadium Inquiry Act calls for SGA to survey the student population on the issue and then, depending on the results, move forward with a message to the board.

Allegations of racial slurs and sexual misconduct surfaced against the former Carolina Panthers owner in December. Following an investigation by the NFL which resulted in a $2.75 million fine, UNC Charlotte officials announced in August the Board of Trustees had unanimously decided to honor the naming rights agreement.

Richardson is in an agreement with the university to pay annual increments of $1 million from 2013, when the team was established, until 2022. In return, the stadium reps his name.

At the last Senate meeting on Aug. 30, senators read a resolution which, if passed, would have publicly stated the organization was against the board’s decision. That bill was cut from the agenda. Instead, the Student Inquiry Act passed with a stipulation to change a word in the text from “petition” to “poll.” SGA will begin the process of surveying students, which Matthew Basel, the bill’s sponsor, said will not be an “overnight process.”

“This is a very neutral bill,” said Basel. “It’s not suggesting that we are condoning Jerry Richardson or anything like that. It’s simply stating that we want to look into it ourselves.”

The resolution reads of a “state of sensitivity” and provides examples of the protests against UNC Chapel Hill’s Silent Sam and a Duke University building named for Julian Carr, who was a white supremacist.

In a room filled with cameras and reporters, Niayai Lavien opened the Senate meeting with a statement regarding the board’s closed session in which they reached their consensus. As student body president, she serves as the sole student on the 13-member board.

“A variety of viewpoints were expressed in the meeting,” she said. “In the end, the Board of Trustees believe that it was in the best interest of the university, including the student body, to maintain the naming agreement.”

A school policy states if an individual for whom a facility is named engages in conduct injurious to the reputation of the university, the name may be removed without legal consequences; However, that policy, formed in 2016, predates the 2013 naming agreement with Richardson.

According to the Sports Illustrated report which revealed details of Richardson’s allegations, at least four former Panthers employees received financial settlements for their silence. It describes “Jean Day” on Fridays when Richardson would ask female employees to turn around so he could admire and make comments. He was also said to have used racial slurs against an African-American scout.

Following the allegations, Richardson announced plans to sell the team. David Tepper bought it in July for $2.275 billion.

The majority of Richardson’s fine will be donated to organizations that address race and gender-based issues.

UNC Charlotte community debates on social media Jerry Richardson Stadium name

Jerry Richardson Stadium. NT File Photo.

The UNC Charlotte Student Senate, which acts as the representatives of the student body, will consider passing a resolution Thursday that would push back on the Board of Trustees decision to keep Jerry Richardson’s name on the football stadium.

Questions of whether the former Carolina Panthers owner’s name would remain have been up in the air since December when allegations of racial slurs and sexual misconduct against Richardson surfaced. In August, UNC Charlotte officials announced the Board of Trustees had unanimously decided to honor the naming rights agreement in a private teleconference.

Students, alumni and fans have taken to social media to voice their opinions. Here’s what they’re saying.


Student Government to vote on resolution regarding decision to keep Jerry Richardson name on stadium

The UNC Charlotte Student Senate, which acts as the representatives of the student body, is weighing whether to push back on the Board of Trustees decision to keep Jerry Richardson’s name on the university’s football stadium.

Questions of whether the former Carolina Panthers owner’s name would remain have been up in the air since December, when allegations of racial slurs and sexual misconduct against Richardson surfaced. Following the announcement of Richardson’s $2.75 million fine by the NFL in June, UNC Charlotte officials announced in August the Board of Trustees had unanimously decided to honor the naming rights agreement.

Richardson agreed to donate $10 million to the university in return for his name on the $40 million stadium. He’s paying that in annual increments of $1 million from 2013, when the team was established, until 2022.

At its Thursday meeting, the Student Senate read a resolution which would publicly state the organization is against the board’s decision if passed. The bill will be reread and voted on at the next meeting this Thursday. It would ask the board to reconsider its decision as well as request public and open meetings be held on the issue.

Trustees reached their consensus during a closed session teleconference with its 13-members, including one student, Niayai Lavien, the student body president.

“We discussed all our options and at the end of the day, we picked the best decision that we feel like was in the best interest of the university,” Lavien said at the Senate meeting.

Kyra Durham, a senator who works in Admissions, said Niner Guides are not using Jerry Richardson’s name when referring to the stadium during campus tours.

“We don’t support the fact that he did what he did,” she added.

A school policy reads if an “individual for whom a facility is named in conduct that is injurious to the reputation of the university,” the name may be removed.

Also on the public’s mind was whether the 13-foot statue of Richardson would stay outside the Bank of America Stadium entrance. David Tepper, the new Carolina Panthers owner, says his purchase agreement included a requirement the statue not be moved.

At least four former Panthers employees received financial settlements for their silence, according to a Sports Illustrated report that revealed details of the allegations. It describes “Jean Day” on Fridays when Richardson would ask female employees to turn around so he could admire and make comments. He was also said to have used racial slurs against an African-American scout.

Following the allegations, Richardson announced plans to sell the team. Tepper bought it in July for $2.275 billion.

An NFL statement said the investigation found “no information” that would “discredit the claims made or that would undermine the veracity of the employees who made those claims.”

The majority of Richardson’s fine will be donated to organizations that address race and gender-based issues.

Campus construction update: New halls, more parking and other projects


Photos by Alexandria Sands.

Construction on several large, multi-million dollar projects ramped up over the summer at UNC Charlotte. Here are the new, ongoing and complete construction projects students can expect to see upon their return to campus this fall.

Health and Wellness Center will stay under construction throughout the year

A $66 million Health and Wellness Center began construction over the summer next to the Popp Martin Student Union. The 160,000-square-foot facility will include aerobic and weight training rooms, group fitness areas, courts, a pool and offices for intramural and recreational programs. The facility has been controversial among students, many of whom say the facility is unnecessary with two gyms already on campus, however, university officials say the building addresses a “current shortage of student health and wellness space.” The building is scheduled to be complete in July.

Belk Plaza offers a new hangout spot on campus

The $2 million revitalization of Belk Plaza began construction in the spring and continued over the summer. The project replaces Belk Tower, which was torn down in 2015 due to structural problems. The area will feature a “great lawn,” performance stage and a double-sided foundation once complete, which should be in the coming month.

Admissions and Visitors Center will ease tours

At the front of campus, tennis courts have been replaced with the construction of an $8 million Admissions and Visitors Center. The building will make it so potential new students and their parents find the building quickly rather than traveling to the inner core of campus for tours. That project will be complete in February.

Students move into a new Scott Hall

Students move into a new Scott Hall this fall after renovations completed this summer on the 49-year-old building. The project was originally authorized $2.25 million in late 2015, but surpassed that at a cost of $21.9 million. Renovations included new study spaces, increased privacy in bathrooms and a brick exterior to match the rest of South Village, as well as updates to mechanical, electrical, information technology and plumbing systems.

Moore and Sanford to be torn down, replaced

Moore and Sanford halls were planned to be renovated like Scott, but university officials announced a change of plans in January, saying it would be more cost effective to tear down and replace the buildings. Moore Hall residents will be relocated at the end of the fall semester so that the tower can be demolished. Sanford Hall will follow at the end of the spring semester. The two towers will be replaced with a single $58.5 million residence hall to be designed by the same company as Levine Hall. The building, which will house somewhere between 750 and 800 students, is expected to be complete by September 2020.

Union Deck expansion adds more parking

Parking near the Student Union was increasingly difficult last year when Lot 18 closed to make way for two major construction projects, one of which was the $14 million Union Deck expansion. The expansion, which wraps up this month, is adding 570 highly-requested parking spaces to the structure’s west end. It will both add new spots and make up for lost ones due to the Health and Wellness Center.

$101M science building to break ground next month

Ground breaks on a $101 million science building in September. The facility will house instructional classrooms and research labs. Project completion is expected to be in November 2020, with an anticipated occupancy date of late 2020. Its being built on the corner of Mary Alexander and Craver Roads where the Parking and Transportation Services and Facilities Operations offices are. Those operations will relocate in September to a new, shared building next door to the light rail terminal and North Deck.

SURVIVAL GUIDE: Light rail 101

Congratulations! You picked UNC Charlotte as your school, which means you are enrolled at one of the few universities in the country with a train on campus. With just your student ID, you have the power to travel to some the best parts of Charlotte — NoDa, Uptown and South End — without ever getting in a car. The light rail may seem intimidating at first, but follow these steps and you’ll be riding like a pro by the second week of classes.

Don’t forget your student ID. 

Your ID will get you on and off the light rail with no problems. Students pay $25 per semester as part of their tuition for an all-access pass on light rail, trolley and the majority of Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) transit. When conductors ask to see your ticket, you will show them your ID.

Occasionally you won’t be asked for a ticket during your ride, however, you don’t want to be caught empty-handed when they do. If you’re bringing non-students, make sure they pay at the kiosks for the $2.20 one-way or $4.40 round-trip ticket.

Download the Charlotte light rail app.

The Charlotte light rail app lets you know when the train is arriving and departing from its 26 stations. During the day, the light rail stops on campus every eight minutes. This app becomes more useful at night when the light rail only makes stops every 20 or so minutes. Make sure you hop on before the service stops around 1:50 p.m. to avoid an expensive Uber ride.

Tip: The UNC Charlotte Next Ride app lets you track on-campus buses that can take you to the station from different parts of campus.

Know where to go. Here are the Niner Times recommendations.

Food Truck Friday

Station: East/West Boulevard

Every Friday, food trucks line up in Sycamore Brewing’s lot from 5-10 p.m. The event has outdoor seating and live music. Trucks vary depending on the night, but some of the regulars include the grilled cheese truck Papi Queso, taco truck Tin Kitchen and Gyro Twins.

Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center

Station: Charlotte Transportation Center (CTC)/Arena

NBA season starts up again in October, not too long after school starts. Charlotte Hornet’s games at the Spectrum Center are an affordable way to show some Queen City spirit. Plus, with the light rail, you don’t even have to pay for parking. In years past, they’ve sold tickets to college students for $10 if they were bought at the ticket both within the 90 minutes before the game. Their college rush deal for this year is TBA.

Find a new study spot (other than Atkins)

Station: 25th Street or CTC/Arena

If you’re tired of the Atkins Library scenery, there are some amazing coffee shops along the light rail to study at. Get off at 25th Street and walk over to Amélie’s French Bakery. This 24/7 café is perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee and pastry at one of their many tables. If you’re planning on making it an all-day study sash, they also serve sandwiches, soups and salads.

A little further down the line, hop off at CTC/Arena Station and walk over to Coco and the Director to enjoy an atmosphere that encourages you to spend hours there cranking out work — either at a table or on the stadium-style seats with pillows and bean bags. If you get tired of laptops and textbooks, there’s board games and books for customers to enjoy.

Be on the lookout for upcoming events

Always be looking out for festivals, concerts and other upcoming events. Last semester, when light rail was first operating, students rode to the St. Patrick’s Day festival, March for Our Lives, NCAA basketball tournaments and 49er baseball games in Uptown at the BB&T Ballpark.

Here are some free upcoming festivals to put on your calendar:

Charlotte Pride Fest in Uptown – Aug. 18-19

Station: CTC/Arena

Yiasou Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral – Sept. 6-9

Station: East/West Boulevard

Freedom in the Park Music and Arts Festival at Freedom Park – Sept. 22-24

Station: East/West Boulevard and take a shuttle to the festival for $2 per rider

Hola Charlotte Festival in Uptown – Oct. 6

Station: 7th Street

SURVIVAL GUIDE: Where to eat when eating off campus

Price’s Chicken Coop. Photo by Alexandria Sands.

On-campus eating is not half bad. SoVi is actually pretty great. We have Chick-fil-A, Bojangles’ and my personal favorite, Panda Express. But there are days when you want to venture off campus just for fun. In that case, check out these two options.

Option 1: Cheap, close and good

These are the local spots “where all the college kids go” because they’re cheap and sometimes have student specials.

Monterrey Mexican Restaurant

Located behind the Harris Teeter on University City Blvd, Monterrey is your typical Mexican restaurant, but it’s consistently good and you get a sit-down meal for roughly $10 plus tip. Gather with a group of friends — maybe your new roommates — and chat over a bowl of chips and salsa. Most students go for the $9.99 Special 49ers ACP, an entree featuring grilled chicken over Mexican rice covered in queso.

Kabuto Japanese Steak House

Also behind Harris Teeter, Kabuto is the spot on Wednesday and Thursdays for their half-off sushi. You’ll get more sushi for your buck than what you’d pay at a grocery store. A half-off roll is around $3-4, so most people order two or three.

Macado’s

Macado’s has specials all week long, but the most popular is the 39 cent wings. This college student dream goes on Thursdays from 4-9 p.m. and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. If you aren’t a wing fan, then you have the comfort of knowing the lengthy menu also has reasonable prices on wraps, sandwiches, quesadillas and pasta dishes.

Boardwalk Billy’s

Light rail stop: J.W. Clay Boulevard/UNC Charlotte

Boardwalk Billy’s is perfect if you’re looking to make dinner a night-long event. Go here and order a burger, wings or seafood. Though, the best part about this place is its location. Right outside is a boardwalk and pond where you can rent paddles boats. Then, stroll on over to Ninety’s Ice Cream next door and get one of their instagramable deserts: cereal milkshakes, cookie dough pops and yum-ee buns (Chinese sweet buns stuffed with ice cream and coated with toppings). It’s a date.

Option 2: Charlotte’s best

If you want to venture outside university city — which is easy now, thanks to light rail — go for Option 2: all the great food Charlotte has to offer. The Queen City has some of the best food in the state. Just ask Guy Fieri; He’s a regular.

Cabo Fish Taco

Light rail stop: 36th Street (NoDa)

This is the first place that pops in my mind when people visit from out of town and want to grab a bite. Cabo Fish Taco never disappoints. The go-to meal is two tacos with a side (I recommend the spicy avocado salad). Plus, these aren’t your ordinary tacos; They’re barbecue Mahi, lemon grilled shrimp and honey soy glazed salmon. Chips and corn salsa come soon after you sit down. Also, this place is in the heart of the arts district known as NoDa, so you can admire the mural-filled walls on your walk to the restaurant.

Price’s Chicken Coop

Light rail stop: East/West Boulevard

Price’s Chicken Coop is a Charlotte icon known for serving up the best fried chicken in the state since 1962. This cash-only spot has no customer seating, so finding a spot to eat is your job. I picnicked at a nearby park I found on Apple Maps, but you’ll see people eating off the hood of their cars in the parking lot. Fried chicken meals are served with coleslaw, hushpuppies, french fries and a roll.

Midwood Smokehouse

When Barack Obama visited the Queen City in 2016, he told the crowd he loved North Carolina for its food. “In fact, I will find someplace to stop and get some food before I head back to D.C,” he said. He ended up at Midwood Smokehouse in Plaza Midwood with Hillary Clinton for some barbecue. This restaurant pulls inspiration from all across the south, from Texas to the Carolinas.

Vapiano

Light rail stop: Charlotte Transportation Center/Arena Station

This place isn’t exclusive to North Carolina, but there’s only a few in the world. If you’re exploring Uptown and want to grab an affordable Italian lunch, this is your spot. They do things slightly different here; You order your meal at a station depending on what you’re ordering (pasta, pizza, etc.) and swipe a card you get when you first enter. Then, the chef creates your dish in front of you. You take it to a seat (I like to sit outside so I can people watch in the city) and at the end of your meal, you hand the hostess your card and pay. Don’t forget to grab a cupful of free gummy bears on your way out.

Student killed after falling from party bus

Polly Miranda Rogers, a 20-year-old student, was killed Tuesday night after falling from a party bus window and then being hit by two vehicles, according to Charlotte Observer and WSOC.

The Charlotte Party Charters bus was on North Tryon Street near the intersection of Sugar Creek Road when the incident occurred at around 10:25 p.m. She fell out of the emergency window on the right side of the bus, which was driving in the left lane, and landed in the center of the street.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Rogers was studying special education and was a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha, where she served as new member assistant and as a member of the signs chair and recruitment committee. She was originally from Charlotte.

“Polly was the friendliest person you would ever meet in your life,” said chapter president Alexis Marie Burns in a statement put out by the sorority. “She could always be found in the common areas of the house greeting sisters after their day at classes and making sure their day was going great.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with memorial costs. $10,000 was raised within three hours, surpassing the $7,000 goal.

Three fraternities suspended after investigations

Greek Village. NT File Photo.

Universities across the nation have been cracking down on hazing after severe cases received national attention.

The nationwide issue has taken a toll on UNC Charlotte’s Interfraternity Council (IFC). Only 119 students signed up for IFC recruitment.

“I’ve been here for four years and that is the lowest it’s ever been,” Greg Rush, Phi Delta Theta vice president, told Niner Times in March. “I think it’s a combination of rush being pushed back and the bad publicity that IFC fraternities have gotten over the years.”

Recruitment was delayed two weeks so an “expert consultant” could work with each chapter.

“I think we’re all concerned about [the national issues] and you want to make sure that on your campus you don’t have the similar kinds of behaviors that cause those issues,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois during a Student Government Association meeting earlier this semester. “We would never discipline the Greek system as a whole based on what happened on other campuses. We choose to respond to specific examples of misbehavior by a Greek organization, which as you know, there’s a process for that.”

And a process there is. Three fraternities were suspended throughout the academic year: Delta Chi, Phi Sigma Kappa and Lambda Chi Alpha.

Here’s what they did.

Jiggling the balls

Quizzes and physical activity are a common combination of hazing. Delta Chi took it a step farther. According to an investigation by the Office of Student Conduct, a witness told investigators that while doing wall sits as a punishment for incorrect answers, pledges were instructed to extend their arms and wiggle their fingers in front of a brother’s crotch as a way to imitate “jiggling the balls.” The witness clarified; however, they never actually touched.

According to other reports, this event was in a dark room with just one lit red bulb and metal music blaring. The pledges wore white T-shirts which brothers wrote “pledge” and their numbers on in black marker. During these events, pledges were brought in one by one as a form of intimidation and were told to shotgun and chug beers and take Jell-O shots while doing their assigned exercise. One pledge told investigators he would have stopped drinking, but he was supposed to follow instructions.

Brothers also “iced” a group of pledges with a cooler of Smirnoff.

At an event called “Match Night,” pledges held matches at an angle and attempted to recite the Greek alphabet before the fire reached their fingers.

One witness said his fingernail melted into his skin, but it was still “fun.” In addition, one witness said he thought everyone was at least burned or singed.

In the report, investigators wrote of a designated “zucchini brother” who was forced to carry a zucchini at all times. However, it is unclear how long he had the zucchini.

“These actions by chapter members go against our expectations of membership and do not align with the Oath of Delta Chi,” said Delta Chi CEO Keith R. Shriver. “We will not tolerate such violations of laws, policies, and principles. The fraternity will work with local alumni, university officials and student leaders to reestablish a membership of values-based men at UNC Charlotte in the future. We are grateful for our strong partnership with UNCC, and we appreciate the university’s continuing support.”

Delta Chi was charged with hazing, providing alcohol to minors and acts of harm in the form of physical injury and fear/risk on Nov. 14. Their suspension ends Aug. 11, 2021.

The mystery of the U-Haul

Investigators heard inconsistent stories from brothers and pledges about what happened on Phi Sigma Kappa’s bid night involving the rental of a U-Haul. This led investigators to believe the men were being dishonest.

It would be a simple explanation that the rental was for removing fraternity letters, however, multiple witnesses said the fraternity moves letters themselves. In addition, the letters were supposed to be removed 10 minutes after the U-Haul was rented, which would not have allowed enough time for the letters to be removed by deadline, the investigative summary stated. One witness said it was used to move items for Cigar Night, an event held prior to the rental.

Investigators were suspicious when a witness stated blindfolds were used in the new member process.

“Being blindfolded and placed in the back of a U-Haul would cause fear,” reads the investigative summary. “Additionally, there is the risk of injury with individuals being transported in the back of a U-Haul.”

One witness said a new member was sent to the hospital for drinking, which was described as “excessive” during bid night.

Phi Sigma Kappa was suspended on April 3 and charged with hazing, providing alcohol to minors and acts of harm in the form of physical injury and fear/risk.

They will be allowed to return to campus Dec. 17, 2020.

Phi Sigma Kappa did not reply to the Niner Times’ request for comment.

Witness 54

A witness of Lambda Chi Alpha’s investigation claimed the fraternity would “haze the shit out of you.” Considering they have the longest report of the three suspended fraternities, this may be true.

According to an investigative summary, pledges were punished for incorrect quiz answers with drink and food concoctions made out of eggs, pickle juice, hot sauce, spices, mayo, tuna, oatmeal, chicken soup and mustard. Some witnesses mentioned tasting beer and vodka as well.

“People were throwing up left and right,” a witness said.

They also used physical activity to haze, including the dehumanizing task of following a laser pointer.

One witness claims he told Witness 54, who held the event at his house, to “shut it down and send the boys home,” but Witness 54 did not comply. Two witnesses said they became physically ill by looking at the hazing. One pledge had an asthma attack in the process.

Witness 54 claims he was “crushing beers” in the garage, but never provided alcohol to any of pledges. Multiple witnesses said otherwise.

Similar activities occurred at Millennium One and Kirk Farm Field on Mallard Creek Church Road in the middle of the night. The events at the field ended abruptly when a car pulled up and “spooked the brothers” and Witness 54 told the boys they only got one-third of the hazing they were supposed to get.

At a can structure event, pledges were told to chug warm or hot beer and then build a structure.

“Witness 37 stated, ‘If they’re smart, they’ll vomit,’” reads the investigative summary. “Witness 45 shared it ‘got out of hand’ with a ‘lot more screaming this year.’”

Pledges also had to clean brothers’ houses and apartments as regulated by Witness 54, provide rides, buy brothers multiple items and search for keys — that did not actually exist — with their fellow pledges.

They also had the task of recording a weekly “Bad Ass Pledge” tape and submitting it via flash drive to Witness 54. Pledges created a “Today Show” theme with a weather report by a new member wearing no pants, a porn report in which two pledges showed pictures of porn and rated porn stars, a corn report in which raw corn was consumed, a rap video, a Panther’s report and other content.

They also made “Pick Me” videos to impress brothers and raise their status in the fraternity. The videos showed them shotgunning a beer in front of their mother, jumping into ponds, proposing to random strangers, blowing up objects, smoking in the library, running from security and other similar content.

The investigation mentioned rumors of a family within the fraternity called the “Bloodbath,” who could not be initiated until they performed oral sex on a woman on her period. Although many claimed this was just a rumor, one witness confirmed, saying it must be filmed and submitted. A different witness said there is no filming involved. Other families include the “El Cartel,” who must consume jalapeños, and the “Grimy,” who eats food concoctions at Golden Corral.

Lambda Chi Alpha’s suspension runs through Jan. 29, 2018 to Aug. 14, 2023. They were charged with hazing, disruption of normal university activities, providing alcohol to minors, acts of harm in the form of physical injury and fear/risk, and failure to comply for holding unapproved events and emergency meetings.

Director of Communications at Lambda Chi Alpha Tad Lichtenauer said, “We have a zero-tolerance policy in regard to hazing.” He said the fraternity had no comment on specific allegations.

They also faced charges for fabricating stories, which was obvious to investigators when answers were “word for word,” such as stating Witness 54 is a “really professional guy.”

They later apologized for being dishonest.