Daniel Watson


Thousands visit greenhouse to witness blooming of 10-year-old plant

“Rotney the Magnifiscent” is currently blooming in the UNC Charlotte greenhouse. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

Wake up and smell the… Rotney? “Rotney the Magnifiscent,” that is.

Thursday at 5 p.m., the Titan Arum Flower reached full bloom for the first time in 10 years. Thousands are expected to visit McMillan Greenhouse to catch a deadly whiff of Rotney, nicknamed the “corpse flower” for its notorious funk. Titan Arums are also the largest inflorescence in the world, as Rotney is expected to reach an impressive 5-foot-5-inch.

“It’s going to be like a dead raccoon — Not at your feet, but at your face,” said Botanical Gardens Director Dr. Jeff Gillman. “It’s almost six feet, but until you see it, you don’t get it. You can read all the facts, but until you confront that thing in person — when it’s really stinky — you don’t know what it’s like.

“A good comparison is when you’re watching American football on TV; Then if you’ve ever met an NFL linemen in person and said, ‘You know I’ve seen you on TV, but I didn’t realize how huge and big he is.’”

Rotney is only the third Titan Arum flower in the history of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens. Rotney and his twin, Odie, were welcomed to McMillan Greenhouse back in 2008. Odie bloomed in 2015. The shyer Rotney took an extra three years to make a guest appearance.

Christian Hoover, the garden’s marketing manager, has been tracking Rotney closely for some time now.

“We first noticed that Rotney was putting up a bud in early March,” she said. “About mid-March is when we realized that this could be a flower instead of a leaf that’s coming up, and then it’s been growing since then. It went from around 10 inches in the beginning of April to where it is right now which is five-foot-five. This is the mature height of this plant.”

In some cases the odor can travel up to a half mile-away. Thankfully for nearby residence halls, the intense odor only lasts for 12 hours. Still, the bloom will stay open (with a much lighter odor) for only 1-2 days. The plant must reach 10-15 years of age before it blooms for the first time and then blooms every 3-5 years thereafter. The Titan Arum has been labeled an endangered plant from the rainforest island of Sumatra.

“Rotney is actually becoming quite rare in the wild because of deforestation and people poaching these plants,” said Hoover. “So the work that we’re doing here at the botanical gardens in cultivating these plants is very important work to preserve this species.”

McMillan Greenhouse will be open Friday until 7:30 p.m., when the bloom is expected to close. Don’t miss your opportunity to catch “Rotney the Magnifiscent” in action.

“We think of it as a gateway plant,” said Gillman. “It’s something that can introduce the average Joe into plants because it’s a really cool attraction. So please come to visit Rotney but when you do be sure to check out our other plants too. We have 10 acres of gardens here, 5,000 square feet under glass.

“We just want people to come and enjoy plants, the crazy diversity in the plant kingdom and appreciate all that these things do for us.”

A live stream is available on the Gardens’ website.

Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

Founder of Girls Who Code visits campus

Fatma Mili, dean of the College of Computing and Informatics, moderates conversation with Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, at the Civic Speaker Series. Photo by Joseph Leocadio.

On April 26, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, addressed the UNC Charlotte community as part of the university’s Civic Speaker Series. This Bank of America sponsored lecture series was created to bring distinguished leaders to UNC Charlotte to engage in discussions of regional and national importance.

The event was held in the Popp Martin Student Union theater. The audience, primarily women, filled two-thirds of the seating area.

Girls Who Code aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science. The organization is working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.

Fatma Mili, dean of the College of Computing and Informatics, moderated the conversation with Saujani.

“I was more than honored to lead the discussion with Reshma,” said Mili. “The issue of increasing the percentage of women in computing is extremely important for us. Girls Who Code serves as a pipeline to reaching them because it reaches across all ethnic groups and socioeconomic groups.”

Saujani, also an established author and lawyer, is the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. Thanks in large part to her political roots, Girls Who Code was born back in 2012.

During Saujani’s run for U.S. Congress, she noticed that schools along her campaign route lacked girls in computer science classrooms. The organization runs programs during the academic year teaching high school girls computing skills like programming, robotics and web design.

“Only 10,000 girls graduated with computer science degrees last year, of which less than 0.1 percent were black and Latino,” said Saujani. “Since I started Girls Who Code, I’ve mandated that half of my classrooms are filled with girls below the poverty line, and half of them are black and Latino because it is very important to be honest about the inequity that we have in this country and the opportunity that I have as a leader to change that.”

Saujani challenged the audience to think critically about the societal pressures that young girls and women face on a daily basis.

“We don’t like strong women in our country and at the same time we really love alpha men,” stated Saujani. “It doesn’t matter what they say or how they behave; we see that as leadership. I think this has happened with computing as well. Our media has birthed a ‘brogrammer,’ even though the first programmer was a woman. We intentionally and culturally shifted the truth to a reality that we wanted to put forth. There are T-shirts that say ‘I’m allergic to Algebra’ and you don’t see this in other countries like India, China and Nigeria. That’s why the United States has such an imbalance in terms of gender in the workplace.”

After half an hour, Mili accepted questions from the audience. Saujani’s biggest advice to young female leaders was to stop chasing perfection. She explained it’s okay to screw up a little here and there.

“If you haven’t failed at anything then you haven’t done anything yet, so take a big risk,” she said. “Open yourself up to critical feedback. If I give a speech or something, I want people to tell me how I could’ve done it better. I always want to live right there at the point of getting better.”

Jordan Harris, associate director in the Department of Community Relations, played a key role in organizing the lecture.

“It was a great opportunity for our students, faculty and staff and even community members to come out and hear the importance of women leadership roles and the role that we all play in making sure that women are confident and feel secure in the job place,” she said.

Harris is enthusiastic about more speaker series to come and encourages the student body to take advantages of the opportunities.

“We would love to see a larger student presence because the speakers that we’re bringing are relevant and timely,” she said.

Niner Central is now open

Niner Central is located in Cone. Photo by Darius Simms.

RIP to the candy counter and hello Niner Central. Don’t worry, you can still satisfy that sweet tooth and more at UNC Charlotte’s newest one-stop shop for administrative services.

On March 13, Niner Central opened to the UNC Charlotte student body and held a grand opening celebration on March 21. Niner Central is a single location in Cone Center for 49ers to go for services related to registration, transcripts, financial aid, student accounts, billing and tuition, academic calendars and more.

“Niner Central is the place to go when you don’t know where to go,” said Kimberly W. Laney, director of Niner Central. “It’s a warm, welcoming environment with friendly, approachable and professional cross trained staff available to serve our students.”

Niner Central is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with online services available at ninercentral.uncc.edu.

Every four years, N. Raisman & Associates conducts a study to find out why students leave a college or university. In the most recent study, 24 percent of students stated that the university provided poor service and 20 percent said the university doesn’t care.

Niner Central has placed itself in the students’ shoes. It vows to provide extraordinary customer service, build rapport with students and create an enhanced college experience that results in a lifelong connection with UNC Charlotte.

“I used Niner Central to help [find] answers about my financial aid and resolve my issues,” said sophomore Veronica Stringfield. “They were fast and really effective. I would definitely use them in the future.”

Their main goal is to enhance ability for students and parents to resolve administrative issues without shuffling between offices and departments to perform different transactions.

Senior Abigale Godwin has been waiting for something like Niner Central to arrive her entire collegiate career.

“I feel like Niner Central really does centralize all the major UNC Charlotte services such as Financial Aid, Registrar making it convenient to just come to one location,” said Godwin. “The staff that manages the front desk were well equipped to answer all the questions I had concerning my issue and left me feeling less lost from when I first walked up to the counter.”

Local architect firm gives students tour of Uptown projects

Students from architecture course pose for an on-site photo at the RailYard project.  Photo courtesy of Charles Trowell.

At the base of every great building is a solid foundation. For a considerable number of employees at The RBA Group, Inc., that foundation is UNC Charlotte.

Charles Trowell, an associate architect at the firm, received his bachelor of architecture from UNC Charlotte in 2017. Trowell is staying true to his 49er roots with his latest inception.

“Coming out of school, because architecture is kind of a studio-based thing, a lot of the work that you do is really just on paper. So there’s sort of a gap between academia and then trying to translate that to the actual workforce,” said Trowell. “You kind of get thrown to the wolves, essentially, when you get out in the field. I still have good ties with UNC Charlotte, so I just told them like, ‘Hey, I see the opportunity that you all are missing. Give these students something that I didn’t get or we didn’t get when we were in undergrad.’”

Trowell’s blueprint hopped right off the page and into action.

On March 13, David Thaddeus and students from his Structure of the Everyday course visited The RailYard project. Thaddeus, also a registered architect, has been a professor of structures and architectural design at UNC Charlotte since 1999.

The RailYard is one of the most anticipated commercial spaces under construction in the Carolinas. The eight-story, two building project will include 300,000 square feet of creative office space, an outdoor plaza, rooftop park, ground-level restaurants and incredible views of Uptown, South End and Dilworth. The $100 million project is expected to open in January 2019.

“The most important thing is they get to see what they’re drawing,” Thaddeus said. “Getting to see the stuff and how it goes together is just an invaluable lesson that they don’t get in school. RBA is giving back to the community in many ways by hiring UNC Charlotte students and mentoring students. Their engagement and involvement in the professional community is the true definition of leadership.”

The site visit consisted of a brief overview and on-site view of the project, in which students were able to meet with the contractor and see steel going up. The visit ended back at the RBA office where the staff held a networking open house for the students to ask questions and learn more about what the architecture firm does.

UNC Charlotte senior Maura Witzel appreciated the real world interaction.

“The opportunity to engage so fully with the professionals in and around our intended field has been both invaluable and relevant,” said Witzel. “Not only have we seen the physical nature of architecture and its construction, we’ve learned so much about the collaboration that brings it all together. It’s really important in deciding the next step in our education and careers.”

Fellow classmate Shane Zimmerman thoroughly enjoyed the inner workings of a large-scale building.

“Having the opportunity while in school to visit job sites is extremely beneficial in understanding the process of construction,” said Zimmerman. “It also makes it very clear to see all the parts that we as students heading into the workforce will be drawing and detailing. What better way to learn and understand a connection than by seeing it be put together.”

Trowell believes his initiative will improve the network between the collegiate and corporate world for years to come, especially for 49ers.

“We’re primarily creating a bridge and getting a little more notoriety for UNC Charlotte,” he said. “Now their architecture program is bigger than NC State’s and we’re in a city that is growing crazy fast, so really making that connection is sort of a no brainer for me. We have a company with all these UNC Charlotte grads, so why not cultivate these relationships and get a little more strategic about giving the new students better resources and better access to opportunities that they wouldn’t get otherwise?”

IFC calls for SOS following national hazing deaths

Last December, Maxwell Gruver, an 18-year-old freshman at Louisiana State University, died during a Phi Delta Theta ritual in which he was forced to drink alcohol. An autopsy found his blood alcohol level was .495 at the time of his death, which is more than six times the legal limit.

Gruver is one of four fraternity pledges who lost their lives to hazing in 2017. Recent incidents have placed a national spotlight on Greek life and sparked much discussion. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) executive board at UNC Charlotte has taken this influential time to address its own members.

“The main goal was education,” said IFC President and Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother Jake Curtis. “Our idea was that we really can’t bring in new members into our community if our current members are not prepared or educated enough to do so.”

Within the past year, IFC has lost four chapters: Delta Chi, Lambda Chi Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon. Phi Sigma Kappa is interimly suspended and has been required to cease activities both on and off campus. If suspended, that would mean 25 percent of UNC Charlotte’s Greek life was suspended due to hazing related incidents such as providing alcohol to minors, physical injury, disruption of University Activities and failure to comply with the Office of Student Conduct.

“Hopefully this will open up some honest conversations that the IFC executive board can have with these chapters one-on-one, to kind of talk about what problems they’re seeing within their chapter and the community and how to address those, specifically with hazing,” said Curtis.

The discussions resulted in a delay of IFC recruitment for the spring semester.

“The goal was not to push back recruitment, the goal was to bring in an expert consultant. Due to the time that it took for him to go to each chapter and the community as a whole, recruitment ended up being pushed back a couple of weeks,” said Curtis.

Phi Delta Theta Vice President, Greg Rush, acknowledged the fact that the national attention has hit home for the Greek community at UNC Charlotte.

“It’s affecting us a lot. There [were] only 119 kids signed up for IFC recruitment for the spring. I’ve been here for four years and that is the lowest it’s ever been. I think it’s a combination of rush being pushed back and the bad publicity that IFC fraternities have gotten over the years.”

Despite the media portrayal, UNC Charlotte administration believes that IFC is headed in the right direction – especially Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Jonathan Adams.

“Our IFC has done an outstanding job in providing opportunities for members of our fraternities to have sincere conversations about the culture of the organizations and the alignment of decisions and values,” he said. “By continuing those conversations and helping members of the community better understand the policy, IFC and the Office of Student Conduct can collaborate to create an environment centered on responsibility, accountability, development and community.”

First-year students find “SAFE” haven

First-year mentor and Senior Paris Barnes poses for a flick with her mentees James Carrington, Kayla Mero, Karina McMillian, Fernando Cabrera, and Andrew Hund. Photo courtesy of Andrea Age.

Studies show first-generation students are less likely than their peers to graduate in four years or to graduate at all. The Student Advising for Freshman Excellence (SAFE) program is doing its part to close that gap. SAFE is a peer mentoring program designed to help students successfully transition from high school to college.

“Peer mentoring works when you do it right,” said SAFE Program Director Jarrell Anderson. “We have a profound belief in the power of mentoring. It’s something that has been invaluable to the experiences of hundreds of students on this campus and has launched their leadership journey into other places. The E in excellence is not taken lightly.”

Since beginning his tenure at UNC Charlotte back in 2014, Anderson has seen the program grow tremendously.

“We’ve been able to offer more services to students now than at any other point in the program’s history,” said Anderson. “We have 257 students that we serve, which is unheard of for this program. Before I got here it teetered between 70 and 80 students. My first year we went to 125, my second 158 and then now we’re at 257. We have also pushed the student grade point average from a 2.8 to a 3.2 in just a short time.”

SAFE meets its three aims, mentoring, academic support, and social networking, through a variety of mediums.

Mentoring – SAFE Counselors provide ongoing support for students dealing with academic, personal and social issues.

Academic Support – SAFE has a lasting partnership with the Office of Multicultural Academic Services who provide personal tutoring services that are free of charge for all program participants.

Social Networking – Students participate in monthly SAFE socials, multicultural events and bimonthly community service projects.

SAFE standout and mentee Jada Dove has benefited from the unique support system of upperclassmen.

“Since my mentor pushes me to do my best every day, I have grown in my confidence in the classroom, getting out of my comfort zone and networking through the program by going to the events. I continue to grow everyday with the help of the SAFE program which has become like a family for me. It motivates me every day.”

Freshman mentee Jamar Poston acknowledges the fact that SAFE is rooting him on from the sidelines.

“Being able to have a mentor helps a lot because I can ask them anything and they will answer it to their best ability. As a mentee, I feel like all the mentors believe in me and want me to succeed. Not to mention the fact that I basically met all my friends during SAFE and continue to make new ones.”

The SAFE staff is comprised of one graduate student, four student coordinators and 36 counselors.

“So not only are we able to reach more first-year students, but it also creates more leadership opportunities for aspiring mentors,” said Anderson. “The more students that we get, means the more mentors that we need. It’s not only about the first year experience, it’s also about those subsequent years in the leadership experience of those students because they are allotted more opportunities to lead first year students, molding themselves into better leaders.

Senior Amaya Pressley, a first-time counselor, learned a lot about herself and her mentees last semester and plans to do the same this year.

To be given the opportunity to help someone not make the mistakes I’ve made in the past has been very humbling and rewarding,” said Pressley. “Whenever I get to sit down with a mentee and they tell me about how I helped them in a class, or in life with advice or how me just listening to them means something to them is the best feeling ever. SAFE is a great program for incoming students and if given the opportunity, each student should take advantage.”

Mentoring matters.

Zero waste initiative expands to Halton Arena

Photo by Katelynn Pennington.

The Zero Waste Program, a collaborative initiative between the Sustainability Office and Recycling, was piloted at three basketball games on Jan. 11, Jan. 27 and Feb. 2 in hopes the program would expand to Halton Arena.

At each game, fans connected with staff and volunteers at an informational booth located near concessions. There were three different basketball hoops, each labeled either compost, landfill or recycling.

“We engage a lot with the smaller kids,” said University Sustainability Coordinator Tyler Sytsma. “We have these little flashcards, they pick one and try to identify whether that item goes into the compost, landfill or recycling hoop. We also ask them to keep their parents accountable and make sure they put the stuff in the right bin.”

Fans, in their best Jon Davis impression, shoot in the baskets and try to win prizes and other 49er knick knacks.

Back in 2011, the Student Government Association (SGA) voted “Zero Waste” into place for Charlotte football. This past season, 80 percent of everything discarded at the games ended up being either composted or recycled.

“We’re learning the ways that we can go about capturing all the recycling and compost we can and it’s looking like it’s very realistic to do so. That’s why we’ve been going at this because we want to keep setting ambitious goals for the Queen City of what we’re achieving from a university standpoint,” said Sytsma.

Sytsma envisions an agreement between the athletics department, the recycling department and SGA so that the university can effectively make Halton Arena become zero waste.

UNC Charlotte hosts ninth annual ‘49ers 4 Life’ blood drive

49ers 4 Life blood drive held in the Halton Arena. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

On Jan. 23, the American Red Cross held the ninth annual 49ers 4 Life blood drive at UNC Charlotte. The blood drive took place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Barnhardt Student Activity Center.

Maya Franklin, external communications manager for the American Red Cross Biomedical Services, was excited for another chance to partner with the UNC Charlotte community.

“We’re really excited to be working with UNC Charlotte again. There’s so many student organizations that get involved. This year, we’re aiming to collect more than 650 blood donations.”

According to the American Red Cross, this blood drive comes as the organization faces a winter blood shortage. Winter storms this month have forced many blood drives to cancel causing thousands of blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. Blood is urgently needed now so patients can continue to receive the life-saving treatments they need. Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as they are coming in.

“It’s important because one blood donation can save up to three lives,” said Franklin. “There are constantly patients who are in need of blood transfusions. The only way for them to get that potentially life-saving treatment is through blood donations. Obviously, there is no substitute for blood, you can’t get it anywhere else but from our volunteers who regularly and bravely offer themselves to help save a life, the life of a stranger.”

732 pints were given, potentially saving 2,196 lives.

Student donates blood. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

Donors were compensated with a specially designed Red Cross T-shirt and food from local Jet’s Pizza and Appalachian Cookie Company.

Senior Briana Teaver is no stranger to the needle. After giving blood on multiple occasions, she has learned that some things never change.

“I always pass out when I give blood. I mean it’s pretty normal but that one was a lot more intense. But I do strongly suggest eating the [Appalachian Cookie Company] sugar cookie for comfort,” she said.

Freshman Cam Russ is new to both UNC Charlotte and giving blood.

“You know that was my first time giving blood and it actually wasn’t that bad,” he said. “I didn’t believe them when they said your blood turns blue once it hits the air, but I could actually see it as it passed through the tube.”

Senior Zach Zamin was very happy to give back, describing ‘49ers 4 Life’ in two words.

“Saving lives.”

UNC Charlotte honors veterans

Veterans Week concluded on Nov. 11 with the UNC Charlotte Military Appreciation Football Game. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Veteran Services Office and the Student Veterans of America sponsored a weeklong celebration to honor veterans Nov. 6 through Nov. 11.

Curtis Chancy, president of Student Veterans Association, didn’t task the week long celebration alone.

“It was kind of a combined effort from all of the work studies, Student Veterans Association and the Dean of Students Office. It wasn’t one sole planner,” she said.

The Student Veterans Association also occupies a veteran’s lounge in the Popp Martin Student Union across from the 49er card office.

“The lounge is a necessary space. It gives service members the camaraderie that we all miss once we get out,” Chancey said. “It allows them to regain that and it’s a study space. The majority of us all take the same majors so it’s a good way to stay in the loop with your professor. Here, we actually do get high traffic. Veterans are here at any given time, probably a hundred a day.”

Throughout the week of Nov. 6, the campus community was encouraged to write a message of appreciation on the Veterans Honor Wall in the Popp Martin Student Union Rotunda. UNC Charlotte has a tradition of supporting the success of student veterans going back to its origins as the Charlotte Center in 1946.

The 2017 veteran’s celebration included a week of events:

Monday, Nov. 6

  • Camo Classic and BBQ

Tuesday, Nov. 7

  • Military Diversity Movie Night

Wednesday, Nov. 8

  • The U.S. Army College Leadership Tour
  • A Warrior Breakfast

Thursday, Nov. 9

  • The U.S. Army College Leadership Tour
  • A Roll Call Remembrance Student in which veterans remembered North Carolina service members who lost their lives in the “Global War on Terror”

The weeklong celebration concluded on Nov. 11 with the UNC Charlotte Military Appreciation Football Game versus Middle Tennessee State.

Recruiting Operations Officer Rick Nash has been with the Army ROTC Department at UNC Charlotte for nine years. The week long celebration has proved to be a win-win for Nash, especially the U.S. Army College Leadership Tours that took place on Wednesday and Thursday.

“I can talk to any student on campus about the opportunities available to them, specifically scholarships or the commissioning aspect of the army,” Nash said.

Nash emphasizes leadership development during his semester classes and labs.

“It’s very eye opening on how much a student matures over a four year period,” he said. “They go from being this shy freshman to the top leader in our senior class leading students with confidence. I think that’s the biggest thing that I love watching every day.”

Tuition and Fees Advisory Board votes on tuition increases for 2018-2019

Tuition Fees and Advisory board discusses proposed budgets. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board convened last week to discuss and vote on proposed budget recommendations for the 2018-2019 academic year.

The board is a body of student leaders, appointed by Chancellor Philip Dubois and Student Body President Tracey Allsbrook, to hear student fee increase requests from a variety of campus administrators and advocate for student financial interests.

The Tuition and Advisory Board Meetings were open to the public and students were encouraged to attend.

The first meeting was held on Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. on the first floor of the Harris Alumni Center. Representatives from departments requesting fee increases were given the opportunity to submit a plan of action for how they would use the money. Students were able to question a department’s reasoning.

This meeting lasted for three hours, ending at 7 p.m..

On Nov. 9, Allsbrook welcomed all those in attendance to the second meeting at 6 p.m. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Kevin Bailey assisted in the moderation of the evening.

The meeting concluded at a little before 9 p.m.

During the second meeting, the assembly of students collaborated to vote on the increase or decrease of fees in four important departments: Health Services, Student Union Operations, University Recreation Center (UREC) and Education and Technology.

Health Services received a $11 fee increase, $4 more than their asking price. The vote was nearly unanimous. Thirteen of the 14 committee members voted in favor of the increase, with one abstain.

Student Union Operations made history Thursday night. For the first time since its opening in 2009, the now Popp Martin Student Union will receive an increase of $3, bringing the static $5 up to $8.

UREC was approved for a student fee of $15. Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jim Hoppa graced the select group with a never before seen promotional teaser that grants the viewer a virtual tour of the Health and Wellness Center projected to be open to the UNC Charlotte community in fall 2019.

At the beginning of the second meeting, Allsbrook placed Education and Technology at the end of the discussion board due to a debate between two potential fee increases for nearly an hour. After great deliberation the fee of $23 was approved, eight to six. This was $12 short of the department’s request. Many members of the committee agreed that the department could not provide a through breakdown of the requested $35.

At the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that a combined student fee of $57 will be presented to Dubois.

The following departments didn’t request fee increases: Athletics, Playing Field Maintenance, Recreational Services, Student Activity Center and Venue Management, Cone Operations, and Student Fee Commission.

Bailey, who is nearing his four-month anniversary with Niner Nation, was pleased with the proceedings of the previous week.

“I am impressed with the level of questioning and thought that the students put behind this process. As well as how they worked with each other or rebutted each other in a way that was insightful and in a way that didn’t necessarily “poo poo” or invalidate someone else’s point. If we could replicate this conversation on campus for other things, we would be miles, even light years ahead,” he said.

Inaugural Charlotte Kids Fest finds home at UNC Charlotte

A child plays at Charlotte Kids Fest. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

On Oct. 28, hundreds of kids from all walks of life stepped onto a college campus for the first time to participate in the inaugural Charlotte Kid Fest. The merry-go-round event occupied the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) portion of campus from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The fest included an in-house DJ, food trucks, apparel vendors, stilt men and even a miniature trolley.

The mission of the Charlotte Kids Fest is to inspire and motivate young minds with professional artistic, creative, educational and playful experiences that transform a child’s understanding of the world around them and what is possible.

“One little boy, about three or four, asked if this building [Bioinformatics] was my house. I said that is not my house, that’d be a very big house. I told him it is a school building for big kids. His counter was ‘when I get to be a big kid, do you think I could go to school there?’ That was a pretty big moment,” said Darlene Heater, executive director for University City Partners.

University City Partners, hosts of the fest, summoned Third Rock Events to plan the highly anticipated day.

According to Heater, Charlotte Kids Fest had been on her dream list for some time now.

“We were looking for activities that could invite the public back into University City now that the construction is getting cleaned up. I met Shawn Cosner, Third Rock Events president, and he had some familiarity with the kids festival that he worked on up in Norfolk, VA and he said we should bring that concept to University City.”

Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) was divided into four zones: learn, play, create and discover. The play zone featured yoga, hula hoop class, and a dance party. The ACEing Autism station was a popular ticket at the fest. Director of Marketing and Community Development for ACEing Autism Nils Weldy manned the station.

“We’re an organization that uses tennis to connect with kids with Autism,” Weldy said. “We’re helping with their hand-eye coordination, physical fitness and really improving their social skills. We’ve been steady all day. I think we’re introducing tennis to a lot of kids too which is cool.”

The Charlotte men’s and women’s tennis team also assisted at the ACEing Autism station by instructing kids how to play and even got some cardio in themselves.

The learn zone consisted of mainly UNC Charlotte departments and offices. The school of nursing had tents all along Snyder Road. University Sustainability Officer Michael Lizotte was excited to be amongst the Saturday fun.

“The partners wanted something in the learning area that was going to be about sustainability, so we decided to cover that. We’ve got a nice clean pile recycling and trash here that kids can sort out for themselves and hopefully teach their parents a thing or two about how to recycle in Charlotte,” Lizoette said.

The create zone provided kids with tutorials for balloon creations, magic and juggling. Thanks to Digi-Bridge, kids were able to build their own space stations and castles at the lego-building center. Digi-Bridge Operations Manager Zach McCray viewed the fest as a win-win for everybody involved.

“We’re more than happy to come be part of this and touch the lives of more families in Charlotte. We’ve been able to inform more people about what we do for the community and it’s been a great opportunity,” McCray said.

The discover zone was for the musically inclined as kids were able to test their skills with the Charlotte Symphony, Musical Minds and UNC Charlotte Reel.

Heater deemed the fest a huge success.

“People all day long, in and out, kids just running having such a good time. It’s going to be a lot of exhausted kids tonight,” Heater said. “You can see kids just hanging over their parents shoulders as their leaving and they are just wiped out. It has just exceeded my expectations, an unbelievable event.”

Charlotte Kids Fest is here. UNC Charlotte might just be onto something.

Children play at Charlotte Kids Fest. Photo by Chimena Ihebuzor.

Homecoming week kicks off Sunday

Homecoming football game last year. NT File Photo.

Midterm exam scantrons and blue books have been purchased, the declining balance is swiftly declining and pumpkin spice is trending on Twitter. All signaling the month of October, which could mean only one thing for UNC Charlotte- homecoming is among us.

For the past four years students, faculty and staff have come together to welcome back alumni to our great institution. At the current rate of construction it seems as if the university creates a new look for itself year in and year out. Rapid expansion has caused the university to appear unrecognizable to most alumni upon their return for the homecoming festivities.

Senior and psychology major Kevin Fauntleroy, the 2017 committee chair, stressed the importance of homecoming at the institution.

“It is important because it is the time of a traditional celebration where students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and family all come together to indulge in the pride of a university and appreciate the set traditions and unifying environment it provides.”

Fauntleroy, a member of the 2016 Royal Court, has his eyes set on the slew of upcoming events, especially the football game.

“I am most excited for the tailgating because it is a time where you have everyone together no if they’re young or older. Ever since the creation of our football team, I have seen the sense of pride and eagerness to be in the stands, rooting on our team to go out and stake their claim for a win.”

Junior political science and computer science double major Georgina Boateng, the 2017 court chair, has fresh aspirations for this year’s Royal Court.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of work into changing the role of the king and queen after they are crowned. In past years, the king and queen are crowned and then they just sort of disappear until the next year. We’d like our king and queen continue being active on campus and in the community.”

The 2017 Royal Court is a small representation of the considerable number student leaders at UNC Charlotte. Between the 14 candidates, more than 40 student organizations are represented such as Student Government Association, Student Orientation, Campus Activities Board, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Alumni Ambassadors, Building Better Brothers and the Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band.

2017 Royal Court – King Candidates:

  • Abdoulie Ceesay – Junior, Chemistry (Major)
  • Asa Bell III – Senior, Business Marketing (Major) Political Science (Minor)
  • Brian Thompson – Senior, Exercise Science (Major) Public Health (Minor)
  • Tyler Capel – Senior, Business Management Information Systems (Major)
  • Joshua Byrd – Sophomore, Business
  • Tyriq Evans – Junior Math (Major) Secondary Education (Minor)
  • Spencer Blackwell – Senior, Criminal Justice & Religious Studies (Double Major)

2017 Royal Court – Queen Candidates:

  • Amber Creft – Senior, Political Science (Major) Psychology, Women and Gender Studies (Minor)
  • Ena Walker – Senior, Business Organizational Management
  • Kristine Slade – English (Major) Military Science & American Sign Language (Minor)
  • Lauren Helms – Junior, Communications (Major) Sociology (Minor)
  • Mercy Mensah – Senior, Business Management Major
  • Tamara Tanis – Senior, Mathematics (Major) Music Performance (Minor)
  • Reagan Bennett – Senior, Accounting

Winners will be announced during half-time at the Homecoming Game on Saturday, Oct. 21 when the Charlotte 49er take on the UAB Blazers at Jerry Richardson Stadium.  The game starts at 6:30 p.m.


Oct. 15 – Homecoming Kickoff

10 p.m. – Popp Martin Student Union Rotunda

Oct. 17 – Homecoming Comedy Show feat. SNL’s Jay Pharoah & Pete Davidson

7 p.m. – Halton Arena

Oct. 18 Homecoming Week Unplugged featuring Lamont Landers

12 p.m. – Cone University Center After Hours

Oct. 18 – Homecoming Trivia Night

7:30 p.m. – Popp Martin Student Union 340 GHI

Oct. 19 – Hollywood Swingin’: Extravaganza

5:30 p.m. – Star Quad

Oct. 19 – Basketball Madness

9 p.m. – Halton Arena

Oct. 20 – Rave on Crave

4:30 p.m. – CHHS/CoEd Plaza

Oct. 20 – Homecoming Parade

6:30 p.m. – Popp Martin Student Union

Oct. 20 – Homecoming Union Takeover

7 p.m. – Popp Martin Student Union

Oct. 21 – Homecoming Football Game

6:30 p.m. – Jerry Richardson Stadium

For more information, visit homecoming.uncc.edu.

The green worms are back like they never left

Adhesive bands prevent cankerworms from inching their way up to the top of the tree. Photo by Otensia Hendrington.

What on earth is a cankerworm? The small green worms that have been taking innocent dwellers of UNC Charlotte captive in their silky webs of destruction for the last several years. Yes, those cankerworms. With the help of facilities management, UNC Charlotte will be more than ready for the creepy crawlers this spring.

On Oct. 3, facilities management performed the first of many tree bandings around the UNC Charlotte campus. The tree banding was one of four events that took place this week as part of Sustainability Week 2017.

The cankerworm is completely harmless to pedestrians – as for the trees, not so much.

The white and green bands can be seen placed at the center of trees all across campus. The adhesive bands prevent cankerworms from inching their way up to the top of the tree, aka the danger zone.

UNC Charlotte Landscape Specialist, Bart Davis, explained why the cankerworm is such a problem.

“It is important to note that before a cankerworm becomes a cankerworm it is first a moth. The females, which are wingless, walk up the tree and the males land there. After they mate, they hatch their eggs and lay them all along the branches. Then when the babies are born they eat all the leaves off,” Davis said.

The eggs remain over winter and hatch in late March to mid-April. Hence why many students are seen performing football jukes and spins on their way to and from class.

Although the green worm is no larger than a fingernail, barely an inch in length, in platoons they can really cause damage

“We catch a lot of the females on the bands before they make their way up to the top, the method does a great job. Still, the cankerworms are getting worse, but also more tolerable. We did a great job last year, there wasn’t nearly as many as it usually is…to say the least, we were happy,” Davis added.

There is no clear indicator why the cankerworm is such a problem for the Queen City. According to Cabbarus County Department’s tips for lawn and garden, higher temperatures during spring emergence favor the cankerworms. This allows them to get bigger rapidly. As a result, birds wind up eating less total numbers to get the same volume of food, so more cankerworms survive.

In addition to tree banding facilities management also use another tactic to combat the cankerworms. UNC Charlotte Spray Technician Christopher Schultz gave a breakdown of the secondary technique.

“We have backpack spray that fogs a bacteria, called BT, on the leaves,” Schultz said. “Now when the worms eat the leaves it basically jumbles up there guts and they quit eating, which eventually kills them. It’s completely harmless to basically anything but the worms.”

University Sustainability Officer, Michael Lizotte, is confident that the tree banding will provide for an even more successful spring than last year’s. He also mentioned that a lot can be learned from this problem.

“This initiative is for homeowners who work or go to school here and have trees at home. They don’t know this is a place where we have professionals who can show you how to take care of your tree at home. We are a resource,” Lizotte said.