David Clancy

David is currently a senior, with Political Science as his major, Sociology and Urban Studies as concurrent minors, and is planning on graduating in May 2019. He previously had a show on Radio Free Charlotte, and has participated in competitions with the Mock Trial team.

Our new building should say their names

As our Niner Nation grows, so does our campus. Over the past few years, we have added or extensively refurbished a number of different buildings. One of these new buildings is the University Recreation Center, currently under construction next to the Student Union. Its name is clearly a placeholder. At this university, naming rights can be given to donors after the building has been built. This can be seen in the cases of Wallis Hall, Miltimore Hall and the Popp Martin Student Union. However, the name of this building should be given to true heroes of UNC Charlotte: Riley Howell and Ellis “Reed” Parlier.

This would not be the first time our institution named a building after people it wished to honor.

The Kennedy Building, for instance, is named after Woodford A. Kennedy, a key player in UNC Charlotte’s history. According to an October 1, 2012 article by Phillip Brown on Inside UNC Charlotte, Kennedy fought to achieve funding from the state in order to keep this school open. He was also part of the committee that selected the site where UNC Charlotte currently resides.

It goes without saying that Bonnie Cone saved this university from closing in 1949, allowing our school to grow to the heights that it has today. In addition, she personally mentored generations of students that attended the institution over the years. The former student union is now called the Cone Center in her honor.

Wallace Colvard is another person we honor with a building name. According to a December 12, 2012 article by Phillip Brown on Inside UNC Charlotte, Colvard was the first permanent Chancellor at UNC Charlotte. He secured the accreditation for the school, both regionally and nationally. He also helped create the University Research Park, saw the student body increase from 1,700 to 8,705 students and added graduate programs. He is honored by name with the Colvard Building.

Riley Howell and Ellis “Reed” Parlier deserve to have their names among the most esteemed figures in our community. They embody what it means to be a part of Niner Nation: courage, honor, dignity and compassion. This new building should forever bear their names, both in remembrance of them and with respect to their legacies.

And they have our community’s support. There appears to be a general consensus among UNC Charlotte’s community about this issue, as there is a Change.org petition to name this building the Howell-Parlier Recreation Center. This would be to honor those who lost their lives during the April 30 tragedy, and as the petition creator Noah Crosswhite writes, “so that they can be remembered for generations of students to come.” As of writing, it has 39,879 signers — thousands more than the actual student population of UNC Charlotte.

Because this building is still under construction, it provides another opportunity to pay respects to our fallen peers. A memorial to Reed, Riley and the other victims of the attack can be built into the site. We can create its own dedicated space and honor the victims in a more accessible, visible way. In this way, we have more freedom in regards to what the memorial will look like and its scale compared to the rest of campus. The area around the Kennedy Building does not have enough area for a meaningful memorial. In addition, the building itself is still a source of pain and grief for some students. The University should accommodate those students’ needs and honor the victims at a separate location. There are currently construction crews around the new Recreation Center, and the plans around the building can be changed to suit a new space to honor our peers.

This new Recreation Center will be a great addition to our great University and it should be named after those who we will remember forever, with their names etched in bronze for all to see: Riley Howell and Ellis “Reed” Parlier.

March For Our Lives rally brings students together

On Friday, May 3, the UNC Charlotte chapter of March For Our Lives (MFOL) organized a rally with various students, faculty and elected officials on the events that have rocked our campus. The event took place three days after a shooting on the campus of UNC Charlotte killed two and injured four, and two days after a shooting at the off-campus student apartment complex University Village killed one and injured two.

Students, faculty, staff and other community members congregated under the sweltering afternoon sun, holding signs reading, “Books not bullets” and “This is a school zone not a war zone.”

Organizer Maggie Murphy talks to an attendee. Photo by Nikolai Mather

Cade Lee and Margaret Murphy, the chapter director and outreach director of UNC Charlotte’s chapter, organized the event. Lee said this was the 12th school shooting of 2019 and he wanted to make sure “we realize that, regardless of your political affiliation, that you can come together during a tragedy like this and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” Murphy concurred, saying “there is a solution, and we need to be pushing for our legislators to find it.”

Rally attendee Liz Jenkins had been supporting the movement from the sidelines and thought it was important to show up for it now. “I’m going to be a teacher,” said Jenkins, “I’ve always had this on my mind, that this [kind of] thing could happen in my classroom in the future.” Her girlfriend Haley Hutchens, a nursing major, agreed. “It kinda scares me that in the future I might have to treat kids who’ve gotten hurt in this way. It’s heartbreaking, and it needs to stop now; it needs to stop with us.”

Two attendees embrace. Photo by Nikolai Mather.

Leaders from every level of government arrived to speak, from City Councilmembers to a member of Congress. Susan Harden is a Mecklenburg County Commissioner as well as a professor and alumnus of UNC Charlotte. Before she took the stage, we spoke to her about her thoughts about moving forward. “We’re profoundly upset,” Harden said, “I’m committed to working at the local level to create as much change as I can to mitigate gun violence.”

The rally began with an impromptu chanting from the crowd; attendees shouted, “No more guns, no more violence” and “Not one more” before the speakers took the stage. Lee honored the victims of the shooting and introduced the speakers. The first, Megan Beach, had been in Kennedy 236 when the shooting occurred. She applauded the community for its compassion, support and strength. “We will become stronger and better than ever before,” she said. “We will not be defined by this.”

Megan Beach speaking. Photo by Nikolai Mather

In order of appearance, the speakers at the rally were: student and survivor Megan Beach; Mecklenburg County Commissioner and UNC Charlotte professor Dr. Susan Harden (D); Charlotte City Council Member-at-Large Dimple Ajmera (D); Charlotte City Council Member-at-Large Braxton Winston (D); North Carolina State Senator for District 40 Joyce Waddell (D); Director of the UNC Charlotte Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies Dr. John Cox; Congresswoman for the 12th District of North Carolina, Representative Alma Adams (D); student and chapter leader Margaret Murphy; and student Kristine Slade.

Several touched on the importance of voting in ending gun violence. Congresswoman Adams stressed how voters influence policy through choosing their policymakers. “If it were not for the citizens who have an opportunity to vote for those of us who serve, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to serve.” Commissioner Harden delivered a similar message. “If every student and if every employee voted, you could hand-pick your elected officials.” Senator Waddell followed up with a message on strength. “You have the strength — you have the power to change things.”

Congresswoman Adams speaks. Photo by Nikolai Mather.

Other speakers discussed the generational divide in the fight against school shootings. “It’s really our fault as older people,” Commissioner Harden stated in an interview. “We’ve created the circumstances, and you really ought to hold us accountable for the world that we’ve created for you.” Though the rally’s attendees were primarily students, many older community members had shown up to support the movement.

Some speakers touched on their own experiences. In his speech, Councilmember Winston discussed the violence he faced as a child in Brooklyn, NY. “I grew up knowing the difference between shots that were just being fired into the air and when people were shooting at each other.” Dr. Cox talked about how when he was involved in the anti-apartheid movement at Appalachian State, he didn’t expect real institutional change. “But those things did happen, and it happened because…people weren’t imprisoned by ideas like ‘what’s possible?’ and ‘what’s not possible?’ and ‘we must be pragmatic’ and so on…They envisioned a better world and they helped to bring it about.”

Attendees at the rally. Photo by Nikolai Mather.

Murphy read a letter from Governor Roy Cooper aloud as he could not make it to the event. Governor Cooper applauded the engagement of the UNC Charlotte community in the wake of such a tragedy and said, “we all must work together to address this crisis, and keep North Carolina safe.” Cooper highlighted his suggested changes to gun legislation and also stressed the need for Medicaid expansion for North Carolinians.

Graduating senior Kristine Slade closed out the rally with a call to action. She asked participants to come to the NAACP Stop the Violence Rally at Romare Bearden Park afterwards. She also touched on the recent shooting scare at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and urged participants to not only fight for the end of gun violence, but remember the victims of the shooting.

“You cannot forget Niner Nation,” she cried. Wiping away sweat and tears, attendees cheered and prepared for the next rally.

Nikolai Mather contributed reporting. 

One killed, two injured at University Village Apartments

Three people were shot and one man killed on Wednesday, May 1 at the University Village apartment complex, according to CMPD. The suspect or suspects are alleged to still be at large.

One individual who was at the scene was interviewed anonymously by the Niner Times and described the scene. “We had gotten back from the vigil and gone upstairs and I heard two or three bumps. It sounded like somebody dropped something in the floor below me or above me.”

CMPD CSI trailer. Photo by Nikolai Mather.

This allegedly happened at around 7:49 p.m. after the vigil held for the victims of the deadly shooting on the nearby UNC Charlotte campus just one day prior.

The NinerNotice system sent out an email alert at 9:05 p.m. and said that UNC Charlotte is closely monitoring the situation. This apartment complex is near the main campus; however, officials do not believe that there is a threat to the campus itself. CMPD is currently investigating the scene.

UPDATE: Reports from eyewitnesses allege that the shooting happened at the pool. The complex had originally planned a pool party for Reading Day but had canceled it in wake of the April 30 shooting. People showed up at the pool anyways.

Some allege that the shooting resulted from an altercation over a woman. Others allege that no altercation occurred. University Village employees were not yet able to confirm whether the shooter or victims were students, but UNC Charlotte communications indicate that none were affiliated with the University.

Photo by Nikolai Mather.

A CMPD Crime Scene Investigation trailer was seen parked next to the pool. Eyewitnesses report hearing four to five shots at the time of the shooting. One eyewitness, Elliott McKenney, reported that after the shooting, two people asked if they could stay at her apartment for safety. She let them in and called the cops.

“It just didn’t feel real,” said McKenney. “I had just got [sic] back from the candle vigil, so I was still kinda processing that. I hadn’t been on campus for [the shooting on April 30] but it was still sinking in…then that happened.”

Another eyewitness detailed a horrifying scene. “Everybody [was] running from the pool jumping the fence and everything…I leaned over, I saw the dude and he like…there was a lot of blood.”

UPDATE: CMPD has confirmed that the person shot and killed at University Village is not affiliated with UNC Charlotte.

UPDATE: Local reporters have confirmed that the victim of the shooting was 22-year-old Donqwavias Davis, who died at Carolinas Medical Center. Two others were injured. As of this morning, the shooter has not yet been apprehended.

Davis was not affiliated with UNC Charlotte; however, his most recent Tweet referred to the April 30 shooting at UNC Charlotte.

UPDATE: WSOCTV has reported that 20-year-old Javier Concepcion-Perez has been charged with the murder of Donqwavias Davis.

David Clancy, Madison Dobrzenski, and Sam Palian contributed reporting.

The loss of Marshall Park is not without criticism

Second Ward is in the midst of massive changes to its urban fabric, from a shiny new office tower on Tryon Street, to apartments on Stonewall Street. Another change has also taken place near the governmental offices on 3rd Street, the sale of multiple parcels of land to a developer called BK Partners, LLC. It will culminate in the creation of Brooklyn Village, taking on the name of a neighborhood mostly lost to the “urban renewal” projects of the mid-20th century. These parcels include the old Education Center, the Robert L. Walton Plaza, various parking lots, and the entirety of Marshall Park. The previously mentioned buildings will hardly be missed: their exposed concrete structures and barren surrounding landscaping seem to repel those who venture near. Additionally, replacing surface parking lots with space that is actually productive should always be celebrated. This leaves us with the final area, which has brought some contention: Marshall Park. Is the loss of the park as bad as it seems?

Parks in cities can be important to the vitality of the greater community, as centers of community. The landscape designer J. B. Jackson said as much in his 1984 article titled “The American Public Space,” wherein he details the history and at the time contemporary use of parks in the United States. He described how people from different economic and social backgrounds could intermingle, “the spaces occupied by these groups, if only temporarily, constituted so many public places in the strictest sense: places where like-minded people came together to share an Identity.”

Indeed, I heard such praises for public space from At-Large Commissioner Pat Cotham, who sits on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and opposes the project. “We should cherish parkland,” she said during our phone conversation, and when it comes to losing the 5 acres of the park, “that’s our gift to the future.” It should be noted that according to the project’s website, there will be 1.9 acres of green space incorporated into the design.

Another part of the project is affordable housing, which is another issue in and of itself. This is not just an issue of the availability of housing either, it is where this housing is located. Uptown, with its access to services, jobs, entertainment, and centers of government, is quite unaffordable for many Charlotte residents. In his 2017 book “The New Urban Crisis,” urban studies theorist Richard Florida states, “In America today, economic inequality is also spatial inequality: rich and poor increasingly occupy entirely different spaces and worlds.” This is true for many cities in the United States, including Charlotte.

Cotham stated that she thought this development project was, “an opportunity to make a dent in the problem,” and wanted to have 700-800 units set at 30% AMI (Average Median Income) level for disabled people, elderly, low income residents. As per the project’s website, Brooklyn Village is planning to include 107 units of affordable housing set at 80% AMI, which is more than the required amount for such projects. While there will not be massive numbers of affordable housing, it still will help those who will one day live in these areas. Its proximity to jobs and public transportation will have a greater impact on the upward mobility on these individuals than if they were forced to live farther away due to housing costs.

Overall, I do lament the loss of the park, especially when you think about the vast swaths of unused land in First Ward. It conjures up images of what this city could have been had it not been for so-called “urban renewal.” Ironically, we may not have had Marshall Park in the first place. Criticisms of the project are warranted, and one should always be wary of the prospect of development on the site of a public park. Still, the planned 1,070 residential units will bring opportunities to those seeking to live in an urban environment. It will bring life into an otherwise unremarkable part of Uptown, and I am especially interested in seeing the interplay between the pedestrians and the street level retail. As the door closes on the park, a new door opens for the city.

Editor’s note: This article originally quotes Pat Cotham as to say: “We should cherish parkland; that’s our debt to the future.” Cotham actually said: “We should cherish parkland; that’s our gift to the future.”

Should we keep the “UNC”?

As of now, there is a lot of activity surrounding the name of our university and whether to keep its prefix of “UNC,” (which is a common abbreviation for UNC-Chapel Hill). In a March 13, 2019 Niner Times article by Megan Bird, she explained that a petition on change.org addressed to Chancellor Dubois for an alteration of the name of UNC Charlotte had garnered 2,484 signatures, and it currently sits at around 2,686 signatures. The Student Government Association has also put a survey on the March 26-27 ballots to gauge student opinion on this issue, and Chancellor Dubois expressed his position on the matter during his Chancellor’s Forum questioning.
With all this commotion about a potentially controversial subject amidst my peers, I decided to take to social media and do some unofficial polling. On Twitter, I asked for current students to tell me their take on this situation. I received many interesting responses, including one individual who responded with the hashtag: “#DropOurSlaveName.” This is a reprehensible take on the situation, and I am glad everyone else kept a level head during my inquiry.
One such sane person was Grace Frendrick, current UNC Charlotte student studying political science. She points out that many schools in the UNC System, including NC State University and Appalachian State University, do not have the UNC prefix. She went on to state, “I support dropping the UNC because as one of the top three largest schools in the state we need our own identity.”
Jonathan Bradshaw, UNC Charlotte class of 2003, currently works as a brand manager. He agrees with changing the name, stating that many schools without the prefix are recognizable statewide, such as NC State and East Carolina University. “I can’t tell you how much it would mean to me personally and to the school financially to own its own brand.”
A student involved in the athletic program gave me this statement so long as I kept them anonymous. They are involved with the athletic programs and are concerned about how the school is seen to those out of state. “I’ve heard from multiple out of state recruits that when they initially hear of us they thought we were some satellite school of Chapel Hill located in Charlotte. From an athlete’s perspective that can be really frustrating.”
Ross Smith, UNC Charlotte Alum also wanted to share his opinion on the matter. He runs the Agent49 account on Twitter, and is helping maintain the change.org petition. He believes that the name change should be carried out to ensure that credit is properly given. “I want the university to stand on its own, and not have any staff or student accomplishments be given to other organizations.” He has also stated that in the working world, people do not recognize the school, “I’ve been asked if I was a Tarheels fan.”
However, not everyone who voiced their opinion supported a potential change. Wren Aubrey Latham, theatre major, believes that this debate is centered around “misplaced anger.” Wren is befuddled at the fact that, in such a turbulent time as this, naming disputes seem to permeate to the surface of discussion. “We could be using our privilege and outrage to rally behind real victims of sexual assault, racism, and bigotry en masse, but we’re doing this.”
Corey Smith, UNC Charlotte class of 2017, works for WTAP in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He believes the school is relatively new on the national scene and “…people are just now finally recognizing who we are outside of the region. Would just cause more confusion if we change the name.”
I believe that both sides in this debate have presented quite valid evidence for their sides. A name change would require an extraordinary amount of resources, and would be confusing in the early period of transition. Still, a new identity separate from any other institution will only help us in academic recognition, athletic recruitment and an increased value of our degrees. I am in favor of the name change, with the caveat that those who are actively supporting the change need to take more initiative in convincing others of this cause. In addition, they need to create a concrete plan for the transition as this burden might be too much to bear for the administration. Bringing a worthwhile plan might ease concerns, and create goodwill. If it is truly beneficial to the University, then you should be able to convince those who would oppose the change. This isn’t the most pertinent issue in these times, but since this institution will stand the test of time long after we are gone, providing an independent identity for our great institution would be a boon for now and in perpetuity.

Maintain our amphitheater

Nestled in between the endless oceans of parking near Lots 5 and 6; hidden behind gnarled trees and construction fences lies a scene of decay and neglect. Behind the Cafeteria Activities Building (CAB), there is concrete seating facing a blank wall. This forgotten structure has no signage nearby; however, it was clearly a theater.

Previously, this structure was not so secluded as it was surrounded by the former Martin Village dorms. No doubt this stage was used for a variety of uses. Its main purpose was probably for showing movies, the picture projected onto the blank wall of the CAB. The Student Union has taken over the task of showing movies with its indoor theater and other amenities.

As of late, the outdoor theater has fallen into a state of relative disrepair. Plants are growing in the cracks of the weathered foundations. Water pools at the lowest levels after large bouts of rain. In its current condition, the theater’s fate is bleak. The Belk Tower’s 2016 demolition shows that unmaintained concrete structures do not tend to stick around, though no blame should be put upon anyone for the lack of maintenance in the first place.

With so many complicated revitalization and construction projects on campus to manage, the outdoor theater is a low priority.

One may ask why we should keep this structure as it could interfere with the University’s future plans for the area. In a Feb. 20, 2018 Niner Times article by Jacob Baum, a map was published showing the massive redevelopment of the eastern portion of campus. Along with rerouting roads and building various new structures, the area that is now occupied with the CAB and the theater is depicted as being turned into a lake. While there is no doubt that this lake would be a nice addition to the space, it would lose the potential that an amphitheater inherently creates.

If the CAB was demolished and the theater seating left in place, we could have an amphitheater on campus for various events and lectures to be held. One use would be for the Department of Theatre, whose current outdoor production setup requires seating be placed around the stage by Robinson and Rowe. This takes away manpower from building the production’s set. An amphitheater would require little to no work in regards of seating, as the structure itself is mostly seating. Student organizations and greek life would also find use from an amphitheater. The space would provide large outdoor seating for events or meetings. The space could also be rented out by third parties seeking an outdoor event space.

The University does not need to scrap the idea of a lake. We can take note of another UNC system school’s campus in Wilmington, UNCW. One of the many features of their campus is an amphitheater which faces a man-made lake. The stage features simple outdoor fabrics to provide shade for speakers and performers. It is comparatively smaller than our existing theater, though we can bring this concept to a larger scale.

Another potential use of space is to incorporate nature within the amphitheater seating itself. Swarthmore College, located in Pennsylvania, has an amphitheater called the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater, where the terraced seats have a covering of living grass. In addition, the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater also has trees growing in the seating area, providing natural shade for event attendees. This nature motif is aesthetically pleasing and would allow the structure to be added to the already incredible botanical gardens on campus.

Our outdoor theater has great potential for our growing University. The East Campus Infrastructure Project is estimated to begin March 2019 and to conclude May 2020. That is just for the traffic improvements. It will no doubt take many years to fully create the changes expected to be made to that part of campus. As we revitalize the eastern area of our University, we should consider breathing new life into our outdoor theater. For now, though, the seats remain empty, waiting for the next show to begin.