Eden Creamer

Eden Creamer was the Editor-in-Chief for the Niner Times from May 2013 through April 2015. She graduated from UNC Charlotte in May 2015, receiving her degree in Communication Studies with minors in English, Journalism and Women's Studies. She now does freelance proofing, copywriting and design in the Charlotte area, and can be reached at edencreamer@gmail.com

Feminist Friday: The dreaded job-hunt

There comes a time in every feminist’s life where he or she must take a break from fighting the patriarchy to succumb to it.

I’m talking about job-hunting, and specifically in this case the dreaded post-college job-hunt.

Like many other (soon to be alum) Niners, I am in the throws of what may be the most stressful part of my young life. Soon I will walk across a stage in Halton Arena, turn my tassel and enter the next adventure of life.

I’d prefer to enter this adventure with the promise of gainful employment. Unfortunately for me, numerous factors are standing in the way of me and the job that will spark my passions.

After talking with peers, it seems that the most challenging aspect of the post-college job-hunt is knowing what jobs to apply for. How qualified does an internship make someone for an entry-level career, or a career that asks for one to two years experience? When they say a master’s degree is preferred, but not required, how greatly will the employer be swayed away from we B.A.-to-be graduates?

The best question in the job search comes from the ladies; does it matter that we’re checking the female box on the application?


Naturally, employers will say no. If they said gender mattered, that would be a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

Well, my fellow females, it does seem that the way our genders hurt us the most is in our minds.

Studies show us that women only apply for jobs when they are 100 percent qualified, whereas male counterparts will apply for positions that they are only 60 percent qualified for. This is nothing new, as these statistics have been circling the Internet for a while. The real question is whether or not this is accurate.

I vote yes. The strong, fiery women in my life are often held back by their own negative thoughts.

No longer, my friends! We must unite in the fight against patriarchy and fight in the only way that will really leave long-term changes. We must infiltrate the masculine market.

In the past three months, I have applied to 87 jobs. You heard me. Eighty-seven. Some of which, gasp, I wasn’t 100 percent qualified for.

“Eden, you’re nuts,” you say.

Nope, I’m not. I’m dedicated to finding employment.

The worst thing that can come from me submitting my resume is I won’t get called back. Well, I’m already not getting called back by not applying at all. And what if by applying, I do get a call? Sure, you’ll only get called back 5 percent of the time, but the more I apply for, the higher my chances of getting that call are. Sometimes one piece on your resume or in your portfolio will stand out so much, and the employer will call just to find out more about that. Maybe it won’t matter so much that I only know the basics on one skill, but can dominate with another.

Additionally, I know where I want to be 20 years from now in my career, but I don’t quite know what path I will take to get there. Any one of those 87 jobs could be the job that starts me going the right way.

It isn’t like I have a family or anyone to support. I can take risks with my job applications. I can do contract work, or temp-work. I can relocate if I want to. I just need to find that one opportunity, and I need to find it before a male who is 60 percent qualified finds it.

Drink of the week: Red Bull Cherry Edition

Photo by Eden Creamer

We are in the downward slope of the semester. Professors are starting to talk about final exams and papers, and long nights in the library or by the light of a desk lamp are quickly approaching.

That being said, caffeine consumption across campus is skyrocketing. If you’re not in the mood for a coffee or a traditional Monster, there are plenty of alternatives. One interesting choice is Red Bull Total Zero Cherry Edition.

New in 2015, the wild cherry flavored energy drink is certainly a viable option for caffeine content, with 114 mg per 12 ounces of drink.

Upon first sip, it tastes a lot like a carbonated cherry Kool-Aid, which in my opinion is a good thing because it is making me think of my childhood. Fair warning, if you aren’t a fan of artificial cherry flavors, you definitely won’t like this drink. If you like that kind of taste, though, you’ll enjoy it.

Photo by Eden Creamer

Now, no, it isn’t healthy. Anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce won’t be completely healthy, and I have no idea how to pronounce “Acesulfame K” and “Niacinamide.” What I am surprised by is the lack of aspartame, which in most calorie and sugar free beverages is the way it is sweetened.

If you’re in the market for a new energy drink, go ahead and give this one a try. Other new flavors include an orange and a tropical flavor. I haven’t gotten around to the orange flavor yet, but Yellow Edition tastes oddly like a mild Piña colada.

2015-16 Student Government Association election results announced

The results for the 2015-16 Student Government Association (SGA) elections have been announced, with over 2,000 members of the student body participating in elections.

On the ballot this year were changes to the Student Body Constitution, including no longer requiring a 10 percent vote of the student body to impeach within SGA, and no longer requiring a vote of the student body to make future amendments to the Student Body Constitution.

These changes did not pass with a two-third vote of the voting body, with 617 of 1,744 participating students voting against the constitution amendments.

Mitch Daratony and Jared Dobbertin at the announcement results. Photo by Chris Crews.
Mitch Daratony and Jared Dobbertin at the announcement results. Photo by Chris Crews.

Mitch Daratony and Jared Dobbertin were elected student body president and vice president, receiving 1445 votes out of 2040 cast (70 percent). Of their win, Daratony says, “All the hard work definitely came through … Niner Nation pulled together. I would like to say thank you to Greek Life organizations, the individual voters, everyone I saw on the voting days when I was walking around.”

Dobbertin plans to make sure to improve on previous administrations in the senate, saying, “We need to think about the best way that SGA can reach the student body.”

Upon swearing in, the pair will immediately begin working toward the plans on their platform, targeting new and incoming students to get them involved on campus. “SOAR is coming up, and we have to work through all the logistics of the break out sessions,” said Daratony. “All the talk of the traditions, jerseys, tailgating, we have to get right on that to get stuff ready for the new year.”

The following were voted to serve as senators for Belk College of Business: Brandon Maddux (157 of 372), Cole Binkley (156 of 372 votes), Spencer Kwolyk (149 of 372 votes), Jake Granger (138 of 372 votes) and Anthony Rizol (120 of 372 votes cast).

The senators for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are: Amber Creft (262 of 589 votes), Matthew Washington (260 of 589 votes), Bryan McCollom (245 of 589 votes), Somgolie Ozodigwe (243 of 589 votes), Tracey Allsbrook (241 of 589 votes), Brijesh Kishan (231 of 589 votes) and Bridget Ogburu-Ogbonnaya (225 of 589 votes).

For the College of Health and Human Services, the following were elected as senators: Maressa Rogers (175 of 238 votes) and Obed Ohia (98 of 238 votes).

William States E. Lee College of Engineering elected the following senator: Taylor McLeod (128 of 128 votes).

In the College of Computing and Informatics, the following individual was elected senator: Alex Rodriguez (62 of 62 votes).

For University College, the following was elected senator: Kelsey Summey (181 of 181 votes).

No candidates were elected senator for the College of Arts and Architecture and College of Education.

Senior class president for 2015-16 will be Joe Slivka (320 of 598 votes), junior class president will be Baxter Fricks (514 of 514 votes) and sophomore class president will be Hallie Booe (224 of 574 votes).

All elected individuals will be sworn in in two weeks.

Feminist Friday: Loving the Day of Love

As a feminist, a lot of times we’re expected to dislike Valentine’s Day. On the surface, there is plenty of reason to hate Feb. 14, and all of the red and pink things that it stands for.

Fight the patriarchy, they say. Abandon heteronormativity, they suggest.

Photo courtesy of SomeECards
Photo courtesy of SomeECards

Maybe I’m a bad feminist, but I actually like Valentine’s Day. Despite the fact that it has become a capitalistic, consumer-driven, made-up holiday, I’m a fan. I think other feminists should be, too. Allow me to elaborate.


Unconditional love

Yes, yes. Valentine’s Day is a day when every company catering to the Western Hemisphere paints their wares pink, jacks up the price and expects clueless significant others to pay up. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and even Grandparent’s Day are essentially the same though, but instead of celebrating your bae, you celebrate the people who raised you or were parental figures to you.

The point of Valentine’s Day in our hearts and the reason why the insane flurry of pink glitter works on us is because as humans we crave love.

Just because the majority of the media and our society disgustingly paints the picture of Valentine’s Day as the straight couple’s holiday doesn’t make it the case. For me, the holiday is about unconditional love, and showing the people in my life that I care about how much I love them. Why else would Leslie Knope celebrate Galentine’s Day on Parks and Recreation? Love is all you need, people.


Cuteness (and growth)

Children are the cutest, especially on Valentine's Day. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/ San Mateo County Library
Children are the cutest, especially on Valentine’s Day. Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/ San Mateo County Library

Children on or around Valentine’s Day are adorable. I think the concept of kids giving valentines to everyone in their class is so cute. Teachers tell their students that they have to give each of their classmates a valentine, or not give anyone one.

What this teaches in the younger generation is to love everyone, no matter what. Kids are products of their environment, and if we keep teaching them to give everyone valentines, we’ll be creating such cute and well-behaved young adults.



Apparently marketed as a feminist alternative to Valentine’s Day, V-Day celebrates lady parts. A lovely day to celebrate my vagina. V-Day started in 1998, and has been going strong ever since. In case you were wondering, yes, it was inspired by the Vaginia Monologues, and yes, it does have undertones of both anti-sexual abuse.

My problem with V-Day is that it excludes male feminists. Ladies aren’t the only ones who can be feminists in our modern society, and not all ladies have vaginas. V-Day in this regard isn’t all-inclusive, and perpetuates a stereotypical view that women hate men, but it’s still an interesting concept.



Hear me out, please.

First of all, Feb. 14 is National Condom Day, so when you get it on this Valentine’s Day, do so responsibly and protect yourself from disease, infection and possibly fetus (unless you’re trying to have a baby, in which case, go you).

Second, Valentine’s Day is essentially a day built into the regular 365 in a year to be in love and to have a fool-proof excuse to stay at home with your significant other and get it on. This year, that happens to be a Saturday. How often can you tell your friends, “Sorry, we’re staying home on this perfectly good Saturday and don’t want to hang out with you because THE THIRST IS REAL.” And then maybe lay in bed together and watch Netflix. You know.

Plus, sex keeps your immune system top notch, improves women’s bladder control, lowers your blood pressure and improves your nightly sleep, according to WebMD.


Cherry M&Ms are pure perfection. Photo by Eden Creamer
Cherry M&Ms are pure perfection. Photo by Eden Creamer


Valentine’s Day candy is, hands down, the best candy all year long. I don’t care if you’re a straight man, a lesbian woman, a transgendered person with or without a significant other. Valentine’s Day candy rocks my socks.

Cherry M&Ms are pure bliss and are an exclusive treat to this time of year. Three Musketeers makes minis with a dark chocolate shell and strawberry filling. Let that perfection sink in for a minute.

Even heart-shaped boxes of variety chocolates are great. I don’t care if the box is a heart, triangle or rhombus. You put some tasty chocolates in there, I’m eating them.


What do you think? Is Valentine’s Day totally anti-feminism, or can the feminist in you enjoy Feb. 14? Tweet us @niner_times using #FeministFriday to join the discussion!

Feminist Friday: Body shaming for everyone

I turned on my television Thursday morning with the sole intent to flip over the Netflix immediately (current obsession is Ghost Adventures. I love it). When the TV powered up, the very first thing I see is a giant picture of Kim Kardashian with three giant “W”s on her breasts and lower levels.

No, I’m not about to complain about Kardashian and her clan doing all their crazy Kardashian antics. Instead, I’m fired up about the talk show that was complaining about the Kardashians.

Wendy Williams during an episode of her self-titled talk show in 2010. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

I’ve never seen the Wendy Williams Show before. Thursday was my first and hopefully only encounter with the program. I watched for about 15 minutes, entranced by the back and forth body shaming. I am left wondering why Wendy Williams, a woman in media, would assist in perpetuating media stereotypes of how other women and men should look. Women like her are in positions where they have the power to reverse media stereotyping, and eliminate societal body norms.

I just don’t understand why a woman who has been in the media spotlight for nearly 20 years, and has certainly received her share of criticism over her appearance in that time, would ever put that onto others. She has the chance to stop the cycle, but doesn’t take it.

Maybe I’m just getting all worked up over nothing. I’ll just tell you what she said, and you can be the judge of whether she is egregiously body shaming or not.

She starts talking about how Kardashian shouldn’t be allowed to pose nude because she has a husband and child, apparently quoting Kardashian in saying that she is addicted to full frontal nudity.

Next pops up a picture of Kendall Jenner, her half-sister, posing for the same magazine topless. This picture, despite the obvious heavy Photoshopping done, is A-OK in Williams’ book. Why? Kendall doesn’t have kids, she’s just 19-years-old! Let her do what she wants! Williams even specifically points out the Photoshopping done to Kendall, commenting on the before and after size of her breasts.

Kylie Jenner, the next in the family to get put on display, is blasted by Williams for cosmetic work done to her lips, saying that the photo going viral of Kylie is completely unrecognizable.

Can we please just leave this family alone and let them be themselves, and display themselves, however they want? If Kim or any of her sisters feel comfortable posing topless, or will full frontal nudity, fine. Let them do them. Why is Kim posing topless when she already has a child any different from her 19-year-old sister posing topless when maybe one day she’ll have children? It really isn’t.

Both are adult women who are confident enough in themselves to pose publically exposed. Shouldn’t we be celebrating their self-confidence and willingness to be themselves in a world where people like Williams exist to shame them into submission to societal norms?

From Williams I also learned that Queen Latifah has recently been photographed doing something apparently incredibly scandalous – she was wearing a two-piece bathing suit at the beach. OH GOD THE HORROR. Williams says how nice it is that Latifah is “letting is all hang out,” and goes on to comment how sometimes you can’t help but wonder how many pairs of Spanks people are wearing under their clothes.

I have never wondered that, actually, and I’ve never felt the need to comment on the clothing choices that someone feels most comfortable in.

But don’t worry, women aren’t the only people she is body shaming. Williams announced that Tom Cruise plans to gain weight for an upcoming role, and she and her audience responded completely negatively. Boos, gasps, you name it. Williams is adamant that gaining the weight for the possibility of an Oscar isn’t worth it – Cruise is just too old to deal with all that. Ending the segment, she says, “Tom, you do you, and we’ll keep everybody posted.”

Can we not please?

What do you think? Do you think Wendy Williams is guilty of body shaming? Join the discussion by tweeting @niner_times with #FeministFriday!

Feminist Friday: Ryan Gosling for feminism

Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr
Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr

When Danielle Henderson began the Feminist Ryan Gosling blog in October 2011, I went gaga. I’ve been crushing on the Gos since, goodness, my early teens. When I found out that he was a feminist, my love blossomed and when I was introduced to the feminist ‘Hey Girl’ memes, I nearly died from joy.

And this week, when a study out of the University of Saskatchewan announced that my favorite memes actually help increase men’s identification with the feminist movement, I don’t even know how to cope.

My coping mechanism will just have to be sharing the joy with all of you.

Researchers from the university Sarah Sangster and Linzi Williamson used the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme to look at how Internet memes impact social customs.

Their study has a great premise, one that many don’t often think of. Something viral has insane abilities when it comes to persuading a group of people.

“The results showed those more exposed to the memes were more likely to endorse specific feminist beliefs than the control group who just viewed the photos,” according to a press release by Lesley Porter on the study.

While overjoyed, I’m left wondering how men would explain changed viewpoints due to memes. Sangster told National Post that it was all about the hegemonic male image, or the ideal male image that other manly men want to live up to.

“He’s viewed as sexual competition, so he becomes someone to live up to,” said Sangster to the National Post.

Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr.
Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr.

Why does hegemony work? The same reason Photoshopped images of skinny women on the cover of magazines makes other women think that that is how they should look: the subject of the image is portrayed to have “it all,” and you can, too, if you’re just the same.

Ryan Gosling, the handsome, chiseled, father figure, wealthy, ladies man is what all men aspire to be – or at least what they should aspire to be. Especially since he is a feminist. In 2010, when his film “Blue Valentine” was given an NC-17 rating for depicting his character performing oral sex on his wife, while movies with men receiving oral sex or women performing oral sex on each other receive R ratings, Gosling spoke out about how unfair that was, specifically citing the scene in “Black Swan,” which didn’t provoke a harsher rating on the film.

His outward confirmation of his feminism all those years ago, and the meme sparked from it, shows us that Gosling, while hegemonic in many respects, is a positive feminist role model.

Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr.
Hey girl meme. Photo courtesy of Feminist Ryan Gosling Tumblr.

If men need to hear feminist messages from another man, I say let them. Even more, if men need to see feminist messages written on a photo of a man who didn’t actually say the message, let them do that, too. The feminist movement is at a point where every little thing that can be done to help change the greater society’s gender perceptions is important. We should be using technology, memes included, to do that.


What do you think? Does the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme make you feel like more of a feminist? Join the discussion by tweeting @niner_times with #FeministFriday.

Feminist Friday: Presidential Feminism 101

This year’s State of the Union Address, delivered Tuesday night, wasn’t the first time President Barack Obama has let his feminist flag wave.

It was, however, the most recent, so let’s talk about it.

First of all, no matter where on the political spectrum you fall, whether you identify as liberal, conservative, somewhere in between or not even on the chart, there is one thing you cannot argue. President Obama can deliver a fine speech. He has when to pause on lock, he knows just when to make a hand gesture for emphasis and don’t even get me started on that wink.

President Barack Obama winking during the 2015 State of the Union Address.

This year, Mr. President spoke about childcare and how it is not just a women’s issue, equal pay for equal work and sweeping same-sex marriage rights. There was even a sprinkle of gender-neutral language, just for good measure.

I love that he is personable. I love that he makes mention of gender equality, of marriage rights, of fair and equal healthcare across the board and of childcare being a family issue as opposed to women’s issue.

I don’t love that while his phrasing is different, he is saying many of the same things he said in previous addresses. It isn’t exactly his fault as he can’t control Congress, but it is disheartening to women and individuals of all races, religions and orientations that so many issues near and dear to us remain unmoved.

This week, Obama called for equal pay for equal work, asking for a close to the pay gap. “Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work,” said the president, to which Vice President Joe Biden, women in the audience and a handful of men stood in applause. And by a handful, I mean I saw about two from the camera feed I watched, but I’m sure there were more. I hope.

In 2014, the president said, “Women make up about half of our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

If that was an embarrassment in 2014, I wonder what we should call it in 2015.

Calls to action on the Paycheck Fairness Act rang in his 2013 addressin 2012 he said equal pay for equal work would encourage American people’s individual talents and in 2010 he said, “We’re going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, so that women get paid equal for an equal day’s work.” Need I continue? The point here is Obama is definitely in support of equal pay for equal work, he’s spoken publicly about it numerous times and still Joe Schmo makes more money than Susie Smith in the same job.

Moving away from closing the pay gap, Obama showed us all that his stance on gay marriage, which has evolved over his career as a politician, has firmly landed on the side of acceptance. I have loved watching him broaden his view of marriage equality, going from stating that, “marriage is a union between a man and a woman” in 2008 while running for president to affirming on Tuesday his support as he has, “seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home.”

I think the president’s shift to support of gay marriage answers the question I posed last week and shows us that feminist ideas and religion can indeed come together in a happy medium. His closing comments in his address nail his feminist flag to the highest pole in all the land.

“I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value dignity and worth of every citizen: man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability. Everybody matters,” he said.

If you haven’t gotten the chance to watch this year’s State of the Union, do it. Whether you agree with his politics or not, be informed please, or don’t talk to me.

What do you think? Is President Obama really a feminist, or does he just use favor of feminist platforms to gain public favor? Tweet us @niner_times with #FeministFriday to join the discussion!

Feminist Friday: Pedophilia, assault and more

Good news, fellow feminists! Feminism causes pedophilia and abuse to significant others.

Or at least that’s what Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said last week. Burke, the highest-ranked American Cardinal during the previous pope’s tenure, says that when women in the Church are feminists, it creates a “man crisis” and pushes men toward reclaiming their masculinity in other ways, like sexually abusing children, peers, strangers and themselves. And his opinions on the LGBTQ community’s involvement in feminism? Equally guilty of harm, especially to children. Yes, the empowerment of marginalized groups causes all sorts of manly issues.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke in 2006. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke in 2006. Photo courtesy of Tribune News Service

Burke, who spoke with The New Emangelization (NOT a typo, my friends), said that in the mid-1970s, men began to express fear of marriage because their prospective wives had “radicalizing and self-focused attitudes … These young men were concerned that entering a marriage would simply not work because of a constant and insistent demanding of rights for women.” In fact, feminism as a whole is chipping away at the Catholic Church, as Burke said, “the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men.” Burke says that while the Church continues to debate birth control and contraceptive options, men’s moral education falls to the wayside, destroying manhood education and making men more likely to harm others.

Throughout the entire interview, which was actually a fascinating read despite its anti-feminist undertones, Burke stays very true to many classic tenants of the Catholic Church – the importance of family, of God in the home and of a healthy individual spiritual life are all evident in the transcript, none of which was surprising or arguable, especially considering it’s a Cardinal we’re talking about. However, from my understanding he strays from classic Catholic tenants, as the entirety of his argument perpetuates victim blaming, or at the least casts blame away from the men causing harm. Women get hurt because they want rights, children get hurt because their mothers want rights or because their same-sex parents want rights. The men who hurt them? Eh, all those rights of others emasculated him. It’s justified.

Of course, straight men aren’t the only ones who hit, or rape. Women and members of the LGBTQ community are guilty, too, but proportionately less than straight male counterparts.

On the other side of Burke’s argument, he blames women for taking the masculinity out of faith. He noted that women become active in the Church, and feminine the place up. “The activities in the parish and even in the liturgy have become influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved,” he said. He later notes that female altar servers in the Church cause boys to be less interested in participating, again turning boys away from the Church, making them bad, immoral men and forcing them to hurt others.

The slippery slope mentality creates ill-feeling toward women becoming active in their place of worship.

I’m not Catholic, and I certainly won’t pretend to be. Identifying with Judaism, we see the same type of apprehension. When my cousin Genna got married in 2013, the cantor at the wedding was a woman. The night before the wedding, I sat in the synagogue Genna’s in-laws attended for the aufruf, and I heard a gasp beside me when the cantor came out. My poor grandmother, not prepared for a female cantor, reflected her generation’s perception of women participating in the synagogue and leading services. Even worse for my grandmother was when the cantor modernized the service, and instead of all the women throwing treats at the bride and groom to wish their marriage sweetness, my cousin and her husband-to-be threw candies to all the children in the audience.

But of course, my grandmother didn’t make the leap that the advancement of women in the secular world was the reason for assault and rape. Apparently only high-profile Cardinals make comments like that.

What do you think? Does feminism hurt religion, or is there room for religion and feminism to blend together cohesively? Tweet us @niner_times with #FeministFriday to join the discussion!

Inside the shadowland

Cannon Memorial Hall once served as the main administrative building for the facility. Photo by Eden Creamer

Leaves crunch underfoot walking up the paved road toward the historical and abandoned old campus of what was once called the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School. Bricks fall from the mortar that has held them to the original buildings since 1909, wooden structures crumble under the weight of time and once glistening white paint chips from columns and roof eaves. On many of the buildings, nature has taken hold, ivy crawling up the sides of the dormitories, trees and bushes taking root in the center of shattered wooden porches.

Despite the proximity to Old Charlotte Road, despite the tall, arching fence enclosing the part of the facility still in use just yards away, there is an eerie, deadening silence: the silence of over a century of imprisonment, fear, pain, mistreatment, sterilization and eventual redemption of the facility.

Now home to ghosts of long-dead boys, the abandoned campus serves as a spooky neighbor and front field for the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, a juvenile correctional facility in the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention that works to turn around the lives of the 150 boys, ages 12 to 21, who are admitted there on serious weapon or drug-related charges. These vacant shells of North Carolina history also face potential renovation, according to author Peter Kaplan’s keynote address at the 2014 Annual Membership Meeting for the Historic Cabarrus Association, Inc.

The crumbling buildings, which are built in the colonial revival architecture style, could be well-suited for apartments, condominiums or office spaces, with measures made for the historic preservation of the site, said Kaplan during his speech. Kaplan, who has written a book titled “The Historic Architecture of Cabarrus County, North Carolina,” describes what a lucrative investment the property could be to the right developer.

Peter Brown, director at the Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center, says one of the old buildings has been used as office space for the current facility in the past, but it is unlikely that the property would be used as office space or apartments for outside entities.

“There is a building that was utilized for programming space four years ago, and we plan to use this building for much needed office space as soon as possible,” he said.

As the property is registered on the National Register of Historic Places, any extreme remodeling would also be impossible, as the changes necessary for the buildings to be converted into apartments or offices would extensively change the structures.

The land and the buildings are also owned by the state, so it is unlikely that a private developer would be able to acquire the land. In addition, Brown says that there is an abundance of trespassers who get thrills from visiting the dilapidating buildings. This makes the grounds a poor place to sell property, as well as a safety hazard.

“Trespassing continues to be a huge problem,” said Brown. “The older buildings attract many people … I often rely on the Cabarrus County Sheriff to assist us with this issue.”

Residents of the area are not on board with the development of the buildings either. Sylvia Smith, wife to Russell Dan Smith, who was imprisoned in the facility during the 1960s and later founded People Organized to Stop Rape of Imprisoned Persons in 1980, says that turning the old campus into apartments or offices would be an injustice to those who suffered there.

“Turning them into apartments would be like turning the death camps of the Holocaust into a resort,” she said in a comment on an article describing the potential renovations in May 2014.

Daughters Cottage, one of the older cottages on the facility. Photo by Eden Creamer.

The mistreatment Smith refers to is the compulsory sterilization and the physical and sexual abuse that happened at the facility during much of the 20th century.

In 1948, six boys held at the facility were sterilized, according to the Biennial Report of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, 1950. These procedures were authorized by the Eugenics Board in collaboration with the nationwide fight against feeblemindedness that resulted in the compulsory sterilization of over 60,000 individuals. S.G. Hawfield, who was superintendent of the school and resigned just before the sterilizations began, wrote in his book “History of the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School” that the statistics on the educational distribution of the boys at the school in the early 1940s show, “a great amount of retardation in school among the boys who have been enrolled here.” According to his book, 283 of the 323 inmates, 87 percent, in 1944 were classified as “retarded.”

The old campus is not completely out of use, either. The facility currently has a pet therapy program, where rescued dogs are used to rehabilitate the at-risk youth of the center.  This program started in 1992, and is one of the longest running programs in the state’s juvenile justice program. There are five dogs in the program today, housed in a concrete shelter on the old campus. The animals serve as a learning opportunity for the boys in the facility, who learn about state cruelty laws, how to care for the animals and how to administer basic first aid. The program also allows them to just play with the dogs, and perhaps receive unconditional affection that they may not get otherwise.

“It was started by Stonewall Jackson staff for the purpose of providing juveniles with the opportunity to work together as a team and provide them with an additional meaningful activity. Since that time it has become much more of a kennel management activity, meaning that the juveniles assist in the care and upkeep of the dogs as opposed to an actual clinical intervention,” said Brown.

There is also a horticulture and aquaponic program at the facility, operated out of the greenhouses on campus.

“The very nature of the treatment program here at Stonewall Jackson is in and of itself therapeutic and designed to rehabilitate the youth,” he said.

While the facility harbors a dark past, both members of the community and those who work at the facility look toward the future. New programs hope to help the boys sentenced to the correctional center today, men victimized by the horrors of mistreatment share their stories and the ivy continues to twist along the walls that stand as crumbling monuments to those who died before their stories could be public.


Jim Kay and his wife Jan. Photo courtesy of Jim Kay

Sunlight slowly starts to illuminate campus early Monday morning. Dew sprinkles the planters outside of the Student Union, and the light chill in the air fogs the big windows above the loading dock. Before campus wakes up from the long weekend slumber, Jim Kay is already at work prepping the Student Union for the week’s activities. Kay, the Facilities Maintenance supervisor and interim assistant director, does his job with a smile and a laugh, but never imagined he would be here. In the late 1980s, the talented actor and stage technician switched gears and moved his family to Statesville, N.C. from Florida to raise his children. Now he says he wouldn’t change a thing.

“If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here. I think I made a difference. I like the people I work with,” said Kay, his clear blue eyes absorbing light as he looks out the terrace window on the Union’s third floor. “I’ve heard so many grumblings … when I first got here there were so many unhappy people working in the maintenance department. And I’m thinking, well OK, if you’re not happy with what you’re doing, find something that makes you happy … Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

Kay, 63, joined the UNC Charlotte family in 2005 as one of the original campus zone mechanics, and he has called the Student Union his primary work area since the building opened in 2009. Responsible for day-to-day building functions in the Student Union, he fixes anything that breaks and oversees the individual needs of the departments in the building, as well as dealing with purchasing and personnel issues that may arise within Facilities Management. Kay prides himself on juggling his different hats, and credits his background in the performing arts and his dedication to doing a job well to this success.

“I’m good at a lot of things,” he says. “You’ve heard that old saying ‘Jack of all trades’ … it also blends in with my philosophy that the more you know, the better employee you become. I’m adept at a lot of different things.”

Kay makes a lasting impression on his colleagues. Campus zone mechanics Greg Barnes, who has worked with Kay since 2005, describes him as a natural people person.

“He has a way of communicating with people of all classes of life,” said Barnes. “Likes to know what is going on in his bubble.”

Kay learned the skills that make him well-suited for his position as a zone mechanic backstage at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, Fla., working under two-time Academy Award winner José Ferrer. With Kay responsible for the entire technical program of the playhouse, the theatre gained national notoriety and became one of the nation’s leading theatres.

“I turned his whole technical program around to where we weren’t spending $100,000 a year, we were saving $200,000 and creating jobs and producing our own product,” Kay says. “And that was important. Important to me to be able to do that for him, and important for the theatre because we were funded by the taxpayers of Florida.”

Working backstage was a trial and error process for Kay, who originally wanted to work on stage, hoping to emulate Laurence Olivier, an English actor and director who is largely considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. Kay says fate led him on the path he was meant to travel, explaining how he decided to motorcycle cross country from Florida to Los Angeles after graduating high school.

Kay in the mid-70s. Photo courtesy of Jim Kay.

“To the day, I do believe I spent a day and a half, almost two days, riding alongside John Lennon. True story,” Kay says with a smile as he stroked his bald head, a habit left over from his days with quintessential 1970s hair. In 1970, Kay left Florida and was pulled over in Little Rock, Ark., trapped in a rainstorm when a man riding a motorcycle with an English license plate pulled over. “The dude took his helmet off and I swear to God I did a double take. To me, the man was John Lennon.”

After this run-in, Kay spent two winters in Nebraska after his engine blew up in Kansas, performing odd jobs and accumulating skills that would help him later in life. When his father died in 1972, Kay returned to Florida to be with his family and went back to school at the University of West Florida. It was here that he met his wife, Jan, with whom he celebrated 35 years of marriage in August.

“As I got older and grew out of the precocious teen years or whatever, I learned there was more to acting than just being able to be the best in your class. I take rejection OK, but it got to the point in my life where that particular skill set needed to pay for itself and it wasn’t doing that,” says Kay as he strokes the gold band on his finger.

After leaving the stage and discovering his skills behind the sceens as a technician, he has worked in educational theatre, union theatre and professional theatre, serving as a member of Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actor’s Guild. Kay’s budding family became the motivation to leave Miami, Jan not wanting to raise their two daughters in south Florida, though he had not originally intended to leave the theatre behind entirely.

“Two days before I left Miami, my car was broken into and I lost 15 years of history in my work,” he said. “As an actor, you can list the roles you play and have somebody cast you according to type and experience. As a technician they want to see a visual history. And that was all gone. I had no visual history of any of the productions I had built, designed, co-designed or been a part of. All the record of that was gone, I had nothing to show. You talk a good talk, but where’s the walk? And the walk is in the visual history.”

Back: Daughters Chelsea and Jenessa. Front: Jim and wife Jan. Photo courtesy of Jim Kay.

Kay took this as a sign to change careers. In the end, he said, that field wasn’t conducive to raising his family, and his wife and daughters had become his first priority. He started planning how to support himself and his family in their later years. He is proud of his daughters, whom he says have both used their intelligence and determination to get far in life thus far. Jenessa, 29, and Chelsea, 24, both credit their successes to their father, however.

“My dad was and still is very outspoken and definitely not afraid to go against the grain,” said Chelsea, a student at Presidio of Monterey, the United States Defense Department’s foreign language institute. “I believe I inherited that part of him. They always called me ‘Little Jimbo,’ and yes, emulating my dad has gotten me in trouble sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to be like anyone else. I learned to welcome challenges from him and face them head on.”

“We had a saying in our family that ‘Kays don’t say can’t,’” said Jenessa, who just completed her M.S. in Marine Ecology at Louisiana State University. “His love for the ocean and respect for nature is one of the reasons I am a marine biologist now … We would get up and go fishing before the sun rose, just the two of us, and sometimes we would hardly speak, but I think the appreciation of those moments was always understood.”

While he has his eyes on retirement and plans for the future for he and Jan, Kay isn’t done doing what makes him happy yet. He still has time, he says, and he intends to make every moment count.

“There are very few opportunities that we get second chances to do the things that we love to do, or like to do, or even to have a second chance at just getting by,” Kay said with a smile. “I’ve been very happy with my life so far. Yeah, I’ve not done everything that I’ve wanted to, but then again, it ain’t over yet. I’m still riding. And I plan to keep on doing it.”

New season, new concessions

New Concession Options. Photo by Chris Crews.
Fans who visit the concessions at Jerry Richardson Stadium will have new choices this season. Photo by Chris Crews.

This season of Charlotte 49ers football, fans and guests to Jerry Richardson Stadium will have expanded concession options than those available during the inaugural season.

Brad Green, director of Catering and Special Services, says the goal of the new concessions is to provide fans with a completely unique experience at 49er football events.

“We’re looking to expand the menus. We also wanted to add some items that we would consider to be unique to the venue so that when people come to a football game they’d be able to try something that they may not be able to try at other venues,” said Green.

New this season, in addition to the options available during the 2013-14 season, are the Double Fun Corndog, which is a 15-inch deep fried hotdog that has been coated in a funnel cake and corndog mix, a footlong chili cheese hotdog, pulled pork barbeque sandwich and a bottomless popcorn tub.

Starting in November, fans will also be able to purchase donuts at the games.

Everything with the exception of these donuts were available at the first home game on Sept. 6, and will be available throughout the rest of the season.

The new items available at games were designed with the consumer in mind, as Green explains they hope to be able to provide snacks that football fans will enjoy.

“It’s not very common to go to a concessions environment and get a bottomless popcorn, unless you’re at a movie theater, and we know that movie theaters are very well attended by the majority of our population,” said Green.

According to Green, the Double Fun Corndog was an item that had been in the works since before the inaugural season, but it never worked out until this year.

“We just couldn’t get the mix correct. The batter and the dog have to be in the right ratio to get a good product. We tried last year and were unsuccessful and never released anything to the public. This summer we did some experimentation and came out with that, and it’s just spectacular,” said Green.

“It’s a one pound hotdog, so the thing is just ginormous, and really you could feed a family of four off of this hotdog.”

As these new concessions are in their first few games, Catering and Special Services will be evaluating how well the items sell this season in order to determine if they will return for fall 2015.

“We try things, and if they work well we leave them and if they don’t work well then we remove them,” said Green.

“The barbeque sandwich was very well received. The Double Fun Corndog, we sold quite a few of them and I think getting them out into the stands into the customer’s hands is the biggest battle. It sold very well given the fact that we didn’t do a lot of marketing behind it. The bottomless popcorn was sort of a no-brainer, and it sold like gang-busters.”

Green says other additions for fall 2015 are already in the planning stages.

“Our goal is to create a series of [souvenir cups]. Next year we’re hoping to put out a cup that will be of higher quality than the cup we’re using right now because we’ll be entering Conference-USA,” said Green.

“Our goal next year is to have a cup that you can put in the dishwasher. You know, these cups [we’re using now] are great, but once you put them in the dishwasher seven or eight times they start to get a little faded. Our goal next year is to beef up that program so we have a souvenir cup that can go on a shelf for 10 or 15 years.”

This year’s new additions are also setting the stage for years into the future of Jerry Richardson Stadium concessions, according to Green, who is thinking long-term with football food offerings.

“For the long range plans for the stadium, when it grows vertically with additional seats and the attendance grows, the program popularity grows, we’re hoping to add full-blown barbeque stands. Not fixed like you have the Bojangles, Papa John’s and Pickaxe, but something that would be a larger mobile cart,” said Green.

“We wanted to create a popular staple so that when we expand into the larger offers, we have a core customer built.”

Tweet us with #NinerNoms to tell us your thoughts on the new concessions.

Student Government Association announces class presidents and at-large senators

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) announced the winners of the fall elections Thursday, Sept. 18 at noon in the Student Union Rotunda.

The winners of the three at-large seats were; Andre Jefferies, sophomore political science major; Sam Polad, senior finance major; and Vincent Cahill, junior pre-economics major.

The four freshman at-large senators will be; Amber Creft, political science major; Austin Beebe, pre-accounting major; Kelsey Summey, University College; and Tavares Bush, pre-accounting major.

Sophomore Class President is Ashley Martin, University College. Junior Class President is Brandon Nixon, philosophy major. Senior Class President is Andrea Ellis, public health major.

Freshman Class President was not announced at this time. The winner of the election will be announced following a SGA Board of Elections hearing at a future time.

Student Government Association prepares for fall elections

The ballots for the Student Government Association (SGA)’s fall election open on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 8 a.m. and close Wednesday at 5 p.m. During these elections, 39 candidates are vying for 16 available seats. The breakdown of the seats are: two for the College of Arts and Architecture; one for the College of Computing and Informatics; three for the College of Education; three for the College of Health and Human Services; one for the William States Lee College of Engineering; two for University College; four Class Presidents.

To cast a vote, visit vote.uncc.edu on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Below is information about the 39 candidates. For additional information, visit sga.uncc.edu/candidates

At-Large Senators

Jake Butler, pre-buisness administration major, sophomore.
Vincent Cahill, pre-economics major, junior.
Tanner Holden, pre-kinesiology major, sophomore.
Andre Jefferies, political science major, sophomore.
Brijesh Kishan, political science major, senior.
Spencer Kwolyk, pre-business administration major, sophomore.
Sam Polad, finance major, senior.

Freshman At-Large Senators

Austin Beebe, pre-accounting major.
Mackenzie Belton, University College.
Tavares Bush, pre-accounting major.
Amber Creft, political science major.
Raymond Galicia, pre-nursing major.
Aaliyah O’Neal, pre-kinesiology major.
Kelsey Summey, University College.

Freshman Class President

Alex Cauthren, pre-communication studies major.
Emily Crunkleton, political science major.
Chris Davis, pre-accounting major.
Abby DeBerry, pre-business administration major.
Brittnee Gaines, pre-biology major.
Makeda Harris, health professions exploration major.
Joel Hernadez, computer engineering major.
Matthew Moermond, mechanical engineering major.
Jaimish Patel, pre-business administration major.
Sydney Quach, pre-middle grades education major.
JT Robbins, pre-business administration major.
Julian Robinson, psychology major.
Brandon Rotimi, political science major.
Hilda Swanepoel, University College.
Matthew Washington, political science major.

Sophomore Class President

Christina Gullo, pre-elementary education major.
Ashley Martin, University College.

Junior Class President

Domonique Byers, pre-business administration major.
Tiffany Lieu, finance major.
Bianca Nanje, political science major.
Brandon Nixon, philosophy major.

Senior Class President

Brittany Bryant, marketing major.
Bethany Burch, finance major.
Andrea Ellis, public health major.
Mitul Mehta, finance major.

Sometimes love is all you need

Video by Nick Clemens.

As students and members of the surrounding Charlotte area slowly filed into the Multipurpose Room of the Student Union, they sat in the seats farthest away from the husband and wife, UNC Charlotte faculty duo. As the front remains empty, Rabbi Dr. Barbara Thiede beckons to those on the outskirts, urging them into the front seats, asking them to join in the community.

And so began the Love Song Shabbat Service, an event co-sponsored by the Multiculutral Resource Center, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Hillel and Temple Or Olam, on Friday, Sept. 5, meant to embrace different cultures and celebrate the Jewish Shabbat.

The blended congregation of students, parents, university staff and members of Thiede’s temple filled the room, ultimately taking most of the seats. At the front of the room, Rabbi Thiede, professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, and her husband Ralf Thiede, who also teaches at the university as an associate professor of English, warm up on guitar and drums, respectively.

Rabbi Thiede starts the service, as the last of the guests trickle in and fill the remaining seats. Throughout the event, Rabbi Thiede leads the congregation through seven stages of the traditional Jewish Shabbat, substituting the prayers for classic songs whose meanings matched the prayer, ranging from “Feeling Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel to “Love is All You Need” by The Beatles.

Throughout the hour and a half service peppered with jokes and love for humankind, Rabbi Thiede encouraged the congregants to sing along, dance, clap, laugh, interact with one another and embrace the love and sense of unity that had brought them all together that evening regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs. The service ended with a blessing over bread and grape juice to symbolize wine, and a blessing over the children in attendance.

Love Song Shabbat, 9/5, Chris Crews, DSC_2316
Jonathan Upham, Hillel president, and Sean Zilberdrut, Hillel treasurer, light the Shabbat candles, recite the blessing and usher in the Shabbat. Photo by Chris Crews.

“Mostly I think my vision was for participation, for people to engage and to feel like they were a part of the service and not simply observing. I wanted people to have on some level some sense of spiritual presence and to feel that they were welcomed into the space and not watching the performance,” said Rabbi Thiede after the event. “Saint Augustine, if I can quote a good Christian, said, ‘To sing is to pray twice,’ and I’ve always loved that idea. With your voice and with your words you manage to pray, and so people were singing with me. Somebody was praying with me, so I wasn’t alone, and that was great.”

Jonathan Upham, Hillel president and a senior accounting and finance double major at the university, hopes the event will become an annual event that Hillel will collaborate on.

“As a Jew, this was very different from any other Jewish service I’ve been to, but I think it did a really good job of explaining to a person who’s probably not familiar with Jewish prayer the intent behind Jewish prayer,” said Upham. “The main focus and motivation behind a lot of those songs really did correlate with the motivation and intent behind many Jewish prayers.”

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, which falls under the Multicultural Resource Center, jumped into the event with open arms, looking for an event that would allow them to connect with students and start the semester off strong.

“We felt that this would be a great way to start the fall semester and give students an opportunity to go to a service that they may not have gone to in the past,” said Kimberly Turner, director of the Multicultural Resource Center. “When Rabbi Thiede talked in between the different areas and was able to explain what it was, what it meant and was able to explain that back to how it related on our spiritual journey, I was able to see the overlap with my beliefs.”

Throughout the event, through the laughs, the love, the unrelenting acceptance of other faiths and the understanding that not everyone in attendance was familiar with traditional Shabbat services, Rabbi Thiede and all who partnered on the event created a welcoming atmosphere. The blended congregation, who represented an eclectic mix of various ages, races and religious persuasions, came together for that short time as a unified group.

“Can you imagine what would happen, just imagine for a second, if the entire world took a Shabbat?” asks Rabbi Thiede rhetorically during the service. “Twenty-four hours of peace, 24 hours of love, 24 hours of connectivity to the human beings that surround us.”

Photos by Chris Crews.