Elizabeth McGuire

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“We are all Niners”

Much of Niner Nation has not returned to campus since the tragic and abrupt ending of the spring semester when two students were killed and four were injured in an on-campus shooting. Now a new year is coming into focus, and as students endure the usual stressors of college life, they are also left wondering how safe they really are at UNC Charlotte.

An email sent out on July 25 from Chancellor Dubois hoped to put minds at ease by highlighting the changes that can be expected come fall. The biggest step is an enhanced police presence on campus as well as a security presence for large events such as concerts. Dubois assures that this is not in response to any expected danger but “to reassure us all of the strength and accessibility of our police force.”

“I encourage you to introduce yourself to the officers you see and share any concerns or questions,” says the Chancellor.

Between July 31 and Sept. 11, six sessions have been scheduled for “Community Active Assailant Response Training.” Organized by the Department of Safety and Security, the sessions will provide emergency training based on the ALICE model. ALICE, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate, provides a step by step overview from how to lock down a room to methods of self defense in the event of an active shooter. The model has been taught at several schools across the country, including UNC Charlotte, by campus police. Open to both students and faculty, those interested can register at the Emergency Management website or through the link provided in the chancellor’s email. Some emergency procedures will also be listed on posters in classrooms.

In addition to new precautions, Chancellor Dubois promises the reconvening of the Niner Nation Remembrance Commission, a group tasked with finding the best way to memorialize the victims of the April shooting. According to their website, the commission’s work includes contacting other communities who have experienced similar tragedy in order to form plans for a memorial and the future of Kennedy 236 where the tragedy took place. All fourteen members were appointed by Chancellor Dubois to form a group that he felt “would offer diversity of thought as well as relevant professional expertise and personal experience.” Among these members are several university faculty members, Charlotteans with a range of professional experiences, and David Reed, the uncle of shooting victim Reed Parlier. Having spent the summer researching the memorialization of other tragedies, the commission plans to have their recommendations completed by the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, services will continue at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. Chancellor Dubois encourages those students who may need extra support to take advantage of these resources. He also encourages the support and unity of the greater Niner Nation, titling his email “We Are All Niners.”

“It isn’t a slogan or a motto. It is a declaration. Together, our future is bright, bold, and strong.”

Dubois’ final promise in his message is that these words will appear frequently in the days to come as a reminder that we are one community that will remain Charlotte Strong.

God The Mother is not kidnapping students

It’s been all over Twitter, Snapchat and even Canvas: God the Mother is allegedly attempting to traffic female students. As the story goes, female students have been approached in the library by people recruiting for a church group known as God the Mother. However, these students claim that the group has darker plans in mind than a simple bible study group.

Authorities say these are all unconfirmed rumors. Chief Jeffrey Baker of Campus Police assures “there is absolutely no truth to these rumors,” adding that “the two women that have been subjected to these vicious rumors are afraid to visit our campus.”

The group in question has been hit with sex trafficking accusations at various universities across the country as the rumors spread across social media and cause fear in areas where the church is trying to expand. To date, all of these accusations have been debunked by their local police departments. Officially known as the World Mission Society Church of God, their participants organize under core beliefs in the second coming of Jesus Christ and, most notably, a female representation of the Christian deity.

“Children can only have life if there is a mother,” says the church’s website, “because it is the mother who gives birth.”

While smaller than most religious groups, including two off-campus chapters in North Carolina and twelve registered members in that of UNCC, they have a complex history of both praise and ridicule. Despite having been under similar investigation in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania for the same assertions, they proudly hold volunteer service awards from both President Obama and Queen Elizabeth II. Earning the Queen’s Award requires a three year examination into the  organization, something God the Mother members feel should serve as proof of their legitimacy.  On campus, the mission society is planning to participate in Hurricane Florence relief efforts as a part of the overall group’s long history of disaster relief internationally.

“I’m not exactly sure where they might have misinterpreted our actions or behaviors,” said Christopher Lopez, a senior exercise science major and president of the Campus Mission of UNC Charlotte. Addressing how their recruitment actions may have led to suspicion, he expressed that they “try to be as polite as possible” in their expansion efforts.

Representatives of the church on campus were first aware of the situation two weeks ago after seeing a post to the only_49ers Snapchat, prompting questions about the group’s involvement in “the kidnapping.” They are now seeking formal apology from the individual who posted the Snapchat story, which is believed to be the origin of the rumors on our campus.

However, Lopez remains optimistic about the situation, describing their experience as “suffering the same things that Christ did two thousand years ago.”

While this situation was very much ado about nothing, there is no denying the importance of reporting suspicious activity on campus. Chief Baker advises that “Any individual with information related to crime should call the UNC Charlotte Police Department.”