Indira Eskieva

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Homecoming kicks off a week of Niner pride

This past weekend marked the third annual homecoming for UNC Charlotte’s football team.  It was also arguably the most successful, with students and alumni proving that they are more than willing to come out and support their school.

UNC Charlotte’s school spirit has been steadily growing since the Board of Trustees officially voted in the football program in the fall 2008.  For the past three years, since the football team started playing, the homecoming weekend garnered an increasing amount of attention.

In the past, UNC Charlotte has been considered a commuter school, and with its lack of a football team, at times the school spirit was not very strong.

This year, however, the homecoming committee went to exceeding lengths to strengthen that spirit and rev up students’ enthusiasm and participation.    

The week prior to homecoming weekend, the Homecoming Committee organized different events throughout the week to show school spirit and advertise the homecoming weekend.

Monday was the Homecoming Pep Rally.  On Tuesday, Niner Idol was held, a singing competition, winners of which get to open for the spring concert act.  On Wednesday, which was Service Day, besides wearing green, the homecoming committee also collected canned goods for those in need.

Friday, the biggest night of them all, was kicked off by the Homecoming Lights Parade.  Starting at 6:30 p.m. at UNC Charlotte’s Parking Lot 5, it made its way around the university, with a string of floats illuminating the campus with an array of lights.

The motto of the parade was, “Welcome to the mine!”

Student organizations, community organizations, departments and businesses were all invited to participate. For the first time this year, stations were set up so that guests would have a comfortable view of the lights parade.

“We have had great participation to all of our events this year.  Each event has had a full house and the parade had a large amount of student organization participation,” said Taylor Paisley, external marketing chair for the homecoming committee.

Wellness Ambassadors march during the Homecoming Lights Parade. Photo by Chris Crews
Wellness Ambassadors march during the Homecoming Lights Parade. Photo by Chris Crews

The next day, prior to the football game between Charlotte 49ers and Southern Mississippi, the Tailgate Village was held in the Hauser Alumni Pavilion.

The tailgate included brunch food, alcoholic beverages and gave out a substantial amount of promotional items – including Niner hats, T-shirts and rally towels.

“Essentially most of our promo items were handed out, especially the T-shirts, which shows people’s interest in the game and our school spirit, which is exciting,” said Paisley in regards to the tailgating event.

It seems that the effort put into the Homecoming Weekend by the Homecoming Committee was not wasted.

Many students, faculty and alumni came out and showed mass support for UNC Charlotte.

Paisley explains how important the large turnout is for the future of the football team and university pride in general.

“Now that we have seen that students are willing to come out and support [the school], the next committee will be able to capitalize on this and have a strong foundation to build upon in future years.  This homecoming was truly great and I know it will only grow from here,” said Paisley.

The Homecoming Court King and Queen were announced during the halftime of football game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Oct. 24.

Anthony Tapp was crowned as the 2015 Homecoming King and Christian Pridgen was crowned as Homecoming Queen.


Photos by Chris Crews.

Over 35 Countries gather for 40th annual International Festival


Photos by Chris Crews.

UNC Charlotte’s 40th annual International Festival was held Oct. 17.  The festival, which was first held in 1975, has evolved to become UNC Charlotte’s staple attraction

The festival is open to the general public; it gives students, faculty, and local residents the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the wide diversity of cultures represented in Charlotte.

This year, over 35 countries participated in the event.

Each country set up booths and tables inside and around the courtyard of the James H. Barnhardt Student Activity Center (SAC).

The booths and tables were decorated to represent the colors and flags of each country.  Many of the vendors wore costumes native to their countries also.

Countries sold a variety of arts, crafts, clothing, souvenirs and many offered ethnic foods.

International Festival attendants look at some of the merchandise available for sale. Photo by Makeedah Baker.
International Festival attendants look at some of the merchandise available for sale. Photo by Makeedah Baker.

The Russian booth had the infamous matryoshka nesting dolls for sale, as well as hand-carved, wooden flutes which read “Made in Russia.”

Other countries also offered unique services.  Egypt had an artist drawing Henna tattoos for $5.  Japan had artists drawing decorative calligraphy.

Some of the countries involved in the event were Armenia, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Columbia, France, Ireland, Israel, Palestine, Poland, Turkey, and Venezuela, among others.

The most popular attraction of the festival is the wide variety of foods that are offered for sale by the countries.  It is a unique opportunity to get to taste foods from countries you otherwise might never have the chance to try.

The countries offered traditional dishes from their native lands.  The Bosnia and Herzegovina table served Cevapi, a Balkan flatbread dish with beef kebabs and a sauce of sour cream and onions.  Palestine had falafel sandwiches.

One of the foods that Lebanon had for sale was hummus and warm pita bread.  In the courtyard of the SAC, the Philippines table was offering rice noodles, skewered beef or chicken and spring rolls.  Colombia had homemade “papas fritas”, or French fries, for only $1.

For dessert, visitors could treat themselves to Italian Ice served at Italy’s table.

Prices ranged from $1 to $10 dollars, with sizeable portions and drinks often included. However, many of the booths that sold food ran short towards the end of the festival.

Throughout the festival, besides eating and shopping, guests could also listen to music and watch folk dances.

Poland, Israel, and Russia were just some of the countries who took the stage in traditional garments to showcase a dance.

The Celtic Folk Band, an Irish band, played music, as well as the Steel Vibrations Band, which played Caribbean drums throughout the International Festival.

Towards the end of the festival, a Parade of Nations was held inside the main stage of SAC.

In this parade, a representative from each country came out on the stage dressed in traditional garments and holding their nation’s flag.

As they made their way on to the stage, the announcer read out loud facts such as the country’s capital and population. Members of the audience would cheer in support for each country.

At the end, all of the representatives lined up on the stage side by side to showcase both diversity and unification.

Visitors were invited by the festival’s organizers to process with the countries towards the Student Union to watch the Chinese Dragon Dance.   

The Dragon Dance was performed right outside of the doors of the Student Union, and was accompanied by instruments such as the drum and the triangle.

After the Dragon Dance, the large march continued, this time making its way to the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center, where the festival was ended with a large display of fireworks.

Students and parents take over the Student Union

The Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted an event to encourage students and parents to learn more about the different organizations and events taking place this academic year at UNC Charlotte.

The Union Takeover: Parent and Family Weekend was held Sept. 25 from 7-11 p.m. in the Student Union.

Organizations set up tables all over the first, second and third floors of the Student Union.  Many organizations decorated their tables with poster boards and balloons to attract more visitors.

Students and their parents had the opportunity to speak to a representative from each organization and learn more about it.

Some of the organizations who participated in the Union Takeover were the Chinese Club, the Palestinian/American Cultural Club, the Film Club and Young Americans for Liberty.

Tables were also set up to publicize various upcoming events.  One table was set up to promote the Charlotte Dance Marathon.

The event leaders handed out flyers explaining what the event is and why it is hosted.

The Charlotte Dance Marathon is a 12-hour dance party which will be held in honor of a yearlong campus-wide fundraiser for Levine Children’s Hospital.

Each organization made up their own small activities that parents and students could participate in.

UNC Charlotte’s Film Club held mini-quizzes with questions like, “Which actor played the main role in Interstellar’?”

Prizes to questions answered correctly included small, plastic bags filled with candy.

Another organization that did something similar was UNC Charlotte’s Young Americans for Liberty.  They gave students questionnaires to fill out in order to decide if they are right for the club.

One of the most popular attractions of the night was a helmet painting station.  Participants were given paint, brushes and a plastic helmet. They could decorate to fit their style and preferences.

Parents and students decorate helmets during the Union Takeover. Photo by Maria Saenz
Parents and students decorate helmets during the Union Takeover. Photo by Maria Saenz

It seemed that parents and students truly enjoyed getting their inner-artists to come out, as this table had a particularly long line compared to others.

Besides the helmet painting station and the various activities that different organizations put together, there was also a game of bingo held in a separate room of the Student Union.

If patrons got hungry, they could grab a bite to eat at establishments which are familiar to the Student Union – such as the fast food restaurant Wendy’s.

There was a table offering complimentary Cheerwine, as well as water, to students and their family members.

The Union Takeover gave students and their parents a chance to familiarize themselves with the different activities and events taking place at UNC Charlotte.

CAB created a festive atmosphere by playing music throughout the event and strewing balloons all around the Student Union.

Jennifer Wyatt, a parent of a freshman student attending UNC Charlotte said that she is happy to know more about the different societies, organizations and activities her son’s college has to offer.

“I feel like I can encourage my son to participate in these organizations when I know more about them myself.  We had a good time strolling around all of the different tables tonight,” she said Wyatt.

SGA update: Oct. 1

The UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) had a guest speaker for their Oct. 1 meeting, UNC Charlotte alumnus and notable attorney, Karen Popp.

Prior to Popp’s arrival, Secretary for Academic Affairs Caroline Nowell gave a brief report to senators.

The Learning Management Evaluating System Committee is looking for alternatives to the well-established Moodle system.

It has been seven years since Moodle was first introduced to UNC Charlotte’s students and faculty members.

Among some of the concerns of a new program is whether it will be user friendly and easy for professors to work with.

Plans are also being made to create a general midterm evaluation form that can be embedded into Moodle so that students can voice their opinions in the middle of the semester rather than at the end.

The Student Advisory Group is going to hold a meeting to discuss ways that students can voice their concerns and communicate thoughts regarding the library.

Nowell also addressed the construction scheduled to take place in the library during fall break.

A chief concern was what would happen if the construction falls behind schedule and runs past the fall break. In this scenario, Nowell explained that the construction would either continue on a nocturnal schedule or be resumed during the winter break.

After this brief update, Popp took the stage to share her academic and career experiences with SGA.

As a UNC Charlotte alumnus, Popp was the first female student body president in the UNC system.  This feat gathered so much publicity that she was invited by President Jimmy Carter to visit the White House.

Despite later getting graduate degrees at Oxford University and UNC School of Law, Popp says that she got her sea legs at UNC Charlotte.

She came to UNC Charlotte as a freshman, played basketball that same freshman year, was a resident assistant for two years and later became president of the student body.

When she first came to UNC Charlotte, Popp imagined becoming a doctor.

After becoming involved with SGA, she changed her mind and decided to pursue a career in law instead.

One of the highlights of her incredibly successful career was being President Bill Clinton’s lawyer while he served in the White House.

She advised the president on domestic policy issues and the various scandals that plagued the White House, such as the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Prior to that, Popp was a federal prosecutor in New York City.

She was part of the organized crime unit that prosecuted notorious mobster John Gotti.

Today, Karen Popp heads her own practice with close to 1900 lawyers and 700 partners.

She is also on UNC Charlotte’s board of trustees.

Popp’s big message to SGA was to work hard and do well academically.

She advised members of the audience that you cannot be successful in any career without having student leadership skills.

Popp also stressed the importance of giving back to your college after graduation.  She has previously, and will always, give back to UNC Charlotte.

Despite having attended two more universities after receiving her undergraduate degree from UNC Charlotte, Popp says that her blood is green and she will always consider herself to be a 49er.

Forum held regarding racial comments

UNC Charlotte students are outraged after word spread quickly around campus, and even beyond it, that three full time professional staff members made inappropriate remarks geared towards the African-American student leadership.

On Sept. 23, students gathered in the Student Union movie theater to hold a forum regarding the racial comments.

The Student Union staff has been discussing how they can broaden leadership opportunities throughout the campus, and why so few students are choosing to get involved in organizations such as the Student Government Association and the Homecoming Committee.

A discussion that was meant to focus on growing the Student Union spiraled out of control when three staff members were overheard saying that the leadership positions are held predominantly by the black student body population, citing it as a diversity issue.

Staff and students alike were hurt by the words exchanged.

Asha Green, a Pre-Kinesiology freshman from Atlanta, says that she chose UNC Charlotte despite getting full-ride scholarships to many other schools because of the high emphasis it places on diversity.

“I felt disrespected and that I was not being represented.  Honestly, for a while, I felt that I made the wrong decision in choosing UNCC,” said Green

While the Student Union is welcome to the idea of getting more students involved in leadership positions, to say that the issue is one of race is to undermine the countless hours of hard work that students put into various leadership programs.

Students gather in the Student Union Movie Theater for the forum. Photo by Indira Eskieva
Students gather in the Student Union Movie Theater for the forum. Photo by Indira Eskieva

Karen Shaffer, assistant vice chancellor and director of student activities was heading the meeting.  She started out by saying she wanted to give students the opportunity to discuss their feelings and share their comments in an effort to rebuild the trust that was lost almost a week prior to the forum Sept. 17.

“We have a very long road to go to try to rebuild that trust. You can yell at me if you want to. I did that. This is my organization. I own that,” said Shaffer.

She opened the forum up for questions, and as hands shot up all over the theater, the atmosphere felt hostile.

One student demanded to know why the three perpetrators are not present when students missed class to come to the event. A member of the homecoming organization stepped up on behalf of Shaffer, explaining how they could not make it because of prior obligations – one was teaching class, the other was in a meeting.

Shaffer did point out earlier that they were simply not invited.

Most of the questions directed at Shaffer ask how the staff members will be penalized for their remarks.  Shaffer is cautious when she answers these questions, since there are certain protocols she is obliged to follow, but assures students that the staff-members will be dealt with accordingly.

More importantly, she explains that the staff-members hurt themselves more than her reprimands ever will.  The choices they made are now a matter of public record.

One male student, a member of the Homecoming Committee and student of a class taught by one of the three staff members who made the remarks, said not only was the trust he had with his advisers ruptured, but his self-confidence was hurt as well.

“We have affected your academic performance for the last two to five days, and we have affected how you see us and work with us.  We alienated an entire group of students. I am deeply, deeply sorry to you and to all of your colleagues,” said Shaffer, who was struggling to hold back her emotions at this point.

As the room grew impeccably quiet, the atmosphere started to slowly shift from hostile to solemn, with the hope of forgiveness looming in the air.

It is evident that even in their anger, the students never intended to upset Shaffer.  Most of them have worked with her for quite some time, and view her as a trusted mentor and advisor.  In her attempt to place all of the blame on herself, students are quick to speak up that this is not her fault.

The long-term plan is to ensure that students choose who fills all of the leadership positions, including the Homecoming Committee, which as of right now is a staff-run program, to make sure that staff members are not discriminating. Shaffer vows to continue in her efforts to rebuild the trust that was lost with her students.

“I can only commit to you that I am going to do anything I can to figure out how to make it better,” said Shaffer.

Many students were grateful to Shaffer for organizing the forum and allowing them a place to speak their opinions about the incident.

Student organization to hold carwash fundraiser

On Sept. 19, students will have the opportunity to have their car washed for free by members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

UNC Charlotte’s public relations (PR) students are gearing up for the 2015 National PRSSA conference, and in an effort to give more students the opportunity to attend than ever before, they need the support of their fellow students and faculty members to help raise funds for costs associated with the conference.    

PRSSA is an organization that brings together 11,000 college students in an effort to educate and prepare them for the PR profession.  It also serves as a large networking group, giving PR students the opportunity to get in contact with true professionals and potential employers in the field.

UNC Charlotte’s chapter was established in 1997 and is one of 300 chapters based in colleges all over the United States, Argentina, Columbia and Peru.

One of the main events that PRSSA holds is their National Conference, which will take place this year in Atlanta.  The conference committee consists solely of members from PRSSA’s University of Georgia chapter, which shows how dedicated the organization is to professional development.

With the motto “Rethink, Rebuild, Renew,” its aim is to give students the opportunity to attend interactive seminars and live panel discussions conducted by PR professionals.

The exhibitors of career development will include companies such as Delta Airlines, General Motors and New York University School of Professional Studies.  Not only is this a networking and career building experience for PR students in college, but it also allows companies to showcase and display their new products.

The cost of attendance is $310 per member and includes admission to conference events from Nov. 6-10.  There are students who are unable to pay this cost, which does not include the hotel and transportation fees.

It is important to UNC Charlotte PRSSA to get more students to attend this year than previous years so that members can get the most benefits from being a PRSSA member overall.

“Our goal is to cover transportation and hotel fees and possibly offer some type of discount on the registration for students,” said Gina Herrera, PR director for UNC Charlotte’s PRSSA chapter said

The car wash is completely free, but the organization is relying on donations to help raise money to cover costs associated with the 2015 PRSSA National Conference.

PRSSA students will be washing cars and accepting donations at the Bojangles’ parking lot located on 8521 N. Tryon St. in Charlotte from noon to 4 p.m.  This is the organization’s first fundraiser of the semester, and they are expecting a big turnout.

Members have been posting flyers around the University area, as well as spreading the word through social media. Herrera hopes that the UNC Charlotte community will support their fellow students.

History Professor talks about his latest book, “Mexico’s Once and Future Revolution”

On the illuminated stage at UNC Charlotte Center City, Professor Tanure Ojaide jokes how it is uncommon for someone with the name Jürgen Buchenau to study Latin America.  The audience roared with laughter.

Ojaide introduced Professor Jürgen Buchenau, who is also chair of the History Department at UNC Charlotte’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Almost every seat in the large lecture hall was filled to listen to Buchenau speak about his latest book, “Mexico’s Once and Future Revolution,” as part of the Personally Speaking lecture series.

Buchenau has written or co-edited a total of nine works, and inspiration to write his latest book on the Mexican revolution came to him when he saw a copy of “The Wind that Swept Mexico” on his grandparents’ coffee table in the 1980s.

Although Buchenau himself was born and raised in Germany, his great-great-grandfather migrated to Mexico in 1865. Buchenau’s family was part of Mexico’s wealthy class of merchants, and held prominence in the country.  Through black and white images displayed on the projection screen, Buchenau shares family photographs of elegant luncheons and lavish villas in Mexico.

His great-grandfather provided technology to arrogate the desert that later became Mexico’s largest cotton growing area, which made the original revolutionaries of the Mexican Revolution rich, and thus helped them raise funds for their cause. Francisco Madero, a revolutionist and subsequent president of Mexico, was a family friend.

Buchenau, during his internship in Mexico at the hardware store which has been in his family for 150 years, contemplated becoming an investment banker; however he had second thoughts.

“I found myself in a country where for the most of the 80 million people who lived in Mexico, becoming an investment banker … wasn’t feasible. I found a country … where most people lived day to day,” said Buchenau.

Buchenau instead decided to teach others about the history and culture that he was so passionate about, and which has integrated with his family since the 19th century.  To the audience in the lecture hall it may seem that his family’s past ignited this spark, but Buchenau revealed that it was, in fact, his grandmother’s Mexican cooking.