Megan Bird

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Megan is the News Editor for the Niner Times. She is a sophomore Political Science and Spanish double major. Megan is from Charlottesville, Virginia. She can be reached at news@ninertimes.com

A Sponge’s Impact: Reflecting on ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’

Millennial humor is a strange thing. Just take a look at the most recent memes and you will quickly see how absurd, chaotic and seemingly random our sense of humor is. Why is that? The Nickelodeon animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants” has to play some role in the formation of who we are as a generation. A cartoon based around a talking sea sponge who lives in a pineapple and works as a fry cook is a wild concept for a television series, but the jokes that come from the individual episodes shine a light on where our humor comes from. Even as adults, the millennial generation just can’t seem to move past this iconic series as reaction images and memes from the show seem to pop up constantly on our timelines. There are also the quotes that are plenty in conversation and in social media bios.

Following the death of “SpongeBob” creator Stephen Hillenburg on Nov. 26, the Internet created countless tributes and many shared how they were personally impacted by the series and its band of lovable characters. To pay tribute to Hillenburg, the wonderful world he created and its timeless legacy, four Niner Times editors have selected their favorite episodes to share just what this sea sponge means to them.

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom Media Networks.

“Pizza Delivery”

Adulthood is finally realizing that not only is Squidward justified in his anger, but that you may also be Squidward yourself. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than going home after a long day of school and work, but it isn’t always that simple. In this classic episode, SpongeBob and Squidward are tasked with delivering a pizza, which Mr. Krabs has suddenly decided to start selling as a means to make more money. Being that this is “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Squidward is relentlessly tortured throughout the episode during what should have been a simple delivery, including the two losing their boat and ending up in an undersea tornado. Between the “Krusty Krab Pizza” song that SpongeBob sings and Squidward’s desperation to eat said pizza after becoming lost, there are so many hilarious moments and jokes packed into this episode. The standout line and my personal favorite quote comes as they finally reach the customer’s house and realize they have forgotten one important part of his order; “How am I supposed to eat this pizza without my drink?!” This just adds to the absurdity of the episode and the series as a whole. And who could forget the “big, beautiful, old rock” that the “pioneers used to ride for miles.”

Jeffrey Kopp, Editor-in-Chief

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom Media Networks.

“Rock Bottom”

The greatest SpongeBob episodes are nonsensical, clever, and….yes, social commentaries. The astutely named “Rock Bottom” from the first season meets all these requirements in the weirdest way. It starts when Patrick and SpongeBob take the wrong bus on the way home and end up in Rock Bottom, the abyssal zone of the ocean. They are coming from Glove World…yep, a glove-themed amusement park. Patrick immediately catches the next bus home, leaving SpongeBob to fend for himself in the dark, strange area. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get on the bus, SpongeBob goes to the bus station where he waits for hours only to be told the next bus won’t arrive until the morning. He goes back outside and meets a frightening anglerfish who appears to only communicate through spitting noises. SpongeBob tries to speak with him, but the anglerfish can’t understand his “accent” — speaking without spitting. SpongeBob grows increasingly frustrated and wary of the fish, but in the end he is the one to retrieve SpongeBob’s balloon from Glove World, which ultimately helps him float home.

The best part of this episode is the concept of Glove World, made even funnier because it takes no real role in the plot. Patrick and Spongebob could have been coming from anywhere– the store, a friend’s house. Why include this random aspect of the episode? Perhaps the obsession with anything glove-shaped is a commentary on consumerism, just as the bus station could be a criticism of bureaucracy or the interaction with the spitting anglerfish an analogy to xenophobia. Or perhaps it is just SpongeBob, and we need not take the talking sea sponge and starfish that wear clothes and go to a beach in the ocean at anything other than face value.

-Megan Bird, News Editor

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom Media Networks.

“Club SpongeBob”

Almost every episode from the first three seasons of SpongeBob are an iconic, classic piece of cinematic history. And while I believe it as a whole forms one of the many foundational chains in the block of what established our generation’s sense of humor, a personal favorite episode of mine would have to be the “Club SpongeBob.” This episode is among one of my top ranks because it is utterly ridiculous. It also features some of the most iconic jokes of the entire series. The flawed, absurd and ludicrous logic presented in it makes absolutely no sense, and it sets the stage for a downright comical experience. Why have SpongeBob and Patrick spent an entire 3 days stuck in “Club SpongeBob” without asking for help? Why do they listen to a “Magic Conch Shell” toy and why do they literally do nothing to get out of the forest, just because it told them to? How does that plan even work, and how does there just so happen to be a plane overhead that releases food magically into a perfect picnic around them? Just when you think the episode has finally reached its climax with a park ranger coming in to save them, and no more idiocy can be had, said ranger also ends up being a follower of the Magic Conch and has brought along his own. Squidward seems to be only sane voice of reason in this episode, and watching him get driven to the brink of insanity by SpongeBob and Patrick’s shrewd logic working out is what really cranks up the humor in this episode.

I felt like I spiritually related to Squidward this entire episode, from the start when he gets offended by SpongeBob and Patrick not letting him into their club, to the end when he gets riled up trying to understand how everyone except for him is getting good favors from this “all knowing shell.” The script is incredible, the jokes are incredible, everything about this episode is just incredible. Sometimes I too find myself wanting to ask the Magic Conch for advice on my life.

-Pooja Pasupula, Photo Coordinator

Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon/Viacom Media Networks.

“Band Geeks”

Long before I even started marching band in high school, “Band Geeks” stood as my favorite episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” It has humor all throughout, with standout moments like Patrick’s inquiry on whether mayonnaise was classified as an instrument, which alone may be the series’ most iconic line. I think what pushes it to the top, though, is the spotlight on Squidward, and not just that, but the fact that the main gang of characters rally behind him resulting in the episode ending in his favor, which I think is the only time that ever happens for him in the entire series. The episode also makes use of pretty much all of the major characters, as well as side ones like Plankton, Mrs. Puff, Pearl and even Larry the Lobster. Watching the group fail miserably at trying to be musicians is hilarious throughout, though when they come together at the end, it results in one of the greatest moments in television history. The performance of “Sweet Victory” (David Glen Eisley) is just so out of left field and amazing, that it remains just as iconic to this day. Overall this episode excels at incorporating the whole cast, solid band humor, the greatest halftime performance of all-time and the sweet satisfaction of Squidward’s rare success being rubbed in Squilliam Fancyson’s face.

-Noah Howell, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

To be Lumbee and American

“A lot of people don’t realize Natives are all around you; it’s like we’re hidden in plain sight.”

Brittany Hunt, a PhD student in curriculum and instruction at UNC Charlotte, speaks frankly about what it means to be Native. She answers questions about her background with a clear, serious voice and prideful eyes.

Hunt is a member of the Lumbee Tribe, the largest tribe in North Carolina and east of the Mississippi River. Its 60,000 members are concentrated in Robeson County near the Lumber River. The Lumbee name is well known in North Carolina, but beyond state borders, the tribe is largely unknown.

Brittany Hunt

The federal government is in part culpable for this; it has denied federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe since 1888. The 1956 Lumbee Act acknowledges the nation as Native but still precludes them from receiving benefits normally enjoyed by those tribes who are federally recognized. This means that although Lumbee people are Native according to their culture, birth certificates and language, they cannot claim their ethnicity on federal forms or job applications.

Hunt says, “Recognition is not about proving to the world that we’re Native because we already know and believe that we are. But it gives certain political advantages.”

These privileges include things like preference on applications, scholarships, service through the Indian Health Service and the right to operate a casino. Despite the benefits, there is disagreement within the Lumbee community about the importance of federal recognition.

“We have done a lot of things to deserve federal recognition, but we didn’t do these things in order to get recognized…it’s superficial,” explains junior architecture major, Samuel Woods.

Woods speaks softly and intentionally. He is passionate about activism within his tribe. “It’s important to check people on their stuff,” he explains, regarding misconceptions and stereotypes of Native culture.

Samuel Woods

To date, 573 tribes are federally recognized while 200 are not. The Cherokee are the only federally recognized tribe in North Carolina while the other seven only have state recognition. North Carolina recognized the Lumbee Tribe in 1885 when they were known as the Croatan. Part of why the federal government refuses to grant these benefits to the Lumbee people and so many other groups is because of ambiguity in their history.

As Hunt explains, “The government committed paper genocide against Natives and many ended up losing their heritage. The government requires you prove history on paper. They strip you of this history and then expect you to prove it with records.”

Some allege that the tribe originated from the Lost Colony of Roanoke, although Hunt says this has been disproved. According to the Lumbee website, they are an amalgamation of various Siouan, Algonquian and Iroquoian speaking tribes.

Hence, the federal government struggles to define who is “Native enough” in the Lumbee community and who deserves the benefits that accompany recognition.

Defining Lumbee, however, goes far beyond the purview of the government.

“It’s ironic that the government is trying to define being Native when if they felt at all what it’s like to be Native they would know it doesn’t have to do with blood. We don’t have a long known history in comparison to other tribes, but that does not mean we don’t have the same sense of identity,” says sophomore Biology major Soleil Maynor.

Maynor speaks openly and fervently about her tribe. Her thoughtful answers and small nods indicate that she wants you to listen to what she has to say.  

“…and it kind of revalidates to me that race is a social construct.” she concludes.

Soleil Maynor

One could define being Lumbee by its traditions. The tribe hosts a Lumbee homecoming each July for about 10,000 people. Religion is also extremely important for them; some maintain those that they practiced before colonization while many others are Christian.

For members of the tribe, it seems that the definition of Lumbee is simple. “If you’re raised in the Lumbee community, you know what it means to be Lumbee, and you are Lumbee.” explains Maynor.

In the 1920s, anthropologist Carl Seltzer attempted to define “Native” by measuring physical characteristics of the Lumbee people. He put pencils in people’s hair and concluded that if the pencil fell, that person was Native. He only found that 22 out of the 209 people he studied fit his definition of “Native.”

Hunt explains, “It’s almost impossible for us to be Native to outsiders because people have misconceptions of what Native looks like. They think it is long, straight dark hair, high cheekbones and brown eyes.”

Language is perhaps one of the most distinctive attributes of a Lumbee person. Although their original language is lost, in part due to its criminalization at one point, they speak a unique dialect. Many perceive it as a Southern accent, but as Hunt says, “It’s much more than that. When I hear a Lumbee speak, I would know she’s Lumbee.”

Maynor agrees. “I could overhear someone talking and know right away that they’re Lumbee.” she said.

Because the dialect is so strong, many Lumbee people learn to downplay their accents.

“I know that code switching is common, but it’s sad for me when [my accent] is perceived as dumb, even by people in the community. A lot of people don’t see it as a dialect; they see it as speaking incorrectly. My aunt has lived in Charlotte for over 30 years and she doesn’t speak in our dialect at all and sometimes she even corrects me.” said Maynor.

Lumbee people also extract much of their identity from their land. They are highly concentrated in Robeson County, which is among the most dangerous and impoverished in the state. Because the area creates such a strong sense of community, it can be difficult to leave.

Woods says that 75 percent of his friends were Lumbee before coming to UNC Charlotte, where he only knows a few other Native people.

“I definitely feel like one percent of the population at UNC Charlotte and I definitely want to find a Native community here so I don’t have to feel like an outsider.” added Maynor.

The University does not report how many Lumbee students it has, but Native students do in fact make up less than one percent of the student body.

Discrimination is unfortunately another shared experience of Lumbee people, especially for those who leave their majority-Native hometowns.  

Maynor describes her experience of racism as, “when people ask or assume my ethnicity, and then act surprised and say ‘oh that’s so cool’ like it’s a novelty…I am the opposite of foreign because I am indigenous.”

Despite obstacles their nation has faced, the Lumbee people have not let the federal government or anyone else define them. They have shared successes, like opening the nation’s first Native university, and they have fostered a close-knit community, all without federal recognition.

When it comes down to it, Hunt says, “Lumbee is language; Lumbee is culture; Lumbee is family and Lumbee is land.”

Haven49: Worth the wait?

After three months of delays, students have finally moved into the Haven49 apartment complex. The original move-in date was pushed from Aug. 14 to Nov. 10 as the company struggled to finish construction and pass inspections. Tenants relocated to hotels, couches and homes far away from campus while they waited for the occupancy approval of their new apartments. Many accrued over $1,000 in stipend money as compensation for the major inconvenience.

Haven49 is an 887-bed/332-unit mid-rise apartment complex developed to house UNC Charlotte students. It is owned by Atlanta-based Haven Campus Communities and is the newest off-campus housing addition to the University community. The fall launch of Haven49 was widely anticipated and was to provide residents with state of the art technology and facilities, including a fitness center (which is still under construction), tanning room, resort-style pool and cabanas.

Construction workers and residents attributed the delays to poor management on behalf of Spire, the construction company that managed the project. As Haven grew more desperate, they hired outside contractors for assistance.

Many broke their leases in retaliation to the two month delay. However, none of these students have received reimbursement for the rent they already paid. Among those waiting for reimbursement is Spencer Gallimore, who filed a complaint with the NC Department of Justice claiming he is entitled to $2,700. Haven has hired a Georgia-based attorney to represent them for such rent-dispute cases.

But for those who stayed loyal to Haven, was the wait worth it?

Haven resident Gianna Agostino told the Niner Times, “There are nice parts but a lot is wrong, especially considering there were so many delays.”

Posts on the “Victims of Haven49” Facebook page, originally intended for students to commiserate and share information during the delays, have affirmed this. One of the major complaints of the group concerns trash in the hallways. Haven offers a trash collection service that has apparently been abused and left the hallways filled with garbage.

Agostino added, “My floors are scratched, my furniture is damaged and my fire alarms are faulty. The neighbors have also been rowdy and make messes with their dogs and trash.”

The “smart apartments” include an Amazon Echo, a smart HDTV and an app to control the lights, temperature and locks. Many of the “Victims of Haven49” say these features do not function properly, if at all.

As the fall semester comes to a close, many students are considering signing leases for the following year. Haven has not posted its prices yet and will not be accepting applications until December. While its amenities and technology will lure in many people, others surely will not forget the transgressions of the past few months.


Photos by Pooja Pasupula.

 

Click here for the Spanish version of this article.

Sports analyst, journalist and activist Jemele Hill

On Oct. 30, widely esteemed journalist and activist Jemele Hill inspired hundreds of Charlotte students and community members. She engaged the crowd with a broad range of topics, including her experience as a woman of color in a white-male dominated field, her work as an activist and the importance of voting.

Hill specializes in sports journalism, a field that presents obstacles for women. She got her start at the Raleigh News & Observer, then moved to Detroit Free Press and later the Orlando Sentinel. She joined ESPN in 2006, where she was a co-anchor on SportsCenter with Michael Smith. Now Hill works as a staff writer for The Atlantic.

Hill’s talk at UNC Charlotte capitalized on sexism in male-dominated fields. She told students, “People think your ability to know and understand sports is directly linked to your genitalia. As a woman, and I think this isn’t just limited to sports; a lot of times you have to show what you are so they can stop looking at you for what you aren’t.”

She explained how this constant pressure can be deleterious to a woman’s self-image. “You just have to get used to a different level of scrutiny. You can sometimes internalize that and think that you can’t make a mistake. Don’t feel that you have to be perfect because men certainly don’t feel that way.”

Sam Palian, Sports Editor for the Niner Times, says she rarely experiences sexsim in her job. Her staff is uniquely diverse, consisting of 40 percent women. However, she said, “Sometimes coaches will say ‘oh that was a great question!’ as if they are surprised. I never thought of it as sexism, but sometimes I wonder if they actually mean that was a great question.”

Hill has established herself as a controversial figure in the journalism field. In 2008, she was suspended from ESPN for comparing the Boston Celtics to Adolf Hitler. “I showed very poor judgment in the words that I used. I pride myself on an understanding of, and appreciation for, diversity — and there is no excuse for the appalling lack of sensitivity in my comments,” she said in an official statement.

Perhaps the most famous — or for some, notorious — controversy of Hill’s career was a Tweet about President Trump after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville: Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself with other white supremacists” and “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. He is a direct result of white supremacy. Period” she wrote. President Trump fired back, claiming that ESPN’s ratings “tanked” because of Hill.

Hill stands by her decision to criticize President Trump. She told a UNC Charlotte student, “I thought I was saying water is wet. I didn’t really think or consider that this would have a negative impact on my career. I knew it was going to put me in a difficult spot with ESPN, but I certainly didn’t think it would derail my career.”

According to Jemele Hill, a little backlash is an inherent part of journalism. “Journalists are supposed to be the disrupters. They’re supposed to be the agitators. That was why I became a journalist,” she said.

Hill left ESPN with a $5 million buyout right after the Tweet, breaking her five-year contract.

Continuing her work as an activist, Hill emphasized the importance of voting during her speech to UNC Charlotte. She referenced the Florida mayoral race between Andrew Gillum, who she supports, and Ron DeSantis as an example that every vote matters.

Hill’s speech ultimately captured what she is already known for: journalism and activism. Looking over a crowd of mostly people of color, Hill implored these students to pressure newspapers across the country to diversify. Only 16.6% of the American news workforce is made up of people of color. 82% of all sports reporters are white men.

Jemele Hill has made it a priority to change these numbers by boldly integrating activism with sports journalism. Hill closed with a quote from Ida B. Wells that sums up this drive for change: “I’d rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I said.”

On-campus arrest

On Monday, Oct. 29, a 25-year-old black male was arrested and taken into custody for allegedly selling drugs and trespassing on campus. A video from the popular Snapchat account only_49ers showed seven police officers drag the man off of a bench and wrestle him to the ground.

UNC Charlotte Chief of Police Jeffrey Baker said that the man was “combative and impaired on drugs.” So much so, in fact, that the jail required his hospitalization before commitment into the facility.

Video courtesy of only_49ers via Snapchat.

Chief Baker defended the presence of the seven officers, explaining, “We use as many officers as possible to safely take an individual into custody, especially when a subject is impaired on drugs.”

The non-student also came into trouble for trespassing on campus several months ago.

Butler High School student fatally shot

On Monday morning, a student at Butler High School in Matthews was shot during a fight with another student. The victim, 16-year-old Bobby McKeithen, was transported to Carolinas Medical Center where he eventually died. The assailant, 16-year-old Jatwan Cuffie, was taken into police custody.

The altercation occurred in a crowded hallway. An anonymous source who was friends with McKeithen told the Niner Times that the fight had been scheduled for that morning after one of the students allegedly attacked the other over the weekend.

Police apprehended the gun and placed the school on a brief lock-down. Parents gathered outside of the school hoping to take their children home. A video posted by Butler student Josua Cherry showed students gathered in the hallway yelling “Let us out.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox commented, “We’re incredibly sad and we’re sorry for this family, but we’re also sorry for the young person who thought the only way to solve this problem was with a gun.”

Man behind the pipe bombs is a former UNC Charlotte soccer player

Since Monday, more than a dozen pipe bomb packages have been sent to prominent critics of President Trump. Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida, was taken into custody Friday morning by F.B.I. agents for the wave of mail bombs. WSOC Channel 9 confirmed that Sayoc played soccer for UNC Charlotte in 1983.

Among the recipients were former President Obama, former Vice President Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. All of the packages contained the return address of South Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

None of the devices exploded. There is some question as to whether they were poorly manufactured or never intended to detonate.

Sayoc, a registered Republican, has posted photos wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and his white van is plastered with Trump stickers. He appears to run a pro-Republican Twitter account in the name of Cesar Altieri. Among other anti-Democrat propaganda, the account advocates the false claim that the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting are actors.

Sayoc was charged with five federal crimes, including mailing an incendiary device and threatening a former president. He faces up to 58 years in prison according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He will be prosecuted in New York City following an initial appearance in Florida.

Sayoc already has a criminal history with over 10 charges dating to 1991. The charges include felony theft, drug and fraud charges. In 2002 Sayoc threatened to bomb Florida Power and Light, stating “it would be worse than September 11.”

The suspect was identified from a fingerprint and several traces of DNA left behind on the envelopes. He crafted the bombs from PVC pipe, batteries, a small clock and wiring.

President Trump’s reactions to the bombs have been fickle. Just today, he complained that the “‘bomb’ stuff” has deterred Republican voters but later celebrated on Twitter all of those who helped solve the mystery.

Guide to the midterm elections

The 2018 midterm elections have been especially contentious as Democrats gear up to take back Congress and Republicans hope to maintain their hold. There are currently 69 highly competitive seats across the country, and the Democrats need 23 of those in order to secure a majority in the House. Democrats must defend 26 Senate seats while Republicans must maintain 9.

On average, at least half of Americans never make it to the polls, and those who do are often blindsided by confusing wording or unrecognizable names. If you are registered to vote in the UNC Charlotte area, you will elect a congressperson, a state senator, a North Carolina house representative and a justice to the North Carolina Supreme Court. Everyone registered to vote in North Carolina will vote on six constitutional amendments.

Early voting continues through Nov. 3 and Election Day is Nov. 6 with polls open from 6:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m. Prepare yourself now with this summary of what will be on the ballot for most Charlotte residents.

Referenda

The General Assembly has proposed six amendments to the North Carolina Constitution, all of which have received considerable criticism for intentional vague wording. They include an income tax cap, expansion of victims’ rights, protection of the right to hunt and fish, change in procedures for appointments to elections board, change in judicial selection procedures for midterm vacancies and voter ID requirement.

The Income Tax Cap Amendment proposes to reduce the maximum allowable income tax rate in North Carolina from 10 percent to 7 percent. It does not change the current individual income tax rate of 5.499 percent nor the current corporate income tax rate of 3 percent. Income taxes are one of the ways state government raises the money to pay for core services such as public education, public health and public safety. Supporters claim the state has been operating well so far with the current rate; opposers say education will lose funding and that it does not provide exceptions for times of crisis.

The Marsy’s Law Victims’ Rights Amendment is intended to strengthen protections for victims of crime and to ensure the enforcement of these rights. It would broaden the base of currently protected victims to include all who were personally victimized. According to the N.C. Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission, the additional rights would be: “To be treated with dignity and respect. Reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of a proceeding, upon request. To be present at any proceeding, upon request. To be reasonably heard at additional kinds of court hearings. Restitution in a reasonably timely manner, when ordered by the court. Information about the crime, upon request. To reasonably confer with the prosecutor.” The public fiscal note that accompanied this legislation estimates that these changes would cost about $11 million per year, although the amendment does not specify where the money would come from. Supporters say it is a bipartisan effort to protect victims while opposers claim it would slow down court proceedings.

The Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment would protect the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife using “traditional methods,” although these methods are not defined. Hunters would still be subject to wildlife conservation and management laws. Supporters say that both practices have decreased drastically. Opponents say it is simply an attempt to draw Republicans to vote.

The Legislative Appointments to Elections Board Amendment proposes a smaller, eight member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections. North Carolina currently has a nine member Board, eight of whom are appointed by the governor, resulting in four Democrats and four Republicans. The governor also appoints the ninth member, who is not a member of a political party, from nominations provided by the other eight members. This amendment would override the Supreme Court decision to not reduce to eight members. Supporters suggest that dividing the Board on partisan lines would force them to make bipartisan decisions. Opponents worry that it will result in gridlock and eliminate representation for unaffiliated voters.

The Judicial Selection for Midterm Vacancies Amendment would change the appointment process if a judge does not complete her term. Currently, the governor chooses the replacement, but if the amendment passes, the legislature would pick two finalists from candidates reviewed by a commission and the governor would select between them. The N.C. Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission stated that it would weakens voters’ constitutional right to elect judges. Supporters claim it would reduce political considerations when choosing judges whereas opponents point out that judicial candidates would be required to lobby legislators whose laws they would eventually review.

Perhaps the most controversial of all the amendments, the Voter ID Amendment would require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person. The amendment does not specify what type of photo identification would be accepted. Supporters say it would prevent voter fraud and opponents say it would decrease voter participation by adding one more barrier to the process.

The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission — made up of two Democrats and a Republican — typically drafts the ballot descriptions, but this year the legislature prohibited them from doing so and wrote them instead. Governor Roy Cooper and the N.C. NAACP challenged the four amendments because of their allegedly misleading wording, but the lawsuits died in the N.C. Supreme Court. An Elon University poll revealed that only 8 percent of North Carolina voters understand the amendments.

U.S. House of Representatives

Incumbent Democrat Alma Adams and Republican Paul Wright are vying for the 12th District seat to the United States House of Representatives in what has been rated as a safe Democrat race.

Congresswoman Alma Adams served for 10 years as a member of the N.C. House of Representatives before she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. She has cast several key votes in the U.S. House including nay on a bill that proposed funding a border wall, limiting legal immigration, a mandatory worker verification program, allowing DACA recipients to apply for legal status and preventing separation of families at the border. Her major issues of concern include narrowing the achievement gap and supporting HBCUs, proactive environmental policies to combat climate change, expanding the Affordable Care Act, tax increases for the wealthy and tax cuts for the middle class. Adams won 85.5% of the vote in the Democratic primary.

Photo courtesy adams.house.gov

Former District Court Judge Paul Wright has run for governor, U.S. Senate and Congress from two different districts all in the past six years. This is the first time he’s won his party’s nomination. He currently lives in District 7 but is still eligible to campaign in District 12. His key issues include maintaining the right to bear arms, supporting Trump in cracking down on illegal immigration, avoiding conflict with Russia, resisting the “deChristianization” of America, reversing Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized same-sex marriage) and prohibiting genetically modified food crops. Wright won 43.2% of the vote in the Republican primary.

Photo courtesy wrightforuscongress.com

North Carolina State Senate

Democrat Mujtaba Mohammed and Republican Richard Rivette are running for N.C. State Senate in District 38. The seat is currently held by Democratic Senator Joel Ford. Republicans have a 34-15 majority in the state senate heading into the elections.

Mujtaba Mohammed is a graduate of UNC Charlotte and a current public interest attorney. He is also a former employee of the Charlotte nonprofit Council for Children’s Rights. Mohammed is running on a platform of education, economy and equity. Specifically, he advocates early childhood programs, higher teacher pay, higher funding of education, incentives for companies to hire individuals with criminal records, a livable minimum wage, Equal Pay Act for North Carolina women, in-state tuition for undocumented students and automatic voter registration. In an unprecedented primary, Mohammed beat incumbent Senator Joel Ford with 51.9% of the vote.

Photo courtest mohammednc.com

Richard Rivette has worked in marketing, product development, branding and business development. He unsuccessfully ran against Senator Joel Ford in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Rivette is a self-described “strict Constitutionalist” who is running on a platform of “PROjobs, PROgrowth, PROcharlotte, PROnc and PROrights.” He believes that we must eliminate most taxes, maintain the current minimum wage and appoint citizen committees to help plan development in Charlotte. Rivette won as the only nominee during the Republican primary.

Photo courtesy ballotpedia.org

North Carolina House of Representatives

Democratic incumbent Carla Cunningham and Republican Geovani Sherow are competing to represent District 106 in the N.C. House of Representatives. Republicans have a 75-45 majority heading into the elections. All 120 seats are up for election.

Representative Cunningham is a registered nurse and has served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. She sought election to the U.S. House in 2016 but lost to incumbent Alma Adams. Cunningham supports the expansion of Medicaid, increased funding for public schools, free community college, enforcing equal pay for all citizens and increased training for employees in the criminal justice system. She won 88.9% of the vote in the primary. Cunningham also won by wide margins in the House races of 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Photo courtesy carlacunninghamnchouse.com

Geovani Sherow is UNC Charlotte graduate and current commercial contractor. He does not have any information published online for the 2018 election, but in April 2018 he told the Charlotte Observer that he supports arming school teachers and staff and breaking up the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district. Sherow ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Photo courtesy Mecklenburg GOP

Additionally running are Democrat Anita Earls, Republican Chris Anglin and Republican incumbent Barbara Jackson for the North Carolina Supreme Court. However, Anglin was a registered Democrat before filing as Republican for the 2018 race. There are currently four Democratic and three Republican justices.

Several local candidates are guaranteed seats because they do not face any opponents. Democrat Louis A. Trosch Jr., Democrat Karen Eady-Williams and Democrat Donnie Hoover will all retain their places in the Mecklenburg Superior Court. Democrat Garry McFadden will take over as Mecklenburg County Sheriff and Democrat Spencer Merriweather will take office as Mecklenburg County District Attorney.

Moore Hall says no more

Freedom of speech is a longstanding issue on public university campuses. The presence of political speech, discriminatory jokes and religious propaganda have all been questioned and defended. On Thursday, Sept. 27, UNC Charlotte added another point of contention to the debate over free speech on college campuses. In an email to Moore Hall residents, the Resident Coordinator warned students they could face conduct charges for placing any sort of display in their windows.

The rule comes from the Housing and Residence policy, which states, “Decorations, including but not limited to posters, flags, signs, writings, stickers and banners, are not permitted on windows in residential rooms, residential hallways or in residential lounges within University residence halls.” It is a policy that was added this year.

Moore Hall resident Nathan Klinge commented, “This is a new rule that I find absurd in that it isn’t a safety issue nor a vandalism issue. A flag I simply have taped to my wall that is visible outside is no longer allowed, and I was told by an RA in my dorm that students can face expulsion from the dorm if flags/signs are not removed.”

The email came after the Assistant Director who manages the student conduct process for Housing and Residence Life observed some window policy violations in Moore Hall and a few other buildings. Kimberly Tullos, Director of Residence Life, clarified that it wasn’t due to any one isolated incident in Moore Hall, but rather in response to “a trend of students not following policy.” She also assured that it wasn’t a ban specifically on flags.

However, an incident in October 2016 in which a Hunt Hall resident displayed a Nazi flag in their window may have set the precedent for the new rule. Chancellor Dubois addressed the situation in his 2017 convocation address, stating, “When a student decided last year to post a Nazi flag in his residence hall window, we used that incident as an opportunity both to protect his free speech rights… but also to have a conversation with that student to help him fully understand the true impact of displaying a symbol that embraced a history of hatred and genocide.”

Photo courtesy WSOC

Moore Hall residents were given until that Thursday night to remove items from their windows or face possible documentation and go through the conduct process. Moore Hall seems to be the only building enforcing the rule, but it applies to all campus residential buildings.

In a statement to the Niner Times, Tullos said, “We are happy to have students personalize their space and by following appropriate guidelines, residents are able to decorate the walls with flags, posters, artwork, etc. in their bedrooms or shared units.”

 

Hundreds displaced by Haven49


Photos by Pooja Pasupula.

Hundreds of students have been out of housing since the beginning of classes. The student apartment complex Haven49 has delayed its opening six times, originally promising Aug. 14 and now planning on Oct. 13. It is typical for a large-scale construction project to experience delays, but many students question Haven49’s transparency throughout this process.

“It is difficult to keep your focus on studying when you’re cramped in a hotel room for a month with one bathroom, one desk, no kitchen,” said Josh Bryant, a future Haven49 resident.

Bryant is one of many students who were relocated from their original hotels during the weekend of the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He and many others were moved into a hotel in Uptown for three days.

“Experience with Haven has been a hit or miss, honestly,” he added. “Management within the last week have [sic] started sending pictures and actually been transparent but that’s been needed for two months now. I’ve had to pay for parking passes to park on campus and wasting [money] on gas.”

One construction worker on the project, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Niner Times weeks ago the move-in date would be Oct. 13 at the earliest. The same worker attributed the delays to “shit management on behalf of Spire,” the construction company assigned to the project. Another group of five workers disagreed; they predicted the end of October at the earliest. When questioned about which parts were incomplete, the workers responded, “Have you seen it? Nothing is done. It all needs work still.”

In the meantime, many students are underwhelmed by their hotel experiences. “Staying at the Residents Inn. Service is terrible. Packages mailed here have been stolen. There are cockroaches and silverfish everywhere and they only sprayed a small portion of the room and said it was OK for our dogs to be in there,” tenant Jordan Gorski told the Niner Times.

The apartment complex still has 87 holds according to Mecklenburg County data. The Public Information Department clarified that, “It is possible for portions of a structure to be approved for occupancy while others are still under construction. This must be carefully planned and approved to ensure safety for all involved and to ensure no one without the proper authority can access the section of the structure that is still under construction. This is called ‘phased occupancy’ and it is a technique that is currently being utilized at Haven49.”

However, the building remains entirely unoccupied.

Photos: Haven49’s continuing construction delays move-in


Photos taken Sept. 26 by Pooja Pasupula.

The opening of Haven49 was delayed a fifth time to Oct. 6. Owner Jay Williams told residents in an email, “…we now believe it is potentially unlikely that we will receive our Certificate of Occupancy before Sept. 29.” However, a construction worker on the project who wishes to remain anonymous told Niner Times the move-in date will be Oct. 13 at the earliest. The same worker attributed the delays to “shit management on behalf of Spire,” the construction company assigned to the project. According to the Victims of Haven49 Facebook page, the complex has already booked residents’ hotel rooms through Oct. 6 before the complex was delayed for a fifth time. The students currently living in Holiday Inn, Springhill Suites and Courtyard Marriott have to be relocated to different hotels due to lack of reserved rooms in anticipation of the NASCAR race this weekend.

The 887-bed, 332-unit, mid-rise apartment complex intended to house UNC Charlotte students. It is owned and developed by Haven Campus Communities and is the newest off-campus housing addition to the University community. The fall launch of Haven49 was widely anticipated and was to provide residents with a fitness center, tanning room, “resort-style” pool and cabanas.

UNC Charlotte basketball player arrested for assault

Photo taken from Mecklenburg Public Records.

Basketball player Lekitus Najee Garvin was arrested on Thursday, September 20 for assault on a female. Garvin was arrested by UNC Charlotte Police at 4:08 p.m. and taken into Mecklenburg County custody at 8:11 p.m. He had a bond hearing Friday, September 21 at 9:00 a.m. during which his bond was set at $2500. He was released that same night.

Garvin is a junior forward for the 49ers basketball team. He is from Lexington, South Carolina.

The Athletics Department issued the following statement: “UNC Charlotte is aware of the arrest of student-athlete Najee Garvin. Garvin has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities. The University is reviewing the case consistent with its internal procedures. In light of the ongoing investigation, the University will not provide further comments.”

The crime is currently considered a misdemeanor. No additional information on the case has been published yet.

New conference center and hotel

A long standing dream of UNC Charlotte’s leaders will finally be realized with the construction of a Marriott Hotel and conference center. On August 28, the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to invest $8 million of tourism taxes towards the project as well as approve rezoning.

The building is intended for research symposia and academic conferences. With 24,000 square feet, 226 rooms and a parking garage, it will accommodate up to 500 people. A conference center like this is typical of major research universities.

The hotel will be established on the 4.7 acres on the corner of North Tryon and J.W. Clay Boulevard already owned by the UNC Charlotte Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the University. It is strategically located by the light rail so that conference attendees can easily access City Center.

“This facility will serve as a new ‘front door’ to the University, providing a welcoming space for generations of 49ers and Charlotteans,” Niles Sorensen, President of the UNC Charlotte Foundation, told Inside UNC Charlotte. “We’ve been planning this for a long time and are eager for it to bring new opportunities for our faculty and alumni to connect to the larger community.”

The $87 million project will mostly be funded by the UNC Charlotte Foundation. The hotel will be owned by the Foundation and operated by Sage Hospitality of Denver, CO. The city will also support the project with $8 million.

The ambitious project is projected to be well worth the investment. It could generate $9 million from taxes in the first seven years while the net proceeds are expected to generate $7 million in the first five years. The hotel and conference center could also add roughly 210 jobs to the University City area, the second largest employment hub of Charlotte.

Chancellor Dubois told Inside UNC Charlotte, “Not only do these facilities serve as important amenities for the alumni and friends of these universities, but they are integral to building and sustaining the strong academic reputations of these institutions.”

The project is expected to begin January 2019 and reach completion by September 2020.

What we know about Hurricane Florence

The path of Hurricane Florence is constantly being monitored. This post will be updated with changing weather conditions and the responses of the University. Here is what we currently know:

As of Sunday, September 16 the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression with a sustained wind speed of 35 mph and moving at 8 mph. The center of the depression is over central South Carolina and moving west, meaning Charlotte is likely to experience much heavier rainfall today and Monday. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for Mecklenburg County but North Carolina has already experienced a record breaking amount of rainfall at 30 inches. Over 18,000 households have lost power and the death toll has increased to at least 14.

As of Saturday, September 15 Hurricane Florence is now considered a tropical storm rather than a hurricane. Maximum sustained winds are 45 mph and moving extremely slowly at about 2 mph. Mecklenburg County recorded a current maximum of 1.8 inches of rainfall but the county is expected to receive 15 inches. 7,415 households have already lost power in Mecklenburg County. Classes and activities are now cancelled through Monday night while the library will remain open this weekend from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. UNC Charlotte Weather reporter Danielle Miller said we could see effects of the storm into Monday. 

As of Friday, September 14, Hurricane Florence is a Category 1 after the maximum wind speed decreased to 90 mph. However, the storm is taking a wider path than anticipated. The hurricane made landfall this morning at Wrightsville Beach and almost 500,000 people in North Carolina have already lost power. Duke Energy warned that 1 million to 3 million of its 4 million customers could lose power over the next few days.

“It’s getting worse,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “The storm is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days and be a major inland event as well.”

The Housing and Residence Life office sent out an email to dorm residents warning of the potential for leaks and power outages. Campus is equipped with an emergency system to warn students of hazardous weather; if students hear a siren, they should go inside immediately and avoid windows. Each dorm has specified locations for these types of emergencies:

Taken from the 2018-19 Resident Handbook

Many Charlotte events have been cancelled this weekend and the Mint Museum and Levine Museum of the New South are closed. Charlotte currently has a wind speed of 24 mph with gusts over 30 mph and is now expected to get 10-15 inches of rain. Forecasters warn of an “extreme” risk of flooding on Saturday and Sunday. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be closed again on Monday as well as Charlotte city and Mecklenburg County offices.

As of Thursday, September 13 Hurricane Florence has been recategorized as Category 2. However, UNC Charlotte Weather Reporter Danielle Miller said that the category of the storm is not what matters. “The strength has decreased slightly but the power of the impacts that [the hurricane] brings on shore are still the same,” she said during a 12 p.m. report. The maximum wind speed decreased to 110 mph but the newest trajectory predicts the storm will come closer to Charlotte.  The forecast according to the Washington Post is “Cloudy, breezy summertime weather through Saturday, with showers possible at times. Winds pick up Saturday night into Sunday, gusting up to 30-40 mph, when rain is likely to move in. Rain could continue at times into early next week, with at least 3-6 inches of rain possible, which could cause flooding.” The chance of tornadoes caused by thunderstorms will also increase on Sunday. The dorms will remain open but the Student Health Center is closed Thursday and Friday. Students can still call the center to speak with a FoneMed nurse who will offer advice for acute illness and/or injuries. Dining hours have been modified and can be found here.

As of Wednesday, September 12 Hurricane Florence was still a Category 4 and expected to make landfall in North and South Carolina on Friday with wind speeds of 130 miles per hour. According to the National Hurricane Center, Charlotte was expected to receive 4-6 inches of rain. The University extended the cancellation of classes and activities through Sunday evening. An email sent out at 4:10 p.m. also noted that a decision regarding classes on Monday was to be made by Saturday at 5 p.m. The football game vs. Old Dominion at home was moved from Saturday to Thursday and family weekend as been rescheduled to November 16-17. Police and Public Safety will remain open while the University is closed. 

As of Tuesday morning, September 11 classes are still not cancelled. An email disseminated by the University stated, “the storm’s forecasted track has moved slightly to the north and east, which would reduce impacts to Charlotte. Expected effects from the storm continue to be moderate to heavy rain and some gusty winds.” However, the University pointed out that the storm is unpredictable and the path could change drastically before it touches land. As of 5:00 p.m. it was announced that classes and all other activities are cancelled from Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. through Friday at 11:59 p.m. Many other universities, including UNC Chapel Hill and NC Central University cancelled classes as well. Men’s soccer vs. FAU at home, football vs. Old Dominion at home and women’s soccer vs. Rice at home are still scheduled to occur. Volleyball at N.C. Central, women’s tennis at College of Charleston, men’s tennis at Liberty and at Duke and cross country at NC State have all been cancelled. In the meantime, many are buying bottled water and gasoline in anticipation of shortages. Charlotte Water spokesperson Jennifer Frost told the Charlotte Observer, “Right now, we are prepared for any emergency.”

As of Monday, September 10 Hurricane Florence is a Category 4. UNC Charlotte sent out an email informing students that there is a normal schedule under effect because the “…area is not expecting significant effects from the storm beyond moderate to heavy rain and some gusty winds.” According to the National Hurricane Center, the Charlotte region has a greater than 50 percent chance of experiencing tropical storm-force winds (between 39 and 73 mph) later this week. Eastern Carolina University and NC State have both cancelled classes, ECU beginning Tuesday at noon and NC State beginning Wednesday evening. Dreamville Festival, which was supposed to take place Saturday in Raleigh, has been cancelled and all tickets refunded. Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on September 7.