Sara Carson

Sara Carson is the News Editor for the Niner Times and has been working with the newspaper since August 2013. She is a communications major with double minors in journalism and English.

A Konversation with Kuechly: football, Cookout and UGGs

Konversation with Luke Kuechly. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Konversation with Luke Kuechly. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly spoke at UNC Charlotte March 23 as part of the Forty-Niner Forum Speaker Series, UNC Charlotte’s Center for Leadership Development sponsored the Konversations with Kuechly” event.

According to the sponsors, roughly 600 students gathered in McKnight Hall for the event, and of those in attendance, one student was chosen to interview Kuechly at the event.

Senior psychology major Meaggan Cochran was the winner and came prepared with questions covering several different topics.

The two talked about topics ranging from football, Cookout, North Carolina and UGG boots to Kuechly’s upcoming 24th birthday.

Once Cochran’s interview with the star was completed, the audience had a chance to offer Kuechly their questions. Though most questions were as simple as “Can I take a selfie with you?” one student’s question asked a bit more of the linebacker. A female student involved in UNC Charlotte’s Greek life asked Kuechly if he would attend an upcoming formal event with her. Though he politely declined, he did settle for a selfie with the student.

Cochran: What makes you a great leader, and what qualities do you think a great leader possesses?

Kuechly: Coming in, I was the youngest guy on the team. My mentality was to work hard, keep my mouth shut and play as hard as I could. Fortunately for me, I’ve got Thomas Davis. Thomas leads in the best way possible – he’s a vocal guy, he leads by example, he works hard, he shows up every day. When I got there, I thought, ‘I wanna be like Thomas.’ So I believe in working as hard as you can and being true to yourself.

You’ve been in the North Carolina area for about five years now. We’ve got this restaurant called Cookout, and the top question for me personally was what you get in your Cookout tray. I was very disappointed to find out that you have not had food from Cookout. But you have had a Cookout milkshake?

So, we have this place in Cincinnati. It’s a gas station and it has an ice cream bar in the little shop. They have the best milkshakes. So when I got down here, I had to find a place that had milkshakes. I was going around asking a bunch of guys where can I get a milkshake. I went to a couple different places and they weren’t really what I wanted. So I went to Cookout and I got a strawberry milkshake. It’s different, but it’s a good different.

Can you talk a little bit about your training and some of the greatest inspirations and what keeps you motivated?

I try to watch other guys, but at the same time you’ve got to watch yourself. During the season, I watch tape of other teams. You got to take a look at the season and see what you did well at and what you didn’t do so well at. The areas you didn’t do so well at, you need to put a lot of energy into. Watch yourself, watch others then try to put it all into action out on the field.

So you talk about watching yourself and how there’s always room for improvement. If you could go back and tell your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Just enjoy the moment. Coach Ron Rivera always talks about ‘Be where your feet are.’ If you start to really think about that, what does it really mean? Where your feet are, that’s where your brain should be. You shouldn’t be thinking ‘Well I’m here, but I’m thinking about what I’m gonna do when I get home?’ Maybe you guys have a test you’ve got to take or your parents are coming in, but just be where you are right now. That helps when you’re in meetings, that helps when you’re in practice and it really just helps you focus on what’s most important.

What is your favorite memory you’ve experienced with the Carolina Panthers?

The couple of games that are highlighted for me are when we played in 2013 against the Saints at home. That was the rain game when there was a torrential downpour. They had just smacked us two weeks earlier at the dome. We needed to win that game to be first in the division and go to the playoffs. We were playing well, we were playing tough, and then the rain came down and the crowds just erupted. That’s one of my favorite things about playing in Carolina, is that our fans are great. You guys are awesome. You guys really impact the game, especially on defense. It gives everyone energy. There’s nothing like playing in Carolina. We all love it – you can ask any of the guys on the team. This year was special because of you guys and we hope to do it again next year.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly taking photos with fans. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly taking photos with fans. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

What hobbies do you have outside of football?

I have two brothers and since I was a little kid, my dad would take us either fishing or hunting. I tend to fish more now than hunt. Fishing is fun. It’s quiet usually and you’re with your buddies. I just enjoy being outside. When I was a kid, we would always go fishing and on the way home we would always stop and get ice cream. I think it started as a ploy for my dad to try to get us to go. So I like to fish, I like to hunt and I like to play golf. I’m not very good at it though. I really like the White Water Center, too – that’s my new favorite spot.

So tell me about your brothers. What do you admire most about John and Henry?

So John is my older brother; he’s 26 and Henry is my younger brother; he’s 17 and he’s a senior in high school. I’m right in the middle. I think the dynamic with my brothers is very different. I think John is the most even keeled; he’s a caring guy. I think the shirt off his back is kind of his mentality. He’s always been there for my brother and I and he’s very selfless. Henry is my younger brother and he’s very similar to me; he’s a basketball guy ad he’s very competitive. We go at it quite a bit competitively, but John is there to keep it all under wraps. It’s a fun dynamic – I enjoy having two brothers.

So you have a birthday coming up in less than a month. What are your plans to celebrate your 25th birthday?

That’s a good question, it’s coming up. I guess I’ve got to go to Cookout and I’ve got to go to the White Water Center. I guess I can rent a car now too.

What kind of car would you rent?

Well since it’s my birthday I’d have to rent a big van so I can take all my buddies with me and we’d all go to the drive through at Cookout.

I like to sing, and I like music. So I really want to know what is in your pre-game playlist?

So Greg Olsen is a Kings of Leon fan. He listens to that a lot around me, so that’s kind of sprinkled its way in. Also Taylor Swift kind of snuck in as well. Greg and his daughter both listen to a lot of Taylor Swift and somehow it kind of crept its way in. Usually it’s just Pandora.

What career path would you have chosen if you didn’t play football?

If I could pick whatever I want to do, I would probably move down to Key West, I would get a fishing boat and I would be a charter fisherman. People would call me up and I’d take them out to go fishing. I think that’d be awesome. You could just be out on the water all day in beautiful weather, catching some fish – it’d be very enjoyable.

Who is your biggest fan?

My mom.

What is your favorite thing to wear?

So a couple of years ago, Cam Newton got an endorsement deal with UGGs. So it was around Christmas time and we were all walking in, and on our chairs were these big brown boxes. So I’m walking up to my chair and I look and it says UGGs on it. I’m like, ‘I can’t wear these.’ So I put them in my locker and waited until after practice. Everyone had gone home and I was still there watching some tape and so I looked around the locker room and opened the box and put them on. I kind of looked at my foot and decided that they were pretty comfortable. From then on out whenever it’s cold out, I put them on. Those are my favorite thing to wear now when it’s cold outside.

Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

Belk Plaza planning open to community

“The UNC Charlotte community is invited to participate in the planning for the new Belk Plaza,” University Communication wrote in a letter electronically sent Monday.

According to the email, forums will be held for the public to “solicit input about the design of the space.” In an article published by Inside UNC Charlotte, the forums were described as a place where the public can chime in on “elements and principles to be considered in the design of Belk Plaza.”


Public forums will be held on Monday, Feb. 8 and 22 in the Cone Center’s Lucas Room on campus. The forums, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. will be open to students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public.

The forums will be held by the Belk Plaza Design Committee and Charlotte-based urban design and landscape architecture firm, Land Design.

The Belk Plaza Design Committee consists of 14 members who were appointed by Chancellor Philip Dubois. The members have been identified by Inside UNC Charlotte as representatives of the campus community and the city of Charlotte. UNC Charlotte’s landscape architect, Peter Franz will serve as chair to the committee.

A third forum will be held in the Lucas Room April 4, at 4 p.m. where a conceptual plan will be presented to the community.

A final plan for Belk Plaza will then be submitted to Chancellor Dubois and the UNC Board of Trustees for approval.

Sleepout for the homeless

The men of UNC Charlotte’s Phi Beta Sigma didn’t let falling rain and temperatures stop them from supporting the homeless Jan. 15.

In their annual Sleep Out For The Homeless event, nine members of the fraternity gathered in the Lynch Hall breezeway to collect goods and demonstrate solidarity with homeless individuals living in Charlotte.

During the sleep out, which the Rho Gamma chapter has held for more than 20 years, members assembled in the breezeway from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. the next day.

According to Brian Thompson, fundraising and philanthropy chair for the fraternity, all members remained in the breezeway for the entire 12 hours, with no shifts or breaks.

Phi Sigma Beta fraternity member holds up a sign asking for students to donate. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Phi Beta Sigma fraternity member holds up a sign asking for students to donate. Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

“We just feel as though the homeless community doesn’t get the awareness it should,” said Thompson. “People tend to shy away from the homeless, like they’re a problem.”

“They say, ‘If you give them money, they’ll just use it for obscenities and stuff like that’, but that’s not really the case. They do need help to get back on their feet. It is their choice to do what they want with the things we give them, but we would just like to provide as much as we can to them and get them back on their feet,” said Thompson.

The men of Phi Beta Sigma chose to do the sleep out not only during the coldest month of the year, but also on one of the coldest days of the year to signify their dedication to the cause.

“That’s the range where it’s the hardest in the streets for the homeless because of the weather, and it’s at night, so it’s just a little more difficult,” Thompson said.

In addition to the Lynch Hall breezeway offering a constant flow of students going to and from their residences, the breezeway was chosen as the location of the sleep out because of the protection it offers from the weather.

Participants furthered their “homeless” experience by gathering boxes to sleep and rest on throughout the night.

“If we chose to do it somewhere else, we couldn’t necessarily stay out as long as 7 p.m.-7 a.m.,” Thompson said. “Since we’re down here, we can still get the homeless experience, but get some kind of weather protection.”

“We do have the boxes down here, so later on, probably around two or three is when we usually break them out. Around then is when it starts getting really cold,” said Thompson.

Photo by Pooja Pasupula.
Photo by Pooja Pasupula.

The men also made and displayed signs that read things like “1 Out Of 5 Homeless Children in NC lives within 8 miles of Uptown Charlotte” and “The poverty of being Unwanted, Unloved and Uncared for is the GREATEST poverty.”

During their night in the breezeway, members collected items such as canned goods and non-perishable foods, clothing and money.

Fraternity members urged passersby – most of which were students – to contribute in any way they could.

Thompson urged students to use their declining balance at the nearby campus Outtakes to purchase things like Ramen Noodles to donate. Ten Phi  Beta Sigma alumni also joined in the sleep out, stopping by throughout the night to drop off donations.

In total, the fraternity collected more than 900 donations, all of which will be taken to the Urban Ministry Center.

If you missed Phi Beta Sigma’s Sleep Out For The Homeless event, but would like to donate, contact Thompson at

Hundreds participate in #NickStrong soccer tournament, over $1,000 raised

Photos by Jordan Snyder.

Twenty-six teams made up of UNC Charlotte students participated in the #NickStrong Soccer Tournament on Tuesday, April 21. The tournament was organized by UNC Charlotte’s women’s soccer team to support Nick Newberry, a Junior who suffered a traumatic head injury after falling down a flight of stairs in March.

Teams paid $40 each to register, raising a total of more than $1,000. Family, friends and students who wanted to watch paid a $3 entry fee. Entry fees raised between $200 to $400, according to Alex Weaver, member of the women’s soccer team.

“Every dollar counts. I’m so impressed with how it looks. The support of the community is just unbelievable,” said Weaver.

In addition to entry and registration fees, outside companies donated a total of $100 to the tournament.

Parker Cowan, close friend, fraternity brother and roommate of Newberry shared that his recovery process is moving steadily. He said Newberry is out of the coma, has his full memory and is walking and talking. He also reported that he is currently out of the hospital and is completing rehab at home.

In regards to returning to school, Cowan said, “As of now, he tells us he’s coming back in the fall, but it just depends on his rehab.”

“We have an appointment with the rehab doctor next week,” said Tabitha Newberry, Nick Newberry’s sister. “They can’t tell us about school yet because of the brain. He has to have neuropshycology testing to determine whether he’ll actually be able to do the school work. Fingers crossed and prayers up to God that he gets back soon.”

Tournament team “Frat Tricks” came in first place, winning a Zaxby’s gift card, donated by the restaurant.

“It’s mind-blowing the support we’ve gotten from his fraternity and his friends at school. It’s absolutely amazing,” said Tabitha Newberry.



SAE, women’s soccer team host #NickStrong Soccer Tournament to raise funds for injured niner


Photo provided by: Conner Traywick
Photo provided by: Conner Traywick

On Tuesday, April 21 UNC Charlotte’s Woman Soccer Team will join SAE to host a #NickStrong 7v7 Soccer Tournament. The event is being held to raise funds for Nick Newberry, injured UNC Charlotte student and SAE brother. Newberry has recently come out of a coma after suffering traumatic head injuries from a fall down a flight of stairs.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at UNC Charlotte’s Recreational Fields. Currently, there are 26 teams registered to play. It costs teams $40 to register, and it costs attendees $3 to view the tournament. Teams can consist of no more than 12 players.

“My goal is to bring a community together to help a fellow Niner in need,” said Alex Weaver, member of the woman’s soccer team. “Nick is a close friend to the soccer team, so I made this tournament as a way for myself and my team to give back to him and his family.”

All proceeds from the soccer tournament will directly benefit Newberry’s medical funds.

For any questions regarding the soccer tournament, email:

To donate, visit:



UNC Charlotte community unites to raise funds for injured Niner, Nick Newberry

From left to right: SAE brothers Parker Cowan, Cole Binkley and Nick Newberry at the Fall 2014 Phi Alpha Retreat.  Photo courtesy of  NIck Newberry’s Facebook Page
From left to right: SAE brothers Parker Cowan, Cole Binkley and Nick Newberry at the Fall 2014 Phi Alpha Retreat. Photo courtesy of NIck Newberry’s Facebook Page


In the past three weeks, the UNC Charlotte community has come together to raise money for 22 year old Nick Newberry. Newberry is a student at UNC Charlotte as well as a member of the university’s SAE chapter fraternity.

On the evening of March 20, around 12:15 a.m., Newberry fell down a flight of stairs as he was making his way to go to bed. After tumbling backwards down the stairs, it was reported by roommates that he hit his head on the floor when he reached the bottom.

“He tumbled backwards all the way down our flight of steps and drilled the back of  his head on the hardwood floor,” said Parker Cowan, fellow SAE brother at UNC Charlotte’s chapter.

After his fall, friends rushed to Newberry’s aid, requesting medical attention immediately after realizing he was in a critical state.

“We rushed over to see if he was okay and realized he was unresponsive and immediately called the paramedics,” said Cowan.

Soon after, medics arrived, placing Newberry on a stretcher and transporting him to Carolinas Medical Center’s Main Campus, where he remains today in a coma.

There is currently no set amount of time doctors have given for Newberry’s recovery.

“The doctor has told his family that he is listed as ‘day to day’,” said Cowan. “Nick has severe traumatic brain damage and is fighting every day to stay alive. The doctor has told his family that there will be multiple surgeries as well as a very long process of rehab.”

After hearing of the long road to recovery including brain surgery and rehab, the brothers of SAE realized to help Newberry with his injury, they needed to support him not only emotionally, but also monetarily.

The fraternity then thought to create a fundraiser in which people throughout the UNC Charlotte community could contribute money to help facilitate the costs of Newberry’s medical expenses.

Cowan, being one of Newberry’s closest friends, created a GoFundMe account for Newberry, with a target goal amount of $10,000.

“Nick is one of my best friends, my roommate, and also my little brother within the fraternity,” said Cowan.

The community surpassed Cowan and SAE’s goals by meeting the target goal within the first eight hours the page was created.

Within 24 hours of the page being created, theGoFundMe account had raised a total of $17,000 for Newberry.

“This just shows you the type of kid Nick is,” said Cowan. “He is loved by so many people.”

“I’ve personally never seen so much genuine support than I have with this situation. It speaks volumes about the kind of guy Nick is,” said fellow SAE brother Conner Traywick.

Newbery’s GoFundMe account has currently raised $22,561 but will be accepting donations for the foreseeable future.

All money raised will go directly to Newberry’s father and sister who will be primarily responsible for paying his medical bills.

Donors on the page have not only ranged from Newberry’s family members, fraternity brothers, fellow students and people in the Charlotte community, but also scope to individuals from different states throughout the country who are members of the SAE fraternity.

“We have had donations from all over the country,” said Cowan. “Members of SAE from all across the nation have made donations up to $500 which is truly amazing.”

In regards to the new goal now that the initial $10,000 has been surpassed, Cowan noted that no new goal has been set due to the uncertainty of exactly how many surgeries will be needed, or how long Newberry will have to be in rehab, nobody is sure how high expenses will be.

In addition to creating the GoFundMe account, SAE brothers at UNC Charlotte are selling bands for $3 on campus that read #NickStrong. in the first three days of sales, the brothers raised a total of roughly $900, which will directly benefit Newberry’s family.

The brothers will also host a #NickStrong soccer tournament with the UNC Charlottte Women’s Soccer Team on April 21 at 7 p.m.

Teams of seven can enter to play by paying a $5, and individuals can attend after paying a $3 fee. All funds raised at the tournament will also go towards Newberry’s recovery.

“Everybody loves him, and most are thinking about him nonstop,” said Traywick. “I don’t go five minutes through my day without thinking about how he’s doing. He’s proving to be one hell of a fighter though. He ain’t goin’.”

To donate through Newberry’s GoFundMe account, visit:

Serio gives State of the University Address at Lunchtime Student Talk with chancellor

On Thursday, March 19, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois and Student Body President Steven Serio came together for a lunchtime discussion.

The discussion included an interactive Q&A between UNC Charlotte students and Dubois, along with free food for attendees.

The event was hosted by UNC Charlotte’s Student Government Association (SGA).

To close out the lunchtime conversation, Serio gave a State of the University Address.

During his speech, he addressed issues regarding his term as student body president.

Serio closed out his speech by saying, “Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout this past year. It has been an honor to work with different members and students of the university to truly help make improvements for what UNC Charlotte wants the most. Thank you for attending. Have a great day. Go Niners!”

Larcenies decrease in academic buildings, increase in Housing and Residence Life

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 2.39.59 PM

Though the number of reported larcenies has dropped over the last two years, the UNC Charlotte Police Department (UNCCPD) urges students to be proactive in securing their belongings to prevent theft.

Although UNCCPD provides services to students such as Operation ID, in which officers engrave student’s property for further identification if stolen, Sergeant Phillip Greco says on-campus thefts still occur, and can be prevented through student awareness.

According to police reports, the items stolen most often in order of most cases reported to least cases reported are laptops, cellphones and wallets.

In these reports, the leading cause for larcenies was leaving items unattended. Fifty-seven of the 91 reported larcenies resulted from items being left unattended by their owners.

“Like I said, 57 of the 91 larcenies last year were just because they [students] left their things out. And that’s a problem. It’s just difficult to change the way somebody thinks. We try the best we can, but we don’t always get through to everybody,” said Greco.

Because unattended items are stolen most often, Greco recommended that students take preventative steps to keep their property safe, whether unattended or not.

“Larceny is always a crime of opportunity. So if you remove the opportunity, it wont be there,” said Greco.

Some examples of preventative behaviors include purchasing cables that plug into the side and into the wall to support, secure and lock a laptop, installing GPS find your electronic devices, purchasing insurance or a theft policy on your items and engraving your devices through Opeation ID.

“Some of these laptops these kids have are $1,500, $2,000 and the laptop is like cash. You lose your laptop, its like losing cash,” said Greco.

A report that investigated reports of larcenies in 2013 and 2014 noted that the number of larcenies fell in campus buildings, but slightly raides in Housing and Residence life buildings.

Greco noted that officers plan to increase patrols in housing and residence life because of the increase in housing and residence life.

Part of the 32% decline in campus building larcenies may be due to the fact the Belk Gym closed in May 2104. The gym was the leader of campus buildings in the number of reported larcenies, having 30 in 2013 and only six in 2014.

According to the study, There would still be 19 fewer larcenies total in academic buildings in from 2013 to 2014 if you added 24 larcenies to the 6 ones reported in 2014.

Increased awareness about larceny prevention accross campus is believed to be a reason for this statistic.

Currently, the Student Activity Center (SAC) is the leader in campus buildings with reported larcenies. After completing researching the reports, Greco found  that most thefts in the SAC occur between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“This is because students will put their backpacks down, or their cell phones down. They’ll play basketball or go do something and they’ll come back and its gone,” said Greco.

Generally, UNCCPD has day shifts which run from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Greco noted that the squad plans to adjust the hours of day shifts so that officers can make sweeps of the SAC during the prime hours at which thefts occur most.

“They’ll do a sweep of the SAC to make sure the people that are in there belong in there…we’re hoping that by doing that we can reduce larcenies in that area.”

UNC Charlotte students are allowed to bring guests with them to the SAC. According to Greco, the problem is, students need to have their ID card with them, or they need to keep their guests close by while in the SAC.

“We walk right up to them and ask them, ‘Are you a student?’ and if they say they are a student, we’ll ask them for their ID, and if they say, ‘No I’m not a student, I’m with a student,’ then we want to know where that student is and make sure that person belongs in there and if not, we’ll ask them to leave,” Greco noted of how officers will sweep the SAC.

If a student either doesn’t have their card, or if a guest isn’t with the student they arrived with, they are asked to leave. If they come back, an officer will likely give them a trespassing citation.

“The SAC provides them [students] with lockers where they can lock their stuff up, but they’re not using them. They’re not using the resources the university gives them and so their stuff is being taken.”

So far this year, there have been 11 reported cases of larcenies.Seven of these cases reported were direc reults of unattended items.

If a student notices that an item has been stolen, they are instructed to call 704-687-2200, the university’s emergency number. A police officer will then be sent to take a report about the incident.

“The quicker we know it’s missing, the better the chances are of us tying to recover it.”

According to Greco, he believes public buildings on campus are the targets for most larcenies, as opposed to private residential buildings, as they are accessible to individuals within the Charlotte community who are far more likely to commit theft than students are.

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“For the most part, students are here for an education. They’re respectful of one another. They’re not stealing one another’s property. What happens is we get an outside element that comes onto the campus, and those public access buildings are our problem areas.”

On Feb. 11, UNCCPD released a safety email to UNC Charlotte students at their academic email expressing concern with recent larcenies and their causes. The email urged students to avoid leaving their items unattended, and shared statistica about larcenies occuring because of unsecured or unattended items.

“We just put out an email to all students to let them know what was happening – that larcenies are down, thefts are down but we still need their help. Please don’t leave your items unattended because 63% of the thefts are because of unattended items,” said Greco.

When larcenies do occur on campus, all investigations are handled by UNCCPD. The only time the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) would take over an investigation is if the device had a tracking service installed, and was shown as being located off campus. Even in this scenario, UNCCPD would likely travel to the location alongside CMPD to retrieve the stolen item.

“Even sometimes they [CMPD] might check a pawn shop and they might come up with some type of item that was stolen from the university and they would contact us, they’d contact our detectives”

“We just wanna get the word out to the campus community that we’re trying to do the best we can but we need their help,” said Greco. “If they would just be a little more conscious of what they’re doing we’d have a lot less thefts on campus. My goal is to try to get out to the students the fact that they need to secure their belongings.”

UNCC hosts first BOG meeting in 40 years – 3 university-based centers close, protestors escorted out

Photo by Casey Aldridge
Photo by Casey Aldridge

For the first time in 40 years, the UNC Board of Governors met at UNC Charlotte. During the Feb. 27 meeting, located at the university’s Student Union, board members voted to close three centers belonging to various schools within the UNC system.

The centers, which will close by Sept. 1, are: UNC Chapel Hill’s Center on Work, Poverty and Opportunity, N.C. Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity.

As the meeting began, protestors, many belonging to NC Student Power Union (NCSPU), began speaking loudly, above the voices of members of the Board of Governors, creating an alleged disturbance.

The various protestors, when standing from their seats, shared their distaste with the closing of centers, tuition increase and an unelected and unrepresentative Board of Governors.

“The Board of Governors didn’t previously have the right to close centers they feel aren’t performing satisfactorily, it used to rest with each university’s chancellor,” said Casey Aldridge, UNC Charlotte student and leader of UNC Charlotte’s NCSPU. “The Board granted themselves these powers, and that’s a dangerous precedent that will have consequences for professors and academic departments. We’re all very concerned by the tuition hikes which make our university more exclusive and less affordable, but we’re even more alarmed by what we see as an attack on academic freedom and integrity. If the Board of Governors is waging a witch hunt against political opponents of the General Assembly, it will be the downfall of our university system.”

Protestors ignored warnings from Board Chairman, John Fennebresque, which resulted in a total of five individuals being escorted out of the room by UNC Charlotte Police.

“We wanted to stop the vote from happening or at least delay it as long as we could, by speaking up, even if doing so was engaging in civil disobedience,” said Aldridge.

As protestors continued, one by one, standing, sharing their opinions and being escorted out, groups in the room began chanting.

“When education is under review, what do we do? Stand up, fight back,” they said. “No cuts, no fees, education should be free!”

According to UNC Charlotte Police, all individuals escorted from the room were compliant.

“No force was used, no citations were written and no criminal charges were pressed,” said Captain Josh Huffman, of the UNC Charlotte Police Department.

The five individuals did, however, receive trespass warnings from UNC Charlotte police, and were banned from the Student Union for the following 24-hour period.

“It’s a public meeting, but not a forum…that’s not what that’s for. Leading up to this meeting, there are lots of meetings where students are encouraged to take part…that’s where you do have valuable input, if that’s what someone wishes,” said Jeffrey Baker, UNC Charlotte chief of police.

Soon after the chanting began, Fennebresque called for a recess. The meeting reconvened in a much smaller room, allowing only enough seats for media.

“That’s where some of the confusion happened. Because it was a smaller location they reconvened in, that meant less people could get in there. And that’s where the chants and protests occurred,” said Huffman.

Since protestors were no longer allowed inside, they continued their chants directly outside of the door to the new room.

“That was a really small room. Our safety folks said we could only have so many people in there. So all of the media that was present were in that room. But there was just not enough room for anyone else. They [protestors] were screaming at the top of their lungs,” said Baker.

The initial room hosting the Board of Governors meeting had a capacity of 250 people seating, and standing room for about 20 more, according to Huffman.

“As we saw open seats, even though I was told the room was full, we reached out and we made sure students could go and sit in those open seats. So if someone says that wasn’t being done, that’s just not true at all. That’s exactly what we did. We didn’t have to do that, we wanted to, because we wanted to accommodate students that wanted to come in,” said Baker.

In addition to the two rooms in which the meeting was held, there was an overflow room in which students who were unable to get a seat in the main room could observe the meeting.

“All of the rooms have a specific occupancy, which is based on fire code. If we go over that, and something were to happen, or somebody were to get hurt, that would be a great liability for the university,” said Sarah Smyre, clery lieutenant and crime analyst for the UNC Charlotte Police Department.

Through the voice of their leader, NCSPU has noted they will not give up their fight against the Board of Governors. “Our campaign to save the centers and abolish tuition altogether is by no means over, and that’s a fight that will continue as long as it has to, by whatever means are necessary,” said Aldridge. “If we can’t vote or even speak out at meetings, we’re forced to look to more radical and inventive alternatives.”

The UNC Board of Governors will continue looking into centers throughout the UNC system, and investigate the possibility of future closures.

Sigma Tau Gamma holds Gold Medalist Pageant to raise money, awareness for Special Olympics Organization of NC

On Feb. 25, Sigma Tau Gamma will hold their second-annual Gold Medalist Pageant to benefit their philanthropy, the Special Olympics Organization of North Carolina.

The event, which will take place at 7 p.m. in Cone’s McKnight Hall, has a registration fee of $30 for anyone wanting to participate in the pageant. Registration is open to all female UNC Charlotte students.

A winner will be chosen by a panel of judges, which will consist of individuals belonging to various campus groups and organizations. Judges will score contestants on their uniqueness, creativity and organization.

Three winners will be named at the conclusion of the pageant. The third and second place victors will each receive flowers and a sash, while the first place contestant will receive not only flowers and a sash, but also a gold medalist crown.

As this is the Sigma Tau Gamma’s second time hosting the event, they hope to make improvement’s to this year’s pageant by including performances in between the participant’s acts.

“What we hope to accomplish by having this event is to be able to raise a significant amount of money for the special olympics,” said Charlie Graves, SigmaTau Gamma’s philanthropy chair.

Pageant attendance is $3 at the door, and is open to the general public.

MLK Celebration 2015 redefines civil rights in the 21st century

Keynote speaker and President of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, during his speech at the MLK Celebration 2015 on Tuesday. Photo by Ben Coon
Keynote speaker and President of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, during his speech at the MLK Celebration 2015 on Tuesday. Photo by Ben Coon

McKnight Hall filled with UNC Charlotte students, faculty and staff on Tuesday, Jan. 20 to remember the life, ideas and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr..

The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration 2015, sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Center, featured keynote speaker Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. Morial’s speech centered not only around King’s life and achievements, but also attempted to redefine civil rights in the 21st century.

“MLK and his life and his legacy are as relevant today as they ever were before,” Morial said as he brought his speech to a close.

Throughout the celebration, audience members were encouraged to post quotes and pictures they found uplifting and motivational to social media sites using the hashtag #MLKUNCC. To view some of the posts, click here.

The event concluded with a reception, consisting of a performance by choir group, Voices of Eden, and a candlelight ceremony.

Center City campus, new home to North Carolina Humanities Council headquarters

Photo by Sara Carson
Photo by Sara Carson

After working out of Greensboro since its inception in 1972, the North Carolina Humanities Council (NCHC) has decided to move its headquarters to UNC Charlotte’s City Center campus.

NCHC is “a statewide, non-profit agency that provides advocacy, grants and activities to support understanding of the humanities, especially in literature, history, art, music and philosophy,” said Neva Specht, chair of NCHC’s Board of Trustees.

The organization strives to encourage residents throughout North Carolina to fill their entire lives with learning, to not just stop upon graduation from high school or college. They do this by trying to create a common understanding of the different humanities among North Carolinians.

Although the organization has offices located throughout the state, they believe the new location of their headquarters will further facilitate their organization’s mission by giving the council additional access and visibility to current and potential partners within the community of Charlotte.

“Charlotte is the state’s most dynamic metropolitan market, increasingly cosmopolitan and home of vibrant business, education and cultural sectors,” said Specht. “We are excited about being there and having access to its ample resources and opportunities.”

In regards to the headquarters’ previous location, Specht said the council values the long and joyous relationship it had built with the Greensboro community, and rather than sever the ties it has with that region, it hopes to maintain those ties and form more throughout the state. NCHC will remain a statewide agency and continue to provide human initiatives in all 100 counties throughout North Carolina.

The official move date from Greensboro to Charlotte was on Jan. 2. Although currently only the executive director has relocated, NCHC plans to hire new employees who either currently reside in Charlotte, or would be willing to make the move.

The other four staff members who worked in the headquarters department declined offers to relocate, and no longer work with the organization although they will receive severance packages.

“The staff has been great to work with and have been wonderful advocates for the council,” Specht said. “I applaud each of them for their work, which has brought great benefits to our state and its citizens.”

Although the organization does not currently have any type of partnership with UNC Charlotte other than sharing property with them, they do have hopes to change that in the future.

“We look forward to growing our relationship with UNCC,” said Specht. “The university has been very welcoming.”

Work at the organization’s headquarters mostly consists of working with grants, administration, communications and development. One plus side to the new location is the elevation of these everyday tasks. NCHC will now be able to host events, panels, invite keynote speakers and host their quarterly board of trustee meetings. The staff will additionally be able to meet with project directors, donors and teachers.

New year, new securities

With the start of a new year, UNC Charlotte’s Police Department is looking to equip students with additional security measures. During the Fall 2014 semester, Police Chief Jeffrey Baker, along with Lieutenant Brian Thomas began looking into a mobile application called LiveSafe.

“LiveSafe is a new safety technology that combines a campus safety app for students with a cloud-based Command Dashboard for safety officials. It facilitates discreet and risk-free bystander intervention by community members through information sharing with campus safety officials,” as stated on LiveSafe’s webpage.

The application offers a variety of features that can not only facilitate students in a time of distress, but also help UNCCPD to send out alerts in the case of a campus emergency.

The home screen of the LiveSafe application. All photos courtesy of Lt. Brian Thomas.
The home screen of the LiveSafe application. All photos courtesy of Lt. Brian Thomas.

Say a student is walking to their dorm late at night from a nearby parking garage. If that student feels like they are in danger, there is a one-touch button, which can connect that student directly to emergency dispatch.

“That has been a concern related to us from time to time. From students, staff and faculty, having to dial -2200 to get our emergency dispatch is kind of a problem, they just didn’t like it. Now, with this app, you have an emergency button, and you just hit it and it automatically goes to -2200. So there is no dialing with that. So we do have that one-button availability to contact emergency dispatch,” said Baker.

When the button is pushed, the police department can track the student through the GPS installed in their cell phone.

If the student is able to take a picture of the suspect, he or she can send it directly to the emergency dispatch center through the mobile application.

If the student finds a hiding place somewhere between the parking garage and their dorm, and is unable to make any loud noises, LiveSafe has a feature where the student in distress can communicate via text messages with emergency dispatch.

Even if a student doesn’t happen to be in the presence of imminent danger, but simply doesn’t feel safe walking somewhere alone, LiveSafe has something to facilitate them as well. SafeWalk is a feature offered by the application that, when turned on, allows their phone to trace the route they take so that if something does happen to them, police can trace their steps.

A screenshot of the SafeWalk feature.
A screenshot of the SafeWalk feature.

In addition to these features, the application works through push button notifications. This means that if there was an incident on campus and the police department needed a quick way to alert students (whereas the general email notifications may not be fast enough), they can send information via push notifications.

Talk of implementing the application for students at UNC Charlotte has gone on for roughly a year, and one of the main areas of conflict keeping the university from partnering with the LiveSafe was the issue of funding. The application costs $3 per download on each student’s phone. UNC Charlotte, having a total enrollment of just over 27,000 students, would bring the total cost of LiveSafe to $81,000.

Acknowledging that students would likely not download the application if they had to pay for it out-of-pocket, Baker and Thomas went to Chancellor Philip Dubois to see if they could get funding from the university. After talking it over with Dubois, he gave great support for a potential contract with LiveSafe according to Baker.

“This is an initiative from the chancellor. He supported it and wanted to see this implemented. It’s one of his many safety initiatives,” said Baker.

Currently, the department is in a contractual stage with LiveSafe. Funding for the application was approved at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. The university’s Office of Legal Affairs is working through the details of the potential contract.

Baker hopes the application will be ready for students to download by the end of February 2015.

“We’re crossing our fingers. We’re hoping that’s (late February) when we can get this in place, or sooner, it just all depends. Maybe it’ll be the end of January – the sooner the better,” said Baker.

Since funding was approved, LiveSafe will be free for all undergraduate students. The department plans on encouraging students to download the mobile application through marketing it in a variety of ways. Baker said the department would market LiveSafe through tabling in the Student Union, attending classes in different colleges across campus, posts on Facebook and Twitter and releases through the campus public relations group.

“Any way that we can think to market this and to get students to sign up, we’re going to do it,” said Baker.

The chief hopes to accumulate a large number of downloads in June as the first SOAR sessions take place on campus to welcome freshman and transfer as well as their parents.

“In some ways we’re even going to be able to appeal to parents and say, ‘Look you know we have this available for your son or your daughter to download, and it’s a wonderful way that they can communicate with our emergency dispatcher,’” said Baker.

“We want to provide, as a university, as many modes of safety as we can…based on technology, we constantly have to upgrade and look to the future, what is best. Now what we see is that you can have a highly sophisticated application on your phone that will provide unlimited safety to students,” said Baker.

A variety of features offered on the LiveSafe menu.
A variety of features offered on the LiveSafe menu.

SGA low on funds for remainder of 2014-15 fiscal year

UNC Charlotte’s Student Government Association (SGA) has recently had to look into stretching their 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.

The budget is given to SGA’s Organizational Ways and Means Committee each year by Student Activities Fees Commission (SAFC), who allocates yearly budgets for many other on-campus organizations, such as the Campus Activities Board.

SGA uses these funds each year to distribute money to different student organizations, so that they can participate in activities such as conferences, retreats, competitions and fundraising events.

This year, SAFC allocated a total of $204,484 to SGA. Jared Dobbertin, Chairman of the Organizational Ways and Means Committee for SGA noted that although SGA does still have money left in their budget, the funds are decreasing faster than normal due to growth in the university.

“I think that the growth that our University has experienced has definitely affected the number of grant requests we’ve approved so far, said Dobbertin.

“We approve almost one new student org every week, and that’s just one other organization that is entitled to their portion of our budget. In the future, I’d love to see SGA receive a larger budget as we continue to grow.”

Student organizations have knowledge on roughly how much money SGA is allocated each year, and still continue to ask for certain frivolous things through grants, according to Dobbertin.

“This year, groups were just very aware of the budget that SGA offers and submitted lots of grant requests,” said Dobbertin.

In order to stretch the budget to make it last for the entire fiscal year, SGA plans to only approve student organization requests that meet a certain standard. They will only be approving and funding conferences and competitions.

SGA generally receives the largest number of grant requests from student organizations during the months of March and April. For that reason, they know that they need to save a great sum of their funds for that time of the fiscal year, rather than spend it during the first semester.

“We are not currently out of money for the year, but we are currently trying to stretch our budget for as long as we can,” said Dobbertin.

Dobbertin feels that the situation can only improve from its current condition, commenting, “The biggest set back that SGA will experience has already happened, unfortunately, in us not being able to fund events this semester and the first couple of weeks in January.”

SGA has similarly run out of funds in past years, although for different reasons.

Dobbertin noted that in the past, this likely occurred because SGA wasn’t following its procedures properly, which resulted in approving grants for student organizations that should not have been approved.

“The biggest changes my committee has changed in regards to what will be approved in the future is just clarifying what we would like to see travel requests to be used on,” said Dobbertin.

Travel requests are generally the most applied-for grant. These types of requests are used for student organizations who need help funding travel to any of the previously mentioned events, such as conferences, competitions and fundraisers.

Travel grants are usually anywhere from $500 to the maximum of $1,000 a student, depending on how many members of each individual organization plan on attending the event.

A record of all things SGA has approved for the 2014-2015 year thus far can be found at:

SGA will not have any additional senate meetings for the remainder of the semester. Their first senate meeting for the spring 2015 semester will be held in mid Jan.