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    Nov 04 2015

    NPHC hosts annual stroll off


    Among the homecoming traditions established by faculty and students for years to come, one in particular brings much excitement to the African American community.

    On Friday night, students, alumni, faculty, and guests arrived at Talley Student Union’s Piedmont Mountains Ballroom to attend the 2015 NPHC Stroll Off. Open to the public, the NPHC Stroll off is a greek fraternity and sorority step show that allows participants to exhibit their talents while representing their organizations before judges.

    The Mu Xi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta of North Carolina State University and the Gamma Tau Chapter of Iota Phi Theta of Shaw University won the stroll off.

    “A win is just a win, until you add up the hours you put in to get that win, until you total the conflicts and resolutions that occurred throughout the process of preparing for the show,” Cynthia Sharpe, a member of Zeta Phi Beta said.“The hard work paid off. Tonight we got more than just a win.”

    Hosts Ivana Mbdullah, a member of the Mu Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Josh Moore, a member of the Kappa Lambda Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. entertained the audience with jokes and crowd interaction.

    Participants battled for three rounds, each with a different meaning. The first round required them to create a tribute performance using a mix of one artist’s songs. The Kappa Lambda and Psi Delta chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. strolling to a mix of DMX songs such as “How It Goin’ Down and the Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” the Ques maintained synchronized steps and hops while ending in memorable side splits.

    The ladies of the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. who dedicated their performance to Missy Elliott, created a fun vibe with their interactive routine. The Gamma Tau Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. performed a routine in tribute to Tupac.
    To finish round one, the ladies of the Mu Xi Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. honored Beyonce and Destiny’s child synonymously. With cartwheels and crowd participation, the Zetas even recreated the “Cater 2 U,” performance by Destiny’s Child.

    Round two asked participants to perform to a mix of songs that would be considered songs of uplift and empowerment. Omega Psi Phi started the round off by creating a Black Empowerment statement strolling to songs such as “Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A.”

    Alpha Kappa Alpha grabbed the crowd’s attention dressed as Black Panthers as well as displaying the black power symbol of a raised fist. Incorporating songs such as “Glory,” by John Legend and Common and “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” by James Brown made their empowerment statement loud and clear. Iota Phi Theta created a poetic justice atmosphere with their use of songs such as the interlude from “Testify,” by Common and “U.N.I.T.Y.,” by Queen Latifah.

    Zeta Phi Beta used songs of independence to make their empowerment statement. Songs such as “Independent,” by Neyo and “RESPECT,” by Aretha Franklin. This wave of empowerment addressed many social justice issues through song choice and body movements.

    The final round allowed participants to do a freestyle performance that could showcase any talents. Omega Psi Phi kicked off the last round strolling to songs by Drake, Future, and J Cole. Alpha Kappa Alpha maintained the hype choosing crowd favorites like, “Hotline Bling.” Iota Phi Beta incorporated acting, costume changes, and a medley of music ranging from rap to rock. Ultimately, the Zetas finished the round strolling to songs such as, “That’s my best friend.”

    “The two month planning process was hectic but I had an amazing supporting staff to help out,” said Moore. “Instead of letting our smaller council size affect us, it made us more effective or lean. Dealing with chapters’ prior obligations was tough but I think that the committee put on a great show even with a limited council in terms of chapter sizes.” Moore studies sustainable materials and technology and Mbdullah, also a senior studies textile engineering.

    Members of the judging panel included those affiliated with the National Pan-Hellenic Council along with a representative from Greek Life.

    Nov 04 2015

    Students respond to controversial “black” parody party with Town Hall

    Ben Assefa   Correspondent

    in Witherspoon Student Center following the news of a racist parody themed costume party hosted by students off-campus.

    It was following the release of the Technician’s article, “Student party at The Retreat parodies ‘black culture’,” that most students and faculty heard about the party. The article discussed the blatantly stereotypical and racist theme of a “BET vs CMT” party was attended by students who had past ties to the former Interfraternity Council (IFC), organization, Theta Chi fraternity.

    At the meeting were a wide and balanced group of representatives from various organizations, such as the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, IFC, Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Government members, and individuals who came as simply concerned students.

    Attendees shared their reactions and gave general statements about how they felt in regards to the party.

    One word descriptions were thrown into the discussion by facilitators to get a general idea of how individual’s thoughts. Shocked, annoyed, embarrassed, and were a few of the words used.

    “I’m not surprised at all,” said Soraya Russell, a sophomore studying international relations.

    Russell said it frustrates her she’s not surprised. “It happens here and other places. And nothings being done about it.”

    Kiara Hicks a senior in sports management said the news of the party was an insult, being that Diversity Week had been days before. “Diversity week was just last week, yet here we are. The main people attending programs are of the minority communities–the ones constantly marginalized. People want to throw a party that generalizes. There’s so much more that happens, that people choose not to represent. They’re just taking the stereotypical position. You see plenty of Blacks around campus but choose to stereotype us in this light, ” Hicks said.

    As the evening progressed, the conversation held onto the focal point of the conversation, with the party still being the premise, but eventually the Town Hall Meeting went beyond the on the surface problem, and went into the systemic flaws that we’ve all become victim of. In a very well-organized fashion, facilitators Jasmine Cannon, vice president of The Society of Afrikan Amerikan Culture (SAAC) and Kinesha Harris, president of AYA Ambassadors asked the audience to break up into groups of people whom you do not know and coordinate amongst one another to work on ideas, collectively, to come up with possible resolutions or suggestions to respond accordingly to the CMT vs BET incident and others like it.

    Groups had an array of excellent ideas. One of the most commonly thought up idea, amongst all groups, involved an incentive initiative.

    It goes without saying that the Pack loves its sports and its loyalty points. A suggestion made from that would be to reward loyalty points for going to certain cultural events or seminars on cultural awareness. Another similar thought was to allow card swipes at the Pan-Afrikan Festival for people to earn loyalty points and to hopefully learn something about their fellow peers. This idea stirred the audience, as their interest became peaked and showed much interest in following up this idea.

    Other ideas revolved around more consequence based actions, rather than rewarding based actions. Suggestions for mandatory sessions involving cultural competence followed by a certain level of accountability also caught the attention of myself and other members of the audience. Simply put, if you go to one of these cultural competence sessions and repeat such a violation then consequences should follow up immediately. Similar ideas involved forcing students to take a class that offers curriculum on cultural diversity if the Code of Conduct has been violated by said student.

    The third and, perhaps, most effective means of reaching out to the greater community and work on bridging gaps and truly understanding one another was through personal connections. Ideas such as peer education, a seminar led by peers, face to face conversations that have situational simulations.

  • Frank Warren, creator behind the project Post Secret, shares his ideas about secrets, and the power that can come from sharing them at Pop!Tech in 2008. Kris Krüg
    Nov 04 2015

    Secrets are the currency of intimacy

    Homecoming speaker shares the power of secrets

    Zoe Wilson   Correspondent

    To kick off the start of Homecoming week, NC State hosted the creator of PostSecret Frank Warren, who is now known as the most trusted stranger in the world.

    Warren spoke to a large crowd about his experiences that led him to create the successful PostSecret network. Ten years ago Warren thought of a crazy idea and decided to hand out thousands of blank postcards to strangers all over Washington DC, and encouraged them to send an anonymous secret to his home address. His goal was to get 365 postcards, one for every day of the year. Today his total count of secrets he has received to his home surpasses 700 million.

    “It didn’t take long before my crazy idea didn’t seem so crazy,” said Warren. When he first created PostSecret, he did not know what kind of path it would take until he received one postcard in particular, that gave him an epiphany of how he could uses all of these secrets to help people.

    One side of this specific post card had a picture of a door with a hole in it. On the other side it read, “The holes are from when my mom tried knocking down my door so she could continue beating me.” The day he uploaded this on his website it got one million views and others started sharing similar secrets, and although this did not solve their abusive secrets, it gave them an outlet to make their burden seem lighter so they could feel a little bit better.

    Warren could personally relate with this postcard and admitted that he too had a similar door in his childhood experiences. He also shared some of the hardships he has endured in his life such as losing a friend and family member to suicide, being homeless, having mental illnesses and having to get help for his depression. He was very thankful that he was able to find help when he needed it, and decided to guide his website towards helping others who are struggling with their secrets.

    Since the creation of PostSecret, Frank has been able to donate over one million dollars to suicide prevention hotlines. “Children almost broken by the world are most likely to change it,” said Warren. “If you can find your way through the darkness to light, and I believe you can, whether it is through medication, religion, therapy, a friend, music, or art, on the other side you will be transformed. You’ll have this beautiful story of healing, a story you can use to help others.”

    Warren spoke of psychological research done on secrets that found those carrying a secret about being homosexual or having affairs in their marriage are more likely to get sick. Warren encouraged his audience to let go of their secrets because it leads you “closer to the person you’re supposed to be, doing the work only you can do.”

    Graecie Vrchota, a senior majoring in social work, told Warren after his speech, “When my brother came out to our mom, she bought him your PostSecret book as a way for him to feel better about his secret.”

    The PostSecret project was created by Warren in 2005, today people continue to mail their secrets anonymously on homemade postcards. Selected secrets are posted on the PostSecret website

  • Austin Grooms, a freshman currently undeclared, poses with Joe Englese, who is not listed within the NC State directory. Grooms posted the photo to Instagram Thursday night.
    Oct 23 2015

    Student party at The Retreat parodies ‘black culture’

    Kaitlin Montgomery,  Technician Editor-in-Chief; Chris Hart-Williams, Nubian Message Editor-in-Chief; Rachel Smith, Technician Assistant News Editor; Brenden Parsons, Technician Staff Writer

    One week after NC State Diversity Education Week a party was thrown at The Retreat At Raleigh Thursday night, where students donned racist costumes depicting stereotypes of black culture.

    Friday afternoon an Instagram photo surfaced from the party showing two students. One was dressed in blue jeans and a tucked in plaid button down. The other had a blue bandana covering half his face, a wrinkled white t-shirt, a backwards baseball cap, dark wash jeans and his hand prominently displaying the 13 hand sign used by the Crips gang.

    The photo was posted by Austin Grooms, the student in the plaid button down, a freshman currently undeclared and a resident of The Retreat. The male in the blue bandana is Joe Englese, who is not listed within the NC State directory. The photo’s caption read “CMT v BET.” Comments on the photo ranged from, “You literally look like a country singer” to “What a good theme” and “Boiz gettin dirty.”

    Country Music Television vs. Black Entertainment Television, commonly known as “CMT vs. BET” is a well known college party theme. Partygoers dress up much like Grooms and Englese did in an effort to parody popular country and black culture.

    The theme received national attention in April 2014 when a fraternity and sorority at McDaniel College in Maryland were placed on “deferred suspension” after being accused of throwing a “CMT vs. BET” -themed house party.

    The Baltimore Sun reported that McDaniel spokesperson Cheryl Knauer said it “promoted negative stereotypes and was insensitive and offensive.”

    The Baltimore Sun wrote that, “as part of the deferred suspension, the two organizations will host mandatory educational programs with a focus on sensitivity and diversity awareness.”

    At this time, the Technician has not been able to confirm the hosts of the party which had students affiliated with Theta Chi in attendance, such as Grooms and Englese.

    “CMT v BET” -themed parties are not unusual at NC State. Just last year one was hosted by Delta Gamma as a mixer with a fraternity.

    According to the NC State Fraternity and Sorority Life website, Theta Chi fraternity had its recognition revoked by the university in April 2015 due to multiple drug violations. The organization is currently eligible to return in June 2019. The university will work with national organization to re-establish the chapter.

    When reached for comment Friday afternoon Grooms initially denied attending the party Thursday night. When asked of the photo on Instagram Grooms recanted then confirmed his attendance saying, “we dressed up like music awards shows.”

    When asked who the other person in the photo was Grooms said, “I don’t really remember …” However, Grooms tagged Joe Englese in the Instagram photo on Facebook.

    Several other former Theta Chi members were reached out to for comment who either did not respond or gave no comment.

    John Miller IV, first year graduate student studying higher education administration and former African American Cultural Center’s AYA ambassador’s president, said he was baffled by the picture.

    “I am struggling with the perception of CMT vs. BET,” Miller said. “I am struggling with the portrayal of something that is very presentable and something that is still very tolerable and then when you speak on BET, that is not BET that is the gangster culture. You’re representing thugs so you’re saying BET is how all Black people dress.”

    Jasmine Cannon, a senior majoring in women and gender studies and vice-chair of the Afrikan American Student Advisory Council, said she’s shocked that people just don’t seem to get the problem.

    “They are still not getting it even though there are a lot of diversity efforts on campus every single day — the students that need it are still not getting it,” Cannon said.

    Jamaal Andrew Harrison, a second-year graduate student studying higher education administration, said that the picture showcased a deeper issue than just people appropriating another race’s culture.

    “After hearing about the situation I was very galvanized by some of the images that I saw to have something themed ‘CMT vs. BET,’ that already pitfalls and pits African Americans vs. White Americans,” Jamaal said. “Once again perpetuating the different races. Not only is this move perpetuating stereotypes, but given the history, the recent history and the history of NC State, are you doing this for the shock factor? Because you know that there is a good number of African American students that are enrolled here … are you doing this because you want to get that talk going or are you doing this because you are sincerely not informed about the historical tension between African Americans and White Americans and if so I do think this becomes an institutional issue?”

    Miller said that regardless of what was or wasn’t meant by the costumes, the picture hurts him personally.

    “I take this as a personal disrespect,” Miller said. “For someone to say that they are dressing as a person who is represented on Black Entertainment Television then I would truly like them to come and have a conversation with me. Face to face. Explain to me how this represents somebody who is on Black Entertainment Television or what that means to be on Black Entertainment Television.”

    Grooms has removed the photo from Instagram, however the photo is still posted on Facebook.

    Justine Hollingshead, assistant to the vice chancellor and the dean for academic and student affairs, said her office is trying to get more information so it can handle the situation from a university standpoint.