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Tuesday January 31st

Hinton hopes to revive UNC's Homecoming with new fee

The President of the Carolina Union Activities Board, Cierra Hinton, made efforts to improve homecoming this fall.
Buy Photos The President of the Carolina Union Activities Board, Cierra Hinton, made efforts to improve homecoming this fall.

Senior Cierra Hinton remembers when she attended N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University’s Homecoming football game during the fall of her senior year of high school.

She can’t remember the team that the Aggies played, or even if they won, but she can remember the feeling on the university’s Greensboro campus.

“It was a real family atmosphere,” Hinton said. “It was a great feeling of people coming home, a very exciting feeling for a student. That feeling made me want to go to A&T.”

Now Hinton, president of the Carolina Union Activities Board, says she hopes to bring some of that feeling to UNC through a proposed fee that would raise money directly for the group’s annual Homecoming concert.

And although the amount of the fee hasn’t been determined, the proposal — and the bubbling student discontent that arose when indie-rock group the New Pornographers headlined this year’s show — underlines common misconceptions about the organization of the University’s Homecoming week.

This year’s UNC Homecoming concert was contracted at $40,000. The unofficial ticket total for the Oct. 29 show was 703, the Carolina Union Box Office reported.

Last year’s Passion Pit show, which cost CUAB $99,000, sold nearly 4,500 tickets.

“It’s really hard to bring in an artist that everybody is going to like,” Hinton said.

CUAB receives a third of the student activity fee, which forms the core of its annual operating budget.

The CUAB president will bring her fee proposal to student congress before the end of the fall semester. If approved, the fee could come up for a vote in the spring 2012 student elections.

Unlike N.C. A&T, which packages most of its Homecoming events under the banner of an event promoter, UNC plans its alumni weekend in a piecemeal fashion.

“The Carolina Athletic Association plans the week, and we support their committee,” said Laura Sheppard, the General Alumni Association’s coordinator of Homecoming and Affinity Reunions.

“We don’t provide money to the concert and don’t make decisions on what artists they bring.”

At N.C. A&T, a student committee dedicated to Homecoming starts planning the week in April and puts together music artists and big ticket event lineups through student surveys, said Christopher Wade, the N.C. A&T student government association’s vice president for external affairs.

“We have a separate budget of about $135,000 to $150,000 set aside from student government that is specifically for Homecoming,” he said.

The committee employs an event promoter, who helps bring the week’s total cost up to as much as $500,000, Wade said.

“This is like our big family reunion.”

Hinton, who transferred to UNC as a sophomore, said her first Homecoming in Chapel Hill wasn’t nearly as memorable as her first in Greensboro the year before.

“I don’t distinctly remember anything about my first Homecoming at UNC,” she said. “I just wasn’t interested in going.”

Hinton said a more popular concert may make the Homecoming season more inclusive.

“I want everyone to work together to make events and concerts that reach out to more than one group or type of student,” she said.

CUAB members initially said that the New Pornographers were chosen to appeal to graduate students. Alex Mills, treasurer for the graduate and professional student federation, said he doesn’t think graduate students are that group.

“I think they tried to use us as a reason for picking a particular group,” he said. “But I just don’t get the concert aspect — Homecoming is supposed to be about alumni, and this whole controversy over concerts seems kind of silly.”

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