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UNC-system happenings for March 31 through April 4

UNC-C dorm safety improved

The death of a UNC-Charlotte student is calling residence hall safety standards into question.

UNC-C student Josh Helm of Hillsborough fell fatally from a ledge outside his room on the seventh floor of Moore Hall, said John Bland, university spokesman.

“The death of a student — especially one that occurs on campus – is a blow to the entire campus community,” Bland said.

Bland emphasized that the window in question is impossible to fall from unless sitting on or stepping through to reach the ledge. He also said that the residence hall contracts strictly prohibit being on top of window ledges or balcony railings.

“The casement windows at Moore Hall are operable, as they were designed to be when the building was completed in 1970,” he said. “At that time, Moore Hall did not have sprinklers (which have been retrofitted), and so having windows that open onto ledges provided some access to students and the fire department in times of emergency.”

He said the university is already engaged in a renovation plan for high rise residence halls, and although window designs for the renovated buildings have not been finalized, it is likely that they will not open all the way.

UNC-A student leads charity

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz is still in the first half of her college career, but she’s already in the business of helping young girls get educated.

Watkins-Cruz, a sophomore at UNC-Asheville, is the president of her campus’ chapter of She’s the First, a nonprofit organization that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world in hopes of creating first generation graduates.

“Our organization raises money for girls’ education in the developing world through creative fundraisers that range from bake sales to 5ks and Zumba marathons,” she said.

The organization hopes to train and inspire the next generation of young leaders to create global change both here and across the world, she said.

“I joined this effort because of a teammate of mine in 2012 who pushed me to go to the She’s the First leadership summit,” she said. “When I realized how much I could relate (at a different degree) to the cause, being someone who relies completely on financial aid and scholarships, I found it almost natural to raise awareness and funds for a cause that I was apart of in a way already.”

Watkins-Cruz said the most recent event they held was a 5k, where they successfully raised $1,000 for a high school senior in Tanzania.

UNC-G students win award

Samuel Troy, an executive in residence at the Bryan School of Business at UNC-Greensboro, recently helped coordinate a project that received national recognition.

The project, which won the 2014 Small Business Institute’s project of the year award, consisted of a partnership between MBA students at the school and Raffaldini Vineyards in Wilkes County.

Students from the school collaborated with the vineyard to determine the feasibility of establishing a full-service restaurant adjacent to the winery, Troy said.

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“The MBA students not only researched the feasibility of the proposed establishment but also developed a comprehensive business and marketing plan for the proposed restaurant,” he said. 

“Many times (students) themselves did not have the answers to specific questions and would have to reach outside their comfort zones to find people who could assist them.”

Troy said this type of success is beneficial to the students and the school.

“When colleges and universities work together with industry on real-world projects, the students are more likely to enter the workforce more quickly and become more productive employees faster,” he said.

Project at UNC-P fights cancer 

UNC-Pembroke senior Ernest Bethel started a philanthropic project in collaboration with UNC-P’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to raise money for breast cancer patients.

Bethel used a social media program called “dollar-per-follower” to raise money through Twitter, according to a press release from the university.

The release said he wanted to bring about a good news story to counteract recent negative attention on Lumberton being the poorest city in the nation.

Bethel said in the release that he and his friend amassed nearly 700 followers on Twitter and raised more than $700 for the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which will assist an 82-year-old cancer patient named Helen.

Bethel said his family has a history of cancer, giving him a personal connection to the issue.

“My family has been affected by it on my mother’s side. My aunt died about two years ago. We had Thanksgiving at her place and everyone got to speak to her before she died two weeks later,” he said in the release.

Bethel’s project was a success, landing a spot in two newspapers and a feature on the local news.

“Just because you are not rich, doesn’t mean you can’t give,” he said.