Category Archives: Town of Wingate

Opioid Crisis Presents Alarming Challenge to both County and Country

Savanna Harris, Staff Writer

The opioid crisis is an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent here in our country. In 2016, there were over 63,600 overdose deaths in the United States alone, and more than two million people here are thought to be dependant on opioids, which are defined as drugs that replicate the pain-relieving effects of opium, such as morphine and oxycodone.

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Photo Credit: Savanna Harris From left to right, Trey Robinson, Jarrod McCraw, Lt. Brian Huncke

In order to raise awareness about this increasingly worrisome situation, the Batte Center here at Wingate University hosted a Lyceum this past Sunday, March 18, the third Lyceum in what is being called the Engaged Citizenship Series.

Throughout the program, a panel of ten speakers in total shared compelling information, as well as personal stories, regarding the crisis. Eddie Cathey of the Union County Sheriff’s Department began by saying, “We cannot arrest our way out of this.”

One major cause for this seemingly sudden crisis is the evolution of drugs that people are using. They have changed from what is expected, such as heroin and cocaine, to substances like bath salts and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  

The main reason for this change is research chemicals, which are chemicals used by scientists specifically for research and scientific purposes. They are more toxic and therefore more dangerous than other drugs, and due to their scientific necessity, can cheaply and easily be ordered online. Ann Hamlin, who worked as a forensic scientist for more than 30 years, summarized this perfectly by giving the statement, “The normal rules do not apply anymore.”

In order to provide a personal aspect, Wesley Keziah, who is a former addict, and Stephanie Cox, whose son died of an overdose, spoke next. Wesley described the way his addiction began with a prescription for oxycodone following back surgery. By age 19, he had transitioned to using heroin.

According to him, “It was normal to be high.” He went on to say that he was in and out of the Union County legal system more than 80 times, and that he tried to get help but was never sure where to go for it, and that he overall felt misinformed about the true consequences of drug use. Thankfully, however, he is now three and a half years sober, is married with four children, and teaches addiction ministry.

Stephanie Cox then told the heartbreaking story of her son, Trenton Phillips’ death. On May 12, 2015, he died of a heroin overdose. She recounted how they thought that Trenton’s addiction was under control, but went on to say, “I was fatally naive.”

Wesley and Trenton’s stories were both local. Many people who attended the Lyceum, including myself, were surprised to discover how strongly the opioid crisis is affecting not only our country, but Union County as well.

In 2017, there were 372 drug-related arrests in Union County, and the number of arrests and deaths continue to rise as the years pass. Contrary to popular belief, the most prevalent age group these arrests and deaths are occuring in is not young adults, but rather people age 50 and over.

However, the problem is beginning to be seen in young people and in schools. According to Jarrod McCraw of Union County Public Schools, there are approximately 43,000 students in the county, and school officials are seeing alcohol, marijuana, and Xanax frequently appear among them.

Abusing these substances can lead to the abuse of those that are even more damaging, as well as acting as a gateway for other crimes, such as stealing, human trafficking, driving while under the influence, and murder. Trey Robinson, who is the Union County District Attorney, said that, “Our courts are filled with drug-related cases.”

Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. Measures are being taken at both a local and state level to combat and end this crisis. Operation Medicine Drop is in place for people to properly dispose of prescription pills that are no longer needed.

An opioid crisis hotline is being proposed. A nasal spray called NARCAN, which is an emergency Naloxone treatment for overdoses, is now in use. This is greatly beneficial, seeing as in order for a doctor to administer Suboxone and Methadone, which are other overdose treatments, they are required to receive special training and are therefore few and far between.

Additionally, Representative Craig Horn of North Carolina House District 68 said that they are working to limit the length of time that drugs are prescribed to five to seven days maximum, thus reducing the number of pills prescribed annually. In 2016 in North Carolina, this number was 555,000,000.

They are also trying to get rid of prescription pads and lessen the number of prescription drug commercials that are legally allowed to be shown on television. All in all, remarkable efforts are being made towards bringing this crisis to an end.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Opinion: Wingate’s lack of emergency planning during the school lockdown

Ryan McKeel, Staff Writer

Shortly before Spring Break, Wingate University was put on lockdown on what was supposed to be just a normal Monday. In the middle of the day, law enforcement responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street south of US 74 across from the Wingate campus.

Members of the Wingate community were shocked to learn that while campus safety did their best to protect students, several problems at the institution existed that counteracted any successful measure by the team.

During the lockdown, several professors and staff members continued class, rehearsal, and practice within well-lit rooms with open blinds and propped-open doors as if to say “Hey! I’m in here, Mr. Gunman,” while forcing students to stay seated with their phones in their pockets and their eyes dead ahead. These professors either did not know what to do during a lockdown or seemingly did not care enough to follow procedures.

During the lockdown, some faculty members kept pursuing their lifelong mission of sharing trigonometry with disengaged students. They allowed their own selfish desire for control to override their position of authority, that commands them to protect their classroom community.

There were, however, countless reports of professors, some even near retirement, barricading doors with desks and chairs in an effort to protect themselves and the students with them. These employees followed protocol and attempted to do everything in their power to help the students they serve.

Only one problem existed above those helpful students and teachers: many of the doors on this campus do not lock.

Less than a month after the lockdown, University officials began to order and install locks on the door that could easily protect students during a lockdown, but why did it take a threatening situation to make this happen? Who decided to keep building gyms and dorms while doors could not yet lock? Why is it that this institution is seemingly so invested in what the campus looks like yet when it came down to protecting students most, we were left to barricade classrooms while some instructors who had no idea what to do?

The University needs to install systems of training required of all community members, including faculty, staff and students that actively prepare individuals for dangerous situations. All rooms on this campus should be prepared to protect its inhabitants, should students and faculty find themselves in it during a threatening scenario.

University employees who refuse to take matters like this seriously and would rather follow their own hidden agenda, should be fired.

It is easy to blame millennials for complaining, but students pay more in annual tuition and fees to this institution than some employees make in a year, yet it took a potentially life threatening day to start hearing their voices.

The community got lucky this time, but in a world that seemingly thrives off of school shootings, it is imperative that the Wingate community listens to the shouts of the angered and does something serious about protecting those who work, study and live on this campus. We will be the idiots the next time this happens, if we are not prepared.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Homicide across from campus causes schoolwide lockdown

Keyana Daye, Staff Writer

Wingate students started their Monday afternoon just like any other until the sound of a siren was played from the bell tower. A lockdown had begun. Earlier that morning the Union County law enforcement had responded to a report of a shooting on Jerome Street, which is across from Wingate University.

Once Campus Safety was notified, the University Crisis Management Team mobilized and the University initiated lockdown procedure. All students were notified to seek shelter to the closest building. The lockdown lasted an hour long until the University was advised by law enforcement to resume normal operations while law enforcement remained on campus. On Tuesday morning the suspect, Douglas Cleveland Colson, turned himself into custody of the Wingate police department.

The homicide that prompted a lockdown on Wingate campus happened shortly after 10am, Monday morning. The victim, Prentis Robinson, was live streaming on Facebook Live after leaving the Wingate Police Department from reporting cellular theft.

On his way back to his home, Douglas Colson appeared who he then exchanged a few words with. There are reports that Robinson had suspected Colson of drug dealing. Shortly afterwards shots were fired and a few minutes later he was pronounced dead on the scene. This all took place less than a mile away from Wingate University.

While the homicide took place approximately at 10 a.m., the lockdown on Wingate campus didn’t take place until a little after 11 a.m. Some students reported that they thought it was odd since they had been seeing helicopters in the sky over campus.

And there were some students, like Jessica Daniels, that had heard Wingate Elementary School was on lockdown around 11 a.m. When Daniels heard about this and saw helicopters outside, she decided to call Wingate Campus Safety to check on things.

She reported that a woman answered the phone but reacted as if it were the first time she had heard of there being an shooting. After a few minutes of being on hold, the woman said, “So, someone was shot in the area, but it’s not like there is a killer on the loose.”, and according to Jessica Daniels it was less than 10 minutes later that the lockdown was called for.

As soon as the siren was played, it would be expected that everyone who heard the siren would move into the nearest building and turn off all the lights. However, according to most students, nobody knew what to do or even knew what the siren meant.

Some students reported that people kept walking around as the siren played and that even 10 minutes into the lockdown some professors were still lecturing. And according to most students, the general census was that nobody knew that the lockdown had started until they received text alerts from Wingate Campus Safety. Also during the campus-wide lockdown, many students reported that they were in rooms that did not have locks.

Many students expressed concern and were confused as to why it took so long from the initial incident to initiate the lockdown. In response to these questions, Chief of Wingate Campus Safety, Michael Easley, stated that Wingate Campus Safety was currently in the process of testing new locks and that by the end of next week they should have more locks to test.

And in response to the confusion of the wait in between the incident and the lockdown he stated, “I was not made aware until approximately 11 a.m. by the Wingate police department. I, then assembled the Crisis Management team and we analyzed the situation and sent out the first request for a lockdown at 11:30.”

He also reported that the public was able to know about the incident before Campus Safety and the police because the victim was live streaming on Facebook. Once the incident was analyzed, the Crisis Management team and Wingate police department was able to initiate action.

In response to the incident, an email was sent out to students on Tuesday afternoon detailing that the suspect was in custody and summarized the lockdown procedure that took place that Monday afternoon.

The Crisis Management team and Campus Safety are assessing their response and are currently accepting feedback from students, faculty, and parents. A listening session for students was held with the SGA forum and individual training will be held for Wingate employees in response to the incident.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Photo credit: Flickr

Speaker Kevin Hines shares his story of suicide and second chances

Sarah Thurman, Staff Writer

On Thursday, February 22, Kevin Hines came to Wingate to give a lecture titled Cracked Not Broken, The Kevin Hines Story. Kevin Hines was only 19 when he decided that he wanted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge.  This is a jump that 99% of people, do not live from. Kevin was in that 1% that lived.

The lecture began by showing a snippet of Kevin’s film titled ‘Suicide: The Ripple Effect.’ Kevin came on stage and introduced himself, then proceeded to explain how he was not there to just tell his story, he was here to inform us by using his story.

Telling a story of a suicide attempt can get very dark, yet when Kevin felt that the mood was shifting he would give a joke that would make the whole audience laugh. Once he saw that the audience was in fact laughing he would go back into the story.

During one of the darkest parts of the story, when Kevin is describing himself jumping off the bridge and into the water, he realized that he didn’t die and that there was a creature swimming around him. He said, “I remember thinking ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I didn’t die off the Golden Gate bridge and now a shark is going to devour me. NO!” The audience mood instantly lightened at the joke.

He went back into describing how this creature was keeping his body afloat and taking him towards a boat. With no idea what was under him, he decided to name the creature “Herbert” and after he began to tell his story publicly, he was contacted and informed that the creature that was under him was a Sea Lion.

Suprisingly the story does not end there, he continues to recount the story of his recovery and how he has gotten to the point he’s at today. He tells of his time spent in psych wards, fixing his relationship with his father, and meeting his wife. He does not just outline the negative parts, but he dives into the positive ones as well.

He ended the lecture by telling the audience that even though he stands here to tell his story that he still struggles everyday with a mental illness, but “I’ve been given the gift of a second chance, and most people in that situation sadly never got to see.”  

Kevin then tied the lecture together with a simple statement and a joke, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that I believe is why we call it the present and if ya’ll don’t believe me Master Oogway from Kung Foo Panda said that.”

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Left to Right- Nya Henderson, Kevin Hines, Aliyah Long. Photo credit: Sarah Thurman

After he finished, he asked the audience to stand and he pulled out his phone and asked us to scream “Be Here Tomorrow” as loud as possible.  After the event Kevin went into the lobby of the Batte Center and met with students. Many people approached him to inform him of the impact of his story and some even pulled him aside to talk privately. Counseling was also on duty if anyone felt the need to talk to someone during or after the event.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, Wingate University offers free confidential counseling to students, you can contact them at counseling@wingate.edu. To learn more about Kevin’s story visit http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/.

Edited by: Brea Childs

John Pavlovitz speaks to Wingate campus about creating a bigger table

Rachael Robinson, Staff Writer

John Pavlovitz spoke to Wingate students, faculty and staff last Wednesday. Pavlovitz is a pastor, blogger and the author of the novel A Bigger Table. He spoke to the audience about expanding their horizons and opening up themselves to new people, with his theory of “creating a bigger table.”

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Photo credit: Pavlovitz website

When Pavlovitz speaks of creating a bigger table, he has an image in his brain. The table in his parents’ home. He mentioned that his house “was just an expensive covering for the kitchen.”    

His family started spending time around the kitchen table. As their family and friends grew, they moved to the larger dining room table. He then remembers his father going to the garage and having he and his brothers help add wood to make the table even bigger

Expanding your personal “table” though takes practice. It must be built upon using the four foundations which he calls the legs. The foundations of radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free relationships.

Everyone should be welcome, regardless of whether their ideals match yours, no one should feel they need to be an edited version of themselves.  It should be a safe place for everyone and a place to just hear stories. You also can’t be afraid of people leaving your table. People might not fit and that’s okay.

Pavlovitz also spoke about activism. Activism doesn’t have to be standing on the side of a street holding a sign and yelling at individuals as they pass. “Activism is using your privilege to raise up others,” Pavlovitz explains. “Use whatever is at your disposal.”

You could end up on the street with a sign, but activism can be simple. Taking a stand during conversations with your extended family when you would normally walk out or posting comments on social media posts that you think are wrong is enough.Both he admits “may go horribly wrong,” but that’s the point. Activism can be costly and painful.

Pavlovitz grew up in New York. His family was behind him 100 percent and he felt the same way about God. He didn’t realize until he went to college in Philadelphia just how many “false” stories he had been told about the world. He realized that he felt that he was above the people who weren’t like him.

Philadelphia was full of new stories, he felt like a fish that had been thrown into a new aquarium too quickly. He was having all these experiences and felt like he was using new muscles. He realized he was beginning to care. His table was growing.  

A pivotal moment for Pavlovitz was when he was asked to replace the youth leader at the church he attended outside of Philadelphia. That is where he fell in love with preaching. When someone suggested getting paid, he figured he would give it a try. Pavlovitz and his wife would then move to Charlotte, where he would become the pastor of a mega Methodist Church.

During this period Pavlovitz began to have theological questions about the messages he was spreading. He realized that his table had gotten smaller again. He was always surrounded by people from the church. He also began to notice that the only people who were welcomed at the church were people who fit the mold. There were no “marginalized” people.

That’s when Pavolvitz started writing. He started his blog where he could write about these issues. “All I did was speak my truth and I got a bigger table” said Pavolvitz.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Dr. Cannon speaks at Union County Library on how to discern facts from fake news

Leah Joyner, Staff Writer

Monroe, N.C.– Community members in Union County may have felt like they had gone back to college when they attended a program taught by Dr. Keith Cannon, the Chair and Professor of Journalism at Wingate University in the Communications Department.

He spoke on Tuesday night at the Union County Monroe Public Library with the subject on news media being fact or fake and how to discern the truth.

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Photo Credit: Leah Joyner

Cannon decided to title his talk “Today’s News: Fake, Fair, and Balanced… or Something Else Entirely” and focused on the news media and the depth of reporting. Similar to his teaching style, Cannon encouraged audience participation in his lecture. By engaging the attendees in open discussion, he was able to tailor his answers to them and help them understand his views and knowledge on the subject matter.

With over 40 years of journalism experience, he is a qualified teacher to speak about fake news and the news media in general. In addition to teaching about the history of news media, Cannon talked about the hot button topics like discerning propaganda in the media and how to fact check news sources. Cannon listed websites like Politifact and FactCheck.org to help individuals do their own research.

If some people are skeptical about fact-checking sites that they consider untrustworthy, Cannon suggested they can do their own research by going straight to the primary source. He continued to share a fake story about a Supreme Court decision that was posted on social media that people couldn’t actually find on the Supreme Court website.

“Something that I tell my students all the time is I’m not here to tell you what to think…the basic thing I am telling you is to test it for yourself,” said Cannon.

Cannon motivated the audience that to have journalistic standards, one must use objectivity, strive for accuracy, be thorough in their research, and write well. He also encouraged young professionals that now is a good time to become entrepreneurs in this market.

Since 1994, Cannon has been a Wingate faculty and has been a department chair since 2010. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a past president of the Charlotte Pro chapter of SPJ. He is very involved on social media where people can follow him at @KeithCannon on Twitter and search Keith Cannon on Facebook.
To learn more about the types of programs the Union County Public Library offers the community, visit http://www.co.union.nc.us/departments/library.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate has a view party for the Solar Eclipse

By Christina Kroeger, Staff Writer

On Monday the moon did something remarkable. The moon crossed paths with the sun and blocked the earth’s sunlight. When this phenomenon occurs, it is called a solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse can only occur when the moon is a new moon. The sun is much bigger than the moon. The moon, however is much closer to the Earth than the sun.

This difference makes the moon appear to be approximately the same angular size as the sun. This fact makes it possible for the moon to block the sun in its entirety.

This was the first total eclipse to only touch American soil since the US gained its independence in 1776. This year, the eclipse centerline passed through twelve states from Oregon to South Carolina, so if you were in that proximity, you would experience the total eclipse. However, anyone in the U.S. experienced at least a partial eclipse.

Totality in Wingate was set to occur at 2:42 pm. During that time Wingate had a watch party in the Quad in which the university provided solar eclipse glasses to students.

Leah, a senior, said, “ Looking through the eclipse glasses was surreal to see as the shadow of the moon moved across the sun, creating an actual eclipse. Also the shadows on the ground was cool, but getting to spend that once in a lifetime moment with friends made it even more memorable.”

The science professors volunteered to set up telescope viewing stations on the Quad so people could get a closer view of the remarkable event. “It was really amazing to see the campus get together to watch this once in a lifetime event. However, it wasn’t everything that I was hoping for on campus.” said Kelton Stone, a senior. 

Another student, Sydney Taylor, a junior, said, “ The whole aura outside felt weird. It was dim outside but not totally dark. It felt like I was wearing sunglasses even though I wasn’t. Overall I feel really lucky to have been able to experience it.”

Dr. Grant Thompson, an astronomy professor, went down to South Carolina to view the total eclipse and had a different experience. According to reports, South Carolina was in the direct path for complete totality making it so that when the moon fully covered the sun it would actually get dark.

He said he has been waiting years to view the total eclipse so he didn’t let the first day of classes stop him from traveling to South Carolina to watch. 

I also went to South Carolina to watch the total eclipse and I had goosebumps watching the sun disappear. I was able to take off my glasses for a minute to capture the phenomenon. If you missed this year’s total solar eclipse, don’t worry,  the next total eclipse will occur in the year 2316. Mark your calendars!

Edited by: Brea Childs
Additional reporting contributed by Brea Childs