411: Mills Hall

Of the UNC Asheville residence halls that are not under construction or renovation, Mills Hall is the last residence hall left to present in the “411” housing posts.  Mills is unique to UNC Asheville dorms in that it allows students to live in suites that include a furnished common area, or den.  This type of living arrangement is ideal for a group of friends who wish to live together but do not want to move to an apartment or house off campus.  The set-up in this particular residence hall is two double rooms and a shared bathroom and common area.  One of the best things about Mills is that although the rooms are a bit smaller than those of other residence halls, there is a lot of room for storage built into the suite.  For example, the bathroom has a number of shelves and drawers in which students can keep toiletries and cosmetics; the hallway is lined with sturdy shelves for storing food, books, or kitchen supplies; and the rooms have huge wardrobes that make storing clothes and personal items a breeze.  Speaking of breezes, as the spring weather approaches, Mills residents will start spending more time enjoying the beautiful weather--perhaps over a game of volleyball at the volleyball court located behind the residence hall.  Sounds great, right?  Check out the pictures and find out for yourself!

Amenities Include:
  • One microwave-refrigerator per suite
  • Carpeted rooms
  • A shared den/living room space
  • Air-conditioning
  • Laundry room
  • TV lounge
  • Vending area
  • Several study lounges
  • Computer lab with free printing (bring your own paper)
  • High-speed Internet - one port per student and wireless hot spots
  • Free basic cable service
  • Community kitchen
  • Outdoor activity/volleyball court
  • Adjacent to the Highsmith University Union 
Pictures of a "typical" Mills suite

A view of Mills from the street

Here is the shared living room space; each room comes furnished with armchair, couch, coffee table (and of course the combination micro-fridge)

 The hallway leading to the double rooms has a lot of storage on these shelves; this suit is definitely taking advantage of this built-in space!

Bathroom part one

Another view of the bathroom.  They were doing dishes when I came by, but you can still see how much counter space is available here!

 A typical Mills bedroom.  Many students opt to bunk their beds to create mor space in the room.  These students have opened up the room a bit by raising their beds and storing dressers and other items in the space beneath.  

Mills got new furniture this year; you can  see the upgraded wardrobe space, dresser, and bedframes in this picture.

Finally, here is the floor plan for Mills:

Mills Hall Floor Plan

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"Don't Wait for the Masses"

This evening, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture given by one of the Greensboro 4, Franklin McCain.  For those who are not familiar with Mr. McCain, the Greensboro 4, or their contribution to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, perhaps the name “Woolworth’s” will ring a bell.  Mr. McCain was one of the four students who participated in the nonviolent sit-ins at the Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, NC, a protest against the system that denied African American citizens full rights, equality, and respect, and one that inspired similar acts of resistance across the state and the country.  Mr. McCain offered some general remarks about his experiences and about life in general, all of which were inspirational and encouraging, especially to the UNC Asheville students in the audience.  

Mr. McCain told us that when he was growing up, his family told him to follow four main rules in order to ensure a successful life:
1. Respect and admire the Bill of Rights and the Constitution
2. Follow the 10 Commandments and go to Sunday school
3.  Get not good, but superior, grades
4.  Respect your elders and do things for others without expecting to be acknowledged or praised for doing so

He also mentioned that he did not have any “tales of woe” from his childhood; his family lived comfortably and the only question about college was where he would enroll.  However, as he grew older, he told us, he felt rather betrayed by what his family had taught him: following those four rules did not help him attain success, dignity, or respect, particularly in regards to his place in American society.  He admitted that he often became depressed by this, and sometimes questioned whether or not his existence was even worthwhile.  However, he realized that ending his life over this was the “coward’s way out,” and was, moreover, perhaps one of the most inconsiderate things he could do to the people who loved and supported him. 

In college, Mr. McCain met other similar-minded students and was able to safely express his feelings of frustration and anger with the system.  After a period, however, he realized that simply sitting around and talking about and criticizing these problems; rather ironically, given the nature of his later protests, he describes his college-aged self as an “on chair activist.”  He and his friends decided to address the problems they identified through their sit-in at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, taking action that was as peaceful as it was provocative. 

Mr. McCain did not spend much time discussing the particulars of the Woolworth’s events, but he did give us some advice for affecting change where we see problems.  First, he told us, “don’t wait for the masses,” to make a change; do something yourself.  He describes himself, even now, as a person who is “hard to keep control of,” so it is natural that he would express such a sentiment in regards to overcoming social and political issues.  He also advised us never to apply stereotypes to people whom we do not know.  At Woolworth’s, for example, he and his fellows met a small woman who was very much the stereotypical “white southern woman, complete with large shoulder bag that held everything but the kitchen sink.”  However, when she spoke to the Greensboro 4, she thanked them for their efforts and admitted that she wished they had taken action a decade ago.  Since this time, Mr. McCain told us, this “little old woman” follows him everywhere to remind him that before he passes judgment he must get to know an individual (because “you just don’t know that person” and “it’s not fair” to hold them to stereotypes).  Another piece of advice that he offered the audience was that if we see something that needs to be fixed, “don’t ever wait for permission to start a revolution.”  Although he received threats from strangers and even members of his school community, McCain continued his nonviolent protests; if he had asked permission of these people to do so, he would never have been able to begin.  Finally, he told us, “Be ashamed to die before you make an indelible impression on your community and the region where you live.”  He took us on a mental journey through a cemetery where everyone has two things in common: the date of birth and the date of death.  What will set us apart is how we live the dash between those dates.  He warned against a “skinny, narrow” line and advises a wide, long, fat line representing a life of integrity. 

“I wish I could tell you everything,” he told us about halfway through his lecture, and I wish he could have.  When he ended by saying “I’m finished,” I was glad that we at least had the question and answer session during which to learn more from him.  Mr. McCain was an engaging speaker with a fantastic sense of humor (for example, he described himself as “older and 5% wiser”), a wealth of good advice, and, not surprisingly, a very humble demeanor.  UNC Asheville is lucky to have hosted such an inspiring individual, and I know that the rest of the audience feels the same way.   

For more information about Mr.McCain and the Greensboro 4, please follow the link below:

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30 Mosuqes, 30 Days

          On Thursday night, my friend Mat and I attended a presentation given by Aman Ali called "30 Mosques, 30 Days."  Aman is a writer and comedian, so his stories were as fun and engaging as they were informative.  (And honestly,  some of his stories were so funny that I had to remind myself that I was in the Grotto at UNC Asheville and not in a comedy club off campus!)  For the month of Ramadan, Aman his friend Bassam Tariq travelled around the country, visiting different Mosques and getting to know members of local Muslim communities. 
            Aman told us that he was interested in discovering just how widespread animosity towards Muslims really was in the United States.  So often, after all, stories in the news are far different what occurs in real life.  What he found, Aman said, was that he and Bassam were welcomed by most of the people they encountered on their trip, and from their experience, they did not find much racism or hostility towards the Muslim community.  Aman said that he had to give credit to the United States for being, in general, a very open and embracing place. 
            Aman and Bassam, both Muslims, were on a spiritual road trip as well as one of story-collecting, and perhaps self-discovery.  Aman further shared that although he has a background in reporting, the trip was, for him, less about “facts” and more about finding and connecting with, the experience of Muslims living in the United States.  His approach is very humanizing; by finding and sharing honest stories about life, he and, by extension, readers of his blog, can connect with individuals who may seem, at first blush, so very different from themselves. 
            One of my favorite stories from this presentation was from Ross, North Dakota.  On their way to Fargo (in the middle of nowhere, Montana), Aman and Bassam accidentally damaged their rental car by hitting a rock in the road, which threw a wrench in their plans, and caused them to reroute their trip. However, because of this accident, they were able to find the site of the first mosque built in the United States and learn about the people who constructed it.  In the late 1800s, Syrian and Lebanese farmers, hoping to avoid the draft imposed by the Ottoman Empire, came to the United States to take advantage of the Homestead Act of 1862.  This act, to encourage settlement of the western United States, essentially provided land to settlers (in return for a small fee and farming the land for a certain period of time), and allowed this small Muslim community to thrive. 
            Next year, they will be visiting the 20 states that they did not cover on last Ramadan’s 13,000-mile trip.  In the works, he said, is a book, a PBS documentary, and a trip to mosques in 30 countries around the world. 
 Aman describes a Confederate souvenir shop that they felt compelled to visit in Jacksonville, FL

From left:  Me, Aman, and Mat

For more information, check out the links below!
Aman's website
"30 Mosques" website
"30 Mosques" on Facebook

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411: The Ridges

After a stressful week, I'm back again with another post about residence halls at UNC Asheville.  Today, I bring you "the Ridges".  South Ridge, and its counterpart, West Ridge, are identical dorms, and are situated the farthest from the academic part of campus than the other dorms.  I really like visiting my friends in “the Ridges” because the walk there takes me through one of the several wooded areas of campus, and brings me very close to the Botanical Gardens of Asheville (blog post on this to come when the flowers start blooming there).  This area of campus is tucked away from the main activity of campus, and seems to me like a small community in and of itself, a little bit like a landlocked country.  South Ridge houses 112 students and West Ridge holds 148 students, and both dorms offer the same amenities:

-One microwave-refigerator per room
-Carpeted rooms
-Laundry room
-Community Kitchen
-TV lounge
-Vending Area
-Several study lounges
-High-speed Internet (one port per student and wireless hot spots)
-Free basic cable service
-Parking deck

Be sure to check out the photos of a typical "Ridges" room:

 A great bonus for residents of South Ridge and West Ridge: the bathrooms are huge!!

"Ridges" floor plan

South Ridge & West Ridge Floor Plan

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March Madness

Today I want to write about UNC Asheville’s awesome season of Bulldogs basketball. Although I am not the biggest fan of basketball (after a disappointing stint on the junior varsity basketball team in high school I must admit that I never looked back), even I realize that what our men’s team has accomplished this season has been really special.

Beginning, perhaps, with John Williams’ incredible slam-dunk video sensation, the Bulldogs have maintained a fairly steady stream of media coverage, and have not disappointed fans (or opponents for that matter). From being presented with the key to the City of Asheville to earning a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years, the Bulldogs have kept fans on the edges of their seats, and made them proud.

When I attended the viewing party for the first game of the tournament, the tension and excitement was tangible as our Bulldogs went into overtime for a fantastic victory. Even our bulldog Rocky was present to support the team! Although the Bulldogs did not advance past the next round of the tournament, we have achieved so much. When the school welcomed the team back from Washington, DC last week, it was with pride and excitement, not disappointment.

It’s been a great season for the Bulldogs and the UNC Asheville family. Following and supporting the ups and downs of our team has brought together students, faculty, and the greater Asheville community, and I know we can expect even greater things from them in the future.

If you haven’t seen pictures or videos of the season yet, check out the media below for highlights of the Bulldogs season and NCAA experience.

John Williams' incredible dunk


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Spring Has Sprung?

Well, it’s the first week back from Spring Break, and it seems as if spring has finally arrived.  The trees are beginning to turn green again and the flowers blooming.  It is wonderful to look out my window and see the warm pinks, greens, and yellows of spring.  I have taken a few pictures of the colors around campus to give you an idea of what it looks like here, and just how beautiful spring can be in Asheville.  Now let's just hope it sticks around for good. 

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411: Founders Hall

Because housing sign up is upon us, I thought I would share with you another insider’s view of a campus residence hall, Founders Hall.  This residence hall houses 300 students in double rooms.  Each room is connected by a large bathroom with two sinks, a toilet, and a shower.  Although the residence hall may appear to be one of our oldest on the outside, I believe the furniture has recently been replaced and the floors re-carpeted.  In any case, the interior of this residence hall is very nice.  I would highly recommend living in Founders because it is close to Highsmith University Union and the Dining Hall, which is always great when you get the munchies! 

Here are some of the amenities offered to residents in Founders Hall: 
  • One microwave-refrigerator per room
  • Carpeted rooms
  • Air-conditioning
  • Open flexible closets
  • Loft-able beds and desks
  • Laundry room
  • High-speed Internet - one port per pillow and wireless hot spots
  • Basic cable provided
  • Computer lab with free printing (bring your own paper)
  • TV lounges
  • Vending area
  • Several study lounges
  • Community kitchen
  • Adjacent to the Highsmith University Union and the Dining Hall
  • Great view of the Grove Park Inn
Check out the floor plan and the pictures below for a glimpse into a typical Founders Hall room:

View from the outside

The closets here are open and in the "entrance hallway" of the room.

Here's a closer look at the closets of Founders.

Something really great about the furniture here is that the desks are huge, which either means you can use them for storage, studying, and so forth.

As with every residence hall on campus, the beds in Founders can be raised or lowered to a desired height.  Also note the Micro-Fridge on the left.

Founders Hall, like the other residence halls, also offers a cable hookup (see TV in the corner)

Finally, check out this bed, which has been lofted to allow this resident to keep his desk under his bed and make more space in the rest of the room.

Check out this floor plan for Founders Hall:


Founders Hall Floor Plan

As usual, if you have any questions about housing (or anything else about UNC Asheville and Asheville in general), just leave a comment! 

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Art Front Members Exhibition

This evening, my friend and I attended the opening of the Annual Art Front Exhibit in Highsmith Gallery.  This exhibition, featuring works selected from active Art Front members, and curated by Art History students, was awesome.  Art Front member Katie Johnson told me that the exhibit is not only a way for members to showcase their work, but is also an opportunity for students to practice the skills they will need when they enter the “real world” after graduation.  For example, students were involved in locating and reserving the gallery, selecting the works to exhibit, configuring the lighting, and practicing a number of other logistical and technical skills necessary to their future careers as artists or curators.  

Some of my favorite pieces from this exhibition included the potato chip couch, which really made me feel like a “couch potato;” the giant crane hanging from the ceiling; and the photo booth complete with a Polaroid camera.  This interactive part of the show enabled visitors to take photographs of themselves, which they could then carry away with them after the show, or stick to the gallery wall with a thumbtack to become part of the exhibition, part of the art. 

Some of the featured artists in this show include: Jason Adams, Dona Barnett, Sara Bernardi, Delaney Brown, Melanie Carrick, Erin Fussell, Andrew Johnson, Katie Johnson, Molly Jones, Kat Knutsen, Giedre Krulikas, Carly Powell, Jason Rafferty, James Stickney and K. Blair Ward.
For more details, please visit the following links:

This show is open in Highsmith Gallery (located on the first floor of the Highsmith Union) from 9 am to 6 pm every day.  I would strongly encourage anyone on campus to check it out; it’s even worth a visit if you are so inclined.  

 One of the strangest pieces; If you look closely, you can see that each jar contains a different meat! 

 My friend Autumn and my suite mate, Christine, with Christine's photography 

 The interactive photo booth was a very popular part of the show

Autumn and I pose beneath the bird

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