News

New Union Board Committee Bolsters Students’ Bridge to Charlotte

by Christina Ritchie Rogers '03
Cats Excursions
The festival features visual artwork from many different artists, as well as music and performing arts.

A new Union Board committee aims to help students take advantage of the college's close proximity to Charlotte. Led by Liz Stevens '16, the Cats Excursions Committee is planning trips and providing free bus transportation for students interested in Charlotte events.

Stevens explained, "Though the heart of the city is just 20 miles from campus, many first- and second-year students don't feel comfortable or able to leave campus. There are many cultural offerings in Charlotte, and we want to make them accessible to everyone."

The inaugural Cats Excursions trip transported about a dozen students to Festival in the Park, an annual weekend-long celebration of art, music and culture in Charlotte's Freedom Park. The committee also is planning an October trip to "Scarowinds," a Halloween-themed event at Carowinds amusement park, as well as other excursions in coming months.

"What we're doing is really different from anything the Union has done before," Stevens said.

The Union Board's primary goal continues to be building community by planning and promoting events on campus. But in recent years, the board has heard from students who want to take advantage of more off-campus opportunities, so Union Board President Cam Joe '14 and Vice President Catherine Doyle '14 formed the Cats Excursions Committee to address that interest.

Cats Excursions
Students sample the different food offerings at the festival.

"I think these off-campus programs are just an extension of the social and educational opportunities the Union Board already provides on-campus," said Ashley Owen, assistant director of the Alvarez College Union. "There are wonderful opportunities available for students in the surrounding communities, and by providing transportation and planning trips the Union Board is making those more accessible for students."

The Student Government Association's External Affairs Committee provides funding for many Cats Excursions programs via stipend through their "Buses To Charlotte" program, and the collaboration allows the Cats Excursions Committee to subsidize programming fees for for students. In addition to lowering the admission cost for many events, the committee aims to provide free admission to at least one event per semester, Stevens said.

The committee also is considering partnering with other college departments to plan excursions that complement on-campus programs. "For example, we may be able to partner with the dance group and plan a trip to the ballet," Stevens said.

As the committee continues to plan and publicize events, Stevens hopes more students will participate.

"I could not be more excited about the positive feedback we have received about the Cats Excursions Committee," Joe said. "There have been several suggestions about places to explore, and I would encourage all students to take advantage of this new service."