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Division 1 section p. 9 - 11 Student deaths p. 3 FilmĘźs new professor p. 6 Wallace out, Willis in p. 12

January 12, 2017 Vol. 85, Issue 9



The Flor-Ala is published biweekly on Thursdays at 111 locations on campus and off.


The staff strives to maintain the integrity of The Flor-Ala through accurate and honest reporting. To report an error, call 256-765-4364 or email

ANDREA BELK | Staff Photographer

At least 90 percent of the time, money is the reason for scams, said Stephen Putman, Chief Information Officer of Information Technology Services. “Millennials are more open and sharing, and that makes it easier sometimes to get scammed,” he said.

Millennials likely to fall victim to scams BREANNA LITTRELL News Editor As students return from holidays filled with online shopping, it is important to consider who they share personal information with. Millennials are more likely to fall victim to scams than Baby Boomers due to Millennials taking more risks online and putting themselves in compromising positions, according to the Better Business Bureau. “Millennials tend to want to share too much sometimes,” said Stephen Putman, Chief Information Officer of Information Technology Services. “I think Millennials are more open and sharing, and that makes it easier sometimes to get scammed. I think social media plays a big part in scamming the millennial generation.” Putman said scammers and hackers can go onto someone’s Facebook, Instagram or other social media account and find personal information, such as what the person likes and who that person’s friends are. Scammers can target an attack based on that information. “I would say 90 percent of the time or more the reason for scams is money,” he said. “Even if they’re trying to put a door into your computer to put some sort of tracking software on there so that as you go to online banking sites

etc., they can grab that information. Every once in a while, (scams) are just to cause destruction and be a general pest, but the majority of time it’s all about money.” Putman said the best way for students to protect themselves and avoid scams is security. “Always use strong, complex passwords, don’t do online banking or other sensitive things when you are on public Wi-Fi and just be alert,” he said. “If you aren’t sure about something, don’t click on it. Pay attention to what you’re clicking on and what you are doing.” Putman advises students to be careful about what information they share on social media. Things that someone is planning to use in a password should never be put on social media, such as their birth date. He said social media should always be treated as a need-to-know basis and don’t share anything that the entire world should not see. Regardless of what age group or generation, education is the key to cutting down scams. Junior Stephanie Johnston said she notices scam attempts occasionally in emails. “Instead of it would be or something similar,” Johnston said. “I have also had a scam attempt from a fake PayPal. It was an email asking me to verify my account; and I was immediately asked for my

social security number which I knew better than to type in.” Putman said that scammers are likely to target each generation differently. “In my personal experience, whether Millennials, Baby Boomers or Generation X, I haven’t seen one group that is any more susceptible than others,” Putman said. “I do think that if I am the scammer or the hacker, I would target each of those areas differently. “If I wanted to target the Baby Boomers, I would probably target them with pop-ups that say ‘You’re infected, click here,’ and then they click there thinking they are doing the right thing, but that is when they get infected. If I wanted to target the millennials, then I would try something like, ‘Click here for 10 free Uber rides.’ Senior Jacob Dawson said he believes Millennials not only use the internet more than Baby Boomers, but the generations use technology differently. “Millennials as a group use the internet with more instances of risky behavior such as downloading and sharing media, visiting questionable websites and installing phony updates,” Dawson said. “Essentially, lack of experience and behavioral trends displayed by young people may increase their exposure and susceptibility to scams.”


Campus Remembers

Courtesy of Karen Gutierrez’s Facebook

Senior Karen Gutierrez died Dec. 25. She was a transfer from Northwest Shoals Community College, who senior Jonathan Barnett remembered as “uniquely spirited.”

Courtesy of Charlotte Beasley’s Facebook

Junior Matthew Beasley died Dec. 2. Although he was quiet, Beasley was “naturally a funny guy,” said his friend and senior Kendall Harbin.

Students will ‘cherish’ life of senior Friends recall junior as ‘optimistic’ MIKE EZEKIEL Managing Editor The UNA campus mourned a student over the holiday break, as senior Karen Gutierrez died Dec. 25. Gutierrez, a Florence native and 2012 graduate of Florence High School, transferred to UNA from Northwest Shoals Community College to major in psychology. She was 22 years old. The loss touched many people, as a vast array of social media posts poured onto her Facebook timeline of old photographs and memories from family and friends. “She wasn’t just my cousin,” said Yarely Ramos in a Facebook post. “She was a sister, a daughter, a friend, a coworker or maybe that one girl with the infectious smile that made you laugh that one time. Everybody has an outrageous story about Karen.” Her visitation was held at Spry Williams Funeral Home in Florence Dec. 29, one day before her funeral at St. Joseph Catholic Church of Florence. Before her death, Gutierrez was a waitress at Casa Mexicana in Sheffield. Senior Jonathan Barnett, who said he has known Gutierrez since seventh grade, said Gutierrez had a unique persona. “Karen was a unique spirited individual, and her personality could

light up the sky,” Barnett said. “For that, everyone who knew her will love and miss her and cherish the memories that we all had with her.” Barnett said his former classmate continued to be approachable when they graduated from Florence and moved on to different colleges before reconnecting at UNA. “She’s always been a ball of fire,” Barnett said. “Although we hadn’t talked as much as we did in high school, we never had a problem with walking up to each other and talking as if we were both 17 again.” Senior Gabby Fuqua also said Gutierrez had a positive influence on her. “You are the most authentic and original person I have ever met in this entire town,” she said in a Facebook post. “I am endlessly inspired by you, and I will never forget how amazing you are.” In Gutierrez’s obituary, the piece cited her favorite quote as being, “Yours truly.” Those two words were also at the top of her Facebook biography. “I will always remember (her) love and infectious laugh and the time we spent together looking at stars from the parking deck,” said Noelle Marshall, a friend of Gutierrez from Florence. “Goodbye for now, (rest in peace) and party hard.”


JASMINE FLEMING Editor-in-Chief The UNA community lost a talented student when 20-year-old junior Matthew Beasley died Dec. 2. Beasley was a transfer student from Bevill State Community College in Hamilton, which was close to his hometown of Winfield. In Winfield, Beasley began displaying his talent in basketball, which caused him to meet lifelong friends and fellow UNA students senior Kendall Harbin and junior Will Addison. After meeting on the court, Addison and Beasley were “basically brothers,” he said. “He was so tall that he was also naturally good at (basketball),” Harbin said. At around 6 feet 5 inches, scoring was easy for Beasley, Harbin said. It was more difficult for Harbin, who was shorter than 6 feet. Off the court, Beasley’s personality was more introverted, Harbin said. “Matthew was always the quiet type until you got to know him,” he said. “Once you got to know him though, he was honestly one of the funniest people you’d ever meet. He was naturally a funny guy.” Beasley was also optimistic, Addison said.

“(Whether a situation was) good or bad, Matthew was just as happy as he could be,” he said. Over the years, the three discovered another favorite pastime: making music. “He was a pretty good drummer and guitar player,” Harbin said. “I remember not playing with him for a couple of months after he first started, and then coming back and seeing how much he had improved was phenomenal. It blew my mind.” Addison and Beasley kept their dedication to music alive at UNA. “We actually had a music room in our house in Florence,” he said. “We’d play loud and proud for hours on end. It was our pastime together.” Their love of music was part of the reason they enjoyed living in Florence, Addison said. “It was a music town, and we had dreams of playing music at different places in town,” he said. “Music was our lives.” Beasley’s talents also extended to the classroom. “He made a huge impact on the Bevill campus in Hamilton,” said Greg Taylor, biology instructor at Bevill State. “Some people don’t realize the impact they make on people’s lives. I know he truly touched my life. “He came out of his shell in my class.”



SGA’s rollover budget contains almost $40,000 BREANNA LITTRELL News Editor The Student Government Association has a rollover budget which contains about $39,000, and they have not determined the plans for it. “The rollover budget is unused University Program Council money from years past,” said SGA president Sarah Green. “It’s kind of like a rainy day fund. Whatever doesn’t get used from the UPC budget goes into the rollover budget. “We have no plans for the money right now. We keep the money as a ‘just in case fund’ for emergency.” Senior Charles Wilson said he hopes they spend the money on events or renovations that are beneficial for the

entire student body. “Maybe it could go toward updating the Student Recreation Center and the Wi-Fi,” he said. Green said she will look into students’ suggestions and pass them along to the Student Welfare chair. Before the rollover committee had its first meeting during the fall 2016 semester the rollover budget had around $97,000 in it, Green said. The committee voted on three things to take out of the rollover budget; $50,000 for spring concert, $7,254 for benches and $1,000 for Collegiate Legislature. The remaining balance is $39,000. Collegiate Legislature, the third purchase, is a weekend long event that is organized by the YMCA. It is a mock state government that students from

public universities can attend, and they can make legislation and send it through the state process. The primary event the rollover budget is used for each year is spring concert. “Any ticket sales or any unused money from spring concert goes back into the rollover budget,” Green said. “Last year, $50,000 was taken out of rollover for Panic! At the Disco, but $35,000 was made off of ticket sales, so that went back to rollover,” Green said. Junior Kerri Colwell said the campus needs upgrades for protection. “We need more or brighter lighting for the walkways at night,” Colwell said. “The (benches) that were added were great, but they need weather protectors over them.” She said she often had to stand in the

rain and would get soaking wet waiting on the bus because there is nothing near the stops to stand under. Green said they have planned six locations for their newly purchased benches, and these locations will provide students with coverage from the elements. “We have a nice campus,” said senior Tyler Blevins. “Maybe they could install some drinking fountains or something along those lines because a lot of people bring their dogs and children to walk around our campus. “We also need a better system for tracking the shuttle buses. I know several people who have to ride the bus, and they say that trying to track the buses is frustrating because it is often inaccurate.”

just thought it was a good opportunity.” When he wasn’t studying or making music, Beasley was often playing the computer came League of Legends, which he and Addison played often. Although Beasley is gone, his family and friends will not forget the impact he

had on them. “I love him and miss him every day,” Addison said.

Bevill State Community College Student Josy McCracken contributed to this report.

The ones of passion and desires. Leaving a hole in a most sacred place, to view the shimmer in their face.

But, we are here and so are they, Having made us feel some sort of way.”

BEASLEY, continued from page 3 Mr. Beasley was the serious one, and his lab partner was the cut-up, but by the end of the semester the roles reversed, and he showed his wonderful personality,” Taylor said. He was also a hardworking student “full of promise, and the people who

knew him are suffering a terrible loss,” he said. At UNA, Beasley studied finance. “His dad owns his own business currently out of Winfield,” Addison said. “I think he was going to open another branch of that business in Florida. He

GUTIERREZ, continued from page 3 Randall Nichols, another Florence native and friend of Gutierrez, wrote a poem on her behalf.

Introducing the contestants of the 2017 Miss UNA Pageant! January 21, 2017 7pm, Norton Auditorium

FREE Student tickets in the Office of Student Engagement $12 Admission online $15 at Door And don’t forget to check out the Miss UNA custom ring design competition on the Creative Jewelers Facebook page

“Like guitar picks and lighters, We lose the greatest of the fighters. We miss the sparks and the fires,

NEWS 5 Freshman class inspires 2017 Miss UNA theme MONDAY SANDERSON Life Editor UNA will give a “roaring” welcome to its 43rd Miss UNA pageant Jan. 21. The theme for the pageant will be the “Roaring 20s.” “Every year we have a different theme chosen by Miss UNA,” said Director of Student Engagement Tyler Thompson. The theme represents the freshman class of 2020, said Jocelyn Barnes, 2015-16 Miss UNA. “I was head SOAR counselor for the freshman class of 2020, and that was a really big thing for me,” she said. “That’s where I got the 20’s (idea) from. The ‘roaring’ comes from us being the Lions. I also love ‘The Great Gatsby.’ So, I thought this would be a cool, fun theme, and it pays homage to our freshman class.” Sophomore Dru Sizemore said this is a clever theme. The contestants only work with the theme in the opening number, Barnes said. “They get to dress up in the style of the 20s,” she said.

“They’ll get to wear the cocktail dresses and have similar hairstyles. Other than that, the theme will mostly be seen in the decorations and music.” Thompson said there are 12 contestants. Music professor Llyod Jones will compose the score and conduct the orchestra for the night, Thompson said. “There are five phases they have to go through,” he said. “The participants will have an interview before the pageant, and then they compete in fitness in swimsuit, evening wear, talent and on stage questions.” The talent portion is worth the most points with 30 percent of the overall score. Barnes said she first participated in the pageant in 2014. “I originally competed for the scholarships,” she said. “I had never participated or watched a pageant before this. When I first started, my thoughts were, ‘These girls are going to be catty, and they’re going to be mean. They’re all going to be at each other’s throats.’” Barnes said her perception of pageants has changed. “It’s been really fun and a lot of hard work,” she said. “Before you get crowned, you don’t realize how much work goes into being Miss UNA, but it is like a job. The girls

Before you get crowned, you don’t realize how much work goes into being Miss UNA, but it is like a job. Jocelyn Barnes| 2015-16 Miss UNA

who compete against each other are kind and supportive of each other.” Freshman TyYonna Hill said while pageants have benefits, she would not go to Miss UNA. “I think that pageants are great ways for girls to gain confidence, poise and sometimes scholarships, but I also believe that they do the total opposite of that, and the idea of ‘pretty people win’ should not be celebrated or expressed.” Thompson said the winner of Miss UNA will move on to compete in the Miss Alabama pageant. “I learned a lot by going to the state competition,” Barnes said. “It opened my eyes to a lot of things.” Barnes said she hopes this year’s competition is different

from previous years. “I want (the theme) to show how much I love UNA,” she said. “Miss UNA has been an amazing thing that I’ve been a part of, but it’s not the only thing I’m involved in. So, I want everyone to feel like they’ve been honored through this pageant.” Students can receive free tickets from the Student Engagement Center. Tickets went on sale Jan. 5.

Rachel Wammack (left) was Miss UNA 2014-15, Jocelyn Barnes (middle) was Miss UNA 2015-16 and Emily Winkler was Miss UNA 2013-14. The 2017 Miss UNA pageant is Jan. 21 in Norton Auditorium. JACKIE WILLIS | Graphic Designer

6 LIFE Filmmaker provides new perspective for students MONDAY SANDERSON Life Editor “I think in many ways teachers are superheroes, and they always manage to rise to the occasion.” Mike Johnson is a filmmaker and the new Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Digital Media Production. He said he has always wanted to be a teacher. “From a very early age, it was always something that was important to me,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. On the other side of it, filmmaker is my passion. To be able to combine those two things is really important to me.” The search committee picked Johnson over two other candidates, said Communications Department Chair Butler Cain. “He emerged as someone we really liked,” he said. “We liked the work that he has done, and he seems very interested in the educational component of film as well. The more we talked to him, he seemed like a very good fit to us.” Johnson said this position was “serendipitous.” “After I got a couple of projects under my belt, I started looking for positions,” he said. “I was shooting a film this past year, so I was unable to start working during the fall, but I saw there was an opening here for the spring, so I applied for it.” Cain said Johnson will bring different experiences for the students. Johnson said he has written and directed two feature films, the dramedy “Hunky Dory” and the drama “Savage Youth” with “Hunky Dory” winning multiple rewards. “We’re really looking forward to working with him,” said senior Colton McCormick. “It’s a lot of work for our single professor, Jason Pangilinan, to handle on his own, so we’re hoping Mike will be a valuable asset for us.” Cain said he is looking forward to working with Johnson. “He was really excited to work in the education field,” Cain said. “He seemed really genuine about wanting to help our students and to teach them.” He is a friendly person, McCormick said. “Even though I’ve only known Mike one day, I can already tell how genuine he is and how eager he is to help us,” he said. Johnson said he is excited to work with the students. “I worked with 20 film students on (a film project) Sunday, and just being around their energy, I was inspired by them,” he said. “They were just so passionate to create a project together. I have never seen a group of students so enthusiastic.” McCormick said Johnson provided

Courtesy of Mike Johnson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Digital Media Production Mike Johnson provides advice to actor Edouard Holdener in a scene from “Hunky Dory.” “I believe it is important to teach film students how to bring their stories to the world,” Johnson said. advice and helped with the production of the “culinary comedy.” Cain said he hopes Johnson can bring more stability. “With (Jason) Flynn’s passing, we had to bring a lot of adjunct professors in to help cover some of those classes,” Cain said. “We will now have one professor teaching four classes. So, I think that would make it much better for the students.” Johnson said he hopes to teach his students how to become better storytellers. “Filmmaking is really about getting people to see not only your point of view, but also others,” he said. “Storytelling is the way for us to connect with people who aren’t exactly like us. I believe it is important to teach film students how to bring their stories to the world.” The stories are of unconventional characters in situations most people find relatable, he said. Johnson said when he is not working with films, he is spending time with his wife and two daughters. “If I have any amount of free time, I’m usually with my family,” he said. “It’s important to me to take the time and relax with them.” Johnson said he hopes to make new friends and become a part of the Florence community. “I plan to apply for the full-time position and stay here,” he said. “This is something I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to continue making films, but I feel like that is something you can do anywhere. The only thing that is important to me is having some balance in my personal life and professional life.”


MICHAEL MEIGS | Graphic Designer Information compiled by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

Counselor discusses how to notice, prevent suicide MONDAY SANDERSON Life Editor Hollywood experienced many deaths in 2016, and the same occurred in the UNA community. Unfortunately, some of those deaths were a result of suicide. People commit suicide because they believe there is no hope for them, said Jami Flippo, licensed professional counselor for Student Counseling Services. “They don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “That drives someone to believe this is their only option.” Flippo said stress is one reason people might consider suicide. This a common emotion most college students feel, she said. “The more stressed or depressed you are, it heightens that ‘all or nothing’ thinking,” she said. “There are many stressors on a college campus — school, relationships, responsibilities and other things that they might be experiencing for the first time on their own. They feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulder.” While some people may see suicide as selfish, it is not, said sophomore

Lauren Bobo. “Yes, it does impact a lot more than you realize, but it’s not necessarily selfishly motivated,” she said. “Usually, it is done or attempted because the person is in so much pain that there seems to be no other way to make it stop, or they believe that everyone would be way better off without them because they feel useless or like a burden.” Bobo said suicide can have a profound effect on family members and friends. “I’ve had two family members commit suicide,” she said. “One was my uncle before I was born, but it severely impacted my life because my family basically stayed depressed a lot, especially around September, the month he died.” Flippo said there are a couple of ways people can recognize when a person might commit suicide. “The person may have a change in mood or start talking about suicide,” she said. “They may even express depressed thoughts. However, these are not the same for everyone.” Flippo said while someone might be depressed, they may not be suicidal. If someone is having suicidal thoughts, they should seek professional help, she said.

“Students can come receive help with the Student Counseling Services,” she said. “If a student needs help at a time we’re not open, there are places in the community they can go. Riverbend Center for Mental Health is one of the largest mental health centers in the state, and they are right here.” Bobo said family members and friends can be great help to those who are considering suicide. “You should make the person feel as safe talking to you as possible,” she said. “Be gentle. A lot of suicidal people can be talked down without needing to be hospitalized, a huge fear of many which leads to them not telling you they’re suicidal.” Flippo said one method people can use to help those with suicidal thoughts is QPR, which stands for question, persuade and refer. The person using this technique should ask the other person if they are thinking about suicide. The next step is persuading them to talk more and give more information on how to help. The last step is referring the other person to a professional. It is important for people to know they are not responsible for the actions of the person who committed suicide, Flippo said.

“I never want anyone to think ‘If I had done that, they would still be here,’” she said. “We do what we’re equipped to do. It’s almost as if someone didn’t perform CPR because they didn’t know how to do it, and they now feel guilty. You shouldn’t feel guilty.”

ASK FOR HELP Students who are contemplating suicide should visit Student Counseling Services for professional help. Call 256-7655215 to make an appointment.


New film deemed ʻinspirationʼ to viewers JASMINE FLEMING Editor-in-Chief I ventured into the local Carmike Cinemas Jan. 5 to watch “Hidden Figures,” a film I saw the trailer for months in advance and heavily anticipated viewing. The book-based biographical comedy-drama follows the life of Katherine Johnson (née Goble and portrayed by Taraji P. Henson), an African-American woman whose spectacular mathematical skills at NASA were a major part of astronaut John Glenn’s Earth orbit in the 20th century space race. The movie also focuses on Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), two African-American women who helped reform the racial norms of NASA in West Virginia. I was hooked from the beginning with a scene from Katherine’s childhood where her instructor told her parents just how intelligent she was as they made plans for her to continue her education. A young Katherine proved her skills to adults more than twice her age with a black board and chalk, which becomes her signature method for calculating. Within her role as a computer, Katherine has to work with others

whose intelligence she surpasses, while also receiving less respect and a passive aggressive work environment because of her gender and skin color. This culminates in the “bathroom speech,” where she explains that she is a hard worker and should not have to deal with situations presented earlier in the film. The scene is a tear-jerker and will make anyone not already in love with Henson fall for her. Another aspect of the movie that jars the audience is the harassment the trio receives from a police officer while repairing their vehicle on the way to work. They make jokes about fear of the police to normalize the behavior, which is similar to the way many African-Americans in present day deal with anticipated interactions with police. Although the movie highlights Katherine’s career, it also shows her life outside of work. She is a widowed mother of three who balances a budding romance with being a breadwinner and having a social life that includes regular worship services on Sunday. Although this adds a human element to Katherine’s mathematical abilities, it slows the film’s pace in places, such as when Katherine puts her daughters to bed in a scene that should have been shorter.

The film spends less time on Vaughan’s and Jackson’s lives, but it helps to give their time away from work the pacing I would have preferred with Katherine’s. Vaughan’s goal is to become a supervisor over the West Area, the part of a segregated NASA dedicated to African-American women mathematicians. Although she does the work of the position, she does not receive the title, respect or pay. Jackson also wants more: to become the organization’s first female engineer. To do so, she has to take classes at an all-white school, which was not allowed due to West Virginia’s segregation laws. Watching the women in the film is inspiring to moviegoers of all backgrounds, showing that anyone can accomplish a goal, even when told they cannot. The film also frustrates, in a necessary way, when it makes the audience question why many of us never heard of these women when we studied space in our elementary and high school science courses, giving meaning to the title “Hidden Figures.” Overall, I give “Hidden Figures” four out of five gold stars. While the movie’s pacing was somewhat slow, the actresses and the historical info the movie provides made up for it.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Top 5 ways to keep a New Year’s resolution

HANNAH ZIMMER Staff Writer Out with the old, in with the new. With the coming of a new year, people often set goals for the next 365 days that can be nearly impossible to maintain. In America, 40 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent are successful in achieving them, according to Forbes. However, there are ways for people to keep the goals they set. Here are some suggestions to make improvements in 2017. Whether it is losing weight or becoming more organized, this list will help.

1. Use an app. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is easy to forget to keep a New Year’s Resolution. Even more, people often do not prioritize those goals. Fortunately, there are thousands of apps to assist people in keeping their resolution. For example, the “Hello Wallet” app is helpful for those hoping to save money in the New Year. The app calculates how much money someone spends and warns users when they are close to exceeding the set limit. Other apps such as the “Reminders” app for the iPhone can be great tools to remind users to complete tasks for New Year’s resolutions. 2. Imagine the outcome. The quest to accomplish goals for the new year can seem endless and pointless. Imagining the benefits of continuing the process can serve as motivation. For those who’s goal is to lose weight, they can envision themselves ten pounds lighter which may motivate them to continue their work outs. People can also have a picture in a place they will look every day. This is great to do if someone is trying to save money for a dream car. 3. Keep good company. As a child, my grandmother always

Courtesy of Pixabay told me that “attitudes are contagious; make sure you have a good one.” The same applies to the company people keep. If someone always has a pessimistic outlook, this person can influence those who have an opposite outlook. If someone wants to stop smoking in 2017, the presence of another smoker can hinder any progress. A better option would be for the individual to associate with another friend group. 4. Plan ahead. As college students, our lives are chronically chaotic. Spending time studying or with friends will often be superior than working on New Year’s resolutions.

By planning ahead, students can schedule a time to do the activity while simultaneously making time for other priorities. Planning ahead also has benefits such as insuring communication with others and monitoring expenses. 5. Use social media. My goal for 2017 is to get fit. I learned using social media can be inspirational. I follow fitness and health pages on Instagram, and these pages serve as motivation for me to become more active. I see the perks of living a healthy lifestyle through the photos online, and this encourages me to meet my New Year’s resolution.



MELANIE HODGES | Chief Photographer

UNA President Kenneth Kitts and ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart shake hands to make the Division I announcement official at a press conference Dec. 6, 2016, in the Guillot University Center Performance Center. University officials are unsure how the move will impact enrollment, but the outlook is positive, said UNA Director of Athletics Mark Linder.

University officials anticipate transition effects CIERA GOLLIVER Associate News Editor UNA is expected to bring positive changes to campus as well as the Shoals area through enrollment and athletic conference opportunities starting in 2018 when the Lions will begin playing in a Division I conference. UNA will make the move from the Division II Gulf South Conference to the Division I Atlantic Sun Conference starting Fall 2018. The road to Division 1 has been 25 years in the making. Documents discussing the topic date back to 2002, but the transition has been a topic of conversation for much longer, said UNA Athletics Director Mark Linder. “In 2011, the Board of Trustees at UNA voted to pursue the Division 1 classification,” Linder said. Research has shown, on average, reclassifying to Division 1 increases enrollment from 11 to 13 percent, Linder said. Associate Vice president of Enrollment Management Ron Patterson said the university does not know for sure how much of an impact the change in classification will have on enrollment. “We anticipate a positive change, but we are not sure,” Patterson said. Linder said the move should help the area bring in more income.

“If the University’s enrollment increases around 800 students, then the economic impact on the Shoals would be around $30 million,” Linder said. It is currently unclear if the transition to Division I will increase student tuition. Linder said the Board of Trustees vote on all changes regarding tuition. Linder said being a Division I institution will give athletics access to bigger game guarantees. UNA will also have access to NCAA enhancement money and conference grant money. Ticket sales, corporate scholarships and additional fundraising efforts are expected to bring external revenue to UNA. Additional costs to the university will be added staff, operations, and extra scholarships, Linder said. UNA will continue to improve all facilities, just as they did in Division II. UNA football will continue to play at Braly Stadium because a new stadium is not necessary for the move to Division I, Linder said. He said that one academic advisor will need to be added to the athletic department. Student Government Association President Sarah Green said she hopes going Division 1 will allow UNA to increase funding for educational programs with grants, financially impact the Shoals community and allow more potential students to join the UNA

family. Many students are excited to see the type of impact the Division 1 transition will have on them, Green said. “I think that the Division 1 transition is going to be a really good thing for our students because it is going to increase our experience at UNA,” Green said. “I am really excited about this transition. I can’t wait to see the impact that it has on UNA.” Linder said being a Division 1 institution will give athletics access to bigger game guarantees. UNA will also have access to NCAA enhancement money and conference grant money. “I believe it will be transformational for our university,” Linder said. “(I hope to be) competing for conference championships and representing the university well on the national level in NCAA tournaments.”

Sophomore tennis player Ali Gean said she is excited about what going Division 1 will mean for her as an athlete. “I think (going Division 1) was a great decision,” Gean said. “I can’t wait to (play) in a Division 1 conference.” Sophomore Brittany Cagle says she believes Division 1 will expose athletes to new competition as well as continue to increase enrollment at UNA. “Division 1 will benefit us in tremendous ways,” Cagle said. “I believe it is all positives for our campus.” UNA will continue working to meet NCAA compliance, which ensures a level playing field between all schools. Topics range from scholarship limits, academic requirements and recruitment, Linder said. Editor’s Note: Look for a future article about enrollment effects.

If the University’s enrollment increases around 800 students, then the economic impact on the Shoals would be around $30 million. Mark Linder | Director of Athletics

DIVISION 1 SCOREBOARD Timeline: Making ʻthe big jumpʼ


DEC. 17 - JAN. 9 FOOTBALL NCAA Division II National Championship Game Dec. 17 vs. Northwest Missouri State Loss, 29-3

WOMENʼS BASKETBALL Dec. 19 vs. West Georgia Win, 73-62 Dec. 31 at Valdosta State Loss, 76-69 Jan. 2 at West Florida Loss, 73-60 Jan. 7 vs. Christian Bros. Win, 68-61 Jan. 9 vs. Union Win, 75-53

MENʼS BASKETBALL Dec. 19 vs. West Georgia Loss, 86-71 Dec. 31 at Valdosta State Loss, 99-82 Jan. 2 at West Florida Loss, 100-81 Jan. 7 vs. Christian Bros. Win, 67-63 Jan. 9 vs. Union Loss, 97-76 Games continued at



The university announced its intention to make the move to Division I. A possible conference destination was the Ohio Valley Conference.


Courtesy of Sports Information


Courtesy of the University of North Alabama

In March 2014, UNA board of trustees instituted a five-year strategic plan that included input from faculty, staff and students.

The ASUN anounced it would form a football-only partnership with the Big South. This allowed UNA to have a football conference when finalizing the jump.


UNA will begin Division I play as a probationary member for four seasons. While it cannot compete for national championships unitl 2022, it can win conference titles.

MELANIE HODGES | Chief Photographer

MELANIE HODGES | Chief Photographer

2022 UNA’s probation period will end, meaning the Lions are eligible for postseason play in all NCAA sports. HILLARY TAYLOR | Staff Photographer



Lions join conferences with competitive teams ANDREW FULMER Sports Editor With the move to Division I underway, the North Alabama Lions will encounter new challenges and teams with each sport. The ASUN conference will include nine teams with UNA’s addition in 2018. UNA’s football only conference, the Big South, currently includes six other schools. The other eight teams that are already in the ASUN include schools from Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and New Jersey. Below is a list of the eight teams UNA will compete with in 2018 in the ASUN, aside from football. Also below are the names of teams UNA will face in football as part of the Big South.

1. Florida Gulf Coast University Nickname: Eagles Location: Fort Myers, Florida Established: 1991 Florida Gulf Coast is a university that has made a name for itself recently with its men’s basketball team advancing to the Sweet 16 in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This appearance came two years after transitioning from Division II. While at the Division II level, the Eagles women’s basketball team posted a 35-1 record in the 2006-07 season and finished national runner-up.

2. Jacksonville University Nickname: Dolphins Location: Jacksonville, Florida Established: 1934

JU has a long history of athletic prowess. The Dolphins baseball program has made 13 NCAA tournament appearances, including a 1976 South Region runner-up. JU’s 1970 men’s basketball team, led by Naismith Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore, advanced to the national title game against UCLA but fell 80-69. This would be the sixth of nine consecutive titles for Bruins head coach John Wooden.

3. Kennesaw State University

during their time in the NAIA with 14 tournament appearances and the 1986 NAIA national championship.

5. New Jersey Institute of Technology Nickname: Highlanders Location: Newark, New Jersey Established: 1881

Nickname: Owls Location: Kennesaw, Georgia Established: 1963 Similar to UNA, KSU was a Division II powerhouse before transitioning to Division I in 2005. The Owls won national titles in softball (1995-96), women’s soccer (2003), baseball (1996) and men’s basketball (2004). KSU joins UNA and Grand Valley State as the only Division II universities with a national title in four different sports.

4. Lipscomb University Nickname: Bisons Location: Nashville, Tennessee Established: 1891 UNA will have a fellow purple and gold clad university in the ASUN and coincidentally, the closest team geographically. Lipscomb fielded athletic teams in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics before moving to the NCAA. Most of the Bisons athletic success came

The newest member of the ASUN conference, aside from UNA, is the Highlanders. The technology school has been a Division I institution since 2006, and despite its northern location and long trek, NJIT made the official move to the ASUN in 2016.

6. University of North Florida Nickname: Ospreys Location: Jacksonville, Florida Established: 1972 One of two ASUN teams located in “The River City,” UNF is also a program that recently transitioned to the Division I ranks from Division II. The Ospreys softball team appeared in seven consecutive Division II tournaments from 1999-2005 and the men’s golf team appeared in five Division II regional tournaments, and the 2000 Division II championship tournament. The men’s basketball team earned their first Division I tournament bid when they won the ASUN championship over South Carolina-Upstate.

7. Stetson University Nickname: Hatters Location: DeLand, Florida Established: 1883 Stetson is a baseball powerhouse in the ASUN, having won seven conference titles and 16 appearances in the NCAA regionals. The Hatters women’s basketball program has also enjoyed success, winning the ASUN tournament and receiving automatic NCAA tournament bids in 2005, 2011 and 2013.

8. University of South Carolina Upstate Nickname: Spartans Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina Established: 1967 USC-Upstate is an up and coming program that, like many ASUN universities, moved to Division I from the Division II ranks. The Spartans field 15 varsity sports including baseball, which is helmed by Matt Fincher in his 20th season with the university.

Big South Conference 1. Charleston Southern 2. Gardner-Webb 3. Kennesaw State (Football only) 4. Liberty 5. Monmouth (Football only) 6. Presbyterian


Wallace retires as Lionsʼ head coach ANDREW FULMER Sports Editor

When on

Bobby Wallace, the all-time winningest coach in North Alabama history, announced his retirement Dec. 20 as the Lions head football coach. The move comes after a 29-3 defeat in the national championship game to Northwest Missouri State and a reclassification from the university to Division I Football Championship Subdivision. “I am retiring for the third time, and hopefully this one sticks,” Wallace said. “There are many reasons I’m retiring now, two of them being personal.” Wallace cited he wants to spend more time with his family, especially with his third grandchild being born in September 2016 and his fourth grandchild due in February. Wallace finishes his career with 171 wins, including 126 at UNA, over his 28-year head-coaching career at three universities.

In his final season, Wallace led the Lions to an 11-2 record and the first national championship appearance in 21 years. Wallace said the accolades his teams received are special, but they are not what he will cherish the most from his tenure at UNA. “People and relationships are what I’ll miss the most, not trophies, or winning or anything like that.” he said. “The people I worked with and the players I coached are what I’ll remember the most.” In his second stint as head coach of the Lions, Wallace led the team to a 44-15 record and a record breaking four consecutive GSC titles from 2012-16. Quarterbacks Luke Wingo and Jacob Tucker were integral players during his second stint, and both said playing for a coach like Wallace was a blessing. “It was a great experience,” Wingo said. “He’s a players’ coach. He always put us first in every situation, and he loved us.”

Tucker said Wallace’s relationship oriented style of coaching made the team function efficiently. “It made everything run so much smoother,” he said. “He’s the type of coach that has his door open anytime you want to talk to him. To play for a guy like that makes everything so much easier.” He began his head-coaching career at UNA in 1988 and coached the Lions until 1997. This first stint in Florence included three straight Division II national titles from 1993-95 and the program’s first Harlon Hill Trophy winner, Ronald McKinnon, in 1995. Wallace then accepted the head job at Temple, a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. He coached the Owls from 1998-2005 and led them to an upset over the No. 14 Virginia Tech Hokies in his first season at Temple — the first win over a ranked opponent in 11 seasons and the program’s first Big East Conference road victory. To learn more about Wallace’s coaching career, visit

ANDREW FULMER Sports Editor It took less than 48 hours for North Alabama athletics to find a replacement for the school’s all-time winningest football coach Bobby Wallace. University officials announced Dec. 22 that interim head coach and defensive coordinator Chris Willis would become the program’s 10th head coach and ninth since football returned to UNA in 1949. Willis is the longest-tenured coach on the current staff, having been at UNA for 15 seasons. During that time, he served under three head coaches: Mark Hudspeth, Terry Bowden and Wallace. “This is home,” Willis said. “I’ve had some opportunities to go places. I’ve interviewed for a couple of jobs. It comes back to the same thing — it’s the people and the place. (My family and I) love Florence, and that’s one of the reasons I’m standing here today.” Willis said continuing a playercoach relationship style of coaching that Wallace instituted is one thing he wants to continue in his tenure. “I want players to pull up in their cars and go in (the athletics) building with excitement that we’re going out

here today to better ourselves and to continue the things we’ve been doing,” he said. “There’s nothing broke. I’m not her to fix anything. I’m here to continue what we have been doing.” UNA Director of Athletics Mark Linder said there was no doubt Willis is the right person for the program. “Dr. Kitts and I have been talking about a plan since last year that there was going to come a time where Coach Wallace was going to retire,” he said. “We both landed on the decision that Chris was the right person at the right time.” Willis has spent the past five seasons as defensive coordinator under Wallace. During that time, Willis’ defenses have produced five AllAmericans, including 2013 Division II National Defensive Player of the Year Tavarious Wilson. “He deserves this job,” Wallace said. “He’s had several different responsibilities here, from football operations to coaching safeties. When he took on the assistant head coach title, he did a fantastic job.” During the 2016 season, UNA’s defense limited opponents to 14.54 points per game and gave up nine passing touchdowns all season en route to an appearance in the national championship game.

Before becoming the defensive coordinator in 2012, Willis spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach for the Lions. He was a defensive backs coach during the 2011 season that fielded 2016 Pro Bowl selection Janoris Jenkins in the secondary. Willis also has experience in other areas of the team besides defense. In his first season in Florence, he was a tight ends coach, and in 2003, he served as the Lion’s running backs coach. He was also UNA’s recruiting coordinator from 2002-05. Before coaching for the Lions, Willis spent three seasons at his alma mater, Delta State, where he was an assistant on the 2000 team that finished 14-1 and won the national championship. Willis said while he is excited to be the man to transition the team into Division I, there are still some goals he would like to accomplish in UNA’s final year in Division II. “I want to make this clear,” he said. “I understand there is a transition coming, and I’m all for it. I’m excited, and I can’t wait to get started with that. But we’re Division II for one more season, and we’re in the Gulf South Conference. I want to end on a high note. I want to win a fifth Gulf South Conference (championship).”


Defensive coordinator earns head position


e door closes, another do o

MICHAEL MEIGS | Graphic Designer


Self-education remains necessary

JASMINE FLEMING Editor-in-Chief College students have already made the decision to further their education by choosing to continue after surviving elementary, middle

and high school. But, there is another educational institution that is just as important: your brain. Often, college students or high school grads mention things they wish they had learned before leaving home, such as how to pay taxes, what a mortgage is and how it works, how to write resumes and cover letters or how to manage bank accounts. These statements usually come when realizing that, unless they are math or science majors, they no longer need to know how to graph parabolas or balance chemical equations. In fact, a 2015 study by the organization YouthTruth showed less than half of high school students in the U.S. feel prepared for future careers or college based on what they learn in the classroom. This statistic is disappointing because if students don’t feel adequately prepared to move on from

high school, how will they successfully do so? Another area in which many feel undereducated is the history of minority figures throughout the U.S. For example, after watching films like “Hidden Figures” (see p. 8), the question arises, “Why did we never learn about these African-American women engineers and mathematicians when we studied the Space Race?” Questions like that come often from entertainment since there are more films now than ever focusing on those whose stories were never taught but should have been, from “Malcom X” released in 1992 to a more modern “The Birth of a Nation” last year. This has also lead to films now that will document what future students might not learn in class, such as Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” or Netflix’s “Barry.” These discoveries may lead to the

belief that the U.S. school systems are failing to educate in practicality, as well as history, and this may be true. But that should fuel individuals to take their education into their own hands. There are many resources available to learn more about a certain topic, and while not learning in the past lies with the school, not learning now lies with us. So, if there is a topic that is personally important, such as figures who impacted a career field of interest or more practical areas like learning a new skill for an internship, set aside time for self-education. There are tons of tools to do so, and many of them are free. From YouTube tutorials to library books or even a conversation with a professor, knowledge is everywhere, and continuing to be ignorant is a choice, not a requirement.

SGA requests student presence in polls


Welcome back, students! What a great first semester of the school year we had. The current Student Government Association staff is over halfway through our term. We have seen some really great things happen, as well as some things that have not gone the way we had hoped. But with this, our number one priority has been you, the student. You are what keeps us fighting for what is right. When I was elected as SGA President, I asked you to hold me accountable, and that is what you have done. Now, I have another request for you. In the coming weeks our campus will face an important decision for the upcoming year: SGA officer elections.

Each year, we see campaign signs go up, cookies passed out and posters hung. I want to challenge you to think about what you want in this upcoming year. Think about what you want to see SGA accomplish and who you want leading that fight. Voting is important, and that day will soon be here. But before that, we all must make the decision on who deserves to be in those leadership roles. I encourage you to be on the lookout for anyone already serving the student body in ways that are beneficial to the student population. These are the people you want in office, the people who will put aside their personal biases and beliefs to serve you. My year as SGA President isn’t over

yet, and transition won’t take place until the end of April, but there is nothing I want more than to pass on my position, as well as the other officer positions, to the most selfless, student-centered leaders out there. SGA is not about the people in the organization or the elected officers, but rather the students. I am excited to continue to fight for you the remainder of my term. Please come to me with your concerns and things I can do to better your time here at UNA. I am here for you and will continue to be your voice. But now, it is your turn to make your voice heard and vote for the candidates that you know will continue to fight for you. The polls will be open Feb. 20.

Letters Policy Letters to the editor should be emailed to or mailed to: The Flor-Ala, UNA Box 5300 Florence, AL 35632 Letters must include name and telephone number for verification. Please limit letters to 400 words. The editor reserves the right to edit or refuse to publish a letter.


Moment of a Lifetime

Here come the Lions Leo, the North Alabama mascot, joins the UNA cheerleaders in leading the football team onto the field for the Division II national championship game in Kansas City, Kansas, Dec. 17. The Lions fell to Northwest Missouri State 29-3. MELANIE HODGES Chief Photographer The journey to the Division II National Championship was about more than a football game. The moments before and after the game defined what would become one of the most unforgettable moments in UNA history. On the day before the big game, players spent the morning visiting veterans in care at the Kansas City VA Medical Center. Players not only talked with the veterans, but the veterans also gave players an incredible piece of memorabilia. The gift was a coin featuring the branches of the military, as well as the Division II logo. Though the players may have thought they were the ones giving back to the veterans, after hearing their unbelievable tales, many left feeling the roles had been reversed. Prior to the game, the tension grew rapidly. As the temperature dropped,

the journey to the game became treacherous for many who dared make the trek. While some became trapped on the interstate for hours, others were unable to make it altogether. Both student buses were canceled, and many fans were forced to cancel their travel plans as well. But, despite the odds, hundreds of fans still managed to come out to support the Lions in the freezing weather and snowy conditions. Though the Lions may not have claimed the title, the connection between the players was stronger than ever. Win or lose, this team had something more important than a trophy. They had each other. I will never forget the words that UNA head coach Bobby Wallace said as the players climbed off the plane to head home. “Win or lose, you treat this just the same,” he said. This quote sums up the attitude of the team. Though victory was not the outcome, these players made for one of the most memorable seasons in program history.

Tough loss Junior receiver Dre Hall crouches in disappointment after the Lions fell short against Northwest Missouri State. UNA only managed a field goal in the snowy conditions, losing 29-3.

Coming through Junior safety Dorsey Norris slaps hands with a UNA fan during the “Lion walk” in the team hotel. Fans usually gather two hours prior to kickoff to greet the players.

Remember this A UNA football player holds a token at the Kansas City VA Medical Center. The coin, which the veterans gave to the players, shows the experience went far beyond the field.

First glance Senior safety Khyle Jackson (left) and senior quarterback Jacob Tucker take a look around Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. Both players served as team captains in the game.

CALENDAR 15 Thurs., Jan. 12 What: Senior Recital: Tyler Curtis, tuba When: 7 p.m. Where: Music Building Room 209 What: UPC Movie Night: “Kevin Hart: What Now?” When: 7 p.m. Where: GUC Performance Center

Fri., Jan. 13 What: MLK Project When: 8 a.m. Where: GUC Banquet Halls

Sat., Jan. 14 What: Tennessee Valley Historical Society’s “Riding With The Outlaws” When: 11 a.m. Where: Florence/Lauderdale Tourism & Visitor Center

Sun., Jan. 15 What: The Flor-Ala writer’s meeting Where: Student Publications Building When: 4 p.m. What: Dead Poets Society When: 2 - 4 p.m. Where: Florence-Lauderdale Public Library

Mon., Jan. 16 Campus closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

What: Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day

The Flor-Ala file photo

UNA students volunteer to package food for Numana during the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day. The 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day takes place Monday, Jan. 16, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Guillot University Center Banquet Halls.

Wed., Jan. 18

Fri., Jan. 20

Tues., Jan. 24

What: Magellan Study Abroad Interest Meeting When: 3 - 4 p.m. Where: GUC Room 208

What: The Tennessee Valley Strummers When: 2 - 4 p.m. Where: Florence-Lauderdale Tourism & Visitor’s Center

What: Film Screening: “Prison Town, USA”

What: Swim Club Interest Meeting

Sat., Jan. 21

When: 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Where: GUC Room 200

When: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Thur., Jan. 19

Where: GUC Banquet Halls

What: SGA Senate Meeting

What: Lion Leadership Academy When: 6:30 - 8 p.m.

When: 3 p.m. Where: Office of Student Engagement

Where: GUC Room 208 What: UPC Meeting When: 3:30 - 5 p.m.

What: Hunger Banquet When: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Where: GUC Banquet Hall

Where: Office of Student Engagement

What: Women’s Basketball v. Lee

Tues., Jan. 17

Where: Flowers Hall

What: Spring 2017 Student Allocations Training When: 3:30 - 4: 30 p.m. Where: Student Engagement Center

When: 6 p.m.

What: Men’s Basketball vs. Lee

What: Miss UNA 2017 When: 7 p.m. Where: Norton Auditorium

When: 6:30 - 9 p.m. Where: GUC Room 208 What: UPC Movie Night: “Loving” When: 7 p.m. Where: GUC Performance Center

Wed., Jan. 25

What: Swampette Trolly Tour ($35) When: 1 - 5 p.m.

What: The Big Chill

Where: Florence/Lauderdale Tourism & Visitor Center

Where: GUC Banquet Halls A and B

Sun., Jan. 22 What: The Flor-Ala writer’s meeting When: 4 p.m. Where: Student Publications Building

Mon., Jan. 23

When: 8 p.m.

What: UPC Meeting

Where: Flowers Hall

When: 3:30 - 5 p.m. Where: Office of Student Engagement

When: 5 - 7 p.m.

Check online at una. edu/calendar for more events and updates.



January 12, 2017

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