Publication of the University of the District of Columbia's Journalism Program. December 2015


Student Center Opening in Spring

BY Maimouna camara


Washington, D.C. - In just a month, students at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) will have a new home away from home when the new student center opens in January 2016.

On a recent walk through, student leader Clifton Johnson and UDC staff toured the new center to get a sneak preview. He said, “Some of the most exciting areas are on the first floor where there are going to be flat screen TVs and a gaming system. The second floor will have a student organization where students will be able to come in and find out how to get involved on campus. Also there will be lockers for students to keep their belongings in.” The center will boast a new dining area, a fitness center with showers, a ballroom, and student-focused spaces.

Among the most anticipated spaces is the student lounge. According to Erik Thompson, the university’s acting Vice President for Real Estate, Facilities Management & Public Safety, “There is a space that becomes the new 4.0 Lounge that’s three times as big as the existing one, and it’s not hidden. Aside from having almost 10 different buildings on site, the new student center is going to be that one place where any student or stranger that walks in will find all the information they need within one building.”

On each floor level there will be a huge glass board for information purposes about what’s happening on campus. The walls inside the building are made of natural looking wood materials to create a cozy atmosphere. Additionally, each floor has tables and chairs where students can hang out and eat during class breaks.

In all, the building is a combination of 78,000 sq. ft. of new construction and 18,000 sq. ft. of renovated space. A LEED STRUCTURE (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the platinum building is a historic initiative to promote green initiatives, sustainability and leave small carbon footprints on the environment.

This project was 10 years in the making. In 2009, Vincent Gray, then chair of the city council, allocated $35 million in the budget to the project. He presided over the center’s groundbreaking in 2012 after he became mayor. It came out of the idea that students need and deserve a space that helps the university experience.

The center will serve students, faculty and neighborhood residents, while generating income. “If a community member comes in the university and wants to take a class, and asks where do I go to find out where I can be helped? The student center kind of becomes that place. And we also have things like the ability to rent out a conference room so if a community member is renting the conference room then that’s how we make it so students pay a limited, discounted rate or no fee to maintain the building or the fitness center,” said Thompson.

The Untold Story of a Campus Queen




Washington, D.C. - When you hear the words “Campus Queen,” you may think of a female student who is “pretty” “popular” and “poised”. There is so much more to being a campus queen than just wearing a crown and sash. As a campus queen, you have the responsibility of making a positive difference on your campus and setting goals to make an impact in society.

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has selected three campus queens for the academic school year 2015-16: Miss University of the District of Columbia, Tatyana Calhoun, Miss Firebird, Nia Williams and Miss Homecoming, Tiffany Bridgett. These three women are more than just pretty faces. They are honor students, award winning athletes, 2015 White House HBCU all-stars, and the list goes on. The Free Voice set down with each of the UDC campus queens to get an insight on what it means to be a campus queen and their goals.

Miss University of the District of Columbia, Tatyana Calhoun, is from Huntington, West Virginia. Following graduation from high school she received a partial basketball scholarship to attend UDC. Calhoun has been breaking barriers since stepping foot on the campus. In 2014, Calhoun and teammates went on to win the East Coast Conference Championship in 2014. In 2015 Calhoun was selected as an HBCU All Star for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The All-Stars were selected from more than 450 students. HBCU All-Stars recognizes 83 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement. Calhoun continues to hold the torch high as Miss University of the District of Columbia.  

Miss Firebird, Nia Williams, is a Washington D.C. native. Williams was accepted into UDC in August of 2013 and has continuously been on the Dean List since her first semester at UDC. She is a member of the Psi Chi Honor Society. In 2015, Williams was an award recipient at the 2015 Honors Convocation. Williams is actively involved with multiple psychology related clubs on campus.

Like my fellow Queens, I am also a native of Washington, D.C. My journey began at the University of the District Fall 2013 after previously attending Prince George’s Community College. I’m a passionate writer and I have a love for fashion. I’m highly active on campus, as Publicity Chair of Campaign 9:30 club, a member of the Honor Society, Vice- President of Women of Worth and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I plan on starting my own company entitled “Exxit the Only Wear Out.”  I continue to set the bar high as Miss Homecoming. I’m always encouraging students not only to strive to be their best, but set an example on campus on how to do so.

The University of the District of Columbia 2015-2016 Campus Queens are unique. Not only do they encourage student morale amongst the student body, but their ambitions and achievements perfectly match their beauty in appearance.

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness- Oprah Winfrey

UDC Runs D.C. Farm





Washington, D.C. - It is the largest urban farm in Washington, D.C. and at the helm is the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), which is managing the 3-acre property called the East Capitol Farm.

On Dec. 4th, volunteers helped construct 20 raised beds, and planted the remaining trees and shrubs. They were working on the final details of the farm and within the next month the aquaponics system will be installed. The farm will be fully operational in the spring of 2016.

Throughout the year, volunteers from the local and business communities have gathered regularly to work on the project.

“I am very encouraged by the overwhelming support from partners and the community. UDC and its partners look forward to continuing to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world,” said Dr. Dwane Jones, director of the university’s Center for Sustainable Development.

Now the farm is seeking volunteers and community garden plot members. Ward 7 residents will have first preference. So far 27 applications for the garden plots have been accepted. Residents have eight large plots to plant in.

Harris Trobman, a green infrastructure specialist said, “The East Capitol Urban Farm will promote urban agriculture, improve food access and nutrition through a community-centered farmers' market, offer nutrition education, provide community gardening, create opportunities for entrepreneurship, and include a research and demonstration site for UDC. Residents can grow their own food. Anyone can also sell produce at the newly created farmers' market on site. Our community garden plots and the demonstration gardens will be the best way for residents to grow their own food. We also have growing space in the aquaponics system, which will run through an apprenticeship program.”  

Though growing produce is the main focus, it is more than a working farm. There is a stage in one corner surrounded by a sandbox with seating made from tree trunks; a commissioned art piece by D.C. Arts and Humanities will be in the center and there’s a nature discovery area for children that has a maze and birds nest that they can touch and feel. Meanwhile, residents can enjoy a nature trail on the hillside, or an aquaponics demonstration center for farming fish.

For information visit dcbia.org under community improvement day. To keep up with the progress visit UDC-CAUSES blogspot. If you would like to sign up to plant, contact Harris Trobman at Harris.Trobman@udc.edu.

UDC Runs D.C. Farminter_national


It is the largest urban farm in Washington, D.C. and at the helm is the University of the District of Columbia, which is managing the 3-acre East Capitol Farm.

Year-Round Housing Helps Homelessholiday_families

BY maimouna camara

Keici Bryson left home in his early teenage years because of some bad decisions. His relationship with his parents had been tarnished, after brushes with the law, he says.

UDC Students Celebrate Global Holidaysisit_me

BY moussa traore & xavier bias

For some of us, a holiday is simply a day off and an opportunity to do discount shopping, but for others each one has significance for religious or cultural reasons.

holiday_giftsWard 8 - Highest HIV Cases in the Nation

BY melvin bogard

His story is by no means unique. Douglas (who would only be identified by his middle name) is a gay male living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

holiday_giftsWhere to Ring in the New Year

BY Brandon walling

As another year is coming to a close, you may be wondering where to ring in 2016. Here are a few places to countdown the final seconds of 2015.