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The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

The Flor-Ala

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Who Gets the Aux? UPC hosts music taste tournament


The University Program Council (UPC) at the University of North Alabama has been on a hot streak this semester. Throughout August and early September, or “Mane Month,” as it is known on campus, the UPC engaged students on multiple levels, hosting events such as a silent disco in the Student Recreation Center gymnasium and a pancake dinner in the Baptist Campus Ministries big room.

UNA’s UPC endears itself to students through creative and well-executed affairs, usually interactive games or team-building get-togethers. It is known for offering free gifts, like festive tee-shirts and seasonal snacks.

Among other things, the UPC is responsible for organizing community tailgating at Spirit Hill, right next to Tom Braly Municipal Stadium. Considering UNA’s recent shift to Division I athletics under the National College Athletics Association, it is safe to say that spirits at the university are especially high this fall. The university is preparing to celebrate homecoming next weekend, acknowledging 50 years of identifying the way it does now, as the University of North Alabama. Saturday, Sept. 30, the UNA Lions will play against Eastern Kentucky University.

Made up of 14 students, all of whom have unique academic backgrounds, the UPC is essentially divided into four areas: activity planning/overseeing, marketing, hype and administrative coordination. Its mission, as displayed on the university’s website, is “to provide student-led programming that supports a vibrant campus experience, values traditions, and creates opportunities for all student populations.”  

Dessa Faulkner is the UPC’s resident “Welcome Warrior.” She works to foster a hospitable environment for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

‘I welcome [new students] onto our campus and organize events to keep them engaged and get them excited,” Faulkner said. “I try to make sure [the UPC] puts on events that generate buzz, usually involving well-known games or activities.”

Before serving as the UPC’s Welcome Warrior, Faulkner was its Co-Curricular Activities Planner. 

Aside from her work with the UPC, Faulkner helps lead UNA’s Freshman Forum. She describes herself as being “very lucky” to do what she does on campus.

“Our main goal in planning Mane Month functions is to make them so that any and all students can enjoy them,” Faulkner said, reflecting on Mane Month. “A big part of the UPC is inclusivity. We do our best to keep student programs ever-evolving and fun. I think we’ve really been hitting our marks this year.”

With Mane Month having drawn to a clean close, the UPC is moving its focus to UNA homecoming next week. Jacob Davis, the UPC’s spirit activities planner, spent resources planning a UPC-backed homecoming spirit challenge.

“Mostly any group can register for our spirit challenge,” said Davis. “Sororities, fraternities, even just groups of friends. It’s open to anybody.”

From classic yard games to a bona fide blood drive, Davis and his colleagues at the UPC have big plans for this year’s homecoming festivities.

On belonging to a council of her peers, Faulkner said she rarely has trouble communicating.

“I could go on and on saying nice things about my coworkers,” Faulkner said. “We’re all fundamentally different, but we almost always have a good time together.”

Last week, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the UPC held Aux Cord Wars in the Guillot University Center performance area. One of many events carried out by Faulkner, the Aux Cord Wars were a lighthearted series of rounds in which students competed to determine who among them had the best music taste. Participants in the tournament (around 15) played by pitting various song selections against each other based on a bracketed system, battling it out for the title of Aux Cord Champion.

Faulkner developed the idea to hold Aux Cord Wars at UNA while attending a conference for university program planners.

“The question driving Aux Cord Wars is, ‘Who will get the Aux, or who has the best taste in music?’” Faulkner said. “But in total, Aux Cord Wars are a great way for students to spend time together.”

The Aux Cord Wars were hosted by the UPC’s hype humans, Brody Gravitt, EJ Powell and Will Driver. Two of the hype men kept score and moderated, while the other acted as emcee. Students submitting songs in the battle royale did so according to genres specified by an online wheel spinner.

“We had students compete over a bunch of song categories,” Faulkner said. One round was rock, one was 2000s pop. I think we also had competitors pick their favorite heartbreak anthems, then their favorite songs from Disney movies. It got to be pretty funny.”

Shania Anderson, a student in attendance at the Aux Cord Wars, preferred Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t.” Overall, Anderson’s favorite genre up for debate in the Aux Cord Wars was rhythm and blues.

Another student, Elijah Winston, called the event in the GUC “a blast.”

“The games were actually sort of challenging,” said Winston. “I mean, there were some trials. Some of the genres covered were average, but there was a lot of variety.”

Winston’s top pick was “A Beautiful Noise,” by Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile.

Faulkner and the rest of her coworkers make it their business to prioritize students, ensuring that they know their value and trust their instincts.

“No matter the event, we encourage student attendees to fill out ending evaluations,” Faulkner said. “We want them to have enough confidence to express their opinions as brazenly as possible. What can we do to improve things? Does the student body have suggestions? These are the questions we hope resonate.”

Faulkner would love to arrange a session of Aux Cord Wars again, probably, she said, sometime in the spring. As for now, the UPC is directing its energy toward homecoming perks. Wednesday, Sept. 20, it hosted a school spirit edition of its highly competitive bingo night, Bingo Bango, in the GUC food court. Student winners were given UNA-related prizes.

“Plan for several on-campus events in the remainder of this semester,” Faulkner said. “We’re looking to increase audience sizes. Student engagement is a necessity.”

Objectively, it is a good thing that the UPC promotes extracurricular involvement. During the last few years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, college students around the world got accustomed to isolation. They now face difficulties in interpersonal education, citing en masse a lack of drive. In other words, pursuers of higher education have seemingly perpetually drained social batteries.

Sadly, a large portion of aging Americans with mental illnesses recall having first seen signs of said psychological problems in college. Students with strong support systems are less likely to feel as though they are suffering alone. Whether bolstered directly by a closely bonded bundle of friends or indirectly by an organization, no student should suffer in silence.

Forging friendships in college is indisputably beneficial. Thankfully for UNA students with either limited free time or fears of social commitment, the UPC gives them assorted opportunities to connect with their on-campus neighbors without having to haphazardly join clubs or devote themselves to Greek life.

“In summary, our whole deal is to cultivate a warm and inviting campus experience for UNA students,” Faulkner said. “We welcome all. [The UPC is] always happy to see fresh faces.”

Those interested in getting involved with UNA’s UPC should keep their eyes out for employment applications, which will be available as of Jan. 15, 2024.

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Mary-Stella Mangina, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mary-Stella is a junior majoring in both Professional Management and French for Commerce.

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