Looking back on the 2018-2019 school year: Year in Review 2019

Compiled by Mary-Ellen Davis, News Editor, Meghan Hudson, Arts & Life Editor, and Tim Klaplac, Senior Editor

SEPTEMBER

TU converts Marriott

At the beginning of the 2018 fall semester, Towson University opened The Residences at 10 West Burke Avenue as new housing for transfer students. Renovated over the summer to accommodate over 200 students, the goal of transforming the Marriott into The Residences was to help give transfer students the opportunity to live on campus. Project Manager and Assistant Director of Facilities Management, Nick Gingue, lived on site during the renovation to make sure everything was finished on time for students to move in for the start of the fall semester.

Wasps Swarm Students

Towson University sent out a campus wide safety alert Sept. 18 to warn students and staff of yellow jacket swarms occuring by Au Bon Pain and Hawkins Hall. 14 students in total were seen by the Health Center at Ward and West for up to 16 stings. Facilities management used bee spray to kill located nests, but warned students that other nests may still pop up as yellow jackets can become more aggressive in the fall season. This happens because yellow jackets can become territorial and agitated when the weather begins to cool down.

OCTOBER

Towson looks golden celebrating Golden Anniversary

In honor of their 50th season, the Towson football team walked into Johnny Unitas Stadium sporting gold jerseys, a nod to their storied past. That past would lead to a successful present and future as the Tigers rocked the Citadel in the home opener for a 44-27 victory. Redshirt junior quarterback Tom Flacco stole the show, running for 185 yards in the game, a conference record for a quarterback. Flacco’s performance thrust him into the spotlight en route to the CAA Offensive Player of the Year Award. The win was part of Towson’s 6-1 start to the season, climbing as high as No. 10 in the national polls, as the Tigers reached the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Community Over Corruption

In wake of both the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Towson University’s production of “Fuente Ovejuna” shined light on corruption and power imbalances, two topics that weighed heavily within these movements. This production also took place amidst the Ford-Kavanaugh case, which sparked a whirlwind of conversation surrounding sexual misconduct and gender inequality. “Women are believed on a base level in this play,” said Griffin DeLisle, who played the commander.  “Any time they’d bring up an issue, it is believed by the community and brought to full attention. I think that is a really potent idea right now.” Some members of the cast found themselves more emotionally attached to the story and their characters than expected. Director, Robyn Quick, inspired by Anita Hill’s bravery within her own case, decided this was a story that needed to be heard.

Towson Logo Gets Makeover

During her fall presidential address, Towson University President Kim Schatzel announced that the university logo would be getting a makeover. The new logo, currently featured around campus, launched at the beginning of the 2019 spring semester. It is meant to signify the University’s new narrative and is part of Schatzel’s presidential initiative “TU Matters to Maryland.” The new design for the logo took 18 months said Sean Welsh, TU’s director of communications. Welsh said that by the beginning of 2020, the new logo is the only logo Towson will have.

Homecoming week brings court together

Homecoming Court this semester introduced the new title of Homecoming “Royal,” which offered a more inclusive title for students who do not identify with the cisgender titles of King or Queen. Homecoming royal nominees included Jason Scoville, Brigid McCarthy, Jessica Rowe, TJ Haselhoff, Anelle Tarke, La-Chelle Dickenson, Andre Williams and Paige Mathel. Kicking off just as temperatures began dropping for the season, the group quickly bonded as they huddled together before their first photoshoot. The week’s festivities gradually brought the lot together, as friendships that would last past homecoming week were formed. The ‘Game On’ theme was incorporated into the week’s events. For example, “Race to Candy Castle,” was one event during the week and “Towsonopoly,” gave a fresh name for the annual block party.

NOVEMBER

More than an athlete

The 2018-2019 year for Towson sports could be summed up with two words, Tom Flacco. The 24-year-old New Jersey native took the campus by storm when he won the starting quarterback job as a grad transfer from Rutgers University. Flacco seized the moment, leading the Tigers to a 7-5 record and a playoff berth for the first time in five seasons. But under the helmet, there is more to him. Flacco is seeking a masters degree in applied information technology and no matter how his football career shakes out, Flacco knows he wants to be a leader. His calm demeanor on and off the field has a lasting impact on his teammates. Although he is the brother of former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Tom Flacco has never let his last name be the story, only his performance.

From student to beauty pageant winner

Mid-semester means balancing schoolwork among other responsibilities for any college student, but for Mariela Pepin, it meant balancing both her school work and preparing to win the 2019 title for the annual Miss Maryland USA pageant. Between classes and studying, this 22-year-old communications major trained regularly in the gym, practiced her poise and posture, and looked for ways to make herself just as emotionally well-rounded. According to the Miss Maryland USA official website, Pepin’s win made her one of six women to ever have held both the Miss Maryland Teen USA and Miss Maryland USA titles. With Pepin temporarily replacing her crown for a graduation cap in December, she’s determined to have her poise and positivity reflect onto the Towson community.

TU takes on the Time Warp

The audiences in Paws on the nights of Nov. 9 and 10 screamed as they watched Dr. Frank-N-Furter strut across the stage and caress Rocky’s body. The same scene had unfolded on Paws’ stage many times before, but this time was different. With more energy and unapologetic confidence showcased than ever before, Actors Anonymous’ 2018 rendition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show gave the traditional performance a sense of newness. Jacob Sanchez, a sophomore at Towson University, played the role Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad, alien scientist from the planet Transsexual. Sanchez walked the stage in a dazzling scarf, corset, fishnets, and heels, that seemed to awe the audience. “Doing this as a man is even more uncomfortable,” Sanchez said. “I was fortunate that my cast was extremely supportive and made me feel comfortable in the lingerie and heels. It felt empowering.” Actors Anonymous, a student-run acting group at Towson, produces musicals, plays and other theatrical events each semester. The Rocky Horror Picture show is traditionally held every other year.

DECEMBER

Community Mourns Student Killed in Hit and Run

Students, family and friends gathered at a candlelight vigil in Speakers Circle this past December to mourn the loss of Towson student Mzimazisi “Mzi” Ncube. Ncube was 20 years old when he was hit  by a car while crossing North Charles Street. He fell to the ground before being hit by a secondary driver who stopped to call 911. Ncube was a pre-accounting major and new member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Clay Smith, president of the fraternity, spoke at the vigil and remembered Ncube as “a delightful person to hang out with, and could make friends with anyone.”

Towson Trills Celebrate the Season on WBAL-TV 11

The Towson Trills Performed on WBAL-TV 11’s 2018 “Season to Celebrate” holiday special. The group, who consisted of TU students Aaron Bayne, Harmony Reichert, Missy Melkonian, Katie Sacha, Nick Zuelsdorf, William Damanka Jr., and Leroy Hyson, were offered the opportunity to be filmed for the special, where they were asked to sing classic Christmas songs. Hyson and Bayne, seniors now, started the group their freshman year of college in the fall of 2015. The group started out practicing in dorms and stairwells, and have since grown, received a practice room, and have become well-known across campus, Baltimore and internationally, as they were finalists in the 2017 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. The Trills sung classics like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and Mariah Carey’s famous “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The group hadn’t seen their recorded performance prior to the TV airtime, which meant even they were in for a surprise.

JANUARY

TU mourns loss of “Mighty Mare”

Towson University community members gathered at Speakers Circle in January to mourn the loss of Mariana “Mighty Mare” McConnie who died Jan. 19 after complications from Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis, often referred to as CF, is a progressive, genetic disease that causes lung infections and often limits the ability to breathe in the affected person. Throughout her life, she underwent two double lung transplants. McConnie was a deaf studies major and active sorority member of Delta Phi Epsilon. At the end of the vigil, McConnie’s sorority big Kayla Hester urged the community to not hold grudges, saying “Mariana lived to ensure that everyone that crossed her path felt loved, and I encourage you all to do the same.”

Super Bowl LIII disappoints a number of fans

The NFL season was eventful, but it culminated in a Super Bowl that felt like anything but that. On Feb. 3, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia was the sight of a lackluster 13-3 victory for the New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Rams. While the Patriots captured their sixth Super Bowl Championship, tied for the most by any NFL franchise, all fans could talk about was the lack of offensive prowess from the Rams, a team that finished the regular season second in total points scored and total yards of offense. In a game everyone expected the offense to soar, it was the defense that shined brightest, something we haven’t seen in football in a long time.

FEBRUARY

Positioning new provost Perreault

Mealanie Perreault became Towson University’s newest provost and vice president of academic affairs this semester when her appointment began Feb. 18. Perreault came to Towson from Buffalo State College after being a part of the national search to fill the position. Perreault comes with more than 21 years experience working in higher education positions, and wants to really get to know what the students and staff need by speaking with them their space instead of making them come to her in her office. According to ex-coworker Amitra Wall, Perreault will be missed at Buffalo State and has a lot to bring to Towson’s campus.

Mom asks Towson Tigers to date son

Earlier this semester, Towson University Police were investigating incidents regarding a woman who was approaching students to ask them if they were interested in dating her son. A campus-wide email alert informed students of the events, which took place over Feb. 6 and 7, and the fact that they happened in Cook Library and the Center for the Arts. Student Anna Sillars was approached by the woman and said that the woman asked via a note typed into her phone. “[The note] said along the lines of ‘You’re a beautiful, young, attractive woman with many years ahead of you. If you want to be even more successful you should come meet my son. He is young and handsome and wealthy, and I want to find a young woman who is good enough for him. He can give you so many opportunities, you should come with me to meet him,” Sillars said.

MARCH

Thirst for change

Over the course of the 2018- 2019 school year, Towson University’s Student Government Association worked to pass legislation, schedule events and do what was possible to improve campus life. After starting from a deficit, SGA was able to come back to make legislation bringing straws back to campus, ensure the maintenance and accessibility of eateries on campus and plan events like Tiger Pride Day.

Tigers capture first CAA Championship

The women’s basketball team’s season was unexpected from the start. Picked to finish eighth in the CAA’s Preseason poll, the Tigers won their first five conference games, moving into first place in the standings for the first time in program history. After a bumpy road to end the season, Towson caught fire in the CAA Tournament. Earning the No. 4 seed in the tournament, the Tigers defeated tournament host, the No. 5 seed Delaware Blue Hens, in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Towson used a 22-0 scoring run to beat the No. 9 seed Hofstra. The championship was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Tigers emerge victorious, 53-49 for their first conference title. Towson earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.

APRIL

Student’s journey on American Idol is “Almost Heaven”

Towson University student, and former church janitor, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, wowed the judges of “American Idol” with his performance of original song, “Almost Heaven.” Episodes of his initial audition with celebrity judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, have since gone viral and have helped Harmon to already earn mass support from the show’s viewers. Harmon’s original song, “Almost Heaven,” was one of the main aspects that set his audition apart from the rest, aside from his vocal skills. The song, which was named after a café he passed while taking a trip to West Virginia, was written as a way for Harmon to acknowledge his struggles with homosexuality and religion. Harmon’s connection to church isn’t just occupational – his father serves as a pastor. Growing up as a “pastor’s kid,” the church became a large part of Harmon’s environment. Writing music was a way for Harmon to find a balance between his beliefs and his identity. Harmon finished in 6th place for season 17 of “American Idol.”

Residence hall floods, displaces 32 students

Newell Residence Hall flooded during the spring semester, displacing 32 students for the duration of repairs. At about 5:30 a.m. on March 27, interim Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs for Housing and Residence Life Christina Olstad was informed of a hot water pipe burst that flooded the basement and first floor of the building. Damage was contained to the side closest to Stephens Hall. Maintenance crews had to shut off the water to get to the broken pipe and assess damage. All students were moved back into Newell Hall by April 8, Olstad said.

Protesters face backlash from students

Anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-Muslim protesters gathered at Towson University April 18 and were faced with backlash from students. The group was made up of four people who called themselves the “Bible Believers.” Hundreds of students gathered outside of the Center for the Arts building after the protesters were relocated to the area after starting their protest in front of Cook Library earlier in the day. Protester James Jenkins, 29, was arrested by the Baltimore County Police during the protest. The University responded to the incident by holding a Unity Rally April 24 and a #NotatTU Teach-In event April 29 to give students opportunities to discuss what had occurred during the protest.

Raccoon bites student 

The Towson community was received a campus-wide email alerting members that a student had been bitten by a raccoon in the Towsontown Garage April 30. The university stated that it would be “working with a pest control contractor to locate the animal.” The University then sent a follow up email May 3 letting the community know that a raccoon had been caught and removed from campus. Towson University sent  another email about raccoon sightings on campus May 7. This advisory notified students that raccoons had been spotted twice more in campus. These occurred during the day near Towsontown Garage and in the area of Towson Run and West Village. Community members who spot a raccoon are encouraged to give the animal space and call TUPD at (410) 704-4444. If attacked by an animal, seek medical attention immediately.

MAY

Merrily We Roll Along

From May 2 through May 11 ran Towson University’s production of “Merrily We Roll Along.” This musical came as a shock to audience members, as it breaks typical storyline progression. Beginning in 1976, this play takes an enormous leap in time, as it ends in 1957- almost twenty years earlier. Yes that’s right, the story plays out in reverse for the entirety of the musical. The storyline follows the lives of Frank, Charley, Mary and friends, who have known each other for years. It questions whether happiness was found during those extremely successful years of their lives, or more so back when they were younger, and not near success. According to junior Sam Pomerantz, who played Joe, the major takeaway from this musical is that life goes by really fast. Too fast to be focused on the wrong things.

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