Masters of disguise


Masters of disguise

Students trade street clothes for spandex and pleather

UMBC students with a passion for costume play often step into another world by donning new clothes and a new personality.

By day, they appear as average UMBC students in unassuming ways, mingling in The Commons or on the Quad. On occasion, these students will abandon their academic personas to be warriors, pirates and mercenaries for their passion, for the sake of fun or, quite recently, for Katsucon tickets.

Those tickets ended up in the hands of Joey Hunter, the first place winner of the UMBC Cosplay contest that took place during the second annual RetrieverCon last semester. On Saturday Nov. 15, Hunter trekked to the third floor of the Commons and waltzed into the Skylight lounge armed with a mock blood-stained spear and a spiked shield the size of his barrel chest. His six foot body was covered from head to toe in armor and his face was concealed by a horned mask with a T-shaped slit for the eyes, nose and mouth.

“I love my armor, but this mask is extremely painful,” he projected through his mouth slit in a rough, raspy voice for the costumed characters who had crowded around to coo their admiration. It took Hunter a total of three months to create his Dragonslayer getup from one of his favorite video games, League of Legends, which involves many types of warrior characters in a battle arena setting. His shield was made of painted foam and cardboard. His body armor was fashioned from a mannequin’s torso, which he purchased online and painted himself. In fact, most of the materials, which costed him an estimated $300, were bought primarily online, some of which were shipped from Europe.

Serving as the judge of the cosplay contest was UMBC’s own Cosplay Coalition. During the fall semester, this group of enthusiastic students was officially established as a club after two semesters of avid costume play. Each year the Coalition, along with thousands of other people, show up at the Gaylord National Resort in February to attend panel discussions with voice actors from their favorite anime shows, take professional pictures with fellow fans and show off their hand-crafted creations without ever having to break character.

Pat Wheltle, an active member of the Coalition since its beginning, attended the convention last year. While juggling his studies in information systems and emergency health services, Wheltle spent a total of four weeks transforming himself into Enjolras from Les Miserables, the broadway musical inspired by Victor Hugo’s epic novel. He could be seen marching around the halls of the Gaylord hotel, wearing a red vest with gold embellishments he had sewn together himself. With a six-foot red flag draped over one shoulder, and an imitation revolver poised in his right hand, he occasionally stopped to fire a fake round and yell “Vive la France” at those passing by. He said, “I’ve had a lot of fun with my Enjolras costume. Being able to go around and randomly break out into song was a lot of fun.”

Cosplayers like Wheltle and Hunter have awaited the convention all year long and will arrive at Katsucon in full costume, rarely reverting back to their true personalities until they return home.

get involved

Getting involved this semester

Consider joining a student organization

As students return to school for the spring, they should be encouraged to get involved with campus activities. Being a more active member of the community can enrich their college experience.

   You’ve heard it all before. Your parents, your professors and maybe your friends if they like you despite your inactivity. Everyone seems to be saying the same thing: that you should go join a club, you should go get involved. You might as well make 2015 your year.

You certainly have no shortage of choices. UMBC hosts more than 200 student organizations. Some are major specific, some are fraternities and some focus on languages or nationalities. No matter your interests there is a student group that will welcome you. You might think it can be hard to get involved. It’s definitely easier to stay inside, and to say that you need to focus on your studies. But the longer you think about it, the harder it is to make excuses.

Many of these organizations are very low-key arrangements. You will not be devoting huge blocks of your time to the creative writing club, for instance. Plenty of organizations meet twice a week at most, and don’t require large time commitments. You are welcome to drop in and drop out at your convenience.

“Some students feel like they don’t have time to get involved,” said Sara Leidner, coordinator of Student Life for student organizations and involvement.

“I’d say that getting involved and making a difference doesn’t necessarily mean being the president of an organization and spending 20 hours a week on a particular curricular activity. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Students can still have meaningful experiences by being a member,” said Leidner.

Though some organizations do require much more time and effort, if you’re looking for a resume booster and something to fill your free time. Model UN, for example, or any of the club sports, have regimented meeting and training schedules. No matter what experience or commitment you’re looking for, UMBC has it.

By now, many of you are turning the page, not wanting to hear again that you need to go out and join something. Until recently, I would have been on your side. Just this last semester, I started to get out and get involved, and it’s the best choice I’ve made in a while.

My freshman year played out as I imagine many of yours did: a brief flurry of activity upon move-in, followed by settling into a much more mundane routine. So, this year, I made it a point to get involved. I joined the Retriever, got a job with The Commons, I got involved with Bartleby and I joined the astronomy club.

None of these have been the kind of commitment that might interfere with my studies, and they’ve all been worth it. I’m making money and I’m more engaged in the campus. Most importantly, I’m actually talking to people instead of sitting in my room.

Everyone agrees on the benefits. “Student organizations allows students to connect with their peers outside of the classroom, build friendships, gain many transferable skills that make them more marketable for future jobs or graduate school,” said Leidner.

So, in 2015, as well as eating better and working out and whatever other goals you make every year, resolve to get involved. Class shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind. So join a club, resolve to go to a student org’s event or go to SEB’s weekly movie. This year, don’t just live or study on campus: live in it.


Take a trip downtown

UMBC Transit’s stop by the Hippodrome Theatre

Aboard a shuttle bus provided by UMBC Transit, students are now offered a free ride to downtown Baltimore. There are so many fun things to do, great places to eat and cool places to see, one of them being the Hippodrome Theatre.

From the Maryland Science Center to the highly acclaimed National Aquarium, downtown Baltimore sure has a lot to offer. Luckily for UMBC students, a ride downtown is made easily accessible thanks to UMBC Transit.

“The [downtown] route began operation just this fall semester,” said Joseph Regier, executive director of The Commons and UMBC Transit. With this reliable shuttle service, students should have no trouble at all scoring a short and safe ride to see what the buzz is all about downtown.

“The ridership number for the fall semester is just over 10,000, which is much higher than expected for a new route,” said Regier. Clearly, this new destination was quite a hit this past semester and is sure to be for semesters to come.

One of downtown Baltimore’s main attractions for entertainment is the Hippodrome Theatre, which is just a few blocks from the Greene Street and Lombard Street stop. During the spring semester, the beloved classics Annie, Swan Lake, Chicago and Dirty Dancing will be showing in this artistically structured showplace.

Located on Eutaw Street, this theater is large enough to entertain about 2,300 people. It was renovated in 2004 after closing in 1990 due to an unfortunate loss of business. Back on its feet, the Hippodrome Theatre is now a part of The France-Merrick Performing Arts Center. Just like before, it’s known for hosting countless outstanding performances as well as special events including proms and wedding parties.

The Hippodrome Theatre is a one-of-a-kind architecture makes it an ideal place to enjoy a show-going experience surrounded by beautiful scenery. The prices of tickets can be steep at times, especially on a college student’s budget. However, they offer a student discount for many shows as long as a student ID is shown when purchasing tickets.

UMBC Transit’s newly added route to downtown certainly proves to be another convenient campus resource for students to utilize. Making a trip to the Hippodrome Theatre is definitely an enjoyable way to spend a day or evening out on the town. For a nearby place to eat before a show, there’s also the Hipp Café, which offers quick and affordable sandwiches, soups and salads.

With a hectic semester ahead of many students, a trip downtown during any free time could alleviate some stress and provide a good time. The Hippodrome Theatre is just one among many great places to visit in downtown Baltimore.

Bria H.

Get to know a Retriever

One of the three Second Generation Scholars chats about the importance of family and academics.

What is your name, major and year?

My name is Bria Hamlet. I am a senior who is majoring in health administration and public policy.


Where are you from (city, county, state)?

I am originally from Towson in Baltimore County, Md.


Who do you admire and why?

I admire my mom because of all that she has accomplished in a short period of time. She finished her Master’s in Social Work with a husband, two kids and a baby on the way. Almost 20 years later, she continues to make me feel like anything is possible.


What is your career goal?

I hope to be a manager for health communications. It would be a dream come true for me.


If you could change one thing around the world, what would it be?

I think the lack of patience in the world is incredibly troubling; I want to see more people slow down and take the time to understand those around them. I want them to make real connections. That is what I would change.


What do you like most about UMBC?

UMBC students are bright. We are proud of the fact that we are all very intelligent people.


What activities do you participate in on campus?

I have been a Peer Health Educator for the past two years, and I am currently the president of the Women of Color Coalition.


Who is the celebrity you would like to meet; what would you do with him/her?

I would love to meet Viola Davis of How to Get Away with Murder. She is phenomenal, and I would love to get sushi or authentic Italian food with her (those are my personal favorites). I cannot act, but I admire those who can.


What is/are your favorite thing(s) to do outside of UMBC?

I really enjoy yoga, blogging and trying new restaurants. I like to keep quite a low profile.


Where do you want to spend your next vacation?

I would love to visit Madrid, Spain for a summer. Latin culture is very fascinating to me and I want to witness it for myself.


What is your favorite genre of television (comedy, competition, reality, etc.) and why?

I am a huge fan of competitive shows that showcase artsy talents, like baking or fashion. I love to see people get creative and express their passions. I also enjoy classic comedies because they always make me laugh, even if I have the whole episode committed to memory.


What kind of music do you like?

I am very into alternative music. I like thoughtful lyrics and soulful beats. I want a song to inspire me.


If you met Dr. Hrabowski (UMBC President), what would you say to him?

Thank you for paving the way for young Black students at UMBC. I am proud to represent this institution. I would also ask him what he foresees in the future of UMBC.


Tell of your recent reaction to the Second Generation Scholarship during the W.E.B. DuBois Distinguished Lecture Series and how it impacted you and your family.

Winning the Second Generation Scholarship was a huge surprise. My parents are incredibly proud of me; they tell me often that I am much more ambitious and progressive than they were at my age. I appreciate having both financial and academic support from the UMBC community. I hope I am a good representation of a student who is aware, active and awesome at tackling issues of cultural competency at UMBC.


Compiled by the Retriever Weekly Features Staff

Virgo- Your new mattress pad is a big improvement. Unfortunately, it will do nothing to help with the nightmares.


Libra- The future is looking especially bright for your horrible social anxiety.


Scorpio- You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of pictures in your textbooks this year.


Sagittarius- You get the feeling that you and your new roommate will get along this semester, but you can’t help feeling a little uneasy about the winky face at the end of every text.


Capricorn- The winter break has allowed you to escape the taint of the occult that nearly destroyed you last semester. But for how long?


Aquarius- The start of a semester is the perfect opportunity for you to reinvent yourself. Consider a face tattoo.


Pisces- Project confidence to your new acquaintances by referring to yourself only in third-person.


Aries- You’ll feel disoriented and a little nauseous this week, but that’s normal after time travel. Welcome to the future, pilgrim.


Taurus- You’ll never have to deal with the frustration of parking again after your car is stolen.


Gemini- The hottie who sits next to you will be enough motivation to get yourself to class, but not enough for you to actually pass.


Cancer- Your new roommate is a moaner. Enjoy that.
Leo- The last owner of your anatomy textbook was a skilled artist, but their obsession with one organ in particular will be both distracting and a little unnerving.

Drones at UMBC fail to take flight

Popularity rises but FAA continues to regulate

Drone technologies are becoming more prominent in politics and on college campuses leading UMBC to develop specific UAV policies.

Once ruled by birds and then by planes, the sky’s latest addition includes drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

While these aircraft may lack a pilot physically aboard the vehicle, a trained team on the ground controls the UAV through a variety of sophisticated radar systems, image sensors and a network of cameras depicting locations and flight conditions.

Moreover, drone operations have become key national security projects as they precipitate concerns for civilian privacy.

A BBC News article reports that drone use under President Obama’s administration is more than double that employed during President George W. Bush’s time in office, illustrating the technology’s achieved eminence.

While the United States government is currently the principle drone proprietor, these technological advancements have also earned recognition on numerous American college campuses.

In 2009, the University of North Dakota was the first college in the country to institute an unmanned aerial systems major. Kansas State University Salina, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Indiana State University are also following suit by introducing UAV or UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) majors to their aeronautical science programs.

“Just about anything you do with aviation today, you can do with unmanned aerial vehicles in the future,” said Andrew R. Lacher in a New York Times article. Lacher is a researcher affiliated with the Mitre Corporation, a non-profit organization assisting with the government’s UAV programs.

With drone technology amplifying into a “rising new frontier of aviation” according to Lacher, UMBC has also found it necessary to develop policies regarding drone usage for research.

UMBC’s main campus location is categorized as a Class B airspace due to the campus’s vicinity to a major airport, according to a correspondence from the UMBC Office of Research Protections and Compliance.

Additionally, UMBC’s closeness to Washington D.C. poses further flight restrictions and security concerns.

Recognizing such problematic constraints for research institutions, the Federal Aviation Administration is considering public safety, air traffic and the necessity of continual drone research as they detail vigilant UAV flight policies.

“Currently, UMBC is unable to permit the operation of any UAS/UAV/drone on campus and UMBC cannot host research using UAS flight,” reports the UMBC Office of Research Protections and Compliance.

To maintain the university’s dedication to progressive research, collaborative efforts with affiliates including the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site and the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) are underway to provide researchers with access to UAS approved flight sites and resources.

In consideration of students’ privacy, the UMBC Office of Research Protections and Compliance stated, “UMBC is currently examining these issues, as we want to provide a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff that is conducive to learning, living and working.”