UNCP’s Aspen Andersson wins presentation prize at Alpha Chi Honor Society convention

Aspen Andersson (left) with Dr. Teagan Decker at the Alpha Chi National Convention in Birmingham, Alabama

Aspen Andersson is well known for her leadership on campus as this year’s Student Government Association (SGA) president. 


Beyond SGA, she also excels academically as a political science major, Spanish minor, Maynor Honors College student and Alpha Chi National College Honor Society member. 


This year, Andersson traveled to Alabama to present at Alpha Chi’s annual national convention and learn about Birmingham's civil rights history. Chapter advisors Gordon Byrd and Dr. Teagan Decker also attended the convention.


At the convention, Andersson competed with other Alpha Chi students in the political science category and won the Margaret FitzGerald Prize in Political Science for her presentation titled “Uncuff the Classroom: the Discriminatory Use of Disorderly Conduct Charges in NC K-12 Schools.” 


Alpha Chi is among the nation’s most prestigious and distinctive academic honor societies. The Alpha Chi National Convention brings together the nation’s top student scholars, according to Dr. Teagan Decker, dean of the Maynor Honors College and Alpha Chi chapter advisor.


“In this competitive environment, Aspen’s work stood out for recognition,” Decker said. “This achievement exemplifies our undergraduate student researchers' high-quality work at UNCP.”


Andersson’s presentation analyzed data from a public records request of the state Department of Juvenile Justice System published by the ACLU of North Carolina. It cited dozens of scholarly articles to demonstrate how North Carolina’s disorderly conduct law––as applied in schools––funnels black students and students with disabilities into the criminal justice system. 


Andersson also showcased case studies of Virginia and South Carolina. These two states removed disorderly conduct from schools within the last four years to demonstrate why this change can and should be made in North Carolina. Andersson plans to conclude her project by summarizing her research in a letter to each state’s representatives and senators, asking them to pass a new law prohibiting disorderly conduct laws from being applied at K-12 schools and school-sponsored events. The presentation was developed for Andersson’s Honors College senior capstone project. All honors college students complete a research, creative, or service project over two semesters before graduation. 


This project was coordinated by Honors College Assistant Dean Dr. Joshua Busman and mentored by Jordin Dickerson. Andersson will present a poster version of her research at the Honors College Senior Capstone Symposium on April 26 from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Livermore Library. Andersson’s trip was partly funded through the Enrollment, Retention and Persistence Fund awarded to the honors college to support costs associated with capstone projects. 


The trip was also funded by student activity funds made possible by the Esther G. Maynor Endowment. UNCP’s NC Kappa chapter of the Alpha Chi Honor Society has been active since 1975. Each year, the top 10% of the junior or senior class at UNCP is invited to join this national organization. Andersson was inducted in fall 2022.