Dear Lou Anna,
After the stress of final exam week passes, students can revel in the excitement of the holidays: school will be the last thing on the minds of most Spartans. However, much to our chagrin, a harsh reminder of the past semester will spring up right in the middle of winter break festivities: semester grades. While some students will have nothing to worry about, others will be dreading every click of the mouse as they skim through the grade columns for IAH 201 and MTH 132: for them, it’s like the present nobody wants. Thanks, L.A., for this little bit of holiday cheer.
But for now, it’s time for the tables to turn. As the semester comes to a close, we’re looking back on the university’s performance over the past semester, and we’re the ones sitting in the graders’ seats. Final exam week has passed for MSU, and the grades are in. So, how does MSU add up?
Cost of tuition: C
[money1]Tuition: $8,300; room and board: $6,000; books: $500; an education from MSU: priceless. Well, not quite. Whether it’s paid for by loans, financial aid, scholarships, parents or long hours at a job, the price tag for a degree is not cheap. Many students question this high cost of education, and wonder where exactly all their money goes.
“It’s disheartening to see tuition go up every year for no visible reason, especially with the state of the economy in Michigan,” journalism and public relations senior Chris Richards said. “The quality of the education has not changed dramatically, so there is no reason for tuition prices to change that dramatically each year.”
His point speaks to the feelings of many MSU students who don’t see how an expensive college education is going to help Michigan’s economy. Despite opportunities for financial aid, many students come out of college swimming in debt, but drowning in a poor economy. In turn, many college grads opt to start job hunting in other states.
Rebecca Baum, an elementary education and language arts senior, agreed the cost of a college education in Michigan has gotten out of hand. “The cost of tuition is too high, but it’s too high everywhere, not just at MSU,” she said.
Some students choose to accept the prices based on fees for other Michigan colleges. In addition, schooling would cost much more if Michigan-based students ventured to other states to continue their educations. Supply chain management sophomore Jeff Ferry said while room and board seems a bit pricey, the cost of tuition at MSU seems reasonable for a college education. “I don’t feel like I am being ripped off, because MSU’s tuition really isn’t that high for a school in Michigan,” Ferry said.
[books1]While a college education surely is an important thing, there is no denying that after four years (or more) at MSU, students rack up a hefty bill. Much of what the student body focuses on relates to money: when the next paycheck is coming in, when rent is due, and how much that non-resellable coursepack for PSY 101 costs. The price of tuition gets an average grade: for the amount of money students put into MSU classes, the end product should reflect a good investment.
Tailgates: C[gate]
In September 2004, the football teams of MSU and Notre Dame clashed at Spartan Stadium; instead of memories of gut-wrenching plays and gorgeous passes during the game, many students recall the high incidence of police-related activity. Many Minor in Possession (MIP) charges were doled out, and there was also a reported sexual assault near the tennis courts on Wilson Road. With that, the university cracked down on its tailgating policy: a good move, L.A., and one with wonderful intentions. Tailgating is now limited to five hours before kickoff and two hours after the game’s conclusion, and drinking games and paraphernalia are banned on campus. MSU police inspector Kelly Beck said the rules have been implemented to create a safer tailgating environment for alumni, students and spectators. “The rules are one method of curbing the events that occurred at the Notre Dame game in 2004, and it really brings us in line with the rest of the world,” Beck said. “We have seen a decrease in medical assistance runs. We’re sending less people to the hospital. There has also been a decrease in the overall amount of arrests on football Saturdays.”
While writing fewer tickets for unlawful behavior is a great result, it seems the new rules has resulted in a sense of apathy in the student body: many students are hesitant to venture out at all to tailgate on campus. More than two years later, students are still feeling the effects of this set of rules, and it is difficult to miss the lack of student presence around campus. The Rock used to be one of the hottest tailgate spots for students, teeming with MSU spirit, but it now sits virtually empty on football Saturdays. Another popular tailgate destination, the tennis courts, is now geared more for alumni and students over 21. Many students now travel off campus to local house parties or fraternities to get their tailgating fix. What happened to the student loyalty, L.A.?
“They’re too strict with tailgating now,” Ferry said. “I understand that they’re trying to change the image of being a party school, but I feel that they took away a lot of the fun. Kids don’t seem to be as excited for football games and tailgates.”
Although some Spartan fans still come out to support their team, most students argue the tailgating atmosphere is definitely not the same as in years past. While the university officials had the right idea about restoring the image of MSU, there’s no doubt that the rule changes have brought about a change in the traditional spirit of tailgating. [tail1]“As far as promotion of school spirit and overall excitement on campus, it’s been lackluster as a whole,” Richards said. “As far as legal problems, it’s clear that the policies have worked. There seem to be less reported problems and the campus seems cleaner. Still, the university needs to look at the policy again to see if it can find a better balance.”
Election coverage: B
Election Day: it can be an exciting time for first time voters and students eager to support their candidates of choice, but how many of the MSU voters who showed up on Nov. 6 knew what they were actually voting for? While many students feel confident in their election decisions, others were unaware of the various issues on the ballot, causing them to steer clear of the polls. Others still were eager to vote, but unaware of how to register, also causing them not to vote.
Who is to blame for this “lack” of educated college-age voters and even a lack of college voters in general? Some blame the university. As general management sophomore Ben Black claimed, MSU did not make election information readily available to students and did not promote the election effectively. “The university had no effect in aiding my voting decisions,” Black said.
The Residence Halls Association, or RHA, had a hand in alerting students about important election information, according to Michelle Dickinson, director of public relations and advertising for the organization. In an e-mail, Dickinson said RHA did not receive any criticisms for its distribution of election information.
“The organization focused much of its time and energy into making sure students were well informed about the 2006 election,” said Dickinson, an animal sciences junior. “Most of the feedback that RHA received from students regarding the election was highly positive.”
In addition to RHA efforts, the university did set up a voter information website (YouVote.msu.edu) and MSU student groups, including the College Democrats and College Republicans, volunteered for many hours, many students said they were not made aware of these resources. “Student organizations covered the election a lot,” Ferry said. “They described the proposals and the various candidates in depth, but other than that I didn’t find any election information from the university.”
But is it truly the responsibility of the university to shove voting paraphernalia in the hands of students? If students want to vote, they should muster up the energy to find out about ballot initiatives and candidates themselves. Information from university officials should entail details such as where and how to register, and the locations of the polls, but the university did not even do this. “I don’t necessarily think it’s the university’s responsibility to promote the election,” Richards said. “The responsibility lies on students and voters: they need to be the information gatherers.”
Even though there was little election coverage that came directly from university officials, and many students felt as though they were left in the dark, this was the correct way to handle a hot election. Good job, L.A., because taking a stance on any issue would have displayed favoritism, something that MSU’s representatives cannot portray. In any case, MSU took a politically correct (no pun intended) stance on this issue.
Promotion of student organizations and events: A[print]
Most dorm-residing freshmen get bombarded by flyers, posters and e-mails advertising the latest student events and the hot spots for campus organization activities. But as students move through their years at MSU, the promotion of these organizations dies down. While this may be refreshing for some, others feel as though they’re no longer as informed of campus happenings. “Through the dorms I heard a lot, but since (I am) living off campus, I haven’t seen many fliers or anything from the university promoting clubs and events,” Ferry said.
Because RHA is an on-campus organization, efforts to get out information about student groups are focused on only the students who live on campus, according to Dickinson.
“All students living in the residence halls pay an RHA tax which goes toward different student groups,” Dickinson said. “Additionally, RHA utilizes the State News and mailbox fliers to spread the word about events which it is promoting around campus.”
Most off-campus students agree they want to hear more about campus events, groups and organizations and wish the university would make that information more readily available for them. “MSU needs to have more than just the freshmen party at the AUD to promote events,” Baum said. “The University Activities Board does a pretty good job of advertising, but many student groups still go unshowcased. The Greek community is one of many groups that is a big part of the university and isn’t showcased as much as it should be.”
With thousands of students in the dorms, it is understandable the university targets these students: close quarters and the need for excitement create a perfect breeding ground for interest in new student organizations. In addition, an efficient method for distributing such materials to off-campus students has not been implemented, and it is doubtful the university has the resources to do this. However, Richards said the university should not be limiting its audience to students living in the dorms. “The university does a good job of promoting in the dorms because they want to target students early in their career here, they want to get new students involved,” Richards said. “More consistent promotion like Party at the AUD would be helpful. Individual colleges seem to do a good job of advertising events within the college, which is good because it applies to a more targeted audience rather than just the general audience in the dorms.”
Although many students may be relieved to abandon dorm life, the constant flow of information about campus organizations and activities was difficult to ignore. Many MSU students want to know what is going on in the campus community and appreciate information of organizations, groups and events provided by the university. Maybe those 20 e-mails a week in the dorms weren’t so bad, after all.
In terms of university activities that directly affect students, MSU clearly still has areas needing improvement. The highest grade came from the university’s success at promoting student organizations: L.A., maybe you and your crew can dedicate some of that same energy to other student policies and procedures, such as tailgating rules and curtailing increasing tuition costs. Running a university is no easy task, and there is no way to create an atmosphere that satisfies the desires of every single member of the student body.
The grades for fall semester are in, L.A., and spring semester is not far off. It\’s never too early to start planning for a perfect four point.
Sincerely,
Giving A. Grade

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