Dear Lou Anna

Now that you’ve been in office for a little over a year, L.A., you should have a strong grasp of what goes down in this university. [la2]Yet these past couple of months have been filled with costly ups and downs. Your input has added to the forward movement MSU hopes to attain in these coming years, but sometimes, I still wonder where we’re headed.
Before we boldly step into the months ahead, let’s take a little time to reflect on this past year because learning from the past only creates a better future. As we know, every situation has (at least) two sides to the coin. With that said, I introduce you to Outlook I. Dealistic and Prospect D. Pressed, who will be evaluating some of the year\’s happenings.
[kat]Hurricane Katrina Relief
Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest storms to ever hit the United States. The devastation and damages the category 5 storm left behind in late August will likely cost the government $75 billion. Ouch. If only the levees had been fixed…
Outlook I. Dealistic: Hurricane Katrina was a tragedy that struck the nation but MSU reached out and decided to invite students from Loyola University and other New Orleans area colleges to study here. Students and professors also came together to send relief teams and supplies to the most affected areas, helping those who were very much in need. MSU is really starting to step out of its land grant bubble and into the world. Go State!
Prospect D. Pressed: But just because the media has left New Orleans, doesn’t mean that the tragedy is over. People in the most affected areas are still in need and what is MSU doing now to help them? We can’t stop a good cause just because the government and everybody else have stopped. There’s more that needs to be done. Perhaps MSU could offer special internships in New Orleans, and students could aid the city with rehabilitation.
MSU Financial Trouble
As a public university, MSU has always been in financial trouble and relies on the state for funding. Gov. Jennifer Granholm will decrease that funding by $14.7 million in order to balance the state’s budget deficit.
Outlook I. Dealistic: It always sounds bad for an institution to be in the red but this experience will only teach the administration to use the money we have wisely. Financial trouble can be a good learning experience for everyone involved.
Prospect D. Pressed: The administration might be able to tighten their belts and move on but the students are the ones that are going to be paying. Both student tuitions and ASMSU taxes are on the rise and for a public university that’s supposed to be funded by the state, students will only continue coming here if MSU learns to better use the money we do have.
[1]Relocated Medical School
The university is relocating a part of its medical school to the Grand Rapids area. This partnership project with Spectrum Health will allow an increase in admitted students.
Outlook I. Dealistic: The university has finally decided to make a much needed expansion toward western Michigan. Close to 100 medical students already study and work at facilities in Grand Rapids and this will not only help their future but stimulate the economy and regard of those communities’ already existing facilities.
Prospect D. Pressed: Yet, MSU is supposed to be an East Lansing establishment. A contract with the Grand Rapids community that requires them to give us $9 million a year to keep the school afloat doesn’t seem very reasonable. The university is already experiencing financial troubles, so where is it going to find another $70 million to construct a building to house the school? It seems we may have bitten off a little more than we’re prepared to chew.
Sesquicentennial Celebrations
MSU celebrated its 150th birthday this year. This past year’s sesquicentennial celebrations highlighted some of the accomplishments and traditions that have taken place since 1855.
Outlook I. Dealistic: The events put on by the university and the University Activity Board were exciting for students, faculty and staff alike. They brought back ideas and traditions long lost to MSU’s history and celebrated the changes the university made during these past 150 years. It just shows how much we have to look forward to in the next 150 years.
Prospect D. Pressed: The events may have been colorful but the majority of students felt no desire to attend them. The university may be able to accomplish a lot during a 150 year period but students often don’t feel a part of the big picture. Studying here four (or five or six) years doesn’t seem like much compared to the entire history of the university.
Snyder-Philips Renovations
Snyder and Philips dormitories will be closed for construction next year. Renovations will add a new food court style cafeteria and the classrooms needed for the Nelson Mandela residential college that will be located in the complex.
Outlook I. Dealistic: Liberal arts students have always been on the backburner at a university that has its roots in science and agriculture. Finally MSU has decided to recognize majors like English with a residential college on the same level as James Madison and Lyman Briggs. The university needs to attract more liberal arts students and this new program is just the ticket to bringing those students in.
Prospect D. Pressed: The new Nelson Mandela residential college may be good for equality and bringing liberal arts students into MSU but this program will ultimately only separate students on campus even more. Both James Madison and Lyman Briggs students are often seen as elitists and creating more elitists will create more separation among students\’ colleges.
Extended Meal Plans[caf]
Changes will be made to the MSU meal plan system starting next school year. By fall of 2007, University Food and Housing plans to have cafeterias open until midnight, seven days a week, unlimited meals for every student and limit Totally Take Out options to locations on campus.
Outlook I. Dealistic: Keeping students that need to stay up studying for tests until the wee hours of the morning on a rigid eating schedule has never been a good idea. The new plan to provide all students with an unlimited number of meals and extended cafeteria hours until midnight, seven days a week, will create more options for everyone. Students will also be able to eat many more smaller meals, a habit that’s healthy and good for their futures.
Prospect D. Pressed: It’s great to have more options but think about the people that are going to have to work until midnight every day of the week. The cafeterias rely heavily on student employees so unless they’re willing to pay a time and a half for students to clean up until 1 a.m. no student is going to want to work those hours just so everyone else can grab a midnight snack. The chicken wings and pizza late at night may make the \”freshman 15\” the \”freshman 20.\”
Northern Parking Ramp
A new parking ramp is being built on the north side of campus, east of Morrill Hall and south of Grand River Avenue. The seven story project costs $15.2 million and will add 725 parking spots on campus.
Outlook I. Dealistic: With 45,000 students and over 10,000 faculty and staff moving on and off campus daily, parking has always been a nightmare. The new parking structure being built on the north side of campus off Grand River Avenue is a much needed addition to MSU.
Prospect D. Pressed: But with more cars coming in and going out of campus, the traffic flow will be even worse. The university has just implanted the 2020 plan to put more green grass on campus and with a new parking structure that compromises the integrity of Morrill Hall and its historical value, nothing good will come out of more cars.
New Home Page
The university greeted its students, faculty and staff with a “second generation” home page web site after Spring Break. [web]The original page debuted in 1995.
Outlook I. Dealistic: MSU’s new home page is cleaner and more modern. Compared with the original, the new web site will attract prospective students to this technologically savvy university and the pages’ similar layout keeps the viewer’s information controlled. The site’s continued emphasis on spotlighting programs and professors also brings the 60,000 person MSU community a little closer to home.
Prospect D. Pressed: For students, alumni, and professors that have been using the web site for years, however, the new site is much harder to navigate. The quick links are harder to find and the “current students” section has too many links for the quick scanner to easily locate what she is looking for.
No NCAA Riots/Melee
When MSU lost to North Carolina in the Final Four round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament April 2 last year, police used tear gas to clear students from East Lansing streets. The university, the city and the students have been at odds about the incident.[ball]
Outlook I. Dealistic: After the riots and tear gassing that look place last year, the university made sure to take the first step this year. Fliers and emails were sent to students before the games even began to ensure safety for everyone on and around campus. And in the end, everyone was safe; there were no riots.
Prospect D. Pressed: There may not have been riots but that was because the Spartans didn’t even make it to the Sweet Sixteen. If we had made it to the Elite Eight or Final Four, the story would have been different. Students don’t generally decide not to wreak havoc because the administration decided to act early and put out warning fliers.
The road from land grant to world grant won’t be an easy one, but I do believe we’re headed full steam for the future. There are always a few bumps along the path, big ups and little downs, and with all these changes coming our way, next year is definitely one to look forward to. Like you would say, L.A., MSU is Boldness by Design.
Sincerely,
Outlook I. Dealistic and Prospect D. Pressed

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Dear Lou Anna

T.J. Jourian has gotten a lot of exposure in the last few months.
First, camera crews followed him around for a documentary on the Sundance channel. Then came an interview with Larry King. And on March 4, Natialie Portman played him in a skit on \”Saturday Night Live.\” [tj1]
But when Jourian came to MSU in 1999, he was a she and her name was Tamar.
Seven years later, the third year student administration graduate student lives as a male, and has received national attention as a result of his advocacy for transgender rights.
Jourian, a 24-year-old Armenian international student from Cyprus, said he always felt something was wrong. “It’s like my gender didn’t fit,\” he said. \”But as a child, I pushed those thoughts away because it’s not something you’re allowed to talk about.”
No matter what society you’re born into, there are standards you’re expected to follow. Growing up, girls are supposed to play with dolls and boys are supposed to play with trucks. And that\’s just one very small piece of a very complicated puzzle.
Everyone born with a Y-chromosome is expected to want short hair, be big and tough and hate the color pink. Everyone born with two X-chromosomes is supposed to run around playing house and dress up. They’re expected to be a little “girly” and to want a bigger chest as they mature into those awkward, pimply adolescent years.
But for T.J., things were a little different and it wasn’t because he grew up in Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, where not English but Greek and Turkish are the official languages. “Even if I had grown up in the United States, it probably would have been not that different since it was the eighties,” he said. “As a child, you don’t get the opportunity to question your gender.”
Jourian argues that it’s OK for boys to play with dolls when they’re young. Often times, parents don’t tolerate this kind of gender-crossing behavior but children should figure out things for themselves, he says.
Coming to college, Jourian, \”finally got the chance to meet other trans people who are older and started figuring myself out.\” But even that process was not an easy one.
Jourian pretty much experienced a full sweep of the rainbow before deciding he felt comfortable with who he was. First, he came out as a bi-female, then a lesbian. Soon, he considered himself gender-queer, a term used to describe a youth-led movement where there is no one way of identifying who you are. It’s a non-binary system where you don’t belong to either gender. Eventually, in the fall of 2001, Jourian felt he had finally found his gender identity. He was not a she. He was a transmale.
Since coming to MSU, Jourian has been an active member of the LBGT community, identifying most with the other \”Ts.\” In realizing the struggles transgender people go through, Jourian and a fellow female-to-male (F to M)transgender person, Jordan Furrow, started Phi Tau Mu, a transgender support group. [furrow]
Furrow, a social work graduate student, has been out as a transmale for two and a half years. “We started this group two years ago because there’s a lot of hostility,” Furrow said.
One of Phi Tau Mu’s biggest projects is to have gender identity added to MSU anti-discrimination policy. Of course, L.A., the administration refuses to answer direct questions about this issue but things are moving forward. In November of 2003, gender identity was added to the anti-harassment section of the policy, but not the anti-discrimination policy.
“We jokingly say that what this means is we can still be fired from campus jobs and receive bad grades because of our gender identity, we just can’t be called names,” Jourian.
And being called names is just the beginning of where discrimination can lead. Transgender students have been raped by members of both genders and harassed by the police, a service they should be able to rely on, Jourian said.
“Not having the policy in place makes campus an uncomfortable and scary place,” Furrow said. “But we feel positive about the direction things are going.”
Because “no one should be discriminated against based on anything,” said chemical engineering sophomore Kristy Currier, \”everybody should get the same opportunities.”
At the moment, the university has set up a second gender identity committee that’s reviewing the proposal to include gender identity in the policy, which will create those equal opportunities. “We’re letting the administration take care of it within the system, we just have to keep hammering the message in.”
Lou Anna, this is where you come in.
“I see no reason why gender identity shouldn’t be included in the anti-discrimination policy,” said social relations sophomore Carrie Reed. “It’s just an important as race or sexual orientation.”
One event sponsored by the non-Greek affiliated support group is a weekend of education. Samuel Lurie, a national trainer of transgender issues, is on campus the first weekend of April to address activism for transgender allies, ongoing issues like discrimination and to train Olin Health Center staff so they can better care for transgender individuals.
Jourian’s claim to fame, however, came from having simply replied to a list-serve email just a little while back “for the hell of it.” That specific email was sent out by Jeremy Simmons, director of the new documentary airing on the Sundance Channel Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Transgeneration follows the unique stories of four transgender college students. T.J. was one of them. The others are students at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Smith College and California State University, Los Angeles.
“I decided to do the show because I built a trust with the director and he treated my story with respect,” Jourian said. “Jeremy wasn’t looking for four people who represent transgender people, he just wanted to tell their individual stories, so I jumped on the opportunity.”
The outcome is not just Sundance viewers getting a chance to peek into and better understand the life and struggles of a transgender person but personal growth for Jourian, as well. “There were a lot of sit-down times for small interviews with the director and that was really good. Self reflection, that was my biggest gain.”
Through all this, Jourian has become a sort of a national celebrity. Even his Facebook profile says that one of his jobs is being a part-time national speaker, which must be true since he seems to constantly be out of state and reachable only by wonderful wireless. [tjsit]
But for T.J., each day, there is the possibility of harassment and that’s the scariest part, he said. “When someone looks at me and can’t make out if I’m male or female, they’ll get angry and I don’t know if something will happen or not.”
“I’ve managed to be very resourceful so I know where not to go. I avoid certain situations and don’t go for certain jobs,” Jourian said. Discrimination based on gender identity is a reality on this campus.
Because putting all else aside, transgender individuals are people too and at this school of “equal opportunity,” discrimination goes against everything the university stands for.
And even after “gender identity” is added to MSU’s anti-discrimination policy, the struggle continues. For Jourian, when he graduates and goes back home to a community that will probably not be very accepting of his decisions, he must return as a she. “I’m sure there’ll be some compromises here and there,” he said. “I don’t really know what that will mean but we’ll just have to see how that goes.”
This struggle, however, is not just his own. It belongs, L.A., to MSU and to each individual. Not just people who identify with the transgender community have a gender identity, Jourian said. Each person has a gender identity and he encourages each person to really look and ask what makes them who they are.
Lou Anna, I\’m sure you and your administration have many questions about transgender identity. But are you willing to listen?
“The answer is,” Jourian said. “There are no answers.”

Sincerely,
Gender I. Dentity

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Dear Lou Anna

[farm]East Lansing City Council – We have one of those? East Lansing City Manager – I’m guessing he’s kind of important? East Lansing Planning Commission – Do they plan stuff that has to do with me?
It’s really too bad that a rather large percentage of the 45,000 students at MSU have little to no idea about the city their university calls home. East Lansing, or “Collegeville,” if you happen to prefer the city’s early 20th-century name, is home to many, if not the majority, of MSU students, faculty and staff. And yet it seems we live in our own little bubble; it’s as if East Lansing only comes to mind when we want our parents to send us a care package to our East Lansing addresses.
But little do we know, decisions that the city makes actually have a lot to do with our daily lives. It’s because of them that we can’t play loud music at our nationally acclaimed house parties. It’s because of them that we can speed down Grand River at a whopping 25 mph. It’s because of them that the northern edge of campus is the only place in town that has much of anything. And it’s because of them that East Village will be completely changed in the next 20 to 30 years.
A 35-acre region bound by Bogue Street on the west, Hagadorn Road on the east, Grand River Avenue on the north and the Red Cedar River on the south, East Village is a great location slowly growing obsolete. With almost 2,000 students currently living in the area, East Village is desirable and convenient, and yet environmentally polluted and crammed with once visually appealing buildings.
And although it seems a bit odd to the average college student who worries constantly about papers, exams and which bar to go to tomorrow night, the city of East Lansing has a plan, a vision for the future. It’s the East Village Master Plan, to be exact.
Having been in the works for the past two years, the East Village Master Plan was unanimously approved by the East Lansing Planning Commission Feb. 8. Who really makes up the Planning Commission may not be all that important to students, but this single $16.3 million approval will change the entire area east of campus. I think, for once, MSU students should pay a little attention to the city we live in, even if we continue to think that it has really nothing to do with us.
The East Village area is currently home to 636 households, five frats, one cooperative, 22 traditional rental houses and has an exact population of 1,807 people. So roughly, it’s the size of four ISS lecture classes. Under the new plan, however, the population will likely triple to about 7,000 people living in highly dense housing options.
“The area will offer housing opportunities for beyond just students but a variety of demographics,” said Jim van Ravensway, East Lansing director of planning and community development. “It will be a village mixed with a balance of housing types for faulty, alumni, both graduate and undergraduate students, retirees and empty-nesters.”
The few students on campus who are concerned about the new developments, however, are worried that students will in fact be kicked out of the area, an area so close and convenient to campus and yet considered an off-campus living experience.
“I want to make sure the overall integrity of the area is preserved and student housing stays available there,” said Andrew Bell, ASMSU student assembly vice chairperson of external affairs. “I’m especially for preserving the Greek houses in that area and keeping housing affordable enough for students.”
Of course, East Lansing assures its MSU students that the overall policy is in fact balanced with an area consisting of one-third owner occupied, one-third regular rental and one-third student housing. And thankfully, one third means that at least the same number of students living in East Village now can live there in the future.
[lou3] In the original plan, however, MSU’s Dormitory Road was to be extended into East Village right through the parking lot of Farmhouse fraternity located at 151 Bogue St. “In the new plan, they reworded it so that it sounds like there will be a linkage somewhere else, not through our parking lot,” said Pete Serne, Farmhouse fraternity vice president. “We’re all pretty psyched about that here.”
Serne also said that the frat’s popular “Save Farmhouse” campaign continues strong. But many students, even ones living in East Village, felt they didn’t really have any idea about the plan. “I feel like we didn’t know about it to oppose it,” said supply chain management sophomore, David Wu, who lives in Cedar Village. “But I guess students here just don’t care enough to attend one of the meetings to oppose the plan.”
If such this is the case, then what right do students have to complain now about the changes in East Village? “As much as I do, I am only one person,” Bell said. “Their voices are as loud as they want it to be heard.”
No matter what the complaints are, they need to stop. It doesn’t really matter how much say students really had in the planning process, the Master Plan has already been approved and we need to just move on. We need to continue our lives as students and think of other ways to keep us a part of the plan to renovate the area.
Ultimately, with the new plan, the goal is to create a more urban environment by mixing residential buildings with at least 215,000 square feet of retail and 200,000 square feet of new office space. This will require taller buildings, up to eight stories high, something that requires more work on the part of the Planning Commission since current zoning laws in the area don’t allow for such foreboding skyscrapers. Nevertheless, what the future really brings is unknown.
Because after all, the East Village Master Plan, is only a “vision for the future” that provides a well-designed strategy for achieving that vision over the next 20 years, according to the plan available on the frequently student-visited East Lansing city Web site: www.cityofeastlansing.com.
The plan is based around four main goals: to create an exciting urban village, to establish appropriate pedestrian and vehicle circulation, to develop an overall urban-like appearance and to improve the environment and the river’s health.
[apts] East Lansing, however, carried out no specific comprehensive studies concerning the environment, traffic and housing markets in the area. This is despite the fact that the Michigan Municipal Planning Act requires commissions to “make careful and comprehensive surveys and studies of present conditions and future growth” when developing master plans. To their credit though, the Master Plan is not a specific layout of what will and won’t be in East Village; it’s only a general idea representing hopes for the area.
Rather, the city spent $55,000 on conceptual drawings instead of, according to Tim Dempsey, East Lansing community development administrator, $100,000 to conduct comprehensive studies. But I suppose they didn’t completely ignore the idea of statistical data – a few studies were done concerning the Red Cedar River’s floodplain. That’s because the city wants to “take advantage of the river using state funds from the Department of Natural Resources to clean up the water,” said van Ravensway.
“It will be an exciting area, a village,” he said. “The closest comparison I can think of is Greenwich Village in New York with commercial on the first floor of buildings and residents living above.”
In the end, the idea sounds exciting, but the results may not be all that great. East Village is bound to become a classy area no longer affordable and appropriate for most students. The city might say one-third of the housing will be designed specifically for students but it still seems like the city’s coming in and kicking the students out.
The East Village Master Plan also claims to be a partnership project between the city, the State of Michigan, private developers, individual property owners and MSU. It’s too bad a majority of MSU students don’t think they’ve really had all that much say in the planning process.
So, L.A., I wonder what the university’s next step is. I wonder what the university plans on doing to help save its fraternity houses. And I wonder what the university plans to do to persuade landlords to keep rents low and affordable for students. And I wonder how the university plans to break out of its own little MSU bubble, because not doing anything will result in students being kicked out of an area popular, close and convenient to campus – an idea that seems just a little ridiculous.
Sincerely,
Ren O. Vations

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Dear Lou Anna

Unlimited meals. More variety. Sunday night dinners. Midnight snacks – literally. What more could you ask for from MSU fine dining? Well, in the distant fall \’07, you may not have to ask for anything more.
Under a new plan to revamp the MSU dining experience, all cafeterias will have longer hours and one cafeteria in each zone – Brody, West Circle, South, East and Red Cedar complexes – will stay open until midnight, seven days a week. [students]
Students will have the option to choose from new varieties of the present unlimited meal plan. Valuable, maybe even priceless, Silver, Gold and Platinum options provide unlimited access to any cafeteria on campus and varying amounts of Spartan Cash and guest meal passes.
And all this is what students have asked for through surveys, forums and comment cards for who knows how long. I guess University Food and Housing Services has finally decided to listen to the students and serve accordingly. It’s too bad, then, that half the students currently on campus will never get the chance to experience MSU’s transformed dining experience. And considering the number of students who move off campus, even less than 50 percent will get a taste of this upcoming revolution in university cafeterias.
“We’re doing this because the students have asked for it and most of our changes are due to student input,” said Bruce Haskell, associate director of University Housing\’s Dining Services. “We believe we’re here for the students or else we wouldn’t have taken this project on,” he said. This is the biggest project to take place on campus in 10 years, and right along with the Red Cedar Marketplace changes in Philips-Snyder, the biggest project in university dining in 30 years.
But I wonder why? Because frankly, student input usually doesn’t seem to prompt university departments to take on large institution-wide revamping proposals. How many years have students been protesting MSU’s refusal to join the Worker’s Right Consortium before you, L.A., finally decided to do something about that last year?
And even if HFS hasn’t officially proposed this project for your approval, you must know it’s all a spin-off of Boldness by Design. Boldness by Design is your strategic positioning commitment, according to your Sesquicentennial Convocation Address, for MSU to “become recognized worldwide as the United States’ leading land-grant research university for the 21st century.”
“MSU is already a well-respected education institution and these changes will put us in the forefront of college university dining,” said Haskell. And thank goodness, because these changes are needed more than anything that has ever changed on campus, even if we’ve already come a long way in cafeteria food from 30 years ago.
Because way back when, salads were available only on Sundays, students received a limited amount of food and the idea of going to dinner in your pajamas was fairly high on the list of taboos. But students today live very different lifestyles; they are no longer a breakfast at 7, lunch at noon, dinner at 5 kind of people, said Haskell. “Students are very nocturnal and the new plan is more appropriate for students of this time.”
But that’s not to say there weren’t concerns about the original plan proposed by HFS. Higher costs, the elimination of Totally Take Out, the cooperation of student employees and having to walk outside late at night, were just a few. But HFS was very cooperative and made changes, or at least compromises, accordingly, said Kevin Newman, president of the Residence Halls Association.
The university’s on-campus student government decided to approve the new plan 24-1 with one member abstaining last October. “When RHA was presented with the plan, the board saw a lot of benefits for the average student,” said Newman. “The idea of staying open until midnight, the idea of a Sunday night dinner and the idea of getting the most for your money were all achieved through this plan.”
But do all the benefits really cancel out the concerns that come with these changes? “Keeping the cafeterias open until midnight is a great idea because it probably helps students save money from ordering food late at night,” said English freshman Ryan Johnson, a Shaw cafeteria employee. “But I wouldn’t want to work ‘til midnight, especially at Shaw, where so many people come all the time.”
And as for the proposed elimination of TTO, RHA was nervous simply because of students with tight class schedules, said Newman. RHA and HFS, however, came to a compromise and decided to scale back the number of TTOs on campus to three. They will tentatively be located in Shaw, East and South complexes and their hours will be reduced.
In other words, TTO won’t be open late at night and students will be allowed only one visit per day. The idea of students not having time for a sit-down dinner due to night classes and evening meetings, I guess, didn’t occur to either RHA or HFS.
[drinks] Nor did the thought that reports of victims being raped and stalked on campus occur to the powers that be. Why, then, would the university want to promote a program that requires students to walk from their dorms to other buildings as late as midnight just to get a slice of pepperoni pizza or a ham and cheese sub?
Haskell said students just need to be careful. “The same rules apply,” he said. “Students need to use caution and common sense.” But for some unknown reason, I have an inkling victims of rape and stalking on campus aren’t walking around in the middle of the night for no reason at all; they are usually headed somewhere, perhaps the cafeteria.
But for the “poor college student” the biggest concern is money and getting services worth our few precious dollars. And just to let you in on a little secret – eating in the cafeterias isn’t exactly the cheapest thing in the world. So the idea of having the cheapest plan, Silver, cost at least $100 more than the present unlimited plan is just a little ridiculous, even if specific prices have not yet been determined.
Current MSU students will, however, be allowed to purchase their current meal plans at their current price plus inflation as long as they stay on campus, said Haskell. At least people on the 10 meal plan won’t be forced into buying an unlimited number of meals more than they have right now. But for many students, having to pay even more for food that will probably be just as bad as it is now is simply outrageous.
“Some cafeterias are definitely better than others. Holden has different entrées put together into well-balanced meals. Case, on the other hand only offers one entrée and they cook potatoes all the time,” said international relations sophomore Stuart Smith. “I don’t think they do a good job catering to students with special food needs. I have a friend who’s a vegetarian and he’s almost always eating cereal because there isn’t anything substantial for him to eat.”
Both RHA and HFS may argue that with all the added conveniences and services provided with the new plan, we’re getting our money’s worth and that there’s just not anything that can be done to make dining any cheaper. However, there are plenty of students who just don’t want an unlimited meal plan and don’t care about guest passes. And there are plenty of students who don’t want to be required to purchase Spartan Cash.
But the real question is, how many students really know about these upcoming changes and how transparent has the University been in sharing its concerns about the plan with those the plan will affect the most? A FAQ page may be available on the HFS Web site, but frankly, I’m not so sure how many students really have www.hfs.msu.edu on their list of most frequented sites, unless of course they’re just checking out the menu before every meal.
These changes, as they will highly affect every student living on campus, will have a tremendous impact when it comes to changes in student lifestyle. And things are coming to a head rather quickly, too; some difference will be seen as early as this coming fall. Ultimately, the plan may be geared toward the modern MSU student and the plan may be bold in its effort to make MSU a world-renown dining institution, but I urge you, L.A., to carefully consider the benefits and consequences of these changes before you send out your official seal of approval. Because bold is bold, but bold may simply not be the best.
Sincerely,
Revolutionized E. Ting

Learn more about the new meal plans at http://www.hfs.msu.edu/uh/campus/meal_plan_transition.html.
Learn more about Boldness by Design at http://strategicpositioning.msu.edu/.

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Dear Lou Anna

Get psyched, L.A., because combined with 4,000 square feet of already new and enhanced fitness equipment at IM East, the new IM West fitness center boasts another 13,000 square feet for fitness and strength training gear. Providing a two-level climate-controlled facility with a surround sound stereo system, a redesigned equipment checkout center, a refreshment lounge and newly renovated locker rooms, IM West is now the place to be for anyone even remotely interested in getting in shape.
[tv]But is it worth $5.5 million?
The “IM sports fit for all” catalog praises the Department of Intramural Sports and Recreative Services as providing “Simply, the Best Facility at the Best Price.” But what kind of college students would we be if we simply accepted this PR statement as truth (probably ones that haven’t benefited all that much from this institution of so-called higher education)?
So once again I question if 13,000 square feet of fitness equipment is really worth $5.5 million?
In a society where over two-thirds of the population is considered at least overweight, not to mention obese or severely obese, a mere $5.5 million compared to MSU’s $8 billion budget doesn’t seem like much after all. Because in spite of statistics, experts still say good health is something you can benefit from for the rest of your life.
And the old facilities simply weren’t good enough for students’ ever-changing demands. “We renovated primarily because of space; we didn’t have enough for the number of students that wanted strength and cardiovascular training,” said Patty Oehmke, assistant director of Intramural Sports and Recreative Services, in charge of the new IM West fitness center. “The weight-lifting industry has changed significantly in the past 20, 25 years or so and most of what we had was from when the building was built in the 1950s.”
So after a year of much-needed reconstruction, and more than 180 new weight and cardiovascular machines, four plasma TVs, 24 elliptical running machines and 24 treadmills later, it seems as though MSU has finally updated its facilities enough to start attracting a larger audience.
But even if $5.5 million doesn’t burn all that large a hole in MSU’s wallet, it’s still enough that one wonders where all this money came from.[bells]
When IM appealed to ASMSU saying they had about three-quarters of the money needed to buy equipment, ASMSU donated $50,000 from its risk management account. “Money in that account is set aside for sustainable projects, projects that will carry impact on the community,” said Andrew Schepers, chairperson of ASMSU’s student assembly. “The facilities really needed to be renovated and we felt that it was time for us to be part of the process.”
And these renovations have at least made an impact on the lives of those who frequent IM West. “I feel like West has the best weight room in East Lansing; it has everything I need to work out,” said business and Spanish junior Bret Burton.
Maybe MSU does house the best weight room in East Lansing. In fact Schepers said you just have to look at other campuses across the state, look at their iron facilities and see it’s only now that our facilities are up to par. “And the great thing is that you don’t have to pay for it as a part of tuition, there’s really no fee unless you want to use the facilities,” said Schepers.
This is because not only the new weight room in IM West, but equipment use at East and Circle requires membership, a tiny sticker on your student ID that costs a whopping $75 a semester. Students, faculty, staff and alumni can also buy one-day passes for $3, but $75 does seem like a lot when we already pay so much to live, eat, sleep and learn at MSU.
General complaints about the price of IM memberships often end with how great other schools are and how, at other schools, you don’t have to pay to use their dumbbells. But in fact, schools in the Big Ten are split on this expensive issue. Like MSU, University of Michigan and University of Iowa require membership fees.
But Indiana University, The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, Northwestern, The Pennsylvania State University and Purdue University all provide free usage of all fitness facilities as long as students have paid their equivalent to our $16.75 ASMSU tax. “Our rates are very comparable to other institutions that charge for membership and don’t roll charges into student fees,” said Oehmke. “Our fees mirror quality.”
So, in a sense, everybody pays to use equipment at their respective schools, just in different ways. And for students who would rather not run on a treadmill while watching DVDs or roll around on a mat with one of those Pilates balls, they don’t have to pay the price for other students’ health benefits.[desk]
But what about those personalized TV screens, DVD players and CD players attached to individual treadmills and elliptical running machines that were obviously a part of the $5.5 million spent on making IM West a better place to work out? They do seem a little extravagant compared to the outdoor runner’s headphones and cheap MP3 player.
Yet there have been study results showing that doing something other than just running is more than just an attraction; it’s an essential part of the physical fitness process. And Schepers said even though ASMSU money was not used to buy any of the 60 entertainment systems, it made sense for the folks at IM to go ahead and do that, especially since it’s something a lot of people wanted.
So I guess, L.A., for once I agree. The university has finally dropped what seems like a few pennies on the ground to better not only the institution itself but also those who are a part of it. “These new facilities are great for people like me that aren’t involved in sports but want to stay in shape,” said criminal justice freshman Sterling Raehtz. “Some money really got put to great use.”
It’s not like MSU’s helped the homeless or fed the hungry yet, but for once, I think this is a project that will have a powerfully positive impact on more than just a few students; it has the potential of serving everyone. Because as Schepers said, “It’s not how many people we affect each day but how many people we’ll affect in five, ten years down the road.”
Sincerely,
Spending A. Greed

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Dear Lou Anna for 2006

We can certainly toast to 2005. MSU surgeons performed the first robotic gastric bypass surgery. We finally joined the Worker’s Rights Consortium and participated in the Hurricane Katrina and tsunami relief efforts. The university opened a new animal center care clinic and welcomed new tailgating regulations. L.A., you made histoty by becoming MSU’s first female president.
But in the spirit of moving forward in 2006, I thought I’d give you a few of my very own recommendations for improving the university. Here\’s to MSU! Go ahead and sip bubbly over these New Year\’s resolutions for 2006:
Reduce parking fees and tickets
[ticket]As of right now, parking on campus is an expensive nightmare. If you don’t pay hundreds of dollars for a parking pass, you’ll undoubtedly find a little slip of paper along with a white envelope on your windshield – a present from one of those little green pickup trucks that drive around all day. Not cool.
Enhance CATA by making it free
Other universities offer free busing around campus. Fifty cents a ride can really add up when students live as far away from classes in Brody or Hubbard and can’t walk to class without freezing to death during these Michigan winters.
Shovel bike lanes and sidewalks
This should be a no-brainer on campus. When it’s too cold to walk and too expensive to ride the bus the only other option is to ride a bike, but that becomes nearly impossible when winter rolls around, not because of the wind blasting in your face but un-shoveled bike lanes. For the brave walkers, sidewalks need to be shoveled in order for students to get to class safely and in a timely fashion, and this is especially important for students with disabilities. Better still, walking around with those annoying white lines near the bottom of your pant legs just isn’t the “in” thing anymore. [sidewalk]
Olin Health Center open 24-hours-a-day
What good does a campus health clinic do if it’s only open during the day, Monday through Friday? Students may have to see a professional health care provider during the middle of the night or on the weekends and MSU can’t expect its 45,000 students to go to Sparrow Hospital for sprained ankles or nose congestion.
Longer online enrollment times
With the stress of trying to get into classes already a factor, the online enrollment system should be open longer than 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s generally hard to get to a computer during the day to change classes. Since most of a college student’s work gets done during what normal people consider the dead of night, 8 p.m. just isn’t late enough. We’re way more productive at 2 a.m., L.A.
Union bowling and billiards free
The University Activities Board currently advertises free billiards and bowling every Thursday night in the cafeterias. But students could really use these fun activities as ways to de-stress during the week without having to dish out the big bucks. And it’s something for students to do that doesn’t involve alcohol, which is pretty necessary if you’ve ever been to an off campus Wine Wednesday party.
Tally campus squirrel numbers
How many of those fat nut-eating rodents are there living off of student trash and leftovers? Something really needs to be done about those pesky little creatures before they take over not just our bike paths, sidewalks and benches but our dorm rooms and cafeterias. Let’s be real, they’re just fluffy rats, so let’s send them to the neighboring parks before we fall victim to The Birds –like horror.
Install more wireless hubs around campus
The library is the only really well-known spot on campus that offers wireless. A long list of other buildings also provide the same feature but nobody knows about it and if MSU doesn’t plan on making wireless a campus-wide feature, at least let students known where it is available. [wireless]
Overbooked housing is a no-no
Three freshmen crammed into a double room is a little ridiculous especially when one person’s desk is really a box in the middle of the room. They may be new at MSU but they receive guaranteed housing and State should live up to its promises or we need to change the slogan from “Live On” to “Live On (Top of Each Other).”
New football team fit for the new stadium
The quality of the Spartan football team should reflect the expensive stadium newly renovated to add alumni seating and suites. A better team would really draw more people to the games to fill all those thousands of stadium seats. [football]
Return to regular football tickets
With no paper tickets, access to games is really very inconvenient with a wipe of a student I.D. Students can no longer resell their tickets to other students without having to part with their PID embedded I.D.s. And since those bits of plastic are so important when it comes to signing into classes and dorms after midnight, it’s a real hassle if yours gets lost because of a football game.
Email spam control needed now
College students are always glad to get something in the mail, even an email from a friend is often the highlight of a boring day. Too bad my mailbox is all too often filled with emails from Nigeria claiming I’ve won a lottery I’ve never entered. Mail.msu.edu needs better protection against spam right away.
Clean up the Red Cedar River
An effort has already been made to lower the level of toxins but the amount of trash currently finding a home in the waters of the Red Cedar is outrageous. Police blockades, bags of trash, even port-a-potties can be seen beneath those murky waters.
Open up more Sparty’s convenience stores
Students often crave a little something to munch on or a little sip or two of something warm late at night. MSU would then do well to open up Sparty’s convenience stores or Barista Cafés in each dorm to better serve its students. [spartys]
Make the cafeterias more appetizing
It’s an age-old complaint but it’s still heard all over campus. The lack of nutrition and variety in the cafeterias drives students up the wall. Cafeterias should also be open until later in the evening and cater better to those with special eating habits like vegetarians, vegans and those with special allergies. The Spartan palate is yearning for some more excitement!
Mend race relations on campus. I know you can\’t do it alone, but the first step is not concentrating minority incoming freshmen in some dormitories and not others. Continuing to support groups like MRULE (Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience) is a must, too. Erecting a standing multicultural center will help the important task of highlighting diversity on campus.
Earn a basketball championship
It would just be too much for MSU students to handle another loss by the basketball team this year. Last year’s melee proved that nothing less than a highly-anticipated NCAA championship will appease MSU crowds.
Newly installed heated bus stops
[bus]Students waiting outside during nearly white-out conditions with temperatures well below zero calls for drastic measures on the part of the university. Frostbite and wind-chapped faces, needing a little warmth could really benefit from, not luxury, but necessary heated bus stops.
Do a better job of preventing rape on campus
Campus needs to be more well lit and dorm security must be raised to better ensure safety for women and all students. Rape needs to be taken more seriously in our school newspaper, too. Rape is a brutal crime whether or not alcohol is involved; so stop quoting the same female police officer that tends to place the burden of prevention on the woman.
ASMSU yearbooks more visible for pick up
MSU prides itself as the university that prints the largest number of yearbooks every year. It’s too bad many of its students don’t even know the Red Cedar Log exists. ASMSU and MSU need to do a better job promoting the book to students who may not cherish it now, but will in just a couple of years.
Trash the current no-recycling waste program
It’s been a little over a year since MSU has had a university sponsored recycling program. According to surveys done around campus, each student will throw away over 200 pounds of recyclable material each year because of this campus-wide waste. Just think how much MSU could help the environment if only we had a couple of green boxes set up in each dorm. [recycle]
International phone card sales
MSU prides itself for its large number of students from countries all around the world. These students, however, need a better way to stay in touch with their families and it would be extremely convenient if Sparty’s or other such places around campus carried cheap international phone cards.
Open the original Sparty statue to the public
Alumni who pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to sit in the upper levels of the football stadium should not be the only ones allowed to see the original Sparty. Students who pay even more to attend the school should be able to see our mascot as well. That statue is a legend and the school should at least offer tours up to Sparty’s new home. [sparty]
No more finals at 10 p.m
Finals start at 7:45 in the morning and end at 10 p.m., late into the night. These 10 p.m. exams may start two hours before, a seemingly reasonable hour for college students, but they become a little ridiculous for those who need to get up just a few hours later for another exam the next morning. MSU’s final exam schedule should promote better, not worse, college sleeping habits.
Not only was 2005 our sesquicentennial celebration, but a year filled with noteworthy events and accomplishments. So why not tune in to what students want out of their university next year? After the champagne\’s gone and the confetti settles, we hope you\’ll take these recommendations to make 2006 even more toast-worthy.
Cheers,
Starting A. New

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Dear Lou Anna

Faced with the daunting task of shoveling 14 inches of snow after a storm last winter, Joe and his housemates were approached by a man named Willie. Willie offered to shovel the sidewalk in front of their house on Linden Road so they wouldn’t get a ticket. Joe was a little short on cash, but to return the favor, Joe made Willie a turkey sandwich and some soup, which he gladly accepted. When the next storm came around, Willie shoveled Joe’s sidewalk without asking for a thing.
[willie]Willie is one of 40,000 homeless people who live in Michigan and one of hundreds, maybe even thousands, in the East Lansing area alone. He wakes up each day at 6 a.m. to gather cans and provide offers to clean yards, rake leaves and shovel sidewalks for hundreds of homes, said marketing senior Joe Porritt. Many of these homes belong to students who attend MSU, so many students have met Willie, as well as other homeless people in the area.
However, the stereotypes that surround the homeless are difficult to overcome. They are often thought of as lazy burdens on society and initiators of local crime. Many also think the homeless are living on the streets because they deserve it, as if they aren’t trying to get out of their bad situation.
So it’s understandable even Porritt was a little skeptical at first of Willie’s intentions. “It’s in those stories you hear, how you shouldn’t trust the homeless because you never know if they’re desperate and willing to lie and steal from you. But Willie proved to be one of the most respected people in our community,” he said. “And he works hard every day to earn the respect of the student community.”
Of course, there may be those few homeless people who refuse to work and merely bum around all day, living off the government, but I can safely say they don’t make up the majority of those who live around campus.
And what about those left homeless on account of the hurricanes? They’re not homeless because they slack off. Natural disasters like hurricanes forces homelessness in a different light. “It makes me realize that that sort of thing could happen to almost anyone. And so when I look at Willie, it makes me realize that there is always hope to make the best of a not-so-easy situation,” said Porritt.
The homeless population around MSU is often seen around campus collecting cans and bottles, especially after tailgating and other drinking-favorable events. [cans2] “I’m a teaching assistant in Wells Hall and sometimes I notice this one guy coming into the classroom and looking for cans and bottles,” said chemistry senior Lindsay Willett. “I feel sorry for him and I feel the MSU community could do more for him.”
As an open campus, MSU could do a lot more to help the homeless population. The Union is often a hotspot. “We’re a public building in East Lansing and as long as a person is an upstanding citizen, that is they follow all university regulations, they are welcome,” said James Sheppard, Union director. But offering a place to sit until 2 a.m. isn’t really enough when MSU has thousands of students, millions of dollars in resources and at least a few people who are willing to lend a helping hand.
Many students have already done what they can in their own way. Porritt created a group on the ever-popular Facebook: “Willie the Can Man’s Fan Club.” “It only took me 15 minutes to create the group. The group has now exploded into a 400-person forum of people who have all met Willie and have the opportunity to share their experience with each other,” he said. The forum has also sprung a movement to help Willie make some money by selling Willie the Can Man T-shirts imprinted with his famous quote, “Don’t be silly. Give your cans to Willie.”
Other students volunteer at homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the Lansing area, but kinesiology junior Kendrick Bell wants MSU to respond to an even higher calling. “With all the assets MSU has, I think it would be a good idea to create a shelter for the homeless right near campus and get students to volunteer at it.”
Meeting and getting to know the homeless is often thought of as a scary, sometimes dangerous situation, but political science pre-law senior Anthony Servitto, who has also met Willie, said getting to know the “can man” is a mutually beneficial relationship.
Servitto and his friends help Willie out when they can and sometimes Willie will buy them something in return. “He’s an entertaining guy, a great storyteller, but a guy’s got to do what he has to do to survive,” Servitto said. “And all you have to do is give a little time. Willie doesn’t ask for much, just a few cans.”
[house2]But I was thinking, L.A., since you’re not living in the Cowles House, the official president’s residence, why not open up that house to the homeless? It’s a building sitting right on campus, beautifully maintained but usually vacant. Especially with long, cold winter nights coming our way, why not give those who really need a place to stay the chance to use a major resource right on campus? It may not seem like much but one night of warmth may be all somebody really needs.
Willie is only one of three million homeless people in the United States who need help. And why shouldn’t we, a huge campus made up of people who already have everything we need, do something to help those who need us?

Sincerely,
Supporting D. Homeless

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Dear Lou Anna

What comes to mind when I mention the end of August? Is it the beginning of a new school year? Is it those first few carefree lectures before tons of reading and homework kicked in? Is it the times you could party all night long because the dreaded test wasn’t glaring up at you from that annoying pink syllabus? [1]
Or is it the thought that Hurricane Katrina, one of the five most devastating storms to ever hit the United States, wiped out half the Gulf Coast and could result in upwards of 10,000 deaths. Suddenly, losing my ID and getting a 1.0 on a pop quiz don’t seem so terrible.
The tragedy of such an event never seems to hit close to home, unless we’re the ones with family members missing or have loved ones perish. But many students and faculty on campus have personal ties to the states touched by Katrina, even though we’re hundreds of miles away. So, in times like these, everyone looks for ways to reach out and help – it should be the same here at MSU.
The MSU College of Law has offered to take in 25 students from Tulane and Loyola universities. Those students will be placed in emergency housing with law school faculty and will be able to continue their studies at MSU until they pass the bar exam or until their schools reopen.
Similarly, the College of Human Medicine is working with the Association of American Medical Colleges, offering aid to place medical students displaced by the hurricane.
According to the university Web site, undergraduate students are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis and accepted once the university can meet their individual needs.
“The Academic Assembly unanimously passed a bill on Sept. 6 urging the university to take in as many tuition-free refugees of the hurricane as possible,” said Bob Murphy, chairman of the ASMSU Academic Assembly. “They’ve pretty much accepted everyone that’s applied.”
[2]A few smaller groups within the university have also risen up and found ways to help those in need – ways that actually encourage the participation of the 45,000 students, faculty and staff on MSU’s campus.
The Lyman Briggs School of Science Student Advisory Council has decided to collect monetary donations in the cafeteria and lobbies of Holmes Hall. Student volunteers also collected money donations during the first two home football games while others donated blood to the Red Cross.
“There have been very many creative efforts coming from the students directly,” said Murphy. But it’s pitiful that the majority of students have no ideas what these so-called ‘creative efforts’ are and what individual students can do to help.”
Because despite the fact that as adult members of society, we have a responsibility to help those in need even without the university’s lead, how many students actually know about the many relief efforts going on across campus? How many students are actually contributing and doing something to aid those in need? How many students have actually been informed about the ways they can make a difference?
“I’m a part of Change for Change and we did something earlier this year,” said human biology sophomore Kashif Syed. “But the university needs to get the word out because nobody seems to really know what programs are out there.”
If MSU is where we are during this time of national turmoil, MSU has the responsibility to provide ways for its students to get involved in the relief efforts. This university is not just an institution passing on knowledge but a place for its students to learn the values of communication, community and service.
Nobody denies it’s tremendous that MSU is accepting displaced students from various universities in the New Orleans area, but what can we, the students, do to help them and others in need?
Some residence hall managers have organized donation programs but every hall should provide a venue for its residents to donate to those affected by Katrina.
“We’re asking people to drop off hygiene products, non-perishable food items and new clothing,” said Brad Ledingham, the Mason-Abbott/Snyder-Phillips complex director. “We’re also figuring out ways to distribute what we’ve collected to people that have been relocated in the Lansing area.”
It’s not that students living in other complexes don’t want to help. It’s just difficult for individual students to organize relief efforts; many of us just don’t know what to do. Programs would be much more effective if the school took more initiative. Residence halls could provide ways for students to offer assistance at a university level.
“I only heard about a few ways for students to get involved through an e-mail,” said no-preference freshman Caleigh Ferguson. “The university could definitely do more, like put up fliers to help students become more aware.”
In a web-posted letter to all students, you said, “as a university, our global mission and land-grant roots accompany our heartfelt call to action in support of relief efforts.” But what are the actual relief efforts? Generic terms like “relief efforts” can’t just be thrown out and not followed up.
And if there are many university-sponsored programs providing aid to the victims of Katrina, why don’t the majority of students know about them? This is a school of 45,000 people; that’s more than four times the number of projected bodies to be found by the end of the clean-up effort.
Imagine the possibilities if only you, L.A., did something more to organize your students. Imagine the number of people MSU could help, MSU could aid, MSU could save.
“It doesn’t seem like the school’s too concerned about raising much money to help those in need,” finance senior Mike Abraham said. “Maybe they’re trying, but it’s just not good enough.”
Sincerely,
Leadership D. Prived

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Dear Lou Anna

School spirit mixed with a little tear gas – that’s the current life of a MSU student. But remember back in middle school, when you had to write an essay on your “metaphor for life?” I remember having to decide between a rollercoaster, a placid lake, a mountain range and some other generic scenario everyone uses to describe the great looming question of what life really means. Of course, I have no idea what I chose life to be way back when and I still have no idea what life really is today. But like “life,” each school year can be a mini rollercoaster, a mini lake, a mini mountain range all on its own. There are ups and downs, highs and lows in each scenario and in each academic year.
This year in particular, though, I think “life” can be paralleled to a picture a little different from the standard. Fall ’04 to Spring ’05 was like the infamous night of April 2. The highs were like right after the game when everyone cheered for MSU shouting, “Go Green, Go White!” The lows were when the police charged the crowds as well as innocent people walking down Grand River with tear gas and used brute force to threaten excited Spartan fans.
“Go Green, Go White!” Highs
GO. April 2 started off on a high and Spartan school spirit was not only well displayed that night but all throughout the past year. As MSU has reached its sesquicentennial, the administration and students have bound together to reflect on our 150 years of history. Most were impressed by our accomplishments, but other students understood we still have much to do until our school proves to truly be an equal opportunity university. The 150 Years of Struggle campaign was therefore essential in demonstrating to the entire community just how much higher MSU should be aiming.
GREEN. Furthermore, this year was marked by a successful change in administration and personnel. With the retirement of former President M. Peter McPherson and your move literally just down the hall from provost to president, it wouldn’t have been surprising for the university to experience a period of distress and unease. Yet the transition went smoothly, and having been here for so long, you already knew the ropes of how to get things done at MSU.
GO. One of these problems was MSU’s need to join the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC). For one reason or another, McPherson had been reluctant to join the effort to stop the empowerment of sweatshops in the production of college clothing. You, however, have recently decided to join the WRC, which will allow MSU to partner in a worldwide effort to rid all universities of sweatshop and child labor-produced clothing. I only hope you go through with your promise to join and work with the student activists who have been fighting for this cause for five years.
WHITE. On a completely different note, another shout of green and white came right before the start of the school year with MSU’s switch to e-billing this past fall. This not only saves the university over 40,000 sheets of paper and 40,000 more envelopes, but it ensures no letter is lost in the postal system. Of course, no one was shouting “Go Green, Go White!” when they received the actual bill, but the overall ease that comes with paying tuition has greatly improved.
Tear Gas Canister Explosion Lows
TEAR. Although MSU may have been trying to save paper in its switch to e-billing, the termination of the recycling program was a canister of tear gas right in the face. Despite student environmental organizations’ efforts to reinstate the program, MSU as a whole has done nothing to help save thousands of trees cut down for its paper supply each year. MSU cannot expect its students to be upstanding, environmentally-conscious citizens if it does not provide avenues to do so.
GAS. Back in November, even before recycling became such a lost cause, election day was another so-called riot. Although there was an incredibly high student voter turnout, the confusion on campus that day was equally incredible. Having to stand in lines for hours at a time in order to sign up more than a month before getting in another line which brought you to the voting booth itself, many students were unable to vote due to time constraints and disorder. Of course, election day only comes around every four years, but the organization of campus voting should be comprehensible enough so no student has an excuse to not exercise our American rights.
CANISTER. More recently, these same rights were what all graduate student TAs were asking for in their negotiations with MSU this spring. Low wages, lack of health benefits and parking bans are nothing compared to the lack of respect these students get from MSU. They teach over 40 percent of all classes on campus and grade all lecture style class papers and assignments. Without them MSU would be unable to function, and yet the administration seems unable to keep these points in mind during debates over a much-needed new contract with the Graduate Employees Union.
EXPLOSION. In the same way as April 2 started off on a high, it ended at an all-time low. Although this school year need not end similarly, the controversy over the events that night has placed a permanent scar on this year’s memories. Even though the university could have come out and supported either the stance of its students or that of the police, no stance was taken at all. Your official statement was released over two weeks after the nights in question. By offering no support and releasing conflicting reports, the administration failed to take responsibility for any part of the situation. Avoiding a problem does not make it disappear. Swooping in late with a statement that doesn’t challenge the actions of the ELPD doesn’t either.
So, L.A., how do you think this year has gone? You’ve experienced it from two very different perspectives, both as provost and as president, and I’m sure you have your own opinions as each of us does.
Now as everyone tearfully waves goodbye to graduating seniors, wishing exams were over and stuffing the last belongings into cardboard boxes from the caf, it is obvious the year is coming to an end. Yet there is hope that next year will be filled with more green and white… and fewer canisters of tear gas.
Sincerely,
Rem N. Iscent

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Dear Lou Anna

One sunny afternoon, about a week after I was accepted by MSU and had received the “big” envelope in the mail, I ran to the post office again, eager to be the recipient of another MSU promotional postcard. On that day, I got a letter from the Honors College instead. “The Honors College?” I thought to myself. “I didn’t even know MSU had an ‘accelerated’ program.” Naively, upon sending in my deposit and housing contract, I checked the little box to accept my invitation to the Honors College. Little did I know, this appealing university program is, in reality, just another method MSU uses to discriminate against its students.
“Enjoy an exceptional range of academic options,” “construct an individualized program of study independent of university requirements” and “receive high priority in enrolling for classes” the green-and-white pamphlet read.
Who wouldn’t want these benefits in college, an education we’re paying for with thousands of dollars each year? If these are the so-called advantages of an “honors” education, shouldn’t any and all students be offered the same chance to excel? Why should a school be allowed to dictate which classes a student can pay to attend if MSU’s only out to take money from its students in the first place?
These are but a few of the bounty of questions shrouding MSU and the Honors College, established in 1956. At MSU, issues regarding gender, race, sexual orientation and religious differences are brought up on a daily basis. But the question of “dumb” vs. “smart” is never considered. Really, it is not so much an issue of “dumb” vs. “smart;” rather, it’s an issue of how the Honors College feels as though it can determine the quantity of “smartness” or “dumbness” a student maintains.
For an average state university, the application for MSU is typical. I sent in nothing more than two pages of information about my grade point average, the activities I participated in while in high school and my social security number. Besides that, there wasn’t even a required essay to submit. How, then, can the Honors College look at my GPA, my theoretical class rank and my SAT/ACT score and determine if I’m fit to be a student of “high ability and potential,” as if students without these three are useless and the scum of society?
It seems quite possible to me someone without the required SAT score of 1360 is just as smart and has the same – maybe even more – potential than a student with a perfect 1600. In fact, someone accepted into the Honors College may just be a genius when it comes to the methods of taking standardized tests but really knows nothing about math or English at all. In fact, it’s even possible that someone with a perfect 4.0 just happened to be the smartest student in his school, but if he had attended another, he would have failed every class.
Furthermore, once a potential student has been accepted into the Honors College, he or she receives benefits. In no way am I saying these benefits are bad, but they ultimately set some students, those “gifted and talented” students, apart from the “average.” This not only creates tension within the student body, but bolsters a false image of MSU to the rest of society. The achievements and recognitions of honors students are announced in pamphlets and recruiting materials as if to show all students have the chance to succeed in such widely acclaimed ways. However, it is only due to these benefits that honors students are even told about scholarships, recognitions and other awards for which they can apply.
Like student athletes, honors students enroll for classes before the rest of the MSU community. This week-long window to click on the “add” button before anybody else already puts honors students ahead of the game, giving them an unfair advantage for the early registration of classes. It is no wonder then that MSU is really a five-year college. Unless you’re part of the Honors College, registration becomes a battle of whose computer can boot up fastest at 8 a.m. on the first day of enrollment, leaving those with computers laden with mp3 files unable to sign up for even core classes.
Of course, for those honors students who are too lazy to get up early and sign up for classes during the week-long head start, there’s always the back-up plan to simply override into already-filled classes a week after the semester’s begun. With honors advisers who have complete power to bypass students into 300- and 400-level classes even during their freshman year and to override them into full classes, it seems unfair to the “average” student.
Shouldn’t the Honors College Mission apply to the university as a whole? Shouldn’t Michigan State University, not just the Honors College, serve academically talented, committed students who wish to pursue and achieve academic excellence? Shouldn’t MSU as a whole strive to ensure an enriched academic and social experience for its members and create an environment that fosters active, innovative learning? This would seem logical and just, since potential cannot be solely based upon GPA, class rank and SAT/ACT scores. All students have potential – it just depends if MSU is willing to give a chance to every student, not just those the board of admissions would rather see succeed.
Sincerely,
Demanding E. Quality

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