I Heart Me

[nora]I am the smartest person at MSU. I am the most beautiful girl in all of my classes. I have the best hair within my group of friends. I have a body that is toned and in shape – a body every girl wants. At least, those are the things my mom tells me.
As much as I\’d like to believe the above statements, there is evidence to the contrary. According to a study done by San Diego State University (SDSU), college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than students 25 years ago. In a similar study by the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, more than 16,000 students were surveyed nationally. The students, mainly freshman and sophomores, were asked to respond to such statements as \”I think I am a special person,\” \”If I ruled the world, it would be a better place\” and \”I like to be the center of attention.\” The study showed two-thirds of students scored \”above average\” on the survey, a 30 percent increase since 1982, when the study began. Narcissism is defined as an inappropriate or excessive fascination with oneself; so, at MSU, do many college students truly fit this mold?
When the results of the survey sank in, I concluded I do think my peers have very self-centered tendencies. The common nickname for our generation is, after all, the \”me\” generation; and the fact there has been a 30 percent increase since 1982 is too great to be just written off. A few additional questions were raised. Are women more narcissistic than men, men more than women, or is there an equal level of narcissism? Society pressures women to be narcissistic in the areas of appearance (just watch America\’s Next Top Model, Miss USA pageants and Extreme Makeover) and men are socialiazed to be more narcissistic when it comes to money and job performances (The Apprentice and The Bachelor.)
[selfish] The NPI study claims narcissists are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth and tend to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty and violent behaviors. Jean Twenge of SDSU, the head of the study, said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others.
However, the rise in self-centeredness and vanity among college students is not entirely our fault; the blame also lies with the advances of technology. The popular Web sites Myspace.com and Facebook.com make it easier than ever to fish for compliments. Students can easily upload pictures of themselves for all of their friends (and even strangers) to see. Often, the results of these picture posts are positive comments regarding how attractive one is, feeding into the cycle of narcissism via the Internet. In addition, these sites have started a new trend of taking self pictures, all in the search to find that one flattering angle (you know the one!).
Outside of technology\’s pull, parents often perpetuate an overly positive image of their kids, constantly telling them how great they are and how other people are lucky to know them.
So now it\’s more than parents showering down with compliments. \”I just think parents tell you how special and smart they think you are to comfort you and show that they care,\” kinesiology sophomore Sarah Comai said. \”In a way, I think that it is a parental instinct.\”
While instinct is certainly a reason for parents to continuously praise their kids, mothers and fathers should learn to keep it in check. Parents continue to remove any feeling of rejection from their child\’s life and often fight their child\’s battles for them. Having an overly positive self-image can have bad results. If a student assumes she is one of the smartest kids out there and then receives a rejection letter from her college of choice, this is a huge blow to her ego, and she could consequently question her abilities. If a guy has the self-confident thought he is extremely attractive, this could lead to an attitude of cockiness. A rejection from his crush could then bring up emotions that he had been sheltered from his whole life, thanks, in part, to his parents.
While it has been shown many college students do have narcissistic tendencies, many students also have accomplished great things in the world that seem to be overlooked by the media. The media often ignores events such as student activist groups fighting for animal rights or voicing their opinions on civil rights and legislative issues, because these stories violate the stereotypical image of a college student\’s attitude: \”I don\’t care about anyone but myself.\” The trend of college students becoming more narcissistic as time passes can be attributed to that exact narcissistic image being shown to young children. When these kids see these selfish images of college students, they think that is how they are supposed to act as well, and it becomes part of their lives and viewpoints as well. Narcissism becomes expected.
[katrin]However, there are instances in which an inflated ego is beneficial. Job interviews could be very rocky unless students have the belief they are the best people for the job – there are no more qualified or well-rounded people out there. The same principle applies to meeting people: while an excess of confidence can drive people away, just the right amount can make for a very rewarding social life.
As long as Web sites such as Facebook.com allow us to fawn over ourselves instead of finishing our accounting homework (due tomorrow), an increase in levels of selfishness is inevitable. The \”me\” generation has already fallen victim to such narcissistic tendencies, and in order to end, or at least reduce, self-centered tendencies in the generations to come, we need to stop guarding children from rejection. Instead of smothering endless layers of praise onto children, parents should be there to explain why it happened and how to change it next time. These kids will be appreciative later in life, when they are thriving in the real world, while their peers will be mourning \”the end of the world\” because they didn\’t get hired for those internships they were just perfect for.

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Upping the Ante

[happy]As spring break comes again, many students look for a way to escape from the mundane routine of school, and no matter where they choose to go, there is probably a casino only a dice roll away. There are casinos at almost every vacationing hot spot, including Panama City, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Las Vegas, and on most cruise ships. For the students who will be bracing the cold weather in Michigan, there is Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant and Casino Windsor just across the border.
Even when spring break is over, images of gambling will still be everywhere, and the money will still be flying out of students’ pockets. With the flashy casino ads plastered on billboards, the lottery tickets shining under the glass counters of convenience stores and the glitz and glam of watching pro poker players on television, it’s easy to see why people love to gamble. These images, in combination with the need for money, could entice even the most indomitable of people to gamble, even though a payoff is far from guaranteed.
In high school, many students start playing cards for money and to perfect their poker faces, thinking they could be the next poker legend. As soon as these card sharks graduate and arrive on MSU’s campus for their first years, they are most likely old enough to go to any nearby casino to try to win it all. This thought is what tempts students to gamble away their textbook money waiting for that big hand. At Soaring Eagle casino in Mt. Pleasant, the gambling age is 18; at Casino Windsor, it is 19.
“I work the doors every Friday and Saturday night, and I see tons of college kids coming in here, especially during school breaks. Some I even start to recognize because they come here so often,” said a Casino Windsor security guard, who asked to remain anonymous due to casino rules. “About 80 percent of the college kids I see coming in are from Michigan and Ohio.”
According to a study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Internet gambling in males between the ages of 17 and 22 rose from 2.3 percent in 2005 to 5.8 percent in 2006. Only 1 percent of women ages 17-22 have gambled online. The same study also showed 25 percent of 18- to 22-year-old males gamble at least once a week.
“I play online during my study breaks to relax,” supply chain management senior Dave Commiskey said. “I watch my money though – I never bet more than I can afford to lose.”
Online gambling is illegal in the United States, leading online gambling companies to deposit billions of dollars into offshore accounts every year. Web sites such as partypoker.com and pokerstars.com, where poker legend Chris Moneymaker deposited $40 and ended up winning millions as a World Series of Poker champion, can very well be a main contributor to the 1.6 million college students who admitted to gambling online last year, according to the Annenberg study. Online gambling has become a $60 billion industry, two-thirds of which comes from the United States.
[poker]Despite being illegal, Internet poker is arguably one of the most addicting forms of gambling for college students. A heavy dependence on Internet gambling could lead to missed classes, lower test grades and loss of sleep and money. “I definitely lose sleep playing online poker. Some tournaments I enter last for hours, and I don’t end up going to bed until 5 a.m.,” premedical sophomore Eric Bloink said.
According to the Online Poker Center, one hour of online poker is equivalent to two hours of live poker, and players can also play at more than one table at a time online. These ideas lead to the taglines of many online poker sites, promising to “Double your winnings faster” and claiming “More hands equals more wins.”
“Gambling is a convenient ‘drug’ in the sense that you can be alone in your dorm room and all you need is a computer and credit card to start gambling,” said Judy Herriff, executive director of the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling.
[card1]Gambling among college-aged people is becoming so prevalent, casinos are starting to house programs to help young addicted gamblers. The Responsible Gaming Information Centre has had an office on the second floor of Casino Windsor since September 2006. The RGIC, which is open every day for 24 hours, is a free service to help young adults who seek it. “We have had people come in from all over the spectrum: students who are in a lifetime of debt and have hit rock bottom, students who have dropped out of college to gamble and haven’t told their parents yet and people who are worried that their gambling isn’t just for entertainment anymore,” said Michelle White, service coordinator for the Responsible Gaming Council.
What usually starts out as a fun thing to do on weekends can quickly turn into something addictive after a few winning experiences. The thrill of winning is remembered, and many players think they’ll hit it big again after just one more hand. Compulsive gambling is described by the Council on Compulsive Gambling as a progressive illness, which starts out as a recreational activity and ends up being destructive to both the gambler and his or her family and friends. The main symptom of this addiction is denial and the major characteristic is loss of control. There is also a tendency to take bigger risks as time goes by. According to the Responsible Gaming Council, common signs of an addicted gambler include spending more time and money on gambling than one can afford, neglecting school, work or personal needs for gambling and thinking gambling will become under control as soon as there is a big win.
“I gamble about once a month or so,” physiology junior Craig Meisner said. “I usually bet around $40 when I play cards and about $400 if I’m going to the casino. I sometimes gamble more than I planned, too, and I definitely lose more often than I win. My total losses are probably around $5,000.”
[center]The week of March 5-11 has been labeled National Problem Gambling Awareness Week for this year – the fifth time that a week dedicated to problem gambling has existed.
“I think the first week of March is perfect for Gambling Awareness Week because it’s right around the time people start betting for (men’s NCAA) basketball’s March Madness,” psychology sophomore Ashly Markowski said. “My boyfriend and his fraternity all put money in a pool and fill out brackets. My boyfriend never wins; I don’t know why he even wastes his money like that.”
According to sportsbook.com, March Madness is the second most popular gambling event in the country. It is estimated that more than $3.5 billion is wagered on March Madness games throughout the country.
[cards]Entertainment, time with friends, and winding down are all reasons mentioned by MSU students for gambling. Forming a quick pick-up game of poker can be as easy as knocking on the doors in your hall, creating a chat forum on allmsu.com or logging onto a poker Web site. No matter what the game of choice is, there are plenty of ways to “test your luck.”
“As long as you don’t spend more than you can afford, gambling can be a fun thing to do with friends,” White said. “Just make sure you only bring the money you are willing to lose, and set a time limit.”
The sound of clay poker chips clinking together, the cards being shuffled and the laughter of other gamblers all work to draw people in, and the rush of winning can seal the deal. Gambling is a form of entertainment: a fun thing to do for a night on the town, and something that seems to be becoming more popular as time goes on. With this increase in popularity, it is necessary to set limits and to know when to quit – after all, the house always wins.

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Delayed Start

[mountain]Look to the west in Colorado, and the state is coated in mounds of snow and filled with excited skiers (and a fair share of grumbling travelers) ready to head to the slopes after bundling up in thick jackets and winter gloves. For much of December, however, MSU students looked out their windows and, instead of seeing the requisite piles of snow and icicled buildings, they only spotted dead leaves and fellow students in light sweaters. Detroit’s average temperature for December 2006 was 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service, making it the third warmest December in Detroit history.
The weather in Michigan for the early parts of winter was a big disappointment for skiers, snowboarders and the employees of local ski resorts. The lack of snow hit MSU enthusiasts hard as well – the Spartan Ski Club had to cancel their trip to Mt. Bohemia due to the lack of snow, said Steve Mikishko, electrical engineering junior and senior officer for the club. “We were supposed make the trip up there Feb. 9-11,” Mikishko said. “Michigan weather is so unpredictable – it pretty much sucks.”
[club]Although the Michigan weather failed to help the ski club members in the early parts of winter, the skiers took advantage of the snowfall in the western U.S. The Spartan Ski club took a trip to Aspen, Colo. over winter break. “We were in Colorado during their first major blizzard, and left a day before their second blizzard,” kinesiology freshman Sarah Comai said. “I think they got all of the snow that was supposed to go to Michigan.”
Outside the snowless East Lansing scene, many local ski resorts have been closed or have been operating with less than half their trails open, taking a big hit economically. Mount Brighton, located in Brighton, has yet to open; Alpine Valley, in White Lake, has only two of its 10 chairlifts operating; and Mount Holly, in Holly, has only eight of 17 runs open. Farther north, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands are having a slower than usual winter as well. The cross-country trails have yet to open, and about 25 percent of their downhill slopes are open.
“We’re making snow every chance we get, but the temperatures in December made it very difficult, because it needs to be 28 degrees or under to make snow that will not melt,” said Erin Ernst, public relations manager for Boyne USA resorts. “People are taking advantage of our spa facilities and indoor water park more now than in previous years.”
[golf]While the ski resorts are craving the winter rush, local golf courses are loving the extended mild season. The Inn at Saint Johns in Northville had as many as 100 golfers a day hitting the links in mid-December. “The warmer than usual weather this winter has definitely helped business,” said Jim Mrozinski, director of golf operations at Saint Johns. “We were open all of December, as well as a couple of days in early January.”
Golfers in the western U.S. did not fare so well in December; with all of the snow falling, especially in Colorado, the skiers and snowboarders certainly were the advantaged athletes. According to North Denver News, Denver received 29.4 inches of snowfall in December. In a sharp contrast, metro Detroit saw only 2.4 inches of snow for December, all which quickly melted due to the warm temperatures, according to the Livingston Daily. Detroit temperatures in the month ranged from 16 degrees Fahrenheit on Dec. 8 to 70 degrees on Dec. 1, according to the National Weather Service.
“The weather has been very unusual: it is an El Nino year, which can have an effect on temperatures, making them higher than normal,” Julie Winkler, a professor in the department of geography, said. “Also, Michigan is experiencing a ridge, while the western part of the United States is experiencing a trough.” A ridge is an extended area of high atmospheric pressure, resulting in temperatures that are warmer than usual. A trough is the opposite, an extended area of low atmospheric pressure.[club2]
Although the exact reasoning behind Michigan’s warm December is unknown, it is possible global warming was a factor. Global warming occurs when there is an average increase in the earth’s internal temperature, which in turn can affect the climate. Changes in climate may affect rainfall patterns, cause a rise in the sea level and also impact plants, wildlife and humans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the earth’s internal temperature rose one degree Fahrenheit in the last century. The U.S. Geological Survey has predicted the Glacier National Park in Montana will not have a single glacier left by the year 2030.
“Global warming may have played a role in the warm temperatures experienced nationwide, but it is all unknown,” Winkler said. “This year’s winter has no part in predicting the future; for all we know, we could have the coldest winter on record next year, or another warm one.”
Whether global warming is partly responsible for the warmer winter or not, many MSU students agree on one thing: global warming is a problem that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. “Global warming is a bigger problem than people are taking it as,” biochemistry sophomore Lauren Topper said. “The earth won’t last forever. There are simple things people can do to at least slow global warming down.”
“Call me Al Gore, but I definitely think that global warming has something to do with the recent warm weather,” psychology sophomore Ashly Markowski agreed. “It is damaging the earth, but I don’t think anyone is going to do much about it until the major damage has been done.”
[flurry]Ways to slow down the effects of global warming include reducing the use of greenhouse gases, replanting trees to replace those that are cut down, and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, such as coal. Unplugging appliances, instead of just switching off the power button, can reduce the amount of energy used by households. In this way, a phantom load, or the drawing of electricity when an appliance is not in use, is avoided. According to Dr. Bill Chameides, an expert on global warming, it costs Americans an estimated $1 billion a year for the power wasted in phantom loads in the United States.
“If every household in America exchanged three standard light bulbs with three energy efficient compact florescent light bulbs (CFL), it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road,” Chameides said.
As January rolled around and campus filled with students returning for the semester, winter made its comeback as well, with snow on the ground and temperatures around 15 degrees. Students now look out their windows and see fellow students in thick jackets and fur-lined hats trudging through the snow to class.
“I wanted snow over break so I could go skiing, but now that I have to walk to my classes again, I want the warm weather back,” general management junior Josh Falkiewicz said. “I just have to get used to Michigan’s winter again; it was nice while it lasted.”

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