Dear Lou Anna

Dear Lou Anna,
Imagine: The year is 1850, and you have just informed your parents you intend to go to college. You are a working class immigrant, living hand to mouth. You have shuffled from job to job, taking positions as a button-sewer, watch-maker and even family servant. Life has been rough, but you still have goals and aspirations. After all, that’s the American dream, isn’t it – to come to this country with nothing, and get an education, start a business, be successful.
So there you are, dream in hand, putting it all on the line. You want to go to college. Your mother sighs, your father grumbles, and both tell you that this is a ridiculous idea. “You will ruin your chances for marriage,” they say. “No one will want a wife who values education over a family.” As a woman, wanting to go to college is to challenge a social stigma. In the 1850s, women’s colleges existed, but only privileged, upper-class women went. Many people in society believed an educated woman would not be an asset to her family; she would lose her femininity, and be an ineffective mother. [DLA3]
Social norms have certainly come a long way since then. I doubt the students involved with Student Parents on a Mission (SPOM), who seek to raise money and offer support for student parents, would agree education and parenthood are like oil and water. MSU first admitted women in 1870, and the foremothers of women’s rights like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony would have beamed at the thought of a woman president, 137 years later. They would be proud of the educated women who balance careers and families. It’s likely our foremothers would have been pleasantly surprised, however, when they realized women can seek an education and be mothers at the same time. The events are no longer separate entities.
[andrea]You see, L.A., March is Women’s History Month, and it’s important to explore how the university handles women’s issues, specifically issues that face student parents. Being a college student is hard enough, with classes, jobs and extra-curricular activities, but being a college student as well as a parent adds a whole new dimension to the equation.
Even finding a place to live can be a difficult task for a student parent, L.A. Student parents can live in the apartments at Spartan Village, but those residences are mixed in with traditional college students. On one hand, it might be seen as inclusive – why would you separate student parents from the mix of undergrads? In reality, though, student parents simply have different lifestyles, according to Leann Harris, the administrative assistant at the Family Resource Center. We’re all familiar with apartment keggers and the all-nighters of finals week, L.A., but those activities aren’t all-encompassing. Student parents are forced to have a different sleep schedule, Harris said, and that often conflicts with the typical college life after dark.
“On campus, family housing is very expensive,” Harris explained. “We hear from students that it’s very small and very old.” There is not an abundance of student parents at MSU, and Harris believes the lack of optimal housing may be a contributing factor to the declining enrollment. Since student-parent housing is comparable to dorm cost, Harris said, most students decide to live off-campus. Apartments tend to be a little larger, more modern and much more affordable. Living on-campus simply isn’t practical for most student parents, L.A., and perhaps the university should work to fix that. “The number [of student families] has reduced dramatically, and it’s our office’s opinion the housing is not meeting the needs of the families,” Harris said. “If it did, there would be more families [on campus].”
Anthropology junior Minzy Winters had her daughter, Scarlet, last March while she was living in an off-campus apartment. Winters chose to live off-campus with Scarlet when she returned to school because it was cheaper.[leann]
Another major issue that faces student parents is day care, L.A., as many struggle to juggle school, work and watching their children. While there is Campus Day Care available at the Spartan Child Development Center, located near family housing in Spartan Village, Winters does not utilize it. Her and her boyfriend, Dave Hrynkiw, a communication junior at Lansing Community College (LCC), chose to forego enrolling Scarlet in day care this semester because of finances.
“I talked to somebody and they said there is a waiting list [for on-campus day care],” Winters said. She said it was just easier for her and Hrynkiw to schedule classes on opposite days so they could take turns watching Scarlet. The waiting list, Harris said, is quite lengthy, because the day care is open to all MSU students and staff. “Priority is given to families who already have one child enrolled,” she explained. “And it’s very expensive – even with a student discount.” [scar1]
College tuition is high for the average college student, L.A., and covering the additional cost of a child can be overwhelming. The Family Resource Center directs students towards scholarships that are more need-based, but the only scholarship specifically for student parents is for members of SPOM, Harris said. SPOM gets the money for the small scholarship, which is around $200 to $500, mainly from donations and fundraisers, Harris explained. There is also a child care grant included in financial aid, L.A., that students can apply for, at $1,000 per child per semester. As child care often costs around $12,000 a year, Harris estimates, $2,000 only cuts a small portion of a much larger expense.
Along with offering a scholarship, SPOM also serves as a support group, where student parents can meet others living similar lifestyles. SPOM, the Family Resource Center and the Women’s Resource Center frequently sponsor guest speakers to increase education and awareness about women and parent issues.
According to Harris, this university falls about in the middle of the road when it comes to helping non-traditional students. But, L.A., is the middle of the road really good enough? Couldn’t MSU give more attention to women’s issues, especially to those students who have families to care for?
It would be a good start to renovate student housing. L.A.; perhaps the university could take surveys of student parents and ask them what their needs are. You could make certain buildings for families only, so that not only can student parents network more easily, they don’t have to try to put their children to sleep while their neighbors are having Saturday night parties. Give student parents a place on campus to call home.[DLA1]
Also, how about establishing a student-parent scholarship to recognize them for balancing school and families? Student parents have so much to pay for, L.A., and so many additional responsibilities. We give scholarships to student-athletes, who excel in sports as well as in the classroom. We have scholarships for honors students, study abroad and hall government leaders. Being a student parent takes perseverance and quite a bit of gumption, and as a university leader, this hard work should be acknowledged, and student parents should be encouraged to keep pursuing their degrees. Why not award student parents who are so precariously balanced between home and the classroom?
Lou Anna, while I think the university is doing some great things for women and student parents, we should do more to no longer be in the “middle of the road.” Why couldn’t MSU be at the forefront of the student-parent frontier?

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Winter Wanderings

Reality has finally hit, and MSU students have been forced to admit the glory days of warmth are long gone. The sticky sweet days of summer and the hoodie-clad days of fall are over, and Michigan’s creepy cold is coming quickly. Say goodbye to skirts, sandals and spaghetti straps. Wave farewell to iced mochas, iced tea and ice cream. It’s okay to think back fondly on days spent outside, climbing trees, picnicking with friends or taking long, barefoot walks, but those days are just that – fond memories. Say hello to snowpants, scarves, and silly footwear (Ugg Boots, anyone?) Get ready to bundle up and covet the warmth of your pumpkin spice latte, curl into your favorite comfy chair or put some effort into that gingerbread house. The time has come to spend your days inside.

It has been said Michigan has two seasons – construction and winter. If you’ve been outside lately, I bet you can guess which one is here. With outdoor activities quickly plummeting, where can students at MSU turn? Equipped with my scarf, wool coat, mittens and hat, I set off to find some bright spots in the city to help you beat those winter blues.

The Greenhouse
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It’s warm, humid and there are plants everywhere. What could be better than a nice walk among giant cacti? If you’re feeling lethargic and unproductive, spending some time volunteering can help keep you on Santa’s good side. Instead of wasting away your days moping about the cold and snow, get out and do some good! Try visiting the botany greenhouse, located behind the Old Horticulture building. Manager John Mugg welcomes all volunteers, since the greenhouse requires constant upkeep. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact him by e-mail at muggjohn@msu.edu. If you don’t have the time to spend watering thirsty plants, you may still have a chance scoring some greenhouse time. The greenhouse is technically not open to the public, Mugg said, but he has no problem with students visiting for university assignments, whether it be taking pictures for a photography class or researching for a term paper.

Barnes and Noble

[bn]Coffee shops are always popular places to warm up in the winter, but how do you choose the right one? Atmosphere. At Barnes and Noble, you can surround yourself with books while you enjoy that latte (one of the pumpkin spice variety will put your bill at $4.10). You can relax in the comfy chairs, study in the downstairs lounge or pull up a seat next to the magazine racks. There are desks and bright lights to create a productive atmosphere on the lower level, as well as circles of comfortable chairs that invite you to sink in and relax. Resident mentor Tenisha Howard said she goes to Barnes and Noble because not only do they offer quality Starbucks coffee, but the combination of the cafe, people and books create a nice atmosphere that simply can’t be topped. For a little fun, riding the escalators up and down is sure to keep you entertained, and the salespeople will be thrilled. [bn2]

There are plenty of on-campus alternatives to the common coffee shop, however. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, try some spots most MSU students tend to ignore.

The MSU Museum
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If you’re looking for a little conversation, try the MSU Museum. Volunteer desk receptionist Tom Corwin was more than happy to talk when I stopped by. Corwin even gave me a tour of Stanley’s Crossroads Store, an old general store that used to be run in East Lake, Mich. The store was donated in its entirety to the museum in 1963, and its original light bulbs are still hanging. Even if Corwin is not in when you stop by, the museum is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and has a variety of displays to view. As volunteer coordinator Bill Prince explained, the desk receptionists can help you find something interesting in the museum that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. With its changing exhibits, the MSU Museum is likely to have at least one thing that interests everyone, Prince said. Not many MSU students frequent the museum, and the staff is more than willing to talk or help find information for a class project. It’s a neat place to wander, wind down and relax between classes.

Abram’s Planetarium
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East Lansing is not bad as far as light-pollution goes, but at the planetarium, star-gazers can stay warm and cozy while viewing more celestial bodies than the naked eye would allow. Students sometimes stop in to relax at the planetarium between classes, but not many take advantage of the weekend star shows. Art education junior Tanya Garcia hasn’t been to a star show at the planetarium since she made the trip with her elementary class. The only reason she comes to the building now, she said, is because of class requirements. Although they may be undiscovered by many, places like the planetarium can help cure winter blues. So even if summer nights spent outside, curled up next to a sweetheart and watching meteor showers from your favorite field are on hold until next season, you can snuggle up at the planetarium on any Friday or Saturday night with a $2.50 ticket. If you want to spend the nights of your winter weekends partying down, the planetarium also offers a Sunday afternoon show. Check out their Web site for more details.

Kresge Art Museum
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If you need a little visual relief from all those end-of-semester papers, try the Kresge Art Museum. While the MSU Museum has artifacts, displays and lots of information, Kresge can be a little less formal. It can sometimes be easier to appreciate art with just a glance, so there’s no reading required to have a good experience at Kresge. Student galleries are mixed in with classrooms in the building, so step lightly if you’re browsing during the day. Slip through the glass door into the actual museum, and walk among all sorts of art, including paintings, sculptures and photographs. While Kresge is only displaying a small part of its collection due to limited space, said art history senior Brynn Juranek, the university is getting ready to select a new museum, and visitors are invited to walk through models of proposed architecture to see what the new museum will be like. Kresge is another place students don’t often visit unless they are required to for class, but the calm, tranquil atmosphere offers a nice place to collect your thoughts. Give your eyes a break from a computer screen and take in the many works of art on the walls of Kresge.

Old Town
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If you’re feeling extra-adventurous, try a foray into the maze of Lansing’s Old Town district. Heading to Meijer on the No. 1 bus can get a little old, so try heading the other direction on Grand River Avenue to find some culture. The Old Town district has been revived over the past few years, becoming a thriving Lansing community. In fact, in 2006, Old Town was named a Michigan Main Street program area under Governor Granholm’s Cool Cities Initiative, according the district’s Web site. Vintage shops and boutiques, specialty restaurants and bars make this historic area a great hang-out spot for college students. The area features many attractions unique to Old Town, including one of Michigan’s largest pet shops, Pruess Pets, the historic Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center and the Haze, Inc. art gallery. In addition, annual festivals make Old Town a great place to visit all year-round. On Dec. 1, the community will host the first Old Town Dickens Village, complete with craft shows, carriage rides and holiday music provided by bell choirs and carolers, according to iloveoldtown.org.

So when winter has got you down, or the heat in the dorms is so high you feel like a fried egg, take an adventure to see all that MSU, East Lansing and Lansing have to offer. While everyone else is inside, moping about the weather, you can wipe away your winter blues. As Garrison Keillor once sang, “You don’t have to be sad just because it’s not summer.”

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Trading (Home) Spaces

Moving into a home is not at all like entering a relationship. A home is something solid, secure, and definite-you never really think about the end. In a relationship, there is always that x-factor, the what-if, the chance you will hurt or get hurt. When settling into a house, you don’t anticipate the heart-wrenching end to your time there. As I discovered late this September, however, the heartbreak that goes with moving feels a lot like a bad break-up.
When you choose a house, it becomes your own almost immediately, and you begin to mark your territory, slowly piling up prized possessions, scraps of memories and chunks of your life until it becomes a place from which you can always draw comfort. That is how a home is supposed to be, whether it is a five-story mansion or a salmon-pink doublewide. It is not supposed to change.[drive4]
I guess the problem is I always thought my home would stay the same after I went to college. No matter how much my life changed, my little brother would stay twelve, my dog’s hair would not turn from brown to gray and my room would remain just as I left it. I soon realized life at home did not stay in suspended animation, awaiting my return. And this realization became an even greater reality when my dad accepted a new job an hour north of my childhood home.
When the house went on the market, we buried St. Thomas under the real estate sign (a Catholic belief that Thomas, the patron saint of houses, would help it sell). The house was on the market for a year with hardly a hint of interest. When it finally sold to a nice family in town, I was jubilant, squealing with glee for my mom, because it was one step closer to her being able to move up north with my dad, who had made the trek up north a year earlier. He had been squatting in my grandparents’ hunting trailer, a little place on the banks of the Sturgeon River that sported poor insulation and substandard plumbing.
The shock of moving didn’t hit me when my mom called, demanding my brother and I make plans to pack up our belongings. It didn’t hit me until we were on the way home and my brother mentioned this would be our last trip to the house in Manton, Mich. I shut him down right away, telling him to stop being sentimental about a stupid house. I didn’t want to think about it, because I didn’t want anyone to know how much it meant to me.
We moved into the house on North 35 Road when I was eight. We had been looking for a place for quite some time, and this was the answer to our prayers. We moved in on December 23, 1996. The day before Christmas Eve is always a hectic one for my family. It is usually the day my dad starts planning his Christmas shopping, and my mom is finishing up cookies and practicing her songs for the next evening’s church service. Shadows of memory and the stories I’ve heard from others help me remember when we discovered our natural-gas appliances did not quite synchronize with our propane-fueled house. We spent the next morning, December 24, happily munching pancakes cooked on a Coleman camp stove.
I nested there for 11 years. I remember staying home sick with our old dog, Tippy, and bringing home the new puppy, intended to ease our grief when Tippy passed away. We owned a white-tail deer farm when I was younger, and I remember staying up until 11 p.m. to give the fawns their last bottle of the day. We owned 40 acres, and I spent many hours walking through those twisted pine trees, trying to make sense of my life. This is the home where I invited my friends to play hide-and-seek, spent endless hours sitting on the love seat eating popcorn and wrote my first article.
When I moved to MSU, I was not emotional about leaving my room because I knew it would always be there when I returned. Even though I had to paint my blue, green, orange, and red walls over with a drab eggshell white and place the hideous pink rose rug my grandmother bought me over my nice wooden floor, it was still my room. I had letters tucked in drawers and memories piled up in the corners of my closet. My collection of PEZ dispensers had long since been tucked away, but a few renegade characters still littered my night stand. I didn’t visit home often during my freshman year of college because more and more I was feeling displaced, as time in Manton refused to stop for me. Even so, it was still my home. The house had been on the market for so long I had forgotten it had become only a temporary storage spot for the things I couldn’t pack into my dorm room. When I went home on the official pack-up-your-stuff weekend, I had to face the facts-the room I grew up in was no longer mine.
The day after my brother and I made the trek home, my best friend called to see how packing was going. I think she knew I would need the emotional support. I had just finished emptying out every drawer I had. I was busy throwing away once-prized possessions (like my old battered Scooby Doo lunch box) and sorting things into trash, donation, or keep piles. In short, I was about 30 seconds from a complete breakdown. I went outside to get signal on my cell phone and walked among the flower beds that I had helped my mom plant early in the summer. I scattered the collection of my favorite pretty pebbles and sea shells throughout the yard. I cried so hard Jill could barely understand my words as I sobbed about not wanting to leave my home. I found myself hating the people I had never met for kicking me out of my comfort zone.
I made it through the rest of my visit home like a robot, begging my mother to help me pack up the rest of my things. I was overwhelmed. I did not know what to do with all the stuff I had been accumulating for nearly two-thirds of my life. I took pictures of every room in the house, knowing I would never see it again. When we pulled out of the driveway Sunday morning to return to life at MSU, I was numb.
I came back to the dorm room that doesn’t quite feel like home. Finally, reality attacked like a Level 5 hurricane and slammed me face down on the same love seat which had once been my favorite home napping spot. A torrential downpour of tears streamed over my face, and in spite of all the homework I had ignored that weekend, the only thing I could manage was a crawl to the cafeteria for a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
When you leave a house that has been your home, it’s not supposed to be like a break-up. It’s not supposed to hurt, and you’re definitely not supposed to need time to recover. At least, that’s what I thought when I scoffed at my brother’s sentimental feelings. Turns out, all I want to do is eat chocolate and watch sappy movies-classic break-up behavior.[drive3]
The new house is a rental, and I’ve been told it smells like smoke, but it is at least big enough to hold all the stuff my family has accumulated over the years. There’s a yard (albeit a small one) for the dogs to run in. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be-it is more of a temporary stop on the way to happy living. I’ll see it for the first time when I visit my family for Thanksgiving. I can no longer refer to these visits as “going home.” The house, located in Kalkaska, halfway between my parents’ jobs, is not my home, and probably never will be. I expect it to be a similar experience to visiting my grandparents; it’s friendly, and sort of nice, but it doesn’t quite fit. It may be a long time before I find a place to make into a home.

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A City Divide

While walking home from a friend’s house in early September, I had a bounce in my step, even though a heavy laptop was weighing down my messenger bag. I had just read the news – the police finally had a suspect in the string of murders happening in Lansing. I finally felt safe walking home. I knew the killer was in downtown Lansing and not on campus, but walking home in the dark was a scary prospect. Now that the suspected killer was caught, a 10 p.m. trek across Grand River back to the dorm did not seem so bad. However, that familiar warning – “Wait! You can’t walk alone!” – still rang in my ears as I reached for the doorknob. [EL1]
“It’s okay,” I replied. “They caught the serial killer.” Much to my surprise, for I tend to fall into the rut of thinking everyone knows what I know, my friend asked, “What serial killer?” For a journalism major that is forced to keep up on the news or fail many, many quizzes, the fact that someone could not know about the crimes so close to home was nearly unthinkable. As I sought to find out why I sometimes feel as if I’m the only one paying attention, however, I soon realized that oblivion seems to be the norm.
In the month of August and into early September, five women were attacked (four of them killed) in downtown Lansing. Many students were unaware that a murderer was roaming so close to their homes, even though it had the potential to directly affect their safety. While Lansing residents were keeping to themselves and convincing their children it was more fun to play indoors, many MSU students were happily ignorant, and kept up habits of walking alone at night or leaving doors unlocked. A good portion of students were unaware of the situation until Aug. 31, when The State News reported Lansing police had released the name of a suspect. Tony Nettleton, a nuclear physics graduate student, commented that information about a serial killer is “a useful thing to know,” but he, like many of his fellow Spartans, was largely unaware of the details. MSU, East Lansing and Lansing are all closely related, so why is it that to so many students, they feel like completely different worlds?
[nadis]Some students don’t find it necessary to be in tune with a world outside of MSU. They question the advantages of being aware of local issues. “Not knowing (about the murders) kept me from freaking out,” psychology sophomore Emily Nadis said. As far as current events go, Nadis stated, “I try to read the State News and sometimes watch news on TV.” But like most other MSU students, she does not go out of her way to keep up-to-date on local Lansing and East Lansing events.
Perhaps MSU students feel detached from Lansing and East Lansing news because it is not always readily accessible to them and results in many students being uninformed. While Erick Martinez does not buy local newspapers, he does try to keep up on current events via the Internet, but even that can be difficult for students. “I don’t read the newspapers much, it’s mostly computer,” Martinez, a packaging junior, said. “To find out what newspapers’ Web sites are, you (first) have to buy the paper to find the site. The information (online) is mostly hidden and hard to find.” Martinez expressed wishes for newspapers to advertise their Web sites more around campus so students would be able to easily find a cheap alternative to buying a print version, especially since many students prefer to get their news online. Some popular news web sites for students include the following: The Lansing State Journal, The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and The New York Times.
Other students know the information is available, but they don’t have the desire to look for it. “The information is out there; I just don’t have time,” biosystems engineering graduate student Edith Torres said. Torres looks to The State News for information about what is going on around campus, not the East Lansing and Lansing communities. Because Torres is an international student, her main source of news is a Mexico-based Web site, where she can get information about what is going on in her home country. For Torres, news from Mexico takes precedence over local events.
Beyond news, there also seems to be a divide between Lansing and the MSU community when it comes to local politics. Even though MSU is a short distance from the state capitol, few students are informed of local and state political initiatives. Secondary education junior Liz Trexler hasn’t been to the Capitol Building in her time as a student. Instead of actually traveling to Lansing to attend board meetings or participate in a political rally, Trexler finds it much more convenient to use Web resources. And still, that is more than most students do to find out about local political happenings. Nadis is not sure that being more aware of local issues would benefit students at all. “I don’t think they are disadvantaged by not knowing,” she said.
While apathy seems to be the standard for most students when it comes to local news and politics, there are student groups on campus that take special interest in the decisions made in the capitol. Among these groups are the MSU College Democrats and the MSU College Republicans. These students are typically more aware of the politics affecting their everyday lives than the average Spartan. In addition to lobbying for support for their respective parties, both groups seek to get more students to become active in current affairs. They work to encourage more political awareness among MSU students. Both the MSU Democrats and College Republicans hold meetings that are open to the public. Each group has a spot on the Facebook, as well as a Web site that can be found through the university Web site.
Scott Hendrickson, the president of the MSU Democrats, joined the organization during his sophomore year. A friend invited him to a meeting, and he quickly started becoming an active participant. After helping voters register for the 2006 election, Hendrickson was hooked. “I can’t get enough of it,” he said. “I love (being involved).”
[bi]Hendrickson, a third-year student with majors in international relations, French, and economics, finds it disturbing so many of his peers are apathetic toward politics, especially things that directly affect them. “Most people don’t realize that most of the laws that affect them are on a local and state level,” he said. “Parking tickets, noise violations – most of the legislation is local and state governments.”
Although they are not involved with the MSU Democrats or College Republicans, some students believe paying attention to happenings outside of MSU borders will benefit them in the future. Physics and astrophysics senior Bill Martinez thinks being involved in Lansing and East Lansing affairs is all a matter of knowing where to look. “(Newspapers) publish the facts very well,” Martinez said. “You just have to read the papers and know where to look. If you want to find out about something, it’s nearly impossible not to.”
The ability to change this stinted relationship between MSU and its surrounding communities lies largely in the hands of students. The process of uniting MSU, East Lansing and Lansing is a difficult one, but steps are being taken to bridge the gap. Most of the resources students need to get informed are already in place – they are simply waiting to be discovered.
Through the MSU Readership Program, many buildings on campus offer free newspapers to students. Spartans can pick up copies of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Lansing State Journal (LSJ) as they attend class in various places. Through these resources, students can be made aware of world, national and local news and events. By teaming up with the LSJ to offer free copies to students, both the university and a city-based operation are helping to close the distance between MSU and the Lansing community.
The city of East Lansing also does its part to get students involved and interested. As the election draws near, many students will begin to seek more information about current events and will look to the university for candidate stances on certain issues and voter registration help. The city of East Lansing and MSU work together to sponsor YouVote, an initiative to fill students in on the electoral process. Many of the state’s major decisions are made in Lansing, and YouVote draws attention to not only presidential elections, but to legislation on the local and state levels as well. East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh believes since students are usually here for four to five years, getting involved is very important. “We have worked with the university and student groups to create a Web site. It helps students get a better sense of what the issues are in the community, how to register, where the precinct is – all the rules,” Singh said.
East Lansing officials and campus authorities often cooperate to create many programs geared towards uniting the students of MSU and the full-time residents. One program most students have heard of is One Book, One Community. This is a program that requires all incoming freshmen to read the same book. The community is offered the opportunity to read the book as well, and many events, including book groups, author visits and theme dinners, are held in cooperation with the program. These events help create a relatable platform for students and full-time residents.
[enos8]Patricia Enos, who serves as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Services and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Educational Administration, thinks the One Book effort is wonderful. “One of my own experiences is that students have a hard time seeing themselves as more than just a resident of MSU,” Enos said. She expressed appreciation for programs like One Book, because it encourages students and residents to engage with one another.
And it seems as though community engagement is the most important step in uniting the Lansing, East Lansing and MSU communities. Many students do not know these surrounding communities enough on a personal level to care about the political issues and current events occurring there. Perhaps when students begin to feel more connected to Lansing and East Lansing as places to entertain, they will in turn care more about the area’s crime and politics. The cities are beginning to offer more entertainment to students, as a way to help bridge the divides. Events such as the Old Town Oktoberfest on Oct. 6 in Lansing entice MSU students to venture away from the campus borders.
Students may feel disconnected from the world around them, and therefore, they rely heavily on the university to give them all the information they need. In response to these cries for help, the university and the city of East Lansing are both making strides to better connect students to the community surrounding MSU. It doesn’t matter that city and university officials have honorable intentions when it comes to being informed; college students should be past the point of expecting information and knowledge to just land in their laps. Spartans looking to be better informed and become involved are often only a phone call or a Web site away from helping themselves.

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