Campus Invasion

[street]After spending every summer vacation since I started school lazing around my parents\’ house, last summer was hardly the summer routine I was used to. I\’d finally decided to act like an adult and do something productive with all that spare time; five days a week, I walked from my apartment at The Oaks to one of two classes in Bessey Hall or my desk job in South Complex. For the first week, I marveled at the empty campus. Even while the weather was perfect – 80 degrees, sunny, clear skies – it seemed like I hardly ran into anyone except my classmates.
Ah, summer, the time when campus empties – or so I figured. By the end of the first week in May, the dorms will no longer be packed with students, as most MSU students head for home, work or abroad, and only two residence halls remain open for student use in the summer. The traffic was much easier to maneuver, the bus actually seemed to run on time and my summer roommate and I never had trouble finding a parking spot at the 24-hour Beaner\’s. The road construction on campus was a nightmare, but once we\’d figured out which roads were going to be shut down all summer, it wasn\’t a problem. But as I quickly learned, once June hits, this campus doesn\’t just belong to Spartans anymore.
Every MSU student has fond memories (or, OK, not-so-fond memories) of our Academic Orientation Program (AOP) before starting freshman year – two days spent touring campus during the hottest months of summer, scheduling classes and subsequently getting lost in Case Hall. I had anticipated the AOP crowds, since one of my summer jobs involved working part-time helping new students in the enrollment labs.
What I did not anticipate were the thousands of other visitors MSU hosts during the summer. Boys\’ State, Girls\’ State, 4-H groups and sports camps moved into all those empty dorm buildings. At first, it was slightly overwhelming to see the large clusters of much younger students around campus – especially when I worked at the front desk in Wonders Hall and had to explain to the parents of 11-year-old soccer players how to get to Old College Field through the construction and why none of the dorms have air-conditioning. (It involved dozens of campus maps and a lot of complaining.)
The combination of dorms and cafeterias means MSU can host groups of just about any size, and all of our sports facilities and coaching staff make for an exciting experience for young athletes. This summer, more than 400 female high school juniors will spend a week in Shaw Hall, participating in a state government simulation called Girls\’ State, and that same week, the Boys\’ State program will fill several halls in Brody. Exploration Days, a three-day summer program for members of Michigan\’s 4-H clubs, brings more than 2,000 students to the east side of campus, and high school students travel here for band, choir, journalism and debate camps.
All of that was nothing compared to the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC), which brought hundreds of Boy Scouts to campus, filling South Complex, Brody Complex and West Circle Complex. When I took a shortcut through the Brody courtyard and ran into an obstacle course, I knew summers at MSU were a completely different experience from the four semesters I\’d already put in. The NOAC participants would often give patches or pins to desk receptionists for no reason other than the fact that, despite the 100-degree weather, we were doing our jobs as politely as we could. I can honestly say I don\’t expect to get a patch with a shark on it for giving directions to MSU students.
[campus]While that particular conference won\’t be back this summer, thousands of other guests will be. According to MSU Housing and Food Services, more than 35,000 guests and 150 different groups participate in summer camps and conferences on the MSU campus. Three of the four halls in South Complex will again host sports camps in sports ranging from basketball to team volleyball for students ages 8 to 18, and Case Hall will definitely be packed with new Spartans getting their first taste of campus life.
And just two weeks after most MSU students hand in their final papers and exams, more than 18,000 students, parents and coaches from as many as 25 different countries will descend upon campus for the 2007 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, according to an MSU news release. The students range from kindergarten-age to college-age and have arrived at the World Finals after successfully completing national-level competitions in the creative problem-solving organization.
In a way, it was frustrating to have so many non-students on campus. After a while, pointing visitors in the direction of Grand River Avenue just gets tedious, and since many visitors come by car, their arrival and departure dates were marked with slow traffic as the combination of unfamiliar streets, campus construction and those dreaded traffic circles confused them. And, despite being guests on our campus, a few visitors – or, rather, the parents of a few visitors – were rude and demanding when told that they weren\’t in the right place or that a rooming assignment hadn\’t worked out exactly as planned.
But I attended Girls\’ State as a high school student, and like many of these summer conference attendees, it was my first exposure to the MSU campus. Not only are dorm rooms and cafeteria food easy and convenient breaks between sports practices or conference sessions, but they also give younger students a taste of college life; their experiences might just influence their college decisions. MSU students who do choose to stay here for the summer can end up being a great example for visitors, instead of embodying the common stereotypes of college students, constantly acting like they are on an extended spring break.
Although it was slightly overwhelming to see so many non-students on campus, it was also actually exciting to give directions and explain what Meijer is and where to find it to out-of-state guests looking for a grocery store. So if you\’re going to be around East Lansing this summer, don\’t be surprised to see large crowds around campus that don\’t quite look like they\’re from around here – chances are, they probably aren\’t. And not only will they appreciate your wealth of East Lansing expertise, they might just make you appreciate your time spent in the dorms a little more; after all, most of us never had to live there during the heat of July.

Posted in LettersComments (0)

Move Your Feet

[dance]An all-night party with dancing and free food. Activities for 24 hours straight. A great cause with a history of success on many other campuses across the country.
For the past several months, a committee of dedicated MSU students has worked tirelessly to plan MSU\’s first ever Dance Marathon, a 24 hour event to raise money for the Children\’s Miracle Network.
On paper, it looked like it couldn\’t go wrong.
Dance Marathon co-chair Elizabeth Heck, a family and community services junior, wanted to bring the event to MSU after spending her summer as a counselor at a summer camp for the Michigan Associated Student Councils in Albion. As the campers discussed plans for bringing their \”passions to action,\” Heck and MSU junior Jacob Custer, also a counselor at the camp, decided to do the same. \”Both of our passions to action [were] to start a dance marathon at MSU,\” Heck said.
[hall] Since then, she and Custer, an interdisciplinary studies in social sciences major, have worked to lead a group of students into planning this community-wide event. \”Starting off, we recruited a lot of our friends,\” Heck said, adding that local high schools expressed some interest in participating. \”But a lot of it was word of mouth and Facebook messages.\”
Unfortunately, the promotion wasn\’t quite enough, and time ran out – after receiving disappointingly low registration numbers, the committee couldn\’t justify a full 24-hour marathon. Instead, they plan to host a \”mini-marathon\” on April 13 in Demonstration Hall to raise awareness for the cause and get more people involved with less commitment. After this introduction to the dance marathon process, Heck hopes to get people dancing on their feet for an entire day next year. \”I\’m hoping that having this mini-event will also help us to raise funds for the future events and recruitment efforts for next year,\” Heck said.
While the event is just getting off the ground at MSU, other campuses have found huge successes with dance marathons. The concept started in 1973 at Penn State University (PSU) as a 30-hour dance competition between 39 couples, held by the Interfraternity Council. At that time, the event split its proceeds between the winners of the competition and a charity chosen each year. A year later, the event expanded to 48 hours, and it has eventually evolved into a massive event at PSU known as THON. In 2006, the event raised more than $4.2 million, which was donated to a fund to create a Pediatric Cancer Pavilion at the Penn State Children\’s Hospital.
The popularity of THON has spread to many other colleges and universities, a list that Heck and her committee hopes will eventually include MSU. \”U-M\’s Dance Marathon is one of the largest events on campus,\” said Matthew Boshoven, a U-M student who danced for the first time this year at the event, held on March 24-25. Money from the U-M event is donated to the children\’s rehabilitation program at Mott Children\’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and each year, families affected by the program attend the event to tell their stories.
Boshoven has participated in the event as a morale booster in the past, and said the event is very inspiring and emotional. \”I was really inspired by having the kids there and seeing the effect this has on them,\” he said. \”A lot of these kids just don\’t have the opportunities.\”
[shoes] Money raised in East Lansing will be sent to the Children\’s Miracle Network (CMN), a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization whose purpose is to raise money for 171 children\’s hospitals around the country. Four of these hospitals are in Michigan, including Lansing\’s Sparrow Hospital, which will receive all money raised at the MSU Dance Marathon. A representative from the organization even flew in from Utah earlier this year to help train the Dance Marathon committee.
Heck said CMN makes sure the money gets to the right place, and from there, it\’s up to the hospital to decide how the donations will be spent. \”Most hospitals use the money to reduce medical costs for the children,\” she said.
Kevin Gray, director of the Sparrow Foundation, emphasized the impact of local CMN fundraisers. \”The beautiful thing about the Children\’s Miracle Network is that 100 percent of the money raised locally will go to Sparrow,\” Gray said. \”What they\’re doing locally goes right back to the kids.\”
On average, over a million dollars is raised each year to benefit the Sparrow Regional Children\’s Center, the only center of its kind in mid-Michigan, which was built and funded by CMN fundraising events such as sales of paper balloons in stores and restaurants, golf outings, and events like Dance Marathon. The Children\’s Center includes both pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, as well as a pediatric rehabilitation center and a pediatric specialty clinic, where specialists such as cardiologists and neurologists are dedicated solely to children\’s diseases.
Because of the impact CMN has on children, remembering their struggles is an important part of any Dance Marathon event. Dance Marathon co-vice president Samantha Wilson, a political science sophomore, said that\’s why it\’s particularly important for the dancers to stay on their feet during the event. \”It\’s a way to show your support for the children – a way to commemorate the struggles these children face every day,\” Wilson said. \”I\’d always wanted to be involved in a dance marathon, but once they explained that it was benefiting Children\’s Miracle Network, I was very excited. It\’s something I\’ve always wanted to get involved in.\”
[dance2]But while the cause is serious, the event itself is planned to be a good time, although it will only be a taste of a complete dance marathon. Committee members compared a full marathon to Relay for Life, with its moments of seriousness packed into a fun and exciting day of no sleep.
With much of the groundwork laid, the committee would like to spend the next year focusing on creating an event that will run smoothly. This year, performances, special presentations, and free food were to be included. Next year\’s complete dance marathon planning will focus more closely on finding a strong base of event sponsors and, of course, recruiting more students. Heck said that clearing up student misconceptions about the event will help it succeed. \”I think a lot of people really just didn\’t understand what it was,\” she said. \”They think, \’dance marathon…oh, I\’m not a good dancer,\’ when really it has nothing to do with dancing.\”
However, while many of the committee\’s plans have been shelved for this year, Heck is optimistic that an extra year of planning and promotion will make a big difference. \”We will be waiting to have the major event until February of next year so that we can have more time for recruitment and sponsors to get involved,\” Heck said. \”Next year, we\’re really just hoping for people to be excited and motivated to participate and to create an event that will continue and be worthwhile in the future.\”
While a 24-hour Dance Marathon did not come to fruition this year, the success of similar events gives promise that it can happen in the near future. The chance to dance all day is a rarity in the busy lives of college students, and because it\’s for charity, participants can rock out without any criticism of their moves. The end results of all that boogie fever will go to benefit local children, which will lighten the pressure of the media eye that is always looking for examples of stereotypical, selfish college students. And besides, if U-M can pull off a dance marathon, we can, too.

Posted in State SideComments (0)

Dear Lou Anna

Dear Lou Anna,
Every spring, MSU students wait anxiously to find out the exact date and time of their enrollment appointments, hoping they\’ll be able to create the perfect schedule for the next year. Schedules are supposed to be flexible enough to work around hours at an internship, allow students to take a course with a favorite professor or even just avoid those dreaded 8 a.m. classes. More importantly, all MSU students must complete certain classes to finish their major, and if those classes are all filled before it is their turn to register, students have to hope others will drop the class, leaving open seats, or just wait until next year.
The waiting game becomes easier as students gain credits and status within the university, as seniority affects the time students are allowed to enroll. Currently, the order of enrollment is students with disabilities, athletes, Honors College students, seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen. The first two stages in this process allow flexibility for students who need certain accommodations in accessible classrooms or who must adhere to specific guidelines for their sport. However, a subject of debate has always been the ability of all Honors College students, even freshmen, to surpass other Spartans with equal or greater levels of seniority in the enrollment process. In essence, an Honors College freshman could steal a seat in a required class offered in a senior’s last semester, and some students have been asking, L.A., if this is truly fair.
[enroll]In early December, the Associated Students of Michigan State University\’s (ASMSU) Academic Assembly proposed a change to the university\’s enrollment scheduling policies that would rearrange that schedule. “The original thought was that it would make it [fairer] to enroll,” said Brandon Sethi, an interdisciplinary studies in social science senior and external vice-chairperson of the assembly. “It seemed a little odd that a first-year freshman enrolled before a senior.”
On the surface, these concerns seem perfectly valid, but after discussing the proposal with Honors College faculty, it became clear changing the order of enrollment was not the solution, and the proposal has since been abandoned. Unlike honors programs at many other universities, which offer a specific curriculum to honors students, the Honors College at MSU doesn\’t have its own curriculum and faculty. Instead, MSU\’s program allows students to focus on their own interests during their undergraduate careers.
“For a very long time, the hallmark of honors education at MSU has been the flexibility that we offer,” said Steven Kautz, associate dean of the Honors College. The Honors College emphasizes that flexibility when recruiting both on campus and with high school seniors around the country: Kautz believed this system has been in place since the college was founded in 1957. “The enrollment system has a strong connection to the type of honors college that we are.”
Students gain admission to the Honors College as incoming freshmen by scoring a 30 on the ACT or a 1360 on the SAT, or by maintaining a 3.5 GPA after their first semester at MSU. Journalism sophomore Heather Guenther, who applied to the Honors College after the first semester of her freshman year, said that flexibility was her major reason for applying to the college. “For me, that was my main motivation, knowing that I would get my chosen classes,” Guenther said. “I wouldn\’t have the added pressures of having to get overrides into small classes.”
Many honors students are also encouraged to take graduate classes as part of their undergraduate curriculum; this is another reason flexibility is key to the program, according to Kautz. Students who choose to take graduate classes as undergraduates need to be able to take the introductory courses that will prepare them for those classes without being hindered by enrollment restrictions. “That system only works if people have access to the courses,” Kautz said. “The success of the program depends on enrollment priority.”
Because of the reliance of the Honors College on the current enrollment policies, ASMSU will need to look elsewhere for a solution. “Because it\’s such a free system, honors students needed that flexibility to enroll,” Sethi said. “Once we got those answers, it made a lot more sense.”
[registration]Outside of the Honors College, are students still able to find the classes they need? The responsibility of balancing the needs of each student should rest with the university administrators, although it is no easy task. How are certain students deemed “more important” and thus given a free pass to cut in the class registration line? Anthropology senior James Thorpe thinks availability of classes really depends on a student’s major. “Bigger majors have bigger classes,” Thorpe said. “There aren\’t many [anthropology majors], but there are a lot of topics we have to cover.”
Thorpe said one of his biggest problems has been juggling classes only offered one semester every other year. Acting quickly is key, he added. Thorpe is taking a class with only six students, and he feels he is only in that class because he didn\’t wait around. “I\’m pretty sure the only reason I got into that class is because I got the email and immediately went down to change my schedule,” he said.
But even if students do act quickly, they still face problems when classes simply aren\’t available. No one wants lecture classes to be even larger, and the purpose of small, focused classes is defeated by increasing their sizes.
“I do think that exploring resource allocation and demand versus supply in allocating classes is important,” Sethi said. “How do we offer more classes without just adding more seats?”
There needs to be a balance between the flexibility required by the Honors College – a flexibility that is undoubtedly one of the biggest draws for academically successful students to choose MSU over other schools – and the ability of every student to enroll for the classes he or she needs. “Enrolling early meant being able to plan further ahead,” chemistry sophomore and Honors College student Jessica Haggerty said.
However, it may be time to look for a compromise between ASMSU\’s proposal and the Honors College\’s policy, whether by adding a section – allowing for more leniencies for overrides – or simply holding a few seats in required classes until after honors students have enrolled. While adding more seats to current classes may be an easy answer, the solution is not that simple. It\’s time to take a look at classes that are consistently filled to capacity and find a solution that works best for everyone – honors and non-honors alike.

Sincerely,
Waiting N. Line

Posted in State SideComments (0)

Just Another (Valentine\’s) Day

[hearts]We can all picture the “perfect” Valentine\’s Day, the kind we see in the movies: a romantic night out, starting with a beautiful bouquet of roses, continuing to a fancy, formal dinner and finishing with some kind of delicious dessert. And East Lansing businesses are ready to roll out a red (or pink) carpet lined with holiday specials, providing everything for that perfect celebration. But for many MSU students, this Valentine\’s Day is just another Wednesday packed with 8:30 classes, long shifts at work, exams and piles of reading and homework to finish out the evening – and forget paying for all the fancy extras. However, with a little bit of planning, even the busiest (and least financially inclined) students can work a little bit of Valentine\’s Day magic.
Roses are red…
The prospect of buying flowers for a significant other can be daunting for students on a tight budget, especially around Valentine\’s Day, when elaborate displays of roses fill store windows. But Barb Hollowick, owner of B/A Florist on the corner of Harrison Road and Grand River Avenue, said it doesn\’t have to be that way – she thinks a single red rose is a romantic gesture. “Flowers can range anywhere from a few dollars for a single red rose to 100 dollars for a big show,” Hollowick said.
“I think the singular rose is better,” social relations junior Kyle Mays said. “The dozen is more traditional, but going up to a girl and giving her a rose and something nice is pretty effective.”
[rose]And for those looking for an alternative to traditional roses, Hollowick suggests Gerber daisies, one of the shop\’s most popular options. Though many flower shops prepare for the holiday, Hollowick strongly recommends ordering ahead to ensure getting exactly what you\’re looking for. “It gets kind of chaotic near the end,” she said. “If students come in a few days before, they won\’t have to deal with that.”
Dinner plans
Planning ahead is a benefit elsewhere, too, especially for those thinking about eating dinner somewhere a little nicer than the cafeteria. For students lacking a car, The State Room at the Kellogg Center does all of its business through reservations and the dining room is available to Valentine’s Day diners.
For students who can travel down Grand River, David Finkbeiner, owner of Hershey\’s Steak and Seafood, said his restaurant is almost always full on Valentine’s Day. “Make reservations as soon as you figure out your plans,” Finkbeiner said. “It minimizes your wait and makes you look more organized, too.”
[hershey]Business at Hershey\’s typically triples in comparison to a regular night, and because the holiday falls on a weekday, he expects to see more customers than normal on the weekends as well. “If Valentine\’s Day falls on a Friday or Saturday, the weekend prior and past are going to be busy,” Finkbeiner said. “It\’s a can\’t-miss Hallmark holiday.”
I want candy
Even if flowers and dinner don\’t quite fit the bill for your Valentine\’s Day, the final third of the Valentine\’s Day equation requires no romance – candy. After all, who says all Valentine\’s gifts have to be for someone else? Lenny Cusenza of How Sweet It Is, a chocolate shop on Hagadorn Road, said they sell fresh truffles and chocolate covered strawberries just as quickly as they make them on Valentine\’s Day. And while Cusenza said heart-shaped boxes of truffles and chocolate roses are popular, the most popular items in the store are the chocolate-covered strawberries, which can be made fresh while the customer is in the store.
“It never hurts to pre-order, especially if you want something special,” Cusenza said, but since they will continue to make candy throughout the day, there will always be something available.[marker2]
Keeping it low-key
Of course, the above suggestions assume students have the time and resources to dedicate to gifts or date nights, as well as someone to spend that time with. If that\’s just not an option, there are plenty of inexpensive or fun alternatives. Being away at college often creates an additional obstacle in Valentine\’s Day planning – distance. Stephanie Duperon\’s boyfriend lives in Holland, Mich., and because Valentine\’s Day falls during the middle of the week, they don\’t have plans. “I\’ll probably call my boyfriend and wish him a happy Valentine\’s Day,” Duperon, a human biology junior, said. “Because of money, we decided not to buy each other anything.”
If you\’ve embraced your single status, a celebration with friends can be just as much fun as a romantic evening, and a lot less expensive as well. Social relations sophomore Katie Johnson plans to insert a little nostalgia into her Valentine\’s Day. “I found some Harry Potter valentines from the ninth grade,” Johnson said. “I think I\’ll hand those out.”
\’Singled Out\’
[candy]The University Activities Board (UAB) is also looking to the past in hopes of helping a few Spartans end their single statuses – or at least meet a potential date – with its take on the MTV game show Singled Out, to be held Friday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Union Ballroom. UAB representative Megan Tobin said the event will be just like the show, where three bachelors and three bachelorettes will have the chance to find a date in the participating audience.
“There will be three rounds, and anyone can jump in,” Tobin said. “The audience can see the person, but they can\’t see the audience.”
After two elimination rounds, successful audience members will try to get to the top of a staircase by answering questions in the same way as the contestant. When each contestant has narrowed the field to one winning audience member, all six contestants and their dates will take a limo ride out to dinner. Tobin said audience members also can win movie and restaurant gift certificates to celebrate Valentine\’s Day.
Then again, if thoughts of flowers, candy and the color pink lead to nausea, maybe it\’s time to just forget the whole thing. Kari Stone, a mentor in Holden Hall, has planned a movie night for her floor that evening.
“We\’ll probably watch Dumb and Dumber,” said Stone, an interdisciplinary studies in social sciences senior. “Something to get your mind off being single on Valentine\’s Day. It\’s just another day.”

Posted in State SideComments (0)