Proud To Be A Sikh

Proud To Be A Sikh

Supply chain management sophomore Harjap Dhadli was at a Detroit Pistons game with his friend when a 10-year-old boy called him a terrorist. Dhadli told his friend it didn’t bother him, but his friend chastised the kid anyway. International relations freshman Ameek Sodhi had a similar experience after the attacks on the World Trade Center. When everyone went to the cafeteria in his Rochester Hills middle school to hear about what happened, someone tried to grab his turban, assuming he was somehow associated with al-Qaeda.

Dhadli and Sodhi are Sikhs, two of 50 or 60 that attend MSU. Though they are often mistaken as Muslims, Sodhi said that 99 percent of turbans in America are worn by Sikhs. The religion is the fifth largest in the world, originating in the Punjab region of India, according to the World Sikh Organization. Many Sikhs also live in the United Kingdom, and Dhadli said there are about a million in the United States, mostly in California. The religion requires men to wear a turban and leave their facial hair uncut.

“The news show a lot of these people [terrorists] are ethnic,” Dhadli said. “But at the airport, they don’t make me do special things.”

Sodhi said that Sikhs believe in one God, similar to Jews and Christians, and that the religion stresses justice, discipline and equality between men and women. Men wear turbans and beards to demonstrate an outward sign of their faith to others, as well as themselves.

“It takes me five extra minutes to comb my hair in the morning,” Sodhi said. “It reminds you of who you are.”

Sikhs also believe in 10 gurus, similar to the prophets in Christianity. Sodhi said the gurus wrote down the holy text, known as the Sari Guru Grant Sahib, and left it to the Sikhs, as a sort of 11th and final guru that they could use as a living example of their faith. Each of the gurus stands for a different value, including humbleness and courage, and serve as protectors of everyone. “Gurus were just people too,” Dhadli said. “They just had a higher understanding.”

Sodhi said that instead of the heaven and hell system that Christians believe in, Sikhs believe that people go back in the evolutionary scale based on Karma, similar to the Hindu beliefs of reincarnation. “If you were a horrible person, you’re going to be a bug,” Sodhi said.

Sikhs are also required to wear five articles of faith on their body at all times, known commonly as the “five K’s.” They include kangha, a small comb; kes, uncut hair; kara, a metal bracelet on their dominant hand to signify that God is always looking; kachh, underwear to represent sexual cleanliness; and kirpan, a little sword to protect the weak.

Dhadli helped to form the Sikh Student Association on campus last year to provide an opportunity for community service and promote awareness of the religion. The group gets together to learn about their religion and holds events like “Sikhcess” in Detroit, where they help to feed people in poverty.

“White, beard, turban, anyone’s welcome,” Dhadli said. “In New Mexico, there are a large number of white Sikhs. It’s cool to see people from all walks of life accept God.” However, unlike some religions, Dhadli said that Sikhs are not trying to convert people, although he said that some people might stumble upon it and like their beliefs. Religious studies professor Arthur Versluis said that this is not unique to their religion. He said that Buddhists are also not particularly evangelical or driven to convert people.

“It’s not a matter of spreading religion in a world as interconnected as our world,” Versluis said. “It’s important to see the range of religions and gain background in other religions.” Versluis said that he believes it is vital people understand things about other religions in a world like ours to see what motivates people. He said that he uses his classes to introduce people to teachings and cultures of others, and Religion 101 classes often offer the option to visit a mosque or a synagogue.

Dhadli said he enjoys learning about other religions so he can see the seed in each and what the similarities are. He said he thinks of religion as more of a guideline than a rulebook and considered cutting his hair for a while since many of his friends did when they came to the United States. “I think I would lose something of myself because I’ve had it too long,” Dhadli said.

Ameek Sodhi quoteSodhi said it is a requirement no matter what for men to have a turban and beard and women to have uncut hair. He has never been tempted to cut his, even though putting it up every morning is not an easy task. He also has to pin up his beard, since it is about twice as long as it appears. “There’s always bad turban days, but I don’t ever regret the extra discipline,” Sohdi said.

Sodhi said he washes his hair with Pantene Pro-V and it reaches about halfway down his back. He has a lot of different colors of turbans and matches them to his shirt. “For football games, I wear green turbans and put in white stripes,” Sohdi said. Dhadli sticks to more basic colors like white, black and blue.

In February, Sodhi was featured on an iReport on CNN that spotlighted four people of different religions who all wore head garments. The video was made in response to a story about a Muslim woman in Georgia who suffered a hate crime after wearing a hijab, or veil, in the courthouse. The report featured two Sikhs as well as a Muslim and an Orthodox Jew and was on the front page of for a few hours.

“I was so glad CNN had that up there,” Dhadli said. “In ‘Taken,’ there was a Sikh guy in the beginning, too. They are small things, but they are good to see.”

And though both Dhaldi and Sodhi like discussing their religion, they also don’t mind the occasional joke. Sodhi wrote an article for a March issue of The Spartan Review called “It’s The Turban, Stupid” that gave the 10 top benefits of wearing a turban, including “chicks dig pink turbans, period” and “in the event that your oxygen mask does not inflate, turbans make superb flotation devices.”

Dhadli and Sodhi both said that Sikhism is a peaceful religion and look back at their experiences of prejudices without any hard feelings, adding they are very open to talking about their religion when asked. Sodhi said that even though Sikhs are often mistaken as Muslims, he does not think there is anything wrong with being Muslim and that there is not just one “right” religion. Both wish that turbans were not associated with terrorists and hate crimes, but Sodhi said that looking back at his experience in middle school just shows the devotion he has to his religion.

“Rochester Hills is the most un-diverse place ever,” Sodhi said. “I laugh about it now.”

Link to Ameek Sodhi’s CNN video:

Link to Spartan Review article:

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What is Race???

For the first time in American history, a man of a different race is in the White House. Since January, Barack Obama has been serving as the president, but racism hasn’t ended. Just ask Terry Walsh.
Walsh, a coordinator for the Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions, said his Sudanese foster sons were pulled over while driving in Gary, Ind. a few months ago and held at gunpoint while police searched their car. He said the officers found nothing irregular and drove off.
“That’s never happened to me,” said Walsh. “Just because race isn’t as divisive as it was 10 years ago doesn’t mean that institutional racism doesn’t exist and white privilege [white people having access to more services] doesn’t exist.”
In a speech Feb. 18, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder challenged what he saw as Americans’ failure to have meaningful discussions about race.
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we — I believe continue to be in too many ways essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said. [WHO WAS THE SPEECH TO? WHAT WAS IT?]
Does that mean MSU is a campus of cowards too? [HOW SO?]
“I think MSU and I think higher ed in general does distinguish itself from other environments, [but] his point is that as a country we’ve decided not to have an authentic dialogue on race,” Paulette Granberry Russell, director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives said.
Granberry Russell’s office, which she referred to as “the focal point for diversity and inclusion at Michigan State,” deals with discrimination complaints and diversity education, as well as recruiting and retaining students and professors from many backgrounds. Part of her job is to also try to bring the multicultural groups in the colleges together to share ideas and resources and to talk about issues they face.
Having a meaningful discussion on race is often much harder than gathering a few people in the cafeteria, though.
“Sometimes a casual conversation can work,” Granberry Russell said. “If people are willing to trust each other, I say more power to them, but we’ve been having lunch table conversations for a long time.”
It’s key to set ground rules for discussions of issues like race, Granberry Russell said, and it often helps if someone experienced acts as facilitator.
“You can’t fear the fact that there will be disagreement on it. It’s a sensitive issue. People bring their personal experience, their personal beliefs and values, and that can be emotional,” Granberry Russell said. “How can you take those experiences of oppression and … create an environment where those things can be explored?”
OCAT aides, resident mentors, and leaders in the Multi-racial Unity Living Experience (MRULE), a living arrangement where students meet to discuss controversial issues in a diverse environment, all meet periodically to talk about racial issues and to build relationships between their groups.
Tom Rios, acting director of the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) said those environments usually need to talk about something other than race too.
“Most of our programs have to have a relational heart, so it’s not just exhorting people to be sensitive to others,” Rios said. “Learning is social, so you learn with, by and from others.”
Rios cited International Volunteer Action Corps, a group that tries to build relationships between domestic and international students through service learning, as an example of using a common interest as a “springboard” for building the trust needed to talk about sensitive issues. [BREAK DOWN AND ELABORATE]
“Trust requires a relationship,” he said.
Rios said getting majority students involved in multicultural activities can be difficult.
“It’s hard to reach out to [majority] students and make them see that they indeed have their own culture.”
Walsh, who works on programs to get majority students involved, said students don’t always notice their own cultures, like “a fish doesn’t notice water until he’s removed from it.”
Walsh said the dominant American culture is usually seen as white middle class, but that even something as small as the Izzone can be considered a culture because it has its own social customs.
“If you live in the inner city of Detroit versus going 15 minutes out, those are two very different cultures,” Walsh said. [I UNDERSTAND HIS POINT. TAKE ONE OF THE LAST 3 PARAGRAPHS OUT. TOO REPETITIVE]
Sometimes, Walsh said, leaving words like “multicultural” out of an event’s title can change the composition of the group that comes.
“I think any time that something is titled ‘multicultural’ majority students a lot of times won’t think it’s for them,” Walsh said. “If they see that there are students like them involved, they might feel more welcome there.”
Granberry Russell said the concept of allies, usually used in reference to the LGBT community, is important for racial issues too.
“If you go back and look at the civil rights movement, it wasn’t just black folks that were marching with Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.], there were also white folks that were allies,” Granberry Russell said. “It’s standing up and walking the talk. … Are you prepared to risk a friend, or your family’s disagreement with you?”
Rios was skeptical of whether students, particularly majority students, take the time to check out the multicultural groups on campus.
“Michigan State’s the size of a city,” Rios said. “All I know is that each college has a representative to talk about issues related to diversity. For a lot of people those are difficult discussions. If people aren’t drinking deeply from the cup of experiences, it doesn’t matter how many opportunities the university offers.”
Granberry Russell wished more students would look outside their comfort zones.
“I wish that more people took advantage of those opportunities, sought them out, insisted on them,” she said.
Still, Walsh said he’s seen progress in race relations, and that the OCAT aides generally sit in mixed groups at lunch. “They’re able to have conversations about race and race relations than I could in college 15 years ago,” Walsh said. [HE COULD?]
When he was training a new group of aides, Walsh divided them into pairs and told them to talk for two minutes and find their differences. “Not one of the students brought up ‘I’m black and she’s white’,” Walsh said. “I think that’s not because they’re colorblind, but that they realize that there are things that are more important than the color of someone’s skin.”

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The Heat is On

As scientists continue to make dire predictions about the impacts of global warming, MSU students have been on the front lines of the corridors of power, demanding their leaders take action.
From Feb. 27 to March 2, over 12,000 climate activists rallied in the nation’s capitol in support of bold climate legislation to be passed by Congress. Powershift ‘09 brought together scores of college students, including over 400 students from Michigan. [EXPLAIN WHAT POWERSHIFT IS] Seventy-two MSU students made the 12-hour trip to Washington, D.C., being the 12th largest university group to attend.
The Spartan environmentalists went to workshops, discussed potential cap-and-trade bills that will be considered by their representatives, lobbied Congressional staff members and gathered in a large crowd in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Others participated in a spirited civil disobedience protest at the Capitol’s coal plant with the intentions to shut it down. The coal plant protest was also attended by actress Daryl Hannah, environmental author Bill McKibben, and climate scientist James Hansen.
“The youth came out in record numbers,” Bethany Lumbert said. “That’s part of the enthusiasm behind the youth climate movement!” Lambert is a participant from ECO, MSU’s campus sustainability group.
“There was so much positive energy,” ECO member Corrinne Thomas said. “I feel the relationships we made at the conference and the coalition building was really strong.”
Migonne Silva, co-president from ECO, thinks much of the student enthusiasm in regards to fighting global warming has spilled over from excitement that began with Obama’s presidential victory.
“I think Obama has given the youth more hope,” Silva said. “He actually wants to do something about this, and I think Powershift will add to the momentum with the U.S. moving toward more environmentally-conscious laws being passed.”
Chris Detjen, a committee member from the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, was pumped by the passion of the Michigan activists who were fighting to get Congress to make progress in regards to climate change.
“For Michigan’s schools to send so many people to this action is remarkable, and the real impact from this will emerge afterwards as we keep bird-dogging our members of Congress to get something passed,” Detjen said.
“Our chances of passing a strong climate bill is greater than ever and this year is our best shot.” [WHO SAID THIS?]
Lumbert was ecstatic by the turnout during the group’s lobbying efforts. “We stuffed 33 people into Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s office from the state of Michigan,” Lumbert said. “We told her staff that we as Michigan students are concerned about the climate and want to support green development in the state.” [WHAT WAS HER RESPONSE?]
Silva noted that another fellow ECO member was featured on CNN during the event. When Silva was taking a break from the conference at a coffee shop, she was surprised to see her fellow member on the television. “Seeing someone from our club being put in the national spotlight was energizing,” Silva said.
Silva attended the last Powershift, but was blown away by the attendance at this year’s conference.
“I think Powershift ’09 was definitely more exciting,” Silva said. “There was double the people, the conference ran way smoother and we rallied together for something we all cared about.”
Climate action will continue on MSU’s campus following Powershift as the college dims down its lights for Earth Hour and continues raising eco-awareness on Apr. 22 for Earth Day.


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Alternative Theater Story- not done

Most people, when they think of the Lansing theatre scene, mention the Boarshead Theatre, Williamston Theatre and the Lansing Civic Players. Presenting shows like The Glass Menagerie and Fiddler on the Roof, these crowd pleasing subscription house theatres enjoy a place of popularity and repute within the Lansing theatre community.
But what about the other theatres in Lansing? What about Icarus Falling and Peppermint Creek? Capital Theatre Works and Sunsets with Shakespeare? These Lansing community theatres, while they many not have the same prestige as some of the city’s bigger theatres, are hidden gems within Lansing’s entertainment scene. I recently sat down to talk to the actors, the directors and the theatre owners of some of Lansing’s more obscure play houses to find out just what’s up with Lansing’s underground theatre scene.

Left of Center: Peppermint Creek Theatre

Peppermint Creek is perhaps one of the newest theatres in Lansing. Founded in 1995 by Chad Badgero, the company is beginning to make a name for itself as a “fresh, and vital performing arts group” that takes chances and believes in the power of theatre.
Lela Ivey, a Guest Lecturer in Theatre at Michigan State University and a past director for Peppermint Creek, describes the company’s past seasons as “left of center; alternative,” meaning non-mainstream shows. “But I don’t think [Chad] deliberately goes out and looks for stuff that is alternative or dark or whatever. He looks for pieces that he connects to and that he’s not straitjacketed in to having to please somebody,” Ivey said.
According to Ivey, it is Peppermint Creeks left of center thought provoking productions that set the theatre apart. “You know what the problem is when you get a Williamston and a Boarshead, is there all subscription houses and they have to please their audience. So if they start you know trippin’ over to the dark side there going to have a lot of unhappy subscribers and board members in Boarshead’s case. So they are in a straitjacket a little bit, you know, in that they have to please their audience, whereas Chad doesn’t have that. It makes you [wonder], is a theatre’s responsibility to keep their audience happy and feeling good at the expense of making them think, and possibly making them uncomfortable while they do it? You know, that’s a tough one.”
But there is more to Peppermint Creek productions than just making the audience think. The shows themselves are deliberate picked to send a message and start a dialogue in the Lansing community.
“Chad is so passionate about the plays he chooses,” said Japanese, Theatre, and Psychology Junior and former Peppermint Creek actor Toby Hemker. “He does his stuff not to put on a show that will make profit, but to put on a show that will send a message that is important to him. All of the plays he picks have a strong message because for him art is his mode of expression. He once said to me that he is not the type of guy to go storm city hall when he thinks something’s wrong, so he uses theatre as a mode to get across his opinions.”

Shakespeare for the Masses: Sunsets with Shakespeare

On the other end of the spectrum of Lansing’s underground theatre is Sunsets with Shakespeare. Performing mostly classics, such as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliette, Sunsets strives to provide quality performances free of charge to the Lansing community. The main goal of Sunsets with Shakespeare, according to Hemker, is “to make Shakespeare available to a public that would never get the chance to see it.”
Hemker, who was Mercutio in Sunsets’ production of Romeo and Juliette last summer, loves the community aspect of the Sunsets company. “Were a community theatre, we’re Highschoolers, junior High kids, and elderly people who’ve never acted before getting a chance to do things that they never got the chance to do…It is good entertainment, it is art, and it is something that, you know, people are coming together to make.” For Hemker, Sunsets “really has the community of community theatre.”
Henker said a lot of people in the community are dedicated to supporting the theater, donating and raising the money to keep the theater a float. Henker said that all the local business allow them to advertise for free as well.
“To see the community getting behind [us] that is the purpose of community theatre. It’s not about putting out a great work of art; it’s about pulling the community together as human being,” said Henker.

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Work Out Whereabouts

The phrase “workout” is a relative term; it can mean many things to different people. Action is not the only component to a work out, the experience is just as important.
Some people prefer a daily run outdoors because they think the fresh air is refreshing, others prefer workout videos they can pop into their DVD player at home and work out at their leisure. Still others look for something more in a work-out, looking for equipment, aided training and a sense of community. Gyms match fitness expectations for others wanting results offering a variety of fitness equipment for use, along with a comfortable, social environment.
Similar to how workout styles and preferences are never the same, not every gym is the same. Although all offer similar equipment, some newer than others, they are rooted in different values. Methods, amenities, perks, costs, hours and location are all important factors when picking a gym, and these decisions are even more important in a city, such as East Lansing, with numerous gyms close to campus. Powerhouse, Synergy Fitness and Snap Fitness are all newer gyms which vary in gym personalities, each holding a different set of values on which they pride their facilities.
Powerhouse Gym: 4790 S. Hagadorn Road 134C East Lansing, Mich. 48823
Formerly known as Atlas Gym, Powerhouse resides in the Hannah Plaza. Upon merging with Atlas Gym in December 2007 it was decided that the Powerhouse name would be maintained, but under the independent ownership that Atlas had formerly been run. Therefore Powerhouse on Hagadorn Road has next to nothing in common to the Powerhouse Gyms around the country, instead holding onto the hours, prices and ideals that Atlas had started out with, adding just a couple of changes.
Students tend to enjoy the gym because of its convenient location and the fact that the area has free parking available, which is hard to find in the heart of the city. That had been an important factor at the time of the merge. “It’s close, and convenient and we have pretty fair prices,” said Keith Gregg, a Powerhouse staff member. “A lot of people like it from the old Powerhouse location because they had to pay to park and now it’s free,” Gregg continued.
The gym prices are meant to be budget conscious, especially due to the fact that approximately 85 percent of their business comes from college students or recent graduates. “We have mostly college students, some older, it’s a good mix,” Gregg said.
Since the merge Powerhouse has purchased a lot of new equipment including new rows of treadmills and elliptical machines, which has paid off according to Powerhouse manager Karri Hobbs who said that business has risen. “The gym is also big compared to other gyms and we offer specials at the beginning of every semester,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs has been a manager at Powerhouse for nine months. Before becoming the manager she was merely a member of Atlas Gym, and decided that she was always working out so it was a great job for her. “I always have to be moving and this is a really fun atmosphere,” Hobbs said.
Powerhouse offers yoga, spinning and circuit training classes with one of the seven personal trainers weekly to its members, which are popular within their gym community. When classes are not in session, members are allowed to utilize the back room which is used for the classes, for aerobics on their own. “Our locker rooms are pretty nice and take care of,” Hobbs said.
Other perks include tanning, which is an extra charge of $5 per session or $35 for unlimited tanning that month. According to Hobbs the two stand-up hexes have been quite popular, bringing in even more customers who find it convenient to tan at their location. Another benefit is gym members receive a 50 percent discount at other Powerhouse Gym facilities across the United States.
“The staff is really cool and laid back, other gyms have so many rules,” Hobbs said. “It’s a good atmosphere here. We’re not judging, we get a lot of new people, there’s not a gym clique.”
Cost: Memberships are $349 for the year paid in full, $50 for one month, $35 per month when committing to more than one month and $10 per day. If guests arrive with member, their rate is $5 for the day.

: Currently, memberships are $75 for the balance of the semester.


: Powerhouse is open 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information: Call (517) 827-4653
Synergy Fitness: 2655 E. Grand River East Lansing, Mich. 48823
Although farther away from campus than Powerhouse and Snap Fitness, Synergy Fitness offers a unique energy, method and environment. The cleanliness and beauty of the facility alone may be enough to convince a fitness buff to drive the extra mile. “Everyone’s reaction is ‘Wow, this place is super clean and nice,” said Laken Blakslee, trainer and gym attendant at Synergy. Blakslee has worked at Synergy two of the three years it has been open, following owner and trainer, Todd Yehl from the MAC after he opened Synergy.
As Blakslee said, the equipment, workout areas and even the locker room are decorated and kept clean, giving the gym a very unique appeal. Plants are positioned throughout the gym, blending nicely with the ocean blue floor and brown-toned walls. The locker rooms follow suit, with polished wooden lockers for gym goers’ belongings.
Aside from the image of the gym, the methods of the gym are different from others in the area as well. At Synergy, personal trainers strive to preserve body structure and wellness. There are work out sheets along the walls with workout plans to aid new comers, however it isn’t necessary to follow the fitness regime. “Todd wanted to make it more of an inviting, social atmosphere, and the majority of the members enjoy the workout,” Blakslee explained.
The cost for personal trainers is extra, as is the yoga class that is offered weekly, which focuses on a different mentality for instruction. Yoga classes charge $5 per class for students and $10 for both older and non-members.
Although the setting is farther off campus, there are still a great number of students who attend the facility. Blakslee explained that the clientele was half students, half professionals, with the most popular times being before class and after work. “I’ve worked out at every gym in the area, and this gym is by far the nicest,” Blasklee said. “Everybody knows your name and everybody is in touch. W e’re a big happy family.”
According to Blakslee, attending the gym and taking in the methods of Synergy is extremely beneficial. From personal experience Blakslee has recognized great strides in her body’s well being after being referred to Yehl years ago. She was told by doctors prior to meeting Yehl that there was nothing but surgery to repair the state of her feet and back. “The work out completely changed my posture, how I work out and all my pain is gone…My body feels great,” Blakslee said.
She explained that the work out applies to how a person walks throughout their day, stands while doing the dishes and other simple tasks. “I love working here, it’s one of those places you’re proud to work at,” Blasklee said.
Cost: Synergy offers various membership packages. The basic membership, without the personal training and yoga classes included is $50 as a start-up fee with $45 per month after that.
Special: For students only, memberships are available for a $30 enrollment fee and $30 per month after that.
Hours: The gym is in operation from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information: Visit its Web site, or call (517) 351-3204.
Snap Fitness: 115 E. Grand River Avenue, Suite A, East Lansing, Mich. 48823
Working out at Snap Fitness means belonging to a private club that offers amenities, perks, prizes and a clean environment. Snap Fitness prides themselves on their upkeep of their equipment and facility and limiting the amount of gym members registered. “We don’t want the gym to be overcrowded, we want equipment to always be available,” said Elizabeth Molinksy, general manager and co-owner, with Kevin Baker and Brad Lazorka, of Snap in East Lanisng.
Since opening on September 26, 2008 Snap has done quite well. One of the big kicks to being a member of Snap is having 24 hour access to the facility. Members simply swipe their card when entering the gym. “Motion sensors detect when there are unauthorized guests,” Molinsky said.
Snap has specific staffed hours in which members are allowed to bring guests and new members are allowed to enroll. Guests that come in with Snap members are allowed to work out for free, as long as they come in during staffed hours, which is also a pulling force for business. “We also offer referral specials for our members which is another perk,” Molinsky said.
Members also have access to free classes and are invited to participate in promotional competitions. This month there is Fitness BINGO in which members try out different work outs in order to win various prizes. “We always have a game going on and a Work Out of the Week posted,” Molinsky said.
Plasma TVs are stretched across the walls, allowing gym goers access to choosing the channels. Currently there is a Greek competition for a 52 inch Plasma TV for whoever recruits ten members within their separate sororities and fraternities. Group outings are planned as well for club members. For example members are invited for a small price to attend a Lansing Lugnuts vs. MSU baseball game in April. With their membership, discounts are also distributed to Snap’s members giving them free membership to any of the 1,600 Snap Fitness facilities in the US, Canada and India as well as discounts to various East Lansing businesses.
“It’s nice that you can go to any Snap Gym so those graduating don’t have to worry about spending money on their memberships,” Molinsky said. “Sixty percent of our members are students and forty percent are adults. We get a lot of faculty.”
Another opportunity for members is to become a member online, where they can maintain a profile, receive a meal plan for their goal weight and keep track of their progress. Members are offered one free meeting with a personal trainer every six months to gain knowledge of their BMI, among other things, and learn how to help themselves in specific areas. This information is uploaded to their profiles.
Although many perks are available for free to Snap members, there are some that come at an extra cost including a program called Boot Camp, tanning and additional one-on-one sessions with one of the three personal trainers. “We’re more laid back in a little bit higher end facility,” Molinsky said.
Cost: There are no contracts, but Snap Fitness does offer pre-paid bonus packages where cost of membership goes down as the number of months committed increase. Cost for members committing to monthly payments is a onetime enrollment fee of $149 with $34.99 per month payments. A 30-day money-back guarantee is also incorporated if members find themselves unsatisfied.
Hours: Members have access 24 hours Monday through Sunday
Staffed Hours: The facility is open to non-members and members’ guests during the times that staff are onsite. Hours are 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information: Visit, call (517) 336-0881, or join their Facebook group.

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Adieu Mi Amor

After seeing their significant other practically every day over the school year, how will couples survive three months of long distances and short visits? It turns out there are many ways to keep the flame lit during the steamy summer months.
“Your relationship matures in leaps and bounds by living separately and independently,” Dr. Doug Ruben, a marriage and family therapist in Okemos, said. Ruben also said that there are pros and cons to staying together over the summer months. “[But] the smallest disagreement may destroy the relationship since you have limited ways to do repair work.” According to Ruben, communication is the key, along with trust. “Set up regular times to communicate,” he said. “Be loyal and don’t date other people when you get scared, and be flexible.”
[mature] Certifed social worker and certified IMAGO relationship therapist in Ann Arbor, Carol Kirby, said that different levels of commitment are a major factor on how well a relationship can survive over vacation. “Before the summer is a good time to sort out how serious they are,” she said referring to couples preparing to spend a summer apart. “If they need to break up, that may be a good time.”
Most students facing this summertime dilemma are relying heavily on technology to pull themselves through those long, hot months apart. Rashelle Boensch, a pre-veterinary freshman, has been dating her boyfriend for a month and a half. She lives in Birch Run, and he lives in Belleville. “We’ll probably go visit each other every so often,” she said, “and talk on the phone or online.” Instant messaging seems to be a godsend for many students, couples especially, who will be apart for the summer.
Michael Gallagher, an economics sophomore, has been with his girlfriend since November, and will have state lines between them when they leave in May. “We’ll probably call each other and instant message each other,” he said. “Primarily calling, though. I’m not too concerned.”
But not all MSU students feel the same way as Boensch and Gallagher when it comes to maintaining MSU-based relationships. Maureen Scarff, a Spanish sophomore who currently is not involved with anyone, wouldn’t want to keep a boyfriend over the summer if they lived in different cities. “I would break up,” she said. “I wouldn’t trust a guy to stay faithful, and I wouldn’t want to be tied down.”
Although, Scarff’s opinion is not uncommon, Ruben notes breaking up every year can lead to problems in future relationships. “An emotionally needy person magnetically attaches onto a similar type of partner that he or she had in the past,” Ruben said. He calls this Serial Partner Attraction Syndrome. “At first the relationship feels excitingly different, but within weeks it feels déjà vu.” He also pointed out that people who experience this syndrome have problems with commitment and are prone to cheating.
[past] Ruben said that when summer approaches, there could be a “freedom syndrome,” where rebellious and adventurous feelings develop, which might lead to trying new things, such as meeting new people. “Some of these summer people are replacements for the absent partner, and some are the ‘new-and-improved edition’ of past partners,” Ruben said. “No matter which step forward is taken, summer is not a static time. Without ongoing communication with the existing college partner, people drift away from commitment and feel strange restarting the relationship when school resumes in the fall.”
The best way to keep a relationship strong over the summer months is to plan ahead. Ruben suggests working out an agenda in advance of face-to-face, email, telephone contact times or plan for mini-trips you can take together. “You take more control because you made your lives overlap predictably,” Ruben said. “Prudent planning is safer, healthier and reduces the shock of unwanted surprises that can ruin your summer and start the fall semester on a bad omen.”
Like Ruben, Kirby suggests to keep in contact daily. “If it can’t be that frequent, agree on how frequent the contact should be,” Kirby said. “With the technology of today, an old fashioned love letter or a card can warm the heart. It has a surprise element.”
As with everything, it’s hit or miss when it comes to keeping relationships over the summer. The key is to communicate, trust and be prepared. “Prudently preparing for the long break of separation will save you later hours of agonizing over feeling abandoned,” Ruben said.
While it’s always possible for your flame to extinguish, if the relationship’s worth it, give it a shot. Besides, while the phone and computer can keep you somewhat connected over the three months of summer, imagine what it will be like when you finally get to see that beloved face again during move-in week.

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Happy Housewife No More

Christina Aguilera is a fighter. Beyonce is an independent woman. You’ve heard the songs and received the messages: women don’t need a man to be happy. But we’ve known this for a while, haven’t we?
Throughout the decades, women in the media have gone through many social changes. In the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, most shows, such as Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy and The Brady Bunch portrayed women as stay-at-home moms, complete with frilled aprons, sparkling children and spatula in hand as their husbands come through the door with the famous line, “Honey, I’m home!”
[single] Moving on to the ’80s and ’90s, that stay-at-home mom changed. Many of the shows during this period were family oriented but instead of the classic Carol Brady image, moms were working. Roseanne, for instance, worked at a diner, and Mrs. Huxtable of The Cosby Show>/I> was a lawyer.
Entering the new millennium, women on television, in movies and in songs have completely discarded the homebound image. Sex in the City featured a group of women experimenting with several relationships while also balancing their friendships and careers. Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” boasts about how her negative experience with a cheating man showed her she could pull through and stay strong. It can be argued these women are showing their independence en masse.
It’s no secret that the media is marketing to the single woman. Andrea Stavoe, biochemistry junior, noticed this but doesn’t necessarily consider it positive. “I think that most media that promotes [single women] overdoes its promotion,” Stavoe said. “It’s sending mixed messages to young women.” Suddenly it is valued to a be single woman in society, but has never been questioned for single men and this may be a result of the bachelor/old maid double standard that exists for women.
According to Marilyn Sylvan Thompson, a psychotherapist in East Lansing, the emergence of single women in the media was bound to happen. “There are more women than men, especially among older people, so it makes sense that there are single women,” she said. With many women and men opting for more single year, it seems natural that the housewife of the ’50s would eventually evolve into the modern woman.
From the happy housewife to the independent woman extraordinaire, women have proved that some women are happier being single and having a sense of independence that proves to be more powerful.
Dr. Maria Bruno, associate professor of writing, rhetoric and American cultures on campus, believes the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s may have played a role in helping women realize what they wanted their place in society to be. “Women began to examine their own roles and wanted other options besides being wives and mothers who stayed at home and loved housework,” Bruno said. “Professional women were getting tired of their second-class status. Popular culture begins to reflect these kinds of tensions.”
[maria] According to Thompson, though the media may not always show it, it is possible for happy and single to exist in the same sentence. “[A single woman] can build her self-esteem without it being eroded by someone who doesn’t want to share power,” Thompson said. “She can feel freer and less burdened than her counterparts in committed relationships.”
Michelle, an accounting sophomore who would like her last name withheld, agrees. “There’s nothing tying you down,” she said. “You can live the swingin’ bachelor life and have everything how you want it.”
Bruno notes that the idea of being alone and OK is nothing new, and this wave of independent-woman television shows won’t cause another bra-burning era in the near future. “Feminism already suggests it’s OK to be alone,” she said. “You don’t have to have a man to be complete. That’s been around a very long time.”
We’ve come a long way since women were expected to be clones of Mrs. Brady. Now women are allowed to be leather-clad crime fighters by night, and shy, quiet writers by day. Michelle thinks this is a step in the right direction. “We have gone a long way for women’s equality, but we’re not there yet,” she said.
However, Bruno thinks traditional images may never die. “We will always revere the Mother image, for instance,” she said. “And the career girl. But the robotic Stepford Wife who gets thrilled over her clean toilet bowl – she may not resurface.” Hell, I’d take women’s liberation over a clean toilet any day.

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The Woman Behind The East Lansing Film Festival

Every Sunday, Susan Woods had a regular routine. She would pick up her TV Guide, circle every movie she saw in print and then make it her goal to see them on the big screen. Woods’ passion for film began with her TV Guide and continues today in her role as director of the East Lasing Film Festival (ELFF).
[elff] Now in its eighth year, the ELFF began when Woods relocated from California, where she worked in television, screen writing and producing, to MSU, where her husband is a professor. Woods, who had attended several film festivals elsewhere, saw East Lansing as the perfect location for a festival of its own. The presence of the university, along with the encouragement of the city, combined to fill the void when it came to independent film.
“It was the perfect marriage,” Woods said.
The ELFF is now the largest and most diverse film festival in Michigan, receiving over 8,000 submissions each year. The festival goes from Wednesday, March 30 to Sunday, April 3 with movies showing in Wells Hall and at the Hannah Community Center on Abbott Road. Some of these submissions come through advertisements placed by the ELFF, but other films are sought out. Woods travels to other festivals to see various movies and find out what’s creating a buzz. She also seeks out works that will reflect the diversified student organizations at MSU that volunteer their time with the festival.
Woods has a hand in bringing movies to MSU students at other times of the year besides the ELFF. She works with the East Lansing Film Society (ELFS) to show 12 movies per year in Wells Hall with Campus Center Cinemas. In addition to finding diverse and outstanding movies, Woods also works to provide sponsors for the ELFF. The non-profit organization receives support from the Independent Film Channel, HBO, Kodak and festival ticket sales.
[susan2] This year Woods is excited about the support the film festival has gained over the years, but also the exceptional movies that will be shown. The opening night film, “The Sea Inside,” won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.
“It’s about a man fighting for the right to die, so it’s like we’re pulling this right out of the headlines,” Woods said, referring to the Terri Schiavo case in Florida.
Tonight, a silent film, “IT,” will be shown with live musical accompaniment. Other highlights include a question-and-answer session after the film “Headrush,” showing Saturday April 2, with the director, who is flying in from Ireland especially for this event.
“One more film, ‘Tarnation,’ was one of the best movies of 2004. A 13-year-old made this autobiography of himself and he incorporates movie clips,” Woods said of the film being shown Friday April 1.
The diversity among the films is apparent and is one of the aspects Woods is proud to have brought to East Lansing and the festival, allowing MSU students to experience films many never would have seen otherwise. Although she has less time to spend in front of the television these days, her efforts are opening the eyes of the MSU community to movies no TV Guide has in store.

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Give Up On Finding Your Will

What girl wouldn’t want a relationship like the title characters in “Will and Grace”? Seriously, Will could be considered the perfect guy: Grace has someone to shop with, live with – hell, he even pays her bills and provides her with insightful advice into the male mind- if that’s what you’re looking for of course. And all with no strings attached. Men like him could only exist on Must-See TV.
Or do they? Could this man possibly exist in the real world?
With open homosexuality being more accepted today than in the past, there is not much stopping girls from seeking out that perfect gay best friend. The near-scientific clone of Will is the goal. But is this a trend and if it is does it objectifiy gay men into an accessory? Is having a gay best friend the Tamagachi of the new millennium, or is there truly something more between a girl and favorite gay male?
[one] Joe Kort, a psychotherapist in Royal Oak, said it’s not a trend, it’s simply a fact of life. “I don’t think it is happening any more than it ever has,” Kort said. “Straight women and gay men have a long history together as friends.” He also added he thinks the attraction between a gay man and a straight woman is a natural one. “While I don’t think that straight women seek out gay friends, I do think they are drawn to them.”
Clayton Johnson, communication junior, who is gay, agrees with Kort. “I think it trivializes it to say that women are being friends with gay men simply because it’s fashionable or a trend,” Johnson said. “We are becoming more progressive and accepting, and it’s easier for men and women alike to have openly gay friends than it was in the past.”
A women can enjoy several benefits by having a gay man as a best friend. Kort notes the sexual tension is taken off the relationshipm and there is no competition between the two, as there could be in a friendship between two women. However, friendships aren’t meant to just “benefit” one party and should be based on mutual trust, respect and commom interest.
This rings true for communication junior Alita Moore, who said having gay friends is a good thing and loves the relationships she has with them. “Gay guys will tell you the truth about almost any situation when sometimes girls will lie to spare your feelings,” Moore said. “They cause less drama than girls.”
Dr. Barnaby Barratt, a sex therapist in Farmington Hills, said gay men also benefit from this type of relationship. “Gay men have an interest in women,” Barratt said. “Many gay men enjoy having close relationships with heterosexual women.”
For Sean Lipke, social relations sophomore, who is also gay, having a girl best friend is better for him. “I seem to connect with women better than men generally,” he said. “How conversations go, I converse with them better.” Lipke also said that it’s easier for him to be friends with a girl because there isn’t a threat of anyone coming onto anyone.
But while many friendships are built upon common interests and comfort, Sharon Matthews, journalism sophomore, has met people who want a gay friend just for the novelty. “I do think it is a trend, because I will be around girls who haven’t even ever met a gay guy, and will be like ‘I want a gay best friend so bad,’” Matthews said. “It seems like they’re either saying it to sound like everyone else or just because they’re stereotyping all gay guys – as girly, gossipy shoppers.”
Johnson finds this type of girl offensive. “I think it would annoy anyone if someone wanted to be friends with them based on one aspect of their life,” Johnson said. “I’m not a toy or something to be gawked at.”
Lipke also agrees that girls who go looking for gay males to be their friends isn’t something he’s into. “If it’s because they wanted to learn more about gay people or broaden their horizons, then I wouldn’t be offended, but if they wanted to be my friend just because they wanted a gay friend, I wouldn’t be that hurt, but that’s not a real friend.”
Whether or not being a girl and having a gay best friend is a trend, it’s no surprise pop culture may play a role for some. Television shows and movies may glorify the relationship, as well as create stereotypes. Mike Pawlik, chemical engineering freshman, agrees creating stereotypes is rampant in the media. “I think it’s a trend,” Pawlik said. “Girls have been watching ‘Will and Grace’ and they think that a relationship with a gay man would be fun.”
[two] Moore also agrees pop culture may be a culprit in the start of this so-called “trend.” He said the media glorifies this image “because it goes with the stereotype that they are fashion queens, and they know how to do all the girlie things,” Moore said.
Brian Casey, international studies junior, who is gay, agrees that pop culture may be an influence in how straight women perceive the gay community. “Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy has people thinking that we’re all like those guys, but we’re not all like that,” Casey said. “But with shows like that, it also shows that people are becoming more accepting of gay people.”
Kort isn’t convinced that this recent surge of programming doesn’t have a major effect on people forming friendships “I think that the popular culture is coming out more about these relationships,” Kort said. “It really is not a secret, nor has it ever been a secret, that straight women befriend gay men.”
Barratt also is skeptical. “The influence of pop culture is so complicated that no one knows how it works,” he said.
Gay men and heterosexual women have a unique relationship that can’t be duplicated. Both halves of the couple can find what they’ve always been looking for in a friend. “There is a closeness gay men obtain with straight women, sometimes even more than with gay men,” Kort said.
Johnson agrees. “I have a guy best friend and a girl best friend, and I go to them for different things,” Johnson said. “For me, it’s essential to have a man and a woman’s point of view in my life. There are things that men relate to more than women and vice versa.”
No doubt there are straight women out there looking for a gay man to give them fashion advice and do their toenails, but luckily, it doesn’t seem like a majority are looking to take advantage. “I haven’t experienced in any great numbers a girl wanting to be friends solely based on the fact that I am gay,” Johnson said. And let’s face it, not all gay men are that feminine and all women are not either. Gender stereotypes in pop culture can be influential but real life is much more nuanced, and so are our friendships.
So if you’re a girl and you happen to come across a great relationship with a great gay guy, don’t take it for granted. However, if you’re trying to find your own version of Will, turn off NBC and stay away from Bravo- real friends aren’t accessories and don’t fit a perfect TV formula.

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Locked in a Room of Casios and Wind-Up Toys’

[band4c] When I sat down with keyboardist Ryan Balderas of The Casionauts on Friday, March 28, the first thing he said to me was, “You get to interview the band that is going to win Battle of the Bands.” He told me if he was wrong I could write what an arrogant jerk he was, but, lucky for him, he was right.
As the winner of the University Activities Board’s third annual Battle of the Bands, which boasted an audience of about 780, The Casionauts received $1,500 to spend at Elderly Music. The contest awarded a total of $3,000 to the top three bands, with second place going to the Schematic and third to El Presidente.
“People like to support local music,” UAB Films Chair Emily Money said. “[They] are competing, and students like to see their friends.”
[band4a] While winning is always a good thing, the founder of The Casionauts plays for a different reason.
“This band is my favorite thing that I’ve done,” Balderas said. “If you can make good music that people can dance to, that’s it.”
And making good music is something they do. The four-member group is comprised of Balderas, lead vocals and keyboards; Jon Cendrowski, vocals and guitar; Scott Mills, bass and Scott Warrens, drums.
The crowd at the Battle of the Bands Friday night seemed to enjoy the energetic, fast-paced beat of The Casionauts. With vocals resembling The Postal Service, the band’s music contains several drum machines and keyboards.
High off their win, the group will set out on a short tour through Michigan and Ohio. Local upcoming shows include April 6 at Mac’s Bar and April 27 at the Temple Club.
[band2c] Like any fledgling band, however, they’ve had their share of snafus. After playing a series of shows in New York and Detroit’s Magic Stick, a long-time goal of the band, the group’s trusty van quit on them on the drive through Pennsylvania, and all the equipment was abandoned when Warrens’ and Cendrowski’s girlfriends drove 12 hours to pick up the stranded musicians.
The band wasn’t upset about being stuck in another state; their comradery helped to make a tough situation into a great story. In fact, it’s these friendships Balderas says churn out even better music.
“The first time we played together, we were like, ‘this is what we want,’” Balderas said. “Our drummer just came to jam with us and it just stuck.”
[band3b] A mutual love of Neil Young also draws the guys together, but each brings his own separate musical taste to the mix, ranging from R. Kelly and Funkadelic, to Joy Electric and Talking Heads. Their musical talents combine to form what they call “spazzy-death-disco-8 bit-rock.”
However they want to describe it, fans just call it good. Mechanical engineering freshman Anthony Carlo first heard about The Casionauts at another UAB event, Open Mic Night, where Balderas was performing solo. Carlo has also listened to the group on MSU’s The Impact, but enjoyed seeing the band live.
“Their music is very catchy and very easy to groove to,” Carlo said.
[band3c1] So, just where did the group get its unique name? “The name came from a song from one of my favorite bands, The Recital,” Balderas said. “They have a song with a lyric that says ‘locked in a room of Casios and wind-up toys.’ I was sitting with a friend at Denny’s and he suggested, ‘Hey, you have all those Casios, you should call your band the Casionauts.’”
The name stuck, just like their music.

For more information about their newest release “Bailamos Murimos Juntos” or their tour schedule, check out

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