Inked and Pierced

Inked and Pierced

Generation Y means anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 and, according to Pew Research Institute, 36 percent of them in the United States have at least one tattoo. The tattoo rate among Generation Y-ers is higher than the national average of 15 percent, which means there has been an increase in the popularity of tattoos compared to older generations. Those same forms of body art — tattoos and piercings, that some still see as rebellious or even gross, are less surprising than ever before.

MSU is one of many campuses nationwide that has seen body art integrate into campus culture. Prof. Danielle DeVoss, director of MSU’s professional writing program, recounted stories of being shocked when she first began seeing Piercing Pagodas popping up at East Lansing malls. But while tattoos and piercings are becoming more culturally accepted, they aren’t always as popular with prospective employers.

Eyebrow piercingStudents who are just another MSU student now, will enter into the real world eventually, begin the process of trying to find a job, and put their tattoos and piercings under the scrutiny of potential employers. After leaving the fairly liberal atmosphere of a college campus, they will have to look for jobs in a possibly more conservative one. But people like Gabriel Davis from the Career Service Center aren’t so concerned. Davis says the way tattoos and piercings are viewed is changing.

Kelley Bishop, Executive Director of the Career Services Network at MSU, said that it’s up to job seekers with visible tattoos and piercings to ask themselves, “Do [I] want to be confrontational [by presenting my tattoo or piercing upfront] and embrace my uniqueness?” Bishop also said that employers assess someone who boldly displays their tattoo or piercing versus concealing it, saying the employer would question the person’s judgment. He said creating change in the workplace may require cooperating at first. “I would really hate for someone to leap too far ahead of companies’ abilities to progress and change,” Bishop said. “The two places that will be slower to change will be positions where the individual is out with customers or clients…the second is in a strongly established [conservative] corporate culture. I think students have to make a personal choice about things,” Bishop said.

To some extent, a person’s choice about whether or not to hide body art or get it in the first place has to do with its meaning. Sometimes getting body art is just done as part of a fad or done for aesthetic reasons, but other times they are carefully thought out and have significant meanings. Despite piercings and tattoos becoming trendy (just think “tramp stamps” and tribal tattoos), DeVoss said she didn’t think their popularity took away from the meaning of hers. “I don’t feel that less meaningful tattoos diminish the meanings of mine,” she said. She has tattoos of symbols for the word “and” to represent her multifaceted talents: teacher and designer.

One of the more popular tattoo shops in East Lansing is Splash of Color on Grand River Avenue. Andy Knagg, who has worked at Splash of Color for three years, said, “It’s something you love and then it’s the cool thing, it sucks a little bit, [but] after the first [tattoo] people start to get weeded out.” Knagg has both arms sleeved, and about eight different piercings. He thought a lot about all them, even waiting two years from the time he began thinking about getting his first tattoo to the time he actually had it done when he was 20.

Knagg said that the tattoos on his arms are fairly easy to cover with a long-sleeved shirt and that he could remove his piercings. However, Knagg hasn’t had to worry much about his job being in jeopardy because of his body art. He did say retainers, which are clear plastic studs or rings, can help hide piercings and that MAC Makeup offers a great line to conceal tattoos if someone needed to cover them up. Knagg’s friend had to cover her tattoos across her chest for a wedding and the MAC product worked well for her.

Carly Ross got her eyebrow pierced at Splash of Color. Ross, a pre-med freshman, also has a navel piercing and ear piercings. She also has a cluster of stars tattooed on her foot. She was inspired to get the piercings and tattoo for aesthetic reasons. She said part of her mother’s concern about the eyebrow piercing (that she decided to get herself, while her mother had taken her to get the tattoo and navel piercing on previous birthdays) was that it was highly visible and didn’t look professional. Ross, on the other hand, said she didn’t see the tattoo or piercings as issues. “The eyebrow [piercing], I’ll just take out [for career purposes], and the tattoo isn’t too visible,” she said.

Andy Knagg's TattooAfter moving to MSU from her home in Holt, kinesiology freshman Miyah Williams got a tattoo of a monarch butterfly on her shoulder. She said the tattoo symbolizes her coming out of a cocoon and transforming. Williams wanted the tattoo from the time that she turned 16. “I’m glad I got it… because it’s a symbol of independence and it show that I’m one step closer to leading my own life.” she said. Her career plans are to work with children, so she said she wouldn’t get a tattoo in a visible place because, “people would be a little creeped-out.”

Discrimination against people with body art in the U.S. may not be a pressing issue, but what happens when an American with body art leaves the country to visit less diverse areas of the world? Would they be viewed under a different set of paradigms? In the U.S. attitudes may be changing, but in other parts of the world, there are still negative connotations associated with tattoos and piercings. Davis said location has a lot to do with how tattoos and piercings are perceived.

Sneha Grandhi, a molecular genetics freshman, lived in India until she was 12 and said , “[When I see people with tattoos and piercings] I think, ‘Oh, they must be kinda tough… badasses with piercings and they’re out there tagging [stuff].’” Grandhi said in India, nose and cartilage piercings are acceptable in villages and seen as traditional, but piercings in the Western manner are viewed as “rebellious.” She said tattoos aren’t accepted at all in India.

Grandhi also said that it was important to her mother that she didn’t lose her cultural identity. “[My mother] said, ‘I want you to look traditional, I don’t want Western culture to be presented when people see you,’” Grandhi said. Grandhi looks at the diversity in the U.S. as a “beautiful thing” that helps promote more acceptance. “I don’t think it’s fair to stereotype though, but there’s just things some people can’t accept… everyone judges on appearances… I’m sure you could compensate though with your skill if you had to deal with an employer,” Grandhi said.

Miguel Villavicencio, a marketing freshman and international student from El Salvador, used to have a tattoo on his wrist. “My mom didn’t talk to me for two months while I had it…I had to get it removed. In El Salvador we have a lot of gangs associated with tattoos, having them would definitely prevent you from getting a job. The police can even stop you and throw you into jail for it,” Villavicencio said. Miguel said that he didn’t have a problem with them personally a
nd sees them as artistic expression.

It seems that it’s really up to the individual with body art to present or hide their tattoos and piercings. They might question whether society as a whole has some responsibility to be more tolerant, but that probably isn’t relevant if they’re trying to get a job with a corporation. As Devoss said, “It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.”

But people with body art might not have to wait too long though for their piercings and tattoos to be accepted in a corporate environment because soon Generation Y will be the employers. “They won’t be able to scrutinize [others] when they have tattoos and piercings themselves,” Bishop said. If the popularity of tattoos and piercings is here to stay, then those with tattoos and piercings definitely won’t have to worry.

Additionally, diversity has been an integral part of America’s history and culture. Tattoos and piercings could be viewed as just another cultural variant, similar to different ethnic foods or dialects, or even cultural dances that ethnic groups use to express themselves. “It’s art; a form of expression,” Williams said.

Miyah Williams Butterfly Tattoo“The reason [tattoos and piercings] might stay is because tattoos and piercings are part of the rich tapestry of expression… Part of what makes societies diverse is their ability to accept expressions of uniqueness. [This is] quite different from the melting pot model… [I think] we will become more diverse not just physically but also psychologically,” Bishop said.

So we have evolved from a melting pot to a tossed salad where many different ingredients are visible, and maybe if the trend keeps up, there will be a little room in the salad bowl for some spicier ingredients — ones with body art.

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Inked and Pierced

Generation Y means anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 and, according to Pew Research Institute, 36 percent of them in the United States have at least one tattoo. The tattoo rate among Generation Y-ers is higher than the national average of 15 percent, which means there has been an increase in the popularity of tattoos compared to older generations. Those same forms of body art — tattoos and piercings, that some still see as rebellious or even gross, are less surprising than ever before.
MSU is one of many campuses nationwide that has seen body art integrate into campus culture. Prof. Danielle DeVoss, director of MSU’s professional writing program, recounted stories of being shocked when she first began seeing Piercing Pagodas popping up at East Lansing malls. But while tattoos and piercings are becoming more culturally accepted, they aren’t always as popular with prospective employers.
[eyebrow2]Students who are just another MSU student now, will enter into the real world eventually, begin the process of trying to find a job, and put their tattoos and piercings under the scrutiny of potential employers. After leaving the fairly liberal atmosphere of a college campus, they will have to look for jobs in a possibly more conservative one. But people like Gabriel Davis from the Career Service Center aren’t so concerned. Davis says the way tattoos and piercings are viewed is changing.
Kelley Bishop, Executive Director of the Career Services Network at MSU, said that it’s up to job seekers with visible tattoos and piercings to ask themselves, “Do [I] want to be confrontational [by presenting my tattoo or piercing upfront] and embrace my uniqueness?” Bishop also said that employers assess someone who boldly displays their tattoo or piercing versus concealing it, saying the employer would question the person’s judgment. He said creating change in the workplace may require cooperating at first. “I would really hate for someone to leap too far ahead of companies’ abilities to progress and change,” Bishop said. “The two places that will be slower to change will be positions where the individual is out with customers or clients…the second is in a strongly established [conservative] corporate culture. I think students have to make a personal choice about things,” Bishop said.
[devoss]To some extent, a person’s choice about whether or not to hide body art or get it in the first place has to do with its meaning. Sometimes getting body art is just done as part of a fad or done for aesthetic reasons, but other times they are carefully thought out and have significant meanings. Despite piercings and tattoos becoming trendy (just think “tramp stamps” and tribal tattoos), DeVoss said she didn’t think their popularity took away from the meaning of hers. “I don’t feel that less meaningful tattoos diminish the meanings of mine,” she said. She has tattoos of symbols for the word “and” to represent her multifaceted talents: teacher and designer.
One of the more popular tattoo shops in East Lansing is Splash of Color on Grand River Avenue. Andy Knagg, who has worked at Splash of Color for three years, said, “It’s something you love and then it’s the cool thing, it sucks a little bit, [but] after the first [tattoo] people start to get weeded out.” Knagg has both arms sleeved, and about eight different piercings. He thought a lot about all them, even waiting two years from the time he began thinking about getting his first tattoo to the time he actually had it done when he was 20.
Knagg said that the tattoos on his arms are fairly easy to cover with a long-sleeved shirt and that he could remove his piercings. However, Knagg hasn’t had to worry much about his job being in jeopardy because of his body art. He did say retainers, which are clear plastic studs or rings, can help hide piercings and that MAC Makeup offers a great line to conceal tattoos if someone needed to cover them up. Knagg’s friend had to cover her tattoos across her chest for a wedding and the MAC product worked well for her.
Carly Ross got her eyebrow pierced at Splash of Color. Ross, a pre-med freshman, also has a navel piercing and ear piercings. She also has a cluster of stars tattooed on her foot. She was inspired to get the piercings and tattoo for aesthetic reasons. She said part of her mother’s concern about the eyebrow piercing (that she decided to get herself, while her mother had taken her to get the tattoo and navel piercing on previous birthdays) was that it was highly visible and didn’t look professional. Ross, on the other hand, said she didn’t see the tattoo or piercings as issues. “The eyebrow [piercing], I’ll just take out [for career purposes], and the tattoo isn’t too visible,” she said.
[knagg]After moving to MSU from her home in Holt, kinesiology freshman Miyah Williams got a tattoo of a monarch butterfly on her shoulder. She said the tattoo symbolizes her coming out of a cocoon and transforming. Williams wanted the tattoo from the time that she turned 16. “I’m glad I got it… because it’s a symbol of independence and it show that I’m one step closer to leading my own life.” she said. Her career plans are to work with children, so she said she wouldn’t get a tattoo in a visible place because, “people would be a little creeped-out.”
Discrimination against people with body art in the U.S. may not be a pressing issue, but what happens when an American with body art leaves the country to visit less diverse areas of the world? Would they be viewed under a different set of paradigms? In the U.S. attitudes may be changing, but in other parts of the world, there are still negative connotations associated with tattoos and piercings. Davis said location has a lot to do with how tattoos and piercings are perceived.
Sneha Grandhi, a molecular genetics freshman, lived in India until she was 12 and said , “[When I see people with tattoos and piercings] I think, ‘Oh, they must be kinda tough… badasses with piercings and they’re out there tagging [stuff].’” Grandhi said in India, nose and cartilage piercings are acceptable in villages and seen as traditional, but piercings in the Western manner are viewed as “rebellious.” She said tattoos aren’t accepted at all in India.
Grandhi also said that it was important to her mother that she didn’t lose her cultural identity. “[My mother] said, ‘I want you to look traditional, I don’t want Western culture to be presented when people see you,’” Grandhi said. Grandhi looks at the diversity in the U.S. as a “beautiful thing” that helps promote more acceptance. “I don’t think it’s fair to stereotype though, but there’s just things some people can’t accept… everyone judges on appearances… I’m sure you could compensate though with your skill if you had to deal with an employer,” Grandhi said.
[villavicencio1]Miguel Villavicencio, a marketing freshman and international student from El Salvador, used to have a tattoo on his wrist. “My mom didn’t talk to me for two months while I had it…I had to get it removed. In El Salvador we have a lot of gangs associated with tattoos, having them would definitely prevent you from getting a job. The police can even stop you and throw you into jail for it,” Villavicencio said. Miguel said that he didn’t have a problem with them personally and sees them as artistic expression.
It seems that it’s really up to the individual with body art to present or hide their tattoos and piercings. They might question whether society as a whole has some responsibility to be more tolerant, but that probably isn’t relevant if they’re trying to get a job with a corporation. As Devoss said, “It’s not fair, but life isn’t fair.”
But people with body art might not have to wait too long though for their piercings and tattoos to be accepted in a corporate environment because soon Generation Y will be the employers. “They won’t be able to scrutinize [others] when they have tattoos and piercings themselves,” Bishop said. If the popularity of tattoos and piercings is here to stay, then those with tattoos and piercings definitely won’t have to worry.
Additionally, diversity has been an integral part of America’s history and culture. Tattoos and piercings could be viewed as just another cultural variant, similar to different ethnic foods or dialects, or even cultural dances that ethnic groups use to express themselves. “It’s art; a form of expression,” Williams said.
[williams]“The reason [tattoos and piercings] might stay is because tattoos and piercings are part of the rich tapestry of expression… Part of what makes societies diverse is their ability to accept expressions of uniqueness. [This is] quite different from the melting pot model… [I think] we will become more diverse not just physically but also psychologically,” Bishop said.
So we have evolved from a melting pot to a tossed salad where many different ingredients are visible, and maybe if the trend keeps up, there will be a little room in the salad bowl for some spicier ingredients — ones with body art.

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Hungry For a Solution

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Hungry For a Solution

Hunger is a growing pandemic. For decades, scientists, humanitarians and social activists have been looking for solutions to this complicated problem. In investigating how to get food to hungry people along with the burgeoning revolution in sustainable agriculture over the last few decades, there have been thoughts on the positive role sustainable agriculture can play in fighting global starvation.
[gibbonsorg]According to MSU Extension Specialist for Food and Farming Systems, Susan Smalley, there are three dimensions of sustainability. The first dimension is the environment, which would require that sustainable farms maintain practices that have little impact on or help the environment. The second is the economic aspect. Sustainable farms need to be profitable and use strategies to keep up profitability in the long run. The third dimension encompasses the social factors. Smalley described this dimension by saying, “For it to be sustainable socially, that’s where equity issues come in, we can’t use up all the resources we have.” Some important connections can be made between these aims and the crusade against the hunger and malnourishment that currently affects 963 million people worldwide.
When six million children under the age of 5 die every year from hunger, it’s clear it’s a pressing issue. Sustainable agriculture could make a difference because it develops long-term food security, which means ensuring a community has a safe and adequate food supply. In order to have food security, agriculture has to be managed so it has little negative impact on the environment. Some methods of doing that include crop rotation, which means the planned rotation of specific crops on the same field so as not to exhaust the land. This method provides soil arability for a longer time period. In the long-run, it would create more food resources and make food more readily available to people.
[bernsten]The second and third dimensions of sustainability are fairly simple in the way they relate to diminishing hunger. Professors Paul Thompson and Rick Bernsten agree that the root cause of hunger is poverty. Both Bernsten and Thompson are professors in the department of agriculture and food. “The long term problem is that people are hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy food on the market,” Bernsten said. Sustainability deals with providing farmers with efficient agricultural methods so that resources and money are not wasted. Moreover, using sustainable methods would provide impoverished farmers with more profit so that they would be able to better feed themselves and their families.
As far as the social aim is concerned, not using up all the earth’s resources would help prevent a catastrophic food crisis in the future caused by simply running out of food and depleting resources. The population of the earth currently lends to there being enough food for everyone, Thompson said. “We currently produce enough to provide everyone with a sufficient amount of calories, and we can do it for the next 60 to 100 years,” Thompson said. He also said that there is enough farm-able land, but producing enough food in the future could mean not preserving biodiversity or compromising huge protected areas.
Currently, the issue of hunger is less linked to population and more significantly connected with poverty. A term that is used often when talking about poverty is fair trade. Fair trade is a system that provides farmers in developing countries with a higher profit for their crops by taking out the middlemen between the farmer and the consumer. Consequentially, there is an increase in profit for the farmers. According to Bernsten, fair trade provides incentives for farmers in developing countries to grow crops more sustainably. In fact, part of the agreement in some fair trade business is that the farmer must abide by a certain set of sustainable rules.
[gibbonsorg2]Some of the advantages of fair trade products are that, along with eco-friendly certified products, they create a market for higher priced goods to be sold to people who are mindful of their environmental impact. With more profit, farmers who are impoverished could begin to lift themselves out of poverty and therefore out of hunger. MSU has taken several steps to get involved in the effort to alleviate world hunger through the fair trade initiative. Fair trade coffee is now a well-known commodity at Sparty’s coffeeshops on MSU’s campus.
There is also discussion regarding the sustainability of animal agriculture versus plant-only agriculture. This goes along with determining which practices are most sustainable. Once these are determined and used, they will be beneficial to aiding hunger.
In Bruce Friedrich’s article “Vegetarianism”, he argued that animal agriculture is not sustainable because of the thousands of pounds of edible grain that are cycled through cattle. By “cycled,” Friedrich implied that the grain was being wasted in beef production. According to some sources it takes more than three times the amount of grain to produce 1 lb of beef.
Consistent with Thompson’s views, if cattle are raised on an open range and the cattle industry is structured with some range-based production, the practice can be sustainable. Cattle can even be switched to a grain-based diet before slaughter to create better meat quality. However, he said that it is not ethical to cycle large amounts of grain and corn through cattle when it could be used to feed people. “The current agriculture system is not sustainable, but could provide sustainability and be consistent with animal welfare,” Thompson said.
[widders]Smalley and Bernsten went into further detail on the argument of plant-only agriculture. “[The argument for plant-only agricultural] assumes that if there was less meat consumption grain to feed cattle could feed people,” Bernsten said. The problem with this, Bernsten said, is that if agriculture was less dependent on corn, then the price would decrease, causing farmers to produce less. Smalley brought up that a shift toward a more plant-based agricultural diet would be beneficial to sustainability or relieving world hunger. The conclusion to the argument seems to be that moving toward more plant agriculture and a more plant-based diet would be beneficial to sustainability, but a complete switch is not necessary for our planet to survive.
When looking for solutions to world hunger, the issue of population comes up often, but perhaps in the future the discussion will shift instead to how our food is grown. MSU is already doing this with food research programs in developing countries, especially in Africa. The Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Program, which works in Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania, focuses on growing healthier types of beans in those countries. The goal is to work alongside African scientific institutions and provide them with the know-how to take over one day and to sustainably grow their own beans that can prevent diseases like type II diabetes and colon cancer. “We have a research capacity that these countries don’t have,” said Irv Widders, a professor of horticulture who leads the group. “The opportunity to receive collaborative work really helps those institutions to bring to bear the latest technology to address these challenges.”

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