Photo Slideshow of MSU After Snow Storm

Photo Slideshow of MSU After Snow Storm

For the first time in over 30 years, Michigan State University closed it’s campus for what students termed, a “snow day” on Feb. 2. Two editors from TBG, Brett Ekblad and Emily Lawler, captured some photos of the aftermath.

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Student-run Fashion Show a Success

Student-run Fashion Show a Success

Editor Kaleigh Roubichaud attended a fashion event put on by the Student Apparel and Textile Design Association (SADA). The designs were all made by students, and were based on different periods of art.

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Going Global

Threads of Change – The transformation of West African Textiles Exhibit
Month of May; MSU Museum, Main Gallery
West Africa’s ever-changing art and textiles will be on display at the MSU Museum, free of charge. The textiles from this region have been re-worked and transformed over time and prove West Africa to be the heartland of African art and textile production. Tradition and modernization are expressed from the Kente cloth of Ghana and mud cloth of Mali, to the indigo Adire cloth of Nigeria and printed cottons of Guinea. The availability and use of new technologies and materials, the exposure to new design sources, changes in religious and cultural traditions, the ingenuity of individual artists, and commercial global market forces have all influenced the design, color, meaning, and function of West African textiles. This new MSU Museum exhibition includes examples of cloths that illustrate some of these changes.
For more information, contact the MSU Museum, at pr@museum.msu.edu.

Michigan Eats Exhibit
Month of May; MSU Museum, Heritage Gallery
Earlier this year, “Michigan Foodways” traveled with the Smithsonian’s “Key Ingredients: America by Food” to six sites in Michigan where they were seen by enthusiastic visitors from around the country. The Smithsonian’s exhibition has left the state, and “Michigan Foodways” has returned to Michigan State University Museum for refurbishing and expansion before it once again tours the state. Part of this make over project will entail adding “Local Voices,” a section about the foodways of the sites where the exhibit was hosted earlier from the perspective of those local communities (Chelsea, Calumet, Cheboygan, Whitehall, Frankenmuth, and Dundee). This transformed exhibit, renamed “Michigan Eats: Regional Culture through Food,” will open at the Michigan State University Museum in April 2009 and begin touring elsewhere in the state in the fall.
For more information, contact MSU Museum, at pr@museum.msu.edu.

Monster Piano Concert
May 3, 3 p.m.; Wharton, Cobb Great Hall, Shaw Lane at Bogue Street, East Lansing, MI
Don’t miss your last chance to see the fourth and final concert in Showcase Series, featuring eight MSU piano faculty performing on stage on eight grand pianos.
For more information, contact College of Music, at (517) 353-5340.

Pack Up, Pitch In, Help out
May 1 through May 15, All Day; MSU campus, University Village, University Apartments, and East Lansing Hannah Community Center
Packing up and moving out for the summer just got easier. Don’t know what to do with all that ‘stuff’ you’ve got lying around? Finding it hard to fit everything into the car to take with you? Pack up, pitch in, and help out. The Division of Housing & Food Services encourages students and East Lansing community members to recycle and donate unwanted items through the “Pack Up, Pitch In, Help Out” program, promoting environmental sustainability during residence hall move-out. The program is collecting clothing, shoes, food, books, bikes, plastics #1 and #2, white and mixed paper, metal futons, household appliances, loft lumber, furniture, and e-waste, including all items with batteries or cords. Donated items can be dropped off at residence halls on campus through May 9, University Village through May 13, The East Lansing Hannah Community Center between May 7-8, and at University Apartments between May 11-15.
For more information, contact Chip Hornburg, at hornburg@msu.edu.

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Going Global

 Faverman Lecture: Joseph A. Califano

April 1, 10:20 a.m.; MSU Union, Parlors B & C

The nation’s last U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, has served three presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Carter. He has served as general counsel to the U.S. Army and as special assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. As Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Califano was a top domestic aide, developing policies on health care, education, environment and urban issues, and civil rights.

For more information, contact Cynthia Kyle, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, at kylec@msu.edu.

NASA Astronaut John Herrington

April 3, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; 115 International Center

NASA astronaut and aeronautical engineer John Herrington will be conducting a free public lecture at the International Center as part of the events hosted by the MSU chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

For more information, contact Autumn Mitchell, College of Natural Science, at mitch489@msu.edu.

“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” (film)

April 9, 7 p.m.; Library, Main-North Conference Room (W449)

Presented by Joe Francese, Department of French, Classics, and Italian. In Ferrara, Italy, at the beginning of WWII, anti-Semitism is spreading. Mussolini has passed several laws that forbid Jews from going to public schools, joining the army, or marrying non-Jews. While many middle-class Jewish families flee the country, the Finzi-Continis believe it’s safe inside their sprawling estate. As a wealthy, aristocratic Jewish family, they think their luxurious garden walls will protect them from fascism. Eventually they can pretend no longer, and the war closes in on them.

For more information, contact Library Administration at (517) 353-8700.

“Poetry in the Spring” series: Elspeth Cameron

April 14, 7:30 p.m.; Snyder Hall, RCAH Theatre, CB20

The Center for Poetry welcomes Elspeth Cameron, one of Canada’s most respected and well-known biographers. Cameron has published books on Irving Layton, Earle Birney, and Hugh Maclennan. Her most recent book, And Beauty Answers, details the lives and work of sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. Cameron is the recipient of many awards and honors and was a Governor General’s Award Non-Fiction finalist. She has served as the director of the Canadian Studies Program at the University of Toronto and was an adjunct professor in the Department of language and Literature at Brock University.

For more information, contact RCAH Center for Poetry at cpoetry@msu.edu.

Concert Orchestra

April 30, 7:30 p.m.; Fairchild Theatre, Auditorium Rd., MSU Campus

Tchaikovsky – Mazurka from Swan Lake

Borodin – Symphony No. 2, Movement I

Grieg – Suite from the Incidental Music to Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt

Wagner – Grand March from Tannhauser

For more information, contact the College of Music at (517) 432-2880.

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Going Global

Faverman Lecture: Joseph A. Califano
April 1, 10:20 a.m.; MSU Union, Parlors B & C
The nation’s last U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, has served three presidents: Kennedy, Johnson and Carter. He has served as general counsel to the U.S. Army and as special assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. As Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Califano was a top domestic aide, developing policies on health care, education, environment and urban issues, and civil rights.
For more information, contact Cynthia Kyle, Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, at kylec@msu.edu.

NASA Astronaut John Herrington
April 3, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.; 115 International Center
NASA astronaut and aeronautical engineer John Herrington will be conducting a free public lecture at the International Center as part of the events hosted by the MSU chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
For more information, contact Autumn Mitchell, College of Natural Science, at mitch489@msu.edu.

“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” (film)
April 9, 7 p.m.; Library, Main-North Conference Room (W449)
Presented by Joe Francese, Department of French, Classics, and Italian. In Ferrara, Italy, at the beginning of WWII, anti-Semitism is spreading. Mussolini has passed several laws that forbid Jews from going to public schools, joining the army, or marrying non-Jews. While many middle-class Jewish families flee the country, the Finzi-Continis believe it’s safe inside their sprawling estate. As a wealthy, aristocratic Jewish family, they think their luxurious garden walls will protect them from fascism. Eventually they can pretend no longer, and the war closes in on them.
For more information, contact Library Administration at (517) 353-8700.

“Poetry in the Spring” series: Elspeth Cameron
April 14, 7:30 p.m.; Snyder Hall, RCAH Theatre, CB20
The Center for Poetry welcomes Elspeth Cameron, one of Canada’s most respected and well-known biographers. Cameron has published books on Irving Layton, Earle Birney, and Hugh Maclennan. Her most recent book, And Beauty Answers, details the lives and work of sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. Cameron is the recipient of many awards and honors and was a Governor General’s Award Non-Fiction finalist. She has served as the director of the Canadian Studies Program at the University of Toronto and was an adjunct professor in the Department of language and Literature at Brock University.
For more information, contact RCAH Center for Poetry at cpoetry@msu.edu.

Concert Orchestra
April 30, 7:30 p.m.; Fairchild Theatre, Auditorium Rd., MSU Campus
Tchaikovsky – Mazurka from Swan Lake
Borodin – Symphony No. 2, Movement I
Grieg – Suite from the Incidental Music to Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt
Wagner – Grand March from Tannhauser
For more information, contact the College of Music at (517) 432-2880.

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Sustainable Agriculture

The average American eats 1,500 pounds of food a year. It’s not hard to imagine that a person in a developing country doesn’t achieve that same level of consumption. According to John Lawrence Hill’s, “The Case for Vegetarianism”, our average caloric intake per day is 3,150 calories. Comparatively, the caloric intake in developing countries is 2,200. Rachel Roys, president of MSU UNICEF, said 143 million children are undernourished(WORLDY?). Every two or three months, the amount of children that die from starvation(OR MALNUTRITION?) is more than the amount of people that have died from AIDS worldwide. (KIND OF CONFUSING. IS THIS AIDS OVER THE SAME TIME PERIOD?)
The root of eating habits in the U.S. is American agriculture (NOT QUITE SURE WHAT YOU’RE IMPLYING. IS IT THE WAY WE GROW OUR FOOD? ELABORATE). There are efforts from various people(WHO?/HOW?) involved with farming to make American agriculture have less negative(REDUNDANT) impact on the environment. Many of these people are involved in what modern lexicon (? USE DIFFERENT WORD) would call sustainable agriculture.
The word, sustainable, has been popping up a lot lately. Calling something sustainable means that it has the ability to sustain a certain process. In relevance to humanity, sustainability helps maintain ecological processes on earth and also using the earth’s resources at a rate at which they can be replenished. Sustainable agriculture, then, is agriculture that takes into account its negative impact on environment and strives to lessen it. It’s important to have sustainable agriculture in order to promote preservation of earthly life and processes, and also to lessen waste (HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? ANY SOURCES?)

THE ENVIRONMENT

Aspects of sustainability are present at MSU’s Student Organic Farm. Organic farming holds a position in the story of sustainable agriculture because it may seem that organic farming, which generally limits the use of pesticides and utilizes compost and crop rotation in order to not exhaust nutrients in soil, is in align with sustainable values (SOURCE?). For example, Corie Pierce, coordinator of the Organic Farming Certificate Program at MSU, spoke about the damage pesticides can cause to the environment. Pierce said that farming organically was good because it was about being a good farmer. This means working with the land and not over-tilling it which can lead to erosion. Working with the land, sounds very similar to working to preserve the earth. Pierce said that giving plants pesticides on a farm puts that farm’s ecosystem on a sort of pesticide treadmill. This means that once pesticides begin to be used on plants, the plants will continue to need those pesticides. When the amount of pesticides are increased, the plants’ need for pesticides exponentially increases. Additionally, Pierce said that through the plants, pesticides can leak into the soil and then the water systems of a community, potentially harming the plants and animals that inhabit them. An example of this is the dead zone (an area devoid of life). The dead zone is bigger than New Jersey and it is located in the Mississippi river. The pesticides, Pierce said, are largely petroleum-based and lend to a dependency on oil. That dependency on oil could be unhealthy because most oil sources are non-renewable. (UNHEALTHY TO ENVIRONMENT? USE DIFFERENT WORD)
Conversely, the National Cattlemen’s Association stated in 1990 that pesticides do not damage the environment and that plants produce natural pesticides to protect themselves from insects, parasites and birds. In the opinion(NO OPINIONS, JUST SAID…DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE FOR THIS?) of MSU’s Dr. Paul Thompson the uses of pesticides is never ideal but in farming some use of pesticides is inevitable. Thompson also said that in most organic the class of pesticides is just restricted. There are even more eco-friendly pesticides such as bacillus thuringiensis(DOUBLE CHECK SPELLING) (Bt) that are natural and formed from microorganisms.

Conserving water is a facet of sustainability as well. In accordance with Pierce, water conservation isn’t an organic versus inorganic issue. Smaller farms use less water in comparison with larger commercial farms because they use sprinkler systems meant for simply covering large areas of land. On the other hand, smaller farms, which generally can’t afford to waste water, have more individualized water systems.

COMBATING HUNGER

UNICEF, according to Roys, has saved more lives than any other children’s organization. What’s more is that one quarter of the children in the world are undernourished and malnourishment accounts for one-third of childhood deaths (CLARIFY. TOO CONFUSING). Children, after all, are the future and how society will solve the problem of hunger for children and adults is a pressing issue. Despite the amount of hunger present in modern society, “[the world] currently produces enough to provide everyone with a sufficient amount of calories,” Thompson said.
The root cause of hunger is poverty said Thompson. In rural areas, many families farm and may even have enough food to eat, but sometimes those who have enough to eat are nutrient deficient. There are families that suffer from low productivity on farms, as well, which leads to having to sell more of the food they grow, leaving little for themselves. The urban poor who suffer from starvation face a strictly income based problem for the most part. Besides intrinsic issues that families who are hungry face, there’s also the problem that industrialized countries try to keep prices low for produce which leaves farmers with little profit (SOURCE. HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS?).
The issue of hunger is related to sustainable agriculture because some have argued that agriculture can revolutionize the hunger crisis in today’s world. In Friedrich said that animal agriculture is wasteful because of the thousands of pounds of edible grain that is cycled through cattle. Others have argued that animal agriculture promotes sustainability (EXAMPLES?).
According to Thompson, if cattle are raised on an open range it can be sustainable and the cattle industry is structured with some range based production. Cattle can even be switched to a grain-based diet before slaughter to create better meat quality. However, Thompson said 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???)
Another issue that ties hunger and agriculture together is trade. Friedrich argued that throughout the famine in Ethiopia the country was exporting “much needed” soy and linseed to feed-farmed animals. Furthermore, he said that the issue is similar between the U.S. and Latin America. For example, two-thirds of the agriculturally productive land in Central America is devoted to raising farmed animals, almost all of whom are exported or eaten by the wealthy few in these countries.” Fredrich(SPELLING?) referenced Francis Moore Lappe in his writing/audiobook. Lappe, too, thought that a vegetarian diet would aid in the fight against hunger. Lappe makes a case in her book Diet for a Small Planet that one of the causes for hunger is the unfair distribution of resources. Basically, she believed that the wealthy controlled nature’s resources and that they take advantage of this power with little regard for the consequences that affect the poor. (PREFERRABLY, DON’T USE SOURCES FROM OTHER SOURCES. IT GETS CONFUSING. LEAVE OUT LAPPE. YOU CAN SAY WHAT HIS POSITION IS, THOUGH)
First off to digest Friedrich’s argument, it’s important to consider that trade seems to affect hunger in a complex way and that there are many variables that affect hunger. However, “no matter how poor [someone is] you need to sell food,” Thompson said. He meant that in order for farmers to make a profit here and abroad, trade has to exist. Furthermore, trade is necessary. As long as farmers can make their own choices about who to sell to, inequality will exist in the world market. Part of the problem is that the U.S. and Europe sometimes sell at prices lower than the cost of production; prices that farmers in developing countries can’t compete with. It is valid, according to Thompson, that nature’s wealth is controlled to fill the needs of affluent people, leaving out the poor. Higher income also is connected to a more wasteful lifestyle (ELABORATE).
Thompson said that a world shift to vegetarianism is not the solution to world hunger. He agreed that there is a level of meat consumption that is sustainable for the environment that we as humanity have probably exceeded and he thought that eating meat increases the amount of food that needs to be produced (considering that it takes about 2lbs of grain to produce 1lb of chicken, and even more grain to produce 1lb of beef)(BREAK THIS DOWN INTO TWO SENTENCES).
As far as trade is concerned, there’s also the suggestion that fair trade can promote sustainability. For one thing it gets farmers fair prices meaning that they would better be able to support and nourish themselves.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Perhaps the solution is to simply be mindful of how your actions affect others. Eating is a choice that you make over and over again in your day to day life. Why not make a good choice and think of others when you eat?

Rachel Roys does not represent the views or opinions of UNICEF or the UN.

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Going Global

Guest Lecture Series – Michael J. Hudson
March 3, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.; Spartan Room C, International Center
The Director of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, Michael J. Hudson, will speak about accessibility for persons with disabilities in the United States and the rest of the world.
For more information, contact Matt Hund, Communications Coordinator, at hundmatt@msu.edu.

Approaches and Experiences of Community Natural Resources Management in Malawi
March 5, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.; 201 International Center
Geography professor Leo Zulu will be giving a speech as part of the African Studies Center Brown Bag lecture series.
For more information, contact Yacob Fisseha at fisseha@msu.edu.

Michigan Canadian Studies Roundtable
March 20, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Henry Center for Executive Development

Michigan State University’s Canadian Studies Center invites anyone who has a genuine interest in U.S.-Canada relations, to explore a variety of timely topics. There will be artists, researchers, practitioners, teachers and policy activists gathering for this important discussion.
For more information, contact Alane Enyart, Canadian Studies Center, enyart@msu.edu.

High Chai at Turner Dodge House
March 21, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Turner Dodge House, 100 E. North St., Lansing, MI 48906

Learn more about India while enjoying chai tea and sweets at the historic Turner Dodge House in Lansing. Two sittings are available. Tickets may be purchased at the door.
For more information, contact Kitty Douglass, Asian Studies, gabele@msu.edu.

Reconstructing the Third Wave of Democracy: Comparative African Democratic Politics
March 26, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.; 201 International Center

African Studies Center Brown Bag talk with Rita Kiki Edozie,a James Madison professor.
For more information, contact Yacob Fisseha, African Studies Center, (517) 353-1700.

Fourth Annual Israeli Film Festival
March 29; 147 Communication Art and Sciences

1:30 p.m. “Children of the Sun” – a documentary directed by Ran Tai. Speaker: Dr. Miri Talmon-Bohm, Israeli Cinema and Culture.

4 p.m. “Arab Labor” – directed by Ron Ninio. 5:30 Dinner available for purchase on site, catered by Woody’s Oasis Mediterranean Deli.

7 p.m. “Noodle” – Directed by Ayelet Menahemi.

For more information, contact William Londo, Asian Studies, asiansc@msu.edu.

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Second Life Sexuality

Second Life is growing faster than you can say “virtual world.” Since 2003, the online community has become a daily routine to nearly 15 million users. It now has a growing rate of 100,000 new users every week. The expansion of this virtual world can be attributed to the residents because they are the ones who create it. Second Life, in its entirety, runs solely through the people, or avatars, who live in it. Picture the popular computer game the Sims, only 10 times more realistic. That is what Second Life looks like. Unlike the Sims, every character in Second Life is controlled by a real-life person behind a computer, which makes it more realistic than ever.
Avatars from all walks of life can interact with each other and make their virtual world as complex and creative as they want. The interaction between the characters is as real as the people behind it. From Brazil to Japan, people are connecting on a different level; the virtual level. There are no limits to what you can and cannot do in Second Life. Not only does it serve as a place for entertainment, social interaction, and creativity, it creates the opportunity for people to express their sexuality and explore their sexual fantasies.
Assistant professor in sociology and criminal justice, Soma Chaudhuri, described the virtual world as less complicated than reality. “There are fewer rules, you can be whatever you want, and you break social norms,” Chaudhuri said. “Someone who is shy in real-life can be this bold person in another parallel of life.”
People living in the real world may be subject to rules or stipulations imposed by laws and society. In Second Life, they have a chance to express parts of their sexuality they wouldn’t be able to or wouldn’t even attempt. Chaudhuri said Second Life is very appealing to a variety of different people because of the opportunities it provides.
One of these opportunities is security in a sexual environment, including knowing that no one can be judged for their sexuality in the virtual world. A person can choose to be male or female in Second Life, even if they are not the same gender in the real world. In the process, sexuality becomes blurred because not everyone is acting out in a way they ever would outside of the virtual world. The less rigid structure of Second Life makes it a comfortable and secure environment for people looking to explore their sexuality, without being under the scrutiny of friends or family. Straight men may chose to be heterosexual females and have virtual acts of sex with males even while having no homosexual tendencies themselves.
[Gregson]In a sexual context, the virtual world is also physically and emotionally safe. “In real-life, we have a lot of issues to deal with,” Chaudhuri said. Some issues can include unexpected pregnancies, STDs, emotional abuse, rejection and even rape. In Second Life, residents do not have to worry about the consequences of sexual interactions with other avatars. “There’s a sense of freedom and a new way to channel desires in a harmless and safe environment,” Chaudhuri said. With the opportunity to fulfill any sexual desire imaginable, it is not surprising that there are plenty of places to do so in Second Life. There are self-policed brothels, red-light districts, bath houses and even orgies. It is reasonable to conclude that many people who enjoy the types of sexual experimentation available online have never done so in the real world.
Assistant professor at Ithaca College Kim Gregson has been an active resident in Second Life for the last four years. As part of her own curriculum, she requires her students to do projects on Second Life. This means that the students have to build their own avatars and find out what Second Life is all about. Gregson provides the students with a little money to get started. With that money, the students are able to buy personal items for their avatars. “You discover your avatar kind of like a Barbie,” Gregson said. “They have to shop for genitals, clothes, and they have to buy skin.” Some things get pricey, but there is always free stuff too. The more detailed and original the avatar is, the more expensive they are to create. Like everything else in Second Life, the money is not a game either.
Anyone can set up a business in Second Life and take that money and exchange it for real money. That’s right, real money. The Second Life’s form of currency, named the Linden dollar, can be exchanged back and forth with the US Dollar or various other international currencies. The official Linden dollar exchange of the Second Life world is called the LindeX. The currency exchange fluctuates daily as do the world’s currencies. It is hard to say if one could ever make a real life living by doing this, but so far nothing seems impossible in Second Life.
The biggest industry in the virtual world, according to Gregson, is the sex industry, where most Linden dollars are circulated. “People are not necessarily looking for relationships, but they are looking for cybersex,” Gregson said. “Folks are looking for easy sex, strippers and prostitutes.” The sex industry does well because of those motives. Strip clubs, escorts and sex toy shops are very common to the Second Life community and are easy to find. Gregson said it is more than easy for people to fulfill any sexual fantasies that they might not be able to carry out in real-life.
“You can’t talk about sex in Second Life without talking about Furries,” Gregson said. Furries are a prime example of the freedom the virtual world provides. Gregson described Furries as an interesting fetish that go way back. The Fur community is exactly what it sounds like: stuffed animals. They are more commonly known as Fur Nation. For those of you who have always wanted to dress up as your favorite cartoon character or childhood teddy bear, here is your chance. “People like to dress up,” Gregson said. Where else can someone dress up as an animal and not be judged for it?
Journalism senior Katie Rausch was unaware of how expansive and incredibly intricate the virtual world was. “It seems people are on there for escapism,” Rausch said. She compared it to the same reason people read books or watch movies. Recently, Rausch had been a part of a Web grant collaboration between MSU and several other colleges that used Second Life as a way of communication. She was not surprised at how large the sex industry was in the virtual world, though.
“Sex drives our culture. People like sex and they always will,” Rausch said. Today’s society stresses the importance of having a hot body, a sexy car, and form-fitting clothes. The same ideology exists in the virtual world, except it is more magnified and accepted. Rausch said that anyone who wanders around Second Life is bound to run into sexual situations and solicitation. “There would be other avatars having sex,” Rausch said. “It was too realistic for my taste, in general.”
Due to the fact that the virtual world can be somewhat graphic, Second Life has an age limit. A person must be at least 18 years of age to create an avatar, Gregson said. But getting around that limit is not difficult. “You can tell if you’re talking to a kid that’s 12. They don’t police it very well,” Gregson said.
As easy as it is to create an avatar, it is just as easy to get rid of it. People can stay anonymous too. No one is supposed to know or ask about another avatar’s real world information unless they are willing to share it. Furthermore, you cannot be a victim of rape or sexual abuse unless you consent to it either. “You have control of the situation,” Gregson said. As weird as it may sound, there are role play games that consist of rape. Gregson said that you can choose to be a victim or an aggressor. In any situation that might become uncomfortable, people do have the power to delete an avatar as a friend or completely log off.
Separating the real world from the virtual world is up to a person’s own discretion. Gregson finds no problem with letting others know who she is in the real world. “I tell everyone I’m a real-world professor,” Gregson said. On the other hand, Gregson uses Second Life to build things in 3-D and not for sexual pleasure. “I’m not social,” Gregson said. “I like to build and manage my island.” When it comes to living out sexual fantasies, however, people tend to keep the two worlds separate for obvious personal reasons.
[Chaudhuri]Other people look at the topic of separating real and virtual living differently. Chaudhuri said, “Sometimes it becomes so real that it might get out of control.” She was presented the concept of cheating on a spouse. “Some couples accuse each other of being unfaithful online. It’s hard to see if this counts as an affair,” Chaudhuri said.
For moral reasons, Chaudhuri said that it is healthy for people to separate their real life from their virtual life. She pointed out that other people might be content allowing their spouse or significant other to explore their sexual desires online if that prevents them from doing it in real-life. However, a strain can be put on a relationship when the intentions of living in Second Life are not discussed between partners. Second Life is realistic in the sense that people are interacting with other people. Even though the two people behind the avatars are not physically having an affair, they could be hurting their relationships with a significant other in the real world.
Although some people might look at Second Life in a negative light, the positive effects cannot be overlooked by others. “To be completely honest, I felt it had a lot of useful purposes,” Rausch said. Even though Rausch is not an avid resident in Second Life, she encourages everyone to see what it is all about.
Whether it is the first, second or hundredth time using Second Life, there is always something new to be discovered. Between sex toy shops and musical concerts, there is something for everyone. It is a self-serving community where anyone, and in some cases anything, have the chance to live and explore in another social network without regulation. What you put into Second Life is what you should expect to get out of it. Who knows what could happen? Maybe you will take on a new profession, or maybe you will live out a little fantasy of your own.

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History Gets Sexy

It could be the fact that the word “sex” is in the title, but professor Aminda Smith likes to think that her class on the history of sexuality is gaining popularity for the concepts it covers. Since a year ago when History of Sexuality was reintroduced into MSU’s available courses, a tremendous number of students have found the topic to be enticing as well as an integral part of their learning experience. Students’ interest in the course has grown to the extent that the next time it is offered it will consist of nearly 150 students. The course, which can be taken under HST 420 or WS 420, ran once in the 2007-2008 school year and will run once this school year, in the spring.
According to Smith, History of Sexuality is a course that focuses on how people have conceptualized, constructed, experienced and performed sexuality throughout history. “We look at the extent to which issues of sexuality shape our world and how they are socially constructed,” Smith said. To do so, the class uses first-hand accounts, fiction, film, art and artifacts. The students learn about sexuality from as early as the medieval period to the 21st century. “Gender and sexuality are separate from history, but they do motivate historical events,” Smith said.
At a young age, Smith became interested in the history of sexuality as an activist for women’s rights. As an undergraduate in college, she took a lot of classes that discussed gender and women’s studies. This led her to acquire a personal and political interest in the meaning behind her activism. Smith was curious as to why people sexually developed the way they did and why they changed over time. Her enthusiasm and familiarity of the subject has given her the ability to pass on that knowledge to another generation of students at MSU. “Now we tend to think of sexes as two different entities, but it wasn’t always that way,” Smith said.
[Smith]The class is harder than people think because it involves a lot of theory. Throughout the semester, students are required to explore the rationale of theorists such as Matthew Kuefler, Thomas Laqueur, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Sigmund Freud. To show their comprehension, students are then asked to write in-depth analyses of the various theories. “The historical aspect of the class was being able to read theory and understand sexuality in society at different times,” sociology and women and gender studies senior Rachel Mieskowski said. In the fall of 2007, Mieskowski decided to take History of Sexuality in relation to her major. Before the semester was finished, she discovered how much the history of sexuality had influenced social norms and taboos today.
The paper that Mieskowski enjoyed writing the most focused on the concept of homosexuality and heterosexuality. “It helped me conceptualize how we oversimplify things today,” Mieskowski said. The class read two articles pertaining to the sexual system in ancient Greece where there was no differentiation between the sexes. Mieskowski took that view and argued that there could be only one sex system. “Years ago, people thought of women as just imperfect men or ‘inside out’ men,” Smith said.
Taking that idea, Mieskowski concluded that people could consider the idea that one could not be heterosexual if the two sexes were fused together. They could only be homosexual. “I found a way to complicate something that seemed so simple and it was actually a lot of fun,” Mieskowski said. It is easy for students to get engaged in the class because of the topics of discussion. “Really anyone could enjoy and benefit from this class,” Smith said.
Hospitality business junior Nate Wallace decided to take the class because he had no other options. However, he said that he was not disappointed. “I was happy that I took it. Aminda Smith was an amazing professor. The way she approached things was what made it interesting,” Wallace said.
The topic that stood out the most for Wallace was the medieval era. Wallace said that this was when sex was seen as an uncontroversial part of life. “The church got involved and you couldn’t talk about it,” Wallace said. This was interesting to Wallace because he could see the same scenario played out in the 21st century. “You’re just told this is bad, but not told why,” Wallace said. Having the “sex” talk with the parents is still awkward for most kids. Wallace said that this course enables students to break that awkward barrier and think and talk about taboos.
Historical events such as the 17th Century Salem Witch Trials and the 19th Century legend of Jack the Ripper have even wound their way into the curriculum of History of Sexuality. It might seem nearly impossible to link these extremely well-known eras of time with sexuality, but that is another reason why the class has become so appealing. “The witch trials were incredibly sexualized,” Smith said.
In some instances witches were accused of having sex with the devil, Smith said. She said that there are books that describe the persecution of women who were searched for a witch’s mark. “People doing the persecuting gave explicit descriptions of the female anatomy,” Smith said. Sexuality’s underlying role in the Witch Trials shows that while history sometimes brushes over its importance, sexuality is a constant in our time. “We think we know what the Salem Witch Trials were about, but when you get into it, it has a lot to do with sexuality,” Mieskowski said.
[racheltrials]Quite a bit of time was spent on Jack the Ripper as well. Many would be surprised to know that Jack the Ripper had a major influence on the way people looked at sexual crime. “This was a turning point in history because of the gruesome sexual nature of the crime,” Mieskowski said. At the time, sexuality was not something many people talked about. Jack the Ripper introduced the idea that women were sexual objects. “This was the beginning of serial killers and sexually motivated crimes,” Mieskowski said.
In the last portion of the class, the focus on sexuality turned to human rights over the years. “We talked a lot about sexual revolutions,” Smith said. Some of these included transgender acceptance, gay movements, pornography, censorship, prostitution, and violence. The class looked at how these revolutions were redefined and reshaped in the U.S. as well as abroad. “The big one was [the New York City riots at] Stonewall. We were able to watch things build up to that moment and why,” Mieskowski said. This progressed into a deeper discussion of what was natural sexuality and what was deviant sexuality. It boiled down to what many people thought sexuality could be. In many cases, peoples’ decisions were based on stereotypes. “The stereotypes we have to break through come directly from TV. In most ways they don’t always reflect normality,” Smith said.
For whatever reason a student chooses to enroll in the class, they are expected to do nothing less than creatively explore sexuality and understand that it has changed over time. The purpose of Smith’s class was to raise discussion about how people debate sexuality and what they view as right and wrong. “I encourage people to really study their own politics,” Smith said. The freedom of having a voice and an opinion brings the class objective full circle and makes for a favorable outcome that is shared among every student who participated. “It’s an interesting subject people want to learn about and it’s not discussed a lot,” Wallace said.
If enlightening conversation on the sexuality of the ancient Greeks, the Kama Sutra, or avatar pornography is your bag, then you might want to take this sexy class, baby.

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Keeping AIDS Alive

Editors’ Note: The term “election season” does not do justice to what our country has experienced for the past two years. Election era seems more accurate. The journey from the primaries to the conventions and now to the debates and Election Day has been riveting, regardless of what candidate you support. As November quickly approaches, the importance of this election only becomes more obvious to the college-aged crowd. It is no secret that much of the country is looking to us as a determining factor in November 4th’s results. Will we raise our voice or will we keep our mouths shut?
TBG will be raising its voice every month of first semester by featuring an election article from one of our four sections. Keeping you fresh on election topics that go beyond what we are handed in stump speeches is our way of pushing you to the polls in November to punch your ballot for whatever cause you believe in.
This month, one writer takes a stand on the current state of HIV/AIDS and asks why the public health issue that more than 30 million people worldwide are coping with is missing from the upcoming election.

Early signs of global warming, the war in Iraq, abortion rights, health care and even immigration are taking center stage on the presidential candidates’ palettes in the upcoming election. But where does HIV/AIDS fall into the conversation? Election after election, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has been discussed briefly enough to satisfy the nation’s moral obligations and then set aside to make room for more important issues. When will HIV/AIDS be significant enough to gain attention in a more serious light? Do millions of people have to see the worst of this disease before the nation sees progress? Year after year, hundreds of people die from HIV/AIDS in Michigan alone. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Quarterly HIV/AIDS Analysis, there are 13,611 people living with HIV/AIDS in Michigan. The pandemic has not disappeared. People are still dying in our neighborhoods and abroad.
The abstinence-only education approach is not working. In a 2006 Washington Post article, the Government Accountability Office (GOA) criticized our current president’s AIDS plan. President George W. Bush signed into law the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which supports the “ABC” education strategy. This strategy does call for teaching the importance of only having one sexual partner and using condoms, but places encouraging abstinence before those other safe-sex practices. The “A” stands for abstinence, the “B” stands for be faithful, and the “C” stands for condoms. “People are sexual by nature and it is crazy to support programs for other countries that don’t support this philosophy,” said Chris Singer, the Communications Manager for the Nyaka School in Uganda. The Nyaka School is a community development project in Uganda that serves those affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
[Singer]Singer has seen firsthand how a sex education program that focuses on abstinence has little effect on African nations. If anything, it is confusing other countries into believing that this is their only option. “There is a lot of inequality between men and women in Africa,” Singer said. Sometimes abstinence is not an option. Bush’s current plan, however, spends a substantial amount of money on prevention using the abstinence-only method even though statistics among American youth are high enough not to support this. “Nearly half of all infections in the U.S. occur in people under the age of 25, which is startling,” said Patrick Lombardi, Development Director of the Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN). Our country is not encouraging its own citizens to be aware of HIV/AIDS’s presence, let alone address the disease.
Seeing a billboard or a commercial promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is a rare occurrence. “It is very bizarre that nobody here talks about AIDS,” Singer said. Literally every school in Uganda has an AIDS choir, Singer said. The children perform their own songs, plays and skits that draw attention to the country’s AIDS crisis.
Many people infected with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. wish there was more of an open dialogue about the disease. Capitol correspondent of Between The Lines newspaper, Todd Heywood, inferred that the government is to blame, not the media. “It has been ignored under Bush and turned international, ignoring the crisis at home,” Heywood said. HIV positive himself, Heywood has had to overcome the fear of letting others know he has HIV/AIDS. Part of that fear comes from the stigma associated with the disease.
In some instances, including Heywood’s, community members shun or reject the person who is willing to share that they are infected with the disease. “The gay community in Lansing does a horrible job of confronting their partners,” Heywood said. The emotional pain that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS causes only adds to the stress a person who is diagnosed as HIV positive has to cope with. Nationally, this stigma is a possible factor that has kept us from dealing with the issue effectively. Keeping an open dialogue on HIV/AIDS is vital to diminishing stigma, but something that America has yet to see develop, especially within our political arena.
What the national level lacks, the LAAN tries to implement in the Lansing community. LAAN is a non-profit and full service organization dedicated to direct care and prevention services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Lansing. The Michigan Department of Community Health’s Quarterly HIV/AIDS Analysis shows that Ingham County is leading the state of Michigan with a reported HIV prevalence rate of 142 per 100,000 people. Something that is talked about so little is hitting close to home at a high rate. LAAN receives $800,000 a year from the federal government through the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) program. Because LAAN serves 300 clients and their families, the funding disappears quickly. In the last five years, funding has been cut dramatically for LAAN. Nationally, the HIV prevention budget as fallen by 19 percent.
The fact that many more people are living longer with HIV means available funds have to stretch to a larger population. “The drugs that have been invented are critical. It’s revolutionary to be able to live a longer and healthier life because of these drugs,” Lombardi said. However, with much of the grant money going toward operation organizations such as LAAN, the unrestricted funds pay for only a limited amount of people to have medicine. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is one of the only alternatives for people who cannot afford health care coverage that pays for HIV/AIDS related medication. Even with this alternative, there are a lot of requirements to receive this assistance and it is a complicated process lined with red tape.
The bottom line is that the HIV/AIDS community and the programs that work hard to support their lifestyles are in dire need of financial and moral support from our federal government. “HIV/AIDS is a very important topic that you don’t hear much about,” Lombardi said. However, because organizations that are experts on the topic of HIV/AIDS in America and around the world such as LAAN and the Nyaka school in Uganda are non-profits, they cannot make any politically opinionated statements. That makes it all the more important for voters to find out what the presidential candidates’ stances are on HIV/AIDS. Lombardi implied that it is clear which candidate seems to have a practical view on the matter, but neither party nor candidate is making it a top priority.
[Lombardi]”In my completely non-biased opinion, Barack Obama is by far the better candidate for those concerned with HIV/AIDS,” James Madison freshman and member of Students for Obama, Michael Overton said. Overton points out that Obama has pledged at least $50 million by 2013 in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Some of Obama’s plans include Medicaid Coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans, continued support of the Ryan White CARE Act and HOPWA, expanding funding for research toward a vaccine, and assuring access to treatment. “In having worked in a more urban area during his career, closer to the people, Obama has probably had more face time with people who actually live with this disease, or who have experienced it firsthand,” Overton said.
In a 2006 speech in Lake Forest, CA, Obama also confronted the issue of looking past conservatism and facing the facts. “It is not an issue of either science or values–it is both,” Obama said. This means that the U.S. has to look at the situation in a realistic, not ideological way. “Obama definitely wants to help improve care and increase the availability of care and awareness of the disease,” Overton said.
On the Republican front, John McCain has not detailed plans for addressing HIV/AIDS at home or abroad. According to an article in the New York Times written by Adam Nagourney in 2007, McCain was confronted about the growing infection rate and could not comment because he was uninformed on the topic. At one point in the conversation between McCain and his audience, McCain confessed, “You’ve stumped me.” He admitted to not knowing his stance on the disease and then proceeded to ask his secretary, Brian Jones, to look up his position on contraception. “I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it,” McCain was quoted as saying in the article.
While McCain has no firm stance on HIV/AIDS, according to his Web site he was quoted on June 27 (National HIV Testing Day) as saying, “AIDS is a national and international tragedy. An important step is to improve the awareness of people of their HIV status. Yet, right now, as many as 250,000 people in the United States may have HIV and not know it.” He also gives much credit to President George W. and Laura Bush for their efforts to fight against HIV/AIDS internationally.
It’s obvious that the issue has not been looked into thoroughly by McCain. His value system might be different than those who are at risk for the virus, but that does not mean that they should not have the same opportunity to live with dignity as those without the disease. “If you want to talk about dignity and morals, look at the AIDS crisis in Africa,” Singer said. There have been times where Singer has seen a father infected with AIDS and he can’t work so he sells off all of his belongings. The wife then has nothing else to live for so she goes into the other room and hangs herself. “No matter where it is, that despair does not belong in our world,” Singer said. Is it possible that that same despair has its place in the U.S. too?
A lot of parents share common support for McCain’s conservatism on the condom and sex education issue. He has supported several abstinence-only initiatives. “It’s hard to hear a political candidate talking about abstinence, but there are parents who don’t want to hear about condom use or sex because they feel it encourages those things,” Lombardi said. Without knowledge, people are putting their loved ones at risk for the disease. “As minorities in our current political structure, we are put down and it makes people nervous when someone breaks the rules,” Heywood said. It’s a dangerous message to the young generation who are being infected at such a high rate today. People who are more at risk for the virus have a better chance of avoiding it with the use of condoms.
HIV/AIDS is affecting everyone — whites, blacks, Hispanics, women, and men, but recent reports from the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Quarterly HIV/AIDS Analysis show that HIV/AIDS cases are increasing more among African Americans than other demographics. “I don’t like to look at statistics because every community has had their turn of rapid growth,” Heywood said. The AIDS community is so diverse and the only common element is HIV. Every community has had their turn to fight the disease and every community is still fighting it. Now is a critical time for the nation to join the fight because the silence is killing. While the choice between candidates is important, a current look at HIV/AIDS shows that it is not being adequately addressed anywhere in American politics. People can only hope that the next president will be sincere in his words and progressive in his actions.

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