Mujeres Sin Miedo: Women Without Fear

[cross]Britney Spears violates another law. More than 400 women murdered in Mexico cities since 1993. Year-long search for missing woman ends in arrest. Deserts in Juarez sprinkled with bones, more than 70 women still missing. Detroit mayor caught in text messaging scandal. Juarez murders remain largely unsolved.
Some of these headlines we cannot get away from, while others we may have never seen. We’re more than aware of the war in the Middle East and the concerns surrounding parts of Africa, yet for the most part we’re oblivious to what happens just across the border. The entire country is saddened when a young, white woman goes missing or is murdered, and for good reason. Why is it any different that just across the Rio Grande, roughly 10 miles from El Paso, Texas, more than 400 young women have been raped, murdered and left in surrounding deserts?
The femicide in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua continues to plague the border town. Beginning in 1993, women as young as 14 went to work at the local maquiladoras, or factories, and never returned. Ciudad Juarez, with a population of about 2 million (according to Amnesty International), is home to numerous U.S.-owned maquiladoras employing these young women.
According to reports, slim women with dark skin and long black hair began disappearing, yet no one seemed to mind. Families worried and searched while many authorities held off on investigations. Authorities said the young women invited the murders by dressing provocatively and spending time in bars and on the streets. Missing person reports were not taken seriously and the violence continued.
Documentaries, poster art, poetry and fiction and non-fiction novels all present theories backed with evidence gathered concerning the serial murders. Most suggest the corrupt government and police have a large hand in the murders. Evidence of forceful police interrogations and officers speaking crudely about women in Juarez exists. Capitalism and the rise of U.S.-owned maquiladoras are seldom overlooked as well. Many even go as far to pin the murders on one or more serial killers working together in a network. With evidence of ritual murders present, this theory seems like a viable one.
The lack of investigations led citizens to take matters into their own hands. Families and friends formed search parties, similar to those formed here when one woman goes MIA, and scoured the desert, often finding more than they bargained for.
The FBI finally intervened in 1999 and conducted an investigation with vague conclusions. They said several different men probably committed the murders, and that it would be unwise to believe one serial killer committed all the murders. All theories aside, the violence continues. Strides have been made with the support of informed citizens in Mexico, the United States and other parts of the world. Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas recently joined Amnesty International in the fight for justice. State officials have been accused of withholding information, but have yet to pay for their crimes.
With all of this rape, murder and corruption occurring mere miles from Texas, how is it that now, 15 years later, so many Americans remain unaware of the violence?
The media generated concerning the femicide is not hard news. It won’t run daily on CNN, nor will it make its way into many regional papers. Support is generated through the documentaries, art and literature created about it. Facebook groups urge users to sign petitions and join the fight. Is this enough? Raising awareness is necessary in order to make change, and after 15 years of violence, it is time for change to occur. Maybe it’s time these sorts of headlines hit our daily newsstands as often as those concerning other missing white women do. How long can we turn our heads from such violence and corruption separated from our country by a river? It’s time the media pushed the headlines of the latest celebrity baby scare to the second or third page, leaving room for the voices of so many women who will never speak again.
Las mujeres de Juarez demanden justicia.

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Going Global

Odyssey of the Mind 2007 World Finals
May 23 – May 26, Michigan State University
Lansing will be the host of the 2007 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, an event which brings teams from across the world together to compete for the Championship title. Odyssey of the mind challenges kids to brainstorm, build, revise and perfect problem solutions given to them at the beginning of the academic year. The event is ongoing and takes place across campus.
For more information, call (856)456-7776 or visit www.lansing.org/odyssey

Fiesta 2007
May 25: 5 -11p.m., May 26: 12-11p.m., May 27: 11a.m. – 7p.m.; Cristo Rey Catholic Church
Advertised as Mid-Michigan\’s largest Hispanic Festival, the event features many Hispanic Arts and Traditions and takes place near downtown Lansing.
For more information, call (517) 394-4639

Colors of Salsa
June 2, 12p.m.; Old Town (Turner & Grand River, Lot 56)
This festival attempts to incorporate Latin & Hispanic Music in an outdoor atmosphere. There will be a Salsa Cook-off and a $5 entrance fee for the beer tent.
For more information for entering the Salsa Cook-off, vending, volunteering, or general questions, contact Cody Goul at (517)507-9483

Riverbank Traditional Pow Wow
June 15: 12p.m. – dusk, June 16: 1- 9:30p.m., June 17: 12 – 4:30p.m.; Adado Riverfront Park
This festival gives you the opportunity to experience the Woodland Indian culture of Michigan. Activities and programs include dancing, drumming, singing, arts and crafts, food and more.
For more information, call (517)393-7236 or visit www.riverbankpowwow.com

8th Annual African American Parade and Festival
August 8, 11a.m.; downtown Lansing
Sponsored by the Capital City African American Culture Assn., this event includes an 11 a.m. parade followed by a festival at Ferris park.
For more information, call (517) 484-2180

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Going Global

Kaffestunde: Practice German
April 4, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.; Espresso Royale (Grand River Ave)
Students and faculty are given the opportunity to practice German in a relaxed setting.

Poniente
April 6, 5:30 p.m.; Room 206, Old Horticulture Building
Part of the Romance Languages Film Series, Poniente is a film examining issues of immigration and racism in Spain. The story is told through a woman who returns to her pueblo to run the family greenhouse after spending years of her life in Spain.
For more information, contact (517) 353-1690

Caribbean Week Celebration 2007: Caribbean in the Era of Globalization
April 9 – 14, various campus locations
Day 1: Defining Caribbean Identity, featuring guest speaker Dr. Linden Lewis from Bucknell University. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Kiva.
Day 2: Presentation on the historical significance of the Haitian and Cuban Revolutions with guest speaker Mr. Eugene Godfried. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Kiva.
Day 3: Health, education and quality of life through student research presentations on Caribbean issues. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Kiva.
Day 4: Economic and political issues and the legal implications of the Caribbean Court of Justice, featuring guest speaker Dr. Dennis Antoine, Grenadian Ambassador and Dean of CARICOM diplomats in the U.S. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Kiva.
Day 5: Music exploration and the role of music in Caribbean societies, featuring guest speaker and Caribbean Student Association Advisor Dr. Isaac Kalumbu. This event takes place at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Kiva.
Day 6: Closing reception featuring informational displays from each country, live performances from students and an authentic Caribbean dinner and guest performances. This event takes place from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. in Room 300 of the International Center.
For more information, contact Kristin Janka Millar at kristin@msu.edu or (517) 353-1690

First Nations: The Great Lakes and the Environment: Tri-National Implications
April 20, 9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Room 303, International Center
This conference, focusing on the environmental crises facing the Great Lakes, will last all day and feature keynote speakers Winona LaDuke, White Earth Tribal Member and activist/environmentalist, and Frank Ettawageshik, chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians.
For more information, contact Phil Belfy at belfy@msu.edu.

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Going Global

Bate Papo: Practice Portuguese
March 2, 4:30 p.m.; Espresso Royale (Grand River Ave)
Students and faculty are given the opportunity to practice Portuguese in a relaxed setting. This event takes place every other Friday all month long.
For more information contact (517) 353-1690 or kristin@msu.edu

African Culture Week: A.W.A.K.E. (Africans\’ War Against the Known Epidemic: Poverty)
March 13, 7 p.m. – 12 a.m.; McDonel Hall Kiva
This event features a discussion panel allowing students to address the topic of Poverty in this light.
For more information contact (517) 353-1709

\”Dutchman\”
March 16, 7 p.m.; Room 206, Old Horticulture
This film features a riveting exploration of race, sex and relationships. It is part of the African-American and African Film-Speaker Series.
For more information contact (517) 353-1709

East Lansing Film Festival
March 21 – March 29; Wells Hall Campus Center Cinemas and Hannah Community Center
The largest and most diverse film festival in Michigan screening independent and foreign feature, documentary, shorts and student films, the East Lansing Film Festival boasts work from throughout the globe.
For more information contact (517) 336-5802 or susanwoods@elff.com, and for a complete listing visit www.elff.com

Gender in Islam
March 27, 7- 8:30 p.m.; Lake Huron Room, MSU Union
An open discussion session on gender in Islam including keynote speakers Amina Khalil, local scholar, and Dr. Mohammed Hassan Khalil, Department of Religious Studies.
For more information contact (517) 353-1635 or jaleelfa@msu.edu

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On Passing

[body]The pain is the most concentrated and intense pain she has ever felt. Reclined as far back as the Oldsmobile Cutlass passenger seat will allow, she bites her lip and holds her breath in an effort to stifle a scream. She is still dressed in her casual black shorts and white polo t-shirt with a mermaid embroidered over her left breast, yet taking people\’s drink orders is the last thing on her mind. \”Mom, you have to hurry,\” she urges as panic begins to creep into her system. \”I don\’t know how much longer I can take this!\” She realizes she has been holding her breath and exhales deeply, closing her eyes. Her lower back feels as if it will snap in two at the slightest movement and the piercing ache in her abdomen is growing more severe. She\’s scared and feels as if she will give birth to something at any moment, but knows that\’s not even possible and has no idea what could cause such constant pain. This scares her even more.
As she stares out the window at passing cars and endless cornfields, she thinks back to a mere hour before. She had just finished her lunch break at the waterfront restaurant where she works and was putting in a food order for her table of four when a shooting pain in her lower back, just above her right hip, caused her to suck in a sharp breath and squeeze her side. Although she has always had back problems, the ache had become more intense over the past few days. She had a sudden and constant urge to use the bathroom, yet was unsuccessful in every attempt. In a matter of minutes, she was unable to do anything but sit in a chair and take slow, supposedly-calming breaths. Now she tries taking these calming breaths again, but they soon turn into panting and tears begin to dampen her cheeks.
\”We\’re almost there honey, hang in there,\” her mom says, trying to drive 80 miles per hour without getting caught. The hospital comes into view and the almost-hyperventilating passenger grits her teeth and tries to hold back the most creative string of expletives. She has the door open before the car comes to a complete stop and jogs, bent at the waist, into the bathroom. Minutes later she emerges, stomach still cramped, and proceeds to the waiting room where her mom is filling out paperwork. This is not the first time she has visited this hospital, and she tries to prepare herself for what could be hours worth of waiting. She is pleasantly surprised when her name is called 10 minutes later, and with the help of her mom, she slowly makes it back to a too-white hospital room.
\”Why are you here today?\” the nurse asks in a tone that suggests no answer will be serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room.
\”It hurts to move,\” comes the reply in a voice just louder than a whisper. \”My back hurts so bad, and so does my stomach, and I keep feeling like I have to use the restroom but I can\’t.\” Still uninterested, the nurse jots down the reply. The nurse prints the infamous bracelet notifying the world of the fact that the patient is 20 years old, has blue eyes, and is 5\’2\” and wraps it around her wrist.
\”Take these and follow me,\” the nurse hands her a hospital gown and a plastic cup and leads her to the bathroom. \”Put that on and then I\’ll need you to give me a urine sample. I know it might be hard, but we need it to run some tests. Leave the cup on the counter when you\’re done.\” She dons the gown and is unable to complete her next task. Her mom leads her to the room she was assigned to.
\”I don\’t know how they expect a urine sample if I can\’t produce any urine,\” she says and spends the next hour lying on a sorry excuse for a bed drinking as much water as her body will allow. Once she successfully gets something in the cup, she waits another 20 minutes for the doctor to come.
\”Hello there, in some pain are we,\” he says in a voice that is supposed to make her feel better – it doesn\’t. \”What seems to be the problem?\” She responds with a now well-rehearsed description of the events of the last few hours as the balding doctor listens intently. \”How long has your back hurt? Just today?\” he asks.
\”Well, it\’s worse today,\” she replies, annoyed at having to answer the same questions over and over again.
\”I want you to roll over onto your left side and bend your right knee so that your thigh is perpendicular to your body,\” he says. Puzzled, she does so, and with each move it\’s as if a new pin is shoved through her back and abdomen. \”Now, twist gently at the waist so that your shoulders are both on the bed,\” he says. \”This is a stretch I want you to do every morning on both sides. Also, sleep with a pillow between your legs. This should help your lower back pain go away.\”
\”That\’s it? Really? You think it\’s just my back?\” She stares at the doctor, unconvinced. \”Why do I keep feeling like I have to pee?\”
\”Hmmm, that is interesting. Did you give a urine sample?\” he asks, and she nods, mentally beginning to question his credentials. \”Oh, look at that, there is a significant amount of blood in your urine. Can you stand up for me?\” he asks. Convinced he\’s going to have her do jumping jacks or touch her toes, she is reluctant to rise, yet does so anyway. She is certain the pain can\’t get any worse when, unexpectedly, the doctor\’s fist connects with the right side of her lower back. She chokes on a breath, screams, and grabs the bed to stop her legs from giving out and sending her to the ground. \”Did that hurt?\” he asks.
\”YES!\” she manages, ready to have him fired and his degree taken away for the sole reason of being the most dense human being she\’s encountered in a long time.
\”Well then, seems you\’ve got kidney stones,\” he says and pulls a pen from his pocket. \”Does anyone else in your family have a history of kidney stones?\” he asks.
\”Not that I\’m aware of. Mom?\” she asks, still skeptical that the doctor has any clue what he\’s talking about.
\”No, not that I know of,\” her mom says, also looking a bit confused.
\”Well, kidney stones are usually hereditary, but can also be caused by an excess of calcium,\” he says. \”I\’m going to give you a prescription for Vicodin to help the pain, but the stone will have to pass on its own. If the pain isn\’t gone within the next day, see your family physician. Good luck, and the nurse will be right in to check you out.\” With that, he left the room. The painkillers knocked her out and within 24 hours, her body was back to normal. It was as if nothing had ever passed from her kidneys through her urethra and out.
Through her own research, she learned that kidney stones are usually caused, as the doctor said, by a calcium and mineral build-up and typically are passed on their own. In cases of stones large enough to block the ureter (usually six mm or more), a laser procedure or surgery may be required. While typical sufferers of kidney stones are between the ages of 30 and 45, anyone can develop them, and those who do usually have recurring episodes. Though the stone did pass on its own, she never saw it and couldn\’t pinpoint the exact time of passage. Happy to have the experience over and weary of returning to the quick-to-diagnose physician, she nearly forgot about her bout with kidney stones – for awhile.
[pain]Just one year later, days before the beginning of her junior year in college, she sits at the kitchen table with her roommate eating the first homemade dinner in their new apartment. Grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms and asparagus fill her plate and James Blunt provides the evening\’s entertainment. About halfway through the meal, she starts to get a dull ache in her lower back but shrugs it off. She had been moving stuff in all day and was sore in general. Within minutes, however, the pain becomes unbearable and she moves to the floor to assume what must be a yoga position – sitting back on her knees with her head on the carpet, arms stretched over her head, palms down. Then came the urge to use the restroom.
\”Can you drive me to the hospital?\” she asks her worried roommate. \”I think I\’m going to pass another stone.\”
Within fifteen minutes, she is sitting in the hospital waiting room taking those calming breaths. Now familiar with the procedure, she drinks from a water bottle and exits to the restroom to take care of the sample. To her surprise and relief, the pain is immediately gone. She not only has a sample to turn in, but also a kidney stone.
\”I\’m pretty sure I just passed it,\” she says, returning to her seat next to her concerned friend. \”The pain is gone, and look,\” she showcases the culprit of the now-absent ache.
\”Wow, just like that, huh?\” her friend almost whispers, in awe at what she has witnessed in the past half-hour. The patient hands over her sample, takes a few blood tests, and has an ultrasound before returning home with the name of a urologist. Almost comfortable with the uncomfortable routine of passing a stone, she is now eager to find out why she is getting them and how many more she can expect.
\”Well, looks like you\’ve got three to four more in each kidney,\” the urologist informs her in his office a week later. \”They don\’t look large enough to cause any problems, but lets run some tests and see if we can\’t find out what\’s causing them. They actually aren\’t as uncommon as people think, but the type of stone can really depend on the type of treatment and prevention required.\” He sends her home with a jug and instructions for a 24 hour urine test. She has to collect every drop of urine for a 24 hour time span and keep it in a cool place. Thrilled at having to explain to her roommates why a container of pee needs to be refrigerated for the next day, she hopes this test will be able to make sense of her otherwise random formation of kidney stones.
After completing the urinalysis and putting up with her roommates\’ comments about the new addition to the refrigerator, she gets a message from the lab that processed it.
\”Hello, I\’m calling to let you know that your tests came back normal. If you have any questions, give the office a call. Have a great day,\” says the pleasant female voice.
\”What in the hell does normal mean?\” she asks her dad on the phone just minutes later. No one can seem to give her any answers, other than she\’s definitely going to pass a few more stones in her lifetime.
Annoyed with blood tests, urine samples and too-sanitary white rooms, she gives up on her quest for answers. She\’ll probably never know why she has produced them and, with her luck, will pass them at the most inconvenient times. She should probably cut back on apple juice, as it may help in the formation of stones, and will have to deal with her increased chance of getting a urinary tract infection. She figures if she\’s passed one before, she can do it again, and would much rather deal with it on her own than have another big-headed doctor punching her poor kidneys.

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Going Global

Study Abroad Fair
February 1, 11a.m. – 4p.m.; 2nd floor, MSU Union
A showcase of many of the diverse study abroad programs MSU has to offer, the Study Abroad Fair provides information to interested students as well as opportunities for those who have already studied abroad.

\”If Anything is Sacred\”
February 2, 8 p.m.; Arena Theatre (lower level), MSU Auditorium
This play is a searing testimonial drama dealing with life and death during the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in Spain. Written by Fermin Cabal, the play is directed locally by Frank C. Rutledge, professor of theatre. The cost is $10 or $6 for MSU students/faculty/staff. Tickets will be available at the door one hour before performance.

Before the Fall
February 6, 7:15 p.m.; B-102 Wells Hall
This film is part of the German Film Series taking place all month. The films will be shown on Tuesday nights all month.

Manicuring Immigrants: Asian Women and Nail Salons in New York City
February 26, 4-5:30p.m.; Room 303, International Center
This is a presentation given by Miliann Kang from the University of Massachusetts. It is part of the \”Crossing Borders, Bridging Gaps: The Asian Pacific American Experience across Countries, Communities and Families\” series.

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Going Global

“Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Edcuation and AIDS in South Africa”
Open until January 2007; Heritage Gallery, MSU Museum
The Siyazama (Zulu for \”we are trying\”) Project uses traditional and contemporary artistic expression to document the realities of HIV/AIDS; to open lines of communication about the virus and to establish a model for collaborations among artists, educators and health practitioners.
For more information, contact pr@museum.msu.edu or call (517)355-2370

\”Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine: Patterns of War and Peace in the Middle East\”
January 10, 4p.m. – 6p.m.; Room 303, International Center
L. Carl Brown, Garrett Professor in Foreign Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University, will speak on relations in the Middle East. Professor Brown is a historian of the modern Middle East and North Africa with a focus on the Arab World.
For more information, contact enyart@msu.edu or call (517)355-3277

East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh to speak on Martin Luther King Jr.
January 16, 11:50.m. – 1p.m.; Third floor, International Center
In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, East Lansing Mayor Sam Singh will speak on King\’s impact on the country and the importance of honoring his memory. A light lunch will also be served.
For more information, contact rodman@msu.edu or riel@msu.edu, or call (517)355-2350

New Research on Women and Gender: Global and Local Perspectives
January 19, 1:30p.m. – 3p.m.; Room 305, International Center
During the next presentation in the series to inaugurate the new gender and global studies center, James Madison College Professors Kate See and Linda Racioppi will speak on \”Gender and Agency in the Protracted Conflicts in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.\”
For more information, contact wid@msu.edu or call (517)353-5040

David Glukh International Ensemble
January 25, 7:30p.m.-9:30p.m.; Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center; tickets are $28
Consisting of a piccolo trumpet, accordion, violin, percussion and bass, this ensemble is unique and eclectic, one of the most unusual of its kind. The ensemble includes classical masterpieces, world music, and traditional and ethnic jazz. The David Glukh International Ensemble has performed worldwide, and this one-time show is sure to be an entertaining experience.
For more information, contact hoffma95@msu.edu or all 1-800-WHARTON

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Going Global

“Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Edcuation and AIDS in South Africa”
Open until January 2007; Heritage Gallery, MSU Museum
The Siyazama (Zulu for \”we are trying\”) Project uses traditional and contemporary artistic expression to document the realities of HIV/AIDS; to open lines of communication about the virus and to establish a model for collaborations among artists, educators and health practitioners.
For more information, contact pr@museum.msu.edu or call (517)355-2370.

German Film Series: Lichter (Distant Lights)
December 5, 7p.m.; B-102 Wells Hall
This 2003 film takes place on a Polish-German border and attempts to illustrate daily life there. It details the struggles of everyday life and shows that what appears to be desperation and poverty to some may be worth others risking their lives to reach.
For more information, contact hylensk2@msu.edu.

The District Six Museum and the Politics of Public History in South Africa
December 5, 12-1p.m.; Rm 201, International Center
A talk by Dr. Ciraj Rassool, faculty member at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.
For more information, contact alegi@msu.edu.

Tertulia Espanola
December 5, 6:30-7:30p.m.; Upper West room, McDonel Hall
This hour is set aside for students interested in practicing Spanish and learning about the rich culture. Students and instructors will be available to speak with about all things Spanish.

New Research on Women and Gender: Global and Local Perspectives
December 8, 1-2:30p.m.; Rm 302, International Center
Zakia Salime will deliver the second lecture in a six-art series to showcase the new gender and global studies center. Salime has a PhD and is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology.
For more information, contact wid@msu.edu or call (517) 353-5040.

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Vote or Else

[card]Casting votes on election day is an activity many MSU students take part in, while several others choose to abstain. Maybe the candidates don\’t appeal to them, the issues on the ballot don\’t seem important or they don\’t think their vote will really make a difference. Having to vote in the area you are registered in provides another obstacle for students to overcome, and some don\’t see the point in going through the trouble of changing the address on their driver’s license. Patterns such as these continue throughout the country, some regions gaining more political support than others. In other parts of the world, however, these trends do not ring true and strict consequences are faced for not partaking in the democratic process. Does America need to implement a fine or jail time for not participating in elections, or does our incredibly low voter turnout meet our country\’s standards?
Youth Voting
According to a report by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), 27% of 18-24 year-olds in Michigan voted in the 2000 elections compared to 57% of Americans. Reasons why more young people don’t vote vary depending on who you’re talking to. The senile old man on the porch would probably say something like, “pot-smokin’ hippies forgot what day it was,” but most people have other causes for the disenfranchisement of young voters.
[sec]Most who fall in this age group are first time voters, which means they face something their parents don’t: registration. Michigan’s deadline for registering or changing the address on your registration was October 6th. It’s important to add that thing about the address change because if you live somewhere other than what’s on your driver’s license, you needed to fill out a form and get a sticker for the back of your license by the sixth. If you haven’t, you can always look forward to a nice visit to the folks. This is only state policy though. It’s different for different states.
New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming all allow people to register on Election Day. North Dakota doesn’t require any registration whatsoever. Most states have a 30, 45 or 60 day pre-election deadline. And a couple have archaic, fifth-Monday-before-the-first-November-Tuesday constitutional nonsense… I mean language.
Only 70% of the population is registered to vote and most are 18-24 year-olds. America’s average turnout from 1960 to 1995 is 54%, right after Hungary, Russia and India. Most other developed nations average in the 80s or at least 70s.
Where in the World is… High Voter Turnout?
If you just want some impressive democratic participation, look no further than Australia and Malta. It sounds weird, but the land down under and a tiny island on the other side of the globe, between Sicily and Africa, are the most active democracies on earth, although for different reasons. \”You are forced to register as soon as you turn 18, and therefor forced to vote,\” psychology senior Megan Ford said of the voting policy in Australia. Ford spent a semester studying in Australia and witnessed this process by observing her friends. \”If you don\’t vote, a fine is sent in the mail,\” she said. Australians are fined $20 for not voting and an additional $30 if they don’t have a valid excuse. \”Some people just don\’t register, but they\’ll most likely be caught. It\’s pretty tightly regulated, I think,\” Ford said. They aren’t fined in Malta, but they do have such a politically strong unicameral legislature that it appoints the president. In a political culture like this, citizens are more apt to feel like their vote matters.
Political scientists find two causes related to voter turnout: cultural and institutional. The cultural factor is basically how the population feels about the government and their personal politics. People will be more involved in a government they can trust. People get more involved when the government is affecting them. Institutional factors are the rules that govern elections. Australia’s fine for not voting is a good example of a way to raise turnout. That would never fly in America though, it might seem. One sure-fire way to increase turnout would be at the business end of a gun.
Vote or Die
[ballot]It seems that the widespread partisanship in this country is actually helping it. Helping it give a damn that is. Talking heads have been replaced with screaming heads on a 24 hour cycle. News about “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” enraged formerly lucid people into action. Everywhere people are finger-pointing and mud-slinging and numbers couldn’t be higher. Voter turnout is the highest it’s been since 1968. Five million more young adults voted in 2004 than in 2000 according to a Harvard study. One of the reasons for the surge in youth voting, the study found, was the U.S.-Iraq War. Young people were thinking about that issue more than any other. That one issue has divided the nation so much and made both sides feel that they are totally right that the only way to express such convictions is by voting. Hence the rise in participation.
Whatever may come of this mid-term election, it promises to be a heated one. Republicans control Congress while the war in Iraq grows increasingly unpopular. Congressmen and women are distancing themselves from a distrusted administration and corrupt leadership. The question is: can the Democrats win both houses back or will they lick their wounds for another two years?

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Going Global

“Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Edcuation and AIDS in South Africa” ?Open until January 2007; Heritage Gallery, MSU Museum ?The Siyazama (Zulu for \”we are trying\”) Project uses traditional and contemporary artistic expression to document the realities of HIV/AIDS; to open lines of communication about the virus and to establish a model for collaborations among artists, educators and health practitioners. ?For more information, contact pr@museum.msu.edu or call (517)355-2370.

Water — East Lansing Film Society/Campus Center Cinema Film
November 3-5, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; Wells Hall
A film set in 1938 Colonial India during the rise of Mahatma Gandhi, Water follows the life of an 8-year-old widow as she grows up in a temple for Hindu widows, falls in love with another man and becomes a follower of Ghandi. The film is $3 for students or $6 general admission.
For more information, contact susanwoods@elff.com or call (517) 336-5802.

7th Annual MSU International Education Week
November 11 – November 19, MSU Campus
A worldwide event, International Education Week was started in 2000 by the U.S. Department of State and Department of Education. The nine-day event at MSU aims to encourage awareness of and interaction with other cultures, bring to light world affairs, and inform the community of the university\’s involvement with international education and issues, among others.
For information about specific events, visit http://www.isp.msu.edu/calendar/intledweek2006.php

Special International Coffee Hour
November 17, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.; Spartan Room B & C, International Center
A weekly event, this special coffee hour will feature winners of the International Student Essay Contest, the Study Abroad Essay Contest, and the MSU Global Focus Photography Contest.
For more information, contact Oiss@msu.edu or call (517) 353-1720.

Global Festival 2006
November 19, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.; MSU Union
The MSU Union will be transformed into an international fair as students from around the world share their culture and talents with the community. Exhibits, demonstrations, children\’s activities, performances, a world gift shop and food samples are among the many activities planned for the day.
For more information, contact the University Activities Board at (517) 355-3354.

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