Switching It Up

Can you believe the fall semester at MSU is already coming to a close. For some students, the end can’t come soon enough. Many students find themselves counting down the days until winter break. After exams, they are shutting the door and saying sayonara to their roommates. For good.
When living with one or more people, there is a vast potential for something to go wrong. From roommates deciding to study abroad, to a personality change for the worst, from students living on campus to those living off, from undergraduate to graduate students, there are countless situations that might lead to the living arrangement shuffle come second semester.
Diane Barker, Brody Complex housing manager, said that the Brody Complex alone sees about 100 room changes at the end of the first semester. These changes do not only involve freshman and those who were unlucky rooming blind, but also upperclassmen and people who are (were) good friends.
This dorm room shuffle is also prevalent among graduate students. Graduate Housing Manager Ronald Smith said that he sees about 60 room changes at the end of the first semester. Many graduate students who change rooms “are in a double and want to move to a single, move from east side to west side, move from a lower floor to higher, or from a smoking floor to a non-smoking floor,” Smith said.
Many students think that room changes occur only because roommates do not get along, however, at second semester, this is often not the case. Ashlee Silva, a pre-veterinary freshman, and roommate Christine Cue, a no preference freshman, have found themselves in this situation. Cue is not leaving her room because of a clash with Silva, but because she is withdrawing from the university. “I think we get along very well. We’ve never really had any major issues, except for maybe joking around about me eating her food,” Cue said. “I don’t know what I want to do job-wise, and MSU is boring and kind of far from home.”
Silva will face many of the same consequences other students face when her roommate leaves at the end of the semester. Instead of paying extra and guaranteeing herself a single for next semester, Silva has decided to chance being placed with a new roommate. If the university does not place Silva with a new roommate, she will keep her room as a single. Although if this occurs, she will have to purchase many of the items that she and Cue shared. “My roommate brought the microwave and refrigerator, which is kind of inconvenient, but those are two items I would need in the future anyways,” Silva said. “I also will need a Playstation 2 so that I may continue playing Dance Dance Revolution.” If Silva or any other stranded roommate is placed with someone new, she will surely have bigger problems to attend to other than how they will continue to play Dance Dance Revolution; she will have to adjust to living with a new person.
A new roommate situation is a bit like luck of the draw – it could work out perfectly, or it could not work out at all. If you absolutely cannot get along with your roommate, Barker has some suggestions. “See your resident mentor or resident director first. If the student feels they need a change, I suggest they inquire at the Complex Manager’s Office and ask for one of our housing assistants. We will assist based on space availability,” he said.
Clearly the roommate switch that occurs at the start of the spring semester presents a number of trials and tribulations for students, housing managers and other administration that help remedy the situation. It occurs for a multitude of reasons, but for many students, it is worth a little hassle if the end result is better than toughin’ it out in a present living situation. Sometimes, a little change is a good thing.

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Culture over Coffee

It is a typical late afternoon Friday on the MSU campus. Classes are finished, but night life activities are still hours away. Students often choose to stick around their dorms or houses and hang out with their friends and neighbors, often finding themselves engaging in the same dull, depthless discussions with the same people week after week. Instead of falling into this routine, why not shake up the monotonous Friday afternoons by meeting new people and discussing topics of real value such as politics, religion, or culture?
The opportunity to do just that is right here on campus. International Coffee Hour, hosted by the Office for International Students and Scholars, allows students to broaden their views of current events and spend quality time talking to people from all over the world.[convo]
International Coffee Hour was originally started at the University of Oregon in 1983 by Peter Briggs, who is now the MSU Director of the Office for International Students and Scholars. The coffee hour has grown, attracting between 100 and 120 people each week. “It became a core part of people’s lifestyles,” Briggs said.
International Coffee Hour has two goals: “First, to build a community and to create a strong network of student friendships,” Briggs said. “The second part is if MSU is sincere about being an international university, it needs to involve its international students. People connecting with people can transform your life.”
These goals are reflected in the students who attend. For many students, meeting new people, networking, and having meaningful conversation with the international community keeps them coming back. “As a grad student, you meet only certain kinds of people,” Ion Moraru, a physics PhD student from Romania, said. “Here, you meet all kinds of interesting people.”
Dan Hudson, a crop and soil science PhD student from the United States, comes every week with his wife and 13-month-old daughter. “The people here are interesting. You can have good political conversations, not just about football and pop bands,” Hudson said.
But for Hudson and his wife, networking and good conversation is not the only reason why they attend each week. Hudson is interested in working overseas, and International Coffee Hour allows him and his wife to find out which country they connect with best.
While many of the people who attend International Coffee Hour are international graduate students, International Coffee Hour is open to everyone. Whether you are from the United States or Pakistan, a freshman or a PhD student, you are more than welcome to come. American students can learn an incredible amount from speaking with international students. It can be amazing to learn how people from around the world view American culture.
“We would love to attract more Americans that want to integrate with the international community,” Briggs said. “There’s a line in Pocahontas, ‘You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew,’ that describes what American students can get from attending.”
International Coffee Hour meets every Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Spartan rooms B and C of the International Center. For more information about the international community, visit the Office for International Students and Scholars Web site at http://www.isp.msu.edu/oiss .

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Horserace

George W. Bush and John Kerry are not the only ones busy in the last week. Just take a walk in the shoes of a member of any one of the political groups here at MSU. Members of Students for Bush, Students for Kerry, MSU College Republicans, or MSU College Democrats will eat, sleep, and live for their causes to make sure students vote for their candidate on November 2.[race]
Political theory senior and president of MSU College Democrats Randy Neice was able to give an insight to a typical pre-election day. “Tomorrow, I will go work at the State House of Representatives, go to class, send out some announcement e-mails and arrange our e-board meetings,” he said. “I will work on our GOTV field plan for the last three days before voting begins, then I am doing doors at Brody Complex from 6 to 9 p.m.”
Members of both Democrat and Republican groups on campus will be out canvassing dorms, handing out flyers, and calling potential student voters. Both Kerry and Bush activists want maximum visibility for their candidate and their cause.
“Lots of visibility is an issue,” said Jon Hoadley, social relations senior and contact for the Stonewall Democrats caucus of the MSU College Democrats. “We want lots of rainbow Kerry signs around campus.”
Katie Allardyce, political theory junior and chairman of Students for Bush, agreed with Hoadley: “It’s all about being visible on campus. It’s about passing out fliers telling what the president does, will, and can do for students.”
[repub] Members of the MSU Democrats are also doing a lot of work with phone banks. “We are accomplishing more and more every day by making thousands of phone calls to local residents, targeting those undecided voters who will decide this election,” James Madison freshman and Students for Kerry member Payal Ravani said. “We would like to contact as many students and other citizens in the Lansing area and help inform them on the issues that affect them the most.” Ravani, who is also an intern on the Kerry campaign in Michigan, said.
[dem] Some student groups have other creative projects planned for the last week before Election Day. Members of Students for Bush will be tailgating and passing out fliers at the MSU v. U of M football game on Saturday, October 30. The group plans on targeting fans there because it is a huge event with tons of Michigan voters.
With all of this campaigning going on it may seem like antagonistic feelings would run high between Democrat and Republican groups; however, this is not usually the case. “Students for Kerry isn’t doing anything to counterbalance the Republican groups on campus,” Ravani said. “Students for Kerry is devoted to helping elect John Kerry as the next President of the United States, and 100% of our efforts are concentrated on that one goal.”
Students for Bush takes on the same position as Students for Kerry with regards to counterbalancing the efforts of their opponents. “October 28 through November 2 is prime Bush time, “Allardyce said. “Students for Bush can’t be worried about what [Democratic groups] are doing. We are purely focused on re-electing our President.”
Surely students will view increased political fervor this week on campus due to the hard work of student political groups. Let the games begin and may the best candidate prevail.

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No Longer a Matter of Choice

Do you remember the fall of your senior year of high school? It was a stressful year and your time was in high demand. You had sports practices, club meetings, tough new classes, instrument lessons, theater rehearsals, hours of homework, and of course social events to attend. Then, just to eat up what little extra time you had, there were those dreaded college applications. [essay]
Perhaps the most stressful and time-consuming part of the college application process is the essay, or “personal statement,” as many universities, including MSU, are choosing to call it. In the past, this personal statement was an optional part of Michigan State’s application. However, students applying for the 2005-2006 school year are the first applicants required to submit the personal statement.
According to item number 21 of the MSU Undergraduate Application for Admission, the request for the personal statement reads, “We are interested in learning more about your background, talents, and experiences and how you plan to apply them to your MSU education and future.”
Suggested topics include your experience as an active citizen in your school or community and the ways in which you expect to contribute to the MSU community; obstacles that you have encountered and how you have overcome them; your experience promoting global understanding and/or the value of diversity in society, to name a few.
Jim Cotter, senior associate director of admissions, said the Office of Admissions has been discussing the idea of making the personal statement mandatory for a few years now. The decision was made because, “It’s an opportunity for us to learn more about the students in general,” Cotter said. “We really tried to avoid the term ‘essay’ because we’re not evaluating grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc,” Cotter said. “We are looking for what the root of the individual is; we want to know what this student can bring to the table.”
Even though the personal statement was optional last year, 80 percent of all applicants wrote one. Katie Rabidoux, an astrophysics freshman, wrote the personal statement last year because she thought it might be helpful for getting into the Honors College or for receiving scholarships. “It could be helpful for getting a hard-working, borderline student in but admissions should not be based totally on the essay,” Rabidoux said.
Cotter said that the bulk of the decision made by how the student performed academically but that in fringe decisions or in consideration for scholarships the personal statement might be very important.
The question still remains as to whether or not the mandatory personal statement will affect this year’s applicant pool. Andrew Mikolajczak, a senior at Athens High School in Troy said having to write the mandatory essay did not affect his decision to apply to MSU at all.
But while it did not affect his decision to apply, he does not feel that a mandatory personal statement will make or break many applicants’ admissions decisions. “I think a personal statement is good to take into consideration when an applicant is borderline, but if you’re talking about someone with a 4.0 G.P.A. and a 34 on his ACTs, a personal statement is not really necessary,” Mikolajczak said.

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