Mitten Mavens Roll Roller Derby Into Lansing

Mitten Mavens Roll Roller Derby Into Lansing

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Where To Be

Where To Be

A Chorus Line

April 6-11, Cobb Great Hall.

Enjoy the occasional kickline? Want to see some tapping and twirling from a Tony-Award-winning musical? Get tickets for A Chorus Line at the Wharton Center to see 17 performers battle it out for the chance to do what they’ve always wanted – dance.

Tunnel of Oppression

April 7, 6 p.m. at the MSU Union Ballroom.

Though it might not be the happiest show you’ve ever seen, the tunnel will expose you to real-life experiences of poverty and oppression. Take the time to find out what injustices are going on in the world. In collaboration with Amnesty and Peace over Prejudice campaign.

Public Observation at the Observatory

April 16, 9 p.m.

Looking for a cheap date? Grab a blanket and head to the observatory at dusk to do some stargazing. A 24-inch telescope and several smaller ones will be set up in the parking lot to check out some planets, moons and the Milky Way. Plus, MSU astronomers will be on hand to help you tell the difference between a satellite and a shooting star.

Horticulture Club’s Spring Show

April 17-18, Plant and Soil Sciences Conservatory.

Daisies and roses and tulips, oh my! Come check out the Horticulture Club’s Spring Show with this year’s theme, “Alice in Flower Land.” It features an installed landscape design, plant sale and guest speakers. Proceeds go to fund student competitions and scholarships.

Sparty’s Spring Party

April 24, 2 to 6 p.m., Demonstration Field.

Featuring free food, an obstacle course, rock climbing walls and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Sparty’s Spring Party is the perfect way to spend some time outside while putting off studying for finals a little bit longer. And be sure to head to the Auditorium April 25 at 7 p.m. for a concert featuring Cobra Starship. It’s sure to make the “good girls go bad.”

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Where To Be

Where To Be

City of East Lansing Winter Festival and Chili Cook-off

Dec. 6, 1-4 p.m. at Ann Street Plaza, Parking Lot 1 and the East Lansing Marriott at University Place

Take a break from the cold December weather and head under the heated tent to place your vote for the best soup and chili recipes in East Lansing. Served up by local restaurants, the competitors will be contending for first, second and third place in the People’s and Judge’s Choice Awards. There will be lots of other winter activities too, including a reindeer petting zoo, roaming carolers, photos with Santa, ice carving, roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate and horse and carriage rides.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Creole Christmas

Dec. 4 and 5, Pasant Theatre

Sick of the same old Christmas songs? This New Orleans band is sure to revitalize your favorite classics with their famous jazz and ragtime style. You’ll be ready for the holidays after this gumbo of carols, spiced up with just the right hint of Creole rhythm and blues.

Men’s Basketball vs. Oakland

Dec. 10, 7 p.m. at the Breslin Center

Take a break from studying to cheer on the Spartans as they take on the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies. Make a sign or break out some dance moves to get your five seconds of fame on the JumboTron.

Jerry Seinfeld

Dec. 17, 7 p.m. at the Wharton Center

Hit up this event for some stand-up comedy before you head home for break. Seinfeld is even better in person than the reruns of his sitcom you’ll have on while you’re studying some last minute flashcards before finals.

Meijer Holiday Hoops Invitational

Dec. 26, 11:00 a.m. at the Breslin Center

You might not be ready for a game of hoops after Christmas dinner, but be sure to check out some local basketball teams at the Meijer Holiday Hoops Invitational. All proceeds are donated to the Sparrow Foundation, which has earned $75,000 to date from the event. Tip-offs for the six games are scattered throughout the day and one ticket is good for all admissions.

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Where To Be

Where To Be

Women’s Leadership Conference
Nov. 8th at the MSU Union

Get in touch with your feminism side at the 7th Annual Women’s Leadership Conference. This year’s theme is “The Courage to Lead, the Power to Make a Difference” with keynote speaker Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Company and chairperson of the Coca-Cola Foundation.

Spartan Idol

Nov. 14, 8 p.m. at the International Center

Let out your Simon Cowell side (fake British accent encouraged) as you watch the final contestants of MSU’s version of American Idol compete for prizes including an iPod and an iTunes gift card. Hopefully there won’t be any Sanjayas in this crowd.

The Make Every Mile Count 5K Run
Nov. 12, 8 p.m. at Jenison Field House

A tree will be planted for every runner who takes part in this completely free event. Check out the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid vehicle and Daniel Martin’s magic show once you’ve made it to the finish line. Free food and raffle prizes are up for grabs and t-shirts go out to the first 100 runners. Register ahead of time at

Mictlan in Aztlan
Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m. at MSU Museum Auditorium

Celebrate the Day of the Dead as the sun goes down with this performance sponsored by the MSU Museum. Learn more about how Mexican Americans remember and celebrate their departed ancestors and make sure to eat some sugar skulls and pan de muerto for dessert.

Marathon of Majors
Nov. 12, 5 p.m. at Bessey Hall

Undecided on a what you want to be when you grow up? Thinking of switching your major to Interior Design or Entomology? Make sure to stop by Bessey Hall to talk with advisers and professors from every department at MSU. And don’t be afraid to stock up on some free pens.

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Animals, Slightly Used.

Animals, Slightly Used.

Shedd plays with one of her cats.

Shedd plays with one of her cats.

In April, Melissa Shedd went shopping for a cat. But she doesn’t like breeders, so she went she went to the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS) and ended up walking out with two.

“It was a buy one, get one free deal,” Shedd, a communication junior at Lansing Community College, said. “They were sisters so they wanted them to be kept together.”

Shedd’s adoption also spurred her to go back every couple weeks to volunteer at the humane society. She mostly spends her time playing with kittens, but also brushes and walks dogs.

“Once you saw it in action, it was a beautiful thing,” Shedd said.

The CAHS is run entirely on donations and receives 6,000 to 7,000 animals a year. About 4,000 of these animals are then adopted into homes, according to program manager and volunteer coordinator Stasi Bates.

“We usually have about 100 to 300 animals at a time,” said Bates, “We have about 200 right now, but we’re bursting at the seams with cat litters in the summer.”

Bates said the numbers at the CAHS have increased since she started working there ten years ago.

“Due to the economy, there are people who are left without the resources to care for pets anymore,” Bates said. “We only accept pets that are surrendered from families, not strays.”

Bates said there are countless reasons families surrender pets, including lack of money and time. But the CAHS has put several new initiatives into place to help the pets that come to them. They have built four new runs outside to help cure kennel cough and respiratory infections and built larger quarantine areas to give sick cats and dogs more time to be treated before they are introduced with the rest of the animals. There is also a behavior hotline for people who are concerned they may have to surrender a pet after adopting, so that one-on-one issues can be dealt with.

“We all have to be responsible pet owners,” Bates said. “It pets are acting up, there’s usually a reason for it.”

Bates said the CAHS has also partnered with local pet stores to help get the word out about their pets and now have cats living full time at the PetSmart in Okemos. She said the CAHS is also a part of the Rescue Wagon through PetSmart Charities, so that animals from southern states where the facilities would have to euthanize them are shipped up the CAHS where they can be taken care of instead.

“We do euthanize animals, but in the 10 years that I’ve been here, we’ve cut euthanasia by 50 percent,” Bates said. “At that time we weren’t treating animals for things like kennel cough and respiratory infection. Now we have a huge foster program as well.”

Bates said CAHS holds several large fundraising events throughout the year. She said the society had over 500 people at their annual Run and Walk For The Animals in late September, their biggest event of the year.

“It raised almost $73,000 and there are still donations trickling in, so we almost reached our goal,” Bates said.
The society also holds a fancier event called the Fur Ball, which costs $100 per plate and has a silent auction and a puppy parade, as well incorporating adoptable animals.

Animal science junior Alexa Buckley purchased a pit bull mix dog from the Detroit Humane Society 10 years ago. She said she has been very happy with her dog and would definitely adopt from a humane society again, even though her dog has a few behavioral issues.

“She can’t be contained or in a kennel, which might be because the person who owned her before went to jail,” Buckley said. “She’s bitten through a door and escaped through a metal cage and just has issues when we leave.”

Buckley said she is a big proponent for humane societies and went to one to adopt her dog mostly because of the money. It ended up being $100 including the fee to have her neutered.

“We loved that she was already potty trained,” Buckley said. “She was a puppy but we didn’t have to do all the puppy stuff.”
Buckley said she was surprised to find out humane societies do not receive any money from the government.

“We can’t just have wild dogs running around and humane societies give them places to stay,” Buckley said. “There would be major problems if we didn’t have humane societies, we’d notice issues.”

Music education sophomore Jessica Sandlund had a different view on the issue. Though she thinks humane societies are a great way of getting pets into happier homes, she said she does not want to see humane societies receiving money over schools or homeless shelters.

“I don’t want to see humane societies getting millions of dollars when there are people who need it more,” Sandlund said.

Sandlund’s family has bred soft-coated Wheaten terriers for the past eight years. Sandlund said it is a fun and semi-easy way to make some extra money, with each puppy being sold for about $1000.

“My brother made a website a few years ago and now we get puppy calls all the time,” Sandlund said. “We have a waiting list of about 15 people.”

Sandlund said the majority of their dogs are sold for pets and that they always try to find educated buyers for their puppies who know the breed well and know what they are getting themselves into. As far as she knows, none of their puppies have ended up being given to humane societies.

“We always encourage people to call us if they’re having problems because we have a lot of people waiting for dogs,” Sandlund said. “A family called us because they were having trouble with a dog about two years old and we called someone on our list and found a different house for it.”

Shedd said she does not like breeders, which was why she went to the CAHS to adopt her cats. “There animals are already out there,” Shedd said. “Why breed more?”

Bates said the majority of people who come to the humane society to adopt pets are young families and students who are away from their parents from the first time and are looking for a cat or dog to keep them company.

“The most rewarding part about working here is watching animals leave and knowing it’s a good match and that you’re not going to see them again,” Bates said.

Shedd said she might go back to a humane society in a few years to adopt again.

“Once I get settled, I might go get a dog,” Shedd said.

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Proud To Be A Sikh

Supply chain management sophomore Harjap Dhadli was at a Detroit Pistons game with his friend when a 10-year-old boy called him a terrorist. Dhadli told his friend it didn’t bother him, but his friend chastised the kid anyway. International relations freshman Ameek Sodhi had a similar experience after the attacks on the World Trade Center. When everyone went to the cafeteria in his Rochester Hills middle school to hear about what happened, someone tried to grab his turban, assuming he was somehow associated with al-Qaeda.
Dhadli and Sodhi are Sikhs, two of 50 or 60 that attend MSU. Though they are often mistaken as Muslims, Sodhi said that 99 percent of turbans in America are worn by Sikhs. The religion is the fifth largest in the world, originating in the Punjab region of India, according to the World Sikh Organization. Many Sikhs also live in the United Kingdom, and Dhadli said there are about a million in the United States, mostly in California. The religion requires men to wear a turban and leave their facial hair uncut.[ameek]
“The news show a lot of these people [terrorists] are ethnic,” Dhadli said. “But at the airport, they don’t make me do special things.”
Sodhi said that Sikhs believe in one God, similar to Jews and Christians, and that the religion stresses justice, discipline and equality between men and women. Men wear turbans and beards to demonstrate an outward sign of their faith to others, as well as themselves.
“It takes me five extra minutes to comb my hair in the morning,” Sodhi said. “It reminds you of who you are.”
Sikhs also believe in 10 gurus, similar to the prophets in Christianity. Sodhi said the gurus wrote down the holy text, known as the Sari Guru Grant Sahib, and left it to the Sikhs, as a sort of 11th and final guru that they could use as a living example of their faith. Each of the gurus stands for a different value, including humbleness and courage, and serve as protectors of everyone. “Gurus were just people too,” Dhadli said. “They just had a higher understanding.” [quote1]
Sodhi said that instead of the heaven and hell system that Christians believe in, Sikhs believe that people go back in the evolutionary scale based on Karma, similar to the Hindu beliefs of reincarnation. “If you were a horrible person, you’re going to be a bug,” Sodhi said.
Sikhs are also required to wear five articles of faith on their body at all times, known commonly as the “five K’s.” They include kangha, a small comb; kes, uncut hair; kara, a metal bracelet on their dominant hand to signify that God is always looking; kachh, underwear to represent sexual cleanliness; and kirpan, a little sword to protect the weak.
Dhadli helped to form the Sikh Student Association on campus last year to provide an opportunity for community service and promote awareness of the religion. The group gets together to learn about their religion and holds events like “Sikhcess” in Detroit, where they help to feed people in poverty.
“White, beard, turban, anyone’s welcome,” Dhadli said. “In New Mexico, there are a large number of white Sikhs. It’s cool to see people from all walks of life accept God.” However, unlike some religions, Dhadli said that Sikhs are not trying to convert people, although he said that some people might stumble upon it and like their beliefs. Religious studies professor Arthur Versluis said that this is not unique to their religion. He said that Buddhists are also not particularly evangelical or driven to convert people.
“It’s not a matter of spreading religion in a world as interconnected as our world,” Versluis said. “It’s important to see the range of religions and gain background in other religions.” Versluis said that he believes it is vital people understand things about other religions in a world like ours to see what motivates people. He said that he uses his classes to introduce people to teachings and cultures of others, and Religion 101 classes often offer the option to visit a mosque or a synagogue.
Dhadli said he enjoys learning about other religions so he can see the seed in each and what the similarities are. He said he thinks of religion as more of a guideline than a rulebook and considered cutting his hair for a while since many of his friends did when they came to the United States. “I think I would lose something of myself because I’ve had it too long,” Dhadli said.[quote2]
Sodhi said it is a requirement no matter what for men to have a turban and beard and women to have uncut hair. He has never been tempted to cut his, even though putting it up every morning is not an easy task. He also has to pin up his beard, since it is about twice as long as it appears. “There’s always bad turban days, but I don’t ever regret the extra discipline,” Sohdi said.
Sodhi said he washes his hair with Pantene Pro-V and it reaches about halfway down his back. He has a lot of different colors of turbans and matches them to his shirt. “For football games, I wear green turbans and put in white stripes,” Sohdi said. Dhadli sticks to more basic colors like white, black and blue.
In February, Sodhi was featured on an iReport on CNN that spotlighted four people of different religions who all wore head garments. The video was made in response to a story about a Muslim woman in Georgia who suffered a hate crime after wearing a hijab, or veil, in the courthouse. The report featured two Sikhs as well as a Muslim and an Orthodox Jew and was on the front page of for a few hours.
“I was so glad CNN had that up there,” Dhadli said. “In ‘Taken,’ there was a Sikh guy in the beginning, too. They are small things, but they are good to see.”
And though both Dhaldi and Sodhi like discussing their religion, they also don’t mind the occasional joke. Sodhi wrote an article for a March issue of The Spartan Review called “It’s The Turban, Stupid” that gave the 10 top benefits of wearing a turban, including “chicks dig pink turbans, period” and “in the event that your oxygen mask does not inflate, turbans make superb flotation devices.”
Dhadli and Sodhi both said that Sikhism is a peaceful religion and look back at their experiences of prejudices without any hard feelings, adding they are very open to talking about their religion when asked. Sodhi said that even though Sikhs are often mistaken as Muslims, he does not think there is anything wrong with being Muslim and that there is not just one “right” religion. Both wish that turbans were not associated with terrorists and hate crimes, but Sodhi said that looking back at his experience in middle school just shows the devotion he has to his religion.
“Rochester Hills is the most un-diverse place ever,” Sodhi said. “I laugh about it now.”

Link to Ameek Sodhi’s CNN video:

Link to Spartan Review article:

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S.O.S. Cabbies

It doesn’t always seem like the best idea to jump into a big, green van with a Big Daddy or Shaggin’ Wagon Taxi logo scrawled on the tinted side windows. Most moms teach their daughters to avoid cars like those somewhere in between the lessons about never taking candy from strangers and always carrying a can of pepper spray in their purse. Turns out, for a quality ride home, the local cabs just might be the right companies to call.
Theater sophomore Sam Higgins has used taxis many times around the East Lansing area, mostly getting to the local club scene and back and forth to the airport to travel to her hometown in Georgia. She said she’s never had a bad experience with any of the companies, even making short-term friends with a few of the drivers. “They’re so lovable, they’re just like big teddy bears,” Higgins said. “I haven’t met a cab driver on the East Lansing campus that didn’t just listen to me talk and tell my sob stories.”
[cab]At least 20 cab companies have laid their stake in the East Lansing area, making it their business to chauffeur students back from parties on negative-degree-weather nights. Nash Grabes, a driver for Shaggin Wagon Taxi, said while the company mostly serves MSU students, they will go anywhere they’re asked. “We’ll go everywhere, we’ll go to Chicago if someone asks us,” Grabes said. “We’ve gone to the Detroit a lot for the Metro Airport and Grand Rapids.”
However, the company gets the majority of their business driving around downtown East Lansing to bars, clubs and restaurants on weekends. They do their best to keep their rates affordable and their service as fast as possible. Grabes said that people only usually have to wait 10 to 15 minutes after they call, 20 at the most. Shaggin’ Wagon charges $6 a person around campus and $3 if more than two people need a ride. “Customer service is our main priority,” Grabes said. [sam1]
David Cornelius, a computer science freshman, has used several different cab companies to get to and from the airport. He is from Kansas City and stopped using the buses to get to Capital City Airport because they take too long. After enough rides back and forth, he says he’s gotten to know East Lansing cab culture. “Big Daddy is kind of known to have the creepy drivers,” Cornelius said. “Country Club is really nice but they’re kind of expensive. Spartan Cab probably gives the best deal.” L-Town is one of his favorites because he had a good conversation with one of their drivers.
Cornelius said that he has never had to wait for a cab before because a lot of them loiter outside the airports after incoming flights. He has also noticed a lot of them waiting outside the main party areas off campus. “Taxis tend to prowl around Abbott and where the houses are,” Cornelius said.
Freshman no-preference major Meg LaLonde had one of her best cab experiences from DDs Downtown Taxi. She noticed the driver was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat when she got into the cab and asked him the score of the game. “He gave it to me and I told him I was from Maine and was a fan,” LaLonde said. “He was from Boston and it turned out he was wearing a Red Sox hat and jersey and was listening to the game on the radio.” The driver gave LaLonde his personal number and has treated her well on other cab rides.
[nightcab]Higgins has also gotten a couple personal numbers from drivers, but doesn’t always use them. “I’ve gotten many a cab ride just from walking down the street,” Higgins said. “I’ve never been turned down.”
Grabes said that Shaggin’ Wagon does refuse to pick people up if they are so drunk that they are sick or doing something foolish, but Higgins said she has never had a problem. One driver even helped her out of the car to throw up so she wouldn’t have to pay the $20 puke charge. “There’s no judgment here,” Higgins said. “The companies are perfectly happy to get you from Point A to Point B. I would much rather pay $3 than catch pneumonia or drive drunk.”
She and LaLonde both agreed that cab companies are valuable assets to college campuses because they help to cut down on drunk driving and keep people safe who would otherwise be walking around at night. They also said they think taxi companies would be dumb to tip off police that they are driving home minors who have had a few drinks. “It’s bad for their business and bad if they’re trying to cut down on drunk driving. It would be like calling the cops to drive you home,” LaLonde said. [grabes]
Higgins agreed. “I don’t think kids should get MIPs as long as they’re not hurting anyone or doing something stupid like drinking in the cab. That’s why we love cab drivers so much.” Plus, Higgins has found that most drivers don’t mind listening to the occasional drunken rambling. “They just let you talk. They accommodate you,” Higgins said.
Higgins said Shaggin’ Wagon and Big Daddy Taxi have the best service, but has found every company to have pretty reasonable prices, and besides the occasional long wait at 1 a.m. on a Saturday, she cannot complain. Some of her drivers have even given her a much-appreciated self-esteem boost. After her latest taxi driver introduced himself as Jim, he asked, “What’s your name, beautiful girl?”
“I told him, ‘You know what, Jim? That’s just what I needed to hear,'” Higgins said. A few cab drivers are known to give out unwanted compliments on their customer’s outfits or makeup as they sit uncomfortably in the shotgun seat, but “Jim” picked the right time to throw out some late night flattery.
As for the slightly sketchy names of some of the companies, Grabes said he didn’t know anything about how Shaggin’ Wagon Taxi came up with its moniker. Plus, Big Daddy Taxi tends to live up to its title. “The vans are cheap, but they fit a lot of people,” LaLonde said.
Overall, East Lansing cab drivers seem to be a lot more understanding than the average guys in the yellow taxis cruising around big cities. And after a day of a little too much tailgating, they might just be the best number to drunk dial. “They’ll play the game with you and let you be ridiculous,” Higgins said. “They were young once too.”

A few East Lansing cab companies and phone numbers:
DDs Downtown Taxi: 517-252-4498
Big Daddy Taxi: 517-367-7474
Shaggin’ Wagon Taxi: 517.507.5047
Spartan Cab Company: 517-482-1444
C C Country Club Transportation: 888-655-8180
L-Town Cab: 517-749-7871

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University to Elementary

Senior Michelle Smith has learned a lot from college: things like talking slow, being patient and not using too many big words. As president of MSU’s chapter of the Student Michigan Education Association (SMEA), these are skills the elementary education and integrative sciences major has needed when interacting with kids who are 10 or 12 years younger than the college students she surrounds herself with on a daily basis. “Now I get more nervous about teaching college-age kids in our micro-labs during class than elementary kids,” Smith said.
There are several student organizations on campus that make it a point to volunteer with elementary aged kids in East Lansing. They hold free tutoring in the library and paint maps of the United States on playgrounds. SMEA, Geography Club and the Honors Times Two mentoring program have all participated in community service projects with local schools. While being an education major is not necessary, many of the students involved are trying to sharpen their teaching skills for job opportunities in the future.
SMEA sponsors many local projects, including volunteering at the Ronald McDonald house, holding free tutoring in the Homework Helproom at the Lansing Library on Monday nights and putting together “Make A Child Smile”-card-making nights, where they write personal messages to kids battling cancer across the country.[chalk]
Smith’s favorite project is called Outreach to Teach, which SMEA does every April. The group selects an elementary school in need of renovation in the Lansing area and steps in to give it a whole new look. They raise money to donate books and school supplies, do some landscaping and give the kids bean bags and other items that make school a little more exciting. “It’s a surprise, but we always redo the faculty lounge,” Smith said. “Seeing the principal’s face is so rewarding. It’s amazing what we can accomplish in one day.” They have already chosen the school they will be helping this spring. [cottrill2]
While SMEA volunteers with any students that come into their Homework Helproom, the Honors Times Two mentoring program that is run through the MSU Honors College specifically includes kids who have received teacher or parent recommendations. Its goal is to match up Honors College members with gifted elementary school students in the area to help stimulate their education and give them more of a challenge than they may be getting in the classroom. Psychology, anthropology and health studies senior Sara Cottrill is the coordinator of the program this year. “Us mentors are all gifted ourselves and remember what it’s like to feel ‘different’ and always ahead of your classmates,” Cottrill said. “I love satisfying a need these students have to be challenged and talk to someone who understands their experiences.”
Cottrill is not an education major, but she has been involved with Honors Times Two for the past three years. Teachers in the Lansing area recognize their students as being accelerated before they are placed in the mentoring program. “I love working with children and I really saw a need for this program since none of the school districts [in the area] have very comprehensive gifted education programs,” Cottrill said.
Honors Times Two was put into place after parents of elementary-age students began calling the Office of Gifted and Talented Education at MSU, asking it to provide services for their students. The office already had programs in place for middle and high school students and found it difficult not to respond with the wealth of academically talented students they had in the Honors College. “It was a perfect match,” Kathee McDonald, director of the Office of Gifted and Talented Education, said. “We had students who were gifted when they were in elementary school and understood the frustrations all these kids were going through. Their classes would be learning about a topic and they wanted to go more in depth.”
The program has been in place since 2004 and gets about 65 requests from parents a year, though not all can be met. Every April, the office invites the students along with their parents and mentors to share the projects they have been working on throughout the year. Each student explains their project and the impact their mentors have had on them. “I recorded it last year because it was so touching,” McDonald said. “Its amazing how these little kids could make college students tear up.”[mcdonald]
Though not primarily education-focused, MSU’s Geography Club also does projects for elementary students a few times a year. Elementary education senior Shannon Moore is co-president of the club. The group does community service work and spreads the word about the importance of geography, as well as networking with employers for its members. “There’s a career fair in the spring and geography teachers are usually there, so you can make connections,” Moore said.
In the fall, Geography Club painted maps of the United States and Michigan surrounded by the Great Lakes at Cavanaugh Elementary, something they had done at other schools in previous years. The group also goes into classrooms on Earth Day to do projects like planting trees with the kids.
[homework]Moore believes that teaching geography to kids is important and gives the group a chance to get involved in the community. She says that programs like Google Earth are easy ways to show kids that geography is more than just memorizing the names of countries and continents on a map. If they type in their address, they can usually figure out how to navigate to be able to see their house. “It’s good, too, if they wonder what cities look like in France or anything like that,” Moore said. “It’s a great learning opportunity for kids and hands-on.” The club does not mentor or tutor to the extent SMEA and Honors Times Two do, but it does try to instill kids with a basic appreciation for geography, even if that is just playing games with maps on the playground.
Most of these organizations allow more than just elementary education majors to participate. Geography Club sends out e-mails at the beginning of the year to anyone who is a geography major or minor, Honors Times Two is open to anyone in the Honors College and SMEA allows anyone going into education to join, even if they are actually music or secondary education majors.
Most people involved in the three organizations have come back with positive experiences and for some, it has just reinforced why they wanted to go into the teaching field in the first place. “I just love seeing the light bulb go off in their head when they understand,” Smith said.

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Why Wells?

Albert Alexander looks like the kind of guy who would appreciate a good story. He has the tousled brown hair, the casual T-shirt and, on some days, a batch of brownies in front of Wells Hall.
He is not the only one drawn to the campus intersection. What happens at Wells changes daily, but do not be surprised to see a PETA protest with pictures of slain animals, various couples hugging and kissing simultaneously in honor of Personal Display of Affection Day or preachers enthusiastically announcing Bible versus while making your way to class. It has all happened at Wells before and it is people like Alexander who make the place curiously compelling.
Every once in a while, Alexander, a senior electrical engineering major, lugs out his table after one of his baking endeavors. He advertises “Tell A Story, Get A Brownie” and waits for people to take him up on the offer. “It takes a while sometimes, but people will talk to you,” Alexander said.
He usually stays at his stand for two or three hours, listening to any story that people passing by are willing to tell. Sure, he cannot help judging a little bit. Sometimes people get really small brownies or told they can do better, but for the most part, he just likes talking to people and doing something personal. “It’s so interesting how everyone fixates on different stuff. Some people launch right into a story about themselves. There’s drugs, sex, bad first dates, crazy family stuff,” Alexander said. [albert]
His favorite story was something a little more unexpected. A paleontologist came up to his table and told him about the time he had been studying an ancient PaleoHebric language, trying to figure out its origins. Most languages have their roots in other languages and can be deciphered after a while, but he had been studying this one for weeks and was unable to figure it out. He was out in New Mexico taking a break and lay down to look at the stars. “He said he just looked up and there was the alphabet,” Alexander said. “They had used equal divisions of the sky. All the letters were out there.”
Alexander has heard his share of other good stories too, like the Chinese girl who pierced her bellybutton herself and hid it from her family for seven years. When she was leaving for the U.S., her mom hugged her goodbye and started crying when she discovered the culturally taboo secret.
And the guy he met while holding his stand in Ann Arbor who had taken a bunch of methadone and wine to try to commit suicide. He woke up in the hospital five days later with both of his legs gone and decided to make something of the rest of his life.
There was even the unkempt professor with 25 pens in his pocket that told Alexander he had a story worth two brownies. It ended with him giving a business card with his name and the Playboy mansion emblem on it to the attractive woman sitting next to him on a plane back from Spain.
“I get all types of people. Sometimes it just takes a little persuading to get a story out of them,” Alexander said.
What is it about Wells? With its central location on campus, the hall has become a hotbed for anyone looking to spread the word about their organization, protest a cause or, on occasion, dress up in a Chiquita costume.
Finance sophomore Ruslan Mursalzade put on a banana outfit on Oct. 14 to give out free hugs and flyers for S.C.O.U.T. B.A.N.A.N.A. (Serving Citizens Of Uganda Today Because Africa Needs A New Ambulance). The group is working on raising money to help orphans in South Africa. They hold dance-athons, T-shirt sales and events like “Capture the Banana” to raise funds. Wells was a good place for them to get the word out. “People are cool out here,” Mursalzade said. “Especially when there’s a banana walking around.”
Journalism junior Michelle Grossman has also stood outside Wells to register voters before Michigan’s Oct. 6 deadline. As Campbell Hall’s vote captain, Grossman had already gone door-to-door registering people and letting them know about absentee ballots, but Wells had more traffic.
“A lot of people walk by there,” Grossman said. “There are people coming in from all directions, going in and out of class.” She was able to sign up 11 people in an hour and a half, a pretty good turnout for being so close to the end of the registration deadline.
To make an official appearance at Wells, registered student organizations have to fill out an activity form from the Office of Student Life in the Student Services building. Groups that are not registered are supposed to find a student organization to be their sponsor.
This usually is not a problem, but one has to wonder who sponsors the preachers who frequent the area and have turned more than one student away. “I see them all the time,” astrophysics freshman Kristen Garofali said. “Sometimes I wear my iPod so I don’t have to hear them, but they’re terrifying.”
Welcome Week brought some religious protesters who were uncomfortably upfront to the students walking by. “At the beginning of the year, there was a guy in an orange shirt saying sin was evil and getting in people’s faces,” elementary education sophomore Adam Clements said. “It was the most intense I’ve ever seen them.”
Having Math 301 in the hall three days a week did not allow Clements to avoid them very easily. “I have a problem with those people because they do a lot of that stuff [that they’re preaching against], too. It’s such hypocrisy,” Clements said. [adam]
Still, with positive events like Free Hugs Day, the Wells atmosphere tends to balance itself out. No one really knows what to expect when they go past on a daily basis, and that only adds to the appeal. “Even though there’s offensive people, I know I’ll see good things,” Grossman said. “It’s always entertaining as I walk to class.”
Alexander has loved the spontaneity of his stand and wants to live in a city like Austin, Texas where that kind of impulsiveness is built into the culture. He is thinking about coming back and giving out cocoa in the winter and recently started a Tell A Story, Get A Brownie Facebook group. Even though he tries to plan times to set up, he sometimes runs into unexpected problems. “I’ll tell my friends that I’ll be out there next Thursday, but then no grocery store within two miles of my house will have unsalted butter,” Alexander said.
And he does get the occasional doubt. Not everyone will trust free baked goods. “One girl made me eat a brownie with her,” Alexander said. “I didn’t mind too much.”
But if the stand does show up again, be sure to ask him about the pygmy goat his family bought when he was ten. There’s a harness and a pair of roller blades involved, and it definitely merits a jumbo brownie.

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From Field to Fork

[fork] It was just the average PB&J.
Well, that is if the average PB&J was made on bread straight from Zingerman’s Deli, instead of the stale Wonder Bread from aisle three. The peanut butter on that sandwich was ground right in the cafeteria, no salt or sugar added. And maybe there were a few fresh raspberries crushed in before the top slice was put on and the whole thing was cut into triangles.
OK, so it wasn’t exactly average. That’s thanks to the Yakeley cafeteria’s makeover.
This year the Yakeley cafeteria has gone organic, making some significant changes to keep its food natural and local. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich that pre-med sophomore Sarah Michmerhuizen made a couple of weeks ago was a product of its efforts. [pipper1]
“It [the peanut butter] didn’t have all the salt, preservatives and fake sugar,” Michmerhuizen said. “I had that for breakfast one morning. It was really good actually.”
The cafeteria has not gone completely organic, but it does its best to get produce from local farmers in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint by preventing food from having to be trucked from far away.
All of the salad greens are provided through the Spartan Harvest program. They are grown on campus by MSU students because Spartan Harvest is run through MSU’s Student Organic Farm. The produce is grown year-round using hoop houses that trap sunlight to allow for four-season farming.
“It travels three miles from field to fork,” Dining Services Manager Robbia Pipper said. “It’s grown by students for students.”
Right now, the farm is building a hoop house devoted entirely to serving West Circle cafeterias. Most produce for the salad bar is currently in peak season so the cafeteria has not had any trouble getting it locally. However they are planning to having to look to regional farmers to stock up when winter hits. But when the hoop house is completed, Yakeley may never have to leave campus for the majority of its fruits and vegetables. Students have noticed a difference in the produce already.[saladbar]
“It’s a lot fresher,” pre-vet sophomore Amber Tompkins said. “I eat in Hubbard a lot because I have a lot of classes over there. Usually the bananas are more brown and you can only get fresh fruit in the mornings, unless it’s apples. I can get strawberries and raspberries over here at dinner. I love that.”
The rest of the food is purchased as close to Yakeley as possible. The hummus and pita bread comes from Woody’s Oasis on Grand River Avenue. Baskets of Michigan apples are abundant and a deli bar is complete with organic meats from Wisconsin. The apple and orange juices are organic and every salad dressing besides Ranch is made in the cafeteria. The milk has gone organic, too.
“A student requested [organic milk] last year, but we couldn’t get it. Now we have three kinds, four including soy,” Pippen said.
Another big draw to the Yakeley cafeteria this year has been the juicer. All kinds of juices are made fresh every day from all raw ingredients. You can find that right next to the smoothie bar. Michmerhuizen, who works at the Yakeley cafeteria, has noticed its popularity. “I worked that shift one day, and a lot of people seemed to like it. It was carrot-apple juice so it took a little while, but a lot of people waited for it,” Michmerhuizen said.
Yakeley also began going trayless on Sep. 29, a movement that has started to become a fad across college campuses nationwide. All of Central Michigan University’s residential halls removed their trays at the beginning of this year. According to the CMU Web site, the university plans on saving 500 gallons of water per person annually and reducing food waste by 25 to 30 percent because people are less likely to load up their plates if they have to carry it all back to the table.
[fork3]The University of Connecticut has also ditched its trays. According to a CNN video, during the test week in two of its dining halls workers had to do 150 less dishwasher loads, saving 900 gallons of water and 30 kilowatts of power an hour. However, not all the students at UConn were happy about leaving their trays behind. Some said it was hard to juggle plates, forks and cups, especially if they wanted dessert or more than one drink. Tompkins has the same apprehensions about Yakeley. “More people are likely to leave stuff at the tables. I like why they’re doing it, but I don’t know if it’s going to work,” Tompkins said. [pipper2]
Instead of having the conveyor belt running nonstop during meals to take away dirty trays, tables are now cleared using bus carts, a lot like the kind used in neighborhood coffee houses. They are then taken downstairs by elevator to be cleaned. Michmerhuizen still has a few worries. “It’s good that they’re trying to save water, but I think it could be really hard to implement. Everyone will have to carry one thing at a time, which could be hard, and they’ll keep having to go back,” she said.
The organic and trayless projects are only being applied to Yakeley for the time being, but it is not because they have not gotten a good response. When the decision to go organic started on March 8 of this year, no one was sure of the volume of produce the farm was going to be able to put out.
“We wanted to go with a small cafeteria because it would be easier to procure smaller amounts at the beginning,” Dining Services Manager Anita Sandel said. “There’s a more manageable guest count here.”[traysystem]
Sandel and Pippen are trying to figure out what is most popular with the students and making sure they have stable sources for getting all their food.
“We’re in a learning mode right now. We’re trying to figure out what students like, what’s successful and then applying what we learned to other parts of campus,” Sandel said.
Spartan Harvest is not in it for the business, and the other cafeterias are doing their part to keep campus green. Napkins in all the dining halls are made of recycled fibers, and the residence halls and cafeterias are recycling cardboard, plastic and paperboard. But not everyone has had a positive response to Yakeley’s natural and local foods. Tompkins has not had much salad this year, Michmerhuizen knows a lot of people who do not like the dressings and the peanut butter on her lunchbox staple sandwich might not have been the best she has ever had.
“It was a little dry, a little chalky. But not that bad,” she said.
Still, that was one eco-friendly, super healthy PB&J.

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