Tag Archive | "lifestyle"

Getting Older: Not Always an Advantage

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Getting Older: Not Always an Advantage

By Lauren Walsh

As I walked along the Red Cedar River on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I wondered, “Where are all the guys at MSU?”

It’s not as if I am saying that MSU resembles a girl’s boarding school and it’s impossible to meet a guy, but as a twenty-two year old junior, I feel as if the chances of meeting someone decent before graduation are slim to none.

Unfortunately, most female students find themselves in this situation because as they advance through the university system, their dating pool shrinks while for male students, it expands. When girls enter MSU as freshman, their selection of boyfriends is considerable. Underclassmen, upperclassmen, grad students, grad assistants and even PhD candidates make up the dating pool.

Many senior females feel that it’s somewhat social suicide to be dating a freshman boy, hence the term “boy.”  While these boys feel as if dating someone older is like winning the jackpot; they get a more experienced cougar-like woman. Older females continue to struggle to find that potential boyfriend as they age in a university setting. That “other” campus in Ann Arbor is intertwined with a proper city employing scores of eligible young professional men.


“As a twenty-one year old senior, I feel that my only option is to date senior guys because I am not looking to date someone not old enough to go to the bars with me,” said communications junior Aly Weiner.

On the other hand, twenty-one year old males have no bias towards girls as young as eighteen because having that younger girl on his arm makes him look more masculine and virile. The guy feels more superior with a younger girl because it’s as if they are guiding them through life.  When this kind of relationship dies due to lack of common interests, those young girls yet again find themselves searching for that imaginable soul mate. As semesters pass by as quickly as virtues are lost, girls begin to feel that aching pressure in finding that right guy before graduation.

“By second semester, senior year dating seems pointless…starting a relationship so late in college usually ends in a breakup when we both graduate because we’ll probably be going in separate ways,” said human biology senior Ilana Anders.

When many single girls graduate, their ears are boxed by their parents and friends; interrogative questions about if they’re seeing someone, and if not, what they should do to start and by the time they’re in their late twenties they should be rewarding their parents with grandchildren.

As if the stress of job interviews and applications are not enough, many girls feel pressure to meet the right guy during their years in college. On the contrary, many guys as young as eighteen feel that dating in college should be casual and that if something is meant to work out, it will.

“Dating in college is somewhat unrealistic. Everyone is overwhelmed with school work and when I do meet a cool girl, she becomes too attached to the idea that we’ll be together forever. I am not worried about finding a girlfriend though, three more years is a long time, and there are plenty opportunities to meet new people,” said sophomore Josh Kaplin.

After wondering “what had happened to all the guys here at MSU,” I made my way home and realized that maybe I just need to relax. Sure, we might not like dating younger guys and may be getting older, but I feel females should sometimes compare dating to old Chinese proverbs. In this case “Patience is a virtue,” in the sense that to eliminate that pressure, all students should be patient with having a relationship.

Attempting to please our parents, friends or even yourself by jumping into this committed liaison may end in shambles because of pressure buildup and by simply not being ready to completely share yourself with another person. Some of the best relationships begin when people are not even looking—best friends falling in love or lab partners turning a study date into a romantic one. Being patient is important because romance seems to hit people when they least expect it.

Being in a relationship is like opening a book for the first time and finding it filled with boundless dialogue in a foreign language. You may never know if you will end up understanding the context or if the ending will be happy or sad. So, instead of trying to find that book too quickly and then struggling through those pages, females who feel that pressure of finding the right guy when they’re young should be patient.

When you do feel that anxiety and hear those dreaded questions about why you’re still single, use the other functional aspect of that book by whacking that person across the head with it. This will usually get them to be quiet and you’ll probably get a good laugh out of it.

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The Transfer Student Guide to Relationships

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The Transfer Student Guide to Relationships

By Lauren Walsh

I transferred from a college of 20,000 to a university with a student body of 45,000 – I should have met somebody by now!  I assumed that sitting at a café or the library may entail a casual conversation with a stranger, but for me and many transfer students, this is not the case.

Instead, transferring to Michigan State University as a sophomore or junior comes with obstacles when trying to obtain any kind of relationship. Unlike freshman students who enter the dorms with an instant connection with their roommates and communal diners, many transfer students come to MSU unfamiliar with the student social life at a large campus.

I’m not alone in my theories – fellow transfer student and communications junior Emily Bunn said, “A big part of starting out at MSU as a freshman is getting to know so many people in the dorms, and I feel like I missed out on that opportunity.”


As I walk among fellow Spartans, my status is imperceptible to those other students, and a simple introduction in class usually doesn’t lead to outside plans. This leaves us to the rare situation found between transfer students and prospective relationships. Having already been here two months, finding instant reliable friends or even someone to date seems inevitable. When attending casual get-togethers, I assume that the chance of meeting that certain somebody would be promising, but most of the guys I meet are completely unaware about how to make an advance toward a girl, and the ones who do already have girlfriends. This disheartening situation should have a section on the MSU Facebook page with the headlines “Relationship status: Complicated.”  On any given night, these feelings of disappointment only persist as I go to different bars or parties.

At least I am not alone in my frustration. “When I moved here I thought I’d meet people instantly, but the students in my classes are completely silent, and meeting someone at a bar seems reckless and unpredictable,” said fellow transfer student and accounting junior Abby Maynard.

Unless you’re a freshman attending common house parties where meeting someone has infinite possibilities, dating for transfer students should come with a “Dummies” handbook. The guide should include a rulebook about where to not meet people in East Lansing, outlining places that have worked for others and ways to have the confidence to actually make that daunting first move that could be the start of something new and exciting. Finding a romantic relationship in college is a common goal of many students, but transfer or not, being single in college seems to be the vast majority. Regardless of those exceptional committed relationships out there, college students will be college students and will play the field.

“I was seeing this guy who is also a transfer student, and thought since we had this common ground that maybe it would last, but after a long weekend of tailgating and parties, I never heard back from him,” said business sophomore, Kelly Atlas.

Photo taken by Kristi Cookinham

Since there are so many choices and interests at a university, many students prefer to stay single and enjoy the “diversity” that MSU has to offer. So, when a transfer student does finally meet that certain somebody, how are they supposed to keep that individual interested? In life, everything is a game; whether it involves competing against others for a job or internship or maintaining a relationship with a potential partner. As difficult as it is to find that possible girl or boyfriend, it is more difficult to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd. As Beyoncé sang, “All the single ladies, all the single ladies, I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips, got me tighter than my Dereon jeans, acting up, drink in my cup, I can care less what you think.” So, take her wise words, put on your favorite jeans, hell, drink tea in that cup, if that’s who you are. All that matters is that you’re being yourself.

As an active participant in this transfer student relationship strategy, I urge all you who transferred or even single romantics to belong to the various societies MSU has to offer. After joining clubs that relate to my major and hobbies, not only did I gain the resume building, but I discovered a new way to meet people that have the same interests and future goals. Whether it’s joining a study group, ethnic dance club, an intramural sport or the Greek system, the more people you meet, the bigger the social group you will gain and discover a further sense of belonging.

So the next time you’re sitting in a café, ask the person next to you what they’re reading or extend a simple smile or “hello.” Being nice never hurts, and it could spur a rewarding relationship or at least a funny story to tell about with your friends.

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: October

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Inside MSU’s Headphones: October

Sitting on the bus, walking to class, riding down Farm Lane on your bike… Do you ever wonder what the person next to you is listening to? They may seem completely entranced in their music or they may be mouthing the lyrics. Or maybe, you can actually hear what’s blasting through those headphones. Either way, you’ll never really know unless you ask them, like we did!  After witnessing Ty Currell’s video in New York City over the summer (click here to watch), TBG thought it would be interesting what you’re listening to. Watch the video below to see what Spartans have on their playlist.

Posted in Arts & Culture, Inside MSU's HeadphonesComments (1)

Feather Extensions: Real or Faux?

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Feather Extensions: Real or Faux?

By Alli Myers

From yoga pants and moccasins to crackle nail polish and skinny jeans, guys with their names tattooed on their backs to girls strutting the “top-of-the-head” bun, we’ve all seen trends go just as quickly as they came. A trend that has made its mark on an immense number of girls everywhere is the feather hair extension fad. Just one glance around MSU’s campus will show you a multitude of colors and styles, adding flair at a small price supplied by many salons right here in the East Lansing area.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the roosters that are plucked to create hair accessories are kept in small, stacked cages for about 30 weeks in loud, dirty barns. The roosters are bred and genetically enhanced to produce unusually long, luxurious feathers known as “grizzly saddle” feathers.

Photo taken by Jenna Chabot

These are the long, skinny black and white striped feathers that come from the back of the rooster. They are then killed and skinned, sometimes actually plucked for their feathers while they are still alive. This process kills them eventually, but it is a very slow and painful death for them.

The PETA Files, a website supplying information about animal cruelty and other campaigns PETA is a part of, describes these conditions, quoting the owner of Whiting Farms, a rooster farm in Delta, Colorado, who said, “We’re sentencing each rooster to a solitary cage for the last six months, with nothing to look at or listen to other than lots of other confined roosters.”

Grizzly saddle feathers are quickly increasing in demand, some of them selling for hundreds of dollars. Salons have been well known for hitting up local bait shops in order to get their hands on these. This angers serious fishermen going for the “good bait,” who use them to tie their fly on to the line. The feathers catch the attention of various types of fish, depending on whether you use a bright feather or a natural colored one. Right alongside the annoyance of the fly fishers is the even greater outrage it causes amongst animal activist groups.

Grand River Bait and Tackle is right off MSU’s campus located at 526 E. Grand River. The first thing Joe Mull had to say about the feather fad was, “Every time someone calls or comes in here asking about saddle feathers, I know they’re asking for hair. I haven’t been able to restock in awhile because there’s a shortage right now; all the birds are dead.”

Mull also said that he used to sell a pack of ten feathers for five or six dollars, and now sells them at six dollars or more each. The shop is currently out of saddle feathers because of the amount of salons coming in and buying out the stock.

“I get a lot of very unhappy fly fishermen coming in the store trying to buy them,” Mull said. “We’re always sold out of them these days. The majority of people that come in asking for them are hair stylists because one good feather can last a fisherman a couple years.”

PETA takes a stand against feather extensions. Strong supporter and a representative for the organization Ryan Huling said, “PETA is opposed to the use of feathers in the fashion industry because of the cruelty of animals involved. We strongly encourage people to choose alternative forms of these feathers, ones that do not harm animals in any way.”

Huling, even with his strong distaste for where the extensions come from, did not try to discourage the trend as a whole. He said that he thinks it’s a fun trend, and there is nothing wrong with synthetic feathers.

Huling does take issue with the fact that it can be difficult to tell the difference between a real feather and a synthetic one.

“This concept is kind of like faux fur,” he said. “PETA always promotes alternatives that are free of all forms of animal cruelty.”

He said that if you don’t want to give the impression that you are wearing real rooster feathers, wear something that clearly does not come from an animal. He laughed and said, “Like pink fur. You get the fluffy look of fur, but that clearly didn’t come from any animal.”

“I like the feather trend,” said marketing freshman Kelly Munzenberger, who got a feather extension over the summer.  “I think it’s a good way to do something different to your hair without dying it.” Munzenberger was surprised to learn that thousands of roosters are actually killed every year in order to supply the long, luxurious feathers that are used to make the extensions.

“I didn’t even know that some of the feathers were made from roosters,” she said.

Salon Meridian is one salon on the list of many that supply the feathers. Employee Carleana Delacruz said they sell between 30 and 40 feathers per month on average. Delacruz said she was shocked to learn about the mistreatment and slaughter of birds that takes place in order to make the extensions.

“I know that the feathers we use most often are real,” she said. “They are made from the same proteins as human hair, which is why we are able to style them, but I had absolutely no idea that the roosters were killed.”

She explained that clients have asked for alternative synthetic feathers stating, “The only difference in the synthetic feathers is that you cannot style them, but they look the same as the natural ones”.

Spanish sophomore Kaitlyn West also sports a feather, but hers is an authentic saddle feather. West said that she really doesn’t know much about where the feathers come from or how they’re made, real or synthetic.

“I would have gotten synthetic feathers if I had known they were available. I am such an animal lover, and I would have never intentionally gotten real feathers knowing now that it harms and kills the roosters. I think the trend is dying down. It was fashionable, but it definitely isn’t worth the cost of hurting harmless and helpless animals.”

According to MTV Style, Ke$ha is a big follower of the feather trend. This pop star, however, is an even bigger supporter of the synthetic options. She made a point of telling her fans about online sites that sell synthetic feathers making sure to emphasize that she is not involved in the killing of roosters just to add pizazz to her hair.

Any trend has its ups and downs and ins and outs whether short or long lived. Feathers may be the hot item right now, but who knows what will be “in” tomorrow. The trend, in a way, can be compared to choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. If someone is against ending an animal’s life to benefit themself, they simply avoid it. If you are against harming and killing roosters to add a feather extension to your hair, ask for synthetic ones at your salon or search around for an awesome one online.

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Cafeteria Safety

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Cafeteria Safety

While MSU educates nearly 45,000 students per year, the university’s cafeterias feed approximately 150 times as many mouths.

MSU feeds approximately six million people each year, nearly 25,000 people per day, said Associate Director of Residential Dining Bruce Haskell.

A student goes through the salad bar in Yakeley's cafeteria (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

Many students first view the massive cafeterias as an endless array of options, putting the home cooked dinner table to shame. Others notice the dangers of overeating or contamination often associated with feeding such large numbers of people.

“There were more choices than I expected there would be, so it was exciting eating in the dorms at first, but getting sick my freshman year made me aware of the less appealing side to dorm food,” said biosystems engineering sophomore Matt Crowder.

Crowder was one of 29 MSU students affected by the E. Coli outbreak in East Complex in fall 2008 from a commercial lettuce contamination.

“I would not wish E. coli on my worst enemy,” he said. “It was the worst sickness I’ve ever had.”

MSU division of residential and hospitality services collaborating with the Ingham County Health Department reacted immediately to the outbreak, pulling together all infected students to work on determining the source of the contamination.

“I spent five days in the hospital, and the health department visited me there to interview me about exactly what I ate for the last week,” Crowder said.

MSU’s response to the E. coli outbreak was crucial; the university immediately informed students through e-mail and provided updates on their website.

“We took every precaution,” Haskell said. “We even pulled turkey because many of the sick students said they had eaten turkey sandwiches with lettuce. We went through a lot of testing looking for a common thread.”

The Detroit-based vendor, Aunt Mid’s Produce Company, was eventually identified as the source of the outbreak.

“I first became aware of the E. coli outbreak on Sept. 15, and we did not reintroduce lettuce from a different company until Nov. 11,” Haskell said.

Although it was the first MSU residence hall contamination in 30 years, the contamination was covered nationally in the days following the outbreak.

“We took a big hit on that even though E. coli was happening all over the country, but the whole experience taught us a lot so when the Norovirus hit in April we were prepared,” Haskell said.

Norovirus, the second outbreak of the academic year, hit Shaw Hall on Apr. 1.  Approximately 30 students were hospitalized with Norovirus symptoms.

“Norovirus wasn’t foodborne, but to be safe we switched to full service of most every item to prevent cross contamination with students in Shaw and installed hand sanitizer dispensers,” Haskell said.  “We provided sick packets to residents so they wouldn’t have to leave their rooms; we were just taking care of our residents, really just doing our jobs.”

The campus cafeteria system had two bacteria breakouts in the 2008-2009 school year (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

As an effect of the two recent dorm-related illnesses on campus, students often relate bulk foods to dangers and recalls.  According to MSU food science professor Elliot Ryser, cafeteria food served in bulk is no more likely to be contaminated than any other food source.

“When feeding a large number of people it is easier to notice contamination,” Ryser says.  “If 400 people eat potato salad in a cafeteria, you can see the outbreak, but if 400 people buy potato salad at a grocery store and scatter and serve it to people in their homes, then it’s harder to tell where the contamination came from.”

While bulk food is not more susceptible to contamination, it is easier to detect when contaminations do occur, allowing for action to control the problem.  MSU has been known to react quickly when problems do occur.

“We live in a day in age where there are occasionally recalls and we follow very strict protocols on what to do if they occur,” said Joe Petroff, MSU residential and hospitality occupational health and safety officer.

Preventing outbreaks starts with the training and enforcement of food handling procedure.

“Before the food is put out it is as safe as any other source of food; it becomes dangerous when it sits out and is handled,” Ryser said.

MSU follows the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s food codes for food storage and handling and are inspected regularly. All MSU food service employees go through an extensive training when they are hired as well as an annual recertification, said Petroff, who is responsible for training residential employees.

“All employees go through a significant training to learn how to handle food and keep things clean and safe.  The staff is well-informed not to come to work if they show any sings at all of illness and are not penalized for that,” he said.

While food contamination is a main concern of students and staff, cafeteria food safety also encompasses the sustenance of the menus and nutritional value of the food offered in the MSU cafeterias is continually developing.

“Studies that I have done have shown students eat healthier in the residence halls than when living in off campus,” said Sharon Hoerr, a food science and human nutrition professor. “It is very possible to eat very healthfully in the residence halls; people just need to make some choices.”

While the cafeterias offer healthy options, the options force students to make difficult decisions regarding maintaining a healthy diet.

“Understanding what is healthy helped me have a balanced plate while my friends had entire plates of mac and cheese with Cheetos on the side,” said Nicole Goldman, a food science senior and former president of the Food Science Club. “My plate was always balanced, and the dorms make that easy with so many choices like the large salad bars with lots of fruits and veggies.”

The 13 MSU dinning halls aim to provide healthy options as well as the typical college cafeteria staples.

“People say that want to eat healthy but burgers and pizza still rule, so healthy is a hard thing to nail down; it is always different what people consider healthy,” Haskell said. “People acquaint healthy with fresh, so we have a lot of made to order food.”

The cafeterias follow the American Cancer Society’s “The New American Plate” as a nutritional tool and aim to buy local fresh food including entirely Michigan grown apples and are working towards Michigan meat products and more fresh than frozen vegetables.

“I like that you can see people making the food, and it’s not in a back room somewhere; everyone can see it, so that makes you feel more comfortable about what you’re eating,” Crowder said.

While there are healthy options, making the nutritious choice can seem daunting.  Maintaining a healthy diet while eating in cafeterias has less to do with what you put on your plate and more with how much of it, Hoerr said.  Controlling potions can be difficult in the cafeteria setting, but portion size is crucial for a healthy lifestyle.

“Portion size and eating rate are most important; anything in access causes serious problems,” she said.  “With unlimited service there is a risk of over eating since students feel they need to eat their money’s worth.”

Whether they frequented the soft-serve ice cream or stuck to the salad bar, most students agree the convenience of prepared meals anytime of the day is missed once they shift to off campus living.

“Living off campus I definitely miss the dorm food but less for its quality and more for its convenience,” Goldman said. “I liked that there was a wide variety of foods available to me at any time in the day because sometimes I’m just too tired or busy to cook.”

Tips for Staying Hot and Healthy While Eating Dorm Food from Food Science and Human Nutrition Professor Sharron Hoerr:

1) Slow it Down and enjoy it:  “Eating slowly helps, try to take at least 20 min to finish meal,” she said.

2) Good-bye Trays: While many cafeterias are going trayless, even if yours is not choose not to use one to help control your potions.  “Going trayless helps because can only eat what you can carry.”

3) Save the best for last: “If you eat your veggies and fruit first you are less likely to overeat.”

4) Slow down with the Cheese: “I notice that cheese is something that students love to use and using it as more of a flavoring agent rather than something you’re going to fill up on would be smart since it has so many calories.”

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Is There Still a Place for Feminism on Campus?

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Is There Still a Place for Feminism on Campus?


A word most often heard in history classes, associated with bra-burning and the revolutationary times of the 60’s.

The Women's Study Lounge in the Union is a reminder of a more sex-segregated time at MSU (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

Many students at Michigan State University have misconceptions about the feminist movement and are unaware that it still exists.

“I haven’t heard anything about it on campus.  I never hear anything about it, ever,” said Kelsey Hansen, a telecommunication and criminal justice junior.  Hansen refers to feminism and her experience with it at MSU.  She said the only thing she knew about feminism’s purpose was the effort to equalize the rights of women to the rights that men have.

Hansen is not alone, and that is the general notion that most students have.  However, there is an organization on campus that is fighting to bring awareness and clarification to what feminism is.

The MSU Women’s Council is a progressive feminist organization on campus,  said Chelsea Gladney, a junior who co-chairs the council.  The group meets once a week and has approximately 35 regular members.

“‘Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too,'” said Gladney, quoting the slogan that the MSU Women’s Council has printed on their t-shirts.

Many of the weekly meetings held by the MSU Women’s Council focus on the stereotypes that members and feminists in general face.  According to Gladney, the portrayal of feminism as an aggressive and negative movement is inaccurate.

“It’s supposed to be strong and it’s supposed to be empowering, not in any way demeaning to anyone,” she said.

Gladney pointed out that while feminism is characterized by activism, it is also a belief system that can be held by anyone and is an international concept.

“Feminism is for everyone, it really is for everyone.  It’s not just for middle-class white women who have all the opportunities.  It’s for black, Asian, Hispanic, men, women, lesbian, gays, transgenders, it’s for everyone.  It’s not just for people of this country.  We have a very different form of feminism than [other nations] do somewhere else, but they still have their own forms of feminism.  It’s international,” Gladney said.

A fact that students may be surprised about is male participation in feminism.   Gladney said that the MSU Women’s Council has three male members that attend the weekly meetings, and if a man believes in women’s equality he is a feminist.

Killian Lynam, a general business and pre-law junior, said that he believes that feminism belongs at MSU and society in general.

“I think that [feminists] are advocates for women’s equality.  I don’t think that they are any different than people who advocate for racial equality.  I think there is definitely a place for [feminism],” said Lynam.

Lynam said that misconceptions, such as all feminists are lesbians, is the result of ignorant thinking.

“I think that feminism is a really misunderstood concept.  I think that the sort of radical element pierces through most people’s minds, when really it shouldn’t be taken as threatening,” Lynam said.

Kristina Banister Quynn, a visiting assistant professor who teaches WRA and IAH classes at MSU, uses women’s texts and feminist ideas in the way she teaches and the readings she assigns to her students.

Dr. Quynn explained that feminism might not be as prevalent and visible today as it has been before, but that it does still exist.  She cited the Take Back the Night event, hosted by the MSU Women’s Council, which occurs on campus each year as a strong example of feminism on campus.

“The Take Back the Night march here on campus, which I think is very well attended, and it’s about women getting together and having a candlelight march through spaces where they would feel uncomfortable walking alone at night, and say ‘We won’t be afraid, we will take back the night, and be able to walk on our own,’” she said.

Female mannequins model "kiss me" shirts in a union storefront (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

Female mannequins model "kiss me" shirts ins in a union storefront (photo credit: Emily Lawler).

According to Gladney, the Take Back the Night (TBTN) occurs annually at MSU and will be held on Apr. 20 of this year.  The event is held to support survivors of sexual assault and encourages them to stand up and tell their stories.  Workshops for both men and women are available during the day.

“These events help women and men heal and come together as a community.  TBTN lends strength, and I like to think that it lets everyone know that they are not alone and that people are still working for their cause… Working to end violence against women comes along with feminism.  We want to end violence towards all people,” Gladney said.

Feminism has not transformed, but rather, transitioned into a more inclusive movement of women from all backgrounds, Quynn said.  There are now multiple types of feminisms, such as pro-choice or lesbian Chicana feminisms.  This inclusiveness moves toward including all women, not just middle-class Caucasian women.

According to Quynn, although the negative stereotypes regarding feminism still exist, it can come back into a positive light.

“Nothing shuts down conversation or makes people more wary than claiming to be [a feminist].  I can, however, claim to be studying and interested in issues of sex and gender, and immediately people’s ears perk up.  All in all, I think labels come and go, fading in and out of popularity, and who knows maybe ‘feminism’ will make a come back,” Quynn said.

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Tan Away the Winter Blues

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Tan Away the Winter Blues

College relationships. To many, college love is the graduation from high school crushes and puppy dog love to mature relationships that, hopefully, offer promises of a bright future, post graduation and beyond – as long as you survive the ‘break up season.’

Every year between January and March, couples will begin to split for what appears to be no good reason. You may notice it among your group of friends. Couples who have dated for months and years alike will slowly begin to break things off in hopes of finding something new.

Kate Mortensen, an economics junior, has experienced relationship troubles nearly every winter.

“Its just general unhappiness,” explains Mortensen. “Everything will be going smoothly for months, but every winter things just seem to go downhill, until spring, and everything suddenly will be perfect again… It just seems like we get the winter blues or something.”

Mortensen’s relationship stresses are not unlike many around campus and are generally dismissed by students as mere winter blues; however, they may actually be side effects from a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, as stated by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression that starts at the same time every year, usually during the winter months, and can lead to moodiness and irritability. Other symptoms include hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal and weight gain. SAD is treatable, and treatment ranges from UV light exposure to prescription drugs; however, tanning is a simpler solution that will give you the same benefits without pricey doctor visits.

Tanning may be the solution.

Sarah Munkacsy, owner and operator of Bronze Bay Tanning in downtown East Lansing is a strong believer that tanning is a viable treatment for SAD and a better alternative than taking prescription drugs.

“A lot of people come in and say ‘I’m really depressed,’” she said. “[Personally] I feel so much better when I tan.”

Munkacsy, who was diagnosed several years ago with SAD, spent several winters taking antidepressants like Prozac in an attempt to return to her normal, vibrant self.

“I just didn’t like how I felt. I usually have a type A personality, and I just didn’t feel like myself,” she said.

Upon being asked about her relationship with her husband, Munkacsy said she did not feel like she changed toward him. Her husband, who works with her at their tanning salon, told a different story, signaling that she was quite moody before she began treatment.

After several winters of taking Prozac, Munkacsy approached her doctor asking if there were any other treatment options for her SAD. Her doctor suggested tanning two to three times a week, and she hasn’t looked back.

“It’s so much better than drugs,” she said. “I feel like myself again.”

What is it about tanning that makes people feel better? Katie Edwards, an employee at Bronze Bay Tanning, explained it in simple terms.

Edwards had recently worked on a research project involving tanning and its general effects on the body. According to her research, light exposure leads to two different mood elevating chemical reactions. The first is the production of vitamin D, which studies suggest is directly related to moods; that is, the more vitamin D you have in your system, the happier you tend to be. The second reaction is the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin, as with vitamin D, is stimulated by light exposure and is directly linked to moodiness and possibly depression. During the summer months, most Michiganders are active and readily get sufficient light exposure; however, with the typically overcast winters, light and warm days are hard to come by. Therefore, less sunlight means less vitamin D and serotonin, and as a result also means moodiness, depression and a strain on your relationships.

SAD is suspected to affect up to 20 percent of the general population; however, Munkacsy believes most cases go undiagnosed and dismissed as moodiness or winter blues.

“I have tried tanning and do feel a lot better after I go,” said Mortensen. “I’ve never officially been diagnosed with [SAD], but whatever winter moodiness I have, it clears it up pretty well.”

Mortensen, who has struggled with relationships during the aforementioned ‘break up season,’ went on to talk about her relationships.

“It seemed like I’d get in a lot of petty fights pretty readily for no reason,” she said, “but since I started tanning it’s been a lot easier over the winter months. I just hope that [my boyfriend] feels the same way.”

“I think that most people aren’t educated about [SAD],” said Munkacsy. She suggests that anyone interested in tanning and its positive affects on mood should visit www.tanningtruth.com.

“It’s such an easy fix. If people knew how much better you feel after tanning, a lot more people would be doing it,” said Mortensen.

So before you break off another relationship between the months of January and March, try getting a tan. The results could save your relationship and make you feel more like yourself again.

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Free Falling for Food

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Free Falling for Food

It’s college, right? When textbooks run $500 a semester and paying a parking meter is difficult, some students are looking for ways to eat for free. A growing number of MSU students are finding an alternative way of getting their groceries, and let’s just say this practice requires a strong stomach.

Dumpstering or dumpster diving is, well, exactly how it sounds. It has become a bi-monthly routine for some students. The downside is climbing into dumpsters and rifling through garbage to possibly find a couple of unharmed cans of soup or a bag of partially bruised apples.

“My experience was kind of a letdown,” said Katie Adams, a professional writing senior, of her first unsuccessful dumpster diving trip.

When the concept was explained to me, I imagined opening a dumpster to find bags of bagels, loaves of bread or boxes of unharmed rolls. I pictured them being available to reach from the bin and take home to toast for breakfast the next morning. This, however, was not the case when I — excuse the pun– dove into the challenge. After three dumpsters full of empty cups, plastic bags and coffee-stained boxes, I found the ends of a few bread loaves mixed in with other trash. I was an amateur, at best. I gave up my first attempt at freeganism after three hours and five dumpsters filled with nothing but garbage. 

The upside, however, is free groceries, and potentially a lot of them.

“The trick is to be systematic,” Adams said. “Some of my friends who do it all of the time get a whole trunk full of bread. I guess you just have to pick the right place and time of day and hopefully you’ll get lucky.”

Jessica Checkeroski, a studio art senior, is a bit more dedicated to the cause. She doesn’t consider herself a freegan, though she goes dumpstering about twice a month.

“I look for bread, fruit, and vegetables. Anything else like cereal or vegan hot dogs is just a nice surprise,” said Checkeroski.

Sticking mainly to grocery stores with compactors or bakeries, Checkeroski doesn’t feel nervous about the cleanliness of the food that she picks up because most of it is packaged or surrounded by other food.

“[It’s] like finding a garbage bag of just bagels or a box of just potatoes,” she said.

Checkeroski won’t just take anything, though.

“If something looks gross, it probably is. I used to think the idea of taking food out of a dumpster seemed unsafe but once I went, I realized that the food isn’t in that bad of shape at all. Especially now that it is winter, my logic is that if it is frozen its shelf life is longer.”

Checkeroski has never known anyone to get sick from the food they’ve found on a dumpster dive but understands why it won’t sell in stores.

“I get why the food can’t be sold – bruises, freshness, too ripe – but [for it] not to be used is wasteful,” said Checkeroski.

In regards to issues of legality, Checkeroski has never experienced any problems, though she has heard of others who have.

Hannah Nowicki, an employee at Great Harvest Bread Company in Okemos, had never heard the term freegan before, but she has heard stories of college students rummaging through their dumpster after hours.

“About 2 to 3 months ago we were taking out the garbage while closing down for the night, and the girls found some students digging through the dumpster,” said Nowicki.

Since Great Harvest Bread Company gives their extra bread to soup kitchens in the area, the students could not have been finding much more than a few loaf ends.

“My friends who were working told them that they wouldn’t find anything, but the students refused to leave. The police were called because they were trespassing,” said Nowicki.

Checkeroski feels that the food she finds in dumpsters is fair game.

“Once something is in the trash, let me decide if the risk is worth taking or not,” she said.

Freeganism isn’t just about dumpster diving. It is an entire lifestyle based off of surplus food and materials that are put to waste daily by consumers and manufacturers. The freegan movement was started in the 1990s as part of the environmentalist and anti-globalization trends happening at the time and has grown quite large in New York, Los Angeles and London — where foraging waste is called bin-diving or skipping.

According to freegan.info, those who first practiced freeganism still purchased items. They tried to boycott major companies that tested products on animals, violated human rights or abused the environment, qualities that didn’t set them apart from most activist groups of their kind. After realizing that every purchase they made was still “supporting something deplorable,” freegans took on a new, unique set of principles. By almost fully rejecting the entire economic system, freegans maintain the concept of boycotting all things mass-produced, animal tested or environmentally unfriendly.

Although dumpster diving is the most common practice, many freegans are also vegans. Vegans chose a diet that consists of only animal-free foods for political and health reasons. Freegans often adopt this lifestyle for the same reasons but also because a cruelty-free diet is more economical than one that includes animal products.

Freegans aren’t alone in their quest for free food. Some students who do not wish to dig through garbage have applied for bridge cards as a way of avoiding the cost of groceries. Bridge cards are like electronic food stamps and are offered by the federal government to anyone who qualifies (qualifications vary from state to state).

“I would say most of the people who have it need it. It’s hard to say exactly who does,” said Alan O’Donnell, a human biology senior. “Technically, I’d probably survive without it, but it definitely helps.”

Applications can be filled out online, and they ask questions about personal income but not about parents’ income or whether the applicant is claimed as a dependant. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an entitlement program, meaning anyone who applies and meets the requirements will automatically be given a bridge card. The idea is that the card will help facilitate the costs of monthly spending on groceries and not be the sole means for providing food.

The card is issued by household, so everyone who applies is given a different amount to spend each month depending on his or her income. Bridge card owners cannot purchase alcohol, cigarettes or household items (including toothpaste), and are limited by the amount they are given by the government.

According to Marie Boyle and David Holben in their book, Community Nutrition in Action, one of the drawbacks of the card is that it does not necessarily allot enough money to buy nutritional items, so the USDA and the DHHS are concerned that bridge card users cannot afford to follow the dietary guidelines that they set for Americans. Because of this, these organizations are rallying to give more money to people with bridge cards, which could mean a lot to students who struggle to make ends meet.

Though my first experience with freeganism didn’t yield anything but a few photos of garbage, I feel like the dumpster divers are on to something. If you can stomach the idea of getting into a pile of trash, you can walk away from the experience with food for the week or at least a story to tell friends. Then again, not everyone is cut out for the freegan lifestyle – I stopped trying after a few hours and ended up at Noodles & Company. Inside, that is.

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