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Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Opinion Blog

Diversity on television promotes open-mindedness

By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 03/26/14 10:26am         

I was in the middle of a routine binge-watching of “The Walking Dead,” when I observed something that made me smile.

Two of the characters had fallen in love amidst world-wide catastrophe and without hesitation rooted from racial taboos.

Interracial couples are becoming more apparent in a slowly growing list of shows on TV today. From Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” to Lauren Cohan and Steve Yeun on “The Walking Dead,” the media has been producing a more accepting side of television.

Viewers everywhere are starting to see the emergence of a great change in the collective variety of faces they saw on the screen. TV was raising it’s own revolution–a racial revolution.

Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek,” was one of the first African-American actresses to be portrayed onscreen as an incandescent, powerful and intelligent being. This contrasted with the roles of the servants they had primarily been cast as before.

It is comforting that something as influential and present in the daily lives of many Americans can be revolutionized.

Although this is not always the case, sometimes there seems to be more evolving and more positive change present on TV stations than in nations around the world.

It has become a matter of some citizens needing the persuasion and alternate reality of actors on a screen to bring them to action. The problem is that when someone craves a tangible vision of change rather the physical act of creating that change, nothing really gets done.

But no matter what drives a person to facilitate change, the next step has to be shutting off the TV and stepping into the field.

To pinch or not to pinch?

By Robert Bondy          Last updated: 03/13/14 11:00pm         

St. Paddy’s Day is full of plenty of traditions, ranging from pinching the poor soul not wearing green to drinking green beer throughout the day, but some of those classic traditions are better than others.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of St. Paddy’s Day is early morning green beer, but second is sporting green or pay the price of continuous pinching all day. I’m all about traditions, but pinching rubs me the wrong way, no pun intended.

The act of pinching makes sense and I know its been around for quite a long time, but it also can come off as creepy, especially when it comes from the rando in the corner of the bar.

I’m lucky enough to say I haven’t been pinched by any randos in my time of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m sure the pretty ladies at a party or bar are weirded out by the act. And if I were to be pinched, I’m sure I would be weirded out too.

One positive could be that pinching might be used as an icebreaker in meeting new people at the bar, party or event. And I do enjoy meeting new people, but there has to be other ways to attack such an objective.

Plus pinching can hurt because we all know we have that one friend who takes it too far, whose pinch feels like a bear-trap clamping down. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So after looking into the art of St. Paddy’s Day pinching, I’m going to knock it off the list of traditions. As a Spartan I love the idea of everyone wearing green on the holiday, but let’s keep our hands to ourselves.

If you're sick, stay home

By Casey Holland          Last updated: 03/12/14 7:40pm         

The erratic weather has been a frustration to many students, and also has some reaching for Kleenex and breaking into fits of coughing.

With frigid winter temperatures still gripping the campus, students and professors alike are catching everything from the common cold to the flu. In spite of this, they still make the long trek through the ice and snow to their classrooms.

I understand dedication and not wanting to fall behind in classes, but please, don’t bother coming to class if you’re going to spend it hacking up a lung.

Nearly every class I’ve been to this week had someone attending who looked ready to fall over. Students coughed without worrying about covering their mouths and keeping their germs from spreading to everyone else.

If you are too sick to attend class, take a day off and spend it relaxing in bed. It’s easy to e-mail professors or other classmates about what was missed that day, and it’ll prevent the risk of infecting anyone else.

Take it from someone who’s been there – no one wants to be sneezed or coughed on. I shudder at the memory of those moments.

Don’t just stay home for everyone else’s sake, though. Stay home for yourself. Curl up in bed, eat some soup and take medicine. Venturing out into the cold all day won’t make you feel any better.

If you’re too sick to attend class, spend the day taking care of yourself. Don’t stress about potentially missed classwork and instead just reach out for help catching up later on.

Your classmates and professors will thank you it.

Exercise rooms in dorms should be open all night

By Simon Schuster          Last updated: 03/11/14 11:14pm         

Each day, I leave work in the dark of night and head to the library to toil for hours on homework.

When I’ve finally finished, I want nothing more than to spend some time on a treadmill in my residence hall’s exercise room. Only one issue: the doors lock at midnight.

Running centers me, and I feel more focused when I’m able to do it regularly. It’s a healthy way to unwind, a temporary escape from an exhausting schedule. The stars overhead and empty campus sidewalks always beat a sterile room and a treadmill’s dull whir, but with the winter we’ve had, I had to forgo that preference.

The River Trail Exercise Room in Shaw Hall’s terrace floor is pretty sparse. There are some wall-length mirrors, several treadmills, elliptical machines and a stairmaster.

In order to get inside, an ID must be pressed to the access control pad next to the door.

But after 12:00 a.m., the pad’s light stays red.

MSU’s electronic access control system purports to keep the campus safe, but this asinine practice only denies students a service that would cost the university literally almost nothing to make available.

The room is never supervised, but the doors are mostly glass; the entirety of the room can be seen from the lobby. Fluorescent lights are automatically triggered by a sensor.

After midnight, the building is locked and only River Trail Neighborhood residents can access the room in the first place. Security is no excuse.

Although several multipurpose rooms just down the hall are left open around the clock, it seems exercising through the witching hour would simply be too nefarious.

But it’s not like I’m unable to get around it. I’ve run from the Law Library at 11:55 just to stick a pencil in the door, change clothes and begin my run at 12:03. Other residents have seen me running after midnight and when they knock I always let them in.

I haven’t been written up for door-propping just yet, luckily.

We’re 21st century college students. To achieve some measure of success after university, it’s more than likely a tidal wave of homework, projects and extracurriculars is constantly looming.
As a result, working out becomes reserved for the little lulls in our busy lives. I’d speculate many students who want to exercise but don’t simply can’t find the time. What harm can come from affording us every opportunity to improve our health?

My schedule should be built around my work and academics, not when I can get to a treadmill. Restricting access to the exercise room hurts a core facet of on-campus living — academic focus.
Let me run when I want to.

Children's books with gay protagonists encouraging

By Olivia Dimmer          Last updated: 03/10/14 9:37pm         

Children’s books and media often have a very similar plot line: The knight slays the dragon, rescues the princess, and marries her. Then they live happily ever after.

But a new children’s storybook written by Daniel Errico, the author flips the script.

Yes, the knight slays the dragon and rescues the princess. But in “The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived,” the hero lives happily ever after with the prince.

The main character just happens to be gay.

“Cedric, the knight in the story, is a regular hero who happens to have a different idea for his happy ending than someone else might,” Errico told BuzzFeed in an email. “I hope that readers see that there is a bravery and beauty in being true to yourself. I believe it’s important to show kids different forms of love in a positive light instead of just one. Alternatively, avoidance could potentially put kids at a disadvantage towards understanding and acceptance later on in life.”

While Errico has been swarmed with support from the LGBT community, there has been some backlash from conservatives as well.

But despite that, Errico’s story is one that needs to be told – especially to young children.

For children who might grow up to be gay, reading a story about a hero they can identify with might help them feel less ostracized in the teenage and adult world.

For children who aren’t gay, this story can introduce them to diversity and act as a springboard for parents looking to talk to their children about people’s different sexual preferences.

Either way you frame it, this alternative storybook has one very happy ending.

I want to know why you hate country music

By Geoff Preston          Last updated: 02/27/14 10:10am         

You might not like country music, and that’s fine, we disagree. My question is why? And choose wisely because your answer is very important.

Maybe you’re like the scores of people that don’t like country because of the lack of broad topics discussed. All the country you’ve ever heard has been about beer, trucks and maybe the occasional love ballad about how she left the main character and took his Malboro Reds. Okay, you aren’t entirely wrong. But as a fan of country music I’d like you to consider the following:

What is rap about? Maybe there are occasional raps about overcoming poverty, or even true love, but what is 90 percent of it about? Money, strippers and life crippling, addictive drugs.

This is coming from a fan of rap as well. I think Kanye West’s College Dropout might be my favorite piece of music ever created.

One thing I don’t do when listening to rap is think: “Wow, what a diverse range of topics discussed! This truly is a insightful portrait of all the facets of American society!” Because no one thinks that. Music is supposed to invoke emotion in people, and when I am in a certain mood, rap, country, Taylor Swift (yup) or any other host of musical options heightens that mood and does what it is designed to do.

Not everyone likes country, nor is everyone supposed to like country. If a banjo makes you want to punch a wall, fine. If southern accents make you want to projectile vomit, maybe don’t turn to the country song. Even if you aren’t a fan of the topics country music takes on I find that more admirable than if you don’t like it because it isn’t diverse enough. Music in general might be about 10 different things. If you are picking your music based on diversity of sounds or lyrics, good luck with filling up that iPod.

Winter Olympics were not engaging

By Erik Sargent          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:11pm         

After competitions lasted for the good portion of the month of February, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi finally ended this past weekend.

The United States finished second in the total medal count behind host Russia and it was another solid showing for our country. But when all was said and done, I only had one feeling about the Olympics: it still doesn’t mean anything to me.

As bad as that sounds, it’s hard to have any emotional investment in the Winter Olympics. It’s important to have loyalty to your country and cheer them on in all of the events but in today’s society, paying attention to the Olympics is difficult.

The Olympics are such an interesting event because on paper, it should be taking over everyone’s television and should be a main topic of discussion.
But when I asked other people, they all admitted that they don’t really watch the Olympics for various reasons.

Outside of the major events like ice hockey and anything involving snowboarding, there aren’t too many people worried about the results of speed skating or ice luge. That’s just the nature of the world we live in.

There aren’t any events outside of maybe the men’s hockey that could rival any sporting event happening here in America. And with all the Olympic events being nine hours behind, it’s hard to stay up to date.

If you get on Twitter, you’re most likely going to see the scores from events that happened before they air on television here, so it makes watching the events pointless.

Add all of this together with the fact that it’s hard to get a good idea of what’s happening in the first place and you see what makes it hard for people to stay interested in.

As a fan of sports, I struggle keeping up with the Olympics because it doesn’t carry the excitement level that football or basketball does. Until it becomes more relatable to the average person, I think it is going to stay this way.

MSU Counseling Center is beneficial, but needs more therapists

By Kary Askew Garcia          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:09pm         

The MSU Counseling Center has been subject to criticism by many students who’ve said they had bad experiences.

After reading some of the responses to Scott Becker’s letter to The State News, I was compelled to think of my own personal experiences with the center.

My junior year, I was going through a difficult time and I decided to seek help at the MSU Counseling Center.

After meeting with an initial counselor to set me up with a therapist, I was told there was no one available to see me and there were 30 students ahead of me on a waiting list to get in.

I was forced to seek counseling in the community and ended up with a therapist in Okemos, spending thousands of dollars to get the mental health treatment I needed. Despite having insurance, it didn’t include very many mental health benefits, making my treatment costly.

But in addition to seeing an individual therapist, I joined two different groups at the counseling center the following semester that I found extremely beneficial to my functionality.

I was able to handle my depression and anxiety much better because I learned how to manage those overwhelming emotions. I was also able to express my feelings and hear what other people had to say.

Eventually, I was able to get treatment for free since I met up with a counselor who led one of the groups for individual counseling and no longer had to pay to see my therapist in Okemos.

I think the Counseling Center is doing the best they can, but I am not the only one who has been in a situation of having to find help elsewhere.

The counseling center should have more therapists available to talk to students, and hiring four in five years is not enough.

Not everyone has the money to pay for therapy elsewhere, and the Counseling Center should be aware of that and be more accommodating to students’ needs.

Personal clothing choices are no one else's business

By Sierra Lay          Last updated: 02/24/14 9:04pm         

Seeing a modestly clad woman in an advertisement is a rarity these days.

That fact gave rise to a dramatic response from Utah mom Judy Cox.

As a mother of an 18 year-old-son, she noticed T-shirts displayed in the window of the popular surf shop Pacsun. Cox decided they were inappropriate.

The shirts, which featured “scantily dressed models in provocative poses,” irked Cox deeply enough that after complaining to store employees to no avail, she remedied the situation another way.

She purchased every single T-shirt they had in stock. The 19 shirts she bought totaled almost 600 dollars.

The needle of moral compass points in a different direction dependent on an individual’s point of view. When it comes to how much skin is bared in ads, there are several existing opinions on what is right and wrong.

The amount of clothing a person chooses to don is not up for communal decision, except for public decency laws. For Cox to limit the options available to fellow citizens and disregard their pursuit of happiness is a transgression.

We see students exercising their right to wear what they choose by clothing themselves in short-shorts and tank tops in the warmer months of fall semester. That choice is theirs alone and should not be infringed upon.

There comes a time when it isn’t necessary to prohibit others from purchasing something you don’t find appealing. Just don’t buy it.

People are still wearing Crocs, aren’t they?

Alcohol shouldn't be sold to students at on-campus athletic events

By Ben Stram          Last updated: 02/21/14 11:33am         

One night changed Bryan Stow’s life forever.

The court case has finally closed between Stow and two Los Angeles Dodgers fans that left Stow brain damaged and disabled on opening day of the 2011 season.

The two men, Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez, plead guilty to the beating today.

Two witnesses who attended that game said that Sanchez, who pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was handed an eight-year prison term, was throwing peanuts and spraying soda on a women in the stands.

His sister also testified that Sanchez was drunk.

This might be why MSU refuses to allow alcohol consumption at their sporting events other than in their premium seats. Students can be reckless at times, especially when drinking a substantial amount.

Some students already go to the games heavily intoxicated and that causes enough problems alone. Imagine students being allowed to drink at games with big rivals like Michigan. Who knows what problems might occur inside and outside the stadium if drinking were allowed during the game?

The foul language that can be heard between the two schools would escalate and issues would arise.

There is no way they would allow alcohol consumption during men’s basketball games as the IZZONE, which surrounds the court, would be more wild than ever.

Are we mature enough to handle this?

In April 2012, Minnesota Governor Mark Davis signed a bill allowing alcohol sales through halftime at TCF Bank Stadium, where University of Minnesota’s football team plays. This allowed Minnesota students to drink at games.

Minnesota is the only Big 10 school to allow alcohol sales throughout the whole stadium. Eight other Big 10 schools that sell alcohol in the stadium limit the consumption to the premium seats only and three Big 10 schools don’t sell alcohol at all.

Premium seats are where the drinks should stay. It requires responsibility to drink at these games, and the last things we need are serious injuries as a result of alcohol on campus at MSU.