The Vol. 49, Issue 8
April 19, 2007
MONROE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
INSIDE Opinion, 2 & 3
Have you taken time to read the labels on fast food wrappers? One Agora reporter has something to say about it
Young adults shatter the sterotypes of the ‘average’ college student Letter to the Editor
Campus News, 4 & 5 Wireless Internet now available throughout campus
What do you know about the weapons policy at MCCC? UT hosts transfer day
Feature, 6 & 7
Tanning beds may be a health benefit
CiCi’s Pizza opens in Monroe ESL Tutoring in the LAL
Entertainment, 8 & 9 Movie reviews of Blades of Glory, Premonition, Children of Men, and Grindhouse
What does it take for a band to get signed? Discover new music as recommended by an Agora staff member
In the Mix, 10
Story jumps Food money-savers
Spotlight, 11 & 12 Spring crossword puzzle
Sexual offenders, predators unmasked Web sites raise conciousness, knowledge of sexual assailants in local area Jeffrey Kodysh Reporter
Across the nation, during the month of April, groups and organizations are trying to raise awareness about a serious criminal problem: sexual assault. From strangers on the street to clergy in churches, disturbing crimes are taking place right in neighborhoods across the country and residents have no idea what is happening in their own backyards. In the past, these crimes were very hard to keep track off due to the lack of a way to organize and distribute information on offenders. However, thanks to the internet, times are changing. Michigan residents now have several internet tools to help in the prevention of sexual crimes. By providing a way for the public to learn about individuals that commit sexual offenses, two Web sites, the Michigan State Police public sex offender registry list, www.mipsor.state.mi.us, and the Family Watchdog Web site, www. familywatchdog.us, both allow users to gain valuable information about sex offenders, crimes they have committed, and where they live. According to the Family Watchdog Web site, the magnitude of sexual crime is greatly underestimated. Their staggering facts indicate that one out five girls and one out six boys have been sexually abused by the time they reach their 18th birthday. They estimate that there are over 500,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. and even more shockingly, estimate that 100,000 sex offenders in the U.S. do not register with the proper authorities when they are convicted. Of those 500,000 sex offenders nation wide, just under 20,000 live in Michigan. Becky Zelling, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) student and mother of two children, was shocked to hear the extent of sexual violence that occurs in this country. “[The statistics] are terrible. I think it
really shows the fallen state that we are in. I have a boy and a girl, and you hear about abuse against girls but you never hear about the sexual abuse against boys. It goes to show you how silent we are about the subject. I wouldn’t be surprised if these figures were higher still,” Zelling said. There are many complicated reasons behind this huge number of sexual offenders, but a major factor could be the breakdown of traditional values. Jim DeVries, professor of history at Monroe MCCC who also teaches sociology classes, believes that a major part of criminal sexual behaviors stem from the breakdown of family values and lack of boundaries.
“Our current society does not have the boundaries which existed 20, 30, 40 years ago. When I was growing up, we didn’t know where to buy porn [or] where to buy drugs. We were protected in a way from evils that plague current society,” DeVries said. “The community took an active role in protecting itself from predators. Everyone knew everyone else and looked out for each other,” he said. The first of the two Web sites is the Michigan State Police Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR). The Michigan State Police have recently updated this online list of registered sex offenders that reside in the state. The PSOR list lets users search for sexual
offenders by zip code, city, name, or post-secondary school. After a search, results are presented to the user. They include the offender’s registerable offense, his or her photo (when available), a physical description, the offender’s last reported address, whether the offender is attending and/or employed at a post-secondary school, and any aliases. A search of the PSOR’s database for the city of Monroe shows a staggering 122 offenders spread throughout the city. A recent search for sex offenders that attend MCCC showed three registered sex offenders on campus.
see “Offenders,” page 10
Tuition increase stirs campus controversy Lisa Ghigliazza, Copy Editor Jeffrey Kodysh, Reporter
Tuition will cost more for students enrolling at Monroe County Community College (MCCC) this fall. At the March 26 MCCC Board of Trustees meeting, Trustees William Bacarella, Jr., William Braunlich, Marjorie Kreps, and Michael Meyer voted to increase tuition, while Trustees Mary Kay Thayer and Thomas Waldecker voted against. With the majority vote, tuition was increased to $64 for Monroe County residents, $110 for out-of-county residents, and $122 for out-of-state residents, per credit hour. In addition, the same Trustees also ratified an increase in Technology fees from $4 to $6 per credit hour for students. Tim Bennett, vice-president of business affairs and treasurer, originally proposed tuition increases of $63 for county residents, $109 out-of-county, and $121 out-of-state per credit hour and $5 technology raise. Discussion on the proposal began with Trustee Meyer questioning Bennett if amounts proposed would cover anticipated technology upgrades. Bennett said the college would be upgrading all of its computers to the Vista operating system for the 2007-2008 academic year and indicated an $11 technology fee would actually be required to cover the costs. “Through MCCC’s licensing agreement with Microsoft, the Vista operating system is something we already own, so there is no additional costs to
“Raising [tuition] to $64 [per credit hour] for in-county shouldn’t be a problem for the students, heck, most the students here have bigger bar tabs on the weekend than that.” William J. Bacarella, Jr. MCCC Trustee the college for the actual software upgrade, but we have to replace a large number of computers this year in anticipation of the upgrade” Joe Verkennes, director of marketing, said. According to Bennett, the Technology Fund Balance and transfers from the General Fund have provided additional revenue needed to meet expenditures. So why are students being charged more for tuition? Trustee Braunlich expressed concerns about possible decline in property tax revenues which would negatively impact the college’s revenues. In a document issued by Tim Bennett titled, “General Fund Revenues Staff Update 3 of the Budget Process and Progress Report,” he states, “At this time, we are projecting property tax revenues for next year of $13,200,000, a 4.4% increase over this year’s budget.” When asked why he was worried about possible declines in property taxes in view of the above statement, Trustee Braunlich said,
“There is a significant chance that projection [4.4% increase] is too high. There is usually a lag time between when the government gives its prediction of property taxes and when taxes are actually assessed.” A trustee since 1990, Mary Kay Thayer has always had a difficult time approving tuition increases. “I know many of our students receive assistance through financial aid and/or scholarships. However, there are numerous students that fall through the cracks. They must take out loans and/or work extra hours in order to attend MCCC. Books have always been expensive, daycare may be necessary, and the list goes on and on,” Thayer said. “Sometimes I feel like Solomon. I wish I could make higher education free to every person in Michigan.” Affordable tuition is a relative term. What is affordable to one person is not necessarily affordable to another. MCCC student, Jessica Morris, is concerned about the tuition and technology increases.
“The fact they just assume we can afford an increase is ridiculous. It’s my money and when you add up the cost of classes, books, and supplies it’s really difficult,” Morris said. Jeremiah Werstein, a Monroe County resident and student, also expressed his dismay. “I saw the need for newer technology and knew that [increase in technology fee] was going to happen,” Werstein said. “But why are they raising tuition, too?” Trustee Thomas Waldecker also voted against the increases. “I voted against the motion to increase the tuition for in-district students to $64 per credit hour because I believe that the original recommendation to increase it to $63 per credit hour was adequate at this time. Before the meeting I reviewed budget information and reviewed the percentages from where our funding comes of each of our major revenue sources (state funds, property taxes, and tuition). I wanted to keep tuition increases at a modest level at this time,” Waldecker said. According to Tracy Vogt, financial aid director, MCCC offers a variety of financial aid programs such as grants, scholarships, student loans, and work study. “There are approximately 300 MCCC students receiving Federal Stafford Loans totaling $1,013,000,
see “Tuition,” page 10
April 19, 2007
Fast food funnies Christopher Slat Copy Editor
Students attending a homeschool prom at the Sawyer House in Monroe, Michigan.
Photo by Kristin Booth
Homeschooling myths demolished Kristin Booth Copy Ediotr
“How long have you been at Monroe County Community College (MCCC)?” is a usual opening line when people are trying to attempt small talk. “This is my second year here (my final semester),” I reply with great excitement. “Where did you attend high school?” is usually asked next. “Well, I was home educated,” I say back. “Oh. . .” They usually answer back. “Do you feel like you fit in with the college atmosphere?” These are common questions asked when students are trying to make conversation in class, especially towards the beginning of a new semester. And this is a typical answer to my revelation. Yes, I was home educated. No, I was not raised in a dark, scary cave, unaware of what was and currently is going on around the world. I am not naïve to “sensitive” topics. This is just a common misconception most individuals perceive when they visualize the homeschooler. And one delusion I want to clarify is just because I was home educated does not make me unsociable or unaware. MCCC sophomore Karley Stanton was home educated and has felt similar emotions.
“People are surprised to hear I was homeschooled. They usually need a minute to adjust to this fact and realize I am a human being who was just home educated,” she said. There are various reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children. Mine felt it was the answer to their prayers and I, for one, have not been sorry about their decision. In fact, I feel extremely blessed. I am grateful I was given the opportunity to be educated at home. The experience allowed me to become best friends with my parents and my siblings. It also opened up doors and life events young adults in high school are unable to experience. People everywhere are completely unaware homeschooling is extremely beneficial for children. It allows them to have a one-on-one teacher/student ratio, they are able to learn in a comfortable environment, and they are able to grow and mature without fears of peer pressure from their childhood acquaintances. A common misapprehension is that home educated students are not able to function in social settings. This is not true. Not only did I attend weekly music, sewing, and gym lessons, I also took frequent field trips to plays at Lourdes College, the Toledo Zoo, and many other places throughout the area. See "Homeschool," page 10
sells Christianity short
Gary Knox Reporter
I’m pissed and here’s why. As a Christian, it bothers me greatly when a message presents itself that compromises the integrity of a faith I hold dear. Well, folks, that message has presented itself, and is becoming increasingly popular. Commonly referred to as the “Prosperity Gospel,” this ideology puts a premium on the idea that if you “sow a seed,” or “make a vow,” then God will send countless blessings your way. In most cases, sowing a seed or making a vow can be translated as giving money to a particular ministry. Before I go on, I would like to make a few things clear. The idea that God will take care of His people and will bless them, is not a concept absent from the Christian faith.. Jesus says in Matthew 6: 11 “ If you who are evil, give good gifts to your children, then how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” Neither is Christianity silent on the subject of being generous to others. Jesus said, “If anyone asks for your coat, give him your cloak also.” Giving financial support to a local church is a Biblical concept as well. In the book of Acts, it was common practice for the early church to tithe as much as ten percent of their possessions. The issue is not with the idea that God will bless His people or even
that we should to support our local church. The issue is how these concepts have been turned into nothing more then a get rich quick scheme by smooth talkers who deceive many by promising them God’s blessings if only they fork over an X amount of cash. The Prosperity Gospel is not only dangerous because of its propensity for abuse, but also because it is a message that focuses on how God can serve us, not how we can serve Him. I recently watched a minister on television who told his congregation to lift their wallets in the air while he proclaimed that God was going to supernaturally fill them with wads of money. Is that the purpose of Christianity? Absolutely not! Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. He did not travel on a platinum-covered donkey preaching about a surefire way to expand your bank account. The goal of every Christian should be to develop a real relationship with God, not to treat Him as a celestial vending machine who pumps out blessings on demand. For those interested in the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ consider these words. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.
I go out to lunch a lot. Sometimes I like to bring my friends with me. Sometimes I like to bring my dad with me. Sometimes I like to just go by myself because I don’t want to talk to anybody. But these days, that’s getting harder and harder to do because, more and more, the wrappers on my fast food delicacies are trying to converse with me. Perhaps you’ve noticed this. Fast food chains are now printing paragraphs of casual, conversational text on cups, bags, wrappers, and anything else that stays still long enough for the ink to settle. This isn’t a matter of a line or two with the franchise’s slogan on it. These are full-blown essays of self-important drivel, similar to what you might find on this page. And I’m not the biggest fan of fast food, but I eat enough of it for this to have a big impact on my lifestyle. For example, some Arby’s bags have paragraphs on the back of them that explain the need to hide your Arby’s bag from other people because they’ll try “to make your bag their bag” or something. Wendy’s cups want you to “do what tastes right,” or various other things, as in “do a real hamburger.” Burger King delivers a paragraph to congratulate me for proving that I like to have it my way, even though I just ordered a basic menu item and didn’t ask them to customize it for me at all. Not to mention I only ordered it because it was the only thing I happened to have a two-for-one coupon for. Some of these fast food packages even dare to intrude on my personal life. A Wendy’s cup invites me to “bring someone you like, or admire from afar, a Frosty.” Thank you,
Wendy’s, but if I were going to take a fine lady out to eat, I’m classier than that. I’d take her to Burger King because that’s where I have all the two-for-one coupons. Besides, where does Wendy’s get off giving me relationship advice? Am I really that desperate? Sorry, but when I’m having girl trouble, I’ll go talk to Jared the Subway guy. The oasis on the fast food packaging landscape, certainly as far as burger chains go, is McDonald’s. McDonald’s is more or less keeping things traditional with packaging that, if anything, states the name of the product you are about to enjoy and leaves it at that. So, I could eat at McDonald’s and be happy. As long as I forgot about McDonald’s nasty habit of leveling rainforests and painting restaurants to look like them. And meanwhile, in some office in a part of Corporate America you’ve only seen in the movies, some guy with a seven-figure salary thinks that his fast food packaging ideas are re-
ally witty and fun and make everyone happy. Which I guess they could be, if you were a really lonely sort of person, like the old gentleman I once saw at McDonald’s eating breakfast alone with his own glass bottle of syrup. I’ve only found one solution that really eliminates this inane fast food packaging trend—a black magic marker. Now, once I get my food, I take out my marker and black out all of the words on the packaging, as if I were cooperating with the 9/11 Commission Report. Sometimes likeminded people ask to borrow my pen when I’m finished. Sometimes people just stare at me like I’m crazy. When that happens, I take the marker and I draw some pentagrams and swastikas on my face to give them something to stare about. But, in the end, I have the last laugh, because I can finally eat my lunch without the packaging talking to me. In fact, sometimes it seems like nobody wants to talk to me after all that.
Photo by Patrick Dunn
Get the creative juice going,flowing Sarah Straub Page Editor
With less than a month before the semester ends, final projects are looming in the back of our minds and their due dates are just around the corner. For many, however, these projects don’t come easily. Often, getting started can be the hardest part. For those students having trouble, this is a sort of a “how to” article of tips to help get you started and stay on track. The first step I would suggest is meditation or actions similar to it. Clear your mind and relax. It will not only help you to generate ideas, but also help you be more mentally productive in the long run. There are many methods of meditation and you may have to try several different types on your own before you find one you are comfortable with. Free-writing or free-drawing can also be helpful. Let your mind wander and your hands do the thinking for you. By just using a free-form idea, you give yourself a lot of room to grow, and you would be surprised
with what you may come up with. Theodore Vassar, assistant professor of art at MCCC, advises that you should compile all of the ideas you’ve come up with during this process. “No idea is a stupid one,” Vassar explains. “They could lead you to your finished product. College is a time for experimentation and making mistakes.” These mistakes are part of the learning process and can also guide you to-
wards your end result. If you’ve tried something in the past that didn’t work, this will motivate you to try something new. When you are really stuck in a rut and it seems as though you keep doing the same things over and over again, he suggests picking materials at random and working with them to try something different that you may not have thought of otherwise. He advises you not to worry so much about your grade and get rid of ideas that it has to be perfect, as they will generally hinder the creative process. If you can say you are doing your best, there isn’t much more you can ask from yourself. “Do the work for yourself, put your own passion into it and the grade will follow,” Vassar said. Vassar also suggests using your research to motivate you. As you do the research you will get more involved in the subject and eventually become more interested in it. He adds adding life experiences to your work can tally up interest and motivate you as well. See "Creativity," page 10
The Agora Editorial Policy The Agora is published by the students of Monroe County Community College, 1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI, 48161. The editorial office is located in 202 of the Life Sciences Bldg., (734) 384-4186. agora@ monroeccc.edu. Editorial policy: Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of The Agora staff. Signed columns represent the opinion of the writer. All letters to the editor must include a signature, address and phone number for verification purposes. The Agora reserves the right to
edit for clarity, accuracy, length and libel. The Agora is a student-managed newspaper that supports a free student press and is a member of the Michigan Community College Press Association, the Michigan Collegiate Press Association, the Michigan Press Association, the Community College Journalism Association, College Media Advisers, Associated Collegiate Press and the Student Press Law Center. Mark Bergmooser, Adviser
April 19, 2007
The ‘average’ college student shattering stereotypes, restoring respect
Tonya Huffman Photo Editor
The term college student is often misconstrued with stereotypes and labels which may sometimes be true, but are just as often false. Do college students drink alcohol? Yes, some do, but others do not. To generalize us as reckless individuals with colossal bar tabs on weekends is disrespectful. Some college students may get drunk at parties on weekends, but even if this fact is true, it does not mean school doesn’t come first. “I am not a partier and I have never had a bar tab. I am thinking about getting a second job for the summer just so I can pay for next semester’s classes and books,” Jacquelyn Prajzner, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) student, said. I attend college because I choose to, not because I have to. A college student is just another individual trying to make it in the world by bettering themselves with education. Why would that necessarily mean we, as college students, are just a bunch of goof offs? Are we too young and immature to take the initiative to work hard and save money, instead of wasting it on things like booze? Most college students work hard for the money they receive, myself included. “Many students chose to study over
party,” Nicole Pickard, MCCC student, said. To say most college students drink is like saying most males are addicted to sex or most blondes are unintelligent. These statements may be correct for some people, but stereotypes are just judgments made by those who have no fact base behind their comments. The media splashes spring break parties across televisions for all to see and this may very well be the source where stereotypes come from. Yet, no one bothers to show the hard work and studying done behind the scenes. Why are college students tired? It is likely not from bar hopping and party dancing, but instead, late night studying for a final exam or writing a 12 page research paper due the next morning. I work hard, we work hard, and at times it goes unnoticed due to the labels given by those who don’t understand and are too self-absorbed to think otherwise. Wake up, drop the stereotypes, and open your eyes to see us as who we are: individuals with dreams and goals. So before you call us out on our drunken stupor, remember we are your future doctors, lawyers, politicians, police officers, and members of your society. College students are people and people deserve respect.
Striding for a cure
Charlene Hunt Reporter
There is a foundation, charity, or organization for just about every kind of illness out there nowadays. Thankfully, these foundations and organizations provide vital information, fast facts, and the means to donate time and money to great causes. When my grandfather passed away of renal failure last year, everyone in my personal life donated to The Kidney Foundation. Now, however, my family is dealing with a new level of sickness. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that dramatically affects the digestive system and lungs in
around 30,000 children and adults in the United States, according to CFF. org. A defective gene and the protein it produces cause the body to produce an excess of unusually thick mucus that obstructs the lungs and leads to severely life-threatening lung infections. CF also leads to obstruction in the pancreas and halts natural enzymes which help the body break down and absorb food. One thousand new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed each year and more than 70 percent of patients are diagnosed by age two. In 2005, the predicted median age of survival was almost 37 years, whereas in the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived long enough to attend
CF Patient Michaela Photo provided by: Charlene Hunt
elementary school. CFF.org explains that most people with CF, though not all, have to take pancreatic enzyme supplement capsules with every meal and snacks, take multivitamins, perform some form of airway clearance at least once (and occasionally up to four) times a day, and have to take liquid aerosolized medications. There are physical routines and rigorous medical treatment involved in keeping someone with CF alive and as healthy as possible. Michaela, my bouncing, bubbly and energetic two-year old niece, was diagnosed with CF about a year ago. It took months of assertive pushing on my sister’s behalf to get the doctors to comprehend that she was just not healthy, despite their assurances that she “just has a cold” and “simply another infection.” If she wouldn’t have pushed for Michaela’s health, it’s very possible that Michaela would not be here today. It doesn’t take much to send a CF patient into medical meltdown. One good dose of pneumonia, for example, could detrimentally damage Michaela’s chance at a long life. To support Michaela and all other CF patients, many members of my family and I will be walking in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest and most successful national fund raising event, GREAT STRIDES, on May 5 in Toledo, Ohio. I urge anyone interested to join my walk team, donate, or spread the word on CF awareness. Any and all donations will be used efficiently and effectively, with 90 cents of every dollar raised going immediately to vital CF programs to support care, research, and education. With assistance from anyone willing to give, whether it be a penny or their time during the walk, children around the world get closer to curing their disabling conditions. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and myself urge everyone to help “CF” stand for “Cure Found.” If interested in contributing in any way, or for more information on GREAT STRIDES, please contact me at 734-848-3571.
Letter to the Editor Former faculty speaks out about financial situation
I liked your March 1st article, “Faculty Contract Ratified,” and I especially enjoyed Trustee Braunlich’s submission “that there was a possibility the college’s revenues could decrease in the future, due to potential reductions in property values. This, he stated, could have an impact on MCCC’s future financial stability.” (Emphasis mine) I would like to say publicly that I agree with the Trustee’s submission and I think the Faculty Association should give serious consideration to reopening the contract with the intent of instituting some important “givebacks.” Now I know what you, the editor, are probably thinking. You are thinking that the Trustee suggested that the faculty should have been willing to take smaller pay increases for reasons that possibly do not exist, could currently be insignificant, or may potentially never happen. In addition, you are probably asking yourself, what would potentially happen when property values increase? Could the Board return, or possibly share, the increase with faculty and staff? To all that I would say, “POOH!” And then I would also say, “This is a hypothetical crisis, man! There is no time for critical thinking! Now is the time for the Faculty Association to unleash the shaggy dogs of woolly logic, step up to the plate and take a bullet for the Gipper.” With that in mind, and because I’m always willing to give helpful advice, I’ve outlined a few items below. I hope the Faculty Association will give these suggestions the consider-
ation they deserve: 1. End of the world give-back. The faculty could potentially agree to the possibility of a 100% give-back in the event that the world would end during the term of the contract. Partial endings could be handled pro-rata. 2. Attack of the killer tomatoes give-back. Wide spread, unsubstantiated reports of killer tomatoes in the county could possibly trigger givebacks. Organic tomatoes would not qualify. 3. Blair witch project give-back. Mass disappearances of county residents could potentially result in givebacks. Disappearances of MCCC administrators would not count. 4. Piece of the sky give-back. This is my personal favorite. Any faculty member that elected the PPO insurance plan could possibly choose to contribute a portion of their salary equal to the premium difference between what the Trustee describes as the “gold plated plan” and the Trustee’s beloved PPO plan to pay for a potential insurance policy on the administration and Board that would possibly cover them against a piece of the sky falling on them. In closing, I hope everyone finds these suggestions helpful. I say to the Faculty Association, Administration and Board, “The time for action is now! Let’s waste no time in implementing the Trustee’s suggestions!” Sincerely, Robert (“Dave Berry”) Tarrant Professor Emeritus MCCC
April 19, 2007
‘Bhoys’ to entertain college
available at MCCC
Photo courtesy of Tom Ryder
Agora photo by Patrick Dunn
Steve Sonoras Copy Editor
For students who need to do research or just relax on the internet with their laptops, things are getting more convenient at Monroe County Community College (MCCC). In the last two weeks, the campus has undergone a project with the intentions to make wireless internet capability available in every building, not just the Life Science Building and the Campbell Learning Resources building as before. The name of this project is called Wi-Fi. The need for the entire campus to have access to wireless internet service was first recognized some time ago. “This [project] as a thought process began as a part of the La-Z-Boy Center construction,” Brian Lay, technical director at MCCC, said. Once the building was up and running, there was an opportunity to do the cabling needed to set up wireless internet service in that building. The same procedure was applied to the library around the same time. From there, the technical department saw it necessary to make the service available campus-wide—including the Whitman Center--because of the obvious advantages for students and staff alike. “There are a few locations in a few buildings where the signal strength isn’t excellent-to-good,” Lay said. “We’re mapping some of those out.” The process of making sure that every spot on campus has a good wireless signal is complicated because of the amount of use some of the trouble spots are receiving, but a useable signal for the entire campus is in the foreseeable future. Even though a few of the bugs are not worked out quite yet, the newly added technology is allowing students to access the internet from just about every practical point on campus, giving them the opportunity to do research, homework, or even surf the internet on their breaks without having to wait for an opening in one of the computer labs. As a result of these capabilities, many MCCC students are excited about the project. Mychal Hilken, a MCCC student, thinks having Wi-Fi services available campus-wide is a great convenience. “I love not having to go to the library to use internet on my laptop,” Hilken said. Another MCCC student, Christopher Burlew, said, “It conveniences me, as a MCCC student, so that I can look up important information for assignments anywhere on campus, rather than having to walk all the way across campus to use a computer lab.”
Agora photo courtesy of mich.gov
Senate bill to allow free press Patrick Dunn Reporter
A recently introduced Michigan Senate Bill would give high school newspapers rights of free press and college publications could be next. Senate Bill 352, introduced on March 15 by Senator Michael Switalski, states: “A school board, school administrator, or school employee shall not subject a pupil publication to prior review or prior restraint.” The bill would allow censorship if a student’s work was obscene or defamatory, or if it encouraged illegal or disruptive behavior. According to the text of the bill, schools would appoint a faculty advisor who would “…supervise the production of the publication, teach professional standards of English and journalism, and encourage free and responsible expression of pupil content.” “I believe this legislation addresses fundamental issues of the first amend-
ment right to freedom of speech and the free exercise of the press,” Switalski said. “High school students do have first amendment rights and this extends to the right to the free exercise of the press.” However, some school administrators are skeptical of the bill. “I would not be excited about that,” Ralph Carducci, principal of Monroe High School (MHS), said. “If you let kids write anything…there might be some misconceptions about what’s going on out here.” Carducci said MHS’s school paper, The Lotus Leaf, is currently reviewed by the paper’s faculty advisor, who brings any potentially objectionable content to Carducci’s attention. Cheryl Pell, director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, had strong words of support for the bill. “Students need to be able to use the first amendment to be able to understand it and value it,” she said. “Who
better to write about the school system than the students who are the consumers of it?” The bill also raises the possibility of similar legislation giving rights of free press to college publications. “I would be open to expansion of similar rights to university publications,” Switalski said. Ann Orwin, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) assistant professor of English, education and journalism, said such legislation would be a “no-brainer” for her. “If we’re going to have freedom of the press, it has to be across the board,” Orwin said. MCCC journalism student Holly Bourassa expressed some reservations on the topic. “I’m all about free speech, but some things could be offensive or taken the wrong way,” she said. “You don’t want to print something that isn’t the truth…it can cause See "Free Press," page 11
Bridge to close for construction
Josh Kraus Page Editor
Driving to the campus from the south? The bridge on Raisinville Road, next to Plum Creek will be closed soon for repairs, possibly making the next trip to the college even more out of the way. The bridge is being closed for repairs simply because it has been deteriorating for quite some time, says Nancy Tienvieri, public information officer for the Monroe County Road Commission (MCRC). Bridge engineers at the MCRC have been investigating specific bridges throughout the Monroe community, making notes of those that need special attention. On a
long list of bridges that need improvement, the Plum Creek Bridge ranks as one of the highest. Tienvieri said that due to limited funding, the MCRC can only repair or work on a select number of bridges per year. However, due to the continuing deteriorating condition of the Plumb Creek Bridge and cooperative funding, the MCRC has selected this bridge to begin repairs on Monday, May 7th, 2007. However, inevitably, this may cause some students to have to find a detour in order to get to class on time. Josh Piippo, a Monroe County Community College (MCCC) student, is angry by the fact that he will have nearly twice as far now, just to get to class.
“Because I live so close to the bridge, it only takes around 5 minutes for me to get to the college, but without the bridge I’ll be adding on at least 10 minutes...” Piippo said. Other students seem distraught over the closing of the bridge because of its pure nostalgic value. The main repairs to the bridge consist of adding side by side box beams, along with the addition of concrete decks. The bridge itself will remain the same size as it currently is. As far as detours go, drivers will soon have to go down Herr road in order to get around the closed bridge. The bridge is scheduled to be finished on Friday, July 27th, 2007, with weather permitting.
A high-energy Celtic band that few have seen the likes of at Monroe County Community College (MCCC), known as the Glengarry Bhoys, will be performing at the Meyer Theater on April 27 at 7:30 pm. The event is open to the public and admission to the show is $15. The Glengarry Bhoys, established in Glengarry, Ontario, are the “hottest thing in music today” according to John Sweeny of Celtic Classic. The group has toured around the U.S. for the past several years and will be making their first trip to Monroe the day of the show. Tom Ryder, the events and fitness coordinator at MCCC, said that the group was highly recommended by Cheryl McKay, a professor of accounting at MCCC. McKay has witnessed the Glengarry Bhoys first-hand several times and has liked what she has seen each time. “I have seen several other Celtic groups play,” McKay said. “ We travel to Highland Games throughout Canada and the U.S., and have had many opportunities to see a variety of performances by many different Celtic groups. The ‘Bhoys’ would still be my favorite group.” McKay believes the group’s energy makes them such a good band. “They put so much energy and passion into their music on the stage that you cannot help but be caught up in it,” McKay said. “When I seen them perform either in an outdoor setting at a Scottish Highland Game or in a theater, like last year’s performance down at Owens Tech in Toledo, they have received standing ovations.” The Glengarry Bhoys consist of five group members all varying in age, gender, and background. Graham Wright, who hails from Scotland, started the group with Gaye Stuart Leroux, or “Ziggy” as he is commonly referred to. Wright is the lead vocalist, and is accompanied by Ziggy on the drums, Ewan Brown on the bagpipes, Graham Smith on the bass guitar, and Miranda Mulholland on the fiddle. The group has released eight CD’s to date and has just recently released the album, “Mill Sessions.” “If people like traditional music, then they’ll like Celtic Music,” Sasha Noori, a MCCC student, said. Ryder mentioned that MCCC has had success with Celtic Bands before and he is hoping that the success will continue this year. The show will have two 45 minute sets and a 15 minute intermission. Tickets for the event are still available and Ryder believes that everyone should come out and enjoy what the Glengarry Bhoys have to offer to their audience. “The Campus/Community Events Committee chose the Glengarry Bhoys because they thought this would not only be a fun event for the students, but everyone in the community. I would encourage our students to listen to different types of music and to come out and enjoy this performance,” Ryder said.
April 19, 2007
Policy takes aim at weapons Chris Slat Copy Editor
Agora photo courtesy of Peter Coomar
Tech show successful Bethany Younglove Page Editor
On March 29, 2007, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) hosted the annual Taste of Tech (TOT). The event is for high school students, parents, career-changing adults, and others interested in learning about and experiencing a hands-on sampling of the many technological programs offered at MCCC. Those who attended had the opportunity to learn about construction, CAD (computer-aided design) drafting, electronics, quality/ metrology, welding, machine tools, industrial materials, robotics, and automotive engineering. Refreshments and gifts were given to those who attended. High school juniors and seniors, as well as first-time adult students, also had an opportunity to win a $500 scholarship. Andrew Brooks, a prospective MCCC student, said he will graduate this year from high school and enroll at MCCC in the welding program. He said Taste of Tech was a great way to get hands on experience in the welding field. Field experts taught ten to 15 minute courses which allowed attendees to do such things as weld items together and design a”pizza” on CAD. Burt Mason and Dave Chronicle of Romer Hexagon Metrology, the largest manufacturer in the world of CMM (coordinate measuring machine), were on hand to answer questions about their equipment which is in use at MCCC. They also talked with participants about jobs in the metrology field. They have participated in Taste of Tech before and think this [technology fair] is a great idea and MCCC does a fantastic job with Taste of Tech. “It’s good to get kids motivated about going to college,” Mason said. According to Andy Burke, welding instructor, by the year 2010 there will be a shortage of approximately 200,000 skilled pipe, exotic, and building welders. Nick Veres, an MCCC student, feels he will be in high demand as a lefthanded welder. “Left-handers can get into spots right-handers cannot simply because of which hand they use to hold the torch. I was working at the Meijer Warehouse and hated my job. My dad did it [welding] for 33 years at Chrysler so I figured I would check it out to see what it was all about,” said Veres. Parmeshwar (Peter) Coomar, dean of Industrial Technologies division, said, “This [Taste of Tech] is very impressive. We did something like this at a spring conference when I was at Pittsburgh, but this is on a bit of a grander scale. The faculty really does a lot of stuff to make this event great and the Administrative staff does a good job with support. […] It’s what we should be doing for the community.” For more information on this, visit MCCC’s Taste of Tech website at www.monroeccc.edu/tasteoftech.
This week’s shootings at Virginia Tech University have brought college safety into the spotlight, but officials at Monroe County Community College (MCCC) have been looking at the issue of a formal no-weapons policy for weeks. Currently, MCCC does not have a formal weapons policy, although, according the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the college is covered under existing state laws establishing “weapon free” school zones. This means it is illegal to possess or use a weapon on the campus, even with a concealed weapons permit. However, the definition of a “weapon” can be interpreted differently. MCCC Security Officer Gary Tomkinson said that the idea of creating a formal school policy came after concern regarding the usage of a sword as a prop in the recent Monroe County Community Players production of Macbeth in the Meyer Theater. According to Tomkinson, the sword caught the eye of campus security and was not used in the production. Then, campus security began wondering whether or not having such a thing anywhere on campus was even legal. English professor William McCloskey, who acted in the Macbeth production, said he was not aware of any dispute or removal of a prop sword, but noted there were many swords of various types used in the play. However, many were special stage swords and were used under the supervision of a trained fight captain. Randell Daniels, vice president
of student services, said he was approached by the security office several weeks ago with questions about weapons on campus. Soon afterward, an MCCC attorney began writing a draft of an official campus no-weapons policy. This draft, which was not made available by Daniels nor Tomkinson, will be sent to the MCCC Health and Safety Committee who will then make recommendations concerning whether to adopt the policy and what, if any, changes are to be made to it. MCCC Student Jacob Curley said he supports the idea of a no-weapons policy. “I definitely think it’s a good idea,” Curley said. “I can’t think of a legitimate reason why anyone would need a weapon on campus.” Curley, who is also dual-enrolled as a junior at Monroe High School, said he has never seen any trouble with weapons at all. Still, he sees possible exceptions to the rule. “I can understand if [weapons] were used for a presentation in class,” Curley said, explaining that an art or history teacher might want to show a weapon or sharp tool to his or her class. This sort of thing has happened in the past. McCloskey said history teachers have previously shown weapons to their classes, including real historical firearms. However, according to McCloskey, campus security was informed of all weapons and guns were shown with their firing pins removed. Tomkinson said even with the proposed new policy, security would still
Agora photo illustration by Sarah Straub
give written permission for this sort of exhibition. According to Tomkinson, the focus of the policy would be to let students know what sorts of things are not acceptable on campus. Currently, students would be stopped by security if they were to walk around openly with a weapon, but this policy is meant to deter that sort of behavior from happening at all. “In today’s world you have to have all these policies,” Tomkinson said. “When I was a kid, we all knew what was wrong.” None of MCCC’s five campus security officers currently carry weapons. How the policy will define what a weapon is and what the consequences for possessing a weapon will be are both unclear, until the Health and Safety Committee processes the proposed draft.
Tomkinson said he did not expect the proposed policy to ban items such as pepper spray, which are frequently carried by women and used almost exclusively as a defense. “There needs to be a reasonable definition of what a weapon is,” Jo Ellen Locher, a faculty member, said. According to Locher, normal items which have functions outside of weaponry should still be allowed. “This isn’t a jail,” she said. “We’re not making shanks.” Locher is a gun owner who is currently taking a concealed weapons permit class, but says she never feels threatened by weapons on the MCCC campus. Also, she questions the usefulness of such a policy. “If somebody means to do harm to somebody else, they’re going to manage it,” Locher said.
Silent Witnesses speak up Domestic violence program raises awareness Ashley Braden Editor-In-Chief
April 9 through 13, the Monroe County Community College (MCCC) Whitman Center housed The Silent Witness Project. The project, which was offered to us by Bowling Green State University, contained 17 ply-
Agora photo by Ashley Braden
wood silhouettes of women who were murdered through acts of domestic violence. Each figure was painted bright red and embellished with a golden shield on her chest. On the shields were detailed accounts of how and when the women were murdered. “It’s sad,” R o b y n e Washington, MCCC student, said. “It’s all so close to home.” The women represented by the cutout figures were, indeed, pretty close to home. The display featured women, of ages ranging from 14
to 82, who were all from the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan areas. One woman, in particular, was from Monroe County in Frenchtown Township. Sandy Kosmyna, director of the Whitman Center, was responsible for bringing the project to MCCC. She had previously worked at the University of Toledo’s Women’s Center and became familiar with the Silent Witness project there. She thought it would be good to bring it to our campus, too. According to Kosmyna, the project was very well-received by college and community members. “Many instructors have had their whole class come out to view it,” she said. “It’s good to expose students to that. It’s something that they might not pay attention to otherwise.” The Silent Witness Project, though, is not just a local development. It is, in fact, a national initiative. According to its website, silentwitness.net, the project began in 1990 with hopes to
ter (depending on where the student would like to be picked up) to reserve a spot, until April 20, if there are still seats open. The trip itself is limited to 40 students. If there are too few, then the trip will be taken via the college van instead of bus. So far there have been five or six students who have signed up at the Whitman Center. Director of Admissions and Guidance Services, Mark Hall, suggests signing up early, since UT would like an idea of the different majors of the students attending. This way they can bring in instructors and counselors who are proficient in the students’ fields to talk. Students with housing issues, park-
ing issues, or students who would like to visit with a counselor to review requirements and to see what the different departments have to offer will have the opportunity to do so on this trip. While many students might know where they are transferring to, Hall suggests considering the trip regardless. “[A campus] that has what [a student] wants will feel like home,” Hall said. “So while it may or may not be a fit, you can only know by experiencing it.” “Ideally students should visit several campuses,” Hall added. Since this as an effort by UT to help students
raise awareness and lower the number of victims of domestic violence. Seventeen years later, the project’s advocates say domestic violence and homicide counts have been reduced. In Michigan, the domestic homicides have decreased between the years 2000 and 2003, dropping from 40 to 21. The goal of the project, however, is not only to decrease domestic violence and homicide. The Silent Witness project has developed a five-phase model to entirely eliminate domestic violence murders by the year 2010. Participants in the project believe the Silent Witness exhibit and its coordinating events will raise awareness, involvement, and commitment to violence reduction if displayed in all 50 states. “[Domestic violence] spans all ages, all ethnic groups, all socio-economic groups. It’s very wide-spread, and I don’t think people pay enough attention to it,” Kosmyna said.
College plans University of Toledo transfer day Nick Vanderpool
Assistant Photo Editor
On April 20, 2007 the University of Toledo (UT) is providing Monroe County Community College (MCCC) students with the opportunity to visit their campus. Students will be picked up either from the main campus or the Whitman Center and will be driven by bus to the UT campus. Students will be picked up shortly after 10 a.m. and will be back before 4 p.m. Included in the trip to UT is a free flash drive, lunch, tour of the campus, and a free application. The application itself costs $40. Students may call the MCCC Admissions Office or the Whitman cen-
visit the campus without putting any pressure on the student to make the drive, students should take the opportunity to visit a campus before they make any kind of commitment. Emily Jacobs, a MCCC student, is considering transferring to UT in the future and she said this is a good way to pull students in and get them to visit the college. She was unaware of the trip on April 20. UT and Eastern Michigan are both popular schools for students to transfer to. Hall stated the grade point average of students from MCCC who transfer to UT is often higher during the last two years of their four year stay than students from other schools.
April 19, 2007
Michigan stalking laws
Sarah Wills Page Editor
At Monroe County Community College (MCCC) stalking is not a large concern. A small campus leaves little room for any real danger. However, Gary Tompkinson, security officer at MCCC, claims there have been one or two instances when legal action has been taken, resulting in one student being banned from campus for stalking three or more female students. Stalking is usually a feud between exgirlfriends and boyfriends, Tompkinson assured, though this is not always the case. “If a person is feeling threatened, [he or she] should come to us with no problem and we’ll take necessary action,” Tompkinson said. He also mentioned all of the security officers at MCCC have police background, some with up to thirty years of experience. The Michigan stalking bill took effect on January first, 1993. It states, “stalking is defined as: ‘a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually
causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.’” If a student feels like they are becoming victim to a stalker, About.com gives some helpful suggestions to keep you safe: 1.Take Action: Start telling others about the stalker. Even if you have responded to him positively in the past, don’t let that stop you from taking action now. Tell people what is going on. If you did go out with him, it was a mistake, but you can fix that. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Learn from it and move on. 2.Keep a Diary: Record every incident, no matter how trivial. Stalkers use the triviality of their actions as a defense: “What, I’m not allowed on a public street?” You need to establish a pattern of behavior. Record dates, times, places, witnesses, phone numbers, addresses, everything you can think of. If this problem has been ongoing, record previous events to the best of your ability. 3.Get More People Involved: Contact your local women’s center and tell them you’re being stalked. Bring in your record of the incidents. Advocates who work at women’s centers have experience with stalkers, and may even know the person who is bothering you. They also know the
police, the sheriff, and the County prosecutors. They will have resources, contacts and advice that will help immensely. They will know the laws in your state, county, and city. Once you involve professionals in this problem, the situation changes from you against the stalker to the System against the stalker. One student at MCCC, who wishes to remain anonymous, had an instance of an ex-boyfriend and a friend of his calling her constantly, sometimes at four in the morning on her cell and house phone. She eventually changed her cell number and nearly filed a restraining order until it finally stopped a week later. Students at MCCC should not feel threatened; however, all students should still take the necessary precautions to avoid being stalked and to protect themselves. Mace and pepper spray are two ways of doing so. Also, Mark Bergmooser, a professor at MCCC, offers women’s self-defense classes and Tae Kwon Do classes for anyone interested. For more information, contact Mark Bergmooser at 384-4281.
New tutoring program offered at Learning Assistance Lab
Marjorie Haliburda Copy Editor
Agora photo by Kristin Booth
Muddy roads leaving commuters stranded Kristin Booth Copy Editor
During the course of the past few weeks, anyone and everyone who lives on a gravel road has had a dilemma which is entitled “mud.” The inconvenience occurred due to the area’s previous winter, which has been recorded as one of the coldest winters in recent years. The ground froze and, as temperature began to rise, dirt road conditions became impassible. This was all due to the rapid increase of temperature which allowed the ground to thaw at a quick rate and left water unable to drain because of the clay based soil Monroe County has. Nancy Tienvieri, public information officer for the road commission, feels the road commission did everything in its power possible. “We did what we could do. We live with Michigan weather. We also live in Monroe County. We had a wet fall and winter. The ground holds moisture and it cannot drain quickly with the clay based soil, the County [also] receives water from all surrounding areas to drain into Lake Erie,” she said. “We did begin to put stone down, but it did not seem to be the answer. We had to wait until the weather became warmer, then we could grade the roads.” Since the road commission was unable to fix the problem, dirt roads throughout Monroe County became a meddling mud mixture, with a sub-
stance like quicksand. Audrey Kutz, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) student, was forced to miss a day of school and a test because of the road conditions. “My car was stuck in mud on a Wednesday due to the ruts on my road being so bad. I had to have my car towed. After that, I had to keep my car at home because the roads were in such bad condition. I thought if I tried to get out, I would get stuck again because our road was impassable. That next day, I was forced to miss school and had to miss a test. I also had to find someone to take my time at the Writing Center for me,” Kutz said. Matthew Larocca, employee of Larocca’s Towing, said the roads have been in worse shape in previous years. “It was worse [compared to this year] about four or five years ago. The best way [to not get stuck] is to stay out of the center of the road. We were having a problem with tractors and four wheel trucks. They were tearing the road up and making them worse trying to get vehicles out of ruts. Then the County added stones and made it worse,” Larocca said. “We cover a large area and have towed [during the frost] over a couple hundred people.” Tax payers may be wondering why the road commission did not take control of the situation and alleviate the problem. See "Mud," page 11
The Learning Assistance Lab (LAL) is known for providing free tutoring services to students in nearly all subject areas, ranging from history to math to writing. Last December, the LAL further expended upon its offerings and introduced a new tutoring program: English as a Second Language (ESL). ESL is geared toward students who are non-native speakers of the English language to help them gain a greater comprehension of English grammar and vocabulary in order to improve reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the English language. Students are tutored in a one-on-one, individualized session with the ESL instructor, Paul Cady.
“I try to figure out what their particular areas of difficulty are, whether it’s listening, speaking, writing, or reading. Once I figure out their particular areas, I can give them things that will help them to improve in those areas… tailor it and change it as their needs change. Or as they find things that don’t work, we can eliminate those things and work towards finding methods that do work,” Cady said. LAL Coordinator, Dr. Cynthia Riedel, realized there was a need for a program such as ESL after she started receiving a handful of requests for tutoring in the English language. “[…] we realized we didn’t have any service to help them [non-native English speakers], and that never feels good in the LAL. We don’t usually send people away,” Riedel
said.“[…] it seemed like we should start s omething as a pilot, and that’s what this was—to see if we whether could sustain enough interest and need to be able to pay for it.” So far, the turnout has been low, according to both Riedel and Cady. “The turnout has been very slow so far, but I have a feeling a lot of that has to do with the fact there hasn’t been a lot of information out about it [ESL],” Cady said. However, without the program, Riedel believes students who need it could suffer because they will opt for English classes which are not wellsuited for their needs. “If you don’t have the tutoring, many of them [non-native English speakers] end up going into, for the most part, English 090, which is exSee "ESL," page 10
Agora photo by Tonya Huffman
Tonya Huffman Photo Editor
“Hi, welcome to CiCi’s,” says an employee and soon many others will join in. This is the typical greeting a customer will hear as soon as they enter the local CiCi’s Pizza restaurant. CiCi’s is an all you can eat buffet style restaurant. They also offer takeout. The franchise has 650 restaurants located throughout the United States. The new restaurant, located at 2117 Mall Road, Monroe, opened on March 26 and has been a monumental success so far. The manager, Anthony Wohlfeil, a Monroe native, has been encouraging the franchise owners to build a CiCi’s in Monroe for years. Finally, his hard work has paid off. The
owners had a shocking grand opening experience when the new restaurant brought in $40,000 during its first week running. According to Wohlfeil, the average projected outcome for a grand opening is $25,000. While shopping at a local department store with his CiCi’s shirt on Wohlfeil says he practically got mobbed. People would stop by and say “Oh. You’re the CiCi’s pizza guy.” “I’ve worked in so many different restaurants and I’ve never gotten a response like this. It has been incredible. I go to theYMCAeveryday and workout. There are people, I swear to God, hugging me, kissing me, shaking my hand,” Wohlfeil said. CiCi’s offers an all you can eat buffet at $4.79 for adults and $2.99 for children. Drinks are an additional
cost at $1.58 for adults and $.99 for children. The all you can eat buffet includes salad, desert, and 16 different pizzas cooked regularly including some signatures such as the macaroni and cheese pizza, barbecue chicken pizza, and others. Customers are always able to request any type of pizza they desire and employees will deliver the slices directly to the customer’s table when it’s ready. Requests have already been made for a peanut butter and jelly pizza and a mash potato and gravy pizza which do not exist, but Wohlfeil claims he would love to try a peanut butter and jelly pizza. Constance Adkins, a former Monroe County Community College student who plans on returning for culinary See "CiCi's," page 11
April 19, 2007
CFC syndrome survivor
Marjorie Haliburda Copy Editor
When Angela Berry found out she needed surgery during her pregnancy, she was told there was only a one percent chance her unborn daughter would survive. She did. Two years later, she was told there was nothing that could be done; her daughter was going to die. She didn’t. Doctors said her daughter would never walk or speak. Last April, she did both. Not everyone believes in miracles, but Angela Berry does. She’s certain her daughter is one. Angela Berry, a student at Monroe County Community College (MCCC), is the mother of four-year-old Abigail Berry, a child believed to have CardioFacio-Cutaneous (CFC) syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects the heart, facial features, and skin. There are roughly one hundred children reported in literature who have this syndrome worldwide. Children with CFC share certain features which suggest the diagnosis, such as a relatively large head size, down-slanting eyes, sparse eyebrows, tight, curly hair, areas of thickened or scaly skin, and small stature. Most of the children also experience many of the same heart, feeding/gastrointestinal, and neurological problems. According to her mother, Abigail suffers from brain damage, seizures, hearing problems, communication problems, significant developmental delay, lung problems, multiple heart defects, including artrial septal defects (holes in the upper chambers of the heart), valve problems, arrhythmia problems, scoliosis, psychosis of the spine, and she uses a feeding tube. CFC is caused by a mutation in a person’s genes. Just recently, doctors at the University at the California have discovered three genes which are associated with CFC syndrome: BRAF, MEK1, and MEK2. Nearly 90 per cent of children with CFC have been found to have a mutation in the BRAF gene and 13 per cent have a mutation in MEK1 and MEK2. Abigail has carried the diagnosis of CFC for two years now. She was first diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome, a more researched genetic disorder which often overlaps with CFC. However, she does not have any of the three mutations associated with CFC and doctors are confused. “Now what they’re thinking is one of two things. One, she really
does have CFC syndrome, but there are more mutations they haven’t unfolded yet and she’s really the key to unfolding those mutations. All of the children they’ve tested with the DNA showed up with at least one mutation. In Abigail’s case, she does not have any of those three mutations, so they need to keep studying her to see if there are more mutations. Or two, she has a brand new syndrome that has not been discovered yet,” Berry said. Abigail’s case has already been recorded in medical journals and, with this new discovery, could now carry the answers doctors are searching for. However, the advancements she has made over the years alone, from walking to talking, have baffled specialists from around the world. “She’s had some miraculous things happen with her health. She had a hole in her heart, and while they were in the operating room, in front of the physicians that were there to close the hole, this hole closed right before their eyes,” Berry said. “In fact, the hole had closed so small that they tried to open the hole just so they could patch it. They were so shocked at what they had just seen. The whole point of the surgery was to go in and close this hole, and they were afraid of what was going to happen when they came out to tell us that the hole was closed and that they didn’t patch it.” Berry firmly believes God is the reason for such miracles and her faith in Him is one of the reasons she remains so strong. “[…] My faith is in Him and He knows what He’s doing,” Berry said. Berry said her strength also comes from Abigail. “[…] She teaches me. She’s taught us [my family] so much. I feel blessed to have the experience of having a CFC child. She has touched so many lives and it makes me, as her mother, proud to have this opportunity. If she would have been born normal and born after the normal 40 weeks of pregnancy and not had CFC, I don’t think my life would be where it is today. My main feeling is just I feel so blessed. My life is enriched by having a CFC child. It’s not an easy life, but it’s the best suited for us. It’s changed for better,” she said. Abigail has not only had an impact on her mother, but also on her four siblings who Berry home schools, with the exception of the oldest. “Abigail’s CFC has shaped our whole family and her CFC has touched her siblings’ lives. Once Abigail was See "CFC," page 10
Agora photo courtesy of Angela Berry
Abigail Berry (center) and her sister with Belle at Disney World with the Make A Wish Foundation
Agora photo by Bethany Younglove
Fake baking good for health
Bethany Younglove Page Editor
George Hamilton, Giorgio Armani, and Lindsay Lohan, what do they all have in common? They all are known for their dark tan. Tanning is not just a way to look bronzed, it is also a way to maintain high spirits and good health. Although there are many arguments against tanning, indoors or outdoors, there are some great benefits for tanning as well. Betty St.Bernard, owner of Beach Bum Club tanning salon, said there are many benefits of tanning. “People always feel better after they have been in the sun, whether it is real or artificial. Tanning helps relax muscles. Some people use it to help their psoriasis,” St. Bernard said. Ashley Speer, Monroe County Community College (MCCC) student, said, “I [tan] because I just think its relaxing, not because of how dark my skin gets or anything. I mean, the tan skin is a plus, but it’s a good way to relax.” Indoor tanning began in Europe as
a therapeutic exercise to harness positive psychological and physiological effects of exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light. Tanning has been known to reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Nearly 21 million people in the northern United States report SAD like symptoms every year. Sufferers from stress and SAD have shown improvement as a direct result of exposure to UV light. Warmth and relaxation of tanning helps decrease adrenaline levels and causes the release of endorphins into the body which are involved in reducing or eliminating pain and enhancing pleasure. Amanda Carter, MCCC student, said, “I tan. I go almost every day, I’m going for prom so I’m not pasty. I like it because it really helps with my skin. It’s also really relaxing.” Exposure to UV light also produces Vitamin D. When a person’s body is deficient of Vitamin D, it is unable to properly regulate calcium and phosphate levels. If the blood levels of these minerals become too low, other body hormones may stimulate the release of calcium and phosphate levels
from the bones to the bloodstream to elevate blood levels. Does the thought of skin cancer entice fear? Several researchers have published findings demonstrating increased sun exposure would result in 185,000 fewer cases of internal cancer and 30,000 fewer deaths in the United States alone. By comparison, about 7,500 people die each year from skin cancer. If exposing a milk-white complexion to sunlight brings on concerns of sunburn, remember non-tanners burn more often than those who tan indoors. Non-tanners also have a higher risk for melanoma. “The number one risk factor for melanoma is an inability to tan; people who tan easily or have dark pigmentation are far less likely to develop the disease,” David E. Fisher, MD, PhD, director of the Melanoma Program at Dana-Farber and a professor in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston said. “This study suggests that p53, one of the best-known tumor-suppressor proteins in our body, has a powerful role in protecting us against sun damage in the skin.”
Water park to open in Dundee
Troy White Reporter
Who said all vacations had to include a long drive? Families will now be able to escape to a vacation destination right in Monroe County, with the opening of Splash Universe’s RiverRun water park in Dundee, Michigan. The new water park will consist of two substantial sized water slides, a kiddy pool with a slide, a lazy river, a family spa, play structures, a hot tub, and a largely anticipated arcade. Brian White, life guard at RiverRun said. “I’m excited for the park to open. The park looks as if it is going to be a big hit with families, but I just can’t wait until we get to test out the slides.” It will cost a regional resident $19.95 for a full day pass and $14.95 for a half day pass per person. For a non-regional resident the cost will be $31.95 for a full day pass and $24.95 for a half day pass. A full day pass’ time is from 9 a.m. until closing at 10 p.m. While a half day pass would be from 3 p.m. until closing Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. until closing on Friday and Saturday. There is also a spectator pass which may be purchased for $6.95. Monroe County Community Col-
lege (MCCC) student, Emily Jacobs believes the water park will be affordable for college students. “The price to go to the park is reasonable compared to others I have been to,” Jacobs said. If a person wants to retreat from the stress of everyday life for more than one day, RiverRun also has excellent lodging with a variety of different sized rooms depending on the size of a person’s party. When reserving a room, guests will be able to obtain a full day’s pass to the water park for $9.95 per person.
This new water park attraction is expected to bring more tourists to the Village of Dundee. Steve Uhl, resident of Dundee and MCCC student, feels the water park will congest the town. “I don’t think we need a water park here [in Dundee]. It is doing nothing but bringing in more traffic through, what use to be, a small town. So, I don’t see anything positive coming from it,” Uhl said. RiverRun Indoor Water Park plans on opening up at the end of April. They will not be taking any reservations until May 1.
Agora photo by Troy White
April 19, 2007
Mentionable music masters Underappreciated bands, artists receive deserved recognition
Ashley Braden Editor-in-chief
Ryan who? She Wants what? The Twilight where? In an age of digital downloads and iPods, it blows my mind that truly amazing music still goes without proper recognition. There are incredible bands and artists who don’t get any radio airplay, have never had their music videos grace MTV, and typically don’t have albums available for purchase at Wal-Mart. Unless it is sought out, this music, unfortunately, is underappreciated and set on the proverbial “backburner” u n t i l someone brings it
to the forefront. It’s finally being set in the spotlight. She Wants Revenge (Geffen Records): She Wants Revenge can easily be described in one word: dancetastic. The band, comprised of Justin Warfield and Adam 12, does not have one song that hips cannot be shaken to. Intertwining pop, techno, rock, electronica, combined with the deep, soothing voice of Warfield, creates a inimitable collection of tunes that are guaranteed to induce foot tappin’ and body movin’. Recommended songs: “Tear You Apart;” “These Things;” “Out of Control” Scissor Sisters (UMVD): A band named the Scissor Sisters with only one actual female in the mix might be a little questionable to some. The Sisters deliver disco-infused rock that will bring out the diva in anyone. Lead singer Jake Shears has a falsetto that could stand up to Prince, and the band’s energy is entirely recognizable and contagious. The Scissor Sisters are the epitome of glamourous. Recommended songs: “Mary;” “Ooh;” “Take Your Mama Out;” “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” The Twilight Singers (One Little Indian): Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli wins the award for sexiest
voice… quite possibly ever. Although I’m convinced he is a real-life version of Peter from The Family Guy, I could listen to him sing all day, every day for the rest of my life. Not only do the Twilight Singers have a heck of a leader, the band’s songs have a brilliant way of wrapping themselves around the listener. Recommended songs: “The Twilite Kid;” “The Killer;” “Forty Dollars;” “Hyperballad” Ray LaMontagne (RCA): LaMontagne is a mountain-man look-alike who could sing his way out of any predicament he’d get caught in. Not only has he written some of the most beautiful songs to have ever caressed my eardrums, but his live performance truly embodies what a musician is: inspiring, emotional, and moving. His two albums can be listened to on repeat for days without ever exhausting a single song. Recommended songs: “Shelter;” “Forever My Friend;” “Empty;” “Lesson Learned” The Veils (Rough Trade): New Zealand indie pop-rock band, The Veils, is truly a modern-day musical phenomenon. Between the unique vocals of singer Finn Andrews and the variation of song styles, The Veils have managed to produce two arguably flawless albums. Jazzy-pop, heavy-hitting
rock, or beautiful ballads – The Veils pull it off with grace, class, and perfection. Recommended songs: “The Leaver’s Dance;” “Guiding Light;” “Caliope!” “Lavinia” Ryan Adams (Lost Highway): Adams is an alterna-country rocker with attitude. His songs are, at times, angry, sad, heartfelt, and, occ a s i o n a l l y, downright raunchy. He has the writing ability to impress the pickiest of poets, the voice to arouse the unexcited, and the look to charm all the ladies. Adams’ music will make you want to dance, cry, love, and maybe even beat someone up. He’s got it all. And so does his music. Recommended songs: Anything, but especially “Come Pick Me Up;” “Nobody Girl;” “29;” “To Be Young;” “Hotel Chelsea Nights;” “So Alive;” “Dear Chicago.”
film is its almost shockingly realistic atmosphere. The director’s vision of a crumbling future Earth is fully realized in every aspect of the filmmaking process, most strikingly in the breathtaking camera work. Most notable are the extreme “long takes” used in the film’s action scenes, edited in single takes without jumping from shot to shot. The camera follows the characters through the action, lending it a nail-biting immediacy and almost unbearable tension. In a film with this level of technical proficiency, one often expects a script with little dramatic weight, performed by eye-candy actors who walk through the less-than-profound material. Such is not the case with Children of Men. The script reinforces the film’s realistic immediacy; characters die suddenly and without dramatic fanfare, but its equally important mo-
ments of hope are similarly surprising and therefore beautiful. The film’s performances are also terrific. Owen makes a stoic, Harrison Ford-esque leading man, but he humanizes the performance with subtly played insecurity and sadness. His transformation from apathy to hope is beautiful to watch. Michael Caine also deserves special mention for his extremely entertaining portrayal of Theo’s elderly hippie friend. Going beyond sci-fi conventions to create an almost documentary-like realism, the film presents an overriding message of the redemptive power of hope even in the crumbling future Earth. Although it may have flown a bit under the public radar screen in 2006, hopefully Children of Men will eventually be recognized for the great sci-fi film that it is.
Children of Men displays substance, style
Patrick Dunn Reporter
Sometimes the best ones slip right through the cracks. Such was the case with director Al-
fonso Cuaron’s film Children of Men, which garnered far less attention than juggernauts like The Departed and Dreamgirls thanks to a very late-2006 limited release. The film won critical acclaim for its revolutionary cinematography, but its true strength is in its refusal to put style above dramatic substance. Children of Men is set in England twenty years from now, a dystopian future in which women have inexplicably become infertile, placing the human race on the brink of extinction. Enter Theo Farron (Clive Owen), an everyman who has had an apathetic take on life ever since he lost his own child to a flu pandemic. Theo’s life is given new purpose when he finds himself protecting what might be humanity’s last hope: a young woman named Kee who is mysteriously pregnant. The most remarkable element of the
Ferrell, Heder deliver humorous acts in Blades of Glory movie teracts with the brazen Chazz. Chazz will have you close to tears claiming he is God’s gift to women as his beer belly hangs out Two of Hollywood’s funniest men, Will Ferrell of his robe, drinking his morning coffee. This is (Elf) and Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), team slightly reminiscent of the famous scene from Old up to bring us the highly anticipated film, Blades School, in which Ferrell runs through the streets naof Glory. Blades of Glory, directed by Josh Gordon ked. You will also laugh, yet grimace, as you see (Culture) and Will Speck (Culture), is a comical Jimmy receive his first-ever kiss from Katie Van film that follows Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) Waldenberg, played by Jenna Fischer (The 40-yearand Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) as they join together old Virgin). Katie is the loveable younger sister of to enter the pair’s ice skating team after they are the brother/sister team, the Van Waldernbergs. The banned from the men’s single competition. Van Waldernvergs, played by Amy The main plot of the movie cenPoehler (Saturday Night Live) and ters on Chazz, who is a slightly Will Arnett (RV), also provide laughs overweight sex addict and Jimmy, as they try (and fail) numerous times a spoiled innocent who has never to take Chazz and Jimmy out of the been kissed, as they overcome their competition. differences and the standards of It is obvious this film was not made appropriate male-on-male touchto spark the imagination or even to ing to have a chance at winning a make you learn something new. The gold medal. The former rivals were film was simply made to make people originally banned from the men’s laugh easily at humor which never single competition after engaging in touches below the surface. You may a shocking fist fight when they tied even see yourself as being superfifor the gold medal in the opening cial as you laugh at scenes that aren’t scene. necessarily all that funny. If you are Although the movie’s plot is narseeking a movie with a meaningful row and even pointless at times, it plot, you may want to pass on Blades thrives heavily on its comical humor. of Glory. However, if you are lookFrom men in sequined jumpsuits to ing to just rest your mind and relax skating tricks that resemble sex powith some simple humor, the movie sitions to a sex addicts’ meeting, the is a must-see. This is a movie for you humor is clichéd and trite, yet you’ll if you enjoyed such movies as TalAgora photo courtesy of cctv.com find yourself laughing despite how ladega Nights, Napoleon Dynamite, obvious the humor is. Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star in comedy Blades of Glory. and Anchorman. Courtney Sisung Copy Editor
Much of the laughter is due to good acting and body language done by Ferrell and Heder, both are known for unusual comical roles. In fact, much of the humor resembles the type of humor found in Ferrell’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which is known for its overly-obvious humor which pokes fun at things which are politically incorrect to make fun of. Blades of Glory is exactly the type of movie that you would expect to see Will Ferrell in. Heder tends to resemble his beloved character from Napoleon Dynamite as his character awkwardly in-
Jello Biafra comes to area for Great American Protest Sarah Straub Page Editor
Many people don’t listen to spoken word albums, let alone buy them. If you’re into that sort of thing and would like to hear news from someone who could likely tell you a few things you may not have known about, try listening to anything by Jello Biafra. While the name brings thoughts of a sweet, dessert treat, the man is anything but sweet in his intentions. Speaking on topics like government, free speech, corporatism, the media, and a plethora of others, he speaks pure truth. Sugar-coating is not on his plate. “Don’t hate the media, become the media.” This may be Biafra’s most famous phrase and a great example of what he stands for and a very true phrase as well. In a world where celebrity gossip is given more airtime than the war in Iraq, corporate corruption, or homelessness in the U.S., you’d better off looking these things up for yourself than relying on the media to report it for you. We can, and should, choose what we’d like to know about and who we’d like to hear about it from. The last of the two may not seem important to many at first, but wouldn’t you rather listen to news as reported by National Public Radio than by Fox? There’s a lot less corruption involved when money isn’t thrown into the mix. If you don’t believe that then consider the court ruling from 2003 by a Florida Court of Appeals siding with Fox news stating there are no rules in the U.S. against distorting or falsifying the news. This is Biafra’s mission, to inform, to get you thinking, and encourage you to get involved. The things he speaks about are going on right now in America. He doesn’t sweeten it up, because that isn’t what informing people is about. The world is not always a sweet place. It’s much better for someone to be truthful with you about what is happening then to sum it up, sand off the rough edges, and hurriedly toss it away as if it were unimportant. Without those rough edges and hard facts, we become desensitized and oblivious to the world around us. On April 27 Biafra will be coming to the area for a spoken word performance at The Great American Protest. In addition to Biafra’s spoken word performance, there will be live music by local bands such as The Living Dead, Dead by 28, Arsenol of Souls and Decay of Value. Other features of the event include local petitions, voter information and registration, politically themed art by local artists, independent films by Alex Jones, as well as many other attractions. The event will take place at Club Bijou in downtown Toledo. Tickets cost around $13 and will be available at the door or through Ticketmaster. This event will also be one of the last for Club Bijou as the club will be torn down to make room for the new Toledo Sports Arena. Portions of the proceeds will go to organizations whose goals are to protect freedom of speech and defend our rights as Americans. If you are interested in all things objectionable and controversial you should attend this event. You will likely leave with a large amount of information you may not have had otherwise. For more information about the event, call 419-243-4446.
April 19, 2007
Guns, gore, girls
Agora photo courtesy of aintitcool.com
Steve Sonoras Copy Editor
With Grindhouse, indie-hero directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have created a splattering, explosive, hilarious, and outrageous throw-back to the glory days of 1970’s drive-in movies. Named for the theaters which showcased exploitation movies in cinema’s age of excess, Grindhouse is a double feature which does everything it can to feel like “the real thing.” Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror are chock full of the bad editing, awful lighting, missing reels, cheeseball acting, spoon-fed foreshadowing, and impossible hardcore thrills which defined a generation of filmmaking that tried harder to shock than please. With all of the added splices of 70’s clichés, Grindhouse might seems like it emphasizes style over substance at times, but that’s exactly what it aims for and it’s also what makes it the most entertaining three hours you’re likely
to spend at the cinema in a very long time. The Grindhouse experience kicks off with a fake trailer for an exploitation movie called Machete. It’s a new take on the classic revenge films of the 70’s and it features quirky quoteables and quips, such as “He just f----- with the wrong Mexican.” After Machete hacks his way off the screen with chuckle-inducing bloody vengeance, Rodriguez takes the spotlight with his Planet Terror. It’s sort of Casablanca-meets-Return of the Living Dead as Rose McGowan’s weary stripper Cherry Darling reunites with ex-lover Wray, played by Freddy Rodriguez, in a Texas restaurant aptly named the “Bone Shack.” Meanwhile, just up the road at a military base, veteran film badass Bruce Willis and Lost’s Naveen Andrews (who totes around a canister of his enemies’ severed testicles) duke it out over a mysterious chemical. Things get heavy and one of the chemical containers is shot open, releasing a green smog into the atmosphere. Naturally,
Stick to your intuition and avoid Premonition
Agora photo courtesy of moviemaze.com
Charlene Hunt Reporter
I intended to watch what Jam! Showbiz reviewer Kevin Williamson described as “the battle-hardened beefcake of 300,” but missed the show entirely due to a not-so-surprisinglylong, long wait at The Olive Garden. Determined to entertain myself with something, I reluctantly trudged into the theater for the time-twisting flick Premonition. I also tend to fancy the mind-teasers and sometimes unexplainable phenomenon of surreal films and despite my lack of faith in Sandra Bullock’s acting talent, I figured “why not?” If M. Night Shyamalan could leave me gaping at the screen and Stephen King still had a few tricks up his poorly knitted sleeve, surely I could give Sandra Bullock a chance – right? Neglecting the subtle clue of the movie’s title to have faith in my intuition, I struggled through 110 minutes of mind-numbing stupidity. Premonition revolves around the once perfect life of Linda (Bullock) and Jim Hanson (Julian McMahon of Nip/Tuck). The film begins the way many mind-teasers do, with a little bit of opaque background information. Bullock stars as Linda Hanson, a suburban housewife who suffers from time-warping visions that force her to
relive the worst days of her adult life. Every morning she wakes up on a different day of the week and each day is entirely out of order. Jim dies in a car accident, decapitated on the highway and her daughter Bridgette’s face gets mauled apart by some unseen entity. Linda, of course, is viewed as insane. She is even blamed for Jim’s death (as she predicts how and when it will happen) and Bridgette’s disfiguration, only to be placed in the care of a drughappy psychiatrist. Premonition is a whirlwind of poorly timed scene cuts and memory lapses. Through the unstable series of events following Linda’s premonition, she begins to unravel the truth about her seemingly “perfect” life. Jim, with an initial air of being a cad to begin with, has been planning an affair with one of his sexy coworkers, an act not entirely surprising to anyone who recognizes McMahon as the man-whore from Nip/Tuck. Linda suddenly isn’t sure she even wants to prevent his death on some days. Appropriate momentum is vital to time-warping films. The audience need be suspended on the edge of their seats at the perfect time in order for things to pan out successfully. However, Bullock’s constant overkill of the already poor suspense scenes, overwhelming panic-stricken voice make it impossible. The audience wants Linda to wake up and be a little more clever and stop ignoring painfully obvious clues and hints. The entire movie tries to be dramatic and fails, with no relief or gap between the throbbing music notes. You’ll end up being bored, confused and irritated you spent $8 on a film that didn’t even play on any of your other interests (romance, violence, comedy?). There is nothing to Premonition but a despairing Bullock and poor, poor directing. Bullock better improve and be a bit more selective in her scripts, or we’ll be held at gunpoint to watch yet another installment of Miss Congeniality or Speed.
this event could have no other effect than turning the immediate populous into blood-thirsty zombies. Rodriguez plugs in his eerie Moog synthesizer and for the next hour, the audience is in for some violent, gleefully gory action the restricting budgets of the original grind-house films could never deliver. Fifty zombies, ten one-liners, five explosions, and one surprise cameo later, the audience is sure to have felt a bloody satisfaction well-written Hollywood films could never achieve. It’s no Dawn of the Dead, but, Planet Terror, though a bit heavy on the 70’s realism, hits all the buttons in laughs, thrills, and gore. Once Planet Terror’s last reel is finished, the audience is treated to three more outrageous movie trailers and a couple of classic advertisements straight out of 70’s movie-house celluloid. Something unexpected appears in the next reel though the instant wave of subtlety of Tarantino’s road-rage
thriller Death Proof. Death Proof, by far the finer of the two features in Grindhouse, it set up like an elaborate joke. The first half hour of the film sets the stage for middle build-up and an ultimate payoff in the end. In the first act, we see a group of sexy young singles getting ready for a night out at a local Austin bar. The leader of the pack is local radio celebrity Jungle Julia. In true Tarantino fashion, there’s lots of talk and little action for some time. While the dialogue is engaging, the film may only shock at first because of its obvious differences from Planet Terror. Tarantino gives the girls of Death Proof plenty of dialogue that sets up their characters with enough subtlety to avoid giving away the joke to anyone who isn’t paying close enough attention. The dialogue and character development also paved the way for some killer jokes along the many curves of Death Proof’s wild ride. The girls’ established talents allow them to survive to get their revenge in the third
Agora photo courtesy of aintitcool.com
act. I won’t spoil the film’s ultimate— and literal—punch-line entirely, but Tarantino ends the film in a way that is at once satisfying, but slowly starts to show just what was so unique about the era of grind-house films: sometimes they went so far over the edge that the audience didn’t know whether to be shocked or to laugh. Tarantino’s skillfully laid out portion of Grindhouse may not sport the awful writing of the 70’s cult film era, but it remains true to form with its ridiculous premise, piston-pumping action, and white-knuckle finale. On the whole, Grindhouse is a perfectly balanced double feature homage. The first half is style over substance, while the second half is just the opposite. But, both are sensational, volatile, and often hilarious and shocking looks backward to a nearly forgotten era of underground cinema. These movies are fantastic, but to get the full benefit, you really need to experience them.
Getting Signed Nick Vanderpool
Assistant Photo Editor
From practicing in a garage to releasing platinum albums and playing stadiums, the transition a band makes from local act to international sensation is a huge step and a logical one for any musical enthusiast who wishes to “jam” and get paid for it. Of course a musician wishes to be in a band and of course a band wants to make it big. But what exactly constitutes “making it big?” There are a plethora of local bands, many of which have been around for years and can still only play bars and cafés. Often times, if a local band lasts more than a couple months or a couple shows, it is due time for a member to quit or for the band to outright fall apart. But bands like the White Stripes and Radiohead must be coming from somewhere, so there must be a way for a local band to strive. Comprised of local acts, but playing last was a band mostly from Holly, Michigan called Our Brother the Native. The band members are Chaz Knapp, John-Michael Foss, and Josh Bertram. Despite two of the members being under twenty and one of them being twenty-one and that Chaz Knapp lives in California, they are signed onto Fatcat Records and have already released an album. They were only a band for seven months before being signed. Fatcat Records has signed bands such as Animal Collective, Black Dice, Múm, and Sigur Rós: bands you will find in stores and on music review sites. Fatcat Records is also a UK label, which might seem weird for a band located here in Michigan to have been stumbled upon from so far away. It is especially hard to believe when the band is of the experimental/ambient nature. “The funny thing about [Our Brother the Native] is that we got signed before we even played a show,” Bertram said. Because equipment was limited to a mic and a sampler, and because Knapp
was in a whole different state, playing live was an issue for the band. But where as any other local band would have given up in this particular situation, the band pressed forward, eventually seeking a response to the music they had been recording with their home computers. Knapp emailed some songs to Fatcat and the reaction they got back was not what they were expecting. “We just wanted some feedback,” Bertram said, “We didn’t actually think they would like it. This happened around September, so they told us to finish an album and they would see about releasing it.” By December the band had finished the album, entitled “Tooth and Claw,” sent it to the label and were signed shortly after. “[It’s] unheard of,” Bertram said. “We just got really lucky and every day we realize how generous Fatcat was for going out on a limb and signing us.” The dream of some local bands might go unfulfilled, but such fortune is not restricted to Our Brother the Native. Bertram suggests sending demos to as many labels as possible, because that is easily the first step in getting a
label’s attention. Likewise, it’s good to look at the benefits of signing to a particular label before actually doing so. “One of the reasons indie labels are such a blessing is [because] a lot of the time contracts aren’t involved,” Foss said. Being associate with a label in this way allows for an artist and bands to have control over their music; similarly, though, a label is not contractually obliged to release an artist or band’s album. As for the benefits of being signed to Fatcat, the band receives money for touring and recording, as well as help with equipment. Likewise, the band does not feel pressured by the label to meet any kind of standard. “[Our] music has changed quite a bit,” Foss said, “but I don’t think that being signed had any effect on that. I think we’re playing what we feel we should be playing.” So has Our Brother the Native exactly made it big? While they aren’t playing stadiums or releasing platinum albums, the band has achieved the goal many bands can only envision: reaching others across the country and around the world with their music.
From left: John-Michael Foss, temporary member Ryan Cunningham, Josh Bertram Photo taken by Paige Medor
In the Mix
from “Offenders,” page 1 When a criminal is convicted of a crime of a sexual nature, he or she loses rights of privacy and is placed on the list of offenders. Many different types of criminals are found in the registries, ranging from child abusers and rapists to people convicted of public indecency. To help clarify the different types of offenders, the Michigan State Police site lists the crime and Michigan penal code number which the offender was convicted of. Clicking on the Michigan penal code hyperlink will take users to a definition of that specific offense. The information garnered from these Web sites is used many different ways. According to Shannon Akans, public affairs specialist for the Michigan State Police, information is the best way to help keep sex offenders under public scrutiny. “The Michigan Legislature created this system so that the public can have a better idea of where sex offenders live. Parents use the registry to keep track of houses that their children should stay away from and perspective employers can check to see if a potential employee is a risk. Also, one of the newest features of the registry is the ability to send out e-mails notifying residents when a sex offender moves into a certain zip code,” she said. Notification by email is an easy way to stay up to date on offenders moving into your area. “Instead of checking our website once a week or month to see if anyone new offenders have appeared, users can have the convenience of us sending an e-mail when someone dos move into their area.” she said. The second website, Family Watchdog, offers slightly better map capabilities than the Michigan State Police website and integrates up to four sources of information when searching records for sex offenders. Family Watchdog also offers e-mail notification and allows users to track offenders in-depth with Intelis, an online background check company. The goal of Family Watchdog is to eliminate the scourge of child molestation as an epidemic in one generation. Steve Roddel, a former Marine with over 25 years of experience in computer programming, constructed the sex offender tracking Web site after he heard the story of nine-yearold Jessica Lunsford. Lunsford was assaulted and murdered in early 2005 by a neighbor who happened to be a convicted sex offender. As a result of the crimes against Jessica and several other victims, Family Watchdog was launched as a tool to combine sex offender information from all states and sources, and distribute that information to the community using an easyto-use mapping interface. These Web sites are a tremendous help when it comes to making sure who to stay away from, but they can never take the place of vigilance. Zelling said she tries to keep a constant eye on her children. “They [predators] are something that we should be aware of. I try to keep tabs on my children to keep them safe, and sometimes it is really hard to get information the subject. These websites will give me an extra resource in keeping them safe,” she said.
from “Free Press,” page 4 a lot of problems because it wasn’t reviewed and then sent to press like that.” Switalski proposed a similar bill, Senate Bill 156, in 2005. The bill received a Senate Education Committee hearing but failed to pass the committee before the session expired. “I expect the legislation will have positive results,” Switalski said, noting the bill will be considered by a newly elected legislature. The bill is currently awaiting a hearing by the Senate Education Committee; Switalski said there is not a specific deadline for the committee to take up the bill.
from “ESL,” page 6
actly the wrong class for them to go into. In fact, even in the course description it says that this is not the appropriate class for ESL. But they don’t know what else to do; what other class would meet their needs? So they go in there and it’s a frustrating experience for the instructor, the rest of the students in the class, and particularly the student who’s struggling with English as a second language […]” Jolien van Middelaar, an international exchange student at Monroe County Community College (MCCC) from the Netherlands, was asked to participate in ESL, but chose not to because she felt slightly insulted by the approach used. “They [the LAL] called me one time, and they sent me a letter, but I felt offended. Well, not really offended, but I was like, okay, so you think I need it? Is my English horrible or something? It came off like, ‘You’re from a foreign country, so you need extra English lessons’,” van Middelaar said. “I just felt like they thought my English was horrible. That’s why I didn’t use it.” van Middelaar said she would prefer if a teacher personally approached her about needing ESL assistance. “I would maybe consider using it if my teachers suggested me to use it because of my English, but so far they haven’t said anything. […] if a teacher would have approached me about it and said, ‘You should do that,’ then yeah, I might have done it. But since no teacher said it and I just get letter because I’m not from the United States, I’m like, ‘uh, no.’” William McCloskey, professor of English at MCCC, said he would only recommend a student to ESL if he couldn’t understand the way they were putting words together. “I would recommend somebody to ESL if I had them in class and I couldn’t understand them—not because of their accent, but because I couldn’t understand the way they were putting words together. But I would probably notice it more in their writing, if I read it… if they didn’t understand English syntax and they didn’t understand American idiom, then I’d probably say you need to go to English as a Second Language […]” McCloskey agrees with van Middelaar, however, believing students should be approached personally by professors, not through anonymous letters. “I would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been reading your papers, and I’m just having a really hard time understanding them. I don’t think it has anything other than the fact you don’t have control of the English language yet, which is something I think you need to do in order to do well here. So I was suggesting that you might want to think about going to the ESL program. I’ll go and talk to the people in the LAL to see what I can do to help you get started,’” he said. ESL tutoring will be available at least until the end of this semester, but the future of the program is uncertain because of the low turnout. “We’re looking at everything we do in the LAL right now, in terms of prioritizing and figuring out—what is it? Where do we get the most bang for our buck? And where do we want to put our emphasis?” Riedel said.
Errors made in this issue of the Agora will be corrected in the next issue and on our website at http:// www.monroeccc. edu/agora/index. html
We made a couple of mistakes... In a recent issue of the Agora,we reported that Tracy Kling will be teaching Geneology. Actually, she will be teaching Genetics. Thanks for mentioning me in your article on the “Canadian Roundtable” in the March 29, 2007, issue of the Agora. However, I do have a few corrections: 1. I’m the former director of the Monroe County Historical Museum. The River Raisin Battlefield Visitor Center is operated by the staff and volunteers of the Monroe County Historical Museum. The current director is John Gibney. Assistant director is 2. The Battle of the River Raisin was not one of the most decisive battles of the War of 1812, but the destruction of General Winchester’s army here did set back American plans to recapture Detroit from the British for about 8 months. It was the largest field battle ever fought within the present boundaries of the State of Michigan and profoundly affected the people living here at the time. 3. Total casualties were over 900 men, but that includes the wounded, missing, and prisoners, as well as the dead, and does not count the British or Indian casualties. There were actually bloodier battles, although there were few, if any, in which the number of American dead came near the total of almost 4 hundred Americans who were killed here. 4. The Battle of the River Raisin occured in January of 1813 and was thus not one of the last battles that led to the final truce. There were many other battles over the next 24 months that had a more significant effect on the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war. -Ralph Naveaux
Effective Crisis Management On Wednesday, April 25, MCCC will host a session at the LA-Z-boy center for preventing worst-case scenarios like shootings, bomb threats, and violence in our schools. A 90-minute interactive audio conference will be presented by attorney Allan Shackelford and Dean of Students, Anne Lundquist. The presenters will discuss the shootings at Virginia Tech, explain what could have been done to minimize the damage, and review tactics for dealing with the media. All are invited to attend this event between 12:00 and 1:30 PM in Z-271-2
from “Tuition,” page 1
from “Homeschool,” page 2
while 800 students receive Federal Pell Grants to the tune of $2,000,000. Additionally, MCCC awards $450,000 in various scholarships annually,” Vogt said. When asked if tuition increases could negatively affect enrollment numbers, Dr. David Nixon, president of the college said, “I’d like to think students choose MCCC because of the good teachers and small class sizes. Some will choose MCCC because it is the lowest tuition in southeastern Michigan.” At the Board meeting, trustee Bacarella said he did not think increases would impact students. “Raising [tuition] to $64 [per credit hour] for in-county shouldn’t be a problem for the students, heck, most of the students here have bigger bar tabs on the weekend than that,” Bacarella said. Bacarella did not return calls to clarify this statement. In defense of Bacarella, Trustee Braunlich said, “I think he [Bacarella] was just trying to talk about the affordability of MCCC. He has a very high regard for the students of MCCC. He knows there are a lot of students who struggle to pay tuition.” “Trustee Bacarella speaks for himself,” Thayer said in response to his remark. “I heard it and I was very surprised to hear him say that. It was inappropriate. He cannot back it up [the remark] and he has no information to back it up,” Tim Dillon, professor of English, who was in attendance at the Board meeting, said. Other Board and administration members present declined to comment. Students interviewed about this statement and tuition increases, responded with anger. Many find it difficult already to pay for tuition. “We all work very hard. It shows they don’t give a crap about us,” student Lauren Novak said. “That’s not true because most of the students are under 21. Most of the people I know work part time and are trying to pay for college so they can’t afford to go out and drink, they think wasting their money on drinking isn’t worth it.” According to the “Monroe County Community College Fall Term Student Profile Comparison” issued by Steve Mapes, associate professor student services, figures for the fall 2006 term show there are 2,194 students enrolled at MCCC under the age of 21. “Does [that comment] make them feel better about themselves?” Deborah Patrick, student, said.
These experiences benefited me greatly. It allowed me to not only learn how to act around children/ young adults my own age, but other age groups as well. I believe what people do not bring into the picture when considering homeschoolers, are the shy children in public schools. What about those individuals? Are they considered to be abnormal, as homeschoolers are? Or are they just considered shy? I truly believe there are individuals who are just quiet in nature. It makes no difference if they were home educated or not. Another question people seem to be worried about is if I am able to do the school work. I am not only doing the work, I am succeeding. I have the grades to prove it. Home education allowed me to have a one-on-on learning atmosphere which, in turn, gave me the opportunity to prepare for college. When a person is home educated, the parent is there to guide them, just as a teacher in public school does. But, just as in public or even private school, the student must take the initiative and complete the assignment. Home education prepared me to be self-disciplined in the college atmosphere. Not only do I complete tasks, I usually have them finished with time to spare. I attribute this to my homeschooling. And yet there is still another factor people bring into the picture when they consider home educated students. A question commonly asked is how I feel about peer pressure and others. People wonder if I am able to hold my own ground. And what happens when people talk about “topics” which are considered “worldly” such as drugs, alcohol, or even, dare I say it, sex. Aren’t home educated students shunned from this? No. “People think home schoolers do not know about worldly subjects. What they need to keep in mind is just because I did not attend a public school, does not mean I was not raised in this world. We have to live in it like everyone else,” Stanton said. Home education gave me a gift. I was not picked on by cruel children in this world. I never had feelings of being self-conscious because someone did not like the way I dressed or how I acted. I was able to just be me. And now, I am a college student and I do not feel pressured by anyone to keep up appearances. I have my own philosophy: I will not conform to the ways of everyone else. I will be my own self. I will be an individual. I will be a home educated student and proud of it.
April 19, 2007 from “Creativity,” page 2 Music has its own place in motivation. While some people may be distracted by music playing while they work, others may find that it pushes them and makes the wheels in their mind turn. If you’re completely stuck while trying to get a final project done, turn on some music and you may see results. If you find that words confuse you while you work, Vassar suggests listening to music without words such as classical or jazz. Cathy Zimmerman, an early childhood development student, says that she likes to watch movies or slideshows to generate ideas for projects. She gets her motivation by seeing examples of what other people have done. Daniel Stewart, an art instructor at MCCC, also suggests using visual imagery for motivation. He advises looking at images of things other people have done and asking yourself what you like about the particular piece, using what you think is good about it to generate ideas for your own project. Of course, for some, the only way to get motivated is to do something completely different. I can’t be quite sure of the logic involved in this one, but I too am guilty of this practice. While I can’t really say this is one I would highly suggest outright, it does pose some good ideas. A lot of time when you’re absolutely stuck when doing a project, the best thing to do is just quit, and involve yourself in something else. While it seems highly unproductive, stopping for a while to clear your mind and going back to it can also be a life saver. Instead of racking your mind and driving yourself crazy trying to get some ideas that very obviously are not coming, just quit, but be sure to get back to it later. Usually, when you get into whatever it is you moved on to, ideas start popping out from seemingly nowhere. Whichever method you choose, put your heart into it and the results will show that. The end of school will be here before you know it and with that, a few months of well-deserved freetime. Realizing that we only have a few weeks to do work that seems like it will take months to finish may spark anxiety, but fear not, the end is near. Keep that blissful thought in the back of your mind while you work to push yourself forward.
from “CFC,” page 7 born and it was learned our life was not going to be normal again, I had to pull the children out of school and their life was rearranged and they’ve changed so much. The kids, [during] the last four years, have grown up knowing how precious life is, knowing that everybody is different, to have love and compassion for others. They have been enriched so much with everything as far as learning so much about the needs of other people,” Berry said. “Because I’m a single mom now, basically, the kids go everywhere with me because they’re home schooled. We travel to all the hospitals and we make it fun. Our life is pretty much vacation after vacation. We travel and they get to learn and do so many things. Because of Abigail, their classroom is the world. None of that would have been possible without Abigail.” Angela Berry’s life is not an easy one, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Through her faith in God, Abigail, and four other children, she finds strength. Abigail may be a medical wonder, but most importantly, she’s her mother’s miracle. This summer, Berry plans on taking Abigail to an international CFC conference in Florida, where she will meet with doctors from all over the world. To help pay for the trip, Bedford Christian Community Assembly of God is scheduled to host a benefit April 27 at 6 p.m. All students and faculty are welcome to attend and support Abigail.
April 19, 2007
Springtime Crossword Bonanza Across 1. ____ Bug 2. Spring ____ 3. Fake ____ 4. What bees steal from flowers Down 1. What college students look forward to 2. ____ Dukes 3. ____ Grass 4. What it does in Michigan during spring Check the next issue for the answers! Bob James & the Angels of Shanghai Sunday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m. La-Z-Boy Center, Meyer Theater Reserved Seating: $25 VIP Seating: $35* A legend in the music industry, Bob James has more than three dozen solo jazz albums to his credit, including the highly popular Touchdown album, which includes “Angela,” the theme song of the hit sitcom Taxi. A pivotal figure in turning fusion jazz more commercial, James teamed up with Earl Klugh to win a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance of 1981 for the album One on One. He is now a member of the smooth jazz “supergroup” Fourplay. James will bring a unique, “East meets West” musical project to the Meyer Theater, featuring five students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music playing ancient Chinese instruments on his newer compositions. Tickets must be purchased by calling (734) 384-4254 or by ordering them as part of the Foundation Package (see the Ticket Order Form for more information). * VIP Seating includes balcony seating and cash bar.
from “CiCi’s,” page 6
from “Mud,” page 6
studies in the fall, enjoys working at CiCi’s. She claims it has been the best job she has had so far. “It’s a friendly atmosphere and a really great price. I don’t even know how they make a profit,” Adkins said. Wohlfeil believes people not only come in for the price, but for the atmosphere as well. Employees are encouraged to chant aloud with catchy little phrases to make customers aware of a new pizza arriving on the buffet or to just liven up the room. Sometimes customers even help out by joining in on the hooting and hollering. “The other night we had ten customers at the buffet dancing and clapping their hands doing the CiCi’s cheer,” Wohlfeil said. CiCi’s doesn’t offer a group discount, but Wohlfeil says he is more than happy to help out in any of those areas. “I have hundreds and hundreds of passes, if someone wants to contact me about a large group for a discount I’ll be happy to accommodate them,” Wohlfeil, said. Since the restaurant first opened and profits have been exceeding goals, the owners can not be more excited. “I am so happy we finally got this done, I’ve worked very, very, hard. It’s turned out better than we dreamed,” Wohlfeil said.
“I contacted the road commission several times and no one answered. My parents called and were told it would possibly take ten days for the road commission to fix our road. The reason given was because there were 30 other dirt roads in Monroe County which were worse off than ours,” Kutz said. In reality, the road commission does not have enough funds to pay for the grueling road conditions. The government distributes an allotment of money per area and Monroe County’s allotment is 27 million dollars with 1500 miles of road to preserve. “We are responsible for 75 percent of the roads in the County [Monroe]; we only receive 25 percent of funding. It takes one million dollars to construct one mile on an already paved road. We receive funds from fuel, license fees, and registration. For every gallon of gas pumped, we receive 15 cents per gallon. All money is a flat tax,” Tienvieri said. “Meaning no matter how much it costs at the pump, we still only receive 15 cents on the gallon.” This ruling has been in effect since 1997. Community members are asked to consider this reality, as gasoline prices go up, people drive less. The less people drive, the road commission receives a decrease in revenues since they depend on fuel for funds. “Over the past 20 years, the revenues have gone down,” Tienvieri said. “We are [currently] trying to pass a legislature statewide to raise the tax.” For residents throughout Monroe County, these past few weeks have been an eye opening reminder about the menacing mud situation. “It’s Michigan; you are going to have frost. You are just going to have to deal with it. It’s like driving through a snowstorm, drive smart,” Larocca said.
Spring/Summer payment information •
Students who register in advance for Spring must be sure to pay by Tuesday, April 24.
Students who register in advance for Summer must be sure to pay by Monday, June 4.
Students who register on or after the payment deadline must pay the day of registration. NOTICE: Spring and Summer Business Hours From May 14 through August 10 Monday through Thursday: 7:30 am to 5:00 pm Friday: 8:00 am - Noon
FINANCIAL AID DEADLINES Fall Pell Grant Deadline at MCCC – August 1, 2007 • Students completing financial aid files after August 1 may be required to pay and be refunded if they qualify. Apply online: www.fafsa.ed.gov MI Merit Award/MI Promise Grant – November 15, 2007 • You must certify funds with the state by November 15 for 2007-08. You can do this online at https://treassecure.state.mi.us/meritaward/index.htm or by calling 1888-447-2687.
LOCAL RESTAURANT SPECIALS • Giuseppe’s Pizza: 14” pizza with 3 toppings, $7 • Jet’s Pizza (457-4200): 2 large cheese pizzas (deep dish, round, or thin crust) with 1 topping, $15.99 • Pete’s Garage (243-0343): Tuesdays, 35¢ wings; Mondays, $1 burgers; Wednesdays, $1 hot dogs; Thursdays, 75¢ tacos • Buffalo Wild Wings: Tuesdays, 40¢ wings; Wednesdays, 50¢ chicken legs / kids’ meals, $1.99; Thursdays, 50¢ boneless wings • Bob Evans: Hotcakes, $5.69; Heritage Chef Salad, $7.59; Chicken Salad Plate, $7.99; Chicken Salad Sandwich Platter, $7.49
April 19. 2007
Agora photos by Tonya Huffman