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Cengage at MCCC

Scarpelli vs. Mt. Etna MCCC Geology professor scales famous volcano.

Opinion divided on new textbook access option

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Switched Off

Photo by James P. Quick | Modeled by Michael Apperson


College switchboard now closed at night

James P. Quick Agora Editor

The college switchboard’s hours during the week have been curtailed. The operator will now leave at 4:30 p.m. The evening shift, formerly manned by two part-timers, has been done away with entirely. While this has been done from a budgetary perspective, not everyone is pleased by the decision. “This decision has caused me a new level of concern that I otherwise never felt,” says Lori Bean, Professor of Chemistry. “Because I do teach a night class – Chemistry lab goes until 9:50 p.m. on Tuesday nights.” During the Fall Semester alone, there are 89 courses that meet between 4 p.m. and midnight, including subjects ranging from Welding Symbols to Pre-Teen Tap-Dancing and, of course, Chemistry. “I was concerned that perhaps parents trying to reach their students, or other family members trying to reach a student, would not have a number to call,” Bean says. “I still do not know the answer to that question. How will the community be able to reach someone on campus? I don’t know what they will use anymore.” Sue Wetzel, vice president of Administration, explains why the change was made. “Funding for the two part-time positions that staffed the evening and Saturday hours at the switchboard was cut from the 2018-2019 budget,” she writes in an e-mail. “The switchboard operator was not handling a large volume of calls or walk-up student/community members during the evening and weekend hours.” The college then made the decision to handle the call volume through an automated system. Faculty, staff, and students will now have to contact either security or maintenance if they require help. “Signage is also being placed in all the classrooms and public areas on campus listing the security phone number,” Wetzel writes. Kellie Heinzerling, the Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services, explains that new recordings are being made that will also give callers the phone numbers of security and maintenance.


Enrollment has dropped below 3000. Where has everybody gone? Todd Salisbury Agora Staff

The downward trend continues as MCCC’s Fall enrollment dropped below 3,000 for the first time in 30 years. Enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is down 5.7 percent, after several years of smaller decreases. This leaves the enrollment count at 2,943 stu-

dents, compared to last year’s 3,122. According to annual Student Profile Data reports published by the college, the last time enrollment was below 3,000 was in the fall of 1988. “We’re bleeding, and we need to find a way to stop the bleeding,” said Kojo Quartey, President of MCCC. The bleeding isn’t just here

See Concerns, Page 2 Serving Monroe County since 1968

September 10, 2018

at MCCC. Community colleges across the state have been recording declines. Nearby community colleges such as Schoolcraft, Macomb, and Henry Ford have seen similar slips in enrollment. Oakland Community College witnessed a double-digit decrease compared to last year. Jackson and Washtenaw enrollment remained nearly the same. See Enrollment, Page 2 Vol. 66, Issue 1

2 • Campus News

September 10, 2018

MCCC enrollment continues descent Continued from Page 1 Sue Wetzel, Vice President of Administration, accredited the decrease in enrollment to a strong economy. “They can’t hire enough people right now; everywhere I go people are trying to hire,” Wetzel said. “When people are working, they go to work; maybe they put off going to school.” Companies are now offering more opportunities for on-the-job training to high school students to help fill the demand for new workers as the baby boomer generation retires. She noted that if you follow a graph of enrollment, it suffers when the economy is doing well, but picks up when the economy dips. However, Wetzel’s faith in higher education has not been lost. “The minute you invest in that and put the time in to do well in those courses, the value appreciates in time,” Wetzel said. The college has worked around the clock to find ways to help bring enrollment back up, Quartey said. For example, the college reaches out to high schools with a variety of visits and invites eighth graders to tour the campus. The campus also has a Head Start program through the ISD for kids 3 and above to assist students that have small children. This can


Enrollment drops below 3,000

Fall enrollment at other Michigan community colleges Henry Ford­ Jackson Lansing Macomb Monroe Oakland Schoolcraft Washtenaw

-3.9% -.8% -6.7% -3.6% -5.7% -10.6% -7% -.7%

help reach more adults looking to come back to school to start or finish a degree. Quartey also has a positive outlook on the future, basing some of his optimism on the 2016 millage that was approved by voters. “With the millage money and our new facilities, I think we will attract more students to come here,” Quartey said. “I am optimistic that we will turn this around. The school will never close; we will always be here. We have been here for 54 years, and we will continue to serve our community.

3,482 2014

3,192 2015





2,943 2018

Photo by Todd Salisbury

There may be fewer people hanging out in the Cellar this Fall due to a drop in enrollment.

Students, staff express concern over switchboard’s new hours

The Agora Editors

Cassidy Maier

James P. Quick


Dan Shaw


Cheyanne Abel Vanessa Ray Shane Brooks Todd Salisbury Maya Gaynier Rose Younglove

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 Room 202 of the Life Sciences Building, (734) 384-4186, Submissions: The Agora encourages submissions by anyone in the college community, including free-lance articles, opinion columns, or letters to the editor. All submissions must include a name, 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. It is a member of the Michigan Community College Press Association, the Michigan Press Association, College Media Association, Associated Collegiate Press and the Student Press Law Center. Story suggestions are welcome. Let us know what you would like to see in The Agora - it’s your newspaper. Email submissions to

Continued from Page 1

“There will be availability for them to contact someone on-campus if they want to, you know, walk out to their cars or if they have concerns from an emergency standpoint,” she says. Bill Myers, the head of campus security, says he thinks the shortened hours will not be a massive sea-change. “It’s not going to be during the daytime working hours,” he says. “We don’t get much going through the operator at that time. So what we’ve had a lot of is getting radioed by the custodians.” Both maintenance and security carry walkie-talkies. The custodians will alert security if something occurs that they should know about. “That’s the key to everything around here: communication,” Myers says. He emphasizes the new posters hung up around campus, which give the Security office and cell phone numbers. “If a student has a problem, I hope they would have this information,” he says. “If they are unable to get ahold of anybody, we need to know about it.” However, some people have misgivings about the abbreviated hours. Ethan Dixon has worked maintenance at the college for two years. “I don’t really understand why they’re doing it,” he says. “It’s just going to give us more work. But I guess that’s what we’re here for.” Bean has concerns about faculty being able to contact the college. “How will, say, an adjunct be able to call in and inform the division that they won’t be in to teach?” she says. Student Avery Haynes is concerned about what to do during an on-campus crisis. “If there’s an emergency that pops up, I would like to be able to contact someone on or off-campus,” says Haynes. He goes on to mention the poor cell phone reception on-campus.

Photo by James P. Quick

There is no one at the switchboard after 4:30 p.m. this semester.

“I tried calling my friend and the call dropped,” he says. “I would like to be able to make a call if something serious occurs on campus. But currently I can’t because my phone gets no service here.” Myers notes that the college is, in fact, doing something about that issue. “I talked to Randy Daniels, the dean of students,” he says. “Part of the new updates that we’re doing around here is that we’re going to be putting repeaters in the buildings so that the cell phone coverage should be a lot better.”


Campus News • 3

September 10, 2018

Sparty comes to campus

MCCC Field Day welcomes MSU mascot, celebrates agriculture program

Maya Gaynier Agora Staff Many farmers and students came out to meet Sparty at MCCC’s Soybean / Cover Crop Field Day. MCCC and Michigan State University partnered to offer a farming degree that started in 2017. On Sept. 6, farmers came out to view projects being done here at MCCC and in the local area. MSU also brought Sparty along to take pictures with the participants at Field Day. Mark Seamon, a speaker at Field Day, is glad MCCC was able to partner with MSU. “I think it’s great to offer an opportunity for especially local students, who either don’t want to or aren’t able to live near MSU,” he said. “They are still able to access these classes and learn the curriculum the ag-tech program offers.” The Field Day targeted the topic of Soybean Management and Research Technology (SMaRT). Phospherous, a common fertilizer for soybeans, has found its way into Lake Erie via runoff, which makes appropriate management of the crops a high priority. “A study by the American Society of Agronomy in 2014 found that if farmers can reduce phosphorus runoff by one pound per acre, it will help reduce the amount going into Lake Erie,” according to an MCCC press release on the Field Day. Another major topic discussed was cover crops, which are used to strengthen the soil of fields during off-season planting. Sixteen crop plants were available to view. Taylor Myatt, a technician for the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program, presented a project at the event. “I did a presentation on the program that I’m with, just trying to meet farmers and learn more about all the stuff that’s going on in Monroe County,” he said. “We are talking about a lot of different practices that farmers can be putting on the ground. I think that farmers want to see exactly how these things are going to work.” The attendants had many positive reactions to the event. Gene Brost, a farmer and director of the Monroe Conservation District, enjoyed Field Day. “I’m just glad to see that the col-

Photos by Maya Gaynier

The Michigan State University mascot, Sparty, danced through the hallways of the H Building on Sept. 6, welcoming students to Field Day. The event introduced several projects taking place on campus and throughout the area.

“I think it’s a great thing. First of all for the students – they have here to actually see what’s being done – but also to generate more interest in the agricultural community.” Richard Janssens Local Farmer lege is taking an interest in agriculture, because it is one of our largest industries,” he said. Brost also liked that the event was local. “We don’t have to go any distance to see all this stuff. It’s kind of nice that they’re doing this.” Brost said he would be interested in working with students from this program. “It’s hard to find anyone who knows anything about agriculture anymore,” he said.

Richard Janssens, an area farmer, poses with the MSU mascot. Janssens wishes that the new agricultural degree offered at MCCC had been available years earlier.

The farming program has generated interest among farmers in the area as well, including Richard Janssens. He feels strongly that the farming degree will be a positive

addition to the campus. “I think it’s a great thing. First of all for the students – they have here to actually see what’s being done – but also to generate more interest

in the agricultural community. “I wish they had it years earlier when I was going to school. I’m too old for anything further, I guess,” Janssens joked.

4 • Campus News

September 10, 2018


Meet candidates at upcoming forum Cassidy Maier Agora Editor

A candidate forum will take place in the Atrium of the MCCC La-Z-Boy Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Students, college employees and community members will have a chance to hear candidates running in three state races and one federal race. Candidates who will be present include:

7th U.S. House District: Incumbent Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and challenger Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline. 17th state Senate District: Incumbent Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and challenger Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe. 17th state House: Incumbent Joe Bellino Jr., R-Monroe, and challenger Michelle LaVoy, D-Monroe. 56th state House: Incumbent Jason Shep-

pard, R-Temperance, and challenger Ernie Whiteside, D-Monroe. The candidates will have a time limit to answer questions that were prepared for the first part of the forum. For the rest of the night, the audience is invited to ask their own questions. Partners of the event include Monroe County Positive Action Network (MCPAN), Oaks of Righteousness Ministries, the Monroe County Opportunity Program, the River

Raisin Institute, Christians United of Monroe, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the American Association of University Women, Ida Public Schools, Monroe Vicariate Peace and Justice Committee, and “Sowing Seeds” Immigration Coalition. Ray Kisonas, editor of the Monroe News, will be the moderator. The News and MCCC are co-sponsors of the forum.

Re-introducing myWebPAL: do benefits outweigh bad? Maya Gaynier Agora Staff

Photo by Maya Gaynier

Grant McPeck and Cassandra Eby lounge in the new student space.

New lounge space open to students in L Building Maya Gaynier Agora Staff

Students no longer have to sit on the dusty floor of the L Building, thanks to the new student space. Jack Burns, MCCC’s director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said he collaborated with professors Lori Bean, Tracy Rayl, Lisa Scarpelli, and Student Activities Director Tom Ryder. “We talked about what we thought that space should be. And so it kind of grew out of there. Everybody had their opinion,” Burns said. The professors on the committee wanted a study area for students. Ryder took inspiration from other colleges he had been to and wanted students to have a lounge space. Burns wanted to give students a spot for snacking. “The vending machines used to be in the hallway and I didn’t want them in the hallway anymore. They shouldn’t have been there anyway because of the circulation issues,” Burns said. “So that’s why we decided to build that little area where they [the students] can sit there and snack.” The committee also focused on making the space student-cen-

tered. “People have multiple classes in multiple buildings and they need to hang out. So that was really kind of the driving force behind the academic commons space we built,” Burns said. To add to the student-focused environment, many different choices of seating are available. The design also provides nice, bright lighting. Large windows welcome sunlight in accompaniment with LED lights. “We wanted it to be cheerful, not make you depressed,” he said. Student Grant McPeck said he enjoyed the new space. “I’ve used it a little bit. It’s a good place to spend between classes,” he said. Samuel Anderson agreed. “This is my first time in here, but it’s really nice,” he said. In an email, Burns said the entrance closest to the CTC will be closed starting Monday Sept. 10 for corrective work. He said the work should take around a week. Burns said the space seems to be a good addition to the Life Sciences Building. He noted that when he has visited the student space, all seats were full, and all the charging stations were in use.

MCCC has found that despite the few problems students have encountered, there are many benefits to the new myWebPAL. MCCC began using myWebPAL in the Spring of 2018. Tracy Vogt, the campus registrar, was helpful in explaining the new myWebPAL. This new Web-based system will help students clarify, track, and plan their course of study and make sure they meet all requirements for graduation. Registering for classes can now be completed in a single click. The intention for the new myWebPAL is for MCCC to migrate fully into using only the new system. Currently, students log on to the old service and it transfers you to the new service. “Eventually [students] will just log in to the new myWebPAL system,” Vogt said. One benefit is that the new system offers a Student Progress section that can help students complete their program of study. “‘My Progress’ is an unofficial audit of a student program of study.

“The student progress piece is helpful in taking the correct classes for their degree.” Tracy Vogt Campus Registrar This allows a student to see what requirements are still required in their program for graduation,” Vogt wrote in an email. However, Vogt said that as this is an unofficial audit, students should still have an official audit done by the Registrar’s Office when getting ready to apply to graduate. One issue students may face when using “My Progress” is not having their correct program of study selected on myWebPAL. “In order for the graduation planning piece to work correctly, the student must have their correct program of study and catalog year on record with the Registrar’s Office,” she wrote. Students can verify that their program of study information is correct by viewing the “At a Glance” section found under “My Progress.”

Another issue is students planning courses without registering. “Registration is a two-step process, you must plan the sections and then register for them using the ‘Plan and Schedule’ link,” Vogt wrote. “Once a student is registered for a section it will be highlighted in green.  If a course/section is planned it is highlighted in yellow.” Student Anton Durham ran into this problem. “It was really confusing how it had the plan and register. There shouldn’t have been a plan section. It should have just been register for this or not,” he said. However, Durham has also experienced the pros of the new techbased system. “It is easier than the old system. It was really convenient that I could open it from my phone and I knew where to go for my classes,” he said. MCCC hopes all students try out the new system. “I encourage all students to go in and use the new myWebPAL. The student progress piece is helpful in taking the correct classes for their degree,” Vogt said.

A screenshot of the new myWebPAL system, accessible from the MCCC homepage.


September 10, 2018

Campus News • 5

Brightspace replaces Blackboard Cassidy Maier Agora Editor

MCCC is changing once again. New and returning students now are logging into Brightspace, instead of the Blackboard program, for online classes and many on campus courses. And they will find the Regional Computer Tech Center, RCTC, in the La-Z-Boy Building in Z-258. The switch to Brightspace comes after the college’s contract with Blackboard expired and the Instructional Technology Committee chose to switch to a new system, said Jeff Peters the Coordinator of e-Learning and Instructional Support and chair of the committee. “The committee looked at other learning management systems to see if maybe there might be a new system that might be more appropriate for students and staff and faculty here at the college,” he said. The committee began talking about finding a new program during the Winter 2017 semester and narrowed down the candidates by the Fall 2017 semester. “It was pretty exhaustive review. We looked at other learning management systems,” Peters said. He said a handful of systems were brought to campus to do public presentations for faculty. “We looked at what features were available in various systems, if they were user friendly for faculty and students, if they had

the kind of tool set that we though faculty would use.” The college has been using Blackboard since before Peters came here, eleven years ago. He said the biggest challenge has been changing to something new after over a decade. “You just become familiar with it, even though I think the newer system is much more intuitive and easier to use, folks just get used to how it was done in the previous system. So just overcoming that and ensuring that students and faculty are prepared and can effectively use the system; I guess that’s been the biggest hurdle,” Peters said. To help ease everyone into using the new system, Peters hosted test courses that he called sandboxes for interested faculty to try out in Brightspace during the Winter 2018 semester. He also hosted some training sessions for faculty and gave students the opportunity to attend sessions to learn about Brightspace before the college officially began using it in the spring. “In the beginning, there were a lot of glitches, but I think that it’s better,” said Tristan Rogaczewski, a student at MCCC. “It’s easier. I still would prefer Blackboard, but Brightspace is becoming something easier for all of us to use. I think they’ve fixed a lot of things over the summer.” “I don’t see much of a difference between the two, but I like Brightspace more because it’s faster,” said Alexis Cowell, another student.

Photo by Cassidy Maier

Lab Coordinator Karen Kuhl (back), and Lab Tech Cindy Prusaitis work in the RCTC.

Peters said there are resources available to students for help with Brightspace. “When a student first logs into Brightspace, there’s an announcement and then there’s a couple of instructional videos for navigation. One’s for navigation and one’s for notifications settings. But then I emailed all students that are going to be in a Brightspace course before the semester starts with links to a lot of the other videos and they’re on the eLearning website too,” Peters said.

The eLearning website can be found on MCCC’s home page, under academics. There are instructional videos for both students and faculty and a link to the Brightspace Help Desk. The Help Desk is part of the RCTC, which moved over the summer from the East Technology Building to the La-Z-Boy Building. The lab will stay in the Z Building until construction is finished.

Student Government needs you Rose Younglove Agora Staff

Much of college is spent preparing: preparing for the semester, preparing to transfer, and preparing to make important decisions. But members of Student Government are making important decisions now, running between 40 and 60 campus events a year. On Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 12:30 p.m., Student Government will meet in Room 203 of the Z building to vote for new members for the current school year. Tom Ryder, the director of Campus Student Activities, says past members and new students are able to nominate themselves. “We have an information meeting on Sept. 11 and the next Tuesday I do a team building so all of the members have an opportunity to see peoples’ leadership styles,” Ryder said. Samantha Beaudrie, 21, is a returning Student Government member. “Last year I was the historian for the group,” Beaudrie said. “I had so much fun taking pictures at the different events and then putting together a picture book filled with some awesome memories from last year.”

Beaudrie is looking forward to meeting this year’s new members. “The most important trait in a member of Student Government would be someone who is a hardworking individual,” Beaudrie said. “Someone who wants to make a difference on campus.” Jack Ryder, 17, said joining Student Government was one of the best decisions he has made at MCCC. “I reached out to Tom through an email,” Beaudrie said, “and I still remember how friendly everyone was to me, even though I was incredibly shy my first year being a part of SG!” The student government members say they never forget their focus: representing the students of MCCC. “In Student Government, I try to be as helpful as possible, and get people the information they need,” Jack Ryder said. “I have chaired a few events, and now, since I have those under my belt I plan on improving those events and doing more for the group and for the students on campus.” All members of the group are open to new ideas from students, which creates a comfortable environment for all.

Photo by Rose Younglove

Signs have been displayed around campus to encourage students to join Student Government this year.

“It allows students to expand their horizons and go out of their comfort zones,” Beaudrie said. “I really found a home when I joined SG

and made great friends with people that I never would’ve met otherwise,” Beaudrie said.

See Students, Page 6

6 • Campus News

September 10, 2018


Book program gets mixed reviews Rose Younglove Agora Staff

Cengage Unlimited, a publishing company used by many MCCC courses, is offering a digital subscription service that could save students hundreds of dollars on textbooks. With the purchase of a $119 textbook access code, students would be able to keep up to six Cengage digital textbooks a year. While the new program benefits students, some professors are critical of how it was rolled out. Edmund La Clair, assistant professor of History, says from the time he heard of the new program last spring he was not interested. “I have one entire class where many students don’t have a copy of the textbook because I apparently need to set up some webpage that Cengage never told me about, and I’m currently furious with Cengage,” he said. MCCC English professor Michelle Toll said there are other advantages, including renting a physical textbook for $7.99. “If the teacher requires you to have a hard copy in class, you can have both of those things, and the online content you can have for however long your unlimited package lasts.” Cengage offers two options for an access code: a one-semester code for $119.99 and a two-semester code for $179.99. “From a student’s perspective, it sounds like it makes sense,” Toll said. “If you have more than one class which uses a Cengage book, why wouldn’t you get that package?” MCCC student Claire Bechard, 18, works in the MCCC bookstore and has begun selling Cengage Unlimited to students. “The books that are produced by the publisher, Cengage, are actually often selling out,” Bechard said.

“We ordered 600 Cengage Unlimited Textbooks, and a lot of students have purchased them.” Kaitlyn Gullet Bookstore employee

Photo by Rose Younglove

“The online access to books and lower prices are both benefits for students.” Kaitlyn Gullet, a fifth year middle college student and also an employee of the bookstore, is familiar with Cengage. “We ordered 600 Cengage Unlimited Textbooks, and a lot of students have purchased them,” Gullet said. The new program is as much a learning process for the professors as the students. “As a faculty member, last year when they presented the idea of using Unlimited, it sounded really good, really cost saving for students,” Toll said. “But we are experiencing some growing pains or adjustment pains at this point.” Toll noted that the course key has been a little controversial. “You can’t just buy this card,” Toll said.

“It’s like a piece of paper that says you have unlimited access (to Cengage textbooks), but the instructor has to go do something.” La Clair also noted difficulties with the program. “I like the idea that they’re trying to save students money,” La Clair said, “but my biggest problem is they’re requiring professors to take extra steps that they didn’t tell us about to set up the course so students can get the textbook.” E-books are another issue on which La Clair feels strongly. “Digital textbooks have been shown in study after study not to serve students as well as a physical textbook,” he said. Bechard also defended the benefits of physical textbooks. “Students are willing to purchase the

physical copy for another $100-$200, rather than just buy the access card for $119.99,” Bechard said. While the debate of using physical or digital copies continues, professors and students alike believe there is room for improvement in Cengage. “I think it’s a great program for the future,” Bechard said, “but we are the pioneers and we have to deal with the kinks.” Kelly Heizerling, the Director of Purchasing and Auxiliary Services, also assists in student purchases. She said the bookstore has sold 222 of its original 600 Cengage textbooks. “For the most part, it seems like everyone is already familiar with the online platforms,” Heizerling said. “I think we’ll be able to have a better gauge as to how the books are working for students in the winter semester.” Kristen Betts, a Cengage representative, explained the course key, a code required for any class using a Cengage textbook. “In certain circumstances, the instructor has to create a course in the technology given,” Betts said. “It could be SAM, MindTap, WebAssign – the affiliated technology with the book. The professor creates the course, gets the course key, and then gives it to the student, which allows them to get the rental.” Toll said she had trouble setting up her course key and noted that Cengage assisted her and her students. “I talked to someone from Cengage from the regional level,” Toll said. “She helped me set it up so that Cengage would be one of the tabs right on our Brightspace, our learning management.”

Students excited for upcoming events Continued from Page 5

The group is run by everyday MCCC students, all of whom are in charge of creating and overseeing fun campus activities and events. “I like them to come up with the events and ideas,” Tom Ryder said. “I love the students’ energy and enthusiasm.” The director of campus student activities says student government hosts many events, the most popular being the Sweetheart Ball and the Family Fun Night. Jack Ryder, a returning member, lists Family Fun night as his favorite event. “It’s one of our biggest events and leading up to the event itself is stressful,” he said. In 2012, one of their biggest years, more than 700 children and adults attended Fam-

ily Fun night, which is open to all members of the community. “It takes a lot to pull it off,” Jack Ryder said, “and I think that’s why it is the most rewarding.” “This year I am looking forward to the Halloween Bash,” Beaudrie said. “It is something we are bringing back for the first time in a couple years. ” Tom Ryder is also looking forward to the Halloween celebration, an event which he calls “The Black Light Boo Bash.” “As of now, it will take place on Nov. 2, the Friday, after Halloween,” he said. “The event will be held in the Cellar from 7-11 p.m. and we will provide pizza and other snacks for students.”

Student Government is requiring a small fee of $5 for entry, or $2 and a canned food item. Beaudrie is most excited for the night’s DJ and the costume contest, with a cash prize of $30 for the winning costume. “I think it is going to be a really fun event for students to come and dress up for Halloween,” she said. “We have a DJ and some neat decoration ideas to decorate the cellar for the event!” Student Government will be voting for new members in Room 203 of the Z building, on Sept., at 12:30. “I look forward to the new year,” Jack Ryder said, “and to the events we have planned!”

Samantha Beaudrie


Campus News • 7

September 10, 2018

New student center coming to MCCC East and West Technology Buildings grow to house art class, disability center, RCTC, and more

Cassidy Maier Agora Editor

MCCC is changing again. Construction will begin on the East and West Technology Buildings before the year is over, said Jack Burns, the Director of Campus Planning & Facilities. The space between the two buildings will be filled in to create one student-centered building. Student services, including disability services and art classes will be in the new building. It will also house the RCTC (Regional Computer Technology Center), which will be completely redone. In the meantime, the college has to go through different levels of state approval. “We have the schematic design approval, which is what they call level 300 and the architect’s getting ready to submit the drawings for the design development phase, which is the level 400,” Burns said. The next level is 500, and this involves construction documents, he said. “Once we get that approved, then we’ll be set to go out for bids, contractors, and then once we get bids for contractors, the state has to look them over and approve them, we’ll be ready to start construction,” Burns said. How long it takes each level to get approved depends on how many other things the state has to do at the time. “It’s going to be another month or so before we could/can possibly go out for bids,” Burns said. “We should start heavy under construction definitely before the end of the year.” Once construction starts, Burns said things will move quickly. The outside will need to be enclosed quickly due to winter conditions.

Artist’s rendering of the new student center, which will be located between the East and West Technology Buildings. The new building will house student services, such as the student disability center and art classes.

Both technology buildings will undergo construction before the end of the year.

“I think it’s going to be a game-changer as far as certain services like the testing and the disability services and tutoring. I think it’s really going to help them improve the way they serve students,” Burns said. There will be a classroom in the building that’s dedicated to active learning, a new type of teaching, centered on collaboration and technology, Burns said. If it goes well, the college will use it in other classes around campus.

Students and staff can see proposed plans for the new building and artist renderings of the inside and outside. These are shown on two boards that are outside the Admissions Office in the Administration Building. The boards will move around campus so everyone will have a chance to see them. “I think it’s pretty awesome that we’re actually renovating the college, especially with how old it is. My mom went here,” Jenna Magrum, a student on campus, said. Burns has been dealing with health problems related to a cancer diagnosis in fall of 2016. “I had a rough road, had a cancer bloom around Easter time. It took me out until I came back a couple weeks ago or whatever. I had to go through radiation and I’m now on. I’m not doing chemo, instead I’m doing immune-therapy, which is the new thing in cancer fighting, where it uses your own immune system to fight the cancer as opposed to chemo, where you’re introducing drugs to your system to fight it,” Burns said. He’s feeling better and is back to work. “It’s working very well on me. I came very close to calling in to Hospice, so right

Photos by Cassidy Maier

Floorplans and artists’ renditions are being displayed in the A Building’s lobby.

now I’m doing well and I’m getting stronger every day, so we’ll see. No one knows what the future has in store for them. I’m fighting,” he said. He said he was getting bored during his leave of absence. “I was getting bored at home.  Day-time TV is boring.  I binged-watched everything on Netflix,” he laughed. He asked the doctor if he would be able to come back to work and the doctor said it was alright. “Here I am,” Burns said.

8 • Feature

September 10, 2018

One of my goals in teaching was always to affirm or raise up

students ... to give them a pat on the back and tell them they can do it.

I think about a student who was told she couldn’t write

and I said, your teacher lied to you, you can write, you’re outstanding. And that propelled her into being one of the top students.

College hosts reception for retired History professor James DeVries

Everyone needs to take responsibility for their

college, their community. It’s all about working together as a community. Retired History professor James DeVries received plenty of hugs and kisses from friends and family at a reception in his honor.


Feature • 9

In his words...

A time for love, grace, mercy

hen life starts to end, reflection begins. For James “Jim” DeVries, a member of the MCCC Board of Trustees and professor emeritus, this time is about identity, and faith. “It’s been my transformation to Christianity, which has allowed me to weather what I’m going through now, and many other things, with grace,” DeVries said. More than 15 years ago, while he was still a teaching history at MCCC, DeVries was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia cancer. More recently, he was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. When it was discovered the latter diagnosis could not be treated with surgery, doctors told DeVries his cancer was too far advanced for either chemotherapy or radiation. It was then Devries began to make plans.


… it’s because somebody else helped at some point in time. Somebody left a

Rather than wallow in selfpity, DeVries is using this time to reach out to family and friends. “For me, this is a time for love, grace, mercy and  forgiveness,” DeVries said. On Aug. 24, in the atrium of the La-Z-Boy Center, a ceremony was held for the beloved professor, board member, and friend. Hosted by MCCC president and close confidant Kojo Quartey, the reception drew hundreds of family, friends, former colleagues and students, as well as community members in an overwhelming show of appreciation. “For that many people to come together on a moment’s notice was just mind-blowing to me,” DeVries said. “And then I thought, ‘we always do impact lives.’” “Wherever you are, whoever you are, you always have an impact,” DeVries said. “Everyone does.”

Stories and photos by Vanessa Ray

I try and convey, you didn’t do this on your own

scholarship, somebody left a way to get access to education – and they may not have even known the person, but we’re a community. We only thrive as communities.

Follow your bliss, do what you want to do,

do what you like. You don’t want to prepare for a career you’re going to hate. Work hard toward your bliss, go for your goal. Understand everybody has set-backs. It’s not whether you’re knocked down, it’s Former MCCC President Gerald Welch expressed his feelilngs for DeVries.

whether you get up or not.

MCCC President Kojo Quartey embraces James DeVries at a ceremony held Aug. 24.

10 • Features

September 10, 2018


Fire and rain Geology professor Lisa Scarpelli poses on the rim of the Gran Cratere on Vulcano Island

Photos courtesy of Lisa Scarpelli

Cheyanne Abel Agora Staff

MCCC geology professor Lisa Scarpelli traveled to the other side of the globe to conquer Italy’s famous volcano, Mount Etna. Driven by a desire to explore and a passion for earth science, Scarpelli and her family traveled to Italy over the summer to hike three popular volcanoes: Vulcano, Stromboli, and Etna. At an elevation of 1,600 feet, Vulcano is an active volcanic island south of Italy’s mainland and north of Sicily. Known for its hot springs and mud baths, it is a popular hot spot for tourists and locals to experience an active volcano while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Scarpelli, her husband, and daughter stayed in the city of Taormina, on the island of Sicily. With the assistance of a tour guide, they hiked the nearby Vulcano and viewed the Gran Cratere, a giant crater located

Scarpelli and her husband, Lou, hiking Mt. Etna.

at the peak of the volcano. Traveling further north to the volcanic island of Stromboli, Scarpelli got to experience one of the most active volcanoes in the world. At a height reaching approximately 3,100 feet, this giant breaks the silence around every 15 to 20 minutes with an explosive eruption. Scarpelli said it’s recommended to hike during the evening, because even if someone isn’t really interested in volcanoes, they can get some incredible pictures of the sunsets and the landscape. Unlike the popular volcanoes of Hawaii, known as shield volcanoes, Italy is home to stratovolcanoes. Shield volcanoes are caused by a hot spot in the earth, and their lava tends to gently flow continuously down the sides of the mountain. Stratovolcanoes, however, do the opposite, Scarpelli said. They have unpredictable, explosive eruptions, and are formed by subduction, where one tectonic plate submerges under another. For instance, Italy’s volcanoes were formed by the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate. Although these two massive volcanoes have their history, neither can compare to Scarpelli’s first volcanic hike of the trip – Mount Etna. Scarpelli and her family had the pleasure of first hiking Europe’s most popular and largest volcano. At a whopping elevation close to 11,000 feet, Mount Etna towers over the city of Taormina, claiming its dominance and reminding everyone of its presence by producing explosive eruptions, something that it has been doing for thousands of years. However, it didn’t turn out to be just an average hike. Scarpelli and her family had no idea they would face life-threatening weather conditions. To reach the top of Mount Etna, hikers first need to take

a cable car up the side of the mountain due to the steep elevation. They then meet mandatory tour guides, who transport the groups to the remaining route using minivan-like vehicles with large tires. This form of transportation is needed because the volcanic rock is too hot to walk on. Whether the mountain is hiked during the summer or winter, tourists receive winter coats, due to the drastic temperature drop caused by the elevation, and hard hats for protection from explosive volcanic debris. As the Scarpelli family and the rest of the tour group began hiking, they noticed the weather was foggy and cold. According to Scarpelli, this is normal weather for this kind of hike, but the farther they went, the conditions worsened. Lightning and thunder could be seen and heard, which is something nobody wants to encounter when they are at such

See Scarpelli’s, Page 11

The view of Taormina from the top of the mountain.


Feature • 11

September 10, 2018

Study Abroad taking on British Isles

James P. Quick Agora Editor

A second trip has been made available for the 2019 Study Abroad excursion to the British Isles. The tentative dates for both trips are May 13 to May 27. They will encompass Ireland and the United Kingdom: England, Wales, and Scotland. The first trip will offer Art Appreciation, Business Management, and Business Marketing. The second trip will offer History, Photojournalism, and Psychology. It is required to take a course on the trip. Wendy Wysocki, Professor of Business & Economics, is the head of the Study Abroad program following the retirement of Joanna Sabo. Aside from leading the first trip, she will also be one of the instructors teaching a course on the trip. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to be able to go to these other countries and learn about various things, depending upon on the course you’re in,” she says. “Not only learn the material, but also to experience the other cultures and really see in things in practice.” She also is very happy with EF College Study Tours, the company facilitating the trip. “They’re an educational tour company,” she says, “so they are set up to create activities and excursions that meet our curriculum.” Melissa Grey is one of MCCC’s psychology instructors. This will be her first time on Study Abroad. She will be teaching Psychology of Personality and Adjustment, which needs General Psychology as a prerequisite. “The class is focused back on the individual student,” she says. “It’s a class that re-

Photo by Dan Shaw

The two MCCC Study Abroad groups that toured Italy and Greece in 2017 got together for a group photo at Pompeii.

quires a lot of reflection on how introductory psychology concepts apply to ourselves.” The class covers how students shift and adjust over time and settings. “Doing that in the midst of travel and where probably almost everything is new and different is a great opportunity to see some of that adjustment happen live,” she says. Edmund LaClair, Assistant Professor of History, will be teaching World History since 1500 on the trip. “Since we’re going to actually be in Britain,” he says, “and Britain is the center of the world economic system from about 1800 ‘til after World War II, we’re going to have a chance to see a variety of cultures and museums that have brought artifacts from around the world.” He notes that his course focuses on the development of modern industry and capitalism. “All of which is perfect to study inside Britain,” he says.

UPCOMING INFORMATION MEETINGS All meetings will take place in the Z203 Board Room except Thursday, 9/13, which will be in the A173b Conference Room.

Weds. 9/12 | 7-8 P.M. Thurs. 9/13 | 2-3 P.M. Tues. 9/18 | 2-3 P.M. Weds. 9/19 | 5-6 P.M.

Weds. 10/2 | 7-8 P.M. Thurs. 10/4 | 12:30-1:30 P.M. Tues. 10/9 | 1:30-2:30 P.M. Weds. 10/10 | 5-6 P.M. Graphic by James P. Quick

In addition, he stresses how Study Abroad is a wonderful chance to see more of the world. “I think a large amount of the beauty of the Study Abroad trip,” he says, “is that it’s a chance for someone who is just a college freshman who is probably from working-class Monroe County to affordably get two weeks to study in a foreign country. “This is the kind of experience most people would have to work ten or twenty years for.” He also says the trip looks good on a resume. Journalism professor Dan Shaw, who is leading the second trip, will teach Photojournalism. “Students are going to be taking lots of photos, anyway,” Shaw said. “So it works well for them to learn more about how to take good pictures, and how to tell stories with their photos.” Wysocki adds that this particular trip is an excellent one for people who would be leaving the country for the first time. “We are going to countries that speak English,” she says. “So, if you’re nervous about that kind of thing when you’re traveling to other countries, then you can expand from here to countries that speak other languages.” She goes on to list some of the attractions that will be visited. “In Ireland, we go to Dublin,” she says, “but we’re really excited to go to Kilkenny Art and Design Center.”

The Center has artists from all over Ireland that work from it. Wysocki explains this will combine the art and business portions of the trip. She also notes that London will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the British Museum. Other destinations include the Abbey of Kells, Snowdonia National Park, Stonehenge, and Buckingham Palace. The cost will range from $3,929 to $4,450. This will vary based on age and number of people to a room. Included in the price are the airfare, hotels, and some meals. Tuition for the courses is not included; those will need to be paid for separately. It is vital to have had a valid passport for six months prior to the departure date. It takes up to six weeks to get the passport back after filling out the paperwork. Also vital is attending informational meetings. Joining now lowers how much money is required up front. Students must be 18 years or older to participate, have a GPA of at least 2.0, receive two letters of recommendation, and pass a criminal background check. “The first trip is almost full,” Wysocki says. “I would expect some spillover. If you’re interested, I would definitely act now.” For more information, contact Wysocki at 734-384-4294 or wwysocki@monroeccc. edu, or Dan Shaw at 734-384-4296 or

Scarpelli’s adventure turns frightening Continued from Page 10

high elevation. Scarpelli said the tour guides began talking to each other, counting the time between the lightning and thunder. She then noticed a change in their demeanor. “The guides started to panic, and my husband and another guy in the group had walking sticks that were made of metal,” she said. “The guides came over, took them, and threw them. And then they said, ‘We have to evacuate, and we have to do it quickly!’” With no time to waste, the group had to backtrack, running through marble-sized hail to the starting point to take shelter from nearby lightning that was quickly approaching. After evacuating, the cold, soaked group of hikers had to sit in a trailer for about 45 minutes, because there was littleto-no visibility for the transporting vehicles to get them.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Scarpelli

Mt. Stromboli is one of the small island volcanos off of Sicily.

The hike that was known for its beautiful view of the city and the inside of Etna’s crater had now turned into a disappointment for many. According to Scarpelli, the fog was so thick nobody could really see anything. When the weather finally cleared enough for help to arrive, the Scarpellis and the rest of the tour group were taken back to sea level, where the summer weather remained hot and sunny. Knowing that everyone made it back safely and reflecting on the frightening-yet-thrilling-adventure that took place, Scarpelli said she would do it again. “Oh, definitely! No question! And I would do Etna again, hoping I had better weather.”

12 • Features

September 10, 2018


Beneath the fedora

La Clair finds dream job, teaching, travelling abroad, supporting his family Vanessa Ray Agora Staff

If History Professor Edmund La Clair could tell each MCCC student one thing, it would be to fail. “Look for opportunities to fail,” La Clair said. “Go in trying to succeed, and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll accomplish.” Often seen strolling the halls of the C Building in a fedora, suit vest, and converse tennis shoes, some might mistake La Clair for one of the students in his classes. While younger than most professors on campus, the enigmatic professor is already making a name for himself as an up-andcoming leader and favorite among students.

Photo by Dan Shaw

La Clair in Italy on Study Abroad 2017.

“Mr. La Clair is a fantastic professor!” said MCCC student Maria Moore. “I’ve had him for quite a few classes and his lectures make coming to class at 8 a.m. worth it.” He also was recently named chairman of the Faculty Council, and coordinator of the college’s new Honor’s Program.

La Clair’s journey to becoming a professor of history began when he graduated from Arenac Eastern High School, “a tiny little high school in upper Michigan,” in 1997. At first, La Clair’s goals were a little more Indiana Jones than his current position at MCCC. “I wanted to be an archaeologist, actually,” La Clair said. “But I was told there was no money in studying archaeology, so I said ‘fine, I’ll study history, it’s almost the same thing.’” La Clair received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University, majoring in History while minoring in Political Theory. The whole time La Clair was getting his degrees, he knew he wanted to become an educator. “I wanted to teach, specifically at a community college,” he said. “I was even told not to by my advisors, who said, ‘you should go to a university, that’s where you’ll make more money.’” But money was not the driving force behind La Clair’s desire to become an educator. “I want to teach people, I want to know that I’m helping people learn things,” La Clair said. “So I wanted to go to a community college, and that had been the goal from the beginning.” The difference between a large university and a community college was significant to La Clair.

“I want to teach people, I want to know that I’m helping people learn things. So I wanted to go to a community college, and that had been the goal from the beginning.” Edmund LaClair Assistant Professor of History “You really get to teach. Here I teach five classes a semester,” La Clair said. “At a university, I would teach one, maybe two classes – one being a lecture hall with 500 students, and the other being my grad assistant actually teaching the class.”

La Clair in his office, dapper as always.

Though some professor’s might love the idea of having a grad assistant, La Clair’s main focus has always been the students. “Here, I’m teaching, I get to help the students,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do.” However, wanting to teach at a community college, and actually being able to do so, are two totally different things. “It’s hard to find jobs in history,” La Clair said with a grin. “So I was actually browsing local colleges looking for places where they might have someone planning to retire soon.” La Clair’s search brought him to the county he now calls home. “I moved to Monroe,” he said, “partially because of the history here, and partially because I saw they had one History professor, my dear friend Jim DeVries, who was clearly nearing retirement age.” La Clair then got to work – literally.

Photo by Vanessa Ray

“I got an internship at the museum (Monroe County Museum),” he said. “Just to make connections in the local history community and meet people.” It was there he heard about an opportunity at MCCC. “I heard the dean here had left, and he had been teaching history courses,” he said. “I came in with six copies of my resume and CV, and gave them to everyone from the Board of Trustees to deans to administrative assistants.” La Clair also had a bit of luck on his side, as his information found its way to the right man’s hands. “Three copies of that CV made its way to (former Dean) Vinnie Maltese,” La Clair said. “And he hired me as soon as he met me.” Though he did not get the full-time job

See Passionate, Page 13


Feature • 13

September 10, 2018

DTE tax cuts may cause harm to MCCC Todd Salisbury Agora Staff

Know your own power. DTE uses this slogan in many of its advertisements. Currently, it is trying to make Monroe County and MCCC know its power. DTE has filed with the Michigan Tax Tribunal to lower the taxable value of the DTE Fermi 2 plant as well as the DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant. “To say DTE is a major part of the tax base here in Monroe is an understatement,” said MCCC President Kojo Quartey. The current taxable value of DTE’s coal plant is $486,341,600 and they are seeking a 58.2 percent cut. This could result in a loss of nearly $15.6 million in property taxes for county entities. The requested cut for Fermi, 60 percent, could lose the county $11.6 million in property taxes. The loss of revenue would likely cause serious issues for both the county and MCCC. “We’re very aware of this situation,” said Vice President of Administration Sue Wetzel. “We’re trying to plan and be sure for

Photos by Todd Salisbury

The DTE coal plant, as seen from Woodland Beach, generates power for customers.

what could happen.” “We take our responsibility very seriously in terms of our financial responsibility to our students and community,” Wetzel said. Wetzel, along with other campus officials, has been planning for the impact these cuts could have on MCCC. Should DTE be successful in their requested reductions for both plants, MCCC would see approximately $1.145 million lost in general fund revenue. Property taxes make up half of all MCCC general fund revenue.

The $1.145 million would equal an 8.76 percent decrease in property tax revenue and a 4.32 percent decrease in overall general fund revenues. In addition, this will impact the Improvement Millage passed in 2016. The millage is a five-year plan to improve facilities on campus through property taxes. There are currently three of five years left. The total impact could be about $1.5 million out of an anticipated total revenue over the five years of $26 million.

While this will not change renovations of the East and West Tech buildings, it may cause modifications or cancellations on future projects. Scholarships could be affected as well. Privately funded scholarships set up by donors would be safe, but the ones funded by the college – such as the instructional scholarships – may have to be looked at. Aside from scholarships and renovations, this could also affect the ability of students to excel off of campus. Over 85 percent of the student body lives in Monroe County, as do a portion of staff and professors. “People need to know the impact this is going to have on their life, whether it's at the community college, the library, or police and fire,” Wetzel said. “People owe it to themselves to know.” While DTE has not directly reached out to the college, there has been contact between DTE and the governments of Monroe County and Frenchtown Township. A collective of entities here in Monroe is working to hire an attorney to fight DTE. MCCC has offered to host a meeting on the subject this fall.

Passionate professor Continued from Page 12

he wanted immediately, La Clair quickly rose through the ranks. “We talked maybe five minutes and (Maltese) said, ‘You’re hired to teach as an adjunct,’” La Clair said. “Then, six months later, Jim decided to retire, and I applied for his job.” And the rest, as they say, is history. Since Fall 2010, La Clair has been a full-time member of the faculty, which is something his students are grateful for. “He has the best lectures,” said MCCC student Samantha Bartley. “He makes history interesting to students who may find it boring.” Though La Clair’s love for his student’s is obvious, he is also a fan of his colleagues. “The faculty are fantastic,” he said. “And Kojo has a remarkable passion for this college, which is fantastic to see.” He tends to gravitate toward those who have the same passion for education. “The people who work here who love this college, who love what it stands for,” La Clair said. “This is a place where we really do care about the students.” La Clair’s passion does not go unnoticed by his colleagues. “Ed La Clair has been a great asset to the Humanities/Social Sciences Division,” professor of English Lori Jo Couch said. “At a time when we have experienced many retirements, Ed has been willing to step into leadership roles.” She also mentioned his commitment to his students. “He has a sincere interest in his students and a passion for education,” Couch said. It’s not just his colleagues who notice. La Clair was recently awarded the college’s Enriching Lives Performance Award.

Though, if you were to ask La Clair, being able to interact with a student is more important than any award. If La Clair had not had a bit of luck on his side when applying for the MCCC job, he’s not sure what he would be doing now. “Probably running a restaurant or selling life insurance,” he said, without a hint of sarcasm. “To be honest, it is that hard to find a job in history.” Luckily, he does not have to worry about either of those and can focus on what is important to him, namely, his daughter. “Taking care of my daughter is 99% of what I actually do,” La Clair said. “It’s all about taking care of Sophia.” When he has spare time, La Clair is no different than many of the young adults in his classes. His office, filled with a wide array of comics, is testament to that. “I’m also a nerd,” he said. “So there’s also a lot of role-playing games, and Magic the Gathering.” Travelling and learning about other cultures is another of La Clair’s passions. Like many of the professors and students who have been on MCCC Study Abroad, the trips have had life altering effects on La Clair. “I think my favorites were visiting places of spiritual importance to me,” he said. “I was over-awed standing in the Parthenon and Pantheon, walking through Mycenae, and rushing with Bill McCloskey through the museum on Crete so we could see a few important artifacts.” However, it was a moment with a woman with a name whose name bears special meaning to La Clair which provided his best memory. “I think the best though was a tour guide who took us through Agamemnon’s tomb,” he said. “She was very clear-

Photo by Vanessa Ray

Edmund La Clair teaches a variety of history courses.

ly a Greek pagan woman who still worshiped the old deities, named Sophia – the Greek word for wisdom – and the same name I gave my daughter. “When she realized how seriously I took that faith, the history of her land and the culture she shared and taught, she threw her arms around me and gave me a quick blessing,” La Clair said. “It was really at that moment that rather than just seeing places of historic and spiritual importance, I could see the vital life of a culture that was over 3,000 years old and still vibrant.” Though he has succeeded, La Clair often comes back to the advice he would offer students. “The best things in my life have been those times I’ve failed – not finishing my Ph.D .and discovering my passion is teaching, that was a good thing for me,” La Clair said. “You learn a lot more about who you are when you can fail.”

14 • Feature

September 10, 2018



Student assistant tried out for famed television program James P. Quick Agora Editor

An MCCC Middle College student tried out for Teen Jeopardy over the summer. Aleija Rodriguez is a student assistant working in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division office in the C Building. The 17-year-old’s stated ambition is to become a behavioral neuroscientist. He is also a voracious learner, as evidenced by the hobby that prompted him to try out for Jeopardy in the first place. “I’ve participated in this activity called Quiz Bowl for around eight years now,” Rodriguez says. “Jeopardy is very similar to that. You learn a lot about a variety of subjects – literature, science, history, etcetera. “So, Jeopardy was very exciting because it gave me another outlet to learn new information and put that information, that some people might consider arbitrary, to use.” Rodriguez gives a rundown of how he got into the try-outs. “I had to take an online exam,” he says. “I don’t remember what exact time, but it was the exact same test for everyone across the nation at the same time.” To qualify, he explains, entrants had to get a certain number of questions correct. However, no one is sure what the amount is, bar estimates. “It’s generally agreed that it’s about 35 out of the 50 questions,” he says. Following the test, there was a long wait to hear back. “I didn’t hear for a couple of months and I thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t get selected…’” Rodriguez says. “But then, just one or two days later, I got an e-mail from Jeopardy that goes, ‘Hey! You’ve been selected to attend one of our try-outs!’” The Rodriguez family was soon on its way to Washington, D.C. so that Aleija could participate. “For the try-out, we all went to this hotel. I believe it was the Washington Hotel; just a nice little boutique hotel,” Rodriguez says, “and we took another test.” Much like the online exam, this test also had all the same 50 questions, which were presented on a board. This test was used as a litmus, as Rodriguez explains. “They used this to gauge, ‘Hey, were you honest on the online test?’” he says. “‘Do you actually know this information, or did you search for it?’” Following this was a mock-Jeopardy. “You and two other people take a buzzer, you get questions read to you, you buzz in, and you have to be sure you’re phrasing it as a question,” he says. The purpose of this, he explains, was to see how the entrants would play on an actual episode of the program.


One question did stump Rodriguez. “On the test, there was this one question about ‘The Nutcracker,’ but I’m not a visual, performing-arts guy,” he says. He cannot remember the exact wording, but he thinks that it asked who the specific main character from ‘The Nutcracker’ was. “I had no idea,” Rodriguez says. “I think I just said, ‘The Sugar Plum Fairy.’ When I asked everyone else who knew it, they were like, ‘No. That’s clearly not the correct answer!’” From there, the entrants were asked about things they had put on their application. “I talked about my brother a little bit; how I really liked helping raise him. I talked about some of the origins of my name, as well,” he says. Later, Alex, Rodriguez’s little brother, got to meet the people facilitating the exam as well, adding a personal touch to the proceedings. “One of the questions was, ‘What would you do if you won the $100,000 on Jeopardy?’” Rodriguez says. “People had a variety of different answers.” When asked what he would have done with the money, Rodriguez admits that it’s a hard question. “So, I’m in charge of a Relay for Life team,” he says. “It’s a big part of what I’ve done for about four years now. “Obviously I’d put a sizable chunk away for college. I’m heading up that soon.” The remainder, he says, would go toward treating his family to a trip through Europe. But Rodriguez ultimately did not make the cut. “Most people would be upset, and I guess I was a little sad,” he says, “but I really felt that I had a very good try-out. I did genuinely try my best. Rodriguez floats the idea that perhaps he underperformed on the test, but then immediately notes that most of it came easily to him. He then reflects on how he acted during the mock-Jeopardy round. “I’m a very excited buzzer when I know something. My body does a little ‘oof!’” he says, lurching forward a bit to demonstrate. “I just get really excited!” Rodriguez explains that he made a point to be friendly to everyone and to high-five and congratulate them when they returned from their rounds. “At the end of the try-out as a whole, I asked if somebody could take a picture of all of us, and they did,” he says, before noting that it was not of good quality. “Really, I just acted like myself,” he says. “Like, how I talk with my hands – which you can’t really see on a recording. “I’m very expressive and maybe they thought, ‘Oh, wow, he’s trying too hard.’ But I really like interacting with people.” In the end, Rodriguez did his best and does not hold any resentment over not making it. “It was a lot of fun and it helped me study more for this year’s Quiz Bowl season,” he says. “So, all around good.” Photo by James P. Quick


Sports • 15

September, 10 2018

Fitness center open to all students Shane Brooks Agora Staff

The Fitness Center is free for both students and staff members. Despite being located in the H building on main campus, the exercise facility is considerably underutilized. “I think that there are a good amount of people who utilize our facility quite regularly and often,” Megan McCaffery-Bezeau, the Fitness Center coordinator, said. “I also think that there is a lot of time for it to be utilized more frequently.”

Fitness equipment, mats, and free weights in the H Building Fitness Center.

The Fitness Center consists of several treadmill machines, cardio ellipticals, dumbbell weights, and several other exercise options for students. There are also two full-sized basketball courts located in the same building, also free for students and staff to use. McCaffery-Bezeau believes exercise is important and wants to remind students that exercising for just 20-30 minutes in between a class can help in boosting your metabolism. Students are welcome to bring spare sets of clothes and utlilize the showers in the locker rooms for after their workouts. Additionally, the Fitness Center staff is responsible for creating student/staff ID cards upon request. The Fall semester hours for the Fitness Center are as followed: Monday/Wednesday 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Tuesday/Thursday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and Friday/Saturday 9 a.m.3 p.m. In this available time, students, staff, and alumni are free to utilize the facilities however they prefer. There is a strict policy against those who

Weight-lifting equipment sits unused in the fitness center.

are not affiliated with the school coming to use the Fitness Center or the basketball courts. The main reason for this policy is liability and insurance complications. If you are not a student, staff member, family member, or an alumni, then you are not allowed to utilize

Michigan football teams sputter in season opener Shane Brooks Agora Staff

Fall has two guarantees: falling leaves, and college football. With the new season officially underway, both Michigan (0-1) and Michigan State (1-0) have discontentment regarding their teams’ week one performances. The Wolverines kicked off the year with a 24-17 loss to rival Notre Dame. The Spartans of Michigan State were able to win in a nailbiter over Utah State 38-31. “Not the outcome we wanted,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We just gotta dig deep, make no excuses.” Quarterback Brandon Wimbush and the Notre Dame offense were able to quickly go up two scores and make it 14-0 in the first quarter. These two possessions defined the game, being too big of a deficit for Michigan to overcome. Michigan’s new redshirt sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson lost a fumble in the final drive to seal the deal for Notre Dame. Patterson threw 20-30, 60.7 completion percentage, 227 yards, and 1 INT.

This is Harbaugh’s fourth consecutive loss dating back to mid November of 2017. A majority of the experts, critics, and fans are unpleased with the state of the program after week one. Coming off an 8-5 season, the pressure to win for Harbaugh is evident now more than ever. The Wolverines look to bounce back in their home opener against the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday, September 8 at noon. In East Lansing the Spartans looked sloppy, however, with a late game drive they put down their non-power opponent who won six games in 2017. “Got to clean up some mistakes obviously,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “I think the ability to run the ball in the second half helped our cause.” Early on in the matchup, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love led a tempo style offense right down the throat of the Spartan defense to make a quick 7-0 game. After a slow start, MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke was able to go 23-33, 69.7 completion percentage, 287 yards, 2 TD, and 1

INT. In their opening game, the Spartans were able to lead as much as 27-14 early in the third quarter. However, Utah State’s offense roared back to reclaim a lead of 31-30 with 5:05 to play. Lewerke and the Spartans refused to go to sleep on their home field, driving 75 yards in a nine play drive to score six, followed by a successful two-point conversion. Reclaiming the lead 38-31. Utah State would fail to deliver on their final drive. Dantonio admired his team’s ability to win down the stretch and perform without a sense of panic. MSU is fully aware that this type of play will not be sufficient come conference play. Safety Khari Willis and co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner both agree that there is a lot for this team to work on in the coming weeks. The Spartans will be away from home on September 8 for a 10:45 p.m. kickoff against Herm Edwards’ Arizona State Sun Devils. Michigan and Michigan State, will meet in Spartan Stadium on October 20.

Photos by Shane Brooks

the gym. Monroe County Community College alumni do not receive gym access for free. There is an annual $15 membership fee, or rather a $50 fee that grants full lifetime membership benefits.

CLINICAL STUDY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED You may be eligible to participate in a Clinical Study if you are − Male or female between the ages of 18 and 50 − In good general health − Available to participate and for follow up for 44 weeks This research study will evaluate the safety and immune response of an experimental vaccine in healthy people You could be compensated up to $1,600 for your participation

To see if you qualify contact us at 734-527-4200

16 • Arts & Entertainment

September 10, 2018


Crazy Rich and Crazy Popular

“Crazy Rich Asians” blazes new trails for Hollywood and Asian-Americans.

Cheyanne Abel Agora Staff

“Crazy Rich Asians” has claimed its rightful place as number one on the box office list. A romantic comedy based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan, the film grossed over $76 million within the first two weeks of its release. The film was created to demolish a racial wall between standard Hollywood movies and the Asian-American community. According to USA Today, Hollywood hasn’t seen an all-Asian cast in 25 years. With comedy similar to “Meet the Parents” and romance comparable to “Cinderella”, “Crazy Rich Asians” will have you crying tears of laughter and emotion, begging for more.

“Having a movie that is based on different culture… gives them a chance to tell their side of the story and share their culture with the rest of America.” The movie takes place in bustling Manhattan, where main characters Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) come to an agreement that after a long period of dating, they fly to Singapore over spring break to meet Nick’s family. All seems to be going well for the happy couple, until boarding a plane with first-class tickets reveals a secret that Nick has been keeping from Rachel: he’s crazy rich. Rachel had no clue that her boyfriend belonged to one of Singapore’s top wealthiest families and was next in line to receive the inheritance. Coming from a poor family – Rachel’s mother was an immigrant who escaped to America af-

ter the death of her husband – Rachel needs all the help she could get from her wealthy college friend, Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina), to transform her from a first-generation college graduate to a suitable, upper-class bachelorette for the heir to the Young fortune. With a makeover, fancy dresses, and flashy jewelry, Rachel will definitely look like a perfect match for Nick… but will it be enough to measure up to his mother’s standards? According to comedian and actor Ken Jeong (Goh Wye Mun in the film), the film has already been given the green light for a sequel. The type of impact this film has on society is inspiring, not just to the Asian-American community, but to other races as well. Having a movie that is based on different culture where the race is not predominately white passes the spotlight to other nationalities, givesthem a chance to tell their side of the story and share their culture with the rest of America. In addition, presenting this newer version of Hollywood may help destroy popular stereotypes that have been passed down from generations, prevent new ones from forming, and shed some light on the truth about other ethnicities. Having familiar faces return to the big screen such as Ken Jeong (famously known as Leslie Chow from the “Hangover” trilogy) and Constance Wu (Mika Oh from “Electric Slide”) serves as a lure to expand the size of the audience and their list of favorite celebrities by featuring newcomers who have never been introduced to American audiences. With a first-time success at breaking the Hollywood habit with reviews that keep climbing every week, America can expect to see more diverse films throughout the upcoming years.

Rachel and Nick dine with his family.

Agora 9/10/2018  

The Agora is Monroe County Community College's student newspaper. This issue was released Monday, September 10th, 2018. This is the first is...

Agora 9/10/2018  

The Agora is Monroe County Community College's student newspaper. This issue was released Monday, September 10th, 2018. This is the first is...