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Top 10 of 2017 Sawyer Jackson shares his picks for the top films of 2017.

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MCCC to offer fully online degree beginning fall 2018 Vanessa Ray Agora Editor

MCCC is breaking new ground with its first online laboratory course. After an hour of contentious debate on Thursday, Nov. 30, Chemistry 155 was approved by the Curriculum Committee. Tensions were high at the meeting. Those in favor of the course felt like students deserve an online option. Those against it felt like the college was “watering down” its degree. “These people are bullies,” said professor Parnella Baul, who voted for the course. Chemistry 155 was approved as a course by a vote of 7-2 and as a General Education (Gen Ed) requirement by a vote of 5-4. It will begin in Fall Semester 2018 Having Chemistry 155 qualify as a Gen Ed requirement paves the way for MCCC to offer a fully online certificate or degree. “Chemistry 155 is a survey course on how chemistry impacts our lives on a day-to-day basis,” professor Lori Bean said. Bean, who developed and will be teaching the course, said she did not want to step on her colleague’s toes. “My goal is not to steal away anyone’s current students,” Bean said. “It’s to attract a small niche who either don’t want to have to come up to late labs or can’t come to campus for labs at all.” The college has been hoping to create a class like this since at least 2015, as shown by  objective 4.3 in the 2015-2018 Strategic  Enrollment Plan. It states the college wants to “develop and market a program that can be completed fully online.” “We live in the 21st century, where entire degrees are being offered online by very reputable institutions around the world,”

Serving Monroe County since 1968

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A Chemistry 151 student perfoms an experiment. Starting next fall, students will have the option of taking their Chemisty lab online.

President Kojo Quartey said. “Being able to offer a fully online degree means that we at MCCC are getting closer to where the rest of the world is.” Though some professors in the Science and Math Division opposed the course, many MCCC students seem to see the benefits. “I think it’s wonderful that the college provides a degree path through only online classes,” said student Nathan Grodi. “It is

very convenient for people who live farther away, as well as those who have busy, ever-changing schedules.” Students like Javed Peracha realize the benefits of a fully online degree for parents and those who do not have the time. “MCCC fully recognizes that some people, like new parents, single parents, or fulltime workers, usually do not have the time to attend classes at a college campus,” Peracha said. “Chemistry 155 will allow people with

Jan. 22, 2018

busy schedules to earn their degrees with all online classes.” Other students, like Emma Muth, can see both sides of the issue. “On one hand, I like that it gives students the ability to customize their college experience,” Muth said. “Though I am not one of those people, I know there are some

See Math, Page 2 Vol. 65, Issue 4

2 • Campus News

January 22, 2018


Agriculture meets first-year goal Vanessa Ray Editor

After years of talking about the need, MCCC partnered with Michigan State University this past fall to launch its first Agriculture program. Andrew McCain, program coordinator for the Institute of Agricultural Technology at MSU, had high hopes from the very beginning. “My goal is to get the program started on a positive note with at least 10 students,” McCain said back in July of 2017. As of January 2018, this firstyear goal has been met. “We were able to get five additional students signed up, so that will give us 11 students in the Winter Semester,” McCain said. “The additional students are a great sign for the program, showing that word and interest has spread among the community for the Agricultural Operations program.” Students in the program can either earn a certificate in Agricultural Operations or an Associate of Applied Science in Agriculture/ AG Operations.

“The additional students are a great sign for the program, showing that word and interest has spread among the community.” Andrew McCain Ag Program coordinator

Photo by Vanessa Ray

Instructor Andrew McCain talks to his agricultural students, who meet once a week in addition to online work.

Those students who choose the associate degree route may receive preferred transfer status to Michi gan State University. “All of the students will be taking at least two MSU courses, those being Intro to Crop Science and Water Resource Management,” McCain said.

The Agora Editor Vanessa Ray Web Editor Leah Thomas Chief Copy Editor Adviser James P. Quick Dan Shaw Staff: Cheyanne Abel Shane Brooks Carla Cohen Taylor Dively Miranda Gardner

Sawyer Jackson Cassidy Maier McKinley Striggow Don Thomas Erin Thomas

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 agora@

“Half of the students will also be taking an additional MSU elective class as well, including one taking an Unmanned Aircraft Systems course that will allow him to have his FAA Drone License upon completion.” For the students currently enrolled in the program, the benefits

are numerous. “The fact it’s close to home and cheaper than MSU is why I’m here,” said current student Kaylee Slick. For another agriculture student, it’s about the opportunities the program might provide.

“I’m interested in running my own business,” Drew Scholl said. “And I think this is a great place to start.” Just some of the career opportunities available to those who earn an associate’s degree are equipment retail sales and service, crop production management, production and agriculture service companies, agribusiness opportunities such as farm insurance, commodity marketing and farm supply businesses. Those interested in the program can contact McCain either in Room 121 of the Career Technology Center or at 384-4155.

Math course also stirred controversy Continued from Page 1

who prefer online classes.” However, Muth questions how a chemistry lab at home would be run. “On the other hand,” Muth said, “I have a hard time believing an at-home kit will be able to replicate the functions of lab equipment.” Ultimately, Bean is optimistic about the course. “Chemistry 155 was developed to offer an opportunity for our students that to this point does not exist for them,” Bean said. MCCC students are also hopeful. “Online classes are an important advancement that MCCC needed to invest in to stay relevant, and I am happy they did so,” Grodi said. “MCCC is truly ‘enriching the lives’ of Southeast Michiganders,” Peracha said. Another class that was narrowly approved as a Gen Ed satisfier by the Curriculum Committee was Business Math 141. This class, which was proposed by Professor Pat Nedry, was intended for students majoring in business. However, Vice President of Instruction Grace Yackee announced to faculty at the beginning of Winter Semester that the class would not be allowed as a Gen Ed satisfier. She said it was too specific to Business students. Yackee did not respond to multiple requests for an interview by the Agora.

Nedry was not happy with the decision. “They’ve created a myth that Gen Ed needs to come out of transfer divisions,” Nedry said. He also said there needs to be more consideration as to what the students’ needs are. “We spoke with a number of companies about what they were looking for in relation to math,” Nedry said. “And most enterprises don’t use financial calculators.” He said the reasoning behind the creation of Math 141 was to expose students to the areas of math they will actually use. “What Professor Nedry has been saying is ‘we need a more practical math course’,” said History professor Edmund La Clair, chair of the Curriculum Committee. Nedry does not understand why business students have to take algebra. “Businesses want to see an increased experience with Excel, for instance,” Nedry said. The two course controversies, with Chemisty 155 and Math 141, have highlighted divisions that exist within the college. “We don’t seem to be moving toward a resolution,” Nedry said. At its Jan. 16 meeting, the Faculty Council postponed a proposal by Nedry to review the entire Gen Ed process at its February meeting. Instead, the faculty voted to listen to a presentation by Yackee on the topic at its February meeting and hold the vote in March.


Campus News • 3

January 22, 2018

Construction continues on L Building Carla Cohen Agora Staff

Completion of the new addition to the L Building has been pushed to February. Students may have noticed the construction on the north side of the L Building. An additional room is being added for students to have space outside of the classroom. It will be available for students to work on homework individually or in groups, or just to relax. Jack Burns, director of Campus Planning and Facilities, said the delay is due to poor weather and waiting on needed materials. “Another delay due to the extreme cold and not being able to install the roof on the addition,” Burns said. The project had been sched- A worker welds the metal exterior on the L Building at MCCC. uled to be completed by the start of the Winter Semester. Burns says he is tentatively shooting for mid-February but that late February would be more realistic. Not being able to install the roof has made it hard for the workers to continue construction. Once the roof has been installed, they can finish the interior, he said. “In the construction industry, you always expect that when you get to winter conditions like we are experiencing now, it will somehow delay your project,” Burns said. Workmen pour the concrete that will be the floor of the new addition.

Photos by Vanessa Ray

A man’s work is never done...

...not when they’re perched atop a wall...

Window Design winner announced Vanessa Ray Agora Editor

While many of us at MCCC hope to leave behind some kind of lasting impression, five students’ contribution to the school will be enjoyed for generations to come. For the past few months, students with either art or graphic design abilities were invited to enter the Student Window Design Competition. The students were asked to feature one of the areas of study in the Life Science Building.

Jack Burns, director of Campus Facilities, announced the winners on Friday, Dec. 8. The winners are: Susan Grant (Mathematics), Megan Engle (Chemistry), Dasie Justice (Biology), Daniel Witzke (Physics), and Cheyanne Abel (Geology). According to Burns, the windows will be installed in the corridor in the Life Sciences Building where the addition and the existing building join together. Winning Geology artwork by Cheyanne Abel

...nor even when they’re two stories up!

4 • Campus News

January 22, 2018


Info Systems keeps MCCC secure DONALD THOMAS Agora Staff Keeping technology safe is a crucial matter for consumers, and MCCC is no different. Brian Lay, director of Information Systems, strives to guarantee the integrity of computer security on campus. “It depends upon the operating system,” Lay said. “We’ve got firewalls. If it’s a lab system there are two different security systems that are involved.” The two main security systems that are used on campus for the average computer accessible by students are firewalls and Windows Defender. Another measure that goes a long way in keeping the integrity of the computers is that none of the users can install anything on them, Lay said. Keeping everything running and updated is an ongoing task. “That’s the thing, that as good as these tools are, there are always new and different vulnerabilities,” he said. “It’s a constant moving target. “Updates are applied automatically in the background for operating systems and applications. Usernames and profiles are associated with those.” Another big part of se-

curity comes down to the equipment’s physical setup. “Part of it is that you go to certain labs, and you see that things are physically locked down to their location,” Lay said. When it comes to keeping the campus safe, Lay tries to be proactive. “It’s that game of leapfrog that you try to stay one step ahead of,” he said.

that they are part of the cycle of securing their device, they need to be patient and let it update and do what it needs to do and not ignore those things,” Lay said. “Make sure that your systems are getting the proper updates,” he said. “If you get your phone and it needs to update and it will take 45 minutes, let it happen. Patches, hotfixes, and up-

“Brian Lay and his team are very astute. They very much understand how to safeguard this institution in terms of cybersecurity.” KOJO QUARTEY MCCC President

In terms of the other technology that users carry on campus and have at home, Lay advises diligence. “There’s new devices and new types of devices that are hitting the marketplace, and as a consumer you have to be more aware of them,” he said. “Everybody wants to sell you on new devices that make your life easier and more manageable, and its different for everyone.” He recommended keeping an eye on your devices and updating them frequently. “For people to understand

dates are continually going on and those go a long way for the security.” Beyond regular updates, consumers need to be aware of where their applications are coming from, and ensure the sources are trustworthy. “If you’re updating or installing anything, make sure you know where it comes from and that it is a legitimate source,” Lay said. When you are out and about, be wary of the WiFi that you are using. “When you go to a place and you use their WiFi, make

Artwork by Cheyanne Abel

sure you understand the risk of accessing an unsecure connection,” Lay said. There are also steps that consumers can take at home to help improve their internet security. “I think that there are a lot of things, as consumers who are connected to networks, that they need to be vigilant about,” Lay said. “Whether it is your smart TV or your wireless devices. “As a normal consumer, there are various things that people need to pay attention to. Understand the risk associated with every device that connects to the internet. If you can reduce the points of contact, keep it to a minimum.” A simple thing that would go a long in security is taking care of your passwords. “Make sure you manage your passwords effectively,” Lay said. “Keep the door locked unless you need to.” “Brian Lay and his team are very astute,” said Kojo Quartey, president of the college. “They very much understand how to safeguard this institution in terms of cybersecurity. It’s very good here on campus.” Quartey also noted that a new way for people to learn about cybersecurity will be offered - a cybersecurity center. “That will be over at the Whitman Center,” said Quartey.


Campus News • 5

January 22, 2018

Diversity fair celebrates differences Cassidy Maier Agora Staff

The community and MCCC organizations both new and old gathered in the main hallway of the A Building on Wednesday, Jan. 17 for the annual Diversity Fair. The fair followed a march led by MCCC President Kojo Quartey with the theme “We Shall Overcome.” MCCC organizations that were present included Student Government, Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), Phi Theta Kappa, and campus Disability Services. There were tables set up for veterans, gender issues, Judaism, Islam, and a Special Olympics club. Between some stations, a series of posters were set up, titled, “Inspiring Moments in African-American History.” Another table displayed African-American literature and art. A large notebook was set on a stand with the title “How do you value others?” written neatly at the top. Markers in various colors filled pockets in the stand for visitors to write their answers. On one side of the path that twisted through the fair, three types of desserts were set out, along with punch. The desserts allowed visitors to enjoy the tastes of faraway places with chocolate

Photos by Vanessa Ray

Members of the MCCC community brave the cold during the Jan. 16 march.

Students could visit a variety of tables

eclairs, Russian tea cakes, and cannoli’s. Students and faculty walked between stations, stopping periodically to talk to each other and to those manning the tables. “It’s really cool that we can actually show diversity in the county,” said Jenna Magrum, a student sitting at the GSA table. Among the visitors were community members like Cajie D. Cunha. “Demographics are changing. We’re going to live in not just a different world, but we’re going to live in an international world,

“This is my my first year and actually it was a fluke, I didn’t even know. I am trying to promote the Special Olympics college club,” Diefenthaler said. She said once the club has officially formed, it will be the first college club at a junior level in Michigan. “This is the fifteenth year of the Diversity Fair/MLK Day celebration,” said Molly McCutchen, director of Human Relations. The march was added to the event when Quartey became president four years ago.

with global interaction all over and the sooner you learn about international dealings and culture, the better for all of you,” Cunha said. Among the different stations, the special Olympics table had an interesting story. Sharon Diefenthaler explained she had decided to come sit at the college for a day or two with sheets set out where people could sign up for a Special Olympics Club. She didn’t know about the diversity fair, and just happened to bring the sheets, along with packets of information.

Black history is American, world history Miranda Gardner Agora Staff

Black history is celebrated in February, but every month is black history month because black history is American history. MCCC President Kojo Quartey emphasized the role of blacks in the country’s development. “It’s part of American history, and if it weren’t for the labor of those who were brought here as slaves and others who came here as immigrants, this nation would not be where it is today,” he said. English professor Lori Jo Couch agrees that Black History Month should be celebrated every month, but is disheartened by the past transgressions of our nation that brought us here. “I wish we had community and harmony in this country, so we wouldn’t feel the need to have misrepresented or underrepresented groups,” she said. During Black History Month, the goal on campus is to show black history is not only American history, but part of world history too, Quartey said. “Black history did not begin here in the U.S.,” he said. “In Africa, we were kings, queens, warriors, scholars, and we need to understand that and try to debunk some of those negative myths about black history.”

Kojo Quartey

“Learn as much as you can about other people and other cultures because it will make you more tolerant and more understanding.”

While 55 years have passed since Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, there is still bias and racism expressed in our country today, he said. Student Government treasurer Javed Peracha agreed. “MLK Jr. gave a vision that there would be a time where people wouldn’t be judged on the color of their skin,” he said. “Things are better than the times of segregation, but we still have room for improvement.” Quartey noted that some black nations in Africa are referred to in negative terms because they’re not faring as well as nations like the United States. “But let’s remember that in terms of independence, most African countries are only 50-60 years old,” he said. Black history is commemorating and remembering black leaders, literature and art,

“It’s good we have differences; that’s the beauty of it, looking at our differences as a beauty and not as a way to divide us.”

Javed Peracha

educators, and civil rights activists. Couch recommends reading works by Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, James Weldon Johnson, and Ralph Ellison, but she finds MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail to be most inspirational. “I think it is important, not just for students, but for all of us to reflect on what African-American history means to American history, and to decide to make changes that improve the social climate in the future,” Couch said. When Couch taught African-American History during President Obama’s election, she and the entire class were moved by our country’s progress from a racist history to electing an African-American President. “We had a big discussion about it in class and it brought us all to tears,” Couch said. “So certainly, we’ve made incredible progress, but not enough.”

Students that take African-American History or African-American Literature begin to understand a different culture, she said. “They gain a whole new respect and appreciation for it,” Couch said. “Education is the key to overcoming ignorance.” Quartey said W. E. B. Du Bois is an African-American educator who believed in service to mankind. “Dr. Du Bois was the first black person to get a Ph.D. from Harvard University,” he said. “That’s why I admire Du Bois. He was an educator, and without knowledge the people perish, because knowledge is what opens our minds.” We all live in a global society and at some point, in our lives, we’ll interact with someone who is different from us. “Learn about people you don’t understand,” Quartey said. “Learn as much as you can about other people and other cultures because it will make you more tolerant and more understanding.” Immerse yourself in cultures outside of your comfort zone through education, traveling abroad or traveling, he said. “We’re better when we’re in a group and when we think of ourselves as a whole,” Peracha said. “It’s good we have differences; that’s the beauty of it, looking at our differences as a beauty and not as a way to divide us.”

6 • Campus News

January 22, 2018


Out with the old, in with the new

James P. Quick

Agora Chief Copy Editor

L140 and L201, the lecture halls in the L Building, are due for a makeover. The halls are typically used for chemistry and biology classes, among others, and both are decidedly out of date. “They stink,” says former professor of Biology Bob Pettit. “The chairs! The springs are gone, you slide forward, the tablets are broken. It’s a crime.” He’s not the only one with issues regarding the seats. “The seating definitely needs to be updated and replaced,” says Chemistry professor Michael Fuertes. Fuertes has taught in L201. “The fold-up desks that the students have are very small. Having sat in those things, I can definitely say I felt very cramped!” “A renovation is needed all around. For cleanliness’s sake, if nothing else.” Tracy Rayl, professor of Biology, is candid in her feelings on the subject. “I primarily teach in L140 and the condition currently in there is one of fatigue,” she says. “The rooms have not had any significant attention paid to them, and this is my 19th year of teaching. When I came in 19 years ago, they were already in need of significant updating to bring them into the twenty-first century.” Rayl also criticizes the seats, noting that they are not conducive to a modern learning environment. The cramped seats are throwbacks to the 1960s, when they were installed. Now, after five decades with little maintenance, they are falling apart.

L201 is a cramped lecture hall in need of an update, which will come in the next several years thanks to the 2016 millage.

The scarcity of outlets in the halls is also vexing. Some laptops simply do not hold a charge for 70-odd minutes, either due to age, damage, or planned obsolescence on the manufacturer’s part. “In L140 especially,” Rayl says, “the lighting is poor.” “Also, I think it might be one of the very last classrooms on campus with a chalkboard in it!” She also notes that the setup of the room makes it very challenging to perform group work. The passing of the 2016 millage provided funds to renovate the lecture halls as part of an overall update to the L Building itself. “All the classrooms will get updates as far as flooring, paint,

L140 has one the last chalk blackboards left on the MCCC campus.

ceilings, lighting, all that,” says Jack Burns, Director of Campus Planning and Facilities. “The Technology Committee is working on standardizing all the technology and AV equipment. That will be implemented campus-wide when we do all the renovations.” The lab spaces, which were renovated relatively recently, will not be included in the new renovations, save for the technology standardization. “The problem up to this point,” says Burns, “is that we simply haven’t had money. But with the millage, we do.” The lecture halls, Burns explains, will get updated seating. That will decrease the number of

Photos by James P. Quick

seats in each room. “Make the lecture area up front “It should be done in such a way spongy,” Pettit says. “Currently, that students and faculty can de- it’s cement with a little rag rug. Try cide how to do it,” Pettit says. “Not standing on that for a while. I eventually just went out and bought a just one group or the other.” Faculty and support staff com- rubber yoga mat and stood on that! mittees, plus students, will be able Oh, it was so comfortable!” According to Burns, renovations to discuss and make recommendations on what the renovated rooms won’t begin for a couple years will look like, according to Burns. yet, once East and West Tech have “I think it’ll be a good group dis- been renovated and more tax dollars have come in. cussion,” he says. Regardless of what happens, Rayl has her own suggestions on Burn said he is certain the seating how to go about this, based on her experience with the renovations of and AV equipment in both halls will dramatically change. the lab spaces. Oh, and L140 will finally get that “We visited other schools that whiteboard. had recently done lab renovations,” she says. “I would recommend that we find colleges that have done some recent renovations to large lecture halls. “We can visit them and get some ideas about what those halls could and should look like.” Burns agrees with this notion, citing case studies. “At a recent conference I went to, Michigan State converted a lot of their lecture halls and they actually took out the chairs and put in tables,” he says. “That’s the solution I like best, but I think it would be a good thing to talk to students and faculty to see what they think.” Burns goes on to explain that the table idea appeals to him because it would allow more space for electronics. He also is planning to make the rooms more handicapped-accessible, bringing them in line with the standards set by the In both halls, the chairs are in poor shape and have inadequate desks. Americans with Disabilities Act.


Campus News • 7

January 22, 2018

Tax rewrite will lead to bigger checks Cassidy Maier Agora Staff

Students with jobs and college employees could start seeing bigger paychecks as soon as next month. The Republican Congress’s tax reform lowered tax rates, meaning bigger checks for most Americans. “The corporate tax rate is a big one, so they’re lowering the corporate tax rate,” Accouanting professor Parnella Baul said. The Internal Revenue Service will be releasing a new online calculator in February and individuals are encouraged to use it to ensure that their paychecks are calculated accurately. Aside from lowering tax rates, the guidelines will limit the amount and size of deductions a person can write off. “The deductions are being limited, so schedule A items are being limited,” Baul said, referring to itemized deductions made on the Schedule A form. She said some of the deductions will now have limits, such as state and local property taxes, which will now have a $10,000 limit. She pointed to the mortgage interest section on the Schedule A page of Form 1040.

Phote by Vanessa Ray

Some major changes will be in place this tax season with the introduction of new guidlines.

“This is another one that was an unlimited dollar amount you can deduct, now it’s limited,” she said. Other sections that were eliminated, she said, include Casualty and Theft Losses, Job Expenses and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions, and Other Miscellaneous Deductions.


“Images” accepting submissions “Images,” MCCC’s annual literary and art magazine, is now accepting poetry, short story, creative non-fiction and art submissions through Feb. 21. English professor Michele Toll said all students and employees are welcome to submit their work. Humanities and Social Sciences Division faculty edit the magazine. The winning art and writing categories will be posted around campus. Students and faculty can email submissions to

Glass artist will visit MCCC in March Artist Melanie Hunter is visiting MCCC in March to speak and display her work on campus. Her medium is glass casting, figurative, metal work, and installation. Hunter will talk March 13 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the A Building. Her art will be on display in the library from March 13 to April 13.

MCCC students attended a similar planning session Jan. 17

Planning session set for Jan. 24

MCCC is inviting community members and students to a planning session Wednesday, Jan. 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. The session will review the college’s mission, vision and values. A session just for students was held Jan. 17, and the importance of student input was discussed throughout the evening. Participation is limited to 50 people, so an RSVP is required. Students and community members must RSVP to Joe Verkennes by Friday, Jan. 19. RSVP’s can be sent via email at or by phone at 734384-4207. The session will be held in the A Building. Light refreshments will be provided.

The Medical and Dental Expenses section will stay the same for now. However, after 2018, the 7.5% rate will go up to 10%. The changes spread to the main page of the 1040 Form, too. In the Filing Status section, people will have two options to choose from and can

pick either single or married filing jointly. The other three options: married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widower, will all be gone. Baul, pointing to the section below this one with the title Exemptions, goes on to explain that claiming dependents is a thing of the past. “This section here was where you could claim yourself, you could claim your spouse, and you can claim your dependents. That’s gone. Instead, if you’re single, you get a $12,000 deduction,” Baul said. Those who are married will get a $24,000 deduction. “They’ve made so many changes and I don’t think there’s anything out there just yet that gives you a full step-by-step,” Baul said. “If you are a student, I believe they decided not to eliminate the student loan interest deduction,” Baul said. She added that Congressional leaders had talked about getting rid of the student loan interest deduction, but ultimately decided not to. This, however, may change in the future so students should keep an eye out.

Students can get scholarship help

House Bill 4735 still unamended

MCCC is offering a scholarship workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. The workshop is offered to any incoming and returning MCCC students. Both workshop sessions are in the Career Technology Center. Students will be walked through the process of applying for scholarships. Students need to bring their seven-digit student ID number and MCCC email address. If there are any questions, students can call 734-384-4177.

Michigan House Bill 4735, the bill that would amend the current reciprocal agreements that allow students in border colleges to go between states for in-state tuition rates, remains unamended. MCCC has opposed the bill because it could give an advantage to Ohio colleges along the border.

Board chair named foundation president MCCC Board of Trustees Chair Lynette Dowler has been named DTE Energy Foundation president, effective Jan. 5, 2018. Dowler will manage the foundation’s more than $21 million in grant support to nonprofits across the state. She has been with DTE Energy for 34 years, and was elected to the MCCC board in 2014 and named chair in 2016. Dowler was MCCC alumnus of the year in 2013.

Welding technology students get grant MCCC welding technology students will be receiving a grant of $50,000 from NEXUS Gas Transmission. The grant was given to MCCC at its November Trustees meeting. It will be used to purchase equipment such as an augmented arc, welding simulation system, transportable pipe beveller, and welding positioner. The program is designed to help MCCC students prepare for welding-relating careers, including welding inspection, sales, service, design, maintenance and engineering. “Through this grant, students will gain access to cutting-edge equipment and hardware that will allow them to continue to meet and exceed the expectations of the welding industry,” said Josh Meyers, executive director of the Foundation.

8 • Arts & Entertainment

January 22, 2018

The Top 10 Films of 2017

8.) mother! When you walk into a Darren Aronofsky film, the one thing you are never going to be walking out is bored. That is most certainly true of his latest effort, “mother!” Quite possibly the most polarizing and controversial film of 2017, this is a film firing on all cylinders. It’s about religion, mankind’s rape and pillage of the environment, misogyny, toxic fandom, the egotism of artists, and the futility of sacrifice. Unfolding from the point of view of Jennifer Lawrence’s title character, the film builds the tension slowly and precisely until it reaches one of the most insane, audacious, mind-boggling third acts ever produced for a studio film. All we can do is watch as mother is helpless to stop fans of her egocentric poet-writing husband (Javier Bardem) from entering her home and upending her peaceful existence. In “mother!”, hell is literally other people.

Sawyer Jackson Agora Staff

2017. What a unique and surprising year for film. As I write this, it’s New Year’s Eve, and this year alone I saw 51 movies at the multiplex. That’s more than any previous year and almost one film a week. More than any year in recent memory, 2017 was when so many talented filmmakers and groundbreaking stories entered the limelight. It seemed like every week an emerging talent or a picture that would capture the cultural zeitgeist had arrived. I believe this selection of 10 films are a reflection of that. 10.) The Disaster Artist It was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about the production of “The Room”, known in many film circles as the greatest bad movie ever made. Luckily, that someone was James Franco, who directs and gives one of the best performances of his career as Tommy Wiseau, the enigmatic and equally-bizarre figure behind one of cinema’s most fascinating blunders. Franco never makes light of Wiseau for his ambitions nor exonerates him for his unprofessional behavior, instead opting to straddle that fine line, which in turn reveals a deeply lonely and displaced man aching for friendship and acceptance from a world he is clueless to navigate. Though the reception to “The Room” wasn’t what Wiseau intended, it carved out its own unique space in pop culture and is now celebrated worldwide. Not many people can claim such a thing. “The Disaster Artist” is a hilariously poignant story about outsiders finding friendship and living out your wildest dreams, no matter how oblivious or unqualified you are. 9.) Mudbound Sadly, racism is still alive in America. This film, based on Hillary Jordan’s bestselling novel, takes place in the early 1940’s, but it shows the ways in which America has yet to evolve in terms of race relations. The focus is on two families, one white (the McAllens) and one black (the Jacksons), occupying the same farm in deep Mississippi. When the United States enters World War II, Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and Jamie McAllen (Garrett Hedlund) both head off to war. After returning home, they both struggle to reintegrate into society what with Jamie dealing with PTSD and Ronsel confronted with a bigoted community that refuses to respect him despite his service. Yet in spite of the brewing racial tensions, a friendship between Ronsel and Jamie forms. Their friendship is one built on respect and empathy for each other. Unfortunately, it’s a bond doomed to end in tragedy as Dee Rees’ film shows how discrimination benefits absolutely nobody. “Mudbound” is a powerful, moving drama that often proves difficult to watch, but is essential viewing. It is a tale of how little has changed since the Jim Crow era, but hope and freedom are real ideals worth fighting for.

Arts & Entertainment • 9

Agora/ 2.) Get Out “Get Out” became a pop culture phenomenon nearly a year ago and hasn’t slowed down since.

5.) Lady Bird Making a new coming-of-age story is hard. Greta Gerwig doesn’t try to reinvent the formula. Instead, she imbues refreshing honesty to its center. Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a high school senior who feels let down by a world that she has barely gotten a start in. Yet despite her self-absorbed attitude, she never comes across like an awful person. In fact, none of the characters are bad people. Even the girl who would be the bully in any other film is given extra shading. Gerwig never indulges Lady Bird, nor does she make the audience pick a side because everyone’s actions and motivations are completely understandable. “Lady Bird” may be set in 2002, but what it has to say will remain forever timeless. 4.) Baby Driver The word I would use to describe “Baby Driver” is “cool.” It’s a movie that is as confident and hip as it appears. The killer soundtrack, electric characters, rapid-fire dialogue, stylish direction, and the exhilarating car chases all work together to create this highly-entertaining, musically-inclined caper from Edgar Wright. A film where the action is synchronized to the beat of the music would have come off as gimmicky in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. However, Wright imbues the music with genuine character pathos. It functions as both an aid for Baby (Ansel Elgort) to be the best at his job as a getaway driver and suppress his tinnitus, and as a shield to protect himself from the ugliness of the world. Funny, smart, and wickedly awesome, “Baby Driver” is a total blast from start to finish.

7.) Star Wars: The Last Jedi “Never meet your heroes.” “The Last Jedi” finds Rey (Daisy Ridley) locating the legendary Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who has turned his back on the Force and the galaxy at large. Not out of hatred, but out of a fear of failure. The latest installment in the “Star Wars” saga from Rian Johnson is the most challenging entry yet. It confronts each of the characters, their resolve, and their pre-conceived notions as well as those of the audience. This is a character-driven narrative. More poignantly, it’s a lesson in letting go of the past, but only taking what you need from it in order to move forward. It’s a realization that heroes can come from all walks of life. It’s a plea to keep on waging the good fight in responsible and skillful manners. As Rose tells Finn during the story’s climax, “That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.” 6.) Logan This is the culmination of nearly 20 years of Hugh Jackman as one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. It also provides us something rarely seen in our cinematic universe-dominated landscape: resolution. This is a superhero story by way of the western. It’s centered on two aging men, Logan and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) have been largely forgotten by the world they once defined. This film is about the consequences of living a life of violence, no matter good one’s intentions might have been. It may already be too late for Logan, but not for young Laura (Dafne Keen). “Logan” is an appropriate and proper send-off to the Wolverine: fighter, friend, father, and X-Man.

3.) Dunkirk Christopher Nolan seems to be the only director who can make original movies with blockbuster budgets nowadays. Nolan tells the story using a triptych. On the land for one week, on the sea for one day, and in the air for one hour. Running at a brisk 106 minutes, “Dunkirk” does away with backstory and dialogue; becoming reliant on the visuals to tell the story. Nolan simply throws the characters into relentless desperation, and pushes down on them with each passing minute. Death can strike at any time from anywhere. The fact that we never see the Germans (only referred to as “the enemy”) makes the terror all the more palpable. “Dunkirk” is a riveting epic about heroism and how we define it.

1.) The Shape of Water In my time writing for the Agora, I’ve been asked one specific question repeatedly: “What is your favorite movie?” I’ve never been able to answer that. Even now I still can’t confidently cement a film as my favorite. I see so many wonderful movies every year that it would be like asking which child is my favorite. What I can say is that all my favorite movies or stories in general resonate with me on deeply personal levels. The ones that shaped me into who I am and what I believe. Because I do believe stories, whether real or fiction, have the power to not only transport, but transform. That sentiment was no truer this year than in Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece “The Shape of Water.” It’s his tenth picture and arguably his best. Every theme del Toro has touched upon in his previous work, and all the components of his and co-writer Vanessa Taylor’s script work together towards one goal: craft a fairy tale for troubled times. This fairy tale is set during a time in America, 1962 where society’s treat-

Why shouldn’t it? It’s a daring, satirical, impeccably-written horror film about current race relations in America. Writer and director Jordan Peele himself has openly expressed his anxiety of being the only black man at a gathering comprised only of white people. He does good on making the audience feel that same when Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man, goes up to his white girlfriend’s parents’ house for the weekend. From there, things get increasingly uncomfortable and terrifying. Instead of satirizing conservative, redneck, Confederate flag-waving bigots, Peele opts to tackle a different form of racism: supposedly well-meaning, upper-class liberals. The people who claim to not be racist as they know several people of color or would have voted for Obama for a third time

ment of those who didn’t look the norm (race and gender) or love the norm (sexuality) was volatile. At the center is Elisa (played with heart-aching sincerity by Sally Hawkins), a mute woman whose life of loneliness is interrupted when she uncovers an amphibian man at the government facility she works at as a janitor. Although neither can speak, a connection is formed between them. One that begins out of empathy and inevitably becomes romantic love, for neither Elisa nor the creature see each other for how they are incomplete, but for who they are, as they are. It’s a “Beauty and the Beast” story, but with an imperfect beauty and a beast who doesn’t transform into a handsome prince at the end. In del Toro’s film, love is not about changing someone. Love is understanding and accepting someone for who they are. Either take them or leave them. “The Shape of Water” is a beautiful, heartfelt, romantic ode to all the outsiders, to those who are marginalized, and to those who find difficulty in expressing the words of their aching hearts.

if they could, but still benefit from the same systems of power designed to subjugate minorities. This racism is far more insidious perfect for a horror movie. On top of the razor-sharp racial commentary, this is an insanely great film that becomes more enriching on repeat viewing as you notice things you didn’t catch initially. This is the kind of debut feature most first-time directors would kill for. “Get Out” is a horror picture painted with the strokes minority viewers are all-too familiar with and one where white viewers are forced to confront themselves about their own possible complicity in racial discrimination. It’s a film that will continue to be analyzed and revered for many years to come. A year hasn’t even passed since its release, yet “Get Out” is destined to become the newest classic horror film.

It’s story of healing where love triumphs over evil, for love is greatest thing in the universe. Ultimately, it’s all we have, and those who seek to divide and destroy us will fail because of it.

Our love for each other is malleable. It will heal us, bind us, envelop us until its tender embrace is all that surrounds us. Love, like water, is an ever-changing shape.

The full version of this story, including honorable mentions, can be read on

10 • Feature

January 22, 2018


Hepatitis A breaks out in Monroe Monroe St. Tim Horton’s sees two cases in month Shane Brooks Agora Staff

A Hepatitis A outbreak in Monroe County was confirmed in December, originating in a local Tim Hortons restaurant. People who consumed food or drink from the restaurant at 404 S. Monroe St. from Nov 21 - Dec 28 are at risk of potential exposure.

Photo by Shane Brooks

The location is open after having closed.

“Vaccination with the first dose of Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended,” said Kim Cozerman, health officer/director of the Monroe County Health Department. The outbreak reportedly goes beyond just Monroe County and is an ongoing issue for the Southeast Michigan area. “I would recommend vaccination for anyone who may eat out on a frequent basis,” Cozerman said. The restaurant owner has been working with the Health Department in taking steps to ensure that the situation is resolved, Cozerman said. “Multiple levels of cleaning and removal of any products or utensils that may be harboring virus have occurred,” she said. Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can cause anywhere from mild to severe sickness and may last up to several months. It can cause inflammation and potentially damage the functionality of the liver. Symptoms of the virus are known to appear somewhere between two - six weeks after potential exposure and appear to be similar to flu symptoms. Vaccination within 14 days after the exposure to the virus should be able to prevent the illness. The vaccination is a two-dose process, and should be spaced approximately six months apart. The Monroe County Health Department, located on 2353 S. Custer Rd, is currently offering vaccinations free of charge to individuals who may have consumed food or drink from the establishment during the time period. They also recommend those with insurance coverage contact their primary care provider for vaccination.

Photo by Shane Brooks

The Monroe County outbreak originated at the Tim Horton’s location at 404 S. Monroe St.

There have been 15 positively-confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in Monroe County, which is directly related to a regional outbreak going back as far as August 2016. Cozerman said that as of Jan. 5, there were 658 confirmed cases in the region, with 539 hospitalized, and there were 22 deaths associated with the virus. “We expect the Tim Hortons situation to be resolved very soon” she added. MCCC student Nathan Quinn said he would try to avoid going to the location in the foreseeable future.

“This was just unfortunate, considering that this was a location I was more likely to visit rather than others in town,” he said. Quinn also said the outbreak is “alarming” and he hopes that the people who may have consumed food Tim Hortons during the time period take proper treatment action. For convenience purposes, this is just one of three Tim Hortons locations in the city of Monroe. Others are located at 1488 N. Telegraph Rd and at 1255 N. Dixie Hwy. The Monroe Street location has reopened after closing last month.

New convenience fee for credit cards Two percent fee now added to credit card transactions at MCCC Don Thomas Agora Staff

Credit card transactions on MCCC’s campus will now cost 2 percent more. The new fee has been added to help offset the annual cost to the college to process these transactions, according to A.J. Fischer, the director of financial services. The college has been spending nearly $60,000 a year on credit card fees, he said. “The 2 percent convenience fee doesn’t cover the total fee from the credit card company, but it helps mitigate the cost,” Fischer said. “Different credit card companies have different fees, and the 2 percent credit card convenience fee does not even cover the

least expensive fee of processing a credit card transaction set by the credit card companies.” MCCC wants to continue to offer multiple payment methods, Fischer said. “In an effort to continue to accept credit card payments, the credit card fee is passed onto the credit card user,” he said. “It is important that we keep other ways to make payments without fees to the college or the students; that includes cash, checks, and money orders.” The fee has been termed the “Credit Card Convenience Fee,” and will be applied to all transactions that happen on campus involving credit cards. “It affects everyone who makes a payment to Monroe County Community College with his or her credit or debit card,” Fischer said. Unlike some places that require a minimum transaction to be able to make a purchase, MCCC currently doesn’t have one. “I can’t imagine us looking at setting a

“Different credit card companies have different fees, and the 2 percent credit card convenience fee does not even cover the least expensive fee of processing a credit card transaction set by the credit card companies.” A.J. Fischer Director of Financial Services minimum transaction amount right now,” Fischer said. The past five years have seen the processing of these fees fluctuate only slightly and stay between the $50,000 and $60,000 mark. The cost over the past five years totaled $294,668, Fischer said.

Covering these costs for processing credit card transactions has been no small feat, he added. “It’s truly been amazing that we have been able to cover that cost for as long as we could,” Fischer said.


January 22, 2018

Feature • 11

Demi Heiks leaves to further education Cassidy Maier Agora Staff

Demi Heiks has moved on to greener pastures. The full-time instructor of Criminal Justice has resigned. She had just finished the probationary period of three years that all full-time faculty must complete and been approved for tenure. Heiks was hired in the fall of 2014. During her time at MCCC, she worked with adjunct professor Jennifer Miller to expand the MCCC Criminal Justice Club while also teaching classes. Heiks left the college for the fall semester under the terms of advanced study leave, which is offered to full-time faculty. “Advanced study leave is unpaid leave which allows them to leave campus and do something in advanced study that’s relevant to their careers and their profession,” Paul Hedeen, the dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Division, said. He said Heiks worked out the terms of her leave with Grace Yackee, the vice president of Instruction. Initially, the advanced study leave for Heiks covered the fall semester, and she then would decide whether she was going to come back to the college or extend the leave. Ultimately, she decided not to return and officially resigned to pursue further education. Hedeen said Heiks is now enrolled at Bowling Green University for a master’s program. She had told him she was considering switching to a doctorate program. Hedeen wasn’t sure what she planned to study. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

Agora File Folder

Heiks was in her fourth year when she decided to resign to further her education.

Hedeen said she would bring a diverse background to any area she went into. “She was a TV journalist at one time,” Hedeen said. “Whatever she does next she brings a very interesting sort of comprehensive background to.”

He thinks the college will begin looking for someone to fill the position Heiks leaves behind. The faculty who knew Heiks will miss her. “Demi was a great colleague who fervently believed in the subject matter she was teaching and I’m actually very sad to see her

go,” Edmund La Clair, assistant professor of History, said. “I thought she was an asset to the college, but I think she has very excellent things in the future for her.” “She is a wonderful colleague. I’m going to miss her a lot, I know that,” Hedeen said.

Miller and Penelope Dunn during the 20102011 school year. Dunn was the full-time criminal justice instructor at the time and was later replaced by Demi Heiks. Heiks and Miller kept the club going until Heiks left the college last year. Miller has taught at the college for ten years. She practices law at an office in Carlton and has been a lawyer for eighteen years. She will be on campus more this semester than in past semesters because she will be teaching three classes in the criminal justice program.

She teaches criminal law, an introduction class to criminal justice, and an introduction class to corrections. She is keeping the club alive and has plans to expand it in the coming year.

Criminal Justice Club looking for new members

Advisor hopes to expand club Cassidy Maier Agora Staff

The MCCC Criminal Justice Club is looking for new members. The club is led by adjunct professor Jennifer Miller. It’s open for anyone interested in the criminal justice field and the areas surrounding it. The members meet once a month and host a different event, such as a speaker. Anyone is welcome to attend a meeting or event. “Basically, the club was created to give students better insight into career opportunities and explore their interests within criminal justice,” Miller said. “We try to give students an opportunity to make con-

nections with people in the community that are involved in criminal justice, like police officers, probation officers. “People that might give them help upon graduation with career opportunities.” She gave the example of a lieutenant from Monroe who recently spoke at one of the club’s events. He talked to members about how he ended up where his is today and invited them to come and talk to him. Miller explained that the students were able to make a connection with the lieutenant and may use him as a resource in the future. The Criminal Justice Club was created by

“Basically, the club was created to give students better insight into career opportunities and explore their interests within criminal justice.” Jennifer Miller Miller encourages those with even a tiny bit of interest to try coming to a meeting or an event, saying that bit of interest could be built up into something much greater.

12 • Opinion

January 22, 2018


Traveling to the Undiscovered Country Taking a look at funeral customs from around the world. McKinley Striggow Agora Staff

Death can be hard to accept, but it is inevitable in the end. Around the world, life after death is celebrated in many different ways. Depending on the location in the United States, the most common presentation of the dead is in a casket or, when cremated, in an urn. The burial of an intact body in the United States is still the preferred method; however, the cremation rate in the United States has been increasing steadily with the national average rate rising from 24.10 percent in 1998 to 36.86 percent in 2009. Projections from the National Funeral Directors Association forecast a rate of 58.85 percent in 2025. “Japan has one of the highest cremation rates in the world with the country reporting a cremation rate of 99.85% in 2008,” Cremationpedia statistics state. This is due to Japan’s small size. “Japan is a country without space to spare. Totaling less than 150,000 square miles, the islands of Japan amount to less than 4 percent of the total size of the United States. Meanwhile, Japan’s population today, which is just over 127 million, is nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population of 319 million,” said Anna Hiatt, a JSTOR Daily journalist. Cremation is merely a practical way of putting to rest loved ones in Japan; however, prior to the 1800s, burial was a major part of Japan’s funeral ceremony before the high cost drove it off the budget. “The average cost of a funeral in Japan is around ¥23,000, the highest in the world, three times higher than United States and 10 times higher than in Britain,” said Jeffrey Hays, writer of “Funerals in Japan.” In the United States, the cost of funerals is not as high, so burying loved ones remains the preferred option. Lowering a casket into the ground, neatly placing soil and a headstone on top, is a family’s way of showing visitors that “they were here” and “they lived, and now they are gone.” “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and A


A hilltop graveyard in Upernavik, Greenland covered in flowers and wreaths, all tributes to the dead.

American novelist Ernest Hemingway said. In the United States, funerals are a time to look at pictures, reminisce, and pay respects to the deceased in a viewing ceremony. Before the viewing a lot of preparation has to be made in order for the body to look “lifelike.” There are cosmetics, waxes, and paints to fill and cover features, plaster to replace entire limbs and aids to prop and stabilize. A VariPose Head Rest, the Edwards Arm and Hand Positioner, the Repose Block, and the Throop Foot Positioner are just some of the equipment used. Embalming is a lengthy process that requires a precise hand. “This unique approach to interment is unlike death rites anywhere else in the world, and no other country in the world embalms their dead at a rate even approaching that of the U.S.,” Assistant Professor of Communications at Elon University Brian Walsh said. urn


how he died that distinguish Japan’s second Shō Dynas“Funeral tradition involves one man from another,” ty, circa the 1800s. the intersection of culture, law

and religion, a recipe that makes for very different outcomes across the globe.” After the body is laid out on the embalming table, the blood is drained out through the veins and replaced by embalming fluid pumped in through the arteries. There are various choices of embalming fluid. Flextone fluid, the most popular among embalmers, allows the skin to retain a velvety softness and renders the body tissue more pliable. After that, about three to six gallons of a dyed and perfumed solution of formaldehyde, glycerin, borax, phenol, alcohol, and water is soon circulated through the body. A grim aspect to this procedure is that the mouth has to be sewn together to produce a more pleasant “at peace” expression. The eyes, meanwhile, are closed with flesh-tinted eye caps and eye cement to keep them from post-mortem opening. After this, there are still a couple last-minute steps before the funeral; however, the main point of embalming is to preserve the body while making the mourners more comfortable with death. Death, in the end, is accepted by the dying, but the living mourns on. “How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?” Carson McCullers said. McCullers is the author of “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.”

“Sky Burials” and Famadihana. Tibetan Buddhists practice ritual dissection, or “Sky Burials” which is the tradition of chopping up the dead into small pieces and giving the remains to animals, particularly birds. “While this may seem undignified and even a bit disgusting, the ritual makes complete sense from a Buddhist perspective,” said George Dvorsky, a journalist for i09. “Buddhists have no desire to preserve or commemorate a dead body, something that is seen as an empty vessel. Moreover, in tune with their respect for all life, Buddhists see it as only fitting that one’s final act, even if committed in proxy, is to have their remains used to sustain the life of another living creature.” According to public data from Xinhua in 2013, a total of 2,000 sky burial sites were distributed over the Tibetan plateau, receiving 50,000 corpses per year; this could feed approximately 20,000 vultures. Famadihana, or “turning of the bones,” is a ritual in Madagascar for the Malagasy people. “In an effort to hasten decomposition, what’s seen as a crucial step in the ongoing process of getting the spirits of the dead into the afterlife, the Malagasy dig up the remains of their relatives and rewrap them in fresh cloth. Afterward, the Malagasy then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music,” Dvorsky said.

Some more bizarre death practices include

See Death, Page 13


Opinion • 13

January 22, 2018

Nobody wants to see a dead body, Logan Carla Cohen Agora Staff

Logan Paul, famous for his obnoxious and brash YouTube videos, stirred up controvesy after visiting Japan’s suicide forest. “I’ve made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgement and I don’t expect to be forgiven… I’m simply here to apologize,” Paul said. “His apology was forced,” said MCCC student Jamie Henson. Paul, 22, and his crew, the "Logang," went to the Aokigahara Forest, known as a suicide forest, for the haunted feeling it leaves you with, Paul said. While filming for his YouTube channel, they came across a dead

body. “We found a body in the Japanese suicide forest… His hands are purple, he died this morning,” Paul said in the video. “Of course he went in there looking for a dead body,” said Grace Sambiagio. After finding a man hanging only feet away from where they were filming, Logan and his friends smiled, laughed, and even made jokes. “Even if laughing was a natural reaction, you still shouldn’t post that,” Henson said. The video was posted on Dec. 31 and has since been taken down. “The channel violated our community guidelines,” YouTube said in a press release. “We acted ac-

cordingly, and we are looking at further consequences.” “Taking time to reflect,” Paul said to his fans Jan. 3 via Twitter. “There was no remorse, he still continued to film the body,” MCCC student Autumn Reffitt said. Since its Twitter post on Jan. 9, YouTube has taken down Paul’s channels from Google Preferred and YouTube Red. “He kind of handled it immaturely,” Sambiagio said. The video and Paul himself have undergone much scrutiny in the wake of the incident. This may be the wakeup call the "Logang" needs.

YouTube star Logan Paul, seen here in a still from the video, which has since been removed from YouTube.

A brief history of Japan's Suicide Forest

fect varies in strength by location and the rocks’ iron content. Other stories tell that Aokigahara is haunted by yūrei, spirits that were kept from a peaceful rest. In 864 CE, Mount Fuji erupted, flooding the land with lava and blotting out the sky. Unholy devastation was It may be these same stories that made the forest the unleashed from one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains. suicide hotspot that it is. Suicides seem to have picked up after the 1961 publication of “Nami no Tō” (“Tower In the ensuing 1,154 years, a dense forest grew on the of Waves”), a novel by Seichō Matsumoto. porous lava rock; so dense, in fact, that the Japanese dubbed it Jukai, or “The Sea of Trees.” By 1970, an annual search for bodies had begun, staffed by police, journalists, and volunteers. More commonly, however, it’s called Aokigahara, or the suicide forest. It is the most popular place to commit suicide in Japan, with most doing so via hanging or overdosing on drugs. In the 1800s, the forest was allegedly used to practice ubasute. This custom, if it was performed at all, was Suicide numbers mount in March, which marks the end rare. of the Japanese fiscal year. Recently, officials have decided to stop publicizing the number of people found dead in the Ubasute is considered a form of geronticide – the forest. A sign out front urges suicidal visitors to reconsider abandonment, death, or suicide of the elderly – and litand seek help. erally means “abandoning an old woman.” The density of the trees and presence of Asiatic black The forest density of Aokigahara is so great that it is also called "The Sea If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline bears would make Aokigahara the perfect place to do of Trees." at 1-800-273-8255. Trained counselors are available this. to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Crisis true. Held at the proper height, compasses should work fine. Ubasute has inspired many stories, including an epiText Line can be reached by texting 741741 anywhere in the Placed on the ground, however, the lava rock’s natural magsode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. netism will cause magnetic compasses’ needles to move. This ef- United States. It is also available 24/7. Stories of compasses going haywire in the forest are unJames P. Quick Chief Copy Editor

Death is more than just a coffin or an urn Continued from Page 12

The ritual, which has been around for almost four centuries, may now be spreading the plague in Madagascar. “To limit the possibility of the disease spreading through famadihana, which is believed to have existed on the island since at least the 17th century,” Newsweek journalist Conor Gaffey said, “rules in Madagascar dictate that plague victims must be buried in anonymous mausoleums, not in tombs that can This painting from the 1700s shows the now-banned Indian practice be reopened.” of Sati.

Another form of a death practice is, or rather was, Sati. Banned in India since 1829, Sati was a funerary practice in which recently widowed women immolated themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre. “The custom was seen as a voluntary act, but there were many instances in which women were forced to commit Sati, sometimes even dragged against their will to the fire,” Dvorsky said. “No one is certain how the ritu-

al got started, but one suggestion is that it was introduced to prevent wives from killing their wealthy husbands, typically with poison, and marry their real lovers.” Other ancient societies that practiced something similar to Sati included the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Goths, and the Scythians. In the end, every culture has its own unique rituals and practices when it comes to preserving the memories and the bodies of the dead.

14 • Opinion

January 22, 2018


Music important part of self care

Certain songs can change a mood like the flip of a switch

Kane Brown feat. Lauren Alaina – What Ifs

When I first heard this song I was riding in the car with my boyfriend. He had been serenading me the whole car ride but when this song came on he turned up the radio and sang a little prouder while he rested his hand on my leg. “What if I was made for you and you were made for me, What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be, What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game” These lyrics, by themselves, could melt anyone’s heart but in hearing these words come out of a loved one’s mouth a heart could soar. – McKinley Striggow

Vanessa Ray Editor

At the beginning of every semester, I tell myself I’m going to stay ahead in my classes, go to bed early, and do yoga. By the second week, I’m scrambling to keep up with the insanity I signed myself up for, staying up until 2 a.m., and living on coffee and vending machine hot cheetos. When I overextend myself, one of the first areas of my life I neglect is self care. And before the eyerolls begin, no, self care is not some buzz word made up by millennials. It’s actually been around for centuries. In fact, the ancient Greeks took their self care very seriously and even called it philautia, or love of one’s self. In an effort to “be more like the Greek’s,” I decided I was going to focus on taking better care of myself this semester. “What is the first thing I do when I’m feeling down?” I wonder to myself as I turn on the radio. I’m trying to figure out how to start this story, and I’m stressed. I turn the volume up. Soon, I’m lost in the world of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Echo. Then it hits me. Music and self care go hand in hand. It is a pathway through which many find comfort. We use it to evict stress, anxiety, grief and whatever else life throws at us. There’s a reason slaves would often sing while being forced to work . . . and no, it’s not because they were “happy.” Think about how we feel after singing an emotional song. The visceral and almost primitive release that comes from belting out a tune at the top of our lungs is unmatched. And then there is the attachment we feel to the artist who created the music. There’s so much power in listening to another’s emotional awakening – it helps us feel connected and alive. Music is magic. In an effort to share the transformative power of music, I decided to create a playlist. In order to appeal to a wider audience, I’ve tried to keep this playlist a bit more “modern.” If I were to make an actual personal playlist, I would be hurt if people did not like it (further cementing how personal music is to us). Here are a few of my recommendations (an extended playlist can be found at

Hailee Steinfeld and Alesso feat Florida Georgia Line and WATT – Let Me Go

“Good on paper, picture perfect Chased the high too far, too fast Picket white fence, but we paint it black” This song just never fails to put me in a good mood. It’s so upbeat and has a catchy tune. The lyrics are also a nice reminder that not everything works out like you think it should. – Taylor Dively

The Beatles – In My Life

Illustration by Cheyenne Abel

A favorite song can almost always instantly make someone feel better.

Post Malone – Congratulations

ens your day while delivering an important message.

This song just makes me happy. And with over half a billion views on YouTube, it apparently makes a lot of other people happy too. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.

Now, a few recommendations from members of the Agora staff:

“I’m reppin’ for the girls who taking over the world, Help me raise a glass for the college grads” It may be the oldest song on my list, but Beyonce’s ode to girl power is a collegiate classic. Also, it’s good to remind ourselves what all of this time spent in the library and making appointments with writing fellows is for.

“Over the hill of flannel-covered trees, I wag my tail until the rooftops disappear, Under the sound of stars that fish for dreams that never come, But like the rain they start to heal” Most of the album “Space Cadet” is great, but this song in particular grabbed me with its lyrics. I was designing a character when I first heard it, and with this song, that character became a person, not just a sketch. So I always think of that character’s infectious happiness when I listen to this song, and I can’t help but grin. – James P. Quick

Nigel Good feat. Go Periscope – Beyonce – Who Run the World (Girls) Don’t Want to Go

Kendrick Lamar – HUMBLE.

Aside from the arresting imagery of the video and the intense beat, HUMBLE., like most Lamar songs, simultaneously bright-

This is a song I like to listen to when I want to be put in a better mood. I grew up listening to this song because it was a song that was played in a family picture slideshow video that we watched often. It reminds me of my childhood and of my family, and it helps put my mind at ease. Probably not the most famously known Beatles song, but it is definitely my all-time favorite for my personal reasons. – Shane Brooks

The Eagles – Take it Easy

“Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy” I like this song because it makes me feel laid back and relaxed. When you get that feeling that the world isn’t treating you right, listen to “Take it Easy,” sit back and you’ll feel better in no time. – Dan Shaw

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole– Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star, wake up where the clouds are far behind me, Where trouble melts like lemon drops, high above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me” I’ve grown up with this song and it has always instantly put me in a better mood. I love it because it’s so simple and sweet. It’s impossible to not sing along. – Cassidy Maier


January 22, 2018

Sports • 15

College football playoff faces scrutiny Shane Brooks Agora Staff

The 2017-18 college football season came to an exciting conclusion with the overtime thriller between two SEC foes, Alabama and Georgia. True freshman QB Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench in the second half to rejuvenate the Crimson Tide offense and win head coach Nick Saban his fifth national championship in eleven seasons with Alabama. The matchup contradicted the conference’s bowl game record, which had the SEC finishing at 5-6 overall. Despite falling short of the playoffs for the first time, the Big Ten Conference made a dominating statement in near perfect fashion with a 7-1 bowl record. Michigan was the only team from their conference unable to win its bowl game, falling to an 8-5 record in Jim Harbaugh’s third season with the program. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were able to put together wins, convincingly downing Washington St, and USC in primetime bowl matchups. A good amount of fans believe that Ohio State was worthy of the four seed rather than Alabama, because Ohio State won its conference; Alabama did not. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide has cracked the final four in every season that the format has been in effect. This lopsided conference performance will add more fuel to the fire of an ongoing debate over which conference displays the best quality of football. The Big Ten’s lack of playoff presence is a point to mention, but it’s also important to understand how the CFP Committee operates in deciding the “four best teams.” The CFP system looks to a committee of people with many years of superb football experience and knowledge to select four teams they deem worthy to compete for a national title. There are no official tie-ins, and no automatic entries even if you win your conference. That’s the controversial issue regarding a four-team playoff system; there will always be a team or two who feel cheated out of their shot. Shouldn’t Power 5 conference champions automatically qualify to compete for a national title? What about the teams outside of Power 5 conferences who go undefeated? A good example of the non-Power 5 debate was UCF (130) who won its own conference, led the nation in scoring (48.2 PPG), and went on to beat the SEC’s runner-up in a major bowl game. The Knights of Central Florida, feeling cheated, declared themselves the 2017-18 national champions despite Alabama winning the official championship.

The College Football Playoff Committee makes the final decision on which four teams will compete for a national title.

“It looked like a conscious effort to me to make sure that they didn’t have a problem if they put us too high and a couple teams ahead of us lost,” former UCF and current Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost told “And oh, no, now we have to put them in a playoff? But we just beat Auburn, which beat two playoff teams and lost to another one by six points, and we beat them by seven,” Frost said after beating Auburn in the Peach Bowl. A season ago, former Western Michigan/current Minnesota head football coach P.J. Fleck led the WMU Broncos to an undefeated regular season, winning the MAC conference championship. They weren’t granted an invite to the CFP, as expected, but instead a bid to the Cotton Bowl. They lost the bowl game by just a possession to a top ten-ranked Wisconsin team and finished 13-1 on the 2016-17 season. Should they have been invited to the CFP? Three conference champions made up the four teams selected for the most recent playoff — the SEC’s Georgia, the Big 12’s Oklahoma, and the ACC’s Clemson. Then, there was a debate over whether they should put in the Big Ten Champion Ohio State (lost to an unranked Iowa by 31 and by multiple possessions to Oklahoma), or put in the SEC’s

Alabama, which didn’t win its own conference division, but had a near perfect record at 11-1 (only lost to rival Auburn on the road by two possessions). The committee chose Alabama over Ohio State, the 31-point loss to an unranked team being the “deciding factor” in their decision. Opinions were divided regarding this decision, but they ultimately chose the team which later proved to be good enough to win it all. Ohio State was on the opposite end of that spectrum in 2016, when it fell short of a Big Ten Championship, but was still able to make the cut with just one loss to Penn State (who won the Big Ten Championship). Does this system devalue the importance of a conference championship? The Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC) will never be able to represent all of their champions simultaneously in just a four-team playoff. Until a format expansion is negotiated, this system is primed to stir up controversy and debates. The College Football Playoff Committee is unanimously content with the current format. No changes to the system are expected, nor in discussion to be considered anytime soon.

Red Wings within striking distance of playoff slot Taylor Dively Agora Staff

The Little Caesars arena lit up for the Red Wings.

Only six points separate the Detroit Red Wings from a playoff spot at the halfway point of their 2017-18 season. The Eastern Conference has been a jumbled mess, with teams constantly jumping over each other in the standings. The Red Wings have had that same up and down flow. They now hold a .500 record and 41 points. Dylan Larkin has already surpassed his point total from last season, and Jimmy Howard has been steady in net. Point production has been spread throughout the whole lineup, making every line on the ice a threat.

The one downfall to a team rolling all of its forward lines throughout a game typically can be seen in the goal differential stat. All but two players on the roster have a negative plus-minus rating, — Jonathan Ericsson and Luke Witkowski. The team, as a whole, has a goal differential of -15. Without Howard playing as well as he has all season, that number would be one of the lowest in the league. At this point in the season, the playoff race normally starts to take shape. With the close standings in the East, it might be a fight to the finish. The only exception to this is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who sit at the top of the East with 65 points. Tampa has been on fire all season and does not look to be slowing up as it enters the second half of its season. The Wings have a balance of games against both the East and West Conferences for the remainder of the season.

16 • Arts & Entertainment

January 22, 2018


Blinded by the Light

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon eclipse their predecessors join the hero on their adventure. Her brother, Gladion, similarly transitions from an angry In its last main titles for the Nintendo 3DS, Pokémon has young man of few words to a calm, collected individual, while still retaining his convictions. never been better than in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. The main rival, the happy-go-lucky Hau, is desperate to The second pair of games in the seventh generation, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are set in the Alola region, a tropical archipelago prove himself. Certainly he does by the end of the game. He based on Hawaii. The designers of these games do their research, challenges the player once they become the champion of the Pokémon League, and can give a person a run for their money! and Hawaii’s traditions and culture are portrayed well. By the end, he’s still a dork, but he’s fairly competent and An overarching theme in Generation Seven is conservation. Alola’s Pokémon are exotic and captivating, from the cute-but- a worthy rival. deadly Bewear to the explosive Turtonator. Additionally, they One of the biggest changes to the series’ format is Alola’s are endemic – meaning they exist nowhere else in the world. challenge. The thing is, Pokémon from other regions – namely the origIn the previous six generations, the lead-up to the Pokémon inal Kanto region – have come in, becoming invasive species. League was a series of eight gyms, led by leaders who speOver the years, they’ve become naturalized into the ecosystem cialized in one of the 18 elemental types. at the expense of others species, reflecting real-life issues. Alola has, instead, the Island Challenge, which features However, this issue is exemplified by a new category of trials and grand trials. rare Pokémon – the Ultra Beasts, or UBs. These are strange, Trial captains still specialize in a specific type much like gym alien organisms from other dimensions, invading Alola leaders, but each island in the region is capped by a grand trial. through the meddling of the Aether Foundation. In these, the player is pitted against an island kahuna – another The original Sun and Moon games introduced seven of tribute to Hawaiian culture. these extraterrestrials, such as the bodybuilding Buzzwole A Fairy-type trial was introduced this time around, led by Capand the truly gargantuan Celesteela. tain Mina. In Sun and Moon, she was a minor character who Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon bring along four more: only appeared in the post-game. As a tribute to the past, however, a mock gym has set up shop in Malie City. It’s portrayed as a curiosity and, frankly, a total tourist trap. The commemorative badge is purely for show, but it’s a nice touch. Instead of badges like that, trial winners get Z-Crystals, which are keyed to specific types. (Others are for specific Pokémon and moves, but these are far rarer.) These allow Pokémon to use special Z-Moves in battle; hyper-powerful attacks that devastate the opponent. New Z-Crystals for specific Pokémon were introduced for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. A good example of this is Mimikium Z. This Z-Crystal is specific With its new Z-Move Let’s Snuggle Forever, Mimikyu becomes even more of a force to to Mimikyu, a popular Pokémon be reckoned with. that dresses up to appear like series Stakataka, Blacephalon, Poipole, and its evolution Naganadel. mascot Pikachu. With it, Mimikyu can upgrade the move Play Poipole is the only UB that can evolve. Through this trait, Rough into the devastating Z-Move Let’s Snuggle Forever. The storyline is also more intricate than the prequels. essential to the series since the beginning, reinforces the fact Sun and Moon were criticized for excessive hand-holding that these creatures are Pokémon, just from another dimension. in the early game and not having enough in the post-game. Generation Seven’s motif could also be that of change. Lillie, a recurring friend of the protagonist, begins as a shy, Not enough was done with the potential of the Ultra Wormdemure girl who is not fond of Pokémon battles. Over the holes, either. Additionally, some noted, that a subplot involving the course of the game, Lillie transitions from a retiring, dainty girl to a relatively-vivacious young woman who’s happy to Legendary Pokémon Zygarde – originally a member of a trio James P. Quick

Pokémon League Champion

with Pokémon X and Y’s Xerneas and Yveltal – seemed to be tacked on in lieu of an actual third game for Generation Six. The much-anticipated yet ultimately-unmade “Pokémon Z”. The Z-Crystals’ name seems to also hint at this supposition. In Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the storyline seems far more rich with material and uses what it has more effectively. Traveling through the Ultra Wormhole isn’t just a trip to a cave-like dimension to fight the big bad, but instead a minigame controlled by the 3DS’s internal gyroscope, with additional dimensions available to the player. Another new minigame involves surfing between the Alolan islands on the back of the Pokémon Mantine. Performing well at this will net the player Beach Points (similar to Battle Points from previous games) that allow them to purchase rare items and teach their Pokémon new moves. Additionally, focus has shifted from the legendary Solgaleo and Lunala to the extradimensional light-eater Necrozma. Armed with three new forms, the highest base stat total in the game, and the devastating Photon Geyser attack, players should be prepared for the battle of their lives. Overall, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon offer an improvement on their predecessors in almost every aspect.


Monroe County Community College student newspaper


Monroe County Community College student newspaper