Tuesday 09/15/20

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Michigan State’s Independent Voice Left to right, roommates including education senior Emma Barnes, studio art senior Nora Lincoln, and graphic design senior Zoya Shevchenko study on their balcony on Sept. 4. Photo by Annie Barker

LIVING A REMOTE LIFE The adjustment to another online semester





Senior ambassador pilot program helps connect isolated students, senior citizens

Q & A with Vice President of Auxiliary Enterprises Vennie Gore

Students, professors share their thoughts on third-party learning platforms




T U ES DAY, S E PT E MB E R 15, 2020






Vol. 111 | No. 3


COPY CHIEF Mark Ostermeyer


CULTURE EDITOR Devin Anderson-Torrez






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Mitch and Cindy Maher from DeWitt, pose for a portrait after the 9/11 memorial on Sept. 11. “9/11 was one of the most significant events of our time. It’s important to remember.” Photo by Alyte Katilius


Open your MSUFCU account, make 10 purchases using your Sparty Debit Card, and receive $100. It’s that easy!

msufcu.org/students SEG. MSUFCU Visa Debit Card must be activated by 10/31/2020 and 10 debit card purchases must post within 30 days of card activation to qualify. The $100 will be deposited into member’s checking account within 4 to 6 weeks of the 10th purchase. Not valid for existing members. May


T U ES DAY, S E PT E M B ER 1 5, 2020






An all-Division I NCAA Tournament for 2021 is a terrible idea

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By Sam Sklar ssklar@statenews.com Last year, men’s college basketball fans had their hearts broken when the NCAA March Madness Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best sports competitions of the year was done before it even started. The near-month long celebration of college basketball would have to be put off until 2021. As we get closer to the 20202021 college basketball season, Division I conferences are scrambling to come up with a solution to play the season while keeping players and fans safe. Will there be a bubble like the NBA? Will there be no nonconference games to start the year? Will there be another disaster like the college football season where the Big Ten and Pac 12 will sit out while the other conferences continue the show? As it looks now, Big Ten college basketball WILL be played. However, many thought that same thing


about college football in the beginning of August. That was not the big news regarding college basketball on Sept. 9 though. The big news was when the ACC coaches voted to propose that all 357 Division I teams make the NCAA Tournament for 2021, as opposed to the select 68 teams the tournament usually features. Yes, this tournament would be boatloads of fun. Filling out and competing in bracket challenges would be even more intense. However, this is a terrible idea. If the NCAA were to implement this 357-team tournament, what would happen with the regular season? Would it strictly be played just for seeding in the tournament and not the challenge of earning a select spot? Growing up from Minnesota, I was a huge Golden Gophers fan before coming to Michigan State. To let all of you lifelong Spartan fans in on a little secret, it really is not that easy to make the NCAA Tournament. A successful Gophers basketball season in my lifetime has looked a lot different than a successful Spartans basketball season. In Minnesota, we are simply satisfied with an NCAA Tournament appearance. For MSU, it is more of a Final Four or bust. With that being said, significant amounts of


suspense, drama, and urgency would be taken out of regular season games if every team makes the tournament. “Bubble teams” would be nonexistent. Minnesota dropping a loss to Nebraska on a Tuesday night would be far less impactful; they make the tournament anyway, right? So much reward gets taken away. There is no more fear of teams being relegated to the National Invitation Tournament, or NIT. The NIT would not be particularly happy with a 357-team NCAA tournament. The NCAA cannot, and should not, hand everyone a participation trophy. There is only one scenario where this gigantic tournament is a good idea: if there is no regular season. But, that would present more problems. How would seeding be done? Would it be by records from last season, which we know hardly ever reflect the current season status? That does not seem right at all. It would be shocking if Dayton is as good this year as last year after losing their star player, Obi Toppin. As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The NCAA Tournament is not broken. It is perfect. Let’s not get carried away. 2020 has already been one of the wildest years ever, so let’s not add another domino to the line. The NCAA must stick to the typical 68-team field.

TUES DAY, S EPTEM B ER 1 5, 2020


Where are former Spartans taking the field in the NFL? By Brendan Gumbel bgumbel@statenews.com You may not be able to watch the 2020 Michigan State football team take the field this fall, but former Spartans began taking the NFL field earlier this month. The NFL took the field Sept. 13, filling the sports void many fans have been craving since the sports world went up in flames. In total, there are 11 former Spartans starting the season on active NFL rosters, with several more on practice squads/injured reserve. Let’s take a look at where they are at.


Back in mid-April, Allen became the first known active NFL player to test positive for the novel coronavirus. Five months later, Allen is looking to solidify himself on the Rams’ offensive line. After a successful four-year run at Michigan State from 2014-17, the Rams scooped up Allen in the fourth round of the 2018 Draft. Across two years in the league, Allen has played in 22 games, earning nine starts. His younger brother, Matt Allen is currently a senior offensive lineman for the Spartans.


Entering his second year with the Jets,

Then- offensive lineman Brian Allen (65) is pictured with then-Ohio State defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle after the Ohio State game on Nov. 11, 2017. State News file photo

Bell will look to regain his star form from his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wasn’t all that bad last year, though, rushing for 789 yards and picking up another 461 yards receiving for a total of 1,250 yards. Before he sat out the entire 2018 season due to contract disputes, Bell collected 1,884 and 1,946 total yards in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Which version of Bell will show up this season?


After a disappointing first three seasons for the Oakland Raiders, Calhoun is trying to find his footing as he enters year two with New England. Calhoun collected 27 sacks from 201215 wearing the green and white, leading to him being selected in the third round by Oakland in 2016. This is going to be a prove-it year for Calhoun; With just 0.5 sacks during his four-year career in the NFL, his time to solidify himself is running out.


Conklin cashed in this offseason, inking a new three-year, $42 million deal with the Browns. Prior to that, he spent the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans after they made him the eighth overall pick in 2016. Now regarded as one of the best tackles in the game,

is a journeyman, starting his career in New England, followed by stops in Arizona, Cleveland, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and Indianapolis. Some thought he might get a shot to start this season for the Patriots once Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay. However, those rumors were put to bed once the Pats signed former league MVP Cam Newton in July.

JUSTIN LAYNE — CORNERBACK — PITTSBURGH STEELERS he will be tasked with protecting Baker Mayfield in a crucial season for Cleveland.


Cousins lost his former No. 11 wideout, Stefon Diggs, to the Bills this offseason. Now, with Adam Thielen and rookie Justin Jefferson as his go-to guys, Cousins will look to build on last season, where he finally picked up his first career playoff win. The NFC North seems to be up for grabs this year, and Cousins will either be the catalyst that sends the Vikings on a run or the reason his team goes 8-8.


the Cincinnati Bengals, Dennard will suit up for the Falcons this season. The former first round pick has just three interceptions since joining the league and will start the season as a backup in Atlanta.

JOSIAH SCOTT — CORNERBACK — WILLIAM GHOLSTON — DEFENSIVE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS END — TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS Scott was selected in the fourth round Gholston has been a staple on the Tampa Bay defensive line since 2013, collecting 272 tackles and 12 sacks. He’s also been very durable, playing in all 16 games for the Bucs the past two seasons and no less than 12 since he entered the league seven years ago.


After spending the last six seasons with

The Steelers drafted Layne in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and he saw action in 10 games during his rookie season. Looking to make a leap in year two, Layne starts the season as a backup on the Steelers Unofficial Depth Chart.

list, Hoyer enters year 12 in the NFL and year six with the Patriots. Hoyer

by the Jaguars in last April’s virtual NFL Draft. After a three-year career at MSU, Scott will hope to get his feet wet in the NFL this season on a bad Jaguars team.


Willis had a solid rookie season for the Colts in 2019, starting nine games and collecting 71 tackles. His production in year one leads him to be the starting strong safety entering this season.

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T U ES DAY, S E PT E MBE R 1 5, 2020





Top, Rachel Armock, a nursing student at Michigan State, wakes up early on Sept. 8 to eat before she starts her classes. Photo by Alyte Katilius Left, an MSU student’s desk depicting a sign that reads “Pause and Breathe” to remind the student to pause and take a breath when taking online classes during a national pandemic. Photo taken on Sept. 8. Photo by Alyte Katilius Middle, Logan McCutcheon in bed during a Zoom class on Sept. 9. Photo by Lauren Snyder Right, keys and a mask hang on a whiteboard in Stonehouse Village Apartments. Shot on Sept. 8. Photo by Lauren DeMay 6




COVID-19 By Photo Desk feedback@statenews.com Since Aug. 18 when President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced that Michigan State will transition to a predominantly online curriculum for the fall semester, a transition began for the students as well. Gone is the lecture hall, computer lab, science lab and every other form of traditional classroom. Instead, the students of MSU have begun to work in their very own “COVID classrooms.” This photo story is a compiled gallery of work submitted by each member of our photo desk, to visually depict what a COVID classroom looks like

during the fall semester of 2020. Students are Zooming in from their bedrooms, living rooms and balconies, sometimes with roommates or would-be classmates but often alone. Unlike the learning environment of previous semesters, students are faced with a learning environment that doubles as their living space. Rather than straight rows of seats facing a projector, students are surrounded by pets, snacks and roommates. Photographers Annie Barker, Lauren DeMay, Alyte Katilius, Di’Amond Moore and Lauren Snyder contributed photos for this story.

Top, James Jeffries studying for Finance 311 in his living room on Sept. 7. Photo by Di’Amond Moore Left, Noah Wood on a balcony doing homework on Sept. 9. Photo by Lauren Snyder

T U ES DAY, S E PT E MBE R 1 5, 2020




Senior ambassador pilot program helps connect isolated students, senior citizens By Morgan Womack mwomack@statenews.com Empty rooms scattered with photos of their loved ones, cautious outings restricted by masks and social distancing mark the isolating reality of COVID-19 for many senior citizens. However, they can find hope within the glow of a computer screen. The Senior Ambassador Program, or SAP, is a virtual learning program where students from the Social Science Scholars Program are matched with seniors in the East Lansing community to reduce loneliness and build strong, intergenerational relationships. Two professors, John Waller, director of the Social Science Scholars Program, and Clare Luz, founding director of an organization called AgeAlive, teamed up to create this pilot project. “(Loneliness) is such a massive issue, but of course it’s usually an invisible one for obvious reasons,” Waller said. “People don’t broadcast the fact that they’re feeling lonely. It can take a lot of courage to state that you’re lonely and then seek help.” The students and seniors will participate in group activities and meet one-on-one for about an hour each week, all through Zoom video calls. “The end goal is for isolated seniors to engage in really meaningful, positive activities and

feel more connected to (the) community, have better quality of life, all of those things,” Luz said. “Which, you know, there’s a ripple effect. If you have better physical and mental health and quality of life, there’s all kinds of benefits.” Luz has experience in direct care workforce and studied to be a gerontologist — a person that studies old age. She is also involved with other programs dealing with ageism, like AgeAlive. She wanted to extend her values to Michigan State with a sustainable program where students could participate. “It’s well-aligned with MSU’s goals to contribute to society and to help make society more healthy and have a higher quality of life, it matches our land-grant mission,” Luz said. “We felt this was something we could really do of value, not only to the university but to society. I love that it’s intergenerational; it’s crossdisciplinary; it’s campus community; it’s all of those really positive things that we aspire to do.” Luz and Waller also have a partnership with the PrimeTime Seniors Program, where they found senior citizens who are willing to participate. Marcia Van Ness, a PrimeTime member and MSU alumnus, was asked to serve on the planning committee after commenting on some of the program’s work. Because of its potential to make a change, the SAP was awarded the AARP Community Challenge 2020 grant. There were more than

2,800 applicants and only two programs from Michigan won, according to the grant website. The money is helping the team kickstart their program with technology resources. The hope is that the program helps students and seniors relate to each other regardless of age. It’s designed to be mutually beneficial — while reducing loneliness among seniors, it also provides benefits for students to be connected with someone they wouldn’t normally interact with. “I think it’s beneficial to both arenas: the senior arena and the student arena,” Van Ness said. “I think it’s going to just enhance the understanding between two areas of our community — there are many areas of our community — but these two, I think it’ll build a new area of understanding what other people are facing and going through.” Before the program launched, Social Science Scholars sent surveys to seniors in East Lansing, created training programs and built systems to match students and seniors. Luz and Waller approached human resources and labor relations masters student Haley Nash and interdisciplinary studies in social science senior Erykah Benson and asked them to serve as training coordinators for the SAP. Though initially there was self-doubt, after

Illustration by Daena Faustino

getting started, both Nash and Benson became dedicated to their roles. When the program formally begins, they will lead interactive virtual training for participants that fit privacy guidelines, teach effective listening skills and educate about age discrimination. In the future, Waller and Luz want to see this program become important to MSU. They’ve built the foundation, and they hope to see people use it more broadly, perhaps in other areas. “By going digital, you erase geographic boundaries,” Luz said. “So, instead of being able to just service the East Lansing area, you know, if this pilot project goes well there’s potential for offering this statewide. So, this is something that could be a real feather in MSU’s cap, and we want to make sure it’s set up right and the infrastructure is in place for it to be a real sustainable program that can thrive.”





Q&A with Vice President of Auxiliary Enterprises Vennie Gore By Elijah McKown emckown@statenews.com So who is Vennie Gore? Gore was recently tasked with heading the student affairs department at Michigan State after the long-tenured Denise Maybank accepted the position as interim vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at her alma mater, the City University of New York. Gore currently holds the position of vice president for auxiliary enterprises and was recently recommended to the Board of Trustees to be promoted to senior vice president by Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. in an email to students and staff. In his 13 years at Michigan State, Gore has been in charge of operations at the dining halls, on-campus housing, the Breslin Center, the indoor tennis facility and other MSU buildings and operations on campus. When Stanley announced the reevaluation of the long-term structure of the department, Gore stepped in to discuss what he envisions for the future of student affairs.

What was your reaction to being tasked with this new role?

We’ve always had a really good partnership with student affairs. We work really closely. So, when the President asked me to take on this role it seemed like a natural thing and the right thing for the institution at this point. I’m excited about it.

What are you looking forward to working on in this interim-like role?

I think the first thing that I need to do is get to know the division and the work they’re doing. I know of it, I don’t know it really well. I think that’s sort of the first thing that I want to be able to do. I just want to get to know what the team is doing and what roles or relationships they have with folks and slowly, surely start to work my way through. President Samuel L. Stanley mentioned in his email to students that you and Provost Teresa Woodruff would be evaluating the long term structure of the student affairs department. What are some of the things that could be changed in the department? The message yesterday was to do an assessment, so we’re gonna do an assessment. We’ll do our tests, we do a five-year

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Duncan

assessment of all our units. It rotates every five years with various different units and there’s an internal view, in which there’s a set of class standards and they’re called the Council of Advancement Standards … there’s a project team that comes together and they look at those standards and think about where they are relative to that. Then the second part of that is we have an external review where we have people who come from other institutions. They look at that data and then they interview people and make observations. I think based on that, we’ll see what the unit should look like and what it feels like.

One of the things that your predecessor Dr. Maybank did was help put together the COVID-19 relief fund through the federal CARES act. Could there be more COVID-19 relief for students sometime this year?

I would say that one of the things that was really good about that was that the CARES act provided some funding. There was some other additional funding that was available, I need to find out how much is left from them and whether those grants will be available for students. I know a lot of different colleges and departments also contributed too. So there may still be some thoughts. There were quite a bit of students that really benefited from that. We want to make sure that we are very thoughtful as we think through.

We’re in a new era with COVID-19, so how will student affairs continue to set-up events for students during the pandemic?

We’ve been looking at hybrid sort of models on programming and the resident assistants are doing the same thing. The governor has a limit of (10) people indoors and one hundred people outdoors,

and then also there is a limit that’s been put on by the city (of 25 people outdoors). We need to find the right modality, how to do this safely for people to be able to get together, because they need something. I think people come to college, they want to grow and develop. They want to interact with folks. They want to be part of clubs, they want to do all those things. As we think about. I think as a group we got to be creative with how we provide those club activities or student activities for people to be engaged.

Mental health is a huge issue during this pandemic, especially for college students missing out on the college experience. What are some ways that you could look to address that?

Mark Largent and our resident education staff are now working on what we call circles of success, and it is extending out to the firstyear students who aren’t here in a virtual format. I think one of the things that we talk about a lot in our unit is this whole notion around COVID as psychological safety and what we mean by that is that there are some parts of us as humans, dealing with this disease, and how we respond to it. I think absolutely it’s going to be one of the things that we partner with CAPS and Olin in providing students with those experiences.

You’ve played a large part in the development of the upcoming MSU Multicultural Building so far. What are some of the goals you have for this project?

I think one of my first goals is to support students. This was a student-led initiative and we want to make sure that we support the students that are in it. It has to be a place that students feel that they have a home. I have been very appreciative and very impressed that the group of students who are working on it aren’t just thinking about today, but they’re thinking about the future. They also want to make sure that the center has a lasting impact on future generations. We want to support that. When I look at what students have said, they want a place that they can feel is home safe, that has a lot of activity, that it is a place for students to connect.


Quarantine gave me time to think. Here are my thoughts. By Jack Falinski jfalinski@statenews.com

For the past 10 years, I’ve been living in a bedroom with walls covered in a “rise and shine” paint color. If you don’t know what that color looks like, Google it. Let’s just say after experiencing it, I never really woke up rising and shining. So, with how the world is these days, I thought what’s a better way to stay at home than to give my room a makeover. But, of course, I procrastinated it until the week before I was supposed to move into my East Lansing apartment. I thought I’d only get to enjoy my new color — a lovely “chalky blue” — for a week before I returned to campus. Then plans changed. The past two weeks I’ve been quarantining at my house after having been possibly exposed secondarily to COVID-19. Those two weeks not only gave me time to admire my new paint job, but they gave me time to think … a lot. My first thought — which was more of a realization than anything — was how contagious this thing is. Don’t get me wrong, I was well aware of how contagious it was before this encounter. Seeing it first-hand, seeing it personally infect almost everyone it came in contact with, how it didn’t get to me — I don’t know. I guess I got lucky. I can definitely tell you I got angry; not at a person, not at a place or a thing, not even at the situation. Instead, I got angry at the inconsistencies that were continuing to be fed to me. During the first week of my quarantine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, modified their testing guidelines by saying that if you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, “You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.” Before August 24’s update, the CDC said, “testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for asymptomatic and presymptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.” I wanted, and still want, to feel safe. That’s a statement I believe most people would also agree with, regardless of any contrasting beliefs. Unfortunately, I can’t say I entirely feel that way right now when I can see plain as day that politics and science are clashing. But I can’t control that (at least not until Nov. 3). I’ve found that continuously reading about these political cat-and-mouse games by “doomscrolling” on Twitter and Facebook exacerbates my anger and worsens my headspace, for I can’t do anything about them. That’s why I’ve begun to focus on myself and the actions I can control. When I was younger, my dad gave me a coin with a prayer on it — something I still have to

this day. It reads, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” Whether you’re religious or not, being able to hone in on the decisions you actually do have jurisdiction over helps you to find peace and tranquility. As a college student myself, I wasn’t sure how to address MSU’s party culture during this time. With thousands of students still living in and around East Lansing, parties remain inevitable. And while I have enjoyed the occasional party my freshman and sophomore year, this year has become a time to put the safety of others (and myself) before my own personal amusement. Yet, many other students have not come to terms with this necessary sacrifice. In seeing parties unfold for the last two weeks, I didn’t know whether to scold or to forgive, to speak out or to ignore. So, I’ll say this: Don’t be a part of the problem. There are still ways to see each other, but partying isn’t one of them. We’re still in a global pandemic where a virus is continuing to infect people at an alarmingly high rate while also taking lives. Doing keg stands — like the ones I saw posted over social media last weekend — isn’t the smartest thing to be doing right now. In fact, it’s dumb. Call me a killjoy. Call me a grinch. Call me what you want. But don’t call me a kid. And don’t call yourself a kid expecting to get the “let kids be kids” treatment. We’re all 18 or older; we’re adults. We can vote. We can buy lottery tickets. Hell, we can get a Costco membership (probably the most adult thing we’ll ever do). Even though we’re old enough to be renting our own living space, that doesn’t mean we can just do whatever we please. If you’re still here it’s because you chose to be ... be responsible. We need to do our civic duty to limit gatherings to 10 people inside and 25 people outside. I want people to see each other. Community is important. Just do it safely. We’re adults, but we’re also human, and it’s in our psychological being to want to be connected to other humans (even, in this case, if it’s just a couple at a time). I don’t want to come across as divisive — that’s the last thing this world needs right now. But I understand how my cautious approach will probably differ from that of at least one person who reads this. To that, I say, let there be grace, patience and understanding. I can’t control what the person next to me does. All I can control is myself. Every decision, whether it be responsible or reckless, has a consequence that could potentially impact the greater community. Remember that, and remember personal accountability saves us all from having to play the blame game. Upon returning to campus this week, I will remember to hold myself accountable, and I hope you do too. I’m a college kid, but I’m a college kid tired of seeing other college kids act like COVID-19 isn’t real. It’s very real, and it’ll continue to be real until we start making mature decisions. But that might be out of my control. For things like that, I’ll let the late actor Jerry Stiller who played Frank Costanza in “Seinfeld” help me answer my prayer by saying, “Serenity now.”

T U ES DAY, S E PT E MBE R 1 5, 2020




RELIGIOUS DIRECTORY Stay up to date at: www.statenews.com/religious

All Saints Episcopal Church 800 Abbot Rd. (517) 351-7160 Sun. Worship: 8am, 10am, & 5pm Sunday School: 10am www.allsaints-el.org Ascension Lutheran Church 2780 Haslett Road East Lansing (517) 337-9703 Sunday worship: 10:00am Sunday Bible study: 8:45am Thursday Bible study: 2:00pm www.ascensioneastlansing.org Crossway Multinational Church 4828 Hagadorn Rd. (Across from Fee Hall) (517) 917-0498 Sun: 10:00am crosswaymchurch.org Greater Lansing Church of Christ 310 N. Hagadorn Rd. (Meet @ University Christian Church) (517) 898-3600 Sun: 8:45am Worship, 10am Bible Class Wed: 1pm, Small group bible study www.greaterlansing coc.org Hillel Jewish Student Center 360 Charles St. (517) 332-1916 Shabbat – Services@ 6pm / dinner @ 7, September–April www.msuhillel.org instagram: @msuhillel

The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing 920 S. Harrison Rd. (517) 351-4309 Friday Services: 12:15-12:45pm & 1:45-2:15pm For prayer times visit www.lansingislam.com/ Martin Luther Chapel Lutheran Student Center 444 Abbot Rd. (517) 332-0778 Sun: 10:30am & 7pm Wed: 7pm Mini-bus pick-up on campus (Fall/Spring) www.martinluther chapel.org The People’s Church Multi-denominational 200 W Grand River Ave. (517)332-6074 Sun. Service: 10:30am with free lunch for students following worship ThePeoplesChurch.com Riverview Church- MSU Venue MSU Union Ballroom, 2nd Floor 49 Abbot Rd. (517) 694-3400 Sun. Worship: 11:30am-ish www.rivchurch.com St. Paul Lutheran Church (ELCA) Worship with us on Sundays at 10am 3383 E. Lake Lansing Rd 517-351-8541 www.stpaul-el.org officemanagerstpaul el@gmail.com

St. John Catholic Church and Student Center 327 M.A.C Ave. (517) 337-9778 Sun: 8am, 10am, Noon, 5pm, 7pm M,W: 5:30pm T & Th: 8:45pm F: 12:15pm www.stjohnmsu.org University Christian Church 310 N. Hagadorn Rd (517) 332-5193 Sun. Bible Study: 10am Sun. Worship: 11:15am www.universitychristianwired.com University Lutheran Church (ULC) “We’re open in every way” 1020 S. Harrison Rd (517) 351-7030 Sun. Worship: 8:30am & 10:45am Fridays@Five: Dinner, discussion & fun 5pm Mon. Bible Study: 6:30pm @Wells Hall Quad www.ulcel.org Facebook: ULC and Campus Ministry University United Methodist Church 1020 S. Harrison Rd (517) 351-7030 Main Service: Sun: 11am in the Sanctuary Additional Services: NEW contemporary service Sundays at 9am with band titled ‘REACH’ TGiT (Thank God its Thursday): Thur: 8pm in the Chapel of Apostles universitychurchhome.org office@eluumc.org WELS Lutheran Campus Ministry 704 Abbot Rd. (517) 580-3744 Sat: 6:30pm msu.edu/~welsluth

Religious Organizations:

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More than D2L: Reactions to thirdparty learning apps By Emma LaRocca elarocca@statenews.com As Michigan State University adjusts to predominantly online learning, many professors are requiring students to purchase access to third-party platforms to help their classes run smoothly. This has caused some students to raise the question: Why isn’t D2L enough? In July 2012, MSU chose Desire2Learn, or D2L, as its learning management system. D2L is free to use for all students, faculty and staff. It is most often used to give students access to course materials, allow for collaboration on discussion posts and is where most assignments are to be submitted. In recent years, many professors have started requiring students to purchase access to third-party platforms for their classes. The most common of these platforms include Top Hat, Packback, LaunchPad and WebWork. Lynnette King, assistant anthropology professor, is predominantly teaching integrative social science, or ISS, courses this year. She uses multiple third-party platforms outside of D2L including Top Hat, Slate and Packback. King has used Top Hat for three years. MSU has also been partnered with Top Hat since 2016. Top Hat can be used for a wide range of things from taking attendance to administering tests and exams. Since she started at her position with ISS and the Anthropology Department, she has never had to rely on D2L. “I’ve never [had to] relied on D2L,” King said. “I rely on it for the final grade book to push to the registrar’s office. Only since we went online do I put my quizzes and exams in there. Before this moment, even my quizzes and exams I put through Top Hat.” The biggest concern from students is cost. World politics junior Shelby Auterman expressed her anger with the price of multiple platforms. “It makes absolutely zero sense that we have to pay hundreds of extra dollars for all these additional services when last time I checked, MSU literally has D2L,” Auterman said in a Facebook comment. “What’s the point of forcing students to pay for these extremely unnecessary services when we have one that works just fine already? I believe MSU should make it mandatory for professors to use D2L instead 10

Illustration by Daena Faustino

of creating more anxiety and debt for students by using thirdparty applications.” Physiology junior Jessica Starnes believes that with how much students pay for tuition, professors should use D2L, the free platform provided for all students. “What makes me angry is that it’s kind of insulting to pay what we already pay in tuition yearly and housing and then on top of that we have to pay for either our attendance and or our homework,” Starnes said in a Facebook comment. For interdisciplinary social science junior Kristy Kontowsky, the third-party platforms seem to be a barrier for some people, but in many cases are completely unavoidable. “The third-party sites … are just kind of another financial barrier for us to leap over because if you don’t buy it you can’t turn in your homework and that’s your entire grade,” Kontowsky said. “That also kind of discriminates against people who come from a lower economic status or people from poorer areas of Michigan. You can’t assume everyone comes from the same background.” King realizes that these thirdparty platforms may cause a financial burden on students, but also wants students to recognize that Top Hat and her required books are less than the book she used to order.. “MSU just made a three-year contract with Packback so it’s free for all students and all faculty,” King said. “I use Top Hat and the book I wrote and the cost of the subscription is less money than the book I used to order.” For business junior Salman Osmani, the problem with third-party platforms is less about the financial burden and more about the inconvenience of having to use multiple platforms for his classes. “I didn’t really like the idea at first but now more professors are doing it, so it’s not as inconvenient because it’s a


one-time payment for multiple classes,” Osmani said. “But it’s kind of inconvenient to have to use another platform when you can use D2L. Like for Packback, I think it’s more discussion questions and there is a discussion section on the D2L website we have, so it seems kind of useless to have to go to Packback and post it there when you could just do it from D2L.” Business junior Rebecca Prater, also expressed her concern that multiple platforms can cause extra confusion for students. Another reason King uses third-party platforms is that she has experienced technical issues with D2L in the past. The task of fixing technical issues was a long process that took time away from other prep work she could have been doing for her classes. With the challenge of the pandemic, new and useful features have been added to D2L will bring value to the other platforms she uses. “The process of networking and figuring out what went wrong took four hours of my time … and our tech team is awesome but to me, it’s [D2L] not user friendly,” King said. Now that MSU has transitioned online, technical problems within D2L have popped up daily for students. “I think that MSU has the resources to put more money into D2L to give it better options and reliability,” Kontowsky said. King said she also believes that students have become bored with D2L, as they have with other technology, like iClickers, in the past. King said while she would not want to, she could make it through a semester with only D2L. Though, she does not think it would be beneficial for her or her students. “I think it’s totally boring, but yeah I could do it. If they told me I had to do it I could do it. It has everything there and they did improve it a little bit,” King said.

TUES DAY, S EPTEM B ER 1 5, 2020


MSU students, CAPS counselor weigh in on alone time and mental health By Dina Kaur dkaur@statenews.com Alone time looks different for every single student. For humanities pre-law sophomore Madison Hales, alone time includes reading motivational books. For chemical engineering sophomore Joshua Krueger, it’s playing games or listening to music. For mechanical engineering sophomore Lucy Kiloustian it’s watching Netflix. But, whatever your form of alone time looks like, it’s necessary for your mental health to schedule that into your day. Hales likes to spend time alone because it allows her to check-in with herself and take a break from the real world. “Being alone, I’m really kind of in-tune to how I’m feeling. If I’m sad, or if I’m stressed, I can take care of myself,” Hales said. “That can be hard, to find a balance of helping yourself and helping others.” Whether it is going on walks, listening to music or just taking some time to reflect on life, Hales thinks that alone time should be normalized because of the benefits it offers. “For some people alone time is the opportunity to re-energize themselves from going out and seeing people,” Hales said. “I think it should be normalized because you get to be there for yourself and kind of like hype yourself up for going out and going to school and seeing people and you can be in the best state possible.” Krueger mirrors Hales when he thinks about alone time. Krueger said that alone time allows him to recharge. “Sometimes being alone just helps me process things better,” Krueger said. “I flip-flop between wanting to see people and wanting to be alone.” Sometimes though, being alone can feel like a void. Kiloustian is a people-person; While alone, she feels bored and, well, lonely, so she tries to surround herself with people when she can. “I feel like it’s just more stimulation because when I’m alone, I’m just lonely and kind of bored and I really don’t know what to do with myself,” Kiloustian said. “I’m more of a person who is negatively impacted by being alone because my friends are some of the most important people in my life and without them, I feel sad or empty or there is a void I need to fill.” While she prefers company, Kiloustian acknowledged some perks to alone time. Sometimes you don’t need to fill the void and Kiloustian believes if alone

time was more normalized she might be able to invest in it more. “I love to read by myself because there are no distractions and I also always watch Netflix alone because I’m more focused on my shows,” Kiloustian said. “I feel like if it was more normalized I could be more comfortable being alone and not feel like I don’t know what to do with myself.” Michigan State’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, counselor Caitlin Riley said she sees both sides of the spectrum. While too much alone time can feel empty, the right amount can feel like an oasis. Riley said that alone time is good for mental health, but only to a certain extent. “I think of alone time on a spectrum. Having some alone time can be an opportunity to connect with yourself and unplug from the outside world which can often feel overstimulating,” Riley said. “I do think that alone time to the point of isolation can become unhealthy. It is also important to distinguish too that someone can feel alone or isolated even when surrounded by others.” When Riley looks at college students she sees busy bees. Surrounded by school, fear of missing out and social pressures, Riley said she thinks that college students may not get enough alone time. “We live in a world of constant stimulation, with our smartphones feeling like another body part,” Riley said. “Social media plays a big part in this too, whether it creates a sense of pressure or comparison to others or fear of missing out. The realities of college life can also be challenging if someone is managing multiple roles and responsibilities like if they’re a student and working through college and also maybe caretaking for a family member, etc.” Riley also said she thinks alone time could also be considered in a different, less daunting way. “I think the word ‘alone’ can feel scary or heavy,” she said. “Another way to frame that would be ‘How can I connect with myself and also try and be present?’ This will look different for everyone.” At work, Riley encourages her clients to connect with hobbies or things that brought them joy in the past or during their childhood to put an emphasis on the importance of alone time. “If being alone is new for yourself, I would definitely start small,” Riley said. “Meditation is a great way to start to connect to yourself

“We live in a world of constant stimulation, with our smartphones feeling like another body part... The realities of college life can also be challenging if someone is managing multiple roles and responsibilities like if they’re a student and working through college and also maybe caretaking for a family member, etc.” Caitlin Riley

MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) counselor and that can be as simple as focusing on your breathing for 10-20 seconds. It is important also to be intentional with connecting with yourself and scheduling it into your day or making time for it.” Riley said studies show the positive impact that alone time can have on someone, including increasing productivity, creativity and overall stress management. In a society where interaction and stimulation is at the click of a button, alone time isn’t normalized. However, Riley said she thinks it is an important aspect of life to connect with yourself and can lead to many positive impacts. “I think sometimes people are afraid to be alone with themselves. I think we have to approach this process with selfcompassion,” Riley said. “If we think about the amount of time it takes to build a friendship with another person, we also can know that it will take time to get to know ourselves on our own especially if we’re so used to being surrounded by different forms of stimulation.”

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