Sunday, December 7, 2008

Update: SVSU Discrimination And Harassment Policy Receives Revision

By Michael Westendorf

SVSU has changed its policy on discrimination, sexual harassment and racial harassment. 

In February, the Vanguard reported that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) gave the policy its worst rating for “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.” 

SVSU Director of Media Relations J.J. Boehm said in February the University might scrutinize the policy more closely as a result of the rating. 

The policy undergoes a yearly review and during the summer, the University decided to rewrite it.

FIRE took issue with a provision in the former policy that stated: “Physical acts or threats or verbal slurs, invectives or epithets, taunting or verbal abuse, degrading comments or jokes referring to an individual’s race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital or familial status, color, height, weight, handicap or disability are strictly prohibited.” This provision has been removed from the updated policy.

“While we are pleased that Saginaw Valley State University has removed the most egregiously unconstitutional section of their policy,” writes William Creeley, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy, in an e-mail, “[W]e are disappointed that SVSU has chosen not to incorporate the precise legal standard for peer-on-peer ‘hostile environment’ announced by the United States Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education.”

Creeley explained, “The Davis standard requires behavior to be ‘so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit’ to be considered true, actionable harassment. Unfortunately, SVSU’s new policy fails to include any requirement that the behavior in question be severe, pervasive or objectively offensive. Instead, SVSU’s policy merely requires that the allegedly ‘harassing’ behavior ‘tends to create a hostile environment or that interferes with an individual’s academic effort, employment or participation in University activities.’ This is a less stringent standard, as it declines to incorporate the ‘severe, pervasive or objectively offensive’ threshold requirement. As such, the new policy is impermissibly overbroad because it fails to guarantee sufficient security to expression protected under the First Amendment – which SVSU, as a public university, is legally obligated to uphold.”

FIRE says that as a result of the change, they will reevaluate SVSU’s rating sooner than usual. The organization reviews each university annually.

Because the policy was just changed, the new policy isn’t included in the 2008-09 student handbook. 

“SVSU should alert all students about the change so that there is no confusion about which policy is now applicable,” Creeley said.

Endowment Decline Expected To Continue

By Hillary Darling

Vice President for Administration and Business Affairs James Muladore hasn’t seen anything like the current economic recession in his career. But could the recession cause both a decrease in available scholarship funds and an increase in the demand for financial aid? 

It’s a fair assumption, says SVSU Foundation Executive Director Andrew Bethune.

Muladore, who expects an increase in financial aid requests, said SVSU’s endowment declined by 14 percent in market value from July 1 to Oct. 31. Once November’s data is available, he said the decline will most likely be 20 percent to 25 percent.

Endowments are funds donated to a university and invested for scholarships, endowed professors and other programs. SVSU’s endowment fell from $44 million to $38 million in the four month period ending in October. 

“We’re not going to be insulated from the general market conditions,” Bethune said. “As the markets go down in such a drastic way, it takes everything with it. We are very conservative investors, and even the most conservative investors are affected by volatile markets.”

While SVSU’s funds dropped by 14 percent, the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, fell 24 percent in the same period. Muladore explained that not all of SVSU endowment is invested in stocks. Some funds are invested into fixed income assets and alternative investments.

The S&P 500 Index is one of several benchmarks SVSU uses to evaluate the performance of its endowment. The index is based on the performance of 500 stocks tracked by the Standard and Poors Corporation. 

As of Dec. 3, the S&P 500 had declined by about 40 percent in 2008. Historically, the average market change is an increase between 8 percent to 10 percent annually.

If the market conditions continue, Muladore said the available amount of endowment distributions for scholarships and other programs would decline.

While he doesn’t expect the number of scholarships to decline, he said the dollar amount offered for each award could be less. University officials are reviewing the situation to see how a long-term market decrease could affect funds available in the future. 

Muladore expects the need for the scholarships to grow.

“More individuals or families that in the past have not received financial aid may be in a position [to] now because of their jobs or financial situation,” he said. “I think all universities are thinking about that. It’s safe to say that a large number of have been negatively impacted to some degree by the current economy.”

The University Foundation will distribute approximately $350,000 in scholarships from endowment funds for the current school year. About
$1.5 million was distributed last year for scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and other university programs. 

The University has not yet calculated the amount of endowment funds to be provided for scholarships next year. 

The University will honor scholarship commitments for the current year. University Foundation endowments do not have an effect on outside aid programs, such as those funded by the federal and state governments or directly by SVSU.

SVSU’s $37 million in endowments is made up of more than 200 separate endowments. The original amount donated to the University is invested. The University Foundation then distributes a certain amount each year to the University based upon a distribution formula linked to the current market value of the individual endowment. The original amount donated remains invested in perpetuity.

About $9 million to $10 million of SVSU’s Oct. 31 endowment value is for scholarships. Each year, the University estimates the next year’s endowment distributions based upon the average value from the past three years. As a result, wild swings in the market, up or down, do not result in severe funding changes. 

“With endowments,” Bethune said, “we err on the side of being conservative. We are here for our students. We need to make sure our dollars are there for our students.”

Muladore said the University is prepared as best it can be for the economic downturn. SVSU’s resources have been managed efficiently and conservatively, he said, while SVSU has kept scholarships a priority in the budget.

And SVSU is still the least expensive of the 15 Michigan state universities, he added, about 33 percent less on average.

“The cost of education at SVSU makes it accessible to families,” Muladore said.

Other colleges are also affected by the economic downturn.

While performance numbers from other institutions are not available until early next year, Muladore said all endowments operate in the same investment environment. Although each institution can have investments unique to that school, most similar asset classes have experienced negative performance. Muladore said he is not aware of any particular endowment that is currently experiencing a positive return. 

“Across the board, the losses are in a similar range,” Bethune said. “If you see someone who hasn’t lost as much or lost more, they invested with different risks.”

Private universities are facing a different situation, Muladore said. While SVSU is funded by state appropriations and tuition, many private schools depend upon funding from endowment investments for basic operating expenses. For those schools, drastic market decreases could affect staffing and programs.

“[The economy is] on everyone’s minds,” Bethune said. “Markets have gone up and down over the years. This is a pretty wild swing, but things will get better. We have to know how to react. The warning signs are out that this is going to be a rough recession for the entire country. We’ll get through it. It’s just a matter of how long.”

Longstanding Chemistry Professor Dave Swenson Retires

By Alex Kohut

One glance at  Dave Swenson’s office reveals he’s not one to adhere to strict form. A nine-point buck’s head adorns a wall. Around the corner on the adjacent wall is the buck’s mounted backside. 

The University’s H.H. Dow Endowed Chair has used a similar twist on the conventional his entire life, dabbling in a myriad of scientific endeavors during his career.

Swenson will close out his tenure at the University this week and embark on yet another endeavor.

“There  comes a time in your life when you begin to realize it’s time to move on,” Swenson says.

His 12-year stay at the University is the longest stop Swenson’s made during his nearly 40-year career.

A string of health issues left Swenson with an energy level he says he thinks is too low for his current position, which aided his decision to move on.

Swenson isn’t ready to sit idly by in retirement, however. He hopes to embark on a team project in the Bahamas some time next year. Funding is the only thing holding up his team’s departure.

“In my mind, I’m already there,” he says.

The potential project is a cyclical operation that would involve Swenson’s team extracting vegetable oil from algae. Approximately 10,000 gallons of the oil can be extracted from every acre of algae. The oil is then converted to bio diesel fuel.

That number is a considerably higher figure than the amount possible to extract from other sources such as canola and soy. 

A dry protein feed is left behind following the extraction of the oil, which Swenson says will go to feed animals such as pigs and chickens.

The process ensures nothing is wasted. Swenson has adhered to a similar philosophy throughout his life.

“You can’t solve complex issues with simple thinking,” he says. “But you can’t solve complex issues without simplifying.”

Though Swenson accomplished a great deal during his time at the University, he says he doesn’t believe in sticking with the same thing for too long.

“When you start to fade, the only way to rejuvenate yourself is to move on,” he says. 

Some people respond to such scenarios by taking a sabbatical. Swenson, however, considers such action a “poor man’s job change.”

“People take sabbaticals with the intention of recharging, but they return and it’s not long before they’re in the same rut again,” he says.

Despite Swenson’s believe in periodic relocation, he says he has respect for those who are able to remain at the same job for a lengthy period of time.

“If you find someone who’s been at the same job for a long time, congratulate them,” he says. “Because that means they’ve got an inner fiber they can continue to draw from.”

During his time at the University, Swenson worked on several initiatives, such as the Greenhouse Project and a handful of Down syndrome collaborations.

Instructor of Chemistry Edward Meisel met Swenson while working on the Greenhouse Project upon Meisel’s arrival at the University in 2005.

“Some people as they age get stuck in their ways,” Meisel says. “But I found Dave to be very moldable and open to new ideas.”

Meisel says this openness to new concepts helped make Swenson popular with his students, staff and faculty.

Meisel recalls Swenson getting a standing ovation for a commencement speech, an occurrence later found was a rarity.

Like his professional life, Swenson’s academic career was also eclectic.

He studied at the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and did his post-doctrine work in England. 

Swenson’s resume includes a list of locations scattered across the country.

He worked as a research chemist in 1977 at the National Center for Toxicology Research in Jefferson, AK.

Swenson later moved to moved to Kalamazoo, where he worked for The Upjohn Company’s genetic toxicology unit. The company is well-known for developing and manufacturing Motrin.

Swenson says he grew tired of corporate life and by 1987, decided to head out west. He relocated to Phoenix, AZ and developed Karkinos Biochem Inc., where he designed and tested anti-cancer agents.

Never one to get too comfortable, Swenson again relocated in 1990, this time to Louisiana, where he worked at Louisiana State University’s veterinary school.

Swenson arrived at the University in 1996, taking on a role in the chemistry department. 

Though the laundry list of significant changes Swenson’s made in his life could intimidate some, he says taking such risks are a necessity. 

“If you’re afraid to take a chance, chances are you’ll miss out on something really good.”

SA to Bus Students to Presidential Inauguration

By Sara Kitchen

SVSU students are planning to join the hundreds of thousands who will flood Washington, D.C., to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn into office.

Tickets are on sale at the box office for the January 20 inauguration. For $50, students may reserve one of 112 seats on two charter buses that will travel to D.C. on the evening of Monday, Jan. 19.

The Swearing-in Ceremony is scheduled for noon at the U.S. Capitol, and a time for the Inaugural Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue has yet to be determined. 

Tickets went on sale last Monday and so far 22 have been sold. 

Student Association (SA) Parliamentarian Jeremy Jones, who helped plan the event, said he had expected to sell out of tickets last week. He attributes the lag in sales to students focusing on finals, holiday shopping and paying tuition for next semester.

“Hopefully, ticket sales will increase next week and we’ll have another marketing push when winter semester begins,” he said.

Jones said participants are not guaranteed to see Obama or the inauguration due to the crowd the ceremony is anticipated to draw. 

“It’s going to be hard once we get there to even walk through the city, let along get close enough to see anything,” he said. “But there’s a chance we’ll get to if we get there early and people are motivated to wait around for hours to get a good spot.

“Just being there will be an amazing experience.” 

Although there are no guarantees, undecided sophomore Ashley Kraft and elementary education freshman Laura Miller remain in high spirits. 

“I just think it would amazing to be in D.C. at the time of the inauguration,” Kraft said, “because this is history in the making, and I can kind of say that I’m part of history just by being in that place at the time of the inauguration.”

Miller said the disclaimer did not weigh in at all on her decision topurchase a ticket. 

“On election night, I felt like I was missing something by not being in Grant Park in Chicago,” she said. “I just would like to be [in D.C.] with fellow Americans. I have accepted that I probably would not see anything.”

Communications sophomore Bethany Freer weighed the pros and cons while at home on Thanksgiving break.

“I did not want to miss class, but this is an important event, and for only fifty dollars, why not?” she said. 

Miller predicts the atmosphere in D.C. will be one filled with excitement, anticipation, and tears. 

“I pray that on this special day, everybody will be safe and there for Barack rather than starting trouble….” she said. 

Kraft said, “I’m kind of afraid that it’s going to be really crazy with everybody there, because I’m sure there are going to be a lot of people, both people for Obama and against.”

Political science sophomore and communications director for the College Republicans Robert Anderson said he thinks he is likely to be the only Republican on the buses. 

“People have been calling me a traitor and a bandwagon jumper, but I still have my major disagreements with Obama and his picks for cabinet members thus far,” Anderson said, “but he is my President and I am willing to give him a shot, at least more so than the left ever gave President Bush.”

The trip is sponsored by SA, Minority Student Services, Residence Housing Association, Residential Life, and Student Services and Enrollment Management. 

Jones said SA asked Program Board “for an allocation to help cover the costs of food and lessen the financial burden on students, but, unfortunately, Program Board denied the request.”

Program Board President Shane Williamson said that due to the lag of ticket sales among other issues, Program Board voted against funding the trip an additional $1,000.

“If you look at the breakdown of the costs and benefits of the program,” Williamson said, “you can see that 112 students will get about $11,800 of student money to go to an inauguration that one, they are not guaranteed to see Barack Obama, and two, if something goes wrong and they don’t make it there, they don’t get their money back.”

Williamson said Program Board was hesitant to support the trip without first seeing a budget.

“We saw it as kind of a waste of money and ill planning,” he said. 

If tickets do not sell out to the students, SA plans to allow faculty and staff the opportunity to purchase them.

“We didn’t think it was right to give students funds to a trip that isn’t necessarily going to benefit SVSU students,” Williamson said. 

Jones estimates it will take 10-12 hours to arrive in D.C. The buses will leave the night of the inauguration and arrive back in Saginaw Wednesday morning. 

Booze Busters In Cage

By Noah Essenmacher

Students competed for prizes in a game show contest that tested their knowledge of alcohol-related issues.

Student Association (SA) sponsored the “Booze Busters” game as part of the relaxation activities occurring before exam week. 

Peer health educators from the Office of Health Education were responsible for the content and presentation of the game held in the Cardinal Cage on Wednesday night. 

“Booze Busters” consisted of 50 fact-based questions that four peer health educators compiled through their own secondary research. 

Seven students, down from about 30 who participated last year, competed for three gift cards for the amount of $25 each.

History junior Isaac Hudson won first place, Gary Hardin second and nursing sophomore Katie Jones came in third.

Hudson attended the event with the hope of winning a gift card and enjoyed. He says he never knew there were four shots in a Long Island. 

Nursing senior Kyle McDaniel said the purpose of the event was “to promote alcohol awareness through safety and responsibility.” 

McDaniel, a peer health educator, said alcohol is not a serious problem on the SVSU campus, but he acknowledges the importance of being aware of the dangers and responsibilities related to alcohol consumption. 

SA representative James Wright said alcohol awareness can “help students to make better decisions.” 

Games like the Alcohol Awareness Game Show, says Wright, give students important facts they need to make informed decisions regarding alcohol through a fun and engaging activity. 

Wright said he was looking forward to students sharing their knowledge and winning prizes.

Education junior Jill Beemer said, “It’s fun to come up with ideas that will benefit [students] and educate them. It takes quite a bit of work.” 

Beemer estimates that she and her fellow peer health educators spent approximately twenty hours preparing game.

Braun, Tyner Award Submissions Now Being Accepted

By Noah Essenmacher

The University will recognize student writers across the disciplines by awarding prizes for their work this winter. Two writing awards in particular note the accomplishments of SVSU students.

The Raymond E. Tyner Writing Excellence Award and the Ruth and Ted Braun Awards for Writing Excellence have been a part of SVSU since 1991 and 1997, respectively. The awards are funded by endowments to the SVSU Foundation, and the award selection process is coordinated by Deb Smith, chair of the University Writing Committee. 

The University Writing Program’s Web site says the Braun Awards “have been established to create incentives for outstanding student writing and opportunities for student writers to be recognized and published.” 

The Selection Committee for the Braun Awards includes Diane Boehm, professor of English and director of Instructional Support Programs. Boehm is one of six faculty members from different departments who determine the Braun award winners. 

Boehm said, “My feeling was that if you really want to encourage various kinds of academic expertise, you have to recognize that in some way. When this first started, there were very few academic awards.” 

Students from each of nine categories are recognized with a $250 prize and the publication of their winning pieces in a locally distributed print publication and an online publication available on SVSU’s Web site. Winners are announced at a formal reception. 

Boehm said either Ruth or Ted Braun have attended the reception every year.

“Ruth, I think, especially understands the value of honoring students for academic achievement,” she said, “and I think it was the impetus for things like the Sims Public Speaking and other awards that have come along since then.”

Ruth Braun said, “The new types of writing, as well as the subject matter, make for very interesting reading. It is especially gratifying to learn that some students are actually including a mention of the award on their résumés and applications to grad school.” 

Boehm sees the contest as a rewarding opportunity for students, especially for those who have their work published for the first time.

“But more than that, it is a chance to really affirm their own capabilities and their hard work,” she said.

Kevan Umberfield, a mathematics and history senior, received the Braun Award in 2007 for his contribution to a historical documentary video in the multimedia category.

Umberfield said receiving the award was an honor.

“It’s great to see the University making these efforts to encourage and reward writing,” he said. “Too often, many students consider writing skills to be primarily useful in areas such as English.  It’s wonderful to have the Braun Awards which recognize writing in all areas from the liberal arts, to the sciences, to multimedia.”

Umberfield said that considering the competitive job market and grad school application process, the Braun Award would give him a boost as he finishes his undergraduate career. 

The Tyner award offers three prizes of $100 and a plaque. 

The Selection Committee is comprised of three judges, two from the English department and one from another department. The Tyner Awards categories include fiction, poetry and nonfiction.

Blair Giesken, a creative writing junior, won the Tyner Award last year. 

“Winning this award was the highlight of my educational achievement at Saginaw Valley,” she said. “I felt honored to know that two professors thought highly enough of my work to offer nominations, let alone to win the awards for both [fiction and poetry] categories.”  

Giesken said the Tyner Award is a prestigious award and a gratifying and worthwhile way to recognize hardworking student writers. 

Submissions for both the Braun Awards and the Tyner Awards call for original student work completed since January 1, 2008 and submitted before March 18, 2009. 

Snowfest Blankets Black Box

By Luke Deming

Competition for an audience wasn’t able to stop Alpha Psi Omega’s (APO) Snowfest talent show.  

The theater fraternity’s show had a small audience due to two plays running simultaneously, but those in attendance laughed to parodies on Christmas tunes, popular songs and “illusion” magic that really didn’t fool anybody. 

Theater and social work sophomore Christopher Biek is in charge of APO.  The show followed the induction of seven new members into the fraternity.  

“Half of the theater department is actually in Snow Queen and then we have Thomas the Train going on in the main theater, so we competed with a lot,” Biek said.

Five acts were entered and first, second and third place were awarded humorous gifts. Places were decided by the intensity of the audience’s applause to an act.  

Donations of winter clothes for children were collected at the event.  

Admission was free, but entering an act cost $5 or a donation of a pair of gloves.  Biek championed the economic advantage of donating handwear. 

“I thought it was a better deal to bring gloves,” he said.

Justin Gouthro, a Spanish, French and international studies senior, and Zachary Brissette, an accounting and political science junior, were the only act without an APO member, but they took home first place with a rendition of “Hollywood’s Not America” by Ferras.  

Their first place win will serve them well, Biek said.

Gouthro and Brissette’s group received a college gift basket of macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles and pop corn.

“Basically it’s what every college student lives off of and gets malnutrition from,” Biek said.

“We both didn’t even realize it was a competition,” Gouthro said. “We were thinking it was just a fun event to come and play in and for people to enjoy and didn’t know there were going to be prizes.” 

“We are definitely going to eat that basket,” he added, “Literally the whole basket.”

Physics senior Mike Saloka received second place and a bag of apples, which he said might turn into apple pie.  Saloka used “illusion” magic, which included goofy tricks that nearly anyone could do.  

Saloka wowed the audience with a trick that had his leg disappear behind a blanket.   When the blanket was removed his leg would “suddenly” reappear to the audience’s surprise.  He had to talk himself into entering because he wasn’t able to practice much.

“It took me about five minutes [to prepare],” he said “I was like ‘all right I got this.  I can make my leg disappear. I’m good.’ And then it was convincing myself that this was actually a good idea to go up against people that actually have talent with this thing that I just threw together.”

Saloka was confident his APO friends would receive his “illusion” magic well. Snowfest gave him another opportunity to showcase his humor.

“[I can] make a fool of myself in front of people who already know I am a fool,” Saloka said.

Third place was shared between a parody on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Danielle Schoeny and Andrea Knoll, and “How the Other Half Lives” by Amanda Mueller and Allison Murray.  

Schoeny, a theater senior, acted as a passionate singer who messes up the words to the song, which upsets Knoll, a theater senior.  

Mueller, a theater sophomore, and Murray, a marketing sophomore, played women who wanted to experience being rich or poor. 

APO’s next big event is the Tony Awards this spring.  The awards recognize the most outstanding actors from SVSU plays in the same academic year.   

The theater department has more than just APO. The improv group Work n’ Progress meets from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Murray encourages all students to attend theater events such as APO sponsored events, Work n’ Progress and SVSU plays.

“We are going to start doing more events so people should watch out for [us],” he said.

Vision: Government Cannot Allow Higher Education To Become Unaffordable

439 percent – That’s how much tuition has climbed in the past quarter century. If this trend continues, the cost of higher education will soon become too much for most Americans to handle. The government needs to act now and protect student loans – both private and federal – before we price ourselves out of the education we’ll desperately need to guide our country out of the financial crisis.

Questions surrounding the stability and health of our state, national and world economies have dominated the news since mid-summer. And with the cost of tuition on a consistent rise over the last three decades, the affordability of higher education is becoming a very worrisome matter.

While students can still receive a loan from the government, private loans no longer are being given out with the same ease as they once were. With all the stipulations being levied on banks in this period of deleveraging, the government needs to make sure those private student loans so many in our generation depend on are being watched out for.

An alarming statistic cited in a recent edition of the New York Times shows that while tuition in the United States since 1982 has risen 439 percent, the median family income is up only 147 percent. 

This raises a number of issues, not the least of which the educational gap this widening dichotomy is creating – something also cited in the same Times article. If 15 years pass at this same trend, who will be left to patch our sinking ship?

The article goes on to say that for the poorest 20 percent of families, the net cost of a public university is 55 percent of the median income. That meaning over half of their yearly earnings – not savings – would go to their child’s education, should they choose to send him. 

It looks as if it’s becoming more difficult than ever to find the elusive American Dream. It’s becoming more difficult than ever for someone to, as the old saying goes, pull themselves up by their boot straps, and attain a comfortable life for themselves and their family.

While banks and automakers, who have very few to blame but themselves for the positions they’re in, ask for billions of dollars to rectify their mistakes, it becomes increasingly difficult for students – the ones left to pay for and then fix this terrible circumstance – to seek private loans from banks to fund their schooling. This is why the government needs to protect these loans. 

Yes, some students – and many in the workforce – have abused these loans. They purchase TVs, XBoxs or copious amounts of alcohol with their government loan refund check, or use a private loan to avoid having to actually get a job to support their carefree college lifestyle. But this doesn’t mean we should let precious funding slip from hands of a demographic currently in stark need of it. 

The most important tool in navigating through the financial crisis will be education. Enough has been taken from public education in this country. If both federal and private student loans are allowed to remain unprotected by the government, it will be the final blow. 

Letter: Intelligent Design Not Science

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Intelligent Design editorial written by Luke Deming in the Nov. 24 issue of the Vanguard.  Mr. Deming makes some interesting but very uniformed statements in his editorial.  Teaching Intelligent Design may be an alternative idea of describing how life started and continues today but it is not science and has no place being taught as such.  

Evolution is a scientific theory that not only unifies the themes of biology but is also based on sound science from biology and other scientific fields such as geology and physics.  This theory has been upheld in study after study despite intense scientific scrutiny.  Most conflicts that do arise in the scientific community occur over specific processes that occur in evolution, but not in the theory of evolution itself.

What I think is most interesting is the lack of understanding that many people have about how science works.  Mr. Deming points this out while trying to make his point about offering alternative views in science classes.  Science is not a democratic process; we don’t vote on the “best” theory.  Instead, we formulate one or more reasonable guesses (or hypotheses), test them and see which hypothesis is supported by the data.  If a hypothesis is supported by enough evidence, that hypothesis can become a theory.  There have never, ever, been any data generated to suggest that Intelligent Design is a valid hypothesis let alone a scientific theory.  This is why it is not taught in science classes.

Aron Drake

Lecturer of Biology

SVSU Faculty

Duncan: Black Friday Now An Ominous Symbol

By Courtney Duncan

The typical holiday season is supposed to be a celebration of faith or of relationships with friends and family by participating in traditions such as decorating, singing, cooking and of course – shopping. Although spending time with those around us should be the most important part of the holidays, many of us have lost sight of the importance of the break from everyday life we get during the winter months.

This year, for many, Thanksgiving was spent around the dinner table, and it was most likely a great start to the holiday season: Filling up on turkey, potatoes, pie, or whatever else is enjoyable, followed by a football game, nap, or more turkey of course. The unfortunate part of this seemingly good story is what happens when Thanksgiving ends and “Black Friday” begins.

Black Friday was originally named for the heavy amount of traffic cities experienced on the day after Thanksgiving, and continued to be referred to as black because this period of time is when companies are in the black, or are turning a profit. Perhaps after this past Black Friday, we should consider the name to be a bad omen; after all, black as a symbol is usually equated with death, and death is exactly what we got this year.

When a Long Island, N.Y. Wal-Mart opened this Black Friday, Jdimytai Damour of Jamaica, a worker, was trampled to death as customers rushed in to save a few dollars on hot ticket items. In this same stampede, a pregnant woman had to be hospitalized because of potential injuries. Across the country in Palm Desert, Calif., two men possibly fighting over gifts shot and killed one another in a Toys R Us store.

Many have blamed these incidents on bad security and crowd control at stores; there is proposed legislation that would require malls and shops to heighten security and crowd control on days such as this. While stores should be held responsible to some extent to ensure safety and order to their customers, it is important to remember that no one has to act like a primitive animal to save a few dollars. How about we consider a bill that requires each person to treat his fellow citizens humanely?

When referring to this year’s stampede, one reporter stated, “There’s no question the people in that New York crowd lost their humanity in the quest for a bargain.” Another equated holiday shopping with a “blood sport.” Both of these references are undoubtedly true. We have essentially lost respect for our neighbors, our species and ourselves. It is time to realize that saving a few dollars (or even a few hundred) is not worth the mistreatment of those around us.

Essentially, we have lost sight of the ever-so-highly-held Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” or “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” It all seems so simple. The rule each of us learned prior to beginning our school careers, or at the very latest during kindergarten, is what we are now failing to remember during a time when life is supposed to be filled with love and enjoyment. 

My guess is that none of us would like to die in the next stampede for a Hannah Montana doll, but then again, that’s just my best guess.

Of course, I understand that saving money during the Christmas season to please those we love with incredible gifts is important, especially during the current financial crisis, but as a culture, we have taken things too far. We, as Americans, have become greedy animals. 

It is time to take a step back from what we have made the holidays to be and remember that there is more to life than expensive gifts. Take part of the decorating, the caroling, the eating, the movie watching, the sleeping in, and all of the other festivities this season. It is almost guaranteed that memories of these experiences will far surpass remembering the sweater your mom got for you for half price on Black Friday, unless of course she killed someone on the way to get it – then, I’m sure the memory will live with you forever.

After exams are over at the end of this week, take time to enjoy those around you, and don’t get too caught up in what we’ve made the holiday season as an American culture.

Kohut: For Most, Black Friday A Misconception

By Alex Kohut

The fallout from this year’s Black Friday “festivities” has reinforced the reality that Charlie Brown’s gripes over the commercialization of Christmas 40 years ago will continue to go unheard.

People grappled over cheap high-definition televisions, Blu-Ray players and other items. 

The most notable aspect of this year’s Black Friday was the death of a New York Wal-Mart employee, who was trampled to death by deal-hunting shoppers.

But for all the criticisms directed at stores for their Black Friday practices, I can attest that it’s not Thunderdome everywhere on that day.

I got my first taste of Black Friday last year, braving the cold and lots of ice all over my car at 4 a.m. so I could snag an attractively priced George Foreman grill from J.C. Penney. 

Most of my drive to the mall was spent mentally prepping myself. I braced myself for the sheer madness I was likely to encounter en route to securing possession of the stupid grill I’d had little interest in when it was priced $20 higher.

I passed Kohl’s just before arriving at the mall and noticed the parking was so congested people had taken the initiative to turn the grass into additional parking spots. 

I started to wonder if I’d be able to use my Foreman grill with all of the injuries I’d probably get from my donnybrook with some woman over the last grill in the store.

To my surprise, I was in and out of the store with the grill and no bodily injuries 20 minutes later. The store was densely packed, but orderly.

You could sense some excitement in the air, but nothing that suggested a street fight was on the verge of breaking out near the cookware.

There was simply a warped sense of community amongst people who were willing to forego sleep in the pursuit to max out their credit cards.

This year, I opted to visit Birch Run’s Prime Outlets Thanksgiving night to “celebrate” Black Friday.

I was able to visit the stores I wanted, get the things I needed (in addition to many things I certainly did not need) and get back home, all within a few hours.

The stores were fairly crowded, but again, there was no foreboding of hand-to-hand combat over an in-demand item. I observed many people cordially talking to complete strangers, perhaps sharing a chuckle about standing in a long line to buy bed sheets at the Polo outlet store at 1 a.m.

There was an occasional long line, but no violent incidents of any sort. Perhaps the biggest conflict of the night was waiting in line to use one of two family bathrooms, being the only guy in line, and thus being completely unaware of which one I could use.

Understandably, most of the horrific Black Friday incidents you hear about occur at stores where such incredible bargains are offered that patrons don’t mind beating their fellow man to get that HDTV from a brand you and your victim have never heard of.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t countless stores in your area where you can find a good bargain without the risk of being an unwilling participant in a humanized Running of the Bulls.

As a society, we tend to focus on the negative while conveniently overlooking the positives. 

The injuries and occasional deaths resulting from Black Friday sales are no doubt unsettling. They speak ill of the stores that offer these deals and make people in general look like animals for such behavior.

Still, this doesn’t mean we have to ignore any benefit that stems from the sales. Perhaps thinking this way just makes me a shameless consumer. As a matter of fact, I definitely am a shameless consumer. 

But Black Friday, when done the right way, is an exciting several hours for folks who don’t mind getting out of a warm bed in the middle of the night to buy a discounted George Foreman grill.

Hilldale Charges Past Cards

By Alex Baumgardner

After an 0-3 start, the SVSU men’s basketball team was in need of a win Sunday against Hillsdale to avoid its worst start since the 2001-2002 season. 

They didn’t get it.

A put-back dunk by former Cardinals forward Luke Laser put the Chargers up 53-50 midway through the second half, giving the Chargers their largest lead of the game. That small bit of irony would prove too much for the Cardinals, as they fell 68-66.

A 21-9 Chargers run, during which Laser had two key buckets, allowed Hillsdale to take its first lead of the game then never look back. 

During that run, the Cardinals took 14 three-pointers, making only five of them. While Hillsdale was able to pull away a little more with each passing possession, the Cardinals suffered a  prolonged scoring drought, missing five consecutive three pointers on five consecutive trips.

Despite this, the Cardinals only found themselves down by nine with just under three minutes to go. They were able to put together a seven-point run of their own, capped off by a key three-pointer from pro-range by preseason All-GLIAC selection guard Dante Williams, bringing the Cardinals back within two points. Senior guard Lawrence Ross had a chance to force overtime, but failed to convert a heavily contested jumper from the free-throw line as time expired.

Poor shooting has plagued the Cardinals so far this season. As a team, the Cards are a collective 29 percent from behind the arc, six percent lower than their average from a season ago.

Williams, known for his three-point shot, has had a particularly difficult start from the field, shooting 36 percent, four points lower than his 40-percent mark from a year ago. 

The Cardinals led for the majority of the game and after a steal led to a fast-break dunk for Ross, the momentum seemed to be in the Cardinals favor. However, Hillsdale struck right back, keeping them in striking distance, before finally taking the lead after Laser’s put back dunk finally gave them the lead.

Free throws also hurt the Cardinals, who shot only 50 percent from the line. 

Junior guard Avery Stephenson led the Cardinals in scoring with 16, including a three-pointer to put the Cardinals back within five with 38.9 seconds remaining. 

Freshman Greg Foster continued his solid play after replacing last year’s leading scorer, Mario Mackey, as the team’s starting point guard. He finished the game with 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds. 

The Cardinals have one more home game this Sunday against Lake Superior State before traveling to Tiffin  Dec. 18.