The State – 10/13/22

Rachel Fulton

Today’s weather forecast is predicting some sun in the morning with increasing clouds during the afternoon with a high of 55 degrees and a low of 37 degrees.

Blindness Awareness Month: blindness on a spectrum, not a hindrance

October is Blindness Awareness Month: a month to bring recognition to the blind and visually impaired community.

Many people who are blind, however, don’t experience complete blindness. In fact, most forms of blindness is on a spectrum.

“It’s really different person to person,” social relations and English senior Alexandra Allers said.

Allers was born fully blind and, just at 10 months old, was diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis: a genetic disorder when the retina doesn’t fully develop.

The biggest challenge for Allers is a lack of understanding from people who haven’t encountered a blind person before.

Social work senior Annika Arney was born with retinopathy of prematurity. She is completely blind in her right eye and has some functional vision in her left.

Arney currently works at the Resource Center for Disabilities, or RCPD, and feels that they offer much more to students and employees with disabilities compared to other universities.

Arney hopes Blindness Awareness Month can break the stigma that brings low expectations of what the blind community can accomplish.

Acquiring skills and techniques to advocate is essential because you know your needs best, Allers said. Being open, having conversations about accommodations and getting involved with student organizations can boost the college experience for students in the blind community.

MSU Leader Dog Club: Bringing more than just dogs to campus

Senior Katarina Jarmoluk has raised three service dogs in her time at MSU. Her second, Remy, just graduated from formal training and is now in Kentucky with his blind handler. Now Winston, her third, comes along with her to classes, walks around campus and MSU Leader Dog Club meetings.

The club, for which Jarmoluk is the puppy raiser chair, began in 2018 to bring awareness to the importance of service animals.

Service dogs are specifically trained to assist people with disabilities by doing work or performing tasks for the handler. Usually, the dog wears a harness or bandana that signifies that it is working and not a pet.

Leader Dog Club is in partnership with the service dog training facility, Leader Dogs for the Blind, in Rochester Hills. After puppy raisers in the club train the dog for about a year, the dog undergoes four to six months of intensive training in Rochester Hills before being matched with a handler in need.

This year, there are five puppy raisers in the club. General members are welcome to puppy sit and help train the puppy raisers’ dogs, as well as attend meetings and run fundraisers. Meetings consist of informational presentations, guest speakers and, of course, interacting with the dogs in training.

Fundraising event money goes to puppy raisers in the club so they do not have to pay for dog food and supplies. The goal is to make service dog training as accessible as possible for members who are interested.

Two years ago, service dogs were not allowed on MSU’s campus. In 2020, former Puppy Raiser Chair Bre Stahl fought to change that. Now, MSU is required to make accommodations to allow service animals to accompany their handlers anywhere on campus since they are providing essential services.

The club’s next event is called Pay to Pet and will take place on Oct. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Rock. For $1, anyone is welcome to pet and spend time with the dogs. The money will go toward supporting student raisers on campus.

MSU alumni share their homecoming traditions

The hearts of Michigan State University alumni are captured every year by annual homecoming celebrations. Festivities like campus-wide tailgates, parades through East Lansing and the homecoming football game attract hundreds of former Spartans.

Alumni venture from far and wide to reconnect with old friends and remember their love for their alma mater.

When alumnus Justin Weintraub first visited Michigan State University, he fell in love with the campus. Being immersed in MSU’s atmosphere brings back that feeling.

“It’s always joy,” Weintraub said. “Just like pure, childhood joy.”

Re-touring a changing campus builds up an appetite, so the next stop is often to grab a bite to eat. Alumnus Tyler Beck lived on campus all five years he attended MSU, and said he misses the accessibility of the dining plan.

Classic bars such as Crunchy’s East Lansing is also a common dining spot. Many alumni say the dive’s burgers are what brings them back.

For night life, many alumni opt to relive their late-night memories while back in East Lansing.

Two bars stand out as must-visits: Rick’s American Café and The Riv.

Regardless of their agenda, one thing is for certain – what continues to bring alumni back on homecoming weekend is their love for MSU.

Based on original reporting by Ashley Zhou, Kayla Nelsen and Maggie George.