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December 11, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-11

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LOCAL/STATE

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 5

Death on the Diag

A residents have different
views on holiday season

By Lauren Hodge
Daily Staff Reporter
Amidst the glowing lights and never-ending Christ-
mas songs, many students find themselves wishing the
holiday season away. Students and local residents said
they wish the holiday was less commercialized in Ann
Arbor.
"I enjoy the lights on Main Street and State Street, but I
wouldn't be opposed if they went up a little later. It's just
too much after awhile," LSA junior Maggie Melin said.
Ann Arbor resident Michael Brittenback said he thinks
the holiday season is overbearing. "It's overdone every-
where this time of year. Not only should the Jewish holi-
day be given more awareness, but Kwanzaa as well,"
Brittenback said. "Christmas needs to be played down so
that other religious holidays get the appropriate recogni-
tion they deserve."
Though many people feel Santa and his reindeer receive too
much praise, others feel that Ann Arbor is doing what it can to
recognize all holidays. SNRE senior Jamie Harper said he
finds no harm in a little holiday cheer. He said it helps people
get in the holiday spirit, even if they are not religious.
At Starbucks Coffee on South University Avenue,
employee Seth Miersma said the coffee shop has added a
new blend to make the season more secular than religious.
"We used to feature only Christmas Blend, but we
recently added Holiday Blend to make our coffee more
universal," Miersma said.
Along with other businesses on campus that put up decora-
tions before Thanksgiving, Starbucks broke tradition this year
by starting a week early. Middle Earth and Ulrich's Bookstore
on South University, display menorahs and dreidels in their
windows in attempts to recognize Hanukkah. Some students
say the countless Santa Clauses that greet eager children at

"People have forgotten about
the true meaning of Christmas."
- Maggie Melin
LSA junior
shopping malls nationwide overshadow the Jewish holiday.
"Being Jewish, it makes me wonder how my kids will
feel when they go to the mall and see Santa Claus with
other children. They should be able to sit on someone's lap
and tell them what they want for the eight nights of
Hanukkah," LSA sophomore Jason Cole said.
For students who do celebrate Christmas, many said the
holiday is more commercialized than it is religious. More
important are the gifts we receive than the people around
us, Melin said.
"People have forgotten about the true meaning of
Christmas," Melin said. "We get so wrapped up in pres-
ents and celebrating that we often forget why the holi-
day exists in the first place."
Though many students take a Grinch-like stance on the
issue, others said they welcome the holiday with open arms.
"I've always loved the Christmas season: the trees, the
lights, and especially the food. The songs can be a little over-
played on the radio, but other than that, I look forward to the
holiday," Kinesiology sophomore Lindsay Pudavick said.
LSA sophomore Casey Bourke finds ways to not let the
season take advantage of him.
"As long as you don't let yourself get wrapped up in
spending ridiculous amounts of money on gifts that will
probably be returned or played with once, bring on the
milk and cookies," he said.

FRANK PAYNE/Daily
Anti-War Action! constructed a mock cemetery on the Diag yesterday afternoon to represent the
lives that would be lost in a potential war from Iraq.

Psych class offers students chance to serve as role models

By Dan Trudeau
Daily Staff Reporter
Excited children ran rampant yesterday at the
University Sports Coliseum as the University Big
Sibs celebrated the end of a semester-long com-
munity involvement experience with a party for all
of the program's participants - big and small.
The program, similar to Big Brothers Big Sis-
ters of America, is run through the Psychology
Outreach Project and gives undergraduate stu-
dents a unique experience to teach, learn and
become involved in the community while work-
ing every week with a local child between the
ages of 5 and 15.
"The University students gain the knowledge
of a child, possibly from a different socio-eco-
nomic background and how to be a mentor to
someone who might be in need of one," said
undergraduate group leader Brad Spiegel, a
Kinesiology junior.
"They show the little siblings that it's a good
thing to work hard and study."
University students and little siblings agreed
that while involvement in the program is a big

commitment, the benefits are large and lasting.
LSA senior Julie Ponitz and her little sibling
Precious Houston, a freshman at Huron High
School, reflected on their two-year involvement
in the Big Sibs program.
"You first meet somebody and get to know
them and trust them and become good friends.
You're never bored and always having fun,"
Houston said.
Ponitz also expressed a great appreciation for
her experience as a Big Sib.
"Being able to develop a relationship with
someone you would never have the chance of
meeting has definitely been a benefit. It's a real
change of pace from other University classes -
plus I've been able to watch Precious grow up
and change so much. My mom asked me if I was
going to cry when the party was over and I said I
probably would," Ponitz said.
Participants in Big Sibs are required to spend
at least 40 hours with their little brother or sister
over the course of the semester.
In addition to tutoring and taking trips to local
museums, the students are encouraged to spend
free time talking with their little siblings to serve

as a positive example.
"(The program) is geared toward getting the little
sib out of the house. Usually the activities involve
one-on-one contact as opposed to something like
going to the movies and just sitting," Spiegel said.
Big Sibs functions as a section of Psychology
211 and offers participants two credits and gives
undergraduate group leaders a unique opportuni-
ty to head discussion sections.
Additionally, students are required to attend an
hour of lecture every week to learn about the
psychology of children.
"Lectures are centered around child develop-
ment issues and risk factors such as media vio-
lence, foster housing and other potential
development problems. The discussions give
group leaders some experience in teaching and
leading a group," Cynthia Ramirez, a graduate
instructor said.
Participants commented with enthusiasm on
the benefits of the unusual program.
"I've already done it twice and I plan to do it
again in the future," LSA sophomore Bill Bege-
ny said. "It gives you a great chance to work
with young people, to have a lot of fun and to

TOM FELDKAMP/Daily
LSA junior Blaire Valentine helps out at the Little Sibs event in the Sports Coliseum
yesterday.

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