Mount Pleasant bars confiscate fake IDs, employees train for confiscations

Bartender DJ Breidenstein, left, and Lois Breidenstein, owner of The Bird Bar and Grill, look through fake ID’s Monday evening that have been collected at the doors of the bar over the past few years. (Charlotte Bodak / Assistant Photo Editor)

Bartender DJ Breidenstein, left, and Lois Breidenstein, owner of The Bird Bar and Grill, look through fake IDs Monday evening that have been collected at the doors of the bar over the past few years. (Charlotte Bodak / Assistant Photo Editor)

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Fake IDs have become a norm among underage college students, but bars in Mount Pleasant have begun to master the art of confiscation.

Lois Breidenstein, owner and operator of The Bird Bar and Grill in downtown Mount Pleasant, has been using an effective method for confiscating fakes for more than five years.

“If we find a fake license, we confiscate it, mark an X on it with a black marker and don’t give it back,” Breidenstein said.

The pile of confiscated IDs at The Bird is about three and a half inches thick. A majority of the confiscations occur between Thursday and Saturday evenings.

“We always have to do a good job of checking first semester so (students) know not to try (using fakes) at our place,” Breidenstein said.

The Bird is one of many bars around the state registered with the Michigan State Police on the ID Checking Guide, which provides pictures and descriptions of every state’s ID as well as all provinces in Canada. The guide costs $26 per year.

For every fake an employee discovers at the door or counter, they receive a $5 stipend.

Breidenstein said students usually try to convince employees there has been a mistake when they’re caught with a fake.

“We usually ask if they want to call the police,” Breidenstein said. “The police are always really good about coming out.”

Protocol around Mount Pleasant

At The Cabin, it’s the responsibility of the people working the door to spot a fake or borrowed ID. All employees take a two-hour class focusing on how to spot fakes.

“We had to get the training the state makes all the employees take. When I do find (fake IDs), I bring them up to the bar,” said Josh Lee, a Troy senior and doorman at The Cabin. “They get rid of them and don’t give them back.”

Freddie’s Tavern is also strict on fake IDs, toting a zero-tolerance policy when they are found.

Mount Pleasant senior and Freddie’s employee Dani Phillips does not notice a lot of fakes anymore due to their strict policy.

“I’m a townie, so I recognize some of the (underage) students,” Phillips said. “If we spot a fake, we either throw it away or turn it in to the police.”

Back at The Bird, the stack of plastic faces continues to pile up.

Ben Breidenstein, Lois’ son and manager at The Bird, said there have been more stories than he could remember.

“The worst card I have ever seen was a Russian ID,” he said. “The card looked like a Chippewa ID and she used an accent, which she stopped using halfway through the night.”

But not all are fake.

In fact, more than half the IDs that are collected are not fakes, but IDs that were borrowed from someone else.

“Whenever we take a borrowed ID, the person who lent the ID to the other person will come in the next day asking for it, but we don’t give it back,” Lois said.

Finding a fake

Some of the key indicators when spotting a fake are the height and eye color, said DJ Blizzard, one of the managers at The Bird.

“The first thing I look for is the general outline of the face of the nose,” Blizzard said. “Then I always look at the color of the eyes, the height and the jaw line.”

Blizzard, who has confiscated more than 500 fake IDs in 10 years, said it’s harder to catch girls because their hair color can change and it can be insensitive to ask about their weight.

“A lot of people come up and try to use (fakes) by just not taking it out of their wallet,” he said. “That’s an early sign, and then I ask them their zodiac sign to see if they know.”

Despite the extra efforts, Lois realizes that no one is perfect.

“We know some slip through,” she said. “But at least we can make it harder for whoever tries it.”

(Author’s Note: The article was originally published on Aug. 16, 2012)


Forensic anthropology class spends final exam time learning from a crime scene

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Students from Forensic Anthropology gathered together on a cold Friday afternoon to take part in a mock crime scene for their final exam.

Catherine Willermet, assistant professor of anthropology, did this before when she taught at the University of Louisiana for two years but has never implemented the project as a final exam until now.

“All semester long they’ve been learning different aspects of forensic anthropology,” Willermet said. “This is the largest student lab I’ve done.”

The whole point of forensic anthropology is when the police have to call in an expert when they find bodies outside that have decayed and are unidentifiable, Willermet said.

“You can’t prosecute anyone if you can’t identify the body,” she said.

Newaygo sophomore Kelsey Vandenbosch was in one of nine groups of five students given a specific job. The lab involved finding the bones, mapping them out and analyzing the evidence.

While learning about decomposition rates and trauma wounds, Vandenbosch said she was exited to learn about the hands-on final exam.

“I think it’s a lot better than a written exam,” Vandenbosch said. “It gives us a hands-on experience instead of learning it in a classroom. It makes you realize how much work goes into it.”

Laura Kettle, a Bridgman senior, said she looks to use the experience in becoming a real forensic anthropologist.

“I took a class on it when I was a sophomore,” Kettle said. “I was pretty good at skull reconstruction.”

Each group has two mappers, a photographer, a recorder and one excavator, Kettle said. Each group would flag everything and anything that looked like evidence. This included cigarette butts, pencils, candy wrappers and any trash that was around.

“I know it’s going to be difficult,” Kettle said. “But Professor Willermet is a great teacher.”

Livonia junior Heather Marshall was in a group with a skeleton that was missing its upper half.

“We are assuming it’s male, because of the narrower sub pubic angle on the pelvic bone,” she said.

After all the students finished their work outside, they were then instructed to do a write-up about the results. There is specific paperwork for each job, Willermet said.

Each group was also required to map out a one-by-one meter grid across the portion of the crime scene they staked out, Willermet said. Whenever there were visitors at each crime scene, whether it was a reporter or another anthropologist, they had to sign in and write down the time.

“They’re doing really well so far,” Willermet said. “They are asking very few questions.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 22, 2012)

SAPA hosts ‘That Sl*t Asked For It, Right?,’ an annual gender stereotype event

Florida senior Rich Bronson of SAPA stands on stage of the Park Library Auditorium with fellow SAPA member graduate student Christie Martin. They presented the SAPA event "That S!*t Asked For It, Right?" a program breaking down myths behind sexual assault. (Chuck Miller / Staff Photographer)

Florida senior Rich Bronson of SAPA stands on stage of the Park Library Auditorium with fellow SAPA member graduate student Christie Martin. They presented the SAPA event “That S!*t Asked For It, Right?” a program breaking down myths behind sexual assault. (Chuck Miller / Staff Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

During the event, called “That Sl*t Asked For It, Right?,” audience members were encouraged to shout out names placed on gender stereotypes by society.

Marne graduate student Christie Martin said she appreciated the attendance and atmosphere in the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “There were a lot of students who are interactive.”

The event was first held last year, making Tuesday night’s event its second appearance at Central Michigan University.

“We heard about the attention it received, and there were a lot of positive reactions,” said Florida junior Richard Bronson.

The event itself discussed some of the myths that make sexual assault acceptable in culture, Martin said.

With most of the auditorium filled, students voiced their opinion freely, all the while learning about the attitudes and beliefs of misconceptions about survivors.

This included listing characteristics about men and women on construction paper from things shouted out from the audience, as well as statistics on self-defense. The language stemmed from its use in society, whether it be in residence halls or on television.

A breakdown of the statistics

Some statistics included that a third of survivors never tell anyone about their assault, and only five percent of sexual assault survivors will report the incident to the police.

Abigail Parker, a Kalamazoo sophomore, said she attended the event because of the success SAPA has had in the past.

“I heard about it in the weekly student news over email,” Parker said. “I came because SAPA does a really good job, and I was curious about the title.”

SAPA also brought to light some of the laws that deal with sexual assault that don’t apply to other crimes in the state of Michigan.

Indiana freshman Misty Gonzalez holds out her pepper spray during a demonstration by SAPA as part of the program "That Sl*t Asked For It, Right?"  (Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer)

Indiana freshman Misty Gonzalez holds out her pepper spray during a demonstration by SAPA as part of the program “That Sl*t Asked For It, Right?” (Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer)

“In the state of Michigan, the definition of sexual assault is when anyone does any sexual act without consent,” Martin said.

One of the main overall themes the event tried to get across was sexual assault is about power and control, Bronson said.

“I thought the turnout was good, and I was happy with how everyone was willing to participate,” he said.

Kalamazoo sophomore Brittany Johnston said she did not realize some of the language was so harmful.

“I thought it was really eye-opening,” Johnston said. “We say these things everyday and don’t put much thought into it.”

Parker agreed that she too hears those names all the time but never took into consideration the meaning behind them.

“I think this is hard topic, and they did a great job covering it,” Parker said.

Big Rapids senior Tangela Smith, who is in her third year as a SAPA member, said she thought the event went pretty well.

“I like doing programs like this, where it is fun with people laughing,” she said. “But there was also a message behind the laughter.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 17, 2012)

Sustainability survey draws student attention

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

A new survey about the Facilities Management office has been released to the university community.

On Thursday, students received the 10-question Sustainability Survey, sent out by Shelby Township senior Vincent Cavataio.

“It’s supposed to show what they know, and what they don’t know,” said Steve Lawrence, vice president of Facilities Management.

The survey was distributed to a select group of students via email about a week and a half ago, Lawrence said.

“We should have our results by the end of April,” he said.

Not all the questions pertain to what the surveyed know about Facilities Management, but also whether or not they practice a sustainable lifestyle.

Facilities Management has been involved with a number of projects around campus, including the solar panels on the Education and Human Services Building, the parking lots that conserve water and the installation of the automatic light sensors.

“We head up and take care of recycling, energy optimization and other green cleaning,” Lawrence said.

However, the survey has had to go through Human Resources in order for the unions to approve Facilities Management communicating messages to their membership.

Cavataio, a former Student Government Association president, said Facilities Management has been in touch with Human Resources in giving the survey to any employee. Now it comes down to the faculty.

“What we are really hoping for is all the unions to look at it by the end of this week,” Cavataio said.

So far 200 people have taken the survey, most of which were students. Five unions have given the OK to take the survey, including the teacher’s and police unions. So far HR has been giving Cavataio updates daily. They are still waiting to hear from NABET, the Faculty Association and Graduate Student Union for approval.

“I’ve sent (University Communications) the new design that is going out in an email to all students and it will go to all staff and faculty as well,” Cavataio said. “We’re just waiting on the approval of all of the unions and then everybody will have it.”

The sustainability survey was distributed to a few different outlets that students use to get people talking about it, Cavataio said.

The survey also asked whether or not the user would like to be informed about Facilities Management’s efforts on campus, which would involve a Facebook page, Twitter account and or a monthly newsletter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 15, 2012)

CMU professor teams up with MSU colleague to write book on racism, history

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

A Central Michigan University history professor has teamed up with a Michigan State University professor to publish a book on race and history.

After two and a half years of work, Stephen Jones and Eric Freedman, an associate professor of journalism at MSU, finished their book, “Presidents and Black America: A Documentary History,” about racial misconceptions.

The book includes a chapter on each president and their interactions with black America, Jones said.

“The actions and the attitudes of the presidents are not always during the period in office,” Jones said. “Sometimes it comes before or after their term in office.”

The duo tries to provide the same amount of information on each president, but others were more difficult than others, Jones said.

“William Henry Harrison was more of a scramble to find than most,” he said.

The relationships between presidents and black Americans in the book covers the colonial days through the current Obama administration, Freedman said.

The two former journalists knew each through reputation and a few phone calls at first.

“I knew his byline and we had a number of conversations during the newspaper strikes,” Jones said. “Eric was looking for someone to work with on this project, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The first collaborative book came out in 2008 about black Americans in Congress. Shortly after its completion came the proposal for the second book, which would focus on the presidents and black America.

“We saw logic to continuing the line of research on the Congress book,” Freedman said. “There are a lot of misconceptions Americans have about race and presidents.”

Both books had a common theme about race, whether it was dealing with Congress or presidencies.

“We had some conversations during the first book where we came across some stories where we crossed the boundaries between the presidents and the Congress,” Jones said.

The two were then able to use some of the remaining notes in the next book, which, admittedly, included a few eye-openers. For instance, while most remember Abraham Lincoln for his work during the Civil War, he still had many racist tendencies.

“Lincoln made comments about how he didn’t believe in equality among races,” Freedman said. “He didn’t pull for political rights among African Americans.”

What missed the cut

They both said one of the most interesting things found was something that did not make it into the book.

While researching in the Herbert Hoover Library in Iowa, Jones came across a letter between President Hoover and Walter White, former president of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People.

By 1932, the Great Depression had hit and people were struggling for food and shelter and an unidentified congressional source suggested that all unemployed black men should be shipped back to the South.

“I found this document that was a letter from Walter White to Hoover,” Jones said. “I had never heard of such a thing. White’s letter was breathtaking.”

In the letter, White expressed how much he disapproved of the idea.

It took the two professors thousands of hours of reading archives, looking at microfilms and old newspapers to complete the book.

As for future projects, both professors said they intend to take some time off.

“We haven’t talked about it yet,” Freedman said. “I’m still recuperating from the last project.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 2, 2012)

A fairy tale in the making

Woodland senior Jamie Emmons poses with her fiance, Daniel Eads, Sunday afternoon in the Woldt courtyard. Eads proposed earlier this January by creating a 94-page crayon illustrated book about their experiences together, with the last page illustrating a fairy-tale story of them spending their lives together. (Jeff Smith / Staff Photographer)

Woodland senior Jamie Emmons poses with her fiance, Daniel Eads, Sunday afternoon in the Woldt courtyard. (Jeff Smith / Staff Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — Whenever Jamie Emmons works at the front desk in the Woldt lobby, any passerby will get a ‘good morning’ accompanied with a smile.

These days, the Woodland senior has a lot more to smile about than usual.

Throughout college, Emmons regularly attended spiritual life retreats, which were a way to get away from campus, dig deeper into faith and relax.

In her sophomore year at Spring Arbor University, Emmons met her fiancé Daniel Eads on one of those retreats.

“One of my friends introduced me to him,” Emmons said. “I didn’t know what to think of him; we were both awkward.”

Their first date was baking bread and apple butter, which were both his recipes.

“She seemed really quiet and studious,” Eads said.

Then a month after meeting him, Emmons left Spring Arbor for a new major in Communication Disorders at Central Michigan University.

Two hours away from each other, the two remained long-distance friends, and didn’t get to know each other until they were apart, Emmons said. They continued to exchange calls and visited one another from time to time.

“I think we both kind of liked each other but didn’t want to say anything,” Emmons said. “He didn’t want to make any moves until he knew I was someone he would want to marry.”

Asking permission

After dating for nine months, the couple went on a winter retreat in Northern Michigan, where Eads had other plans.

Leading up to the retreat, Daniel met with Emmons’ parents for lunch in Lansing, where he asked for permission to marry their daughter.

“We were really pleased with Daniel and how he asked us first,” said Jamie’s mother Loretta. “He had written us months ago by letter asking if he could pursue her. When he called to have coffee, I kind of got an idea why we were there.”

Woodland senior Jamie Emmons shows a page of the crayon illustrated book her fiance, Daniel Eads, made for her. (Jeff Smith / Staff Photographer)

Woodland senior Jamie Emmons shows a page of the crayon illustrated book her fiance, Daniel Eads, made for her. (Jeff Smith / Staff Photographer)

Her parents were so happy about it, they gave advice to Eads for another hour, pausing momentarily to feed money into the meter outside the restaurant.

Emmons said she was only expecting to have fun and relax on this retreat.

“I was reading a magazine when he said ‘That’s boring,’ and handed me this book,” Emmons said. “And it was basically a fairy tale about our lives together. It talked about him inviting me to lasagna for the first time, and I didn’t show up.”

The beginning of the 94-page book started off with, “Once Upon a Time…”

“I had it in my head that I wanted to make it for a couple of months,” Eads said. “I ended up making it a week and a half before I proposed.”

From there, it was a lot of sleepless nights working on the book, binding the spine, writing and drawing up pages of memories.

With perfect memory, Emmons recited the last line of the book word-for-word.

“Little did she know that in the wintery wonderland of the north that he would ask her if their own love story could enfold forever.” Above this passage was a red arrow drawn pointing off the page.

When Emmons looked down, Eads was on one knee with a ring in his hand.

“I was excited,” Emmons said. “It felt like a dream the whole time I was reading the book.”

Loretta watched the video of the proposal along with some photos of the book itself.

“It was pretty unique; she didn’t see it coming at all,” Loretta said. “He filmed it somehow, and I was able to see her reactions.”

Coming back to CMU

Emmon’s return to CMU was filled with joy and the anticipation of marriage.

“After that, I couldn’t really pay attention to school work for the next week,” she said. “I started making lists for the wedding and other things.”

Emmon’s roommate Hannah Cruse, a freshman from Kalamazoo, was one of the first at school to hear the news.

“I was really surprised when she showed me the ring,” Cruse said. “Every time I would come back she would be up late on the internet, and looking at wedding magazines.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 20, 2012)

Facilities Management continues replacing pipes in campus buildings

By Tony Wittkowski | Staff Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Work continues on renewing old water lines in various buildings on campus.

Since 1999, domestic water lines have been renewed in 17 residential halls and several academic buildings.

New water pipelines have been installed in the Bovee University Center, Brooks Hall, Anspach Hall, Pearce Hall, Moore Hall and the Dow Science Building.

Ronan and Foust halls are almost done, while Bush Theatre is being worked on now. Grawn Hall is the next building to have work done, with work beginning over winter break and expected to be done by the end of the summer, said Steve Lawrence, vice president of Facilities Management.

Many of the older buildings contained galvanized piping that allows for carbonate buildup, limiting water pressure and the amount that is able to come through.

The only residential halls not done are Celani, Campbell, Fabiano, Kesseler and Kulhavi, because they contain copper piping, Lawrence said.

Installation began in 1999 when Herrig, Barnes and Thorpe halls were worked on.

The university has completed 28 buildings at a cost of $9,332,000, funding that came from the deferred maintenance fund, Lawrence said.

“The cost varies a lot,” he said. “It also depends on how the hall was built, how many feet of pipe there is and how many toilets, showers, sinks and drinking fountains a building has.”

When the university redid the Towers’ domestic water lines, it cost $1.7 million to replace the water in those, because they were so big and tall, Lawrence said.

New toilets, alterations to faucets

A change in water faucets and toilets has Central Michigan University saving money and water every year.

Tom Rohrer, director of the Great Lakes Institute for Sustainable Systems, said faucets were putting out five gallons per minute and costing the university more than it should have. Aerators were put on faucets and water use dropped to three-quarters a gallon per minute, marking an 80-percent reduction.

“The university had reduced it so much, the city of Mount Pleasant called to see what was going on,” Rohrer said.

Building by building, 2,200 aerators have been installed by student employees since 2008. The established annual savings for the faucets came to $58,000 a year, with the cost and installation of the aerators coming to $9,000, Lawrence said. They are now on most campus faucets.

“I now found one or two sinks I haven’t seen (the aerators) on,” Lawrence said. “But it’s very few.”

The university has also installed 220 low-flow flush valves on urinals and 650 dual-flow toilets since 2009, Lawrence said. Toilets are dual flow, meaning it has the option for a low or regular flow.

“On the dual-flow toilets, you pull up for liquid waste and push down for solid waste,” Rohrer said.

The university wanted to cut back on its water and sewage bill and succeeded by installing these water savers.

Last year’s fiscal budget for water was $934,750, which was a decrease from $1,012,300 in 2009-10, Lawrence said.

“Sustainability here at CMU is a point of pride,” Rohrer said. “We were putting out a lot of water flow.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2012)