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Sep. 23, 2015

Marc Reed: Spartan Culture

Sept. 23, 2015

Marc Reed is a senior from Owosso, Michigan studying human resource management in the Broad College of Business, the College of Social Science and the Honors College. A member of the 2015 Homecoming Court, he is the human resources director and chairperson of the University Activities Board, vice president and sergeant of arms for Delta Lambda Phi Social Fraternity, a participant in Alternative Spartan Breaks, a member of the Psi Chi Psychology Honors Society and a dairy showman at the MSU Dairy Expo.

Marc Reed and his momAs a human resource management major, culture is a topic I have learned a lot about. Culture defines the norms, values, attitudes and sense of belongingness of a group. Culture can apply to almost any kind of grouping of individuals, such as an organization or company.

Google's culture could be described as innovative, modern, hands-on and open. The culture at Disney could be described is imaginative, customer-oriented, diverse and inspired. Culture can apply to geographical groupings — continents, countries, regions, states and cities.

For instance, have you ever heard someone say "How European of you?" or describe different regions of America, such as the fast-paced temperament of the East Coast, or the hospitable nature of the South? Cultural norms are prevalent in minority groups, college campuses; even your family has a certain kind of culture. To metaphorically beat the dead cow (I can say that because I was raised on a dairy farm) culture is everywhere and applies to almost everything.

Why does culture matter, though? What relevance does it have, and what are the implications of a culture? To put it simply, culture provides belongingness. It can make a person feel valued, important to a group and like they belong. Or, on the opposite side, it can discourage, intimidate and exclude. If any organization cannot attract new or diverse people, you may have a culture problem. If your family is disconnected, you might essentially have a culture problem (I'm doing an additional major in psychology). 

Will Power volunteersMSU's culture is something I think a lot about. I like to think of words to describe the culture here. One reason I really like Homecoming is because I feel it is a time when MSU's culture is most prominent and salient. Many describing words come to mind when I want to summarize MSU and the culture here. Grounded, willful, inclusive, forward thinking, united, green (of course). I think it is important to stop and smell the cultural roses around you, to acknowledge the culture you live in and appreciate it. At MSU, we are very fortunate to have the kind of culture that we do. 

Recently, I stumbled upon an article about The 30 Best Colleges for LGBT Students (Google it), and I was excited to see that MSU was listed as number 14 on the list. What a compliment about the culture of MSU. Many students would agree that coming to college could be a tremendous culture shock and adjustment. You have to overcome insecurities regarding your ability to manage your responsibilities to succeed, to make friends and fit in, to be independent and to handle all of the expenses, on top of any personal stressors you may have going on in your life.

As a gay man, an additional stressor for me was a fear of not being accepted and attending a school that did not have a culture of inclusion. When I transitioned from elementary to high school, I was bullied moderately, so as an incoming freshman, I feared coming to college might present a similar obstacle, especially hearing horror stories of college parties gone wrong. But for someone to say that MSU is one of the best colleges to attend for LGBT students, that says a lot about how we treat and respect one another as Spartans, and it only creates positive energy for MSU's future and progress as an educational institution.

UAB students playing game outdoorsNow that I have spent time with this university, I realize my initial fears were maybe excessive and unnecessary (as most fears are.) As a freshman looking for a place to create belongingness for myself, I joined the University Activities Board, and in no organization have I ever felt so appreciated for whom I was, even with my quirks and…buoyancy.  The staff and students in UAB were open and friendly to me, and the culture of UAB is a large influencer on how I view the culture of MSU. UAB is just one of hundreds of organizations at MSU that you can be a part of, which is one thing that really drew me to MSU when I applied. No matter who you are, there is a place for you in this campus of more than 50,000 students. 

For any incoming freshmen or any students that do not feel the sense of belongingness that you deserve at MSU, I would say that no matter your race, color, gender expression, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, there is a place for you. MSU has a place and niche for everyone. 50,000 students is overwhelming, but it makes the odds of finding someone that would be a great best friend for you pretty good, right?

What it has come down to for me is taking ownership of my Spartan experience and actively seeking people, organizations and opportunities.  Being a go-getter is a huge key to success in both college and in life. Happily, MSU does a lot of the work for us — providing the resources, organizations and culture that can bring us the belongingness, support and success we all need. 

Visit the Homecoming website for more information and blogs