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September 08, 2000 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-08

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2000

E ICi t i ttn ttil

Be grateful for what you have, average as it may be

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

MIKE SPAHN
Editor in Chief
EMILY ACHENBAUM
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Idle minds

W hat you are about to read may be con-
sidered controversial, anti-establish-
mentarian and downright un-American.
I'm about to go against the values of main-
stream society, and no one ever likes that.
But I'll say it anyway:
Just be average.
Yep. That's it. For-
get "The Leaders and
the Best"; let's go
with "The Masses of '
Mediocrity."
Why? Well, let's
think about it. How'
much mental energy
are you devoting to
our ridiculously ;
unhealthy drive to
become better! Do we David
really need "Killer Horn
Abs in just 4 weeks!"
Must we really know HC't ry:aphy
how to make her (or
him) obsessed with you in just days? Why
are we so captivated by the idea that we
should want to "Be All You Can Be," or
join "the few, the proud, the strong?"
The media seduces us almost 24 hours a
day, selling every imaginable product to
make us more sexy, more powerful, more
wealthy, more successful, smarter, stronger,
funnier... the list goes on and on. Is it a
wonder that "anxiety" and "pressure to
excel" seem to be two of the most common
emotions here at the University?
Just consider - accepting ourselves as
mediocre would mean one important thing:

Accepting ourselves. And couldn't this sim-
ple step eliminate eating disorders and
destroy depression? Perhaps even eradicate
greed, resentment and jealousy?!? Say hello
to world peace.
OK, I hear what you're thinking, "Sure,
Dave, that's easy for you to say. You're a
six-term Angell Scholar on full academic
scholarship working as an Abercrombie
model part-time... all this while owning
your own dot-com and tutoring at-risk stu-
dents in the inner city. And your friend,
Jerry, he puts all that to shame, what with
the work he's done with Amnesty Interna-
tional and those multiple Oscars. (Did you
also hear rumors that I walked-on to the
varsity hockey team and had a little thing
this summer with Britney Spears?) What do
you guys know about being average?"
Well, Hornography fans, it's all lies. I'm
the quintessential average kid here at the
University. 15 credits. Part-time job. My
night is capped after eight beers. I'm not
the president of my fraternity and I don't
organize Dance Marathon. I drive a 1990
Honda Civic (baby blue) and am not in
Michigamua, Phoenix, or any other secret
society.
So being your average Dave here at the
University, well... that's fine with me. I'm
comfortable with my life, regardless of not
having those "really pimp shoes" or worry-
ing about who's got the "coolest cell
phone." I'm not concerned with whether my
trophy girlfriend is cheating on me with my
closest "competitors." J. Crew comes out
with the new fall line, and I just don't care

(that's actually a bloody lie - I do care,
tremendously, but we'll pretend I'm not so
hell-bent on wearing those delightfully dap-
per clothes from J. Crew).
However, those of you who disagree have
a worthy point. Mediocrity doesn't move us
forward. The satisfaction of defeating a
hard-fought challenge is unrivaled. And the
toils and strife of life won't get easier if we
don't constantly improve.
What I'm saying is that getting better,
moving up and improving life - these
things are great and all, but they won't
eliminate pain and sorrow. So if that's your
goal, just quit now, because those two
things will always be a part of humanity no
matter who you are.
But, conceding that the quest for honor
and glory has a place, allow me to try
again.
My proposal is this:
Just be grateful.
Be grateful for everything you have. Be
proud of all you've already accomplished.
Accept yourself for who you are before let-
ting your drive and ambition take you to
new places.
And if while in this moment of gratitude
you're feeling like a nobody, remember that
being average is very much relative, and a
pretty ridiculous concept anyway.
You either study or teach at the Universi-
ty - one of the top 25 universities in the
greatest country in the world.
C'mon, how bad can that be?
- David Horn can be reached via e-mail
at hornd@urmich.edu.

Welcome week needs to be shortened

While welcome week is intended
to give new students an opportu-
nity to meet their fellow classmates,
far too many first-year-students end
up associating with the likes of Jim
Bean, Jack Daniel's and Captain Mor-
gan.
The reason behind this phenome-
non lies not so much with the allure of
these "characters," but rather with the
large amount of unnecessary time
allotted for first-year students to learn
their way around campus. This time
must be reduced by shortening "Wel-
come Week" so first-year students use
their time productively instead of par-
tying.
Although the University moved in
the right direction last year by cutting
one day from welcome week, it is still
not necessary for first-year students to
have six days to familiarize them-
selves with campus. They've already
had plenty of time to learn their way
around the University at such school-
sponsored events as orientation and
campus Day.
It doesn't take too much time to
learn how to walk from Markley to the
Diag and Pizza House. Even if it did,
they have at least another four years in

Ann Arbor to figure it out. They cer-
tainly do not need the time just to
move in their belongings. Most stu-
dents have their lofts and clothes in
order the day they move in.
Those that don't almost invariably
have everything put away by the sec-
ond day, giving them six days of the
freest time in the world. Many first-
year students use that extra time to
acquaint themselves with a lifestyle
quite unlike that which they will be
living when the semester begins. They
spend their first week thrust into a
constant party instead of easing into a
balanced lifestyle consisting of both
socializing and academics.
This is not to say that Welcome
Week isn't a whole lot of fun. But the
University prides itself in that its stu-
dents come here for academics, not
partying. Curbing binge-drinking has
been a favorite task force topic lately,
and the administration is fooling
themselves if they think a lengthy
Welcome Week isn't inviting trouble.
If the University wants to maintain
- or build - a certain image, it
should ensure that our first-year stu-
dents don't spend their first week
learning how to get drunk.

0
0

"30 years ago the same things might have been
said about African studies"
- LSA junior Sean Heslin on the controversy surrounding English 317:
"How to be gay: Male homosexuality and initiation.

.0

Clasmss in caigns
n'a piU' curriculum should not be political issue

A course being offered at the Uni-
versity this semester has brought
the election for the Board of Regents
into the spotlight. The course in ques-
tion offers an examination of the way
the gay male identity is shaped by lit-
erature and popular culture.
This in itself, though a fairly
innocuous area of study, might lead to
objections by some conservatives, but
the most inflammatory aspect of the
class is it's title: "How to Be Gay:
Homosexuality and Male Initiation."
In recent months, the course has
drawn fire from conservative groups
such as the American Family Associa-
tion, which is lobbying for its cancel-
lation, with the a pparent support of
some of the Republican regents.
And some of the GOP's regental
candidates have made the class a key
issue in their campaigns; although he
was not nominated, Auburn Hills
Mayor Tom McMillin claims that its
inception inspired him to run for the
board.
This kind of thinking may very
well drag irrelevant political fights
into an election that should be mainly
concerned with the intellectual wel-
fare of the University and its students.
In the first place, the offering of a
course on gay culture should not be
such a big issue. Most of the objec-
tions to the course center on outdated
and prejudiced viewpoints, such as the
stereotype of gay people who

"recruit" heterosexuals. This is clearly
not a rational basis for objection to
the course (nor does it have anything
to do with the actual content of the
class). There is no way that simply
taking such a course can harm stu-
dents.
The key issue in this case, though,
is not so much gay rights as it is acad-
emic freedom. The University should
not fear intimidation and censorship
for offering any course that professors
wish to teach and that students wish to
enroll in. One of the purposes of high-
er education is to expose students to a
broad range of views; if political cen-
sorship is allowed to work it's way
into the classroom, this cannot hap-
pen. Regental candidate Suzy Avery
complains that the "provocative '
nature of the class "pushes the enve-
lope".- but pushing the envelope is
exactly what should happen at a uni-
versity.
The controversy over the "How to
Be Gay" course is far more harmful
than anyone can claim the course
itself is. The purpose of the Board of
Regents is to oversee the operation of
the University, and to work for the
best interest of the University commu-
nity.
A regental race that centers on the
content of a course sets a dangerous
precedent: It is in the University's best
interest to create a learning environ-
ment unencumbered by censorship.

First-year women:
Ignore Sanz and
stay healthy
TO THE DAILY:
I wonder if Branden Sanz considers him-
self to be one of the "most" he mentioned in
his column ("An open letter to all incoming
first-year students," 9/6/2000) that attend the
University to "actually learn something," for
if he is then I would encourage him and oth-
ers saluting his advice to our first-year
women to study-up. As a campus I would
have thought we would have matured past
the "get 'em while they're thin" philosophy.
However, I'm grievouslv mistaken.
What a fine welcome to campus Sanz has
portrayed to our younger peers, that his "sin-
cere advice" is to prioritize going to parties
and staying skinny - because otherwise
what? No one will like them? Or because
any added weight impedes the alcohol/GHB
process? Give me a break! Even if he meant
it as a joke, predation has never been funny.
This mentality is infectious, and it poi-
sons us all because our media sources shove
it down our throats and members of the "He-
Man Woman-Haters Club" perpetuate it. For
a man of quality character would recognize
university women NOT spending their
tuition to become Goddess of Workout
World, rather a person of confidence, intelli-
gence and understanding.
Sure, everyone should take care of their
bodies as wellias their minds, including vita-
mins, healthful foods, moderate exercise,
and rest - but let's not get carried away.
These powerful campus messages hurt peo-
ple because it affirms the "Hollywood ideal"
in a home town way, making it hard to
ignore. Let's keep critically thinking about
why our campus and society projects an
image of ideal thin by shaving inches with
Photoshop, and demeaning others in words.
My sincere advice for you female first-
year students, while media may betraying to
get us to disappear by portraying us thinner
or advising us all to look 14, dare yourself to'
take up space, allow yourself to be a woman.
Be a rebel: Stay healthy.
ELISE ERICKSON
HEALTH ISSUES CHAIR, MSA
The Detroit Project
deserves support
TO THE DAILY:
Thank you very much for Natalie
Plosky's article on community service at the
University (Community service remains a
popular activity at the 'U', 9/6/2000). Many
times such service organizations do tremen-
dous work but don't get as much publicity as
they deserve. In addition to the wonderful
groups mentioned, I would also like to tell a
little about another great community service
organization on campus, The Detroit Project.
Last April we took more than 400 Uni-
versity students to an area of Detroit where
these volunteers dedicated a day to commu-
nity service to help revitalize a community.

projects you would like to sign for and when.
Student organizations can partner with us to
have days of service that cater to their inter-
ests. The possibilities here are limitless.
The Detroit Project is anything you make
it to be, whether it be helping a child to read
or tearing down an old house. It can be the
physical act of fixing something or the feel-
ing you get from helping people out. We
want it to be something meaningful to you,
because we know it's meaningful to the com-
munity that we're serving. You can get more
information on our Webpage:
wwvw.umich.edu/~thedp or e-mail questions
to thedp aumich.edu.
JUSTIN REYNOLDS
LSA JUNIOR
'How to be gay'
class is a passive
form of promotion'
TO THE DAILY:
This letter is in response to the letter in
support of David Halperin's course: How to
Be Gay. I think the letter misunderstands the
objections of those opposed to the class. I
don't think anyone thinks that the class activ.-
ly encourages people to become gay. What it
clearly does do is it assumes that homosexual-
ity is acceptable, normal behavior. This is a
passive form of promotion. There are many
good reasons for taxpayers to think that their
money should not be used to promote this
lifestyle.
First, homosexuality is self-evidently
unhealthy. Second, if controversial sexual
lifestyles are to be taught as acceptable and
normal, where do we draw the line? Many
think there is nothing wrong with many dif-
ferent sexual lifestyles. Why not teach a
class on how to be an adulterer, or how to be
a swinger? Third, these lifestyles are very
offensive to significant portions of the tax-
paying public. This is not to say that the
lifestyle shouldn't be allowed or that people
are justified in finding homosexuality offen-
sive. All it means is that tax payers have a
right to say that they don't want their money
being used to promote a lifestyle they find
offensive.
The letter further says that even if all these
reasons were valid, the course still should be
allowed on the grounds of academic freedom.
I have to wonder if the signers would feel the
same way about a course that expounded the
problems with the homosexual lifestyle. I
have to suspect that the course would be met
with demonstrations and condemnations from
many that signed that letter. Those involved
would probably be called bigots and homo-

phobes in an attempt to silence them with
name-calling similar to what was contained in
the letter. That really is bigotry.
JON CURRY
ALUMNUS
Gaines should lose
scholarship
TO THE DAILY:
I was watching ESPN late on the evening
of Sept. 5th when I saw across the screen that
Kevin Gaines, a player on the Michigan bas-
ketball team, was dismissed from the team
for disciplinary reasons. The following morn-
ing, I read articles regarding the handling of
the situation in both The Ann Arbor News
and The Michigan Daily. I was shocked and
appalled when I found out how the situation
was handled.
I was pleased that Gaines was dismissed
from the team for continued breaking of team
rules. All players on the team need to follow
the rules of the team and no one player, no
matter how good, should be above the rules.
However, it upset me that Gaines has been
offered the opportunity to stay at the Univer-
sity and keep his scholarship.
As an athletic administrator and an alum-
nus, it is my understanding that once a player
has been removed from a team that a univer-
sity or college will no longer honor his/her
scholarship. If students who are on academic
scholarships fall below the guidelines stated
in the scholarship, they lose the academic
scholarship. Why did this not happen in the
case of Gaines.
An athletic scholarship is four one-year
contracts not one four-year contract with the
student-athlete. If Gaines is allowed to retain
his athletic scholarship beyond this academic
year, the University is not allowing that
scholarship to be used to recruit a student-
athlete for the 2001-2002 men's basketball
season that will represent the University in a
positive manner.
My next question is why the men's bas-
ketball team recruited Avery Queen, a fresh-
man on the basketball team. Queen was
already on legal probation for assault and
battery before he even set foot on the Univer-
sity campus. What statement does 'this make
about our men's basketball team? Queen may
be a talented basketball player but he has a
criminal record. I would rather see the Michi-
gan basketball team finish below .500 with
student-athletes who care about the Universi-
ty and represent the University in a positive
manner than finish above .500 with players
like Gaines and Queen.
TIMOTHY BROOKS
ALUMNUS

0

0

0

Ave Maria deserves a chance

F or the majority of colleges and uni-
versities across the country, a cul-
ture of liberalism has become common.
Not only is it unpopular to be conserv-
ative, it is viewed by some as unaccept-
able. Conservatism has too often
become synonymous with hate, racism
and bigotry. At the core of this threat-
ening image is religious fundamental-
ism, and in extreme cases, religion of
any kind, especially Christianity.
Enter the Ave Maria Schoolof Law.
As a fellow institute of higher educa-
tion, the University should support its
newest neighbor. Instead, even before it
opened for classes, AMSL was con-
demned by many in the .University
community. Its classes would be sanc-
tuaries for fundamentalist sermons. Its
students would litter the corner soap-
boxes with an overflow of Biblical
paraphernalia. Its graduates would
become the lawyers and judges that
will one day outlaw abortion, same-sex
marriages and everything else the hard-
working intellectuals of the enlight-

fundamentalists. Furthermore, AMSL
students may not be devout Catholics,
or they may not be Catholic at all.
They may have chosen AMSL simp ly
because they wanted to go to school in
Ann Arbor, or because the idea of the
school interests them. We should not
make presumptions about the entering
AMSL student body.
Nor can we make assumptions
about these same students when they
graduate three years from now. B the
time a student is ready for law school,
he or she has been developing a per-
sonal system of beliefs for years. Stu-
dents will enter AMSL with certain
values, and regardless of the curricu-
lum, those values are unlikely to
change drastically.
In the end, however, the argument is
not about whether we can or should
stereotype AMSL students. We may
presume to classify them as conserva-
tive fundamentalists. But Just as the
University supports many liberal val-
ues through its effort to maintain diver-

DANE BARNES DiSTURBED SLEEP
1
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a wAy Iwa4
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