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January 25, 2001 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-01-25

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4A - Ine Michigan Daly- -tnursuay, January 25, 2001
1ir £irbi ti &dlg

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 offthe majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Intro to Sociology:
You know what never gets old? I mean
aside from "That's what your mom
said." For me, it's checking out different
groups and figuring out what makes them
act like they do.
Like the massive, 15-member freshmen
caravans that venture
out of South Quad
every weekend like
some kind of big-
game safari in search
of the elusive house
party. Every time I
see one of these mot-
ley crews parading
down State Street, I
can't help but think
of the poor soul
who's all alone, talk-
ing to no one, bring- Chris
ing up the dead rear. Kula
If this kid's a full
block behind the
leaders of this crowd, Af A x
you have to imagine
that they didn't exactly stop by his room to
make sure he was coming along. He could
suddenly be attacked by wild jackals and
no one in his group would do a thing other
than to make bad Baha Men references.
And yet there he is, tagging along as
always, feeling like he's very much a part
of that group. I call this the "Joey from 'N-
Sync syndrome."
And what about this one: A bunch of
large, dude-like men gather frequently for
late-night chili cheese fries at Mr. Spot's.
Is it their mutual love of grease that

It's a group thang
brought them together in the first place, or
were they friends long before they discov-
ered the masochistic thrill of near-deadly
cholesterol binges? And did they all plan to
wear Co-Ed Naked T-shirts, or is that just a
coincidence?
Sometimes I think I should have been a
sociology major, because I'm constantly
fascinated by group dynamics. You can
learn a lot about somebody just by watch-
ing them in the context of a group. Are they
a leader or a follower? A talker or a listen-
er? A joker or a midnight toker?
And what's more, does their behavior dif-
fer from one group to the next? I can't imag-
ine there are many people out there who've
been spared the eye-opening experience of
seeing a good friend pull the classic Toucan
Sam maneuver in which they rip off their
familiar mask to adopt a completely different
personality when in new company (Editor's
note: Kellogg's Fruit Loops is an important
part of your daily balanced breakfast).
It seems to me that your average college
campus is a notorious setting for this kind
of intra-group mask swapping. You meet
people through all these different venues
and that's how you inevitably end up cate-
gorizing them: These are my friends from
work. These are my friends from stats
class. These are my friends from that Hanoi
pit of hell. And so on and so on.
In a way, these very specific circles of
friends are nice to have. Since everyone
knows their function, there's usually a
comfortable sense of belonging. Sure, you
might find yourself acting differently when
you're with one group versus another but

that's the beauty of having several crews in
your life: There's always variety, always a
change of pace.
What can be tough, though, is when, for
whatever reason, these different groups inter-
sect - and you're stuck right in the middle.
Do you take on the role of ambassador,
running back and forth from group to
group, trying to give each one equal atten-
tion? Or do you play United Nations and
attempt to bring together the representa-
tives from the nation of math group with
the opposing faction from the world of
Dance Marathon?
Or do you become Switzerland and
munch on a chocolate bar while blissfully
ignoring the fact that your two unrelated
groups of friends are setting up hostile bor-
der checkpoints all around you? Yah, I
know nah-sing.
For anyone who's tried to balance this
funky see-saw of social obligation, you
know it's a tough, tough situation. In fact,
it can be so awkward that there are certain
individuals who go to certain lengths to
ensure that they're never placed in the role
of swingman.
Does this sound familiar?
"Who's going? Um, just some people
from my work. (pause) I mean, you're wel-
come to come, if you want."
If you ever find yourself on the receiv-
ing end of this line, just smile, shake your
head and start walking - there's a group
leaving South Quad that's got your name
all over it. Just watch out for the jackals.
- Chris Kula can be reached via e-mail
at ckula@umich.edu.

Med school plan should go campus-wide

R ecently the University has approved
a Medical School program offering
short, non-credit courses to University
students and members of the Ann Arbor
" community. The classes, which will run
from March to April, are low cost and
modeled on similar programs that have
been successful at other medical schools,
such as the University of Pittsburgh.
While these classes are a positive way for
the University to provide educational
opportunities for people who otherwise
would not have exposure to this type of
information, they should not be limited to
the Medical School; other colleges at the
University should consider offering these
programs as well.
In the interest of research, the Univer-
sity is often criticized for neglecting stu-
dents; these types of programs show that
the University is interested in not only the
education of its tuition-paying students
but also in education for the sake of
knowledge itself. By developing such
positive programs, both the University
and the Ann Arbor community can bene-
fit.
Restricting these courses to the Med-
ical School limits other disciplines from
reaching out to the community. Many
students and other people interested in
non-credit classes would be interested in

courses offered in LSA or the School of
Business Administration, for example. A
low pressure and non-competitive envi-
ronment that requires a small time com-
mitment but still provides new
information is invaluable in the develop-
ment of an appreciation for learning for
reasons other than earning credit and
boosting a GPA.
While professors should not feel pres-
sured to offer these kinds of mini-cours-
es, such classes provide an opportunity to
share research with members of the com-
munity who otherwise would have little
opportunity to experience the sort of
work that professors at this University are
doing. And everyone involved benefits
from the experience: Students are,
exposed to new information on topics that
they would not otherwise encounter and
Professors are afforded the opportunity to
share their work with the community.
The decision to offer basic mini-
courses through the Medical School is a
positive choice and, if successful, should
be applied to other schools at the Univer-
sity. By creating an environment in which
students and members of the community
are able to learn together, the University
could foster a close connection between
these groups and encourage learning as a
life-long pursuit.

New divorce law carries negative consequences

UTnder a new state law, divorced par-
ents with joint custody of their chil-
dren will be required to attend a court
hearing if one parent intends to move a
child more than 100 miles away.
- Although supporters of the law were well
intentioned, they failed to recognize its
many potential consequences.
Proponents contend that the new law
will prevent spiteful parents from whisk-
ing away their children just to hurt their
former spouses. They point out that
under the old law, parents wishing to
move just 10 miles across a state border
were required to appear before a judge
while other parents could move hundreds
of miles in state without impediment.
Supporters argue that the 100-mile provi-
sion will keep children within easy visit-
ing distance of both parents and limit
court hearings to significant moves.
In the real world, however, this law
will only cause more suffering. First of
all, 100 miles is not necessarily a "signif-
icant" distance. Already overloaded
courts will be jammed further as judges
are required to hear every case of a 100-
plus mile move. Additionally, nearby
moves across state lines are likely to slip
through the legal cracks since, once par-
ent and child are out of Michigan, they
are also out of the jurisdiction of Michi-
gan courts.
Women in particuiar stand to suffer
under the new law. Consider that a
woman in a rural area divorcing an abu-
sive husband might live more than 100
miles from the nearest battered women's
shelter. Should this woman have to wait
for a hearing before removing herself and
her children from the household?

And let us not forget that women gen-
erally lose more financially in divorce
than men do. Yes, the great gender wage
gap is still alive and well in America. In
1996, for example, the median annual
income for women aged 35-44 was just
73.3 percent of its male counterpart.
After divorce, it is often necessary for
women to seek other work to support
themselves and their children; some-
times, better job opportunities do not
exist within a 100-mile radius.
Perhaps most importantly, the govern-
ment should not be able to dictate where
private citizens can and cannot live.
When a divorced couple agrees to have
joint custody of their children, it is their
responsibility to abide by the terms of
their agreement regardless of how far
from each other they choose to live.
Sadly, it is true that some divorcees
with children are bitter and spiteful
toward their former spouses, but the gov-
ernment can be rest assured that keeping
these people within 100 miles of one
another will do nothing to remedy this
problem. If divorced parents can be civi-
lized to each other, they both play active
roles in their children's lives regardless of
where they live. If they can't be, forcing
them to remain close by will not make
them any more willing to drive the kids
out to mom's or to dad's for the weekend.
If anything, it would make them more
irritable, more likely to bicker and more
likely to put undue pressure on the chil-
dren ("Why don't you visit me more
often?" etc.).
Unfair and potentially harmful to par-
ents and children alike, this bill should
never have been signed into law.

MSA was 'petty and
political' instead of
empowering
To THE DAILY:
The information reported in the article
"MSA Debates Funding," (1/24/01), was
saddening to say the very least. The fact
that the "Vagina Monologues" was
approved to donate proceeds to Planned
Parenthood by such a large marging (24-2)
speaks volumes about the closed-minded-
ness of the Michigan Student Assembly to
the views of those who elected them. It also
sends a confused message to the communi-
ty: If this show is supposed to contribute to
an end to violence against women, what is
the point of keeping funds from SAFE
louse, the community group that helps
over 3,000 abused women and children
locally each year? Why give the money to
Planned Parenthood, a faceless national
organization whose idea of "choice" is
forcing wvomen to fork over large sums of
cash after convincing them that having an
abortion is an expression of freedom?
If this debate, as MSA Communications
Chair Matt Nolan said, was not about "life
versus choice" but was a "pro-woman" argu-
ment, then the voting went exactly the wrong
way: Those who believe in choice would not
have compromised anything by giving money
to the Ann Arbor women who really need it:
Those served by SAFE House. The represen-
tatives on MSA decided to be petty and polit-
ical instead of empowering women who need
more help than anyone.
ROB SHEREDA
LSA SENIOR
Students need to
lighten up
TO THE DAILY:
Perhaps it's the weather: Cold, windy and
slippery, everyone walks hurriedly to his or
her classes, bundled up with scarves and hats,
heads down and eyes glued on the cement,
not taking the time to see the world or the
people around them. That's what I keep
telling myself, it's got to be the weather.
My theory is backed by the occasional
semi-nice days we are lucky enough to

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'One of the strongest aspects of the SNRE is the small
college feel. That's the biggest, most likely loss, that
sense of community.'
- School of Natural Resources and the Environment Interim Dean Barry Rabe
on the possible assimilation of the undergraduate programs into LSA
THOMAS KULJURGIS TENTATIVELY SPEAKING
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receive here in Ann Arbor during the winter
months, the days when the sun is out, and we
can manage getting to class without a hat,
maybe even with our coats only halfway zip-
pered up. These are the few days when stu-
dents might actually make eye contact with
one another, possibly even conjuring up a
smile at a passerby on the Diag.
I decided to see if I could break the
mold, to see if I could pretend it wasn't so
cold, to pretend to hear birds singing and
zippity-do-da my way to class, giving a
friendly glance to those I passed. As might
be expected, the results were mixed. Several
people seemed readily accepting of my good
natured attempt at brightening their day,
reminding me that happiness and laughter
are contagious. In fact, as the day went on, it
became easier and easier to act in this man-
ner, and it was becoming only natural to
look at the faces of those I passed instead of
fixing my eyes on the barren earth.
Of course, my attempts were also met
with some adversity. Some girls I smiled at
seemed to think this sort of behavior on a
weekday afternoon was uncalled for, as if
being friendly was associated with some sort
of sexual advance on my part. Naturally, I
must admit my eye contact may have been
proportionally slanted toward attractive

females, but is there anything wrong with
this? Apparently, many felt that being social
is reserved only for weekends, that weekday
afternoons are much too serious to spend
time looking at people in public.
A similar reaction was also given by my
male passersby. Now I certainly wasn't giv-
ing "smiles" to guys I was seeing, I was sim-
ply making brief eye contact instead of
looking at my feet. In the case that I might
see someone I recognized but didn't really
know, I would give the cordial "s'up." Many
of these attempts were met with either "hard-
assedness" or some sort of homophobia. ,
In any event, I'm hoping it gets warmer
quick, but I feel like maybe it isn't just the
weather. I think students here are just too
damn serious! Take some time to enjoy your
weekdays and look around you.
To loosely quote a cliched and oft-
overused Ferris Bueler line, "Life is short. If
you don't stop and look around once in while,
you might miss it." Smiling and laughing is
contagious to those around you, and you'd be
surprised at just how much it can brighten a
dreary winter day in Ann Arbor.
PETER FRANKFORT
BUSINESS SENIOR

I wa
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Scott Kin
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r rmits a symb of Native Amrimabetrayal
s both shocked and saddened by For- for righting historical injustices and healing parole and receives human rights award
ident Clinton's decision to deny exec- long festering wounds inflicted upon people of the remarkable human rights work he c
mency to Leonard Peltier. During the color. He insisted that the United States take out from behind bars. He is now in fa
days of his presidency, world support its place as a world leader of human rights health.
nmediate and unconditional release of affairs. He personally visited Pine Ridge Most disturbing is the fact that Pel
ad reached remarkable levels, with Reservation, the site of the tragic shoot out at highly controversial conviction is deeplyi
letters arriving from such renowned Oglala a long and bitter quarter of a century ed in one of the most grim chapters of r
ghts and religious leaders as Coretta ago and called for greater respect and justice American civil rights history, specificall
g, Amnesty International, Nobel Lau- for our first citizens. Pine Ridge Reign of Terror. BetweenI
Roberta Menchu and the Archbishop Yet in this last and most critical test, Clin- and 1976, FBI-backed vigilantes terroi
d Tutu, amongst many others. Grass- ton betrayed his own goals and ideals. Again battered and assaulted-scores of Lakotat
port from people across the country we must ask 'why'? tionalists and American Indian Movemen
nped the White House phone and fax Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for 25 porters throughout the reservation. H(
months. Native nations and organiza- years without ever receiving the benefit of a burned and entire families were wound
Lde their support known again and fair trial. The FBI forced Myrtle Poor Bear to drive by shootings. While the FBI stoo

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