4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 5, 2001
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When college is all you have in common
EMILY ACHENBAUM DiAMOND I THE ROIU
EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT TIHIE
UNIVERSITY OF MI ICHJGAN
Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editors
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 bpinion of The Michigan Daily.
on't call me cold-
hearted but chances
are, I'm not your
friend. This is not to say that
you aren't perfectly funny,
smart and trustworthy. I just
question the way that col-
lege life makes acquain-
tances, the people who will
never be your real friends,
so artificially inviting.
The last of the senior audits have been filed
and the letters are arriving: Yes, you are going
to graduate. Summer sublet murmuring has
started; jobs, thank goodness, are being agreed
upon. It's only February, but as second semester
seniors tie up ends, the prioritization that lacked
during the previous three and a half years
appears. We start spending time with our friends
- not our acquaintances. We start asking our-
selves, with whom will I stay in touch with after
graduation? It's actually a pretty dismal ques-
tion, because despite the hoards of people even
the most anti-social of us have met, it's going to
be very few that are worth the effort of staying
actively involved with - those to whom you
actually want to put forth the effort. Unlike the
summer splits we've been used to since kinder-
garten, our friends are not all going to meet up
again in four months and live in the same place.
The people we know well, they will stay
with us. But who do we really know well?
There is the assumption that because we're all
fairly intelligent, fairly well-off and fairly white
that we are similar people with similar lives.
You forget that the person sitting next to you in
lecture as you read this column could be an ex-
bulimic, alcoholic or the child of parents whose
love is proportional to academic success. In a
sea of vaguely familiar yet unremarkable faces,
we see no whole person. Amongst our friends,
we scoff - things are different. Naturally we
are not supposed to know the psychological
background of a 300-person Stats lecture. But
we know our friends. Or do we?
Even in our social circles, we hide parts
from ourselves, because everyone has things
they are desperate to hide. In college, it is comi-
cally easy - when you are not sure if this per-
son will still be your friend next term, next year
-there is little need for intimacy. College envi-
ronments, large or small (although large in par-
ticular), beget acquaintances. it is in college that
I have come to abhor the concept of acquain-
tances. I try to not have them. Loneliness and
isolation at the University is blamed on being in
large classes where we are only numbers, not
even our good old social security number at that.
People don't know your name, and with 40,000
students, why should they?
The beauty of a big school is that it allows us
to try people out, to pick and choose. And there
is a comfort in never having to stay in contact,
once you've come to terms with the fact that not
continuing to stay in e-mail contact with your
freshman roommate simply because they're
your freshman roommate does not make you a
bitch. There is no need to keep -people on a
string. You're not going to see each other any
more. You will run into your old boyfriend,
once, while sweaty and frizzy-haired coming
back from the CCRB. Murphy's Law. You will,
run into the guy you used to do econ homework
and then drink with last year in West Quad. He
might think you're rude for not staying in touch.
So there's one person who thinks you're not so
nice for not e-mailing him back. So what.
Is it all right to just be friends during col-
lege? Is the friendship undermined or falsified in
some respective light when you realize that col-
lege is what you had in common?
Is shunning acquaintances cold-hearted? I
view it as a way to exalt my closest friends by
giving them all my attention. And "acquaintance
talk" is boring. I can be fake at work, be phony
in class discussions, but by the time I'm with
my friends, I want to let the guard down. This
may mean putting all your energy into three
people. Two. One.
"My fellow classmates," are in large part,
people I've never met and will probably never
meet. We fool ourselves if, with the Thursday
bar girls and work friends and physics study
group, the connection is always that different.
Such groups take some time and effort to main-
tain, but what is the real benefit of spreading
one's self so thin? Maybe because you think
your acquaintances are your friends. A lot of us
do; I haven't always been the wiser. It's one of
the sadder things I've seen in college - thou-,
sands of people fooling themselves, or knowing
that they are fooling themselves, because it's
easier. Because that's what you do in college.
Be the wiser.
Emily Achenbaum's column runs every
other Monda. She can be reached
via e-mail at emilylsa(,)umich.edu.
Loading the Board of Regents really does dilute the
power of the people.'
- State Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith (D-Salem Twp.), last week on Gov. John
Engler's hopes to amend the state Constitution to allow the governor to
appoint seven additional members to state university governing boards.
Ellerbe doing 'very
good job' as Michigan
To THE DAILY:
I am writing to express my disdain for
the letters printed in the Daily concerning
the state of the Michigan basketball pro-
gram. It seems to me that most of you are
forgetting that just over one year ago, Coach
Brian Ellerbe had this basketball team play-
ing solid ball, a 12-5 record, including a
near upset of Duke and on its way to a
NCAA tournament bid.
The program was looking up and heading
into the first meeting with Michigan State,
Michigan looked to have a reasonably good
shot at winning the game. After that, the
wheels came off the cart. First, Jamal Craw-
ford, the leading scorer and floor leader was
suspended and would never wear the maize
and blue again.
Then, this fall, the other starting guard
Kevin Gaines was kicked off the team for
repeated violations of team rules. I don't
know any team in the country that can lose
both of its starting guards and still continue
to compete at a high level.
Ellerbe is doing a very good job as head
coach of the Wolverines.
We may not be winning as many 'games
as some would hope, but we are improving
each game. And I didn't see any player on
the Wolverines squad quit on Tuesday night.
We actually outscored Michigan State in
the second half. We were just unfortunate to
encounter one of the nation's best teams, on
perhaps their best night.
Their defense, combined with shooting 70
percent in the first half, would have given
some NBA teams a tough time.
Give Ellerbe time. He is just coming out
of the Ed Martin scandal and he has been
handed some very unfortunate circum-
This team is young and talented. Next
year's recruiting class is shaping up to be one
of the best in the country.
We will be back, please give Ellerbe
some time to rebuild this program without
any outside setbacks.
As a true Wolverine fan, I have faith in
Ellerbe, as well as the team.
ANN ARBOR, MI
Ann Arbor life imitates politics
will help the needy
To THE DAILY:
The Daily's recent editorial concerning
President Bush's plan to help faith-based chari-
ties and individuals contributing to them ("Reli-
gious government," 2/2/01) shows a
misunderstanding of the plan and of faith-based
It is false to say, as the Daily does, that a
"faith-based charity is nothing more than a
political euphemism for a religious mission." I
am sure that if the Daily talked to volunteers at
church-run soup kitchens or migrant ministries
or any of the other numerous faith-based chari-
ties it would find people concerned first and
foremost with helping the less fortunate whom
they are serving. If they happen to be from a
religious group, I hope that they truly believe in
their religion and would be happy if their exam-
ple caused others to seek to learn more about
their faith. But the reason for helping others is
not to recruit; charitable works come from a
feeling of responsibility to help others that is a
part of most religions. It is easiest to create an
effective charity with the help and financial
support of a group of like-minded individuals.
In many cases these groups are religious.
It is true that public money should not
pay for proselytizing and that Americans in
need of social aid should not have to accept
someone else's religious precepts in order to
receive aid. The President's plan also
The President's plan is not a plan to help
religious groups. The President recognizes that
private charities can often be more effective
than the government. His plan is an attempt to
help effective charities. Besides, as the Daily
says, "the United States government is not in
the business of determining what constitutes a
religious group," so it should currently be able
to support faith-based charities the same as sec-
ular charities. Otherwise, how would it know
which ones it isn't allowed to support?
It concerns me that the Daily is so cynical
that it believes that religious people only help
others in order to proselytize. Are the only peo-
ple with altruistic intentions atheists? I wish the
Daily cared less about who is helping people
and more about helping people.
Engineering first-year student
Headline news from Chii
mouthpiece Xinhua News A
quoted so many times by th
linking the Oriental meditat
with a demolition incident
Square on Jan. 23, which inv
called "Falun Gong people."
Falun Gong (also called Fa
something strange to Michiga
States. Wayne, Oakland and W
ty as well as cities includi
Bloomfield, Ann Arbor, St
Roseville, Farmington Hills
Hills have all issued either "Fa
"Falun Dafa Week" to recogni:
ity to promote a peaceful and
environment. U.S. Rep. Johnt
Tiananamen Square: Suicide or setup?
Xinhua News Agency claimed that within teams operated on all of them, cutting open
a minute of the man setting himself ablaze, their tracheas and throats to allow them to
police had dashed over to him with four fire breathe. All of the victims were badly burned
na's Communist extinguishers and quickly put out the flames. and some had gone into shock.
gency has been However, a European journalist based in Bei- What is strange about this is that according
e foreign press, jing said that, "I have never seen policemen to the articles, the victims were nonetheless
ion Falun Gong patrolling on Tiananmen Square carrying fire able to field questions from journalists and
in Tiananmen extinguishers. How come they all showed up have conversations allegedly renouncing
volved seven so- today? The location of the incident is at Falun Gong. One doctor in the United States
least 20 minutes round trip from the nearest expressed disbelief when he read the Xinhua
alun Dafa) is not building - the People's Great Hall. If they article.
n and the United were to have dashed over there to get the He said that patients would never be able
Vashtenaw Coun- equipment, it would have been too late." Is to recover the ability to speak so quickly after
ng Troy, West it even possible that the police could have this kind of surgery. He said: "Either Xinhua
erling Heights, responded with not one, but four fire extin- News Agency is lying or they have created a
and Rochester guishers within the space of a minute if medical miracle!"
lun Dafa Day" or they didn't have prior knowledge that this Besides, Falun Gong disapproves of any
ze the sect's abil- was going to occur? form of killing, including suicide.
I stress-relieving In terms of response time, another foreign So, if it is not a self-demolition, then what
Conyers, Jr. (D- journalist in Beijing expressed shock that Xin- is it? China's anti-Falun Gong campaign is
'Yw;r"Q rrn i hm n +nh- tor~pcPthe first rc.,,rt eon thei.heiin into i~ts loth rnnnth, ,with, thei. nvcrn-.
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