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April 03, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-04-03

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- The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

~br Eidigrtn tilg

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

Breaking a conventional mold
GINA HAMADEY CAUGHT PROVOKING

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
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 opinion of The Michigan Daily

onvention is hard
to define. A con-
ventional person,
one would think, follows
the guidelines of society
while an unconventional
person does not. An
unconventional person is
out of the ordinary while a
conventional person is,
well, ordinary.
Maybe these lines were easier to draw in
the '50s. A person was either hip or square.
Squares wore poodle skirts and polo shirts;
hipsters wore leather and jeans. I think I got
this idea from the Johnny Depp movie "Cry,
Baby," so perhaps the dichotomy was not so
clear then either.
Today, the subcultures are endless: Yup-
pie, slacker, stoner, skater, alternative, frat
boy, club kid. You can pick out members of
these groups largely by the clothes they wear
or the music they listen to. Clothing compa-
nies have capitalized on this; Abercrombie &
Fitch caters to preps, for example. Their web-
site has an Mp3 you can listen to that goes
along with its image, like the song "Sister
Brother" by Fuzz Townshend. (The plug
promises shoppers if they pull down this
song, they will "get happy").
Is a frat boy considered conventional and
a slacker considered unconventional? But
isn't it accepted and, therefore, conventional
to hate the frat boy? Or consider this: Is it
usual for skaters to don preppy gear? The
skater thus molds to the convention of being a
skater. No person categorized into one of
these groups is necessarily unconventional,
even if the whole premise of their group is to
defy convention.
It is thought of highly, especially in col-
lege, to be unconventional and go against the

grain. But in this age and on this campus it is
tough to decipher whether your opinion goes
with convention or against it. Take marijuana,
for example. When Hash Bash hits this week-
end there will be no shortage of places to put
your signature in favor of legalizing marijua-
na. I won't sign any of these petitions because
I don't think it's a good idea. Am I conven-
tional because society and lawmakers tell me
I should refrain from signing? Or am I uncon-
ventional, considering we're on a liberal cam-
pus where most of my peers are in favor of
legalizing marijuana?
Also, as our college days wind down,
amongst the seniors there has been talk of
what has really been important these past
years. It is fashionable to denounce classes,
saying that the real learning has been done on
our own: Paying bills, cooking, laundry, mak-
ing friendships. All of these things have of
course been vital to our growth. But then
would we have learned the same lessons wait-
ing on tables for four years, as long as it were
on our own? I don't think so.
My classes have taught me an incredible
amount-about Chekhov, Milton, Joyce, yes.
But also about perseverance, critical thinking,
debating and learning. A few years ago, I read
from a stall in the Mason Hall bathroom:
"Don't complain about classes, exams, papers
and studying. Trust me, you will miss them
when you're gone." And under that, it was
written, "On behalf of all the GSIs at Michi-
gan, thank you." I agree with these girls. I
have learned just as much from my classes
here than I have from my social and domestic
endeavors. Is it conventional of me to say
this? The first time I really thought about con-
vention was after reading Ayn Rand's "The
Fountainhead" my senior year of high school.
The protagonist is Howard Roark, a brilliant,
stubborn, redheaded architect with a unique

vision of how buildings ought to look, and his
visions are nothing like the conventional stan-
dard. Howard does not bend or compromise
his work ever, regardless of the price. This
individualism struck me when I read the book
because I was planning on going to school in
Michigan while the rest of my friends wer
staying in California. I envisioned myself
Howard Roark of sorts, doing what I knew
was best for me.
Then when I got here I did the most un-
individualist thing a person can do: I joined a
sorority. In retrospect I don't feel like a hyp-
ocrite, though I had to swallow down that
feeling at the time. Throughout college it's
only natural to identify oneself with a group.
Most people who poke fun at fraternities and
sororities (and I'm not saying it's undeserved)
are in one group or another. They have a hank
out and listen to similar music as and drew
similar to their friends.
College is not that different from high
school; students still feel a need to belong.
But hopefully, as graduation becomes nearer,
we have broken away from this need. Sym-
bolically I broke away when I dropped my
sorority, but it is not that simple. Breaking
away from the need to conform, to wear the
right jeans and frequent the right bar, is a
process. Being unconventional does not ha4
to do, anymore, with what you wear or what
music you listen to. Or even the opinions you
hold. It has more to do with your complexity
of thought and willingness to say and do what
you think is right. And as we sit in our stadi-
um, graduation tune playing, I hope at least
some feel a Howard Roark rising up in them.
Gina Hamadey 's column runs every
other Tuesday. Give herfeedback at
www.michigandaily.com/forum/
or via e-mailatghamadey@umich.ed*

_.__ ....! f l1 ..

Bush's proposed tax
cut is long overdue
To THE DAILY:
I am dreading Tax Day this year. I work
hard during the summer months in order to
have spending money at school, only to give
it back to the government every April. I
understand that taxes are very necessary, but
it seems like I am paying the government an
awful lot for all the hard work that I did. The
tax cut pending in Congress should have
been proposed a long time ago by the last
administration. Currently, the pork barrel
spending in Washington is frustrating for stu-
dents who do not have much to spare. I feel
like my hard earned money is being wasted.
Federal taxes are simply too high.
JULIE MARCAL
LSA junior
'U' admissions
should be based on
'knowledge alone'
To THE DAILY:
In Michael Simon's viewpoint published
yesterday, "Jewish students should support
affirmative action," (4/2/01) all of my beliefs
were reaffirmed, however, these were not the
beliefs that affirmative action is the way to
proceed in college admissions. As is so bla-
tantly pointed out in this viewpoint, "we
must take every opportunity to eliminate bar-
riers and increase opportunity." Now this
statement appears to be of good intent, but
when we analyze it in the sense of what affir-
mative action does to the admissions process,
it should say, "we must take every opportuni-
ty to lower barriers for some and increase
opportunity for most." This is not "equal

- 4.3"ot
r '
\\-bjf r,
AW'

opportunity in America".
As one of the most prestigious universi-
ties in the country, we should try and set a
standard higher than others, saying that we
treat students based on their academic merit,
not the color of their skin or their gender.
How can a factor, which someone has no
control over, carry so much weight in this
university's admissions process? If this is to
be a place of higher learning, than we must
allow admittance based on knowledge alone.
JEFF WOELKER
Education junior
Diag has become an
'urban battle zone'
TO THE DAILY:
Our beloved Diag looks like an urban battle
zone. Walking from the Dennison Building to
Angell Hall, I saw: An abortion discussion
group announcement chalked 6 feet tall on the
Randall underpass, a Compulsive Lyres
announcement chalked across the Diag M, and
outdated Defend Affirmative Action Party

announcements chalked a week ago.
Even if elections are excused as being crazy
fun, is there any reason for those three other
than "it works" to get the message across?
Unfortunately rain won't wash away a mes-
sage on a wall covered by an awning, so the
eyesore remains when the message is outdated.
If you agree with Scott, give me a call and
maybe we can wash your chalk off the bus
shelters. Also I find it hard to believe this won't
eventually discolor fancier stone on some
buildings or near the Diag M.
How do we solve the problem? The naive
person would suggest a power-washer or street-
sweeper. The smart person would notice that,
unlike normal gang symbols, these chalking
basically leave name and contact info of th#
offender for the police. It's so easy to track
down the offenders; I'm really not sure why we
don't read about student groups being busted in
the Daily's crime notes.
Chalking the sidewalk may give our cam-
pus "character", but this problem is getting way
out of hand. Whip out that cell phone, report
graffiti to DPS as it occurs, and let's take care
of the problem.
JOSEPH ORAVE
Engineering junior

Social change doesn't pay for itself
MANISH RAIJI NOTHING CATCHY

.S District Judge
Bernard Friedman
decided last week
that the University's Law
School practices unfair
k a, and discriminatory admis-
sions policies. Using a
series of Supreme Court.
\precedents, he found that
the Law School's policies
are unconstitutional not simply because they are
discriminatory - the Bakke case shows that
race-based discrimination is acceptable - but
rather because they do not show a clear attempt
to "remedy carefully documented effects of past
discrimination." He also cited the fact that the
Law School seeks a "critical mass" of minority
students - in the range of ten to 17 percent.
Such a "critical mass" is, according to Fried-
man, not only unjustified because it is a loosely
defined and ambiguous term, but also because it
constitutes something of a quota system.
Affirmative action, as practiced by virtually

sions is not a "compelling state interest," and is
therefore unlawful.
The Law School would have won the case if
it had actually been seeking to rectify discrimi-
nation. It is true that diversity provides a better
education, and giving favored status to minori-
ties was never an issue in the case; the Univer-
sity never pretended that they do not favor
minorities more. But they failed to prove that
the use of diversity is a reactionary policy
meant to compensate oppressed peoples. The
Law School would have won if they had been
reaching out to the people who are actually
oppressed: The poor.
Theories of socio-economic affirmative
action have always been around. Even conserv-
atives, who want to appear like they actually
have a heart, claim that they would have no
problems with socio-economic affirmative
action. Since there is such an obvious push for
such a program, why hasn't it been undertaken
by institutions of higher education?
The answer is simple: Universities have to

Jesse Jackson shows up to decry Friedman's
decision, which raises the important question:
Why doesn't a self-proclaimed civil rights
activist seek to enhance opportunities for
upward mobility of the truly repressed portion.
of our society? It's simple - poor black Amer-
icans aren't the ones filling his bank accounts
with money that can then be used to finance
illegitimate children. It's the rich Americans
who have the political clout, and it's the rich
Americans who get their way - at the expense
of the vast majority of struggling, working class
citizens.
I'd love some honesty in this process.
Instead of claiming that it is reimbursin
minorities for past cases of discrimination,
would love to hear the University simply admit
that its brand of affirmative action seeks only to
compose a diverse student body. The claims of
reversing a racist trend in American education
are just that: Empty claims. -
By touting diversity as rectification for a
racist history, University President Lee

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