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April 16, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-16

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LOCAL/STATE

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 5

Wanting to be discovered

Students question definition
of diversity of student body

LISA OSHINSKY/Daily
Comedian Shanie D. auditions for "Star Search" in the Michigan Union yesterday. The University
was the last stop on the show's tour of five college cities.
Michigan Youth Cau1CUs seeks to
promote youth interest in govt.

By Tomislav Ladika
And Maria Sprow
Daily Staff Reporters
When he came to the University three
years ago from his hometown of Coral
Springs, Fla., LSA junior Brad Kline
looked forward to experiencing all of the
things promised to him by the Universi-
ty - including interacting with and
befriending members of the diverse stu-
dent body.
Kline said he found what he was
looking for - but only in part.
Although his classes provide many
opportunities to interact with students
from different backgrounds and races,
he said his group of friends is similar
to those he has always had - upper-
middle class white students who share
his interests and ideas.
"My groups of friends aren't really
diverse, but people in my classes are
really diverse, there are people from all
over the place," Kline said, adding that
he believes the self-segregation many
students experience is only natural.
"Once students find a group of people
who they are comfortable with, students
might not feel the sense of urgency to go
out and meet new people.... I think it's
a problem. You're in college and it's real-
ly important to meet people from other
cultures. It's almost as if you will be
missing out on something in life if you
see things as being uni-dimensional."
While Kline wishes he had interact-
ed more with students of different
races, LSA junior Ruben Duran, a His-
panic from Arizona, said his race does
not adequately characterize his person-
ality. "The University, by their own
telling, sees me strictly as a Hispanic
student. And they think because of
that, and not where I'm from, I bring a

unique experience," said Dura
Many factors besides race<
to a student's way of thinkir
said, adding that a person's
family background, econor
and political opinions add to
sity of the student body.
Diversity has been a hot
campus since day one of collet
rent students, but the definiti
word and the characteristics of
student body remain contest
students feel the University's
of diversity relies too heavily o
"The University, b
their own telling,
me strictly as a
Hispanic student.
they think becaus
that, ans not when
from, I bring a un
experience,
- Rub(
U
"Diversity is just people
together from all different cu
social backgrounds, from p
over the world, with differe
and ways of living," Kline sai
But Kline added that racial
is the most visible form of
making it a big part of the con
Engineering senior Clarenc
said although students tend to
segregate themselves, the U
promotes interaction between
of different races by encourag
student to live in a residence Y

an. man year. "Living in a dormitory fresh-
contribute man year helped a lot to promote that. I
ng, Duran was forced to interact with that different
religion, faction of the student body," said
mic class Wardell, president of Alpha Phi Alpha, a
the diver- black fraternity. "A lot of times it takes
something to throw people out of that
topic on comfort zone. ... If people weren't
ge for cur- thrown into these environments, I don't
ion of the think they would seek that on their own."
f a diverse LSA senior and Michigan Review
ed. Some Editor in Chief James Justin Wilson said
definition beneficial interaction between minority
n race. and non-minority students cannot exist
as long as some student groups target
only minority membership. "Most white
students regard (minority student organi-
sees zations) as being not for them. If some-
thing has the word multicultural, it
means 'not for whites,"'he said. "When-
And ever the University tries to racialize
something that should have no racial
e of component, people feel uncomfortable."
re I'm But Wardell said minorities have
historically tried to reach out and inter-
ique act with non-minority students but
began to rely more on their own com-
munities due to the racism and dis-
en Duran crimination they encountered. He
SA junior added that white students have not
made a sufficient effort to reach out to
coming minority student groups. "How often
Itures and are (non-minority students) going out
places all and actively seeking to socialize and
nt values fraternize with these minorities?"
d. Duran said minority and non-minority
1diversity students should do more to interact with
diversity, each other, but separate groups for stu-
cept. dents of different races encourage stu-
e Wardell dents to segregate themselves.
naturally For some students, the number of
[niversity multicultural or minority student
nstudents groups and the wide variance of politi-
ing every cal opinions found on campus mean
hall fresh- that racial tension is exemplified.
chaleng1es,

By Ryan Vicko
Daily Staff Writer

In response to widespread feelings
of disinterest in local government, edu-
cators, state legislators and students
have been working to provide Michi-
gan youth, age 15 to 22, with an
opportunity to become more active in
their community and state government.
The Michigan Youth Caucus is a pro-
gram recently created by the Michigan
Civics Institute.
According to MCI's website, "The
primary goal of the Caucus is to foster
student interest and involvement in state
government and politics through
immersion in a sophisticated virtual
democracy. The activity places students
in the roles of legislators, constituents,
reporters and lobbyists, and they wrestle
with issues of common interest to
Michigan youth."
Recently, student members of MYC
became involved in a public policy
debate on conservation of Michigan
resources. Perrier, a company that pro-
duces bottled mineral water, signed an
agreement to withdraw water for 99

years from an 800-acre private deer
hunting reserve near Muskegon.
According to the plaintiff involved in
the debate, the reserve, known as the
Sanctuary, is a critical natural resource
in Michigan.
The motion states the Sanctuary fea-
tures "a diverse and unique system of
wetlands, knolls, springs, and creeks."
MYC member Brendan Collins, a
student at West Bloomfield High
School, said research was initiated by
Zach Foster, another member of
MYC. Collins said after they learned
about the issue, various students
debated the topic of conservation of
Michigan's resources until they came
up with a unified stance which they
call their platform.
Rebecca Bush, who heads the Alle-
gan County Intermediate School Dis-
trict, said the platform allows MYC
members to turn their ideas into action.
With the platform, the students can
say, "Here's what we believe. Here's
what we're willing to do," Bush said.
MYC member Timothy Dixon said
once an issue hits the platform level,
MYC members meet with people and

push for legislation.
Collins said he and several members
of MYC met with Perrier lobbyists in
order to better understand their stance
and hear their point of view. At this
point, the MYC had decided its plat-
form would be in favor of conserving
the unique resources of the Sanctuary.
The students also met with state Rep.
Doug Hart (R-Rockford). Hart has
worked closely with MYC since its
founding in 2000, Collins said. The stu-
dents also met with Gov. Jennifer
Granholm through her new Constituent
Services Program, in which MYC stu-
dent members outlined their case in
favor of conserving Michigan's
resources, said Collins, while Granholm
explained her own policies.
Many believe that the MYC program
is a good way to complement high
school American government classes,
which focus more on the federal level.
Speaking about his involvement in
MYC, Collins said, "I wouldn't be as
knowledgeable about local issues" and
he wouldn't care about local and state
government as much if it wasn't for the
MYC program.

Diversity leads to

exchange of ideas in classroom

MSA
Continued from Page 1
incominig American Movement for
Israel Co-chair Meredith Mercer said,
referring to the assembly's decision.
"Voting on it now or in the fall isn't
going to really matter one way or the
other."
Mercer joined several other AMI
members in solidarity against the reso-
lution, citing that Israel's use of Cater-
pillar bulldozers is not expressly for
the demolition of Palestinian homes.
"Caterpillar is a free company,
they're allowed to trade with whoever
they want," said incoming AMI Co-
chair Jonathan Goldberg, who spoke
out against the divestment from Cater-
pillar Corp. "Bulldozers are not just
used for house demolitions."
In addition to citing that Israeli
destruction of Palestinian homes is a
necessary defense against suicide
bombers, opponents of the resolution

also said the Geneva Convention sanc-
tions those demolitions despite con-
trasting claims by the resolution's
supporters.
And while opponents of the resolu-
tion said divestment from Caterpillar
Corp. would convince the University
to divest from all Israel-affiliated com-
panies, supporters of the resolution
said the resolution was not anti-Israel.
"This is definitely not a part of any
campaign to divest from Israel," said
MSA Health Issues Commission Co-
chair Lorena Estrada, who sponsored
the resolution. Estrada added that the
legislation was meant to "be a check
on the U of M administration" by
encouraging it to question the location
of its investments.
Estrada, who agreed with her fel-
low co-sponsors to table the resolu-
tion, added that the legislation's
intent was to dissociate from Cater-
pillar because of its inhumane prac-
tices - not to encourage

divestment from Israel in general.
Other assembly representatives
echoed her statements.
"I agree with the decision of the
assembly (to table to resolution)," co-
sponsor and Rackham Rep. Eric
Reichenberger said. "We all must be
sure we give it the proper attention it
deserves."
"The resolution was tabled because
the climate in the room was steered
away from the resolution's goal, which
is to bring up an issue of corporate
responsibility and human rights,"
Communications Committee Chair
Courtney Skiles said. "People were
arguing instead about the situation
between Arab and Israeli students here
on campus."
Skiles said she hopes when repre-
sentatives gather in the fall, they will
be able to treat the resolution as a
humanitarian issue and not character-
ize it as an item pitting ethnic groups
against one another.

By Jeremy Berkowitz
Daily Staff Reporter
Karen Miller, a psychology graduate
student instructor, recalls that one of
her best teaching moments came when
a student in her class on U.S. cities in
the 20th century asked why race fac-
tored much into the discussion.
"Another student raised her hand
and said it was because we were learn-
ing how race and struggles over racial
identities had played a significant role
in shaping U.S. cities," Miller said. "It
was great because we then started a
debate about it, and the first student
was ultimately convinced."
In the lawsuits challenging its race-
conscious undergraduate and law admis-
sions policies, the University has built
its defense on the premise that diversity
is essential to higher education. The U.S.
Supreme Court is expected to make a
decision by the end of June.

In its briefs, the University refers to
experiments done by former psycholo-
gy Prof. Patricia Gurin in 1997 show-
ing that students who interacted with
diverse groups gained more benefits
because they were challenged to think
in new ways.
"What happens when students hit
Michigan with the level of diversity
we have? It's different, it's discrepant,
it's novel," she said."We did find
(that) the more students have actually
interacted with diverse peers, the
more by the senior year they were
doing active thinking."
Professors and students like Miller
said they think diversity is beneficial in
classroom discussions mainly because
most people come from primarily
homogeneous communities.
"Students, through no fault of their
own, have grown up in homogeneous
communities and lack the skills to
take advantage of the cultural rich-

ness of the University," Psychology
lecturer Charles Behling said. "It
requires more than good will to be
able to communicate across cultural
differences."
Other GSIs noticed challenges when
dealing with sensitive issues.
"I have to engage the students,"
English GSI Claire Counihan said. "I
have to push the white students more
when the material deals with slavery
and prejudices."
Miller added that minority students
bring other critical skills even when
they might not be the best writers or
readers.
"The world is clearly not designed
for their consumption (and) it is easi-
er for them, in general, to think criti-
cally about it," Miller said. "While
more privileged students often pride
themselves on their cynicism, they
have a hard time figuring out how to
be analytical."

to Our Awesome ispca Account
Cxecutives W6o respe5 urpass Our
APRIL GQAL:

Belinda Chung
Betsy Kuller
Christine Hua
Jeff Braun
Joanna Eisen
Julie Lee

Julie Sills
Kyungmin Kang
Lashonda Butler
Laura Frank
Leah Trzcinski

Lindsay Ott
Lynne Chaimowitz
Pam Baga
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Tarah Saxon

And a Special Thanks to Nancy, Ava, Carol, Vinh,
the Design Staff for Making Our Year Successful.

and

tjardi on for aff our tjarS worktis seme-ster!
b~ane a great summer!
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