The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2003 - 5C
students benefit from campus organizations
By Soojung Chang
Daily News Editor
For students interested in more than just academics, the University
offers many opportunities to become involved in student groups.
"It's just a really strong campus for students to get involved in politics and the
issues they really care about;' first year law student Margaret Vincent said.
Vincent said the student groups on campus have allowed her to pursue her inter-
ests in political work. She first got involved as an undergraduate at the University.
"I went to festifall as a freshman and learned about a lot of groups from
that," she said.
Festifall, held early in the fall semester, allows student groups to recruit
new members by setting up tables in the Diag.
With events like festifall, winterfest and all of the flyers and chalkings
around campus advertising mass meetings and different events, it is hard
for students to remain unaware of student organizations.
"I feel like a lot of people don't get involved because they don't know
how," LSA Senior Irfan Shuttari said. "But there's so many postings ... all
you have to do is look at a kiosk," he added.
Most mass meetings, where groups recruit most of their members, are
held early in the semester.
"Just really take the opportunity in the fall when you don't have that
much of a workload ... try to get to (mass meetings) and see what sparks
your interest," Shuttari said.
"For someone to come to the (University) and not get involved in many
student organizations is their own loss," he added.
For new students on campus, the number and variety of student groups
can be overwhelming at first. Chances are, there is a
student group out there for almost any political
cause, social issue, minority/ethnic group, hobby andk
community service activity that you can think of.
The Maize Pages website lists some of the many
groups at http://uuis.umich.edu/maizepgs/. Maize
Pages is an online directory of student organizations
where students can look up information about
groups such as website addresses and contact infor-
mation. Guides such as Synergy, a booklist which
lists descriptions of student groups, can also aid stu-
dents who are looking to get involved.
Recent graduate Deepa Challa said new studentsx
should branch out and try out many groups.
"Don't get so involved in one thing before you try
out a bunch of different things. Try to go to a bunch
of different meetings," she said.
The benefits of getting involved in student groups
are hard to ignore. In addition to having allowed
them to explore different interests, many students
said their experiences were invaluable in helping
them to explore career options.
Vincent said by exploring her political interests by
becoming involved in the Student Democrats and
Students for Choice, she figured out that she wanted
to go to law school. In addition, her experiences gave
her something to write about in her application.
"To have a number of experiences on my law school
application made a big difference,' Vincent said.
"My law school statement involved something about my
interest in political work... and to have proof that I'd been Casey Nodel, dance mar
doing that was very beneficial," she added. Carey Larabee, a Unlve
Challa said her experiences in the Encompass Mul- Dance Marathon.i
ticultural Show, Imagine Advertising Club, and Pro-
ject Serve helped her to develop leadership and time management skills -
important qualities that she will utilize in the future.
"Probably the main thing (I learned) is how to get something accom-
plished with very limited resources and how to motivate people to actually
get them to go and do something without ordering them around," she said.
In addition, Challa said her experiences gave her something to talk about
during job interviews.
"At interviews, people care a lot more when you talk about your activities than
about how high your GPA is," she said. "I know that when I got my job I know it's
because of the stories I told during my interview," she added.
While Challa admits her academics suffered as a result of her many
commitments, she says she doesn't regret devoting time to her activities. "I
definitely didn't do as well in school as I should have ... but I don't regret
a single thing about it," she said.
"I definitely don't recommend people to sit around all day and study" she added..
Here's just a sampling of the many groups with which students can get involved.
Community Service - Dance Marathon
Vincent said Dance Marathon was one of the first groups she became
involved in at the University.
"I got really involved in Dance Marathon because my friends were
involved in it," she said.
Dance Marathon, one of the most popular student groups on campus, is
a national organization that works yearlong to build awareness and support
for children in need of physical and occupational rehabilitation. Members
participate in events such as hospital visits to build relationships with chil-
dren who benefit from the program.
The group's efforts culminate in a thirty hour event, where thousands of student
dancers and volunteers raise money for children needing physical rehabilitation.
Minority/Ethnic - La Voz Latina
Latinos only constitute 2.5 percent of the University population, but La
Voz wants to make sure they make themselves visible on campus.
"La Voz is a Latino organization where we try to represent as many Latin Ameri-
can nationalities as there are on campus" LSA senior Valle said.
"We do a little bit of everything, we try to encompass all of the Latino
students at (the University)," Valle said.
"Because Latinos is such a diverse ethnic group and we're so big, we try
to educate each other as well as the general campus," he added.
Valle said he thinks Latinos tend to be marginalized on campus, which is
something his organization is working to stop. "To a certain degree, many
issues are seen in Black and white," he said. "I know Native American
and that they really don't have a stand. We just kind
of get pushed off to the side because usually all of
these different issues get really oversimplified," he
said. "There's a lot more to the (University) commu-
nity than just Black and white."
While Valle said La Voz has been a support group for him
and other Latinos at the University, he said they also work to
integrate themselves into wider campus.
"I've been able to reach out of my own comfort
zone," he said. "It's helped me to network ... commu-
nicate with other organizations and people from
n aother backgrounds." "It definitely helped me become
comfortable at the University.
Miscellaneous - TheAnn Arbor JugglingArts Club
Not all student groups deal with serious issues. While
Shuttari is a part of SSAA, Anti-War Action, Students
Allied for Freedom and Equality, the Muslim Students
Association and the Minority Affairs Commission of the
Michigan Student Assembly, he is also a part of the Ann
Arbor Juggling Arts Club.
"They send out e-mails every other week," he said.
"They juggle usually in East Hall or somewhere in
the Diag when the weather is nice."
Jugglers of all skill levels, from beginners to
experts, juggle together and take lessons for free
courtesy of the club.
Joining is not difficult, as is often the case with
many student groups.
"After an exam I walked out of East Hall and I saw these
people so I went out and joined them;' Shuttari said.
hon volunREBECCA SAHNdaily Political -Students SupportingAffirmativeAction
y alumni, dance at SSAA is a collective of a diverse groups of student
organizations working to educate and take action on the
issue of affirmative action. Some events they have spon-
sored in the past year include the Student of Color Day of Silence and a trip to
Washington D.C., where members rallied in front of the Supreme Court.
"Many of us are part of organizations already and other are not so that
makes it a really interesting collective," Valle said. "It's a fun group to
work with and I think we definitely make a statement.
While SSAA has recently come to the forefront of campus politics as a
result of the Supreme Court rulings on the University's admissions poli-
cies, it is a group that has been around for some time.
"I think it started a while ago, just as another organization, another place
out there to speak out on affirmative and it really took off this year with
affirmative action going to the Supreme Court," Valle said.
"In the future we definitely hope to keep the University accountable in imple-
menting affirmative action into the admissions policy and making sure that we do
achieve a greater diversity here at (the University)," he added.
Religious - Muslim Student Organization
MSA, recently honored at the 24th Annual Michigan Leadership Awards
as this year's Outstanding Student Organization, is the representative body
of the local Muslim student community.
"There's over 2000 Muslims on this campus," Shuttari said. "It brings
together a large group of people just through weekly events and it's a good
way to make new friends," he added.
Throughout the year, MSA sponsors events such as its annual cultural
shows, a conference on Islam, and celebrations of religious holidays in
order to serve the community.
SOLE members Tricla Burmeister and Marlowe Coolican splash each other during a
wash out on the President's lawn to protest for workers' rights.
issues get left out, Asian Pacific American issues aren't seen as important
Continued from Page 1C
-ther use of race-conscious admissions, such as those
already passed in California and Washington. "The
Supreme Court doesn't have the final word. States on
their own can consider (that a policy) like the Law
School system ... is a bad system,"he said.
In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Antonin
Scalia predicted the decision's ambiguity would pro-
voke more lawsuits, including issues regarding the
controversial definition of critical mass, or whether a
University is making a "good faith effort" in achiev-
ing racial diversity.
In contrast, legal experts predicted a decrease in
the number of lawsuits, saying Grutter and Gratz
have more legitimacy than Bakke because they were
written by majorities of the court.
"I'll assume that there will still be lawsuits, but
this will be a huge loss for the people who are
bringing those lawsuits," University of Texas law
Prof. Douglas Laycock said.
Michigan State University law Prof. Frank Ravitch
said the ruling is a definitive approval of the use of race
in admissions policies, although he added that the deci-
sion only extends to higher education institutions. "You
now have a clear majority of the court saying diversity
can be a compelling state interest," Ravitch said.
Bakke banned racial quotas but Justice Lewis Pow-
ell wrote a concurring opinion stating that race could
be used as one of many admissions factors. Some
legal analysts and CIR had questioned whether Pow-
ell's opinion spoke for the majority of the court.
University of California at Berkeley law Prof.
Robert Post said he had expected the court to rule
only one policy constitutional. "I think the point,
from the court's point of view, is to send a tactical
message. The court's message is affirmative action is
constitutional, but suspect;" he said.
O'Connor wrote that the court expects race-
conscious admissions policies to be unnecessary
in 25 years.
Post said the clause is not an official deadline but
an additional restriction on the use of racial plus fac-
tors. "Putting a number of years is a little unusual,
and I don't think it stands for a drop-dead day."
The ruling may open the way for schools like the
University of Texas and the University of Georgia -
schools that have had their race-conscious admis-
sions policies overturned by federal courts - to
reinstate racial plus factors into their policies.
Ravitch said the ruling will allow them to do that,
but their policies must be modeled after the individu-
alized review used by the Law School.
Reaction to the decision spread beyond the
nation's capital today. Back in Ann Arbor, several
student groups held a press conference at the Diag.
"Affirmative action has been upheld, Bakke has
been deemed good and we move forward today
knowing that we are moving in the right direction,"
Michigan Student Assembly President Angela Galar-
di said. "The Court upheld the principle while cri-
tiquing the process."
But recent University graduate James Justin Wil-
son, a former editor of The Michigan Review, said
diversity is not an excuse for racism.
"This is the worst decision," said Wilson, who was
present in the courtroom. "It leaves a very ambigu-
ous precedent in Bakke. Now they won't tell us how
they create a class - the transparency is gone."
The decision ends the University's admissions
saga, which began in 1997 when three rejected appli-
cants - Barbara Grutter, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick
Hamacher - sued the Law School and LSA over
their race-conscious admission policies.
During the past year the two cases, Grutter and
Gratz have gripped the attention of much of the
nation, including thousands of students, numerous
corporations, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and
even President Bush, who denounced the policies as
disguised quotas in an address to the nation.
Today Bush issued a statement in which he praised
the court for "recognizing the value of diversity on
our nation's campuses."
"Today's decisions seek a careful balance between
the goal of campus diversity and the fundamental
principle of equal treatment under the law," he said.
"My administration will continue to promote policies
that expand educational opportunities for Americans
from all racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds."
O'Connor was joined in her Law School opinion
by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth
Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, while Rehn-
quist and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia
and Anthony Kennedy dissented.
In the LSA case, Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia,
Kennedy, Thomas and Breyer voted against the
policy. Stevens, Souter and Ginsberg dissented in
MSalsa members perform a salsa routine at the Encompass multicultural show at
the Michigan League.
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