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October 04, 2004 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-04

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_ __ ,The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 4, 2004 - 7A

Continued from page 1A
percent of the population. So I'm being represented by 5 per-
cent of the population of Muslims," she said.
Stories like Tarsin's are only the tip of the iceberg. Now
26 percent of Muslims say they have been discriminated
against in the past three years and 72 percent say they have
experienced more discrimination since Sept. 11, according to
a recent national poll conducted by New California Media,
a national association of ethnic media organizations, and
Amnesty International, a human rights organization.
Yet perhaps the most disheartening effect is how being
Muslim now equates to being "un-American," Grewal said.
"So many times I've been asked about my religion in a
negative way, and everyone assumes that I'm a foreigner. But
I was born here. I'm just like everyone else," she added.
To counter this increasing negativity about Muslims, this
year's awareness week will seek to demonstrate that Muslims in
America are no different than Americans of other religions and
backgrounds, Tarsin said. "To reach that, we need everyone's

support and to bridge the gap and to show them we are all not so
different that we can all benefit from one another," he added.
At the same time, MSA looks to breakdown the distorted
image of Islam and spread its basic message of peace, MSA
Vice President Aisha Jukaku said. She added that even with
the difficulties facing the Muslim community, "We want to take
advantage of this opportunity. This opportunity, it arose out of
tragedy, and we have to deal with that and hope for the best."
Tarsin said he hopes for the same and expects University stu-
dents will get the message. "When people see the banner saying,
'Islam Awareness' it will be in red, white and blue. Those are
our colors too." During Islam Awareness Week, tables manned
by MSA members will be visible on the Diag and in the Michi-
gan Union and Pierpont Commons. Group members will be on-
hand to answer students' questions. about the religion.
MSA will also sponsor programs on a variety of Muslim
issues, centered on Muslim-American identity. The programs
range from a speech by Umar Farooq Abd-Allah - a former
University Near Eastern Studies professor - on the history
of early Muslims in America, to a lecture on former NBA
player Muhammed Abdul-Rauf struggle as a black Muslim.









Continued from page 1A
said she chose homelessness as her
cause for the day. "I've never worked
with homeless people. It seemed
like an area that would take me out of
my comfort zone and open my eyes,"
she said.
A video montage of Gandhi,
along with a speech by history
prof. Nita Kumar, served to provide
inspiration to the early-morning
She said while Gandhi was deep-
ly moved by the suffering of others
and worked to help them, he always
loved and respected himself.
Gandhi "respectedhimselfsomuch--
he took everymistake very seriously and
then he could move on and say, I've
learned from it'," Kumar said.
Volunteers used Gandhi Dayasawayto
give backto their community and broaden
their perspectives on service.
"We're all blessed and fortunate

to attend the University of Michi-
gan, and we want to help others,"
said IASA President Neal Pancholi,
a Business School junior.
He added that Gandhi Day
allows students to learn about the
many different community service
opportunities in the area.
A statement by Kumar during her
speech resonated with volunteers as
they completed a day of service.
"Think of it radically, as some-
thing creative. You can step back
from a scene and say, 'What connec-
tions can I make here? What can I
do?"' she said.
Nursing senior Seema Ghelani,
a site leader at the Nichols Arbo-
retum, chose her site based on
her personal attachment to it. She
helped maintain the Arb's historic
peony flower garden.
"Ever since I've been here, it has
been a wonderful place to go run-
ning, sit by the river - it's an impor-
tant place for people who want to

stay close to nature," she said.
Students said they walked away
from their volunteer experiences
with various lessons and new skills.
LSA freshman Juhi Aggarwal
worked on a Detroit presentation
by the Alliance to End Violence in
Asian American Communities, a
group based in the School of Social
"I feel more empathy for people
who feel that they cannot voice their
oppression," she said.
But LSA sophomore Neal Uppal
summed up the prevailing senti-
ment of day. "I feel it's important
to give back to the community and
doing it in Gandhi's name makes
it more meaningful because it's a
celebration of his principles and
The events were sponsored by
the Indian American Student Asso-
ciation and SPARK, an organization
that sponsors such one-day commu-
nity service events.

Tuesday, October 5
7:30 pm
Michigan Union
Pond Room

Continued from page 1A
"This view of minorities unable to perform well at affir-
mative action universities is because a lot of (non-minority)
students don't understand it and have misconceptions about
the term." Fleischer said.
In a recent study conducted by the research center, 78 per-
cent of high school seniors nationwide said using race, eth-
nicity and religious background as admissions factors affects
the way nonminority students feel about their minority class-
mates. The study also found 82 percent of students opposed
race-conscious admissions, in spite of the 70 percent that also
said attending a University with a diverse campus was impor-
tant to them.
Fleischer said the study did not directly quantify the perva-
siveness of the stereotype, but he added that researchers found
many students basing their responses on misconceptions of
race-conscious admissions.
"Many students surveyed had that stereotype in mind, and
now when they see minorities, they might think, 'Did they
take spots away from people who deserved to get in? Did they
meet the same criteria as I did to get accepted?' "
At the same time, Fleischer said"researchers noted that
many of the students surveyed believe that race-conscious
admissions are merely a quota system, whereas schools like
the University only consider race as one of the many admis-
sion factors in a subjective process.
"Obviously, colleges aren't doing a good job of communicat-
ing how they are creating a diverse student body," he added.
LSA freshman Lindsay Richardson said she sees the same
sentiment in friends from her hometown and students at the
Richardson said that she thinks others students "get the
impression that (minorities) had an easier time, and they didn't
have to work as hard."
"I think it builds up a lot of stereotypes," she added.
Other students say the stereotype does in fact reflect that
many unqualified minority students are unjustly taking the
spots of more-qualified nonminority students. Engineering
freshman Stacey Young said she thought that the academic
performance of her minority classmates has not been on par
with many of the other students.
But the notion that all colleges should judge students solely
on test scores and GPA is not the goal of many universities,
said John Matlock, director of the University's Office of Aca-

demic Multicultural Initiatives.
"You can have all 4.0 students, but that doesn't mean you
have an environment that people can learn about different per-
spectives," Matlock said. "I don't think schools are looking for
clones of a 'model' student."
Instead, Matlock said the priority of University's admis-
sion process is creating a diverse educational environment by
incorporating students of all races, ethnicities, religion and
economic status into the student body.
As for whether the race-conscious policies admit under-
qualified minorities, Matlock said all students accepted to the
University are qualified students. But he added the issue deals
more with the subjectivity of the term "qualified."
"If you look at the new admissions (of the University), it gets
down to how you define merit. Grades, tests scores are impor-
tant, but they are not the only way to judge merit," he said.
While the thought of the University's race-conscious
admissions being based on a point system still lingers in the
minds of some, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the LSA point
system unconstitutional. The revamped admission system for-
goes awarding a specific number of points to disadvantaged
Now the LSA admissions policy focuses more on the student's
goals, motivations and their leadership skills, Matlock said.
However, it does not surprise Matlock that some non-
minority students would perceive minority college students as
unqualified to attend the University.
"For 90 percent of the white students (at the University),
they will have come from very segregated communities. Yet
we know that a lot of students value the diversity, but it still
does not mean there won't be stereotyping," he said.
"In many ways, affirmative action has become a scapegoat.
If I don't get into the University of Michigan and I am white, I
blame affirmative action."
Yet Matlock says ethnic stereotyping in general loses its
hold over many students during the course of their time at the
University, due to the open minds of the students and their
ongoing interactions with their classmates of different back-
It's good news for Johnson, but even with the stereotyping by
some students, he said it won't hold him back. He said he knows
that it was his own effort that brought him to the University.
Nor will the stereotyping change his impression of the Uni-
versity. "I think the diversity will make an enormous differ-
ence. I couldn't have asked for a better place. I couldn't ask
for more."


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