The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 23, 2005 - 7
Continued from page 1
identified the porch as the area of origin.
Brenner said it still was under investigation
what caused the fire.
Whether or not a couch on the porch fueled
the fire, the incident has reinvigorated the noto-
rious couch-on-porch ban ordinance that came
about two summers ago.
City Council member Joan Lowenstein (D-
2nd Ward) said she was willing at the time and
still is now to go along with the fire inspector's
recommendation that couches are a fire hazard.
"We don't know for certain what started
the fire, but there is no question in my mind
that having these very flammable couches
on porches is a bad idea," she said.
Mayor John Hieftje said the incident
has not changed his original opinion, but
if there was new evidence he would take it
"This was a very serious incident, but
someone would have to prove the couches
on a porch are more likely to burn than
couches in a living room," he said.
Business senior Rishi Mukhi, who lived
at the house, said none of his housemates
had renter's insurance, but some of them
are covered by their parents' homeowners
In their panic, many of the residents grabbed
little more than a few belongings such as a pair
of shorts, cell phones, wallets or keys.
LSA senior Kyle Polasek picked up a laundry
basket with clean clothes on his way out. He
was able to supply his half-dressed roommates,
including one roommate who was wearing only
a towel, with clothing.
With few belongings surviving the fire,
Mukhi said the Red Cross gave them a debit
card, which they used later that day at Steve
and Barry's to buy clothes. He said the Red
Cross also arrived on the scene early on
with blankets, food and toiletries.
Along with the Red Cross, The University
has tended to many of the students' needs.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said
the University has contacted all the students'
instructors, granting them financial assistance
to buy back many of their lost belongings and
is in the process of helping them find tempo-
rary and permanent housing,
Mukhi said Dean of Students Sue
Eklund even showed up at the hospital to
reassure them that the University could
provide them with necessary assistance.
Even though a new house has not been
chosen, Mukhi said his housemates hope
to find a place where they can all live
"We want find a place together. If any-
thing, this brought us a lot closer togeth-
er," Mukhi said.
Continued from page 1
part. He said he thought the idea probably
should have gone through ERC originally.
"(We) felt more comfortable doing it as a
committee than handing the responsibility
over to the assembly as a whole. That's our
specialty - local politics and state politics
- that's what we do," Forster said.
MSA and City Council have had strained
relations in the recent past. The council has
passed and considered several ordinances
that students have opposed, most notably
the proposed ban on .porch couches and
limitations on street parking that are seen
as anti-student. The dispute climaxed in
August when then-MSA Rep. Stuart Wag-
ner handed City Council members ear plugs
and sarcastically told them that, with the aid
of the plugs, they would no longer have to
listen to students.
"Historically, students have not been well
represented in City Council," said Levine.
"It is my hope that creating new venues and
channels for communication will lead to the
implementation of policies that will benefit
Levine said he was pleased with the
ERC's decision to tackle this problem. He
said in the future he hopes MSA will know
when Council is discussing issues that
affect students and will be able to organize
a response. This could include finding out
about less-publicized meetings when City
Council discusses important issues.
"This position is vital in assuring
that we're setting the tone and letting
them know that students are members
of this community," Wiggins said.
"There are issues that affect us and our
lifestyle, and we need to be aware of
4ose so that we can speak up for or
against them." Wiggins added that up
until this point, he believes Council
members had exhibited a complete dis-
regard for, if not hostility toward, the
The ERC will interview potential
candidates for the position at its meet-
ing next Thursday in the MSA cham-
bers at 7 p.m. and elect the liaison later
Continued from page 1
dialogue about hate crimes and make the Univer-
sity's efforts to combat them more transparent.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said it
is not yet clear what steps the University will take,
but that they will probably involve the Office of
Communications, which will work to share infor-
mation about hate crimes.
Although the timeframe has not yet been
defined, Peterson said, "We're working on that
Stillman said the faculty is not yet satisfied, but
that the administration's initial response is a step
in the right direction.
"As a full response, though, it's not satisfac-
tory," she said. "(Coleman) is president of the
University. She needs to address not only campus
climate, but curriculum."
Stillman said more coursework on diversity is
needed, adding that the current race and ethnic-
ity requirement is inadequate on its own because
not many courses teach about Asian culture. She
characterized the problem as "unevenness."
"If the administrators are proclaiming an insti-
tutional commitment to diversity, they must be
held to it," she said.
In her eight years at the University, Still-
man said, there has never been a commission
to study or assess the status of Asian-American
students, faculty or staff.
"It is a widely known fact that in the Fleming
(Administration) Building, there is not a sin-
gle professional administrator who is Asian,"
Stillman said. "The only Asians in Fleming are
Lester Motts, associate provost for academic
affairs, one of the recipients of the letter, wrote
a personal letter to the faculty in response. He
promised to set up a meeting to discuss the
experience of the University's Asian commu-
nity. He also said the two students who com-
mitted the crime would be brought to justice,
but did not specify how.
Stillman said an article in Wednesday's Michi-
gan Daily spurred the group to send the letter.
She said faculty members were particularly sur-
prised to hear that many other Asian students had
similar experiences of racially based abused.
Stillman said prejudice against Asians is wide-
spread, though not always as extreme as last
week's incident. It is common, she said, for people
to pull back the skin next to their eyes to mock the
shape of an Asian's face and to make disparaging
remarks about Chinese food or chopsticks. Even
faculty don't escape anti-Asian prejudice - peo-
ple often condescendingly compliment Stillman
on her English, she said.
"And I'm a faculty member - hello?" she
The group of faculty that sent the letter plans to
meet tomorrow morning to make further plans to
decrease the number of hate crimes on campus.
They will discuss holding a town hall meeting
sometime next week to get the problems out in
The United Asian American Organiza-
tions, an umbrella group overseeing Asian
student groups on campus, discussed how
to react to last week's crime in their general
meeting yesterday. Ideas include creating
a forum for all cultural groups to air their
grievances and holding a vigil to draw atten-
tion to the situation.
During Wednesday's meeting, about 50
or 60 students relayed their experience with
racism on campus, UAAO finance chair
Christopher Ng said.
Ng stressed that last week's crime was not
unfamiliar to him or other UAAO members.
"There are times where I just walked out
of class where people will say, 'Hey, go back
to China,"' Ng said.
He added that a common concern of stu-
dents at the meeting was also when people
compliment them on their English - as if
they are surprised that they are able to speak
the language properly.
The administration has done an adequate
job preventing racially motivated crimes
aimed at Asians, Ng said. He compliment-
ed multicultural programs in the residence
halls, but said the University should do more
to educate freshmen on diversity and fund
student groups that emphasize diversity.
Stillman said that the problem is not con-
fined to'Asians, but that prejudice against
the racial group is underreported in the
media. She said that it does not draw as
much attention as bias against other groups
because Asians are typically referred to as
"overrepresented" minorities, especially in a
She says that this perception masks the
truth about racism against Asians.
Continued from page 1.
"I don't think people realize how many
offices are inside (the facility), and a lot of
organizations don't know how to take advan-
tage of that," she said.
Ast result of the renovations, Trotter House
will now host 12 student organizations. Cur-
rently, only three groups - the Gospel Cho-
rale, the Korean Students Association and
the Asociacion Latina Alcanzando Sueno
- are based out of the center, but other student
groups have the opportunity to apply starting in
Students and other members of the commu-
nity will have the opportunity to see the com-
pleted renovations this Saturday at the Trotter
Community Festival. The festival, which
replaces the center's Taste of Culture event, is
intended to provide an environment conducive
to cultural exchange and interaction.
Continued from page 1.
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