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January 30, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-30

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 30, 2006

OPINION

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DoNN M. FRESARD
Editor in Chief

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
Editorial Page Editors

ASHLEY DINGES
Managing Editor

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EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
I promise from
now on, two-and-
a-half months of
absolute sexual
abstinence."
- Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, pledg-
ing abstinence until the April 9 elections
to a popular TV preacher, as reported
yesterday by the Associated Press.

KATIE GARLINGHOUSE loUsE ARRET

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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All
other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their author.

Bigger than Michigamua
MARA GAY COONO SENSE

al

f Michigamua has
reformed its ways,
there's no way any
of us would know. So
when three University
seniors were forced out
of their student organiza-
tions after being exposed
as members of the semi-
secret society, there was
little outcry. After all, no
progressive student group wants to be linked to a
shadowy clique of elites that has been ostracized
in recent years for its insensitive use of Native
American rituals, artifacts and names.
The three students, Brian Hull, Sam Woll and
Neal Pancholi, claim they joined Michigamua
in the hopes of reforming the society. "Anyone
who knows me and my passionate commitment
to working for social justice knows that I would
never be a part of organization that would betray
these principles," Woll said to the Daily a week
ago (Michigamua members ousted from group,
01/25/2006). And if it is possible to reform Mich-
igamua, there is probably no better candidate to
take on the challenge than Woll, whose nearly
five years at the University have been filled with
a laundry list of worthy and progressive causes to
which she has devoted herself fully, from affirma-
tive action to the campaign against Coca-Cola.
But in a viewpoint in the Daily last week (Mich-
igamua speaks out, 01/26/2006), Michigamua
charged that "any claims that Michigamua has a
history of 'racism' are fundamentally misguided,"
revealing the society's stubborn refusal to fully
acknowledge its racist past. The secrecy surround-
ing Michigamua has proven to be an insurmount-
able obstacle as well, making it nearly impossible

to hold the society accountable.
In short, Michigamua is not a worthy cause for
would-be reformists. It is beyond redemption. Stu-
dents Supporting Affirmative Action, the South
Asian Awareness Network and the Coalition to
Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola were right to
deny membership to anyone in their ranks found
to be affiliated with Michigamua.
Still, it's no great feat to drown a sinking ship.
By simply renouncing ties with some of their most
talented and dedicated (if misguided) members,
these student groups largely miss the point: Mich-
igamua is an outdated club whose backward prac-
tices - remaining exclusively male until the class
of 2000, for instance - long ago sealed its own
demise.
Those who believe Michigamua is the only
organization on this campus with a culture of
racism or exclusion it has failed to acknowledge
or address are sorely mistaken. Indeed, racism is
no less sinister when it manifests itself in politi-
cally correct and savvy student groups. The Greek
System, for example, is essentially segregated by
race, and The Michigan Daily just barely escaped
another bout of boycotts last semester. Yet there
are few who would advocate purging Daily news
reporter Jacqueline Howard from her post as head
of the University chapter of the National Associa-
tion of Black Journalists and expect to be taken
seriously.
Michigamua is, in fact, little more than a red
herring, and student groups interested in social
change will have to look beyond scapegoating
their wayward members to demonstrate their
commitment to progress.
The greatest threat to Michigamua, and all
other organizations whose institutions and cul-
ture allow racism to thrive on this campus, will

not arise from student groups deflecting collective
responsibility onto a few of their members. The
greatest threat to Michigamua will come when the
most dedicated members of student groups of all
stripes come together to form a new organization
dedicated to a progressive future. This campus
think tank, this "brain trust" of sorts, is the only
answer to Michigamua, and its creation will seal
the fate of student groups who fail to reform their
narrow-minded ways.
The Roosevelt Institution was created less than
a year ago by students at Stanford University. The
first student think tank, the Roosevelt Institu-
tion is designed to organize student activists and
intellectuals into an effective lobbying voice in
national politics. The ethos of the new think tank
can be found on its website, rooseveltinstitution.
org: "We're young and ideologically unburdened,
we understand the changing nature of society, and
we know we have a bigger stake than anybody
else - we're talking about what sort of a world
we want to inherit. Other think tanks have Nobel
laureates and former secretaries of state. We have
future Nobel laureates and secretaries of state in
training." The University's chapter is-just getting
started this month, and the Institution could not
have arrived on our campus at a better time.
Eradicating racism, sexism and other symptoms
of the small mind from this campus is as daunting
as it is important, and it demands more of us than
we are currently giving. If student groups on this
campus are truly interested in change, they will
put their commitment where their mouths are.
They will dare to generate the new and big ideas
that make the University great.
Gay can be reached
at maracl@umich.edu.

VIEWPOINT
BAMN exposes MCRI deceit

Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Andrew Bielak, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle
D'Angelo, John Davis, Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared
Goldberg, Ashwin Jagannathan, Mark Kuehn, Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty McNa-
mara, Rajiv Prabhakar, Matt Rose, Katherine Seid, Brian Slade, John Stiglich, Ben Taylor,
Jessica Teng.
THE BOONDOCKS A.A RON MCORU DER

By KATE STENVIG, MONICA SMITH AND
BEN ROYAL
The viewpoint (Stop BAMN, by any legal means,
1/24/2006) and the letter (Group wants to hold
BAMN accountable, 1/25/2006) by the "new" anti-
BAMN group contained only falsehoods and irrel-
evant trivialities. BAMN is slandered all the time,
and none of these slanders are new. We don't have
time to sort out the falsehoods and trivialities each
time they surface. We will note only that imitation
is the sincerest form of flattery. The deceit of the
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative - the passage of
which is the primary aim of this group - however,
is worth taking the time to expose.
The MCRI is a proposed state constitutional
amendment that, if successfully placed on the
November ballot and passed, would ban affirma-
tive action in college admissions and in state hir-
ing and contracting for women and minorities. If
MCRI passes, it would nullify the U.S. Supreme
Court's ruling that upheld affirmative action in
Grutter v. Bollinger.
Over the last half of 2004, MCRI petitioners can-
vassed the state, lying to voters in majority, minor-
ity and progressive white voting districts about the
aim of their proposal. MCRI petitioners system-
atically led signers in these districts to believe that
they were signing a pro-affirmative action peti-
tion, not one whose purpose was to ban affirma-
tive action. On this basis, more than 120,000 black

voters signed for MCRI to be placed on the ballot.
Our investigation is turning up a growing number
of white voters, already in the tens of thousands,
who were also deceived. This fraud alone is reason
enough to bar MCRI from the November ballot.
The examples of MCRI's fraud are numerous.
In our investigation into its petitioning, we have
come across people from all walks of life who
were deceived: city of Detroit workers, university
professors, union activists, judges, news reporters,
civil rights activists, school teachers and even some
of MCRI's own petitioners.
One example of MCRI's fraud is Ruthie Steven-
son's story. Stevenson is president of the Macomb
County NAACP. An MCRI petitioner approached
her near her local post office. The petitioner told her
that the president of the Macomb County NAACP
supported his petition. She informed him that she
was the president and that she did not support his
petition, but she still continued to receive reports
from NAACP members that they had heard MCRI
petitioners claiming she supported their initiative.
The executive board for AFSCME Local 207,
a city of Detroit workers union that has actively
supported the defense of affirmative action and
BAMN in particular, found that more than one
in 10 of their members signed MCRI's petition.
Upon hearing that their names were on MCRI's
petitions, union members were outraged because
they had been deceived and defrauded.
To proceed with its attack on the progress that

women and minorities have made towards equal-
ity, MCRI has resorted to lying to voters.
To draw an analogy, suppose there were a
petition campaign in the state that, if successful,
would reduce the enrollment of white male stu-
dents at the University by 75 percent according
to the administration's own estimates. Suppose,
too, that while circulating this petition, white vot-
ers were told either that the petition's goal was to
increase the enrollment of white students or to
ensure educational opportunities to everyone. If
this scenario were to transpire, every politician,
every judge, every news pundit and every busi-
ness leader in the state would stop at nothing to
prevent such a duplicitous proposition. However,
it's taken BAMN eight months of campaigning to
get the beginning of an official investigation into
MCRI's fraud.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence that's
come to light exposing MCRI's fraud, the state
courts have so far taken it upon themselves to rail-
road the proposal through the official electoral pro-
cess. BAMN will not sit idly and allow such a clear
disregard for the rights of the black community
of this state. BAMN pledges to work tirelessly to
expose MCRI's fraud, to defend affirmative action
and to build the new civil rights movement.

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The writers are member of BAMN.
Stenvig and Royal are Rackham
students, and Smith is an LSA senior.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Send all letters to the editor to
tothedaily michigandaily.com.

a

Overreaction of student
groups 'absurd and foolish'
TO THE DAILY:
Congratulations for punishing perfectly good
people for sins of the past.
Let's be real here: The people being evicted
from their posts are not responsible for the con-
troversial history of Michigamua. Anyone aware
of their campus activism knows that they would
not promote racist groups or practices. And, if
anything, by being a part of Michigamua they
can help steer it away from its negative past. But
let's ignore all that and condemn them because
Michigamua did some really bad stuff before

chose to join Michigamua knowing full well of
its horrible past. They couldn't possibly be try-
ing to better the group. They couldn't possibly
be doing any good through the group. Clearly,
since they joined this notorious group, they must
support its past practices. So let's just forget that
they weren't around during Michigamua's con-
troversial past and try to pin the blame on them,
and let's be as intolerant and exclusive as pos-
sible while we accusing them of being racist.
These actions are absurd and foolish. We
have a bunch of activists doing good deeds and
reforming an offensive society, and rather than
applauding their efforts, we criticize and black-
list them. Great job, people. I'm proud of your
nearsightedness.

of Illuminati willing to steer us towards a New
World Order. How are we to know? Some
rumors of Michigamua's doings include curing
cancer, erasing Third World debt and establish-
ing a hotline to the Vatican. Of course, due to
secrecy we have not seen the benefits of Mich-
igamua (yet!), but if they threw pebbles at your
window one dark and stormy night, you'd be
hard pressed not to join. Just think of it; Gerald
Ford was a member, as was Jed Ortmeyer!
To paraphrase the T-shirt, Skull and Bones
is the Michigamua of the East. I don't person-
ally know any members of Michigamua, so I'm
not sure if they're also a bunch of deceivers and
windbags. However, until Michigamua comes
into the open, this will certainly be my impres-

out as a pile of flat, self-referencing jokes that I'm
sure everyone in your editing room thought were
hilarious. Do yourselves a favor and stick to your
strength - being a vehicle for the Los Angeles
Times crossword puzzle, disguised as a poorly
written and amateuristic student publication. I
don't mean to be negative, but I was sorely dis-
appointed with every single article I read, which
was five to be exact.
Cameron Dingwall
LSA senior
Center should bring athletes
and other students together

help our athletes achieve academically? Oh,
that's right - the visiting recruits will think
they're sweet. And sure, it might keep a few
blue-chippers from flunking out, but has that
ever hurt mighty Michigan athletics before?
Also, this furthers the longstanding and oft-
identified segregation of athletes and students
on campus. Athletic Director Bill Martin hails
the academic excellence of the University and
then sequesters his athletes in exclusive dining
rooms, training facilities and now academic
centers. Ostensibly, this is done because the
athlete has special demands on his time not
faced by the rest of campus. To a self-sup-
porting Michigan student, for instance (see
Without parental help, students pay for col-

I

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