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September 08, 2006 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2006

I

U"'S E 9Cit CQ~it tIi

OPINION

DONN M. FRESARD
Editor in Chief

EMILY BEAM JEFEBLO R
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK JEFFREY BLOOMER
Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890
413 E. HURON
ANN ARBOR, MI 48104
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
Now, as for my timing and date of departure, I
would have preferred to do this in my own way, but it
has been pretty obvious."
- British Prime Minister Tony Blair, announcing that he will resign by the end of the year in the face of fading
influence and popularity within the government and among the electorate, as reported yesterday by the BBC.
APPLY FOR A FALL OPINION COLUMN BEFORE SUNDAY.
E-MAIL OPINION@MICHIGANDAILY.COM FOR DETAILS.
Popping the abroad bubble
WHITNEY DIBo

4

Scaring up votes
National security legislation cynical, unwise

4

With only 15 legislative days
remaining until Congress
adjourns, there isn't time left
for much significant legislation before the
fall elections. Some issues, like immigra-
tion reform, appear to have fallen by the
wayside, particularly as the Bush Admin-
istration hones one of its strengths: scaring
citizens into voting Republican. Indeed,
some Republican members of Congress
have set their eyes on a pair of last-min-
ute national security bills that could save
their re-election campaign - or at least
convince a few more voters that Demo-
crats love terrorists.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is cur-
rently reviewing legislation proposed by
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) that would
offer Congressional blessing to the Bush
Administration's otherwise illegal wire-
tapping program, which a federal court
judge ruled unconstitutional in August.
At the same time, another bill is being
discussed which would give the admin-
istration the authority to employ military
tribunals to try inmates at the prison in
Guantanamo Bay. President Bush, hoping
to maintain Republican control of Con-
gress following midterm elections, has
unsurprisingly thrown his full support
behind both bills.
This power grab would further erode
the already weakened system of checks
and balances that once kept the execu-
tive branch in check. Indeed, the military
tribunal legislation seeks to hand over,
no questions asked, the very authority
that the president asserted until the U.S.
Supreme Court slapped down Bush's
overreach of executive power this sum-

mer. Even if President Bush vowed to
use his expanded powers justly - and
even if the American people had reason
to believe he would do so - there's no
guarantee that future leaders would do
the same.
Opposition or even skepticism toward
the Bush administration's eagerness to
put its agenda before constitutionally
protected civil liberties has been framed
as hazardous to national security. With
the Republican Party banking on fear to
hold control of Congress in the Novem-
ber elections, these bills seem like a
political ploy to hold onto its base and
grab a few swing voters. This is nothing
new - members of Congress tradition-
ally use the weeks leading up to elec-
tions to woo voters with legislation more
likely to be crowd-pleasing than well
thought out. But the importance of this
legislation far exceeds the last-minute
pork-barrel spending seen in a typical
year - or the House's approval of a ban
on horse slaughtering yesterday. (Even
Democratic voters love horses.) The
effects of strengthening the executive
branch at the expense of judicial over-
sight will last long after the election.
Despite the gravity of these bills, divi-
sions within the Republican Party, rather
than united opposition to this legislation,
may ultimately prevent either piece of
legislation from making it out of commit-
tee before the term ends. But with each
bill drawn in black and white - one can
either be in complete support or weak on
national security - it may be difficult for
many Republican congressmen worried
about re-election not to take the bait.

hat
will
'it
take for the
American
study-abroad
bubble to
pop? Or can
it not be
stopped?
That is the
question I was forced to ask myself
soon after arriving in Barcelona
last winter. By "bubble," I'm refer-
ring to the thick wall American
students often construct to cushion
their experience abroad.
Barcelona is magnificent, bus-
tling with the vibrant energy of a
European city that has found its
voice. The city is brimming with
Catalan culture and dotted through-
out with Antoni Gaudi's breathtak-
ing architectural masterpieces.
Unfortunately, it also plays host to
one of the largest American study-
abroad bubbles in Europe.
I was genuinely surprised to find
that a good majority of my fellow
travelers had little interest in immers-
ingthemselvesinBarcelona'sculture.
Many had come with friends. Most
sought out the inevitable American
bar scene that naturally caters to for-
eign students who are more likely to
pay eight euros for a beer. And away
from the constant pressure of GPAs
and GREs, many stayed sufficiently
and blissfully drunk throughout
most of the semester.
Now, I'm no hermit - I certainly
discovered the allure of going out in
a foreign country. But what I found
more rewarding was becoming
close with incredible people from
a host of different countries, join-
ing a language exchange program,
brushing up my flamenco dance

skills at a local studio and discover-
ing the infectious joy of FC Barce-
lona football.
While difficult to pop, the Amer-
ican bubble is manageable - even
in the major European and South
American cities where it's most
prominent. Here are a few humble
suggestions for getting the most out
of your semester - from a broad
who's been abroad:
1. Even if you diligently patron-
ize the best restaurants, visit the
most important monuments and
explore every nook and cranny of
your chosen abroad city, you will
still only be an outsider looking
in until you've immersed yourself
in the people who live there. One
easy way to do so is by living with a
host family - all you have to do is
come home to live and breathe the
culture of your city.
2. A word on travel. It can be
tempting to hop on a plane, train
or automobile every free week-
end, particularly in Europe, where
all those famous cities you've read
about since fifth grade are just a few
short hours away. I certainly took
advantage of the cheap but some-
what perilous Ryan Air, which flew
me to from Barcelona to London for
just 40 euros. If you're leaving every
weekend, however, the daily life of
your city gets lost in transit - not
to mention that the best friendships
are usually made between Friday
and Monday. My suggestion is to
pick a few weekends to travel when
the airfare is just so good you can't
resist and save the rest until the
semester ends.
3. Self-select into the right pro-
gram. If you want to surround your-
self with students who understand
the value of an enriching cultural
exchange, look for hints that sug-

gest the program is somewhat chal-
lenging. Pick the one that requires
a home stay, doesn't let you pick
roommates, makes you write that
extra application essay and has a
strong set of language and academ-
ic requirements.
Most importantly, we as study-
abroad students have an opportuni-
ty even greater than soaking up the
culture of another country: We have
the ability to transform the way
people view Americans. We are
an army of foreign ambassadors,
with the capacity to change the per-
ception of Americans abroad - a
perception we all know is deterio-
rating daily. If we chose to seclude
ourselves - or worse, embarrass
ourselves - our eroding reputation
will continue its steady decline.
The bottom line is this: Before
sending in that enrollment depos-
it, ask yourself a very obvious
but necessary question: Why am
I going abroad? Why am I leav-
ing the comfort of Ann Arbor
and trading a semester at col-
lege for a semester away? If your
answer is because junior semester
abroad has become the norm and
all your friends are going to be
away regardless, my suggestion
is to skip it. Travel is too expen-
sive these days to go abroad sim-
ply to sharpen your international
partying skills and hang out with
other American students - not to
mention that makes it difficult for
students who are genuinely inter-
ested in cultural immersion to sift
through those who are there for
the wrong reasons. So think out-
side the bubble - before it soaks
up your abroad experience.
Dibo can be reached at
wdibo@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Send all letters to the editor to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.

Columnist overlooks glorious
bounty of capitalism
TO THE DAILY:
Jared Goldberg's assessment of New Orleans
after Hurricane Katrina (The New Orleans white-
out, 09/06/2006) irresponsibly condemned U.S.
District Court Judge L.T. Senter's recent rul-
ing, which prevented a couple whose home was
destroyed by wind-driven water damage from
receiving insurance money for damages not cov-
ered in their policy. After interpreting Katrina as
a victory for the inherently racist government,
Goldberg stated that we should not let Katrina
become a victory for "greed and capitalism." He
fails to see that capitalism is exactly what the
crippled city of New Orleans needed to get back
on its feet last September and that capitalism is
exactly what the city still needs today if a full
recovery is truly desired.
Did anyone honestly expect the government to
handle such a colossal natural disaster quickly
and efficiently? Katrina displayed the failure of
government on every level - federal, state and
local - to provide the goods and services that
the residents of New Orleans so gravely needed
one year ago and still need today. If the sprawling
bureaucracy of government didn't get in the way
of something it cannot handle, individuals would
actually receive what they need, when they need
it, from the private sector. It's time to stop play-
ALEXANDER HONKALA Fno C MuiCKEF

ing the negative name game with the word "capi-
talism" and start focusing on the real problem of
American society - big government.
Jonny Slemrod
LSA freshman
Handheld scanners, not late
students, blocked ambulance
TO THE DAILY:
In Thursday's Daily, University Executive Asso-
ciate Athletic Director Mike Stevenson made one
of the dumbest statements I have ever read (Stadium
staff to fix ticket problem, 09/07/2006). When asked
whose fault it was that an ambulance was delayed
in responding to a call because of the line outside
of Michigan Stadium, Stevenson said, "I guess I'd
blame the 15,000 students."
He seems to have conveniently forgotten the fact
that the large mob of people was there because the
handheld scanners that his department was using
for entry into the stadium created a huge bottleneck
at the gates, and there was nowhere for the crowd
to move in order to get out of the way. The students
were definitely not out there by choice. I can't speak
for everyone, but given the choice between seeing
our home opener or blocking an ambulance, I'd
choose football every time.
Paul Webb
Engineering sophomore

VIEWPOINT
Would you choose Detroit?

By JAMES DAVID DICKSON
I lived in Detroit proper; I had to
attend high school in West Bloom-
field. Although my father is a
teacher for Detroit Public Schools
- or, perhaps, because he was a
teacher for Detroit Public Schools
- he would not let my sister or me
attend high school in the city.
Todaymy father's decisions are all
the more clear. And reflecting back
on high school in West Bloomfield,
the choice made sense then, too. I
remember my first few weeks at West
Bloomfield High School, how my
father always had time to drive us to
school because - surprise, surprise
- Detroit's schools were on strike.
The more things change ...
Today, Detroit is in another
labor dispute with its teachers,
and it is playing a dangerous
game with the educational pros-
pects of its residents. The rever-
berations of this strike will be felt
far beyond a week or two of lost
pay for teachers and missed class
for students. By playing hardball
with the very people it is relying
upon to educate its youth, Detroit
has managed to make the least
livable city in Michigan even
less viable. It has indicated to its
residents, to its suburbs and to the
nation that it's simply not serious
about investing in its residents, in
human capital.
To teachers seeking work, to
parents desiring the best educa-
tion for their children, in the eyes
of the once-optimistic University
grad who momentarily believed
that Detroit was "back" - and

to companies considering locales
for opening businesses - the
school strike has set the city back
at least five years. Detroit, despite
its charming areas, culture and
history, is a raw deal for anyone
considering living there.
Let's think about this. You just
graduated the School of Education
or earned a master's degree from
Eastern. You believe in Michigan,
so you don't simply take your edu-
cation and run - you start look-
ing for jobs in the state. Schools
need teachers, there are plenty of
schools in Michigan, and you're
armed with a degree that can take
you anywhere.
Let's say you want to stick
around the Metro Detroit area.
Your choices are thinner from
there: Detroit or the suburbs. You
can go to a suburban school, rich
with resources, including the most
important variable: interested par-
ents who value education. Parents
who go to parent-teacher confer-
ences. Parents who will pass amill-
age every two years if that's what's
necessary to give their children the
best. Parents who, when apprised
of a problem student, will take the
teacher's side and help get their
child back on track. Parents who
work with the teacher to produce
a successful student, often crafting
them from children of otherwise
modest intelligence.
A suburban school district, for
its flaws, gives you the resources
to be a successful teacher. Your
classroom has textbooks, usu-
ally the newest and the glossiest.
Your classrooms have computers

with Internet access; meaningful
research is mere keystrokes away.
The question isn't whether you'll
be given the means to provide a
basic education, but if you can
take the really expensive class
trip to Washington, D.C.
Or you can go to Detroit, where
teachers have been on strike two
times in the last eight years and
which wants its teachers to take
a 5-percent pay cut over the next
twoyears.Detroit,whichdemands
so much of its teachers, and yet
gives them so little. Local news
channels run their annual stories
detailing the deteriorating condi-
tions of Detroit schools, revealing
generally substandard facilities
with asbestos but without text-
books. This is where you'd choose
to work? A city that doesn't invest
in its students? Match the low pay
to the low resources, and what
does Detroit offer, really?
With the latest strike, Detroit is
staking out the dubious position of
giving the least supported teach-
ers in the state even less reason
to remain with the city of Detroit,
whose schools will be overtaken
by the great state of Michigan
in just a matter of time; Detroit,
whose high city taxes and poor
services have led anyone with the
means to leave for the suburbs.
Is this where you'd choose to
live, armed with the best degree
money can buy?
Dickson is an LSA senior,
the former editor in chief of
the Michigan Review and a
columnist for the Daily.

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Viewpoint Policy
The Daily welcomes viewpoints from its readers Viewpoints have one or several authors,
though preference will be given to pieces written on behalf of individuals rather than an
organization.
Editors will run viewpoints according to timeliness, order received and available space.
Viewpoints should be no longer than 700 words. The Daily reserves the right to edit for
length, clarity and accuracy.
Send viewpoint submissions to editpage.editors@umich.edu, or contact the editors at that
address to arrange one in advance.

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