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October 11, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-11

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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Editor in Chief


Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
J . ;413 E. HURON ST.

There's no straight shots there
- they're all bent."
-Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, when asked during last
night's debate about which of his opponent's ads bends the truth most.
English majors are people, too

Shed the secrecy
ack of transparency hinders senior society's reform

he nameless senior society better
known to generations of Univer-
sity students as Michigamua was
:hck in the news this week. Longtime
Hillel executive director Michael Brooks
acknowledged publicly that he is an advi-
sor, or "Honorary Angell," for the group.
Brooks's forthrightness comes after a
series of reforms this year that has left the
group far less divisive than it once was.
For the organization formerly known as
Michigamua to gain full legitimacy on
campus, however, it will need to commit
to greater transparency, even at the cost
of appearing to compromise the group's
stated commitment to "humble service."
The organization formerly known as
Michigamua generated controversy for
decades due to its appropriation of Native
"American imagery and symbols in its ritu-
's. Following sustained protest, the orga-
~ization has sought to reform itself and its
image, while the University administration
has distanced itself from the group. Reforms
hs year included releasing the names of
mnost members of the past two classes, as
well the decision to retire the name "Mich-
gamua' -- hopefully the last vestige of the
group's racially insensitive past.
But the group's remaining commitment to
secrecy hurts its effort to rebuild legitimacy

on a campus long skeptical of an elite and
seemingly racist senior society in its midst.
Though Brooks has come forward with his
membership in the group, other honorary
members affiliated with the University have
not followed. The group's activities, what-
ever they are, remain a mystery to most stu-
dents and local media.
Members of the group have argued that
the organization exists to serve the Univer-
sity community, and that its members prefer
not to seek credit for their work. That may
indeed be the case, but the aura of secrecy
that remains works against any notion of
humility, instead drawing further attention
to its activities and membership.
By choosing to reform an organization
with a difficult past, the group's members
have taken on an onerous task, and the
burden is on them to gain trust on campus.
Becoming more transparent is the swift-
est means for the organization to show
that it is nothing more than a well-mean-
ing, if somewhat elite, service group. Other
honorary Angells can come forward. The
group can seek to go through the Student
Organization and Recognition process. Its
members can make the group's activities
clear. Chances are, the society's member-
ship and its inner workings will be of little
interest once the mystery is gone.

American Air-
lines. Coors.
MTV. Magnet
attracting tens
of thousands
of resumes. But
your degree is
in liberal arts - would a magnet
company hire you?
This is the question posed in an
article titled "Road to Career Success
for Liberal Arts Majors" by Robin
Ryan of jobweb.com - a website of
job-search information for college
students and recent graduates. The
article details the many obstacles
facing most liberal arts majors as
they enter today's competitive job
market by chronicling the plights of
specific-yet-generic college students
identified only by a first name. Take
Heather, the philosophy major, who
was lucky enough to eventually land
a career selling insurance. Or Sam,
the ambivalent psychology major
who picked liberal arts because "it
was easier than his business courses."
Don't fret over Sam's future, though
- the website assured us he'd be OK
because he previously did "excel at
his job as a pizza delivery man."
Well I have a confession. My
name is Whitney Dibo (last name
provided for potential employers),
and I too am a liberal arts major.
Back when I was an underclass-
man, I remember feeling pretty
scholarly sitting in the shade of the
Diag, poring over "Invisible Man"
and highlighting game strategies in
my political science textbook. But
now I'm a senior, and my liberal arts
path has suddenly become my alba-
tross - one that I find myself hiding
behind phrases like "I might go to
law school."
It's clearly a punt, and I usually

end up feeling like a fraud after-
ward. I don't want to take the LSAT
- at least not right now.
So, in my quest to jumpstart my
job search, I did what any dutiful
senior does - I called the Career
Center. After the obligatory greet-
ings, the conversation went some-
thing like this:
"So what is your major?"
"English and Political Science."
"So you want a law adviser?"
"So, general advising."
"Yeah, I guess."
"I do have a law appointment
open for tomorrow if you want it."
It is hard to be a liberal arts
major these days, to stand proudly
amid the chemical engineers and B-
School chosen and declare, "I am an
art history major" without receiving
knowing smiles that read: "You're
not going to have health insurance."
In the name of keeping my
options open, I attended last week's
Job Fair 2006. The Michigan Union
was packed to the brim with button-
down shirts, newly minted resumes
and firm, look-you-in-the-eye hand-
shakes. As I perused corporate
America, I spotted a sign that read,
"We accept resumes from liberal
arts majors!" I suppose I should have
appreciated it. But no - we liberal
arts majors are not charity cases.
The sign should have read: We covet
liberal arts majors! We need liberal
arts majors!
But I kept my poetry-loving mouth
shut. Most companies weren't nearly
that open-minded. Throughout the
fair I repeatedly was told by recruit-
ers that their company was look-
ing for more - how shall I put it
- focused, analytical applicants.
Well, I'm going to let these
recruiters in on a secret: Liberal arts
majors have the skills. The Univer-
sity has taught us to write, to think
critically, to speak our minds elo-

quently and to discuss abstract con-
cepts that most chemical engineers
can't wrap their highly sought-after
brains around.
What I have realized is that the job
fair is not representative of the job
market. It can seem that way once
you've scoured the Union looking
for just one company that remotely
sparks your interest. The truth is,
though, that the magazines, publish-
ing houses, TV stations, production
companies, galleriestand thinkttanks
of the world don't attend events like
Job Fair 2006. Just because they
aren't recruiting in the Union with
a neatly designed three-panel poster
from behind booths does not mean
they don't exist.
After my set of disheartening
experiences, I called up Kerin Bor-
land, the senior associate director
at the Career Center. She offered
some calming words of wisdom
(and numbers) for liberal arts majors
who are starting to feel their blood
pressure rise as graduation nears: "It
will take a bit longer ... but if you
hang in there, 85 percent of liberal
arts graduates reported back to us
that, within six months of gradua-
tion, they were in a job with career
potential." CNN reported a 6.1-
percent salary increase for liberal
arts majors from 2005 to 2006. So
tune out the naysayers and skeptics
- apparently, there is life after lib-
eral arts.
I've always believed in Henry
David Thoreau's advice: "Advance
confidently in the direction of your
dreams. Live the life you've imag-
ined." I believed it 3rd grade, I
believed it freshman year, and I'm
not ready to trade it for a 401(k).
And I heard Thoreau didn't even
have health insurance during that
long, cold winter on Walden Pond.
Dibo can be reached at

The malleable 'man': Redefining radicals

The new status quo for the American youth is
'baffling one - watered-down pop-culture radi-
icalism and absolute political immobility. We have
been left facing backward and waxing nostalgic,
-imprisoned by the increasingly proscriptive model
of purist radicalism that prefers doing nothing
the mark of a politically moot generation - to
'orking for reform. The mode of political activism
'now synonymous with the youth counterculture
'of -the 1960s hangs ominously in the underbelly
of the American university identity like a swollen
appendix. While we wait for our generation's revo-
lutionary ire to burst, we risk losing our chance to
m-obilize within the bounds of political efficacy.
'I spent last weekend at what would appear to
1e a procedure-focused example of the docility
of student social and political movements today,
joining more than a hundred students at Yale Uni-
-versity for the Roosevelt Institution's "A Seat at the
Table;' a national conference on socioeconomic
diversity and access to selective higher education
l' America. The Roosevelt Institution touts itself
as the "nation's first student think tank" and offers
up'a new model for student activism in America:
procedural activism. The RI operates under a suit-
and-tie breed of progressivism: The national orga-
'aization is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and
-the infrastructure of each campus branch mimics
-the structure of national think tanks - no bombs,
bongs or flowing hair required.
Schmoozing with college administrators and
political leaders within the mold of expected
political behavior may seem to today's campus
Left like an abandonment of the radical spirit.
But those pop-culture-styled radicals should be
reminded that the post-'60s revolutionary men-
tality has become the ideological norm for the
nation's university students. RI advocates instead
a much quieter, less glorious and ultimately more
effective route - pushing for legitimate proce-
-dural reform, not revolution, by working within
the structure of the democratic system. If would-
be activists are concerned with the radicalism
of the gesture, the organization of groups that
put results above strict adherence to any sort of
stick-it-to-the-man mentality constitutes a break
with the outworn rhetoric that's now mainstream.
Unrelenting, impassioned, procedural progres-
sivism may well be the most radical thing that
this generation has seen.
The attitude of my fellow conference participants

was lodged comfortably between the outright for-
mality of the Model United Nations delegates -
also gathered for a conference at Yale that weekend
- and the raucous spirit of romanticized activism.
Those whose felt that suffocating neckties would
bolster their political efficacy sported them proudly,
but Spencer Sherman, president of the Yale branch
of the Roosevelt Institution, myself and many of the
other fellows were able to command just as much
respect in T-shirts. Appearances fell, perhaps disap-
pointingly, on the side of "well-groomed," but the
discourse in the break-out discussion sessions was
anything but tame.
The spirit of the event was the willing disman-
tling of a system of exclusion and privilege from the
outside - and from the inside. And while that fact
alone seemsato be the largest reason for distrust of the
campus progressive moment, I must confess: Speak-
ing of the elimination of fiscal barriers to education
at institutions like Yale with the dean of undergradu-
ate admissions and finding him just as incensed by
the problem as I am was exhilarating. While my
radical, liberal sense of self may have suffered one
or two blows because of my weekend concession to
"the Man," my radical, liberal sense of self wasn't
really doing anything to flesh out a solution to the
challenge of increasing socioeconomic diversity at
America's elite universities anyway.
The Man may be real, but the Man can be trans-
lated, explicated, written up, dissected, under-
stood and ultimately - with a little bit of group
policy-drafting, and a submission to the "Roosevelt
Review" - changed for the better. Co-opting the
revolution? Maybe. But the revolution doesn't seem
to mind. Ensuring its survival into the future may
well require the adoption of a different - and, dare
I say, radical - form.
The liberal student Left - hangers-on, Dylan
devotees and genuine radicals alike - need to
learn that the malleability of the established politi-
cal order is a challenge that offers our generation
the opportunity to change America's political land-
scape. Will the guardians of that landscape listen?
Perhaps this, too, is an outdated Vietnam-era model
that could use a bit of "updating" from the New
Deal-era "brain trust" model that inspires the Roos-
evelt Institute. The challenge is not to find and woo
a receptive ear, but to speak: boldly, innovatively
and, more important, knowledgeably.
Holler is an LSA freshman and a member of
the campus chapter of the Roosevelt Institution.
She can be reached at ohholler@umich.edu

Looking through Jon Stewart

hate Jon
I imagine
criticizing him
will inspire the
vitriol of numer-
ous readers,
provoking them
to write me in
caustic defense.
I can take that; I
obviously will have brought that fate
upon myself. But please, imagine my
horror - imagine the unsolicited
blow - of seeing the preview for a
movie, "Man of the Year," just drip-
ping with encouragement and lion-
ization of the likes of Jon Stewart.
The premise: Tom Dobbs, played
by Robin Williams, is a comic news-
caster running for president (and,
according to the trailers, seemingly
winning). Ever the likable comic,
Stewart - oops, I mean Dobbs -
pokes fun at politicians in the pseu-
do-serious manner we've become
accustomed to seeing on "The Daily
Show" and "Colbert Report." See-
ing a news story on the current fad
of Stewart/Colbert '08 T-shirts only
compounded my anxiety. Could
this actually be happening? Despite
Stewart's denial that he's running,
will my peers be casting votes for a .
Stewart ticket in the near future?
What's my beef with the lovable
Daily Show host? In the first place,
Jon Stewart always wants it both
ways. In many respects, the show
plays like "Saturday Night Live's"
Weekend Update, offering fictitious
or skewed news with comic appeal.
But whereas SNL would feature a
fake interview with Pakistani Presi-
dent Pervez Musharraf - with, say,
Darrell Hammond as a mustached
Musharraf - Jon Stewart has the
bona fide Musharraf sitting right next

to him. Sure, it's funny to see Jon
Stewart serve tea to Pakistan's head
of state, and perhaps there's some
comic appeal to Stewart's half-assed
attempts at serious political inquiry.
To be sure, Musharraf appeared on
the show as an author (his new mem-
oir "In the Line of Fire" was released
the day before his appearance on
"The Daily Show"), and Stewart con-
ducted the show as if he were inter-
viewing any other writer attempting
to publicize a book launch. But this
isn't Dennis Miller's book-launch,
and if you're going to be a "real-
enough" newscaster to host a real
world leader, shouldn't there be a
concomitant responsibility to ask
insightful questions? A fake broad-
caster has fake (or at least trivial)
guests. A real broadcaster has real
guests. And that real broadcaster has
a journalistic responsibility to inter-
rogate power if he has the privilege
of winning an interview with one of
its purveyors. Some hero of the Left:
Stewart coddled a dictator with far
more cajolery than our crooked Pres-
ident could ever muster.
What's more, I don't believe
Stewart's self-deprecating approach
to be sincere. Though he loves to
highlight about his own lack of cred-
ibility or his belief that his audience
doesn't actually get their news from
The Daily Show, his Peabody Award
and ratings speak otherwise. Call-
ing "The Daily Show" for this arti-
cle, I was informed that Musharraf
approached Stewart for the interview,
not vice versa. Lack of credibility?
Hardly. Should we expect Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad next? When does the
comedy stop and the serious politi-
cal commentary begin? The prob-
lem with "The Daily Show" is that
you can never be sure. From show to
show, Stewart goes anywhere from

insightful and incisive to fatuous and
flattering. It's a thrust-and-defend
move - attack easy political tar-
gets and then hide behind a reputa-
tion for comic flippancy. It certainly
works for Jay Leno and the rest of the
late-night comics, though I have an
inkling Stewart would be offended at
that comparison.
But Stewart knows the audience
he commands and the power he
wields; with them, he's inherited the
prerogative to instruct other broad-
casters. When I see him patronize a
fawning Ted Koppel, when I see him
excoriate Tucker Carlson (admitted-
ly a pathetic joke of a broadcaster
himself) but without substance or
serious critique, merely feeding off
a bored and easily engaged audi-
ence, I lose faith in my generation.
Isn't the act a little trite by now? A
bit of satire makes for devastating
critique, but isn't a daily version a
little hackneyed by now?
To any Daily Show fans: Haven't
you discovered an ability to predict
the laughs? Not that I think "The
Daily Show" audience is dumb, just
a little uninspired. They've given
Stewart the gravitas he's always
denied possessing, and gaze at
him in reverence. Here's a sugges-
tion: If you want witty take-downs
of unscrupulous figures, read Jack
Lessenberry's columns. If you want
pithy satires scant on content, take a
gander at Newsweek's cartoon sec-
tion. But Jon Stewart goes long on
form without corresponding sub-
stance. Call me an asshole, call me
a dilettante - at least I'm a gadfly,
which is more than Stewart can say
peddling a show soft on material to
an apathetic audience.
Martina can be reached
at rmartina@umich.edu.

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Editorial Board Members: Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler,
Ben Caleca, Devika Daga, Milly Dick, James David Dickson, Jesse Forester, Gary Graca,
Jared Goldberg, Rafi Martina, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell,
Katherine Seid, John Stiglich, Rachel Wagner.

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