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September 07, 2006 - Image 4

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 7, 2006

E 1th IriBa Ii



All you need to know ... about Facebook

Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors Managing Editor
413 E. HURON

Rushing into it
Fall rush should be later in term

It's that most wonderful time of year
again - students' room are still lit-
tered with unpacked boxes, textbook
stores have lines that stretch around street
corners and freshmen tightly grasp their
campus maps in their desperate efforts
to locate their classrooms. Unfortunately,
one more hassle has also been crammed
into the beginning of year scramble -
rush week for the Greek system is start-
ing already, two weeks earlier than in past
The Greek community moved up fall
rush to avoid time conflicts with religious
holidays, but in doing so it will force
freshmen - who barely know the names
of their hallmates - to make important
decisions that will drastically affect their
University experience. With no time to
learn what "Greek life" means here at
the University, freshmen may rush into a
decision they will later regret.
While the Interfraternity Council and
Panhellenic Association were correct in
adjusting rush to accommodate students
who head home for Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur, the date was moved in the
wrong direction. Instead of pushing the
date forward, the Greek community and
potential pledges alike would be better
served if rush week were later in the year.
By winter semester, those who decide
to pledge will be more likely to stay with
the Greek system, because they will have
had more time to consider their decision.
Delaying rush could also help prevent
incidents of hazing. If students have more
time to decide which fraternity or soror-
ity to rush, they will be better informed

and may be more aware of anti-hazing
policies established by their chapters.
Past incidents have shown that losing a
charter is not always incentive enough
to prevent a house from mistreating its
pledges, and better-informed students
who know to avoid any organizations
that haze will provide an additional
Practically the only serious argument
traditionally trotted out for an early fall
rush is that holding rush later in the
semester or during winter term would
make it difficult for Greeks to fill their
houses, given pressure on freshmen to
sign housing leases for next year early
on in the school year. But with the city's
new lease-signing ordinance now in
effect, that argument for a premature
rush week is far from compelling. The
ordinance prevents the signing of new
leases until one quarter of the exist-
ing lease expires - typically in early
December. Even if Greek organizations
choose not to switch to winter rush, there
is no longer any excuse for holding rush
in September, and rush should be moved
Greek organizations can best preserve
their autonomy from the University
administration by using that autonomy
wisely - and that doesn't mean compel-
ling students to rush within six days of
the beginning of classes. Although this
year's calendar is already set, the Greek
community should push rush week later
in the year, ideally to winter semester,
so that students have more time to think
before rushing into Greek life.

it's the
Sing tool.
The mas-
of Mark
berg, a
from - where else? - Harvard,
Facebook.com has managed to
network our generation of col-
lege students. Because of Face-
book, students keep in touch with
and keep track of one another;
relationships with friends or
lovers studying abroad can sur-
vive without the pain of paying
postage; and alumni can keep in
touch with buddies on campus.
It's a win-win.
Facebook's beauty (before its
News Feed feature went off the
deep end by making any and
every transaction available for
all your friends to see) is that it
offers two things no other type of
communication does: favorable
numbers and relative anonymity.
Numbers, in that one can send
dozens or messages, pokes, and
wall posts at a rate with which
telephone calls cannot compare
- and with none of the risks of a
bad phone call. Relative anonym-
ity, in that an unreturned message
or unrequited poke doesn't pack
the same psychological punch
that an unreturned voicemail
would. With Facebook, one can
send many seemingly personal
messages, wall notes and other
social love-taps to large num-
bers of people, at minimal risk to
pride, because by putting out so
many hooks, one expects a cer-
tain number will bite. Through
Facebook, we can numb our-
selves to the harsh possibilities

of personal communication -
things like unanswered phones,
uncomfortable silences and the
word "no." With Facebook, one
can shoot shotgun shells of com-
munication at minimal cost to
the old ego, with little effort and
to great benefit.
Facebook might be the Hotel
California of the Internet: You
can check out, but you can't ever
leave. Reactivating a "closed"
account is but a confirmation e-
mail away. And if your account
is never completely closed, who's
to say that your pictures and any
information you've ever put on
Facebook aren't sitting in some
room in a file with your name
on it? With the new News Feed
feature, we know that Facebook
is tracking all of this informa-
tion, and we know it will assume
liberties in spreading that infor-
mation to other account holders.
We complain about things like
wiretaps while making our lives
open books. If Big Brother is in
fact watching, let's at least make
him do some work in finding the
information he wants.
I wonder if Facebook is indis-
pensable despite its drawbacks.
Most of us continue to use Face-
book today, despite its grade-point
ramifications and other risks. We
all know that law enforcement
and prospective employers use
it to weed out unsavory charac-
ters (pardon the pun), yet people
continue to post pictures and tag
others in pictures featuring too
much booze or too little clothing
- and, in the worst cases, both.
All law enforcement and employ-
ers want to know, they can learn
on Facebook.
In an ironic way, it's been
funny to hear the outcry of those
disturbed by the News Feed fea-
ture. It's often the worst offend-

ers of good Facebook judgment
who complain the loudest. By
their logic, it's not a problem that
they put partially nude pictures of
themselves online - rather, it's
a problem that Facebook moved
them to the front page. By way of
Facebook, we've been given just
enough rope to hang ourselves
socially; it was only when Mark
Zuckerberg tightened the noose
that we began to ask questions.
And now we're signing petitions.
I wonder if we'll eventually reach
the point where our enjoyment
on Facebook comes not from
actually making contact with
someone else, but in destroying
That brings to mind Face-
book's most troubling problem:
stalking. Because of Facebook
- and our need to appear inter-
esting - anyone curious enough
can find most any information
about you, down to your location"
that moment. Our most intimate
details are but a log-in away. Any-
one can know what your interests'
are, because you've written them-
out. They know where to "acci-
dentally" bump into you, because
your schedule is available for all,"
to see. And now they even know
with whom you've been commu-
nicating, because News Feeds.
just made stalking even easier. >
Irony of ironies, then, that the,
ultimate networking tool has
become the ultimate aid of the
kid too shy to talk to the girl who
sits next to him in class. Face-:
book hasn't brought this person-
out of his shell - it's hardened 4
that shell, giving him little rea--
son to leave. Why bother? All"-
he really needs to know, he can,4
learn on Facebook.

Dickson can be reached
at davidjam@umich.edu.


Proposal 2 is bad for blue

/ ~
I cannot describe the specific methods used
I think you understand why."
- President Bush, acknowledging the existence of secret CIA prisons but
denying that torture was used there, as reported yesterday by the Associated Press.

On November 7, our state will
vote on Proposal 2, the "Michigan
Civil Rights Initiative" - a refer-
endum that seeks to ban most use
of affirmative action by public insti-
tutions in Michigan. Since I'm a
white frat boy from the suburbs of
Detroit who is in the midst of com-
pleting law-school applications, you
might think that I'd be cheerleading
for the proposal. Indeed, like many
students, I came to campus opposed
to affirmative action. Yet I now find
myself beginning my last semester
terrified of what the MCRI's passage
would mean for the University that I
have come to love.
Affirmative action is an imper-
fect tool for promoting diversity.
Despite the University's very pub-
lic embrace of the idea of diversity,
there are many related problems
that administrators have not been
nearly as open in recognizing or
as successful in addressing. Any
student who has spent significant
time on campus knows that despite
its great diversity on paper, the
University remains a disturbingly
segregated place. Beginning with
freshman year, students enter a
statistically segregated housing
situation. This segregation con-
tinues in extracurricular activities,
with racially distinct Greek orga-
nizations, welcome week events
and homecoming festivities. Most
troubling are the differences inside
the classroom, where graduation
rates for students of color are still
significantly lower than those for
white students. Out of those stu-
dents who entered the University in
1997, 66 percent of black students,
75 percent of Hispanic students
and 88 percent of white students
graduated within six years.
These are disconcerting prob-
lems, and it is the University's

responsibility to find better solu-
tions to them. Yet eliminating affir-
mative action - and subsequently
endangering programs such as
Women in Science and Engineer-
ing, the Undergraduate Research
Opportunity Program and the Sum-
mer Bridge Program - will only
exacerbate these problems.
To see what the passage of MCRI
would do for campus, we must
begin by looking to California and
its experiences with the approval
of a virtually identical proposal 10
years ago. This year, because of an
inability to use affirmative action,
the University of California at Los
Angeles enrolled a grand total of 96
black students in a freshman class
of more than 4,700.
Proponents of MCRI overlook
such troubling statistics, claim-
ing that they live in a color-blind,
gender-blind world that only takes
merit into account. Sadlythe world
in which such individuals may
think they live is not grounded in
reality. Discrimination is still alive
and well, whether it takes an overt
form - such as last year's cross
burnings in metro Detroit - or a
more subtle manifestation, such as
in the fact that women in Michigan
still earn only 67 percent of what
men earn.
MCRI's proponents ignore the
realities of discrimination in favor of
claims that their proposal is some-
how advancing the aims of the civil
rights movement by looking beyond
skin color. Such assertions are not
only wrong and offensive but also
hypocritical. On several occasions, I
have heard MCRI leaders claim that
in an institution of higher learning
such as ours, decisions on admission
should be based purely on academic
merit. If they truly believedthis,why
does MCRI not seek to ban prefer-
ential admissions treatment for ath-
letes? These individuals received the

same infamous 20 points that under-
represented minorities received
under the University's old under-.
graduate admissions formula, and'
they continue to receive significant
preference under the current system,
More perplexing, however, is the
question of why MCRI does not seek
to ban non-merit based preferential
treatment for sons and daughters of
University alumni - a practice that
primarily benefits white applicants.,:
In addition to its internal con
tradictions and illusions about
reality, MCRI fails to address why
organizations like the University
use affirmative action. Contrary'
to popular belief, it is not because
they are forced to do so or because
they are seeking to redress societal'
problems; it is because diversity
benefits them. In the case of the
University, psychology Prof. Patri.,
cia Gurin has demonstrated that "
... students who had experienced
the most racial and ethnic diversity,
... showed the greatest engage-,
ment in active thinking processes,
growth in intellectual engagement
and motivation and growth in
intellectual and academic skills."
Simply put, students who experi-
ence the diversity that affirmative
action helps to create receive more',
of what the college experience is
intended to provide.
Whether you're a person of color
or white, man or woman, Repub-'
lican or Democrat, affirmative,
action benefits you. It's not a per-
fedt instrument, but it is one that,
must be preserved. If you want to
carry on the fight against inequal-
ity, as well as ensure the continued,
success of the Maize and Blue, you
should not hesitate to vote no on-
Proposal 2.
Yahkind is an LSA senior
and former president of LSA
Student Government.




Send all letters to the editor to,

Hezbollah to blame for the latest Ann Arbor City Council
violence in the Middle East unwise to ignore developer

I think Fahad Farugi should do some fact
checking before writing his next letter to the edi-
tor (U.S. should jettison corporate ties, act justly
in Middle East, 09/0612006). The war fought
between Israel and Hezbollah was started when
Hezbollah militants violated Israel's sovereignty
by crossing its border, killing eight Israeli sol-
diers, and kidnapping two others. Israel, like any
other country would, reacted forcefully to such
an attack. Unfortunately, Hezbollah decided
that the best way to wage war from among the
Lebanese civilian populace. This cowardly act
by Hezbollah led to many civilian deaths. Itsis
true that the United States did not exert pressure
on Israel to cease its military response. This is
because the U.S. government wisely saw that an
immediate cease-fire would reward the mili-
tants, the true source of the conflict.
Nicholas Kohn
Class of '03

While I can't say that I'm shocked that the Ann
Arbor City Council is turning a deaf ear toward
the recommendations brought forth by the urbanist
Peter Calthorpe, I am disappointed that basic logic
doesn't even seem to play a role in the Council's
planning and development. The Metro 202 fiasco
- when City Council fell one vote shy of the six
votes needed to approve construction of a nine-story
mixed-use building on the corner of Washington
and Division streets -is just another example of
the Council undermining the very ideas Calthorpe
said were essential to the creation of a sustainable
downtown core when he came here last year to dis-
cuss the future of downtown Ann Arbor. Unfor-
tunately, this needless politicking isn't confined to
the downtown business district, but is widespread
throughout Ann Arbor. Instead of being a typical
"I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" situa-
tion, the city is instead sending the message that
"You'll scratch my back or you'll never see your

project built." So much for the progressive ideals
the city claims it holds.
While I'm saddened by the fact that this project
isn't going to move forward - unless the council
does indeed bring it back for a second vote - I
have to applaud McKinley, the project's develop-
er, for opting not to revise and resubmit its plans.
Until the city realizes what its needless muddling
around is going to do to the city, the system will
not change. The three members that voted down
the project got caught calling a bluff and ended up
getting seriously burned from it, plain and sim-
ple. They expected the developer to jump through
the same idiotic hoops they force everyone else
through, wasting endless amounts of money and
Now, after getting caught with their pants down,
the city wants a do-over. If I were McKinley, I don't
know if I'd really want a second vote. The city had its
chance. Let them deal with the abandoned lot right in
the middle of downtown.
Jason Roberts
The letter writer is aformer
Daily managing arts editor.

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