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December 08, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-08

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4 - Friday, December 8, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


jb Midigan B&i4y
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
x.413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Wheeling and dealing
'U' dodges responsibility to disabled football fans
f you think spending hundreds of millions of dollars to over-
haul Michigan Stadium would be a renovation - well, you're
wrong. A renovation, you see, would have to comply with the
Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are so many lessons from that time for
our time, none greater than the idea of one
nation greater than the sum of its parts."
- Former NBC Nightly News anchor TOM BROKAW, in a speech delivered at
Pearl Harbor during a ceremony honoring the 65th anniversary of the Japanese
attack on the military base, as reported yesterday by The Associated Press.

Ditching the dorms

Members of the Michigan Paralyzed
veterans of America have complained that
while Notre Dame managed to include
more than 400 wheelchair-accessible seats
in that school's smaller stadium, the reno-
vation plan for the Big House includes far
fewer seats. The group has threatened to file
a lawsuit against the University, saying its
plan doesn't comply with the ADA's require-
ment that disabled fans have multiple seat-
ing options in different locations.
University General Counsel Marvin
Krislov argued at last month's University
Board of Regents meeting that changes to
the stadium's bowl should be considered a
"repair." While constructing new luxury
boxes is a renovation by any definition, the
University's legal position apparently is that
renovations to the bowl itself, like adding
restrooms and widening seats and aisles,
should be considered "repairs" - a category
not subject to the ADA.
This putative distinction between a repair

and a renovation might seem confusing to
anyone who has clicked the link for infor-
mation on "Michigan Stadium Renovations"
on the University's homepage. Denying that
parts of the renovation are actually a reno-
vation to avoid complying with the ADA is
also hypocritical. Promising to improve the
stadium's handicapped seating is one way
the University has sought to sell the skybox
project to a skeptical public.
With Regent Rebecca McGowan's recent
switch to support the renovation plan,
there appears little hope that the addi-
tion of luxury boxes to the stadium can be
stopped. If the plan must go forward, the
least the University can do is to ensure that
the stadium provides adequate wheelchair-
accessible seating.
The University has gotten good at ignor-
ing critics of its skybox plan. Hopefully, it
has enough respect for its disabled fans
to give their concerns the attention they

The idea of a luxurious, pri-
vate dormitory that charges
between $600 and $900 per
month as an alternative to the grungy
beehives freshmen are shoved into
today is enough to make any propo-
nent of integrated living communities
shudder. Knowing wealthy students
could segregate
themselves in a
dorm equipped
with all the ame-
nities any college
student could
ask for - private
bedrooms and
bathrooms, even
maid service
- is not a pleas- THERESA
ant thought forT
those who advo- KENNELLY
cate diversity in -
residential life. But although the argu-
ments against building private dorms
are numerous, University Housing's
operation of on-campus housing to-
day makes the creation of a privately
owned and operated dorm increas-
ingly probable.
Private dorm alternatives have
been creeping onto college campuses
around the country to meet the de-
mands of students who snub tradi-
tional dorm life. Managed by a slew
of companies - most notably United
Campus Housing and the Scion Group
- these dorms are usually located near
or on a college campus. First in 2003,
and then again in 2004, housing con-
tractors approached the University
about building a high-rise complex on
an unoccupied lot near Bursley Resi-
dence Hall on North Campus.
When an easement was drafted last
year between the University and Unit-

ed Campus Housing for the company's
plans to build a 900-bedroom complex
off Murfin Road, the idea of private
dorm at the University became a real-
ity. The plans were finalized in mid-
February, when City Council approved
the easement and construction plans
by a 9-2 vote. The project was to be
completed by summer 2006, or sum-
mer 2007 at the latest.
But then nothing happened. The lot
wasn't cleared, advertisements weren't
put up and life on North Campus has
remained as stagnant as ever. A Univer-
sity Housing employee I talked to didn't
even know what I meant by a "private
dorm" and was unaware of any prior
North Campus construction plans.
The most reasonable conclusion I
can come up with is that the company
scrapped its plans and moved on to
another college because the luxury
dorm wasn't welcomed by the Univer-
sity administration. And with no new
proposals on the table from compa-
nies wanting to construct on campus,
University Housing has retained its
monopoly over the on-campus hous-
ing market.
North Quad plans are finally in full
swing, and it appears University Hous-
ing is making overdue but genuine
strides towards updating dorm life -
which is long past due, given that the
last new dorm was built in 1968. But its
control over the market is frightening
to say the least.
Year after year, freshmen are forced
into dorms that are as uneconomical
as they are shoddy, with almost no way
around it. Undoubtedly, dorm life has
long been a rite of passage for fresh-
men. But looking at dorms today, re-
ality trumps tradition; what's really
going on inside University Housing

should not be forced on anyone.
University Housing's monopoly
over the on-campus system has also al-
lowed it to rob students in many unde-
tectable ways. Reports of cockroaches
in showers, unsanitary eating condi-
tions, false fire alarms and instances
of theft are becoming as ubiquitous
as the minor, in possession tickets
handed out in dorm hallways. While
the high cost of living in the dorms is
no mystery, these drawbacks - along
with inescapable meal plans and the
prevalence of economy triples - make
things even worse.
The fact is that the roughly 30 per-
cent of students who live in dorms are
not getting their money's worth given
Why the University
should welcome
private dorms.
the way housing has deteriorated. So
as long as students are paying absurdly
high prices, they might as well spend
their money in nicer, more comfortable
private dorms. Building such dorms is
the only foreseeable way to counter-
act the irresponsible way University
Housing is managing residential life on
campus. In order to attract prospective
students, it's in the University's best in-
terest to recruit new on-campus hous-
ing developers and ensure they follow
through with construction plans.
Theresa Kennelly is a Daily associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at thenelly@umich.edu.

.' '


Integration on trial
Court must be careful not to undermine Grutter, Brown
an the weeks following the passage of Proposal 2, it seemed to
many students at the University that campus diversity would
soon hit rock bottom. Less than a month later, another con-
tentious racial integration issue is being breached - this time, in
the U.S. Supreme Court. And once again, it doesn't look good for
proponents of integration.

The complications of citizenship

Arguments began Monday on two dif-
ferent but related cases, one from Louis-
ville, Ky. and the other from Seattle, Wash.
The issue at hand is the constitutionality
of integration programs in these cities'
school districts. Both districts allow stu-
dents to pick what school they wish to
attend and then make assignments, taking
into account factors like school capacity,
geographic location - and race. To foster
a diverse racial makeup, students can be
denied access to their school of choice and
transferred elsewhere.
These schools are simply trying to break
down the most ingrained social barrier in
our society. Racial segregation pervades
most urban areas, and housing, employment
and social segregation plague even the most
diverse cities. Schools in Louisville and
Seattle should be commended for trying to
combat the effects of segregation. Instead,
disgruntled moms whose kids didn't get
their preferred school are suing them.
This is not a case of some worthy appli-
cant being denied admission to a presti-
gious university. Seattle's lawyer, Michael
Madden, insisted in his arguments that
the schools in question are all compara-
ble, and the city's system is not in place
to right the wrongs of economic dispar-
ity. Students in these cities are still get-

ting an equal education - only with the
added benefits of a racially diverse learn-
ing environment.
It might seem that policies to promote
integration in K-12 schools shouldn't be
legally controversial. After all, the land-
mark decision in Brown v. Board of Edu-
cation held that separate is inherently
unequal. And yet Chief Justice John Rob-
erts ironically cited the Brown precedent
during oral arguments Monday - to argue
against integration. It's a shame that some
conservative members of the Supreme
Court fail to see the importance of policies
to promote diversity, particularly in light
of our heavily segregated society.
Many observers expect the court, with
two Bush appointees who are hearing a
case on race for the first time, to strike
down the policies. Such a ruling, how-
ever, would do great damage to the prin-
ciple of stare decisis. In 2003, the court
ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger, the case that
challenged the admission policy at the
University's law school, that race was an
acceptable factor in college admissions.
To throw out this precedent after such a
short time would make it appear that poli-
tics had determined the outcome of the
case and could only damage the reputa-
tion of the court.

Reconceptualizing "The Univer-
sity as Global Citizen," as a Honors
College panel discussion asked us to
do last week Wednesday, turns out to
have just as much to do with warring
conceptions of culture as it does with
the University's wars over cola. The
debate that ensued knocked against
the fragile casings of issues far more
nuanced than whether the Universi-
ty's decision to kick Coca-Cola prod-
ucts off campus - only to reinstate
the contract some four months later
- was just.
The grounds of the Coke con-
troversy are inextricably rooted in
the debate over the changing role of
citizenship in an increasingly com-
plex global order. As the definitions
of exactly who qualifies as a citizen
become increasingly contested, the
ethical challenge that human rights
activists and multinational corpora-
tions face is to sort and reorder the
web of tangled ethical fibers under-
girding our emerging global society.
Swirling around the Coca-Cola
Company's alleged violations of union
workers' rights in Colombia and
environmental standards in India is
a multifaceted ethical controversy
that initially appears to be a simple
case of might versus right. Cast the
globalization debate in the terms of
the culture wars of the '90s, how-
ever, and you will find yourself con-
fronted with a startling parallelism.
The almost absurd nationalism of
statements like "The world is great
because of America - not the other
way around!" (as one panelist so tact-
fully declared) makes it apparent that
the Pat Buchanan-era paranoia over
some sort of radical affront to "main-

stream" American culture still lurks
in the musty corners of our cultural
unconscious - and clings fiercely to
that last can of Coke. But this time,
the politics ain't local.
The Coke Coalition's battle to
boot the soft drink off campus, given
Coke's violation of the University's
Vendor Code of Conduct, is the politi-
cal manifestation of a process of wider
theoretical significance - the eclips-
ing of the old state-subject concept by
global citizenship. The international
movement to stop Coca-Cola from
trampling over the environment and
workers' rights also carries with it a
brash and threatening proposal: The
old conception of citizen no longer
holds water. Not, at least, as a strictly
national distinction.
The University's central role in the
Coke controversy mirrors the impor-
tance of the modern university as
agent in the larger theoretical strug-
gle. The University is at once a cor-
poration, "thought leader" and public
disseminator of the politics of state,
and the Coke controversy has forced
the University to choose one set of
ethics over the other. Each of the
University's roles presents a different
ethic: the Vanderbilt business ethic
of "the public be damned" versus an
emergent universal ethic of inalien-
able human rights. The question is not
whether the corporate armies or the
opposing melange of grassroots coali-
tions will "win" the Kulturkampf, but
how to find a mutually agreeable way
to chart the ethical landscape of the
global state.
The Coke controversy highlights
the importance of conceptualiz-
ing new ways to order and mediate

between the competing ethics in this
nascent global world. Anti-globalists
and American chauvinists alike have
failed to develop progressive solu-
tions that confront these realities,
corporate-invented though they may
be. This new cultural arena demands
sheriffs - otherwise, the old ethic of
corporate consumption may swallow
the more earnest but fiscally power-
less ethic of human rights and corpo-
rate responsibility.
However, these ethical sheriffs
must be theorists before they are
activists. They may wield pop-guns,
but those pop-guns must point toward
universal, global solutions. Activism
doesn't just include the protests and
strikes - the history of the American
labor movement bears testament to
the fact that forming a coalition is half
the battle. Solidarity - between Uni-
versity students and administrators,
international rights coalitions and the
groups whose rights Coca-Cola's prac-
tices have systematically denied - is
the new category that will prove cru-
cial in mapping out the ethicalterms of
the culture of the global state.
As panelist and Holcim Professor
of Sustainable Enterprise Andrew
Hoffman indicated, transformation-
minded coalitions must identify inno-
vative solutions to the many problems
presented by the global state - as well
as the problems themselves - before
rushing to take the Bastille. Not that
it cannot, or should not, be stormed.
Today's mass-culture Bastille, after
all, may well be a space measured in
fluid ounces per can.
Jessi Holler is an LSA freshman and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.


Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu


B-side writer misunderstands
meaning ofHanukkah
The essay in this week's B-side A reconciliation with
Hanukah (12/07/2006) is absurd and reflects the writ-
er's lack of understanding about this special holiday. It's
terribly unfortunate that the writer hasn't a clue as to
the meaning of Hanukkah.
An abundance of decorations would not enhance the
meaning of Hanukkah. It is unimportant to the those

who celebrate of the Jewish holiday that radio stations
do not play Hanukkah music 24 hours a day. Rather,
Hanukkah - which means dedication - is about spend-
ing time with family and friends. Hanukkah is about
celebrating the countless miracles and blessings in our
lives. Despite what the author says, the fact that Hanuk-
kah is not very commercialized does nothing to dimin-
ish its significance as a treasured holiday. It is already
that, and it will always be.
Carrie Dubin

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