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December 11, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-11

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4A - Monday, December 11, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
': "tothedaily@umich.edu

ALEXANDER HONKALA |

DONN M. FRESARD
EDITOR IN CHIEF

EMILY BEAM
CHRISTOPHER ZBROZEK
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

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.
Protesting free speech
Disrupting speakers unproductive way to voice dissent
R aymond Tanter, a former professor in the political science
department who currently teaches at Georgetown Univer-
sity, delivered a talk a week and a half ago about the issues
surrounding diplomacy with Iran. Better than anything Tanter
said, however, attendees probably recall the actions of.some pro-
Palestinian activists who attended the event, which was sponsored

Pinochet has
died, and I don't
think he's going to
heaven."
-GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, a human
rights lawyer, commenting on the death
of former Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet, as reported by the BBC.

PUC)H S

A2 on the national stage

by the American Movement for Is
Citing the University's policy on free-
dom of speech and artistic expression,
event organizers repeatedly asked that
audience members pose questions respect-
fully and abide by the policy's guidelines.
That policy permits heckling, but it for-
bids actions that unduly interfere with a
lecturer's communication with the audi-
ence. Despite these requests, continued
angry shouts triggered a domino effect
that ended with multiple arrests and alle-
gations of police brutality.
It is admirable that the University main-
tains a policy that attempts to preserve
the free speech of speakers and dissenters
alike. If fairly and correctly administered,
that policy can avoid undue abridgements
of expression while making removal of
disruptive individuals a last resort. But
though the policy is designed to medi-
ate situations like this one, its application
rarely ends up satisfying anyone.
Expressing opinions openly and pas-
sionately is a practice central to the goals

of the University. But defining the differ-
ence between emotionally charged activ-
ism and outright disrespect that shuts
down discussion shouldn't have to be con-
tentious. Take, for instance, an unpopu-
lar event earlier this semester, the "Catch
an Illegal Immigrant Day" sponsored by
Young Americans for Freedom. Counter-
protesters who considered the event racist
drowned out the YAF chair's voice with
chants whenever he tried to speak - giv-
ing ammunition to ideologues convinced
that progressives are out to suppress any
thought they deem politically incorrect.
Making one's case with intrusive shouts
and unrelenting interruptions that seek to
shut down an opposing view is, generally
speaking, an unproductive means of mak-
ing a point. The pro-Palestinian activists
had every right to attend Tanter's event,
ask tough questions and hold up signs
- but the fracas that eventually played
out probably hasn't done much to advance
their cause.

His arm raised with rallying
charisma and his head draped
in what appears to be a tur-
ban, John Dingell is portrayed in the
pastiche of a Middle Eastern despot,
reminiscent of Muqtada al-Sadr, in an
illustration run in a recent issue of The
New Republic. John Dingell is Ann Ar-
bor's delegate to
the U.S. House ofI
Representatives
and a man I've
had the pleasure
of meeting sev-
eral times - al-
thoughIdon't re-
call him wearing
turban. Seeing
him pictured in
a nationally ac- SAM
claimed political BUTLER
magazine was a
startlingremind-
er of how one's hometown can perme-
ate national or even global levels.
But striking even closer to home,
Dingell's image is a reminder that our
very own University spends a great
deal of time in the national spotlight.
I first encountered this my freshman
year when Newsweek came to cam-
pus to do a story on college students,
dubbing us "Generation 9-11." While
reading quotes and looking at pictures
of my friends, I realized that although
this was my University, it simultane-
ously was a part of something far larg-
er than myself.
Certainly, this University's place
in the national spectrum hits every-
one each football season - amplified
even more so this year amid our na-
tional title disappointment. Gratz and
Grutter demonstrate the University's
pivotal role in the story of affirmative
action, something that comes to mind
as the U.S. Supreme Court now tam-
pers with the legacy of Brown v. Board.
A larger scale collides with my daily
world whenever I climb the steps of
the Michigan Union and see the spot
where John Kennedy announced the

birth of the Peace Corps, walk past the
public policy school named after our
38th president or traverse anything
else that the University's press pack-
et trumpets. Every major university
is rife with its own sources of legend
and lore, and Michigan's is better than
most.
However, for whatever reason,
many students take this University
and their position in it for granted. A
recent conversation I overheard pro-
vides the perfect example: "Michigan
is a much better school than the one
my sister goes to, but I still wish I had
gotten into Harvard." That about sums
it up. Michigan is a leader on the na-
tional stage but will always be an Ivy
League backup plan. The engineer's
time at Michigan becomes a source of
insecurity as he trudges the campus
feeling ashamed about being an MIT
reject.
But why is Michigan met with dis-
dain? Along with the University of
California at Berkeley and the Uni-
versity of Virginia, Michigan stands
as one of the top public universities
in the country and offers an education
comparable to its east coast contempo-
raries. After all, two of our professors
were on David Horowitz's list of most
dangerous academics is America - we
must be doing something right.
One can't help but feel that the Uni-
versity of Michigan gets snubbed be-
cause of its location. One of the most
common questions I encounter now in
graduate school is "What the hell am
I doing in Michigan?" The number of
expletives in that sentence goes up as
the temperature goes down. Gloomy
Michigan gets lost between sunny
California and colonial New England
as students funnel in from both coasts,
convinced that their homes are the
only real locations of American civili-
zation.
Apparently, the ocean view comes
with a confidence that the middle parts
of the country are just a hazy blur of
cornfield. How did New York and Los

Angeles become the disappointed par-
ents of the rest of the country?
What's amazing is that even Mid-
westerners on campus share these
sentiments.Whereas East Coasters re-
sent the fact that they are in Michigan,
Midwesterners resent that they are
not even in Chicago. The reason N.Y.
and L.A. hold such sway over Ameri-
can youths - beyond their enabling
of hip two-letter abbreviation - is be-
cause there is so much cultural atten-
tion paid to them. They have specific
footholds on our cultural imagination.
Growing up, the entire country watch-
es movies and television shows that
take place in these cities.
Don't we all dream about being that
naive, but determined and scrappy
We aren't on a
coast, and the 'U'
isn't Harvard.
young Midwesterner moving to the
concrete jungle to take a bite out of
the big apple? Write your own sitcom
theme music as necessary. I can only
imagine what native New Yorkers
think of this imagery - maybe their
dad from Iowa can answer.
The University just can't compare to
the kind of public relations and movie
attention enjoyed by the Ivies. Michi-
gan only has fleeting moments in quasi-
classics like "American Pie" and "The
Big Chill," Now, these few moments
are more than many other colleges can
boast, but until there's an exciting dra-
ma about Michigamua, we're always
going to wish we went to Harvard.
Sam Butler is a member of the
Daily's editorial board. He can be.
reached at butlers@umich.edu.

4

AMANDA BURNS1
Inflammatory and ineffective

The now-infamous scuffle between protest-
ers and campus police at Georgetown University
ProfERaymond Tanter's speech on Iran in the
Michigan League a week and a half ago left me
both shocked and confused. Seated only rows
behind the bulk of the action, I watched the
woman officers weretattempting to remove flail
on the ground, while fellow protesters yelled
about police brutality and crashed into each
other, creating a mini-mosh pit. At one point, a
protester turned to me and my roommate and
said: "Well, is this what you wanted? Fine, you
got it!" All I could think in response was, "What
I wanted? From what I can tell, this is exactly
what you wanted." But I guess I should start
from the beginning.
I attended the speech as a neutral observer,
but it was apparent from the moment the pro-
testers arrived that the situation was going to
escalate. Entering a room filled mostly with
Jewish students, the protesters carried signs
with the Nazi swastika representing the S in
"Israel." Other signs labeled Zionists as mur-
ders. As Tanter began his speech, the protest-
ers were advised of the University's free-speech
policy and asked to cease disruptive behavior
during the presentation.
When protesters interrupted the lecture with
shouts of "shame on you" a few times, I began
to think about the difference between construc-
tive and destructive protest. Did the protest-
ers arrive hoping to raise awareness or to earn
a police record? I am an avid proponent of free
speech, but there is wisdom in balancing a pro-
test's inflammatory elements against its overall
effectiveness.
The presentation focused on possible policy
options in Iran. After expressing disagreement
with a military approach, Tanter proposed
removing Iranian opposition political parties
from the United States's list of terrorist groups.
Legitimizing the opposition, Tanter argued,
may reduce Iranian confidence, bringing them
to the bargaining table on issues such as urani-
um enrichment. The topic, and Tanter's view on
it, comes at a time when the Iraq Study Group is
recommending entering talks with Iran to end
the Iraqi sectarian violence - a policythe speak-
er discouraged.
Tanter's belief that the Iranian regime has
a dangerous ideology designed for export was
probably the most inflammatory part of his pre-
sentation - but the protests had little to do with
that or any other aspect of the lecture. During
JOHN OQUIST I

the question-and-answer session, Tanter called
repeatedly on the group of protesters, but it was
speeches, not questions, that followed. When
urged to contain their remarks to questions,
they asked: "How can you explain Israel's con-
nection to apartheid South Africa?" and "Do
you acknowledge Israel's right to exist?" Tanter
quipped that Israel did not need his approval to
exist.
Despite Tanter's requests that questions be
pertinent to the subject of Iran, the questions
remained the same, and the tension increased.
The University's free-speech policy was read
aloud repeatedly along with escalating warn-
ings. When non-protesting members of the
audience were called on, cries alleging Zionist
preference erupted. One protester left out of
anger, advising the speaker to go to hell; another
protester repeated the comment. It was at this
point that Department of Public Safety officers
stepped in. Although the protesters did their
best to provoke police brutality, I did not see any
instances of it.
I do not want to demean the importance of
protest, but I understand the purpose of protest
to be more than making headlines. I consider
it an avenue for change. Although more radi-
cal methods of protest have worked in the past,
actions that polarize rather than spread infor-
mation must be re-examined. The Iran presen-
tation is a perfect example. I doubt the manner
in which the protesters conducted themselves
gained them any supporters at the presentation,
and it certainly strengthened the pro-Israel
camp's resolve.
In addition, I am not sure it was the correct
forum for such a debate. It was clear from the
shocked look on many audience members' faces
that they viewed the presentation as an aca-
demic rather than a political event. It is difficult
to avoid politics when dealing with the Middle
East, but the incident exposed a campus conflict
approaching its boiling point. In the end, what
was gained? Press coverage? The reaffirmation
of the right to hateful speech? Certainly not a
better understanding of policy options in Iran,
but this was not Tanter's fault. Any topic related
to Israel will always fill rooms beyond capacity
at the University, but hopefully in the future the
ideas of the speaker, not the actions of DPS, will
make the front page.
Amanda Burns is an LSA senior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu

Time to get rid ofpreferences for
children of alumni
TO THE DAILY:
The University and its president, Mary Sue Cole-
man, are right to argue vigorously in public and legal
arenas for diversity. But isn't the University's policy of
considering legacy based on applicants' relationship to
University alumni in its admissions decisions a state-
ment against diversity? Isn't such a policy a small but
meaningful nod to oligarchy, a wink to privilege and
power that, when all is said and done, it is still business
as usual at the University?
It would seem that ending legacy preferences has.
something in it for almost everybody. For those in favor
of diversity in all its glorious colors and forms, end-
ing such a practice is a no-brainer. For those opposed
to any sort of affirmative action, who wouldn't fight
against affirmative action for the affluent?
It is time for the University to do away with a prac-
tice that is, indeed, a legacy - but of a time and type
that we must move past.
Randall Rivet
School ofSocial Work
Street lights as likely to attract
space aliens as deter crime
TO THE DAILY:
I read with interest the Daily's article regarding
a student appeal to the Ann Arbor City Council to
improve street lighting south of the main campus (A
bright idea: Make streets safer with light, 12/12/2006).
When I bought a condo here in mid-2004, I was sur-
prised to see what appeared to be streetlights designed
to entice space aliens to visit Ann Arbor. I hope that
type of fixture is not what "Make Ann Arbor Bright"
wants the city to install.
Not all street lighting reduces crime. For example,
see the website maintained by the International Dark
Sky Association website, www.darksky.org.
Dietrich Bergmann
Engineering Class of '61
Policies to encourage double-sided
printing would save innocent trees
TO THE DAILY:
Robert Jones's letter (Printing allocation is the prod-
uct of careful management, 12/07/2006) explains some
ways Campus Computing Sites is working to keep costs
of printing low. However, I think the Campus Comput-

ing sites have really failed to encourage saving trees.
As a former LSA Student Government and Michigan
Student Assembly representative, I saw both student
governments request that Information Technology
Central Services adopt a policy that takes account of
double-sided printing by charging less per page. ITCS
and Campus Computing Sites have yet to respond. If
Jones is serious about conserving resources, he could
start with adopting a policy that encourages double-
sided printing, which could to reduce significantly the
amount of paper used.
Stuart Wagner
LSA senior
The letter writer is a former LSA Student Government and Michi-
gan Student Assembly representative.
Big House will have plenty of
wheelchair-accessible seats
TO THE DAILY:
I would like to clarify some information about the
number and allocation of accessible seatingin Michigan
Stadium's new design that was referred to in the Daily
(Disabled vets: Stadium plan violates law, 11/30/2006;
Wheeling and dealing, 12/08/2006).
The University is fully committed to the accessibility
of Michigan Stadium for all patrons. Currently, every
ticket holder who needs a wheelchair-accessible seat
is accommodated in Michigan Stadium. The additional
accessible seating that is part of the new expansion
project will ensure that the University can continue to
meet the needs of fans. The current stadium and the
expansion project fully comply with the requirements
of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Increasing the number and location of wheelchair
accessible seating has been a priority for the University
from the inception of the project. The stadium's new
design nearly triples the number of wheelchair-acces-
sible seats for fans with mobility impairments - from
90 seats to 282 seats. In addition to the 90 existing seats
that are located at each end zone, the new stadium
design adds 72 accessible seats plus companion seats on
the west side of the stadium. These seats stretch from
goal line to goal line and will be covered and acces-
sible via a new elevator. The seats offer an excellent,
unobstructed view of the entire field. On the east side
of the stadium, the new design adds 24 new accessible
outdoor club seats plus companion seats and 14 new
accessible inside club seats plus companion seats. In
addition, there will be a wheelchair-accessible seat in
every suite. The total number of accessible seats will
increase, and the choice of location will now include
both end zones, sideline and club seating.
Kelly Cunningham
The letter writer is a senior public affairs specialist in the
University's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs.

0

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, Jessi Holler, Rafi Martina, Toby Mitch-
ell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Katherine SeidElizabeth Stanley, Jennifer
Sussex, John Stiglich, Neil Tambe, Rachel Wagner.

I

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