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THE EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK with WALTER NOWINSKI
iablef C (tetft. A look at the big news events this week and how important they really are. Conveniently rated from one to 10.
Wednesday, March 7 2007 - The Michigan Daily 7
3B THE JUNK DRAWER
What's hot and what's not in cur-
rent events and pop culture.
4B STRAIGHT TALK
What complaining about GSIs'
language skills says about us.
IF THEY WON'T BUY, SUE
Students are some of the last people in
the country listening to music released
to by major record labels, and they aren't
paying for the songs. The Recording
Industry Association of America is ready-
ing its legal artillery, so watch out.
WITH OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THESE
Gov. Granholm called the news that a
major bank was moving its headquarters
out oftthe state an "opportunity to attract
10 banks who want to headquarter here."
Maybe the Gov. will consider it a success
if a payday advance shop occupies the
Detroit offices vacated by Comerica.
NOW CHENEY'S SEEN IT ALL
Vice President Dick Cheney's trip
to Afghanistan got offto a dra-
matic start when a suicide bomber
1 attacked the airbase where he was.
The VP walked away unscathed.
JESUS IN THREE EASY PAYMENTS
Producer James Cameron found the one
thingthat makes a bigger splash than the
o 10 Titanic: Jesus' tomb. His upcoming show
4 begs the question: Can you run com-
mercials for Oxy Clean during a TV show
purporting to solve a mystery of faith?
BLACKER THAN THOU
Fending off charges that he is "not black
enough," presidential hopeful Barack Obama
spoke about civil rights in Alabama. Just a
0 10 few hundred yards away, Hillary Clinton;
4 whose husband was sometimes referred to
as the first black president, tried to portray
herself as the candidate of black Americans.
IT COULD BE WORSE
Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis
Libby was convicted of obstructing justice.
The upside for Libby is that a 25-year pris-
o 10 on sentence is a good excuse toget outof
dove hunting trip with the V.P. this spring.
PERSON OF THE WEEK
6B SEX AND EDUCATION
Romance at the Univer-
sity over the decades
8B A MAN AMONG WOMEN
One of three male actors in "The
Vagina Monologues" describes what
it was like to play the bad guy.
rule 22: This isn't
Vegas. What happens
in Ann Arbor doesn't,
always stay in Ann Arbor.
rule 23: Ihad a good
Spring Break. Stop ask-
ing. rule 24: If you can't
parallel park in three tries
on State Street, give up..
- E-mail rule submissions to
Anyone who strangles and dismembers his wife, as Stephen Grant
allegedly did, doesn't deserve much sympathy. But Grant deserves
scorn for more than just the wanton cruelty of his crime - he
simply isn't competent. He ditches the pieces of his wife's body
in a park, but then once the sheriff's office gets suspicious,
he retrieves the torso and puts it in his garage - leaving other
minor parts (her head, for instance) behind. When a search war-
rant is issued Grant takes off - in an inconspicuous bright yellow
pickup. Police find him wandering around in the snow in a state
park up north after he's spent a night trekking through the woods.
He doesn't have a jacket or shoes and he has to be hauled away, suf-
fering from frostbite and hypothermia, in a Coast Guard helicopter.
From page 2B
First, there was the North Campus Redux
two years ago, a plan championed by Archi-
tecture and Urban Planning Dean Doug Kel-
baugh. The Redux project recognized that
the campus has an "anemic and incomplete
sense of place." When coupled with its dis-
tant location, this lack of identity means that
although North Campus is "home to a stu-
dent population as large as that of Yale Uni-
versity, there are few reasons for people to
voluntarily visit or spend time there."
Next came the new Computer Science
Building, giving the North Campus Quad
a better sense of enclosure. Complete with
an idiosyncratic hodgepodge of materials
that work surprisingly well together, this
engineering building triumphantly con-
quered and renegotiated the hill that was
once the Quad's only northeast boundary.
The building's southern glass atrium space
houses a sensational spiral staircase that
spills the building's inhabitants out into the
North Quad lawn on a nice day. Although the
"Northern Diag" is still tremendously over-
scaled, it now reads as an actual space. Before
it was a lopsided accumulation of buildings.
Then came the Walgreen Drama Center,
a building that is fueling the critical density
From page 5B
alongside a picture of a white woman than
alongside a picture of an Asian woman.
A 2005 experiment by Stephanie Lin-
demann showed that the average stu-
dent college student has a more negative
impression of Chinese, Russian and Mexi-
can accents than of standard American
English. The students in Lindemann's
study ranked Chinese accents as the least
Complaints by students about hard-to-
understand GSIs might be a kind of hidden
racism, Campbell-Kibler said.
Axelson said she spoke to an Italian eco-
nomics GSI who experienced discrimination
based on his accent. The GSI, who was white
and dressed like an American, had already
lived in the United States for two years and
was fluent in English.
"He was pretty at home here," Axelson
said. "Based on his looks, you could easily
think he was American."
As the GSI entered the classroom and
prepared for the beginning of class, he felt
positive vibes, Axelson said. When he spoke
with his Italian accent, though, everything
"People's faces closed off and they became
hostile," Axelson said. "That whole friendly
atmosphere disappeared, and he then had to
win them back."
Some students misbehave in the class-
room out of contempt for international GSIs,
"I've seen students just do their e-mail in
class," she said. "They'll hang out at the back
of the room, talk to their friends, snicker
about the GSI. That's really demoralizing
Perhaps American students don't under-
stand the importance of understanding dif-
ferent accents because they're lucky enough
to grow up speaking English, the interna-
tional language of business.
The international graduate students
understand, though that's one reason many
of them study in the U.S. in the first place.
The Arthur Miller Theatre just makes a bad campus worse.
Magaine Editor: Anne VanderMey
Editr iChiet Karl iamvIl
Managing Editor: effreyBloomer
Cover Art: reterSchottenfes, llin
Photo Editor'. Pete. Schotenels
Desigers: BrdgeO'Donnell and
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and making North Campus seem normal.
With such progress, I began to think that
eerie feeling of emptiness I once had while
traversing through Pierpont Commons might
soon be unwarranted. The only remaining
eerie feeling is the notion that the panda's
eyes on the Panda Express logo in the food
court in Pierpont Commons keep following
me, but that's between me and the panda.
The improvementcouldn'tlast, though. Just
when I thought that North Campus was com-
Nine international graduate students
watched movie trailers in a Modern Languag-
es Building classroom last month. The stu-
dents, from different University departments
and schools, listened carefullyto the dialogue
from movies like "Welcome to Mooseport,"
"50 First Dates" and "Shrek," silently mouth-
GSIs' accents don't
stunt learning, they
ing the words. They used the trailers to learn
American slang and colloquial English.
In the class, English Language Institute
338, called Pronunciation in Context, ELI
Lecturer Brenda Imber teaches internation-
al students to speak like Americans so they
can communicate effectively with students
Some will become GSIs down the line.
Others will stick to research.a
One graduate student spent 10 minutes
before class writing e-mails to College of
Engineering faculty in impeccable English.
When the class started, though, he struggled
to distinguish "they're" from "they are" and
"we're" from "we are."
It's the little things that are hard for non-
native English speakers to master, Imber said.
She told her students to mentally replace the
word "they're" with "there."
"Nobody can tell the difference," Imber
That is, nobody besides their students. The
University has an extensive program in place
to ensure that GSIs speak good English, but
for some it's not good enough. Are the little
things really a substantial setback to com-
To study at the University, international
students must pass the Test of English as a
Foreign Language. Although all interna-
tional graduate students have proven profi-
cient in English, many have little experience
ing up roses, Arthur Miller Theatre proved me
wrong. I had seen the building's design ren-
derings and eagerly waited with anticipation
for the glowing, phosphorescent cube to be
completed. During construction, I gazed at the
steel structure and imagined the cool, clean
building that would emerge. The design is sim-
ple and elegant, but its realization is not.
The glass cube was supposed to provide
an ephemeral translucency that exhibits the
material coolness coveted by contemporary
speaking English in a classroom context,
Axelson said. In ELI classes, GSIs learn what
sort of language is expected in interactions
with students and faculty, she said.
"It's finding outwhat people actually do in
an actual context," Axelson said. "If I want
to establish a rapport by having small talk,
what kinds of things constitute small talk?"
Many international students have to
relearn greetings because the ones taught
in textbooks are rarely followed in practice,
"Textbooks teach you a certain kind of
greeting- the 'hello, how are you' sequence,"
Axelson said. "It may come as a surprise to
hear interactions where people don'trespond
to 'how are you?' That's a weird one to hear
if you've learned a pattern, which is 'fine,
thank you, and you?"'
TEACHING THE TEACHERS
In 1984, the University had no training
program for GSIs.
Faced with an increasing number of inter-
national graduate students who struggled
with English in the classroom, the Universi-
ty began to require that all the international
graduate students take tests to gauge their
command of academic English. The English
Language Institute stepped in to become
the primary form of English instruction for
"GSIs are better teachers than they used
to be," Axelson said.
All international students must now
pass ELI's Academic English Evaluation to
become GSIs. They take the two-hour test at
the beginning of each semester.
Based on the results of the test, students
are assigned to various English for Academic
Purposes courses taught by the ELI. Cours-
es for GSIs include Spoken and Written
Grammar in Academic Contexts, Academic
Speaking and Graduate Student Instructor
No matter how much English a GSI knows,
terms like "electronic override" are going to
be baffling at first, said assistant mathemat-
ics professor Dale Winter. That's why GSIs
need to practice common classroom conver-
sations before teaching classes, he said.
architectural theory. Although the idea is
sweet, the installed glass appears cloudy and
opaque, homogenous and flat. In addition,
mechanical equipment clumsily protrudes
from the roof of the connecting Walgreen
Center, interrupting the cube's simple geom-
etry. The design relied on its materials to
take the Arthur Miller Theatre into a realm
of cool they couldn't reach alone.
An awesome, glowing cube is designed
to be cool. But it isn't. And so, failing that,
all other design attempts to be trendy seem
just plain dumb. For example, the staircase
is disjointed and unnecessarily large for the
atrium's simple centerpiece. The interior's
exposed concrete provides a giant surface
with a stylish texture but minimal integra-
tion. The exterior letters on the cube say
"Theatre" twice, once merely larger than the
other. In a gracefully coherent building with
successful materials, these features would
be architecturally hip. In Arthur Miller The-
atre, they merely exacerbate the notion that
the building is trying hard to be cool and cut-
ting-edge but not succeeding.
North Campus continues to improve, and
Arthur Miller Theatre could have been a
giant leap forward. I guess North Campus
will always provide me with a disturbing
unease, if not from its peculiar void of vital-
ity but from the glass box that has disap-
pointed me so.
International students taking ELI courses
make presentations and hold simulated office
hours as part of their training.
ELI lecturers also teach graduate students
about American educational culture. There
are major differences between the way
teachers and students interact in the United
States and other countries, Rhea said.
One Chinese postdoctoral student teach-
ing Math 115 was popular even though he
originally struggled to speak English because
he made it clear that he cared about his stu-
dents, she said.
When a handful of administrators from
Chinese universities visited the University's
mathematics department and spoke with the
graduate student, they asked him why Amer-
ican students liked him so much. His answer
cracked up the administrators.
"In America, you have to care about the
student," Rhea said, imitating the graduate
student's Chinese accent. "The administra-
tors laughed like that was a real bizarre idea."
Many departments at the University
- including the math department - train
their GSIs beyond the courses taught by the
ELI. After receiving certification, math GSIs
must take a month-long department-specific
course before they can teach a course.
They also "shadow" GSIs alreadyteaching
courses to learn how to grade assignments
and interact with students, Rhea said.
"We truly do not want to put someone in
the classroom that we know we're going to
get complaints on," she said.
Granted, it can be difficult to understand
an international GSI unfamiliar with Ameri-
can classroom culture, who speaks accented
or poor English. The experience, however, is
what students make of it.
The Internet and increasingly free trade
have made English a lingua franca that
allows people from different countries and
native speakers of different languages to
Students have in international GSIs an
opportunity to gain exposure to the myriad
varieties of English that cross the telephone
lines and fill the boardrooms of today's
international world. All they have to do is
Why North Campus is so creepy
I'Ovr Yur Head IJArchitecture Column
. 'i.. a ,.:
ven though I have been
a North Campusite
who has trekked to the
beloved Art and Architecture
Building for many years, that
"other" campus has always
given me an odd feeling. For
those accustomed to Central
Campus, walking through the
North Campus Quad is like vis-
iting a Twilight Zone version of
the Diag. These two Michigan
campuses share common fea-
tures - a bell tower, a union, a
big library, a couple of dorms -
and yet something feels strange
about the northern counterpart.
I searched for an answer and
immediately accused the reclu-
sive engineering students, but
I soon realized they are not to
blame. Curiously, neither are
the musicians or the Bursley
folk. I then thought North Cam-
pus' peculiar aura could be due
to its architecture. The cam-
pus features some pretty crazy
brick concoctions like Charles
Moore's Lurie Tower, Eero
Saarinen's Music School and
the Duderstadt Center, whose
design came from the offices
of Albert Kahn. These facili-
ties look like an outdated 'BOs
A walk up north
can feel like
movie that attempts to depict
the future. Still, an ugly build-
ing may induce nausea, but
not goosebumps. There had to
be another reason that North
Campus was so creepy.
For years, that question
plagued my mind. The solu-
tion remained elusive until one
quiet night it came to me: North
Campus feels strange because it
is so eerily vacant and lacks any
energetic vitality. It's not the
people, it's not even the build-
ings, it's the lack of people and
it's the wide open spaces.
Central Campus has the
benefit of location, situated
adjacent to urban Ann Arbor
while North Campus is about
a 10-minute drive from most
everywhere. This fact also par-
tially accounts for how spread
out North Campus is - parking
lots take up space. Constrained
by the University's original 40
acres, the Diag is framed by an
enclosure of structures neces-
sarily nestled together.
Conversely, North Campus
buildings are fragments that dis-
sipate into the trees and do not
shape the spaces in between.
In recent years, however,
North Campus has been losing
some of its X-Files vibe.
See ARCHITECTURE, page 7B