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March 22, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-22

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4A - Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C74l idiign 3atIMy
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
tothedaily@umich.edu

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

IMRAN SYED
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

You're hanging schools out to dry."
-Michigan Association of School Boards Director Justin King on the state government's inability
to reach a budget compromise, as reported yesterday by the Detroit Free Press.
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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position ofthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solelythe views oftheir authors.
A broken system
Student government elections need more competition
T his year's student government elections probably won't be
rocked by the kind of scandal and criminal behavior that
plagued last year's race. That's good for everyone. But last
year, 20 percent of the student body voted in the student govern-
ment elections, largely because a viable third (um, second) party,
the Michigan Progressive Party, posed a real challenge to the
long-dominant mainstay. Unfortunately, most of the competition
has dissipated, leaving only the Michigan Action Party, the Defend
Affirmative Action Party and a handful of independents.

Contraception deception

*I

Once again, students find that the election
is a foregone conclusion and there is nothing
for voters to get excited about. Regardless of
these circumstances, the student body must
turn out and vote. Low voter turnout would
be tantamount to the student body accept-
ing the MSA elections process and the bro-
ken system it has become.
Part of the blame for MSA's lacklus-
ter elections has to be placed on voters.
As frustrating and confusing as the sys-
tem may be, students should take time to
research the issues that matter most to
them and demand that candidates and
parties address those issues. And after the
election, when many candidates drop their
party affiliations and leave the work to be
done by individuals, students must remain
vigilant and make sure the party's cam-
paign promises are kept.
But the problem is largerthan just student
apathy. Parties should not exist solely for
the sake of electing their representatives.
The student body, or at least the 20 percent
that vote, entrusts representatives to tackle
the issues that matter most. Parties like the
Michigan Action Party that claim to tran-
scend ideology only give students a reason
not to care. If MSA hopes to become an
important part of student life, there must
be more candidates and parties that reflect
the student body by taking diverse stances
on the issues. It is the job of the winners of
this year's election to make sure that next
year's race is more contested.
In the spirit of providing students with
definitive parties and real choices, third par-
ties need tobe stronger and more intune with
students as well. The Defend Affirmative
Action Party, although it claims a broad plat-

form, talks only about promoting diversity at
the University. That's a worthy goal but there
is nothing DAAP can do about it because it
is a perennial non-contender. Not only does
DAAP lack the experience to work effectively
with other parties in MSA, its narrow focus
comes at the expense of other important stu-
dent issues. The party's fundamental short-
comings leave students no viable alternative
in elections, which weakens MSA.
-- -G
s
MSA is a body designed to represent stu-
dent interests. Students should voice their
concerns byvoting and demanding account-
ability. We should not vote blindly for any
party but should take the time to make an
informed decision. For example, while MAP
has been widely endorsed, its slate also
includes a candidate implicated last year in a
denial of service attack on a competing par-
ty's website. You'll want to know all about
things like that before voting.
The system may be broken, but it will be
altogether defunct without broad partici-
pation from the student body and a com-
mitment from the winners to increase
competition.

H avingtrouble inthe bedroom?
Going bald? Not to worry,
the health insurance policy
you have through your employer will
likely cover health care essentials like
Rogaine and Viagra. Want to avoid an
unplanned pregnancy? Nowyou'rejust
getting greedy.
Lastweek,athree
judge panel on the E
8th Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled 2-to-1
that Union Pacific,
the country's largest
railroad company,
did not discrimi-
nate against women WHITNEY
by denying health DIBO
care coverage for
prescription con-
traception. For an incalculable number
of female workers who count on health
insurance to subsidize contraception
costs, preventinganunwanted pregnan-
cy justgot that much harder.
The two judges, brought to us com-
pliments of former presidents Reagan
and Bush, cleverly skirted Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which
prohibits employment discrimina-
tion on the basis of gender. They also
dodged the Pregnancy Discrimination
Act, which amended Title VII in 1978.
The decision overturned precedent
established in 2005 by a Nebraska dis-
trict court and flat-out rejected a 2000
Equal Employment Opportunity Com-
mission decision, both of which deter-
mined health insurance must cover all
FDA-approved contraception.
"The Pregnancy Discrifrinatioth Act's"
language explicitly bars discrimina-
tion on the basis of "pregnancy, child-
birth or related medical conditions." In
a hairsplitting move, the majority drew
a distinction between being pregnant
and becoming pregnant. It reasoned that
because contraception is preventive and
taken before pregnancy actually occurs,
the act doesn't apply. Apparently, con-
traceptives are not related to pregnancy
after all. The judges' wording is almost
as absurd as the reasoning itself: "While

contraception may effect the causal
chainthatleads to pregnancy, we specif-
ically reject the argument that a causal
connection, byitself, results in amedical
condition being related to pregnancy."
. Of course, whether or not a woman
takes birth control has everything to
do with pregnancy. Taking contracep-
tion is not one small link in a long, com-
plex cosmological chain that somehow,
loosely leads to pregnancy. What the
court is basically saying here is: Get
pregnant, wait until a problem arises,
then we'll talk about coverage.
After undermining the Pregnancy
Discrimination Act, the court tackled
the issue of gender discrimination. The
judges found that Union Pacific's denial
of contraception was "gender neutral,"
because the company denied birth con-
trol equally to both men and women.
Wait a minute. Are these judges
actually likening the cost of prescrip-
tion birth control to the cost of con-
doms? Apparently they have never seen
condoms on sale for under a buck at
the gas station or gone with their girl-
friends/wives to a pharmacy to learn
that without health insurance, the pill
can cost more than $50 per month. But
the decision also stipulated that Union
Pacific wasn't handing out vasectomies
either. Clearly, the denial of birth con-
trol was equal.
But the oddest component of the
decision is the clause that denies health
care coverage to women using birth
control "for the sole purpose of contra-
ception." Ironically, women using the
pill for other, more important reasons
(like clearIng d1 skin or regulating
their menstrual cycle) might actually
.be eligible for coverage. Do we really
have to regress to high school, when
girls cunningly asked their parents
for birth control pills to control acne
breakouts? We're all adults here.
The only person in the room who
seemed to have any common sense was
the dissenting judge, Kermit Bye. Point-
ing out what should have been obvious,
Judge Bye noted that women are the
only gender that can become pregnant,

and therefore discrimination is inher-
ent: "This failure (to provide coverage)
only medically affects females, as they
bear all of the health consequences of
unplanned pregnancies." Ihope hiswife
popped some birth control and thanked
himkindlyforthatmuch-neededinsight.
After all, men may bear the financial
and emotional burdens of an unplanned
pregnancy, but women are the only ones
in danger ofbodily harm.
However, putting aside the case's
legal jargon, the cultural irony here is
startling. So often we hear people say,
"There is just no excuse for having a
child out of wedlock, what with birth
control and all." Pro-lifers frequently
use the slogan "abortion is not a form of
birth control."
Ruling denies
coverage for
birth control.
So why make it harder for women to
safely prevent pregnancy? Democrats
and Republicans don't see eye-to-eye
on much, but one thing everyone can
agree on is the fewer abortions, the
better. If we don't want women shy-
ing away from preventive birth control
because of financial constraints, the
pill must be covered by insurance. If
everyone wants to see a decrease in the
number of abortions in America, deny-
ing women contraception coverage is
totnterproductive. These judgesnfay"
have found alegal loophole,but consid-
er the effect this decision will have on
the number of abortions in America.
And where was the female judge
in this ruling? There's something odd
about an all-male panel ruling on a
woman's right to birth control.
But one thing at a time, I suppose.
Whitney Dibo is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at wdibo@umich.edu.

0l

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY @UMICH.EDU

AMERICAN MOVEMENT FOR ISRAEL
Invest in peace

"The Palestinians will always be our neighbors.
We respect them, and have no aspirations to rule
over them. They are also entitled to freedom and
to a national, sovereign existence in a state of
their own."
That optimistic sentiment was voiced by
then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a
stirring speech to the United Nations in Sep-
tember 2005. Sharon not only demonstrated
his commitment to peace through words but
also through actions. With the complete Israe-
li withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August
2005, the people and the government of Israel
emphatically stated that they supported Pales-
tinian self-rule.
All of these steps were taken despite the unre-
lenting attacks that killed and injured more than
5,100 Israelis and tourists between September
2000 and May 2006. Homicide attacks target-
ing teenagers in discos, worshippers on buses
and college students at lunch were the norm.
Despite these atrocities, the Israeli government
has adopted and supported the policy of an even-
tual two-state solution in the region.
And so we too maintain a belief in the pos-
sibility of a genuine peace between a safe and
secure Israel and its future neighbor - an
independent Palestine.
However, before a lasting resolution can be
realized, Israel must be met at the negotiat-
ing table by a legitimate and willing partner
in peace. The fact of the matter is that Israel
has continually extended a hand in peace to
the Palestinian people. The creation of a sover-
eign Palestinian state was offered in 1937,1948,
2000 and 2001. In a quest for peace, Israel has
forcefully thrown its own citizens out of their
homes, risked civil war and given up histori-
cally and religiously valuable land. Each of
these major overtures was only to be rejected
and responded to with violence.
Unlike the authors of previous viewpoints
and letters, we realize that this is not a one-
sided issue. Israel, just like every nation on
Earth, is not and never has been perfect. Isra-
el has made political and military mistakes
in past and in all likelihood will do so in the
future. Yet Israel has a right to retain its demo-
cratic principles, Jewish character and ability
to provide security for all of its citizens.
Libeling a free democracy as a prejudi-

cial state mischaracterizes the situation in
an unfair manner. In Israel, all Arab citizens
have the right to vote, worship and speak their
minds freely. Moreover, the Israeli Supreme
Court currently has an Arab justice, the Israeli
Knesset has Arab representatives and the
prime minister has an Arab minister in his
cabinet. In most Arab countries Jews cannot
serve in government, much less speak openly
against the state like Arabs can in Israel. Saudi
Arabia even refuses tourist visas to Jews or
anyone with an Israeli passport.
The idea of divestment demonizes Israel
without looking at the Middle East conflict
objectively. Moreover, because the high level
of integration between the Palestinian and
Israeli economies, any loss of capital in Israel
would inevitably devastate the humanitar-
ian and economic situation of the Palestinian
people. Rather than consider such a prejudiced
and unjust option, let us try to do something
positive on our campus.
At the University, we devote ourselves to
dialogue, tolerance and the pursuit of under-
standing. We solve problems by working
together, communicating and hopefully reach-
inga consensus. If young, idealistic individuals
who are distanced from the violence cannot sit
down and talk about the conflict, then what
hope is there for others? The concept of divest-
ment achieves absolutely nothing on this front
and only serves to drive a knife through any
notion of dialogue or civility.
In America we often hear about a violent
conflict in the Middle East between a nation
called Israel and its Arab neighbors. In Amer-
ica we also maintain a genuine hope for peace,
for liberty and for the triumph of humanity.
Let us do what we can on our campus to foster
these ideals, oppose divestment and begin to
build bridges across the ideological differences
that divide us.
Aaron Willis is an LSA sophomore and chair of
the University's chapter of American Movement
for Israel. Sasha Gribov is a LSA freshman
and incoming vice chair of the University's
chapter of American Movement for Israel. Chris
Irvine is an LSA sophomore and chair of the
University's chapter of the College Republicans.
Nate Fink is an LSA junior and a member of the
University's chapter of the College Democrats.

Candidate does not
speak for minorities
TO THE DAILY:
I am compelled to write this let-
ter in regard to Tuesday's front-page
profile of Sarah Barnard, the Defend
Affirmative Action Party candidate
for vice president of the Michigan
Student Assembly (Our party isn't
just about affirmative action, can-
didate says, 03/20/07). As a black
woman (i.e. an "underrepresented
minority") and a lifelong resident
of Romulus, Mich., I am angered
that Barnard thinks that she has the
authority to speak on behalf of peo-
ple of color - especially because that
authority seems to be connected with
her upbringing in Romulus, where
apparently no one but working-class
whites and blacks live.
But the Romulus I grew up in had
middle- and upper-class residents
in addition to its working-class resi-
dents, as well as Asian Americans,
whom Barnard apparently never
met. In addition, the pervasive seg-
regation in Romulus makes it very
possible that in high school, Bar-
nard did not socialize with the "poor
underrepresented minorities" she is
desperately trying to "help" today.
In other words, Barnard should not
pull out the "disadvantage" card for
the self-benefit of being vice presi-
dent of MSA, a resume builder that
does little to actually help the com-
munities in which I live and work
everyday.
Underrepresented minorities like
me who grew up in poverty and
do support affirmative action (lest
I be accused of hating my African
heritage) do not need self-righteous,
"politically and culturally aware"
white women who feel bad that they
grew up in poverty to speak for us.
Thanks, but we do fine on our own.
Ebony Sandusky
School ofPublic Health
Racist sentiment
proves ignorance
TO THE DAILY:
In an attempt to bring the Israeli
occupation and crimes against the
Palestinian people to the student
body's attention in a viewpoint
(Divestfromcomplicity,03/19/07)Paul

Abowd was assaulted with shame-
less accounts of racism and igno-
rance. Many opponents who oppose
divestment insulted him racially and
ideologically in the comments sec-
tion of the viewpoint on the Daily's
website. Some were even so cowardly
as to do so anonymously. Simply put,
this shows the lack of understand-
ing among many of the people who
oppose divestment.
Without any intelligible basis,
Abowd was labeled a terrorist, a ter-
rorist sympathizer and a spreader
of anti-Semitic propaganda. How-
ever, nowhere in his article did he
even mention support of violence in
any form, and neither did he include
anything addressing the Jewish
people as a whole, let alone nega-
tively. Even more preposterously, he
was dubbed a member of a "Dear-
bornistan mosque," which allegedly
brainwashed him into his violent,
anti-Semitic ways. Ironically, Abowd
is neither from "Dearbornistan" nor
is he Muslim. Attackers disgracefully
labeled Palestinians in their entire-
ty as terrorists. Also, the atrocities
Israel commits were not addressed
whatsoever. Nowhere was Israel's
own record of human rights viola-
tions defended.
Quite frankly, when one cannot
address the argument of his oppo-
nent, he will attackhis opponent.This
is the factor at play here. These rac-
ists were unable to address and falsify
what Abowd said, so they attacked
him personally. In essence, he won
the psychological battle.
Kheireddine Bouzid
LSA sophomore

Beliefs of others
must be respected
TO THE DAILY:
Kingson Man's Statement cover
story this week concerning the religi-
osity of professors (Why you rarelysee
your professors in church, 03/21/07)
examines an important issue for stu-
dents, whether they hold religious
beliefs or not. I commend him for
writingthe article with avery impar-
tial approach. Both atheists and
staunchly religious people are not
accepting of those who hold beliefs
contrary to their own.
Man wrote of a new atheist move-
ment that denigrates religion to "sil-
liness." It can go without mentioning
that there are also religious people
who are quick to dissociate themselves
from and make judgments about the
non-religious. I believe that diversity
of thought and belief is a necessary
component to academic diversity;
both students and professors should
be willing to look beyond just reason
or faith and respect differences.
Religious people should remem-
ber that there are those who hold
differing spiritual beliefs or no spiri-
tual beliefs at all. In an environment
like the University's, those beliefs
must be respected. In a pluralistic
society like ours, diversity can be
celebrated by accepting the spiritual
views of others and acknowledging
the freedom we all have to choose
what (or what not) to believe.
Mark Poll
Engineeringsophomore

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Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns,
Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Mike Eber, Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay,
Jared Goldberg, Emmarie Huetteman, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar,
David Russell, Gavin Stern, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek

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