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November 08, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-08

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4A - Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

I've seen stupid strikes ... This is
a stupid strike."
- Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner on the current strike of the Writers Guild of America.

0

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

IMRAN SYED
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

Northern exposure

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.
The Daily's public editor, PaultH. Johnson, acts as the readers'representative andtakes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Amess InMSA
Innocent until proven guilty, but someone is responsible
J nbthe year and a half since the denial of service attack on the
Michigan Progressive Party's website by members of Students
4 Michigan (the now-defunct party with deep ties to the cur-
rently dominant Michigan Action Party), MSA has done little to
address the underlying issues of petty electioneering and the closed,
isolated culture that fueled those attacks and has historically stag-
nated the assembly. President Zack Yost's insistence that the facts
of the case are yet to be revealed is a duplicitous defense of a person
and system that clearly ignored the best interests of students.

W e come to this University.
with a wide variety of inter-
ests and motives. Some of
us are probably
just here to get a
good job and start
making money, but
the University has
its own agenda: It
wants to make us
into intelligent and
active members
of society. This BRYAN
entails more thanK
spending the week KOLK
paying lip service
to a long list of graduation require-
ments and spending the weekends
seeking bliss and alcohol poisoning.
The Universitywants us to experience
the world in new ways and to seek such
experiences out.
ThedUniversityemploys many subtle
methods toward this end. The unsus-
pecting may not notice the slew of art
galleries, the world-famous concert
hall or the open-air discussion forums
sprinkled across Central Campus, but
they are there.A big reason why we pay
so much in tuition is to have the oppor-
tunity to be swayed by these unique
venues for personal growth; it's what
makes this university better than oth-
ers. But our museums and performance
spaces do not simply exist to make the
University an acclaimed institution;
they are there for us to engage in.
We are all essentially aware of the
width and breadth of Central Campus.
And at least 110,000 people also have
a passing familiarity with South Cam-
pus and the opportunities it presents.

But then there is North Campus, abus
ride and a world away from Central,
overlooking Ann Arbor like a hawk.
Or a socially uncertain misfit outside
of a party.
Though more and more freshmen
are being housed on North Campus,
it largely remains a mystery. Most
are still unaware that it exists for any
reason other than to house the Burs-
ley cafeteria. The dubious blessing of
the University's largest dining facil-
ity aside, there are many reasons to
become familiar with this significant
section of the University.
North Campus is a different world,
but diverse opportunities to experi-
ence the world abound, just like on
Central Campus: They just happen to
be more subtle on North. Nrorth Cam-
pus requires a level of dedication to
be explored that is especially hard to
come by during the early-November,
post-midterm coma, but the rewards
are worth it.
For starters, it's home to the Uni-
versity's world-class School of Music,
tucked quietly behind a row of trees
and a pond struggling to resemble a
grand piano. Every year more than 400
recitals and performances are given
- often by world-renowned faculty
members - 99 percent of them free
of charge. Classical, jazz, world music
and electronic media performances
occur regularly, all conveniently listed
on the school's website, www.music.
umich.edu.
Across the road is Pierpont Com-
mons andtheDuderstadt Center,which
house gallery space, the University's
only 24-hour library and an incred-

ible digital performance studio, among
many other things. Exhibits and shows
go on daily, and the outdoor commons
area offers all the benefits of the Diag
without the nuisance oftbeing attacked
-by people with flyers.
The entire engineering campus is
spackled with a variety of large sculp-
tures, 16 in total, including the 1,800
square foot Wave Field designed by
Maya Lin. There is a bell tower con-
structed with no right angles or sym-
metry. There is a circle you can stand in
and hear your own echo. Try not to be a
little curious.
North Campus
offers more than

4

4

just-engineers.
As University students, we are
offered many opportunities to develop
and engage our curiosities both in and
out of class. It is up to us to make the
most of them.
While somewhat less convenient,
the opportunities provided by North
Campus offer a different perspective
on the University and are all waitingto
be taken advantage of New experienc-
es are just the thing to bring many ofus
out of the pre-winter blues. If the usual
routine just isn't doing it for you, a trip 4
up North Campus may be the solution.
Bryan Kolk can be reached
at beakerkdumich.edu.

Two weeks ago, MSA Rep. Anton Vuljaj
was arraigned in the March 2006 attack
on MPP's website during that year's MSA
elections. Facing the felony charge of use
of a computer to commit a crime and inter-
ference with an electronic communication
device and with piles of evidence implicat-
ing him, Vuljaj could face severe punish-
ments if convicted. However, speaking to
the Daily's editorial board on Monday, Yost,
far from condemning a representative who
feloniously worked to disenfranchise stu-
dents, wasn't prepared to commit to asking
for Vuljaj's resignation - even if the Washt-
enaw County Court finds him guilty.
This isn't a question of innocent until
proven guilty; not for an instant are we
suggesting that Vuljaj is legally guilty
before he is convicted in a court. Instead,
the point is about MSA and its duty to stu-
dents. We know members of S4M were
guilty of the denial of service attack;
senior party officials acknowledged the
fact at the time, and no one has yet denied
Vuljaj's guilt. So, either Vuljaj is guilty
and should be forced to resign, or some-
one else is guilty and Yost and MSA must
work actively to bring that person to jus-
tice. Simply sweeping the whole situation
under the rug is not an option.
Considering MSA's treatment of Vul-
jaj and the scandal up to this point, Yost's
response is hardly surprising. Vuljaj, an
S4M supporter at the time, resigned from
his position on LSA Student Government
after the scandal erupted. S4M officials,
including then-party chair Robbie O'Brien,
condemned the attack and those involved
in it, promising reforms (O'Brien resigned
in light of the scandal, but insisted that he
was not involved). Inexplicably, Vuljaj was
still nominated for and confirmed as chair
of MSA's Community Service Committee in
December 2006. Under what circumstanc-
es is it ever acceptable for someone tied
directly to tampering with MSA elections
to be appointed to an MSA committee?
It gets worse.
The Michigan Action Party was formed
in time for the March 2007 MSA election.
Yost, running for president on the MAP
ticket, assured us in his endorsement
interview that the party was different and
that the antics of S4M were truly some-
thing MAP regretted and was committed
to avoiding. Such assurances are difficult
to believe, however, when we consider
that MAP allowed Vuljaj to run for MSA
representative on the party's ticket. Again,
this was while Vuljaj was part of an open
criminal investigation dealing specifically
with manipulation of MSA elections.
Even if MAP officials believed that there
was a chance of Vuljaj's innocence in the
courts, there is no excuse for welcoming

him into their party; he could have run as
an independent. Furthermore, after Vuljaj
won a seat on the assembly in March, MSA
appointed him chair of the Budget Priori-
ties Committee, one of the most important
committees on the assembly.
Yost insists that he and MSA have stuck
by Vuljaj because he is a great representa-
tive and "a great guy." That may be so, but
clearly the assembly didn't lose much sleep
over putting someone who may have will-
fully inhibited a student group's success in
charge of allocating crucial funding to other
student groups.
Yost assured the editorial board that he
had "done (his) homework" in this matter.
When asked what changes MSA had made
in response to the scandal, though, he cited
a failed attempt at creating an election
reform committee and some minor code
changes, the specifics of which he couldn't
recall because they were "nothing huge."
Beyond Yost, not one representative on
MSA has yet had the ethical epiphany to
publicly call for Vuljaj's resignation.
One would assume that MSA, an orga-
nization that is supposedly composed of
some of the strongest leaders on campus,
is capable of making productive election
reforms, conducting an internal investiga-
tion to find those responsible and punish-
ing those who do not abide by its ethical
standards. Instead the assembly is once
again behaving as a self-aggrandizing club
whose members are too enamored with
each other to respect their responsibilities
as representatives.
On Oct. 30, Yost wrote in a viewpoint
on this page (Proposed MSA reforms,
10/20/2007) that this is the perfect time "to
take an introspective look at self-governance
and how we can make MSA better." He's
right, but he's hardly the first MSA president
to voice those words; the trick is acting on
them in a meaningful way.
The process of nominating committee
chairs must be overhauled. Although any
student is eligible for some of those posts,
only those with existing connections on
the assembly, like Vuljaj, are likely to be
nominated. Clarifying and publicizing the
guidelines and requirements for becoming
an MSA representative is also a good idea:
Nothing in MSA's current compiled code
lays out a process for dealing with situa-
tions like the one involving Vuljaj.
Finally, though the assembly passed
minor election reforms this week, more
needs to be done to prove that it has learned
from its mistakes and taken the necessary
steps to avoiding them in the future. If
nothing else, such initiatives would assure
students that MSA has their best interests
in mind - not just the interests of its own,
as has too often been the case.

NEIL SARDANA

I

Activism and survival in our times

We have experienced a great deal
of uncertainty recently as to where
our lives and world are going, We
lived through Sept. 11, continuing
conflicts in the Middle East and the
invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
We're facing the consequences of
global warming, an oil crisis, and
wide-
spread This viewpoint
erty and is the fourth in a
hunger series about the
through- .
out the present state of
develop- student activism.
ing world.
At home we are seeing major unem-
ployment and economic hardship, a
flawed health care system, and our
cultural and political systems are
rampant with discrimination.
Historically, social activism has
been an effective way to address
these problems and to make our soci-
ety a more respectable place. Toward
that end, American society made
progress during the movement for
desegregation and civilrights, asswell
as the movement for equal rights for
women. We are currently fighting for
progress across the globe for ending
various forms of inequality, oppres-
sion and conflict.
In today's world, these struggles
have not only become more difficult
but also more crucial to the survival
of our communities and world as a
whole. We know of the moral and
ethical reasons for activism, but now
all of our lives and futures depend
on it. We are seeing that we can no
longer engage in conflict and war-
fare because it entails great human
and environmental costs while also
Writer misreads 'The
Golden Compass'
TO THE DAILY:
Paul Tassi's column Tuesday about
"The Golden Compass" (Losing my
(and your) religion, 10/06/207) por-
trayed the movie as a fun film for
kids, with some "subliminal" anti-
religious themes mixed in. Tassi
failed to mention that "The Golden
Compass" is based on the first book
in a trilogy that concludes by glori-
fying the death of God. Explicitly
killing God is not "subliminal." The
author of the trilogy, Philip Pullman,
has publicly stated that his goal is to
"undermine the basis of Christian
belief," and according to an article
published in The Telegraph, he
"expects the film to remain 'faithful'
to the books he wrote."
Tassi argued that it's "stupid" for
Christians to be concerned that this
movie is coming out. In making this
argument, he fails to understand
that the end-goal of Christianity is
to have a relationship with Christ;
Christians are called to fall in love
with the Lord and make him the cen-
ter of their life.
A loving husband would never
consider seeing a movie based on a

fueling terrorisn. We are finding
that when workers are employed in
sweatshop-like conditions, it allows
companies to unfairly compete in
markets, driving down wages and
working conditions. This causes the
loss of thousands of jobs and has
destructive effects on economies.
We now see that ignoring the causes
of globalwarming has allowed major
disasters like the 2004 tsunami and
Hurricane Katrina to occur, causing
the loss of thousands of lives.
This is the reality of our world.
These actions and their effects are
placing our world at risk. That's why
it is so urgent and important that we
begin to stand up to these injustices
as a human community. We must
join or form groups and networks to
challenge this unnatural decline. Our
campus and its surrounding commu-
nities offer numerous opportunities
for us to become engaged and active
on issues that impact us deeply.
One of many crucial issues rel-
evant to the University is holding
The Coca-Cola Company account-
able for its severe injustices in allow-
ing its bottlers in Colombia to have
collaborated for many years with
paramilitary death squads in the
systematic intimidation, kidnapping,
torture and murder of union leaders
and activists.
Coca-Cola is also responsible for
causing severe water shortages in
extremely drought-prone communi-
ties in India, making thousands go
thirsty and allowing the contami-
nation of water and soil in several
poor farmingvillages. Coca-Colahas
sought control of water resources
throughout the world and plays a
crucial role in controlling our global

access to water as this vital resource
becomes scarce.
Our University has been directly
involved in this issue by ordering the
investigation of Coca-Cola's opera-
tions in Columbia and India. Howev-
er, in several steps along the process,
the University administration has
looked the other way on Coke's vio-
lations and has helped the company
hide its crimes by creating an "inves-
tigation process" that has not even
started yet. It is important for the
University community to stand*up
to these injustices and to speak out
against the University's involvement
in them. The University of Michigan
Stop Killer Coke Coalition formed to
challenge the administration on this
issue and is workingtounite the cam-
pus to finally put an end to this stain
on our University's image. This is, in
the end, about challenging the power
of Coca-Cola and makingthe compa-
ny recognize that it cannot continue
to operate in such a disgraceful man-
ner without consequences.
This is just one of many different
outlets for activism in our commu-
nity; there are hundreds of issues we
all can work on. It is imperative that
we all find whatever issue strikes us
and find a way to work on it. Because
there are so many social issues to
deal with, it is important for us all
to recognize the intersections of our
work and to support one another in
the hopes of buildinga strong, inter-
connected movement addressing all
the challenges to our human rights
and our survival on this planet.
Neil Sardana is a Public Health
graduate student and a member of
the Stop Killer Coke Coalition.

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions
become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to
tothedoily@umich.edu.
ARIELA STEIF

trilogy that ends by glorifying the
death of his wife, and neither would
he take his children to see such a
movie. Not only would seeing the
movie hurt his wife, but his relation-
ship with her would be damaged.
The relationship with God is no dif-
ferent in that sense.
Monica Przebienda
LSAjunior
Ann Arbor's election

of Ann Arbor's summer residents,
which are not always in line with
those of Ann Arbor's residents for
most of the year.
Voting in yesterday's election
would have been as meaningless as
voting in Myanmar's elections.
Sean Serraguard
Rackham
Maize outfor Ohio
.S'tate showdown

Igo
VAZ

EDITORIAL BOARD
MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya
Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley,
Ben Caleca, Jon Cohen,
Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Gary Graca, Emmarie
Huetteman, Theresa
Kennelly, Emily Michels,
Robert Soave, Jennifer
Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt
Trecha, Radhika Upad-
hyaya, Rachel Wagner,
Patrick Zabawa

is meaningless
TO THE DAILY:
TO THE DAILY: With a home
In response to Wednesday's archrival Ohio
story about the lackluster election time the Big Ho
in Ann Arbor (The Quiet Election, it really is wi
11/07/2007) I ask: What exactly do maize out. Stud
you expect in terms of voter turn- alumni or corpo
out for an election that was decided duce maize T-sh
approximately four months ago? at the game. A
Ann Arbor is dominated by Demo- now have the ch
crats, with little to no second-party tradition agains
presence. The primaries for the City 110,000-plus far
Council were held, and have always Notonlywouldi
been held, during the summer, when but an intimidat
the students have no opportunity Buckeyes. Let's
to voice their vote. This essentially look and feel as,
means that you have one person to
vote for in the general election. That Bryan Chesen
person only represents the views Rackham

showdown against-
State looming, it's
use shows how great
ith a stadium-wide
ents need to contact
rate sponsors to pro-
irts to be distributed
lumni and sponsors
ance to start another
t Ohio State. Imagine
ns, all wearing maize.
tbe aremarkablesite,
ting force against the
make the Big House
amazing as it is.

A

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