4A - Monday, November 12, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
He's a Mormon, and the Mormons of Salt
Lake City had caused that scandal. And to
clean that up, again, it's not a subject."
- Roberta McCain, mother of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, speaking Friday to minimize her son's
opponent Mitt Romney's claim that he showed great leadership in getting the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in order.
Is thatjust the way it is?
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe 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 and takes a critical look at
coverage andcontent in every section oftthe paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions andcomments. He can be reached at email@example.com.
C x 's crusade must end
Court must overturn ban on benefits for same-sex partners
Even though the U.S. House of Representatives revised the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act last week to pro-
tect gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the workplace,
Michigan continues to debate extending health care benefits to
the same-sex partners of employees. State Attorney General Mike
Cox has used the state's ballot proposal banning gay marriage to
manipulate of the will of the voters by also banning same-sex ben-
efits. Such discrimination must be overturned by the courts. The
ease with which the amendment has been manipulated by one
politician should also serve as a warning to voters of the dangers
of passing complex legislation through broad ballot initiatives.
Michigan voters passed the gay mar-
riage ban in 2004, making an amendment
to the state constitution. Cox used that ban
to also decree that state institutions can no
longer provide benefits to partners of same-
sex couples, and a lower court upheld that
interpretation in February. The Michigan
chapter of the ACLU, representing the 21
gay couples who are appealing the February
ruling, is now arguing the case in the state
The gay marriage ban is itself an abhor-
rently prejudiced legislation, even without
Cox's further discriminatory interpreta-
tions. Cox claims it was the voters' will to
also ban same-sex benefits, but there was
nothing in the ballot language about that.
In fact, a 2005 poll indicated that a plural-
ity of voters supports granting benefits to
same-sex partners of Michigan employees -
something Michigan has always done in the
past, regardless of the legality of gay mar-
riage. Outlawing gay marriage and banning
same-sex benefits are in no way congruent,
and voting for one does not entail prohibit-
ing the other.
Should the ACLU succeed in its appeal,
it would mark not only a victory for gay
rights advocates but also for the University
environment. A ruling in Cox's favor would
translate into both a step backward for civil
rights and difficulties for the University in
attracting and retaining talented professors.
Some University professors whose partners
currently receive benefits have already said
that they might leave if their benefits are
cut. In the face of a struggling economy and
growing unemployment in Michigan, the
University cannot afford to lose educated
professionals who would build an educated
workforce for the state.
Unfortunately, harmful legislation will
continue to plague Michigan as long as half-
baked ballot initiatives appear on the ballot.
Such initiatives undermine the concept of
representative democracy by side-stepping
debate on the most important issues. vot-
ers cannot possibly have all the information
or understand the intricacies of issues like
gay marriage and affirmative action. It is
the job of the legislature to debate and pass
laws concerning all issues; we shouldn't be
bypassing that all-important step in the leg-
islative process for purely political reasons.
With the passage of the federal Employ-
ment Non-Discrimination Act, the time is
ripe for progress. While the University has
tried to maintain the right to provide same-
sex benefits to employees through its own
vaguely worded provisions, it will become
impossible to do so if Cox succeeds in court.
The LGBT community deserves recognition
and approval of its rights, which the court
should not hesitate to grant.
hile arguing against the
Civil Rights Act of 1875,
Associate Justice Joseph
Bradley of the U.S.
wrote that grant-
ing equal access r '
to black people in
hotels and restau-
rants based on their
race "would be run-
ning the slavery
argument into the MIKE
ground. " EBER
similar to the argu-
ments I have beard about affirmative
action. As much as Americans today
would like to think that racism no lon-
ger exists, looking back at the older
rationalizations against civil rights
shows today's debate about affirmativ
action to be more of the same stuff.
Of course,min2007youwill never see
laws explicitly excluding black people
from public places, and neither can
you find poll taxes or other policies
that tacitly disenfranchise black citi-
zens. You will, however, see piles and
piles of social research on inequality.
For example, black people make up 35
percent of the population arrested for
illegal drug use, 55 percent of the peo-
ple convicted for a drug-related crime
and 74 percent of the people sentenced
for these crimes. This is not written
into any drug enforcement law, but it
seems to somehow affect them more
than white people.
It's easy to overlook one example
TO THE DAILY:
As of late, the Daily has been
unfairly using its power of the press
to single out an individual and put
him on trial on its pages. After read-
ing Thursday's editorial (A mess in
MSA, 11/08/2007), my tolerance
reached its limit. I am appalled that
such reporting and writing has con-
tinued for so long. The Daily's edito-
rial board should focus on the first
part of the editorial's headine: "Inno-
cent until proven guilty."
The editorial criticizes the Michi-
gan Action Party for allowing Anton
Vuljaj to run on its ticket despite
the fact that an investigation was
still open at the time concerning his
involvement in 2006's MSA election
scandal. In hindsight, it's easy to
criticize Michigan Student Assembly
President Zack Yost and the rest of
MAP for their decision.
However, Vuljaj has not been con-
victed of any crime. Also, he has not
committed any questionable actions
since the March 2006 election. The
problem with the editorial is that it
tries to blame someone before all the
facts have been compiled-and a trial
has taken place.
The American prison system is
based on rehabilitation, not pun-
ishment. Whoever committed the
crime Vuljaj is being tried for has
surely seen the error of his or her
ways already and does not need a jail
sentence to correct such behavior.
The Daily's editorial board should
be ashamed of itself for contributing
to the persecution of innocent indi-
viduals, especially when far more
dangerous and costly crime is taking
place every day.
for MSA reforms
TO THE DAILY:
As a Michigan Student Assem-
bly representative, I would like
to respond to the concerns raised
recently regarding MSA (A mess in
MSA, 11/08/2007). I must say that
I am quite unhappy with the status
quo in the assembly, and some things
definitely need to be changed. The
issues at hand need to be addressed.
First of all, there should be more
accountability on the part of MSA
of racial injustice, so here is another:
Concerning predation by sub-prime
mortgage policies, 53 percent of all
sub-prime mortgages for households in
the $54,000-100,000 per year range go
to black people. Income does not real-
ly explain this phenomenon because
within the $100,000-150,000 range,
black people comprise 48 percent of
suchtransactions. The problemwith all
these figures is that they are too easily
rationalized as the side effect of some-
thing other than pervasive racism.
In the 19th century, Delaware resi-
dents saw nothing racist about their
court system, one which had no black
people serving on juries despitethe
fact that black people comprised about
15 percent of the population. It took
an 1880 court case to tell Delaware
residents something was wrong. So if
black people are disproportionately
affected by sub-prime lending tactics
that now force massive home fore-
closures, is there a problem? Is there
a problem considering that median
household net worth for blacks in
2000 was $7,500 while for whites the
median was $79,400?
Followingthe turn ofthe 19th centu-
ry, an entire generation of judges came
to power who never lived in antebel-
lum America. Not surprisingly, these
were the same judges who ingrained
Jim Crow into case law. Today, an
entire generation of voters who never
lived to know Jim Crow America is
the driving force behind actions like
the passage of Michigan's race-based
affirmative action ban.
Given the context of today's social
research, it's actually not so ludicrous
to consider race in college admissions.
Racism and its disadvantages are no
longer overtly institutional, but it
would be dumb to ignore research that
consistently finds more subtle racism
in our society. Hidden between the
lines of social data there is a picture of
a society struggling with the ugliness
of inequality. Simply claiming that the
lack of apparent discrimination is a
reason to deny the existence of any real
Racism is easier to
ignore these days,
but it's still here.
problemignores the fact that everyone
feels its presence, whether or not they
choose to be aware of that perception.
We have -heard the arguments that
American society today treats all races
equally, but look back at1875 and1950s
and compare to the arguments we hear
in 2007. America claims real progress,
forgetting that the machinations of
racism take on different forms beyond
blatant hate speech. Do you ask your-
self if real change is possible or do you
simply resign yourself to believe that's
just the way it is?
Mike Eber can be at
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
ANDREW MUNNN E T
Creatilig a power shift
Climate change is the subject of Nobel Peace
Prize ceremonies, local and state legislation,
international treaties, scientific consensus and
a misinformed or simply malicious opposition.
What's missing from this list?
On Aug. 16, former Vice President Al Gore
was quoted in Nicholas Kristof's New York
Times column as saying, "I can't understand
why there aren't rings of young people block-
ing bulldozers ... and preventing them from
constructing coal-fired power plants." He was
right in asking, "Where are the young people?"
but he missed the mark in defining our role in
bringing about climate justice.
As an advocate for climate justice, I've heard
mutterinigs over the past year of a brewing
movement among the youth. Last weekend,
38 University of Michigan students traveled to
Washington, D.C. for Power Shift 2007 - the
first-ever conference on climate change orga-
nized for youth, by youth.
Six thousand students converged on the
nation's capitol for Power Shift 2007, not to
chain ourselves to trees or blockade dirty coal
plants but to lobby every member of Congress
for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions by 2050, for the creation of 5 million
new green-collar jobs and for a moratorium on
all new coal plants.
Young people are uniquely situated to cre-
ate this change. The effects of climate change
- unprecedented wild fires, droughts and
stronger hurricanes - are already here and
will only intensify as our generation ages.
When the 38 University students joined 127
students from the state to lobby Rep. John
Dingell (D-Mich.) for climate justice, we lob-
bied for a secure future that every member of
our generation will share.
Building a sustainable and just future for
ourselves and our children requires students
to transcend traditional modes of activism.
Last year, activists demanded that the Uni-
versity purchase 100 percent of its energy
from clean renewable sources, such as wind
and solar power, by 2015. For this demand to
be fulfilled, however, there must be sufficient
sources of clean renewable energy available
for purchase from the state grid. Recognizing
the current lack of supply, the climate justice
movement at the Universityunited the 14 cam-
puses in the Michigan Student Sustainability
Coalition to leverage our collective power at
the statewide level.
On the weekend of Sept. 28, 140 students
from 13 campuses met in East Lansing to
explore issues of environmental justice and to
acquire the skills to create change in their com-
munities. Over that weekend, our coalition
bonded as acommunity inaction. Inthe month
leading up to Power Shift 2007, students from
each campusworked closely with each other to
bring 250 Michigan students to Washington,
D.C. As a result of our'united planning, Michi-
more students Tisvep n.sthe
to the capitol This viewpoint is e
than any state fifth in a series about
other than the present state of
Maryland and . .
Virginia. student activism.
3, the first full day of Power Shift 2007- as
Spartans and Wolverines clashed on the foot-
ball field- 38 Wolverines, 60 Spartans and
150, other Michiganders sat down together
to outline the steps for creating a power shift
in Michigan. On March 19, we will bring our
vision of an ecologically sound, socially just
and economically secure Michigan to the halls
of the state legislature. In conjunction with the
grassroots organizing we do in our home com-
munities, this will catalyze Michigan's over-
due transition to sustainability.
There is a bronze plaque dedicating a maple
tree outside the School of Natural Resources
and Environment on the Diag. The plaque
reads, "In the future may we not have to be
concerned over global warming. May efforts
to reforest, recycle, and conserve energy elim-
inate this escalating crisis." This maple tree
was planted on the eve of Earth Day 1989, the
same year most of the class of 2011 was born.
The time for business-as-usual solutions has
passed. Young people across Michigan and the
nation have awakened to the challenge.
Andrew Munn is coordinator of the University
chapter of the Sierra Student Coalition and a senior
in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
regarding the denial of service attack an "environment
situation. The constant refusal to everything we do
comment has shown that many "Green is Univers
within MSA feel that covering ass is with a week's wor
more important than accountability. tally focused prog
If MSA wants to retain what little NBC sent repot
credibility it has left, it needs to be and Antarctica tt
more forthcoming on this and other mate change for'
issues relating to its elections. There were spec
As for the status of the accused renewable energ
MSA representative, Anton Vuljaj, advice on how tor
that would be best determined by footprint and cr
the voters that elected him: MSA has portfolio. The nt
provisions for recall elections in its part to inform th
constitution, and if students want to some important i
start a recall petition, they.are free So what is my c
to do so. With that said, if anyone on ing to incorporate
MSA is guilty of a malicious denial perspective into
of service attack against an opposing ming, the media
party, that person should resign. ing the true mear
I am also quite distressed about is environmental
MSA's recent pre-election disputes I turned on CN
regarding a seat for the newly- and saw this yea
formed undergraduate program in arriving atRocke
the School of Public Policy. That giv- York City. It was
ing students representation on MSA foot, 60-year old
is controversial is beyond belief I from Shelton, Co
am relieved that sanity prevailed in on my cereal wh
that case, but I still can't believe that reporter explainl
several MSA representatives spent is environmental)
hours fighting to effectively disen- lit with 30,000,
franchise students. lights. By golly,
Furthermore, the fact that MSA tree down using
rejected an idea as simple as ran- handsaws instea
domizing candidate names without And don't worry
respect to party affiliation on the tree will be "recy
ballot because of a desire to make it In an effort t
easier to vote straight-ticket shows a the report conve
desire to place parties above fairness. the obvious: If tI
Clearly, one can see that the idea of really wanted t
fairness hasn't exactly been MSA's tally friendly, the
top priority regarding elections. down this huge ti
I encourage all concerned students by the whirlwind
to voice their concerns to MSA, get solutions, that wt
involved and vote. The next election sense.It's nice tol
is Nov. 29-30. Make your voice heard, toward a more su
because MSA will only change with please use some
your help. Apathy ensures the con- G-word.
tinuation of the status quo.
TimHull LSA senior
'Green' may have consde
lost its significance
TO THE DAILY:
TO THE DAILY: Last Thursda'
Companies are going green. Cit- pus Diag was ful
ies are starting green initiatives. sity and affirmat
Venture capital is flowing into green responsible mdi'
technologies. Green this, green that. for taking action
Given I'm an environmental studies like to slap themi
major, you would think I would be ing more than 10
excited about all the buzz. The media across North C.
has finally caught on to the whole confusing litteri
Last week, media giant NBC Uni- Yi-Lei Chow
versal launched an initiative to bring Engineeringsenior
tal perspective" to
. They are calling it
al" and kicked it off
th of "environmen-
rters to the equator
o talk about on cli-
"The Today Show."
ial news briefs on
gy and plenty of
reduce one's carbon
eate a green stock
etwork is doing its
e general public on
e the environmental
all of its program-
is effectively dilut-
ing of green, which
BC Friday morning
ar's Christmas tree
feller Center in New
beautiful - an 84-
nn. I nearly choked
ile watching a poor
how this year's tree
ly friendly. It will be
they even cut the
d of electric saws.
y, after its use, the
cled" into mulch.
o "green" its news,
niently glazed over
he event organizers
o be environmen-
y wouldn't have cut
ree. But surrounded
d of high-tech green
ould make too much
promote real actions
stainable world, but
discretion with the
lith f lyers
y, the North Cam-
ll of flyers for diver-
ive action. I pat the
viduals on the back
for a cause, but I'd
Sinthe face for allow-
0 flyers tobe littered
ampus. Please stop
g with publicity.
Read more analysis at www.michigandaily.com/thepodium.
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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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