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December 07, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-12-07

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4 - Friday, December 7, 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
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, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers'representative and takes a criticallook at
coverage and content in every section of thepaper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
A life decision
The absurd fringe of the abortion debate seeks to fool voters
s a fertilized egg a person? It has no emotion, no beating
heart and we cannot even know the exact moment that is
created (the exact moment of conception, try documenting
that). But in some states, including Michigan, anti-abortion activ-
ists are forging ahead with a delusional scheme to get an initiative
on the 2008 ballot to establish the "personhood" of a fertilized
egg at the moment of conception. Given the vague nature of bal-
lot initiatives, voters could easily be fooled into overlooking the
inherent nonsensical nature of the proposal. If passed, it would
effectively destroy several of the constitutional rights currently
afforded to fully developed people.

I will take care to separate the affairs of
government from any religion, but I will not
separate us from the God who gave us liberty."
- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on his Mormon faith at a speech yesterday at the George
Bush Presidential Library, as reported yesterday at nytimes.com.
A ~, dfeethousing perspective


Ann Arbor's leasing ordinance,
which prohibits the signing of
leases until 90 days into the
current lease, is
clearly not working
out. The ordinance
was originally put
in place to give stu-
dents more time to
decide their living
situation for the
following school
year. But the 90- PATRICK
day waiting period ZABAWA
has frequentlybeen __
subverted because
current tenants can sign a waiver that
allows a contract tobe signed before
the period expires. Potential renters
have even bribed residents to sign the
waiver so they can secure the resi-
dence for themselves.
Many students are calling for this
"loophole" to be fixed. The Ann Arbor
City Council is considering it. Oth-
ers have suggested the possibility of
extending the 90-day period to allow
them more time to decide their future
living situation. But giving a faulty
ordinance more stipulations will not
improve it. Any type of lease ordi-
nance is unfair to students and hurts
more than it helps.
The ordinance is supported by
many students because it seems to
make their lives easier. It delays the
date when they have to make a deci-
sion on their housing situation for the
following year. But it makes the lives

of other students harder.
While the current 90-day period
places the signing date for Septem-
ber-to-September leases on Dec. 1, the
signing date for May-to-May leases is
Aug. 1, well before the fall semester
begins. Even if the period is extended
to beyond 90 days, it won't do any-
thing to help both the September and
May tenants at the same time.
On such a crowded campus, thereis
immense pressure to sign leases early.
Enforcing the 90-day rule does not
preventleases frombeingsigned early,
especially because of the new problem
it creates with May leases. The law
fails to delay the rush to sign housing
contracts. Even worse, it pressures
many students who are ready into less
popular May-to-May leases because
those are the earliest available to sign.
The leasing ordinance is not only
faulty: It's also unfair. The fairest way
to determine who gets which resi-
dences is on a first-come, first-serve
basis. It isn't fair to make students who
already know where they want to live
wait until months later. At that point
they'll have to compete with others
for the same residence. They should
be able to sign up for housing as soon
as they are ready.
With a number of groups compet-
ing for the same residence, it is quite
possible that a landlord would offer it
to the group willing to pay the most.
Because landlords aren't able to offer
the contract for the following year
until the 90-day period is up, they

don't have to decide the rent until
then either. They could then alter it
depending on the level of interest in
the residence. Even worse, a group of
students could secure the residence
for themselves by offering to pay more
than the landlord's price. The students
who decided to live in a residence
the earliest would then be displaced
by those willing to pay more. In this
manner, the leasing ordinance could
contribute to making housing in Ann
Arbor more expensive.
Ninety days, 70
days - why do we
need a lease law?
Most students agree that Ann
Arbor's leasing ordinance isn't work-
ing out for them. The reaction many of
them have to a bad law is to strength-
en it. But the situation would be made
fairer for students if the ordinance
were eliminated outright. While it
may inconvenience students to have
to sign their housing contracts early,
laws cannot prevent students from
finding ways to sign leases earlier. It
would be best to eliminate the law
and its negative effects.
Patrick Zabawa can be reached
at pzabawa@umich.edu.


According to an article in the Chicago
Tribune, 20-year-old law student Kristi
Burton of Colorado conceived the idea for
the initiative about a year ago. Since then,
she has established the ambiguously titled
group "Colorado for Equal Rights" to gain
support for the idea of having voters decide
if a fertilized egg is a person.
Because the proposal is vague enough to
seem harmless but broad enough to have
cascading effects, it wouldn't be long before
reproductive rights fall like dominos. The
first of our rights to go would likely be
women's private right to an abortion as
established by the Supreme Court 35 years
ago in Roe v. Wade. If a fetus were consid-
ered a person, then any form of abortion
would be murder.
Next to go would be certain forms of con-
traception. Because emergency contracep-
tives, like Plan B, change the uterine "wall
and prevent a fertilized egg from implant-
ing there, using this method of birth control
could be an offense of the same level as kill-
ing a grown person. The same logic holds
for in-vitro fertilization. More embryos
are produced than could ever be used to
form pregnancies. Those excess embryos
are stored, used (in some fortunate cases)
for stem cell research or simply discarded:

It's not feasible under any circumstances
to suggest that all these embryos should be
given the same rights as people. The pop-
ulation of America alone would jump by
400,000 instantly.
This proposal is absurd on so many
fronts, but like Proposal 2 showed last year
in Michigan, it's very easy to pass vague,
counterproductive proposals in the form
of ballot initiatives. Although voters should
know everything about an issue before step-
ping into the booth, the majority of them
do not. They can be confused and deceived
by activists who cleverly word propos-
als to trip up certain voters. We elect our
representatives in government to work on,
understand and make informed decisions
about such issues. Bypassing the legislative
debate is never a good idea and results only
in poor legislation.
Anti-abortion activists must face these
facts and accept that there are some situ-
ations where it is imperative for women to
have access to the medical necessities that
enable them to prevent unwanted pregnan-
cies. Absurd, deceptive ballot initiatives
like this are the only way anti-abortion
activists can gain support for their agenda.
It's unfortunate that they are willing to go
to such lengths.

A question of understanding

r n t

n my four years at the Univer-
sity, I've had graduate student
instructors from countries I
didn't even know
existed. Some-
times there are
language issues. In
both organic and
inorganic chemis-
try labs, I've had a ,
difficult time pro-
nouncing my lab -
instructor's name GAVIN
- especially with STERN
my flasks boiling
over - but that's
part of the Michigan experience. The
problems can be more serious, howev-
er, than understanding a GSI's name.
The language barriers between
students and some foreign GSIs are
a challenge to both students and the
GSIs, and they can be quite frustrat-
ing. It's difficult enough trying to
understand dense course material, but
add on a language barrier and watch a
lecture hall cringe. What bothers me,
though, is seeing the students take out
that frustration on the GSIs.
Rather than reaching out and mak-
ing an effort to talk to them, some
students treat foreign GSIs like push-
overs. I've noticed that many students
instinctively treat GSIs poorly based
on their English skills or accents.
Many carry on conversations in class
and make fun of the GSIs instead of
paying attention. This overall poor
attitude about discussion sections
and labs worsens the communication

Problems can arise even before
class. As students shop around for
classes on Wolverine Access, many
flock toward discussion sections
taught by instructors with familiar
names. Smith, for instance,;is usually
a safe bet. Goldbar? Stillgolden. Xang?
Probably shouldn't expect a waitlist.
However, I've yet to run into a for-
to bridge the language gap. Walk into
the Statistics Help Room, for instance,
and you'll be welcomed by prepared
GSIs willing to answer your most
difficult questions. Few are native
English speakers, but they genuinely
want to help. Students who reach out
find these GSIs perfectly capable of
answering all of their questions.
Only once did I ever have a foreign
GSI who didn't have absolute mastery
over the class material, and it wasn't
even his fault. The GSI spoke stilted
English, but because he was shy and
had no personal connection with the
material, the students picked him
apart like a pack of ravenous wolves. I
felt bad for him.
I have also noticed that students
cooperate more in classes taught by
assertive instructors who reactharshly
toward unruly students. I would sooner
challenge a grizzly bear than talk dur-
ing my biochemistry lecture. Unfor-
tunately for foreign GSIs, it's more
difficult to be assertive when you're at
a severe language disadvantage.
With practice, though, non-native
GSIs can learn how to communicate
with students with more ease and
familiarity. To find out how, I spoke

with a veteran statistics GSI origi-
nally from China. She stressed that
students should be respectful but ask
lots of questions and interact as much
as possible. Give suggestions - even
about speaking English - and don't
wait until the end of the semester to
do so, she said.
It's important for foreign GSIs
to get feedback from their students
about how to improve their teaching
and language skills. Non-native Eng-
lish-speaking instructors should use
a combination of official University
takes effort and
honest feedback.
services like the English Language
Institute and their own evaluations
to improve communication skills.
Instructors may also sit in on each
other's sections and write down what
mistakes were made.
The more communication that
exists between you and your GSI, the
more you will come to understand one
another and the more likely you are to
understand the material. You're going
to learn more than just math and sci-
ence if you keep an open mind. It's the
Michigan experience, after all.
Gavin Stern can be reached
at gavstern@umich.edu.



Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Jon Cohen, Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Gary Graca,
Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Jennifer Sussex, Neil
Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.



Tenure for four women
of color still pending
In a viewpoint earlier this week about
tenure for women of color (Deterring
Women of Color, 12/05/2007), the writer
incorrectly names five assistant profes-
sors who were recently denied tenure.
One of the five assistant professors named
in the article did not receive tenure last
year. Forthe remaining four, itis too early
to know the outcome of this year's tenure
decisions because several levels of evalu-
ation and decision making remain at the
college and University levels.
Kelly Cunningham
The letter writer is director of the University's
Office ofPublicAffairs and Media Relations.
Yost resignation is an
important opportunity
It has unfortunately taken the recent
controversy in the Michigan Student
Assembly to bring issues about disabili-
ties to the forefront. Unlike other social
identities like race or gender, this issue
does not usually receive the same level
of attention - certainly not the amount,

it deserves. We must take advantage of addressed. If you have ideas or input,
this new level of awareness and turn the please feel free to meet with fellow stu-
unfortunate circumstances into a dedi- dents dedicated to this issue at 3 p.m. in
cated effort to promote positive change. the Tap Room of the Union on Sunday.
Those who called for the resignation of I personally plan to pursue these issues
former MSA President Zack Yost, includ- and do everything I can to make things
ing myself, now must take the next step right. I hope you will do the same.
and accept the important responsibil-
ity to address these issues. Students with Aghogho Edevbie
disabilities are one of the diverse groups LSA senior
that make our campus so unique. Every
single person on campus should address
these issues in a personalway. Sit down UP. is more diverse
and talk with a friend, join MSA's com-
mittee on students with disabilities - just than people think
so something. If we don't, Yost's humbling
resignation will be for naught. TO THE DAILY:
In an effort to embrace this impor- As anativeofthe UpperPeninsula,Iam
tant element of diversity, there are some proud to call myself a Yooper. I applaud
concrete steps we can take to move for- John Daavettila for attempting to break
ward. The University administration some misconceptions of the upper half
should take the lead by bringing the Big of our state (Up north, the mockery rings
House into full compliance with the hollow, 12/03/2007). Although I have not
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. seen "Nimrod Nation," I can attest to the
In addition, University administrators experiencesofseeingaweinpeople's faces
should make it their goal to bring the when I mention my origins. My favorite
entire campus into compliance. The reaction: "Oh mygod! I didn'tknow there
Intergroup Relations program can are Indian people in the U.P.!"
develop a dialogue that addresses the I agree that all stereotypes have some
issues surrounding disabilities. The truth to them. I admit that it does seem
University can also allow IGR classes to like home is very far when you have to fly
fulfill the University's race and ethnic- to Minneapolis before taking aconnecting
ity requirement. flight to another part of Michigan. And.it
Even if all of these things are done, at is a little embarrassing when my friends
the end of the day we will still have dis- actually catch me ending sentences with
ability-related issues that need to be an "eh." The U.P. certainly makes for a

greatconversation topic,butas Daavettila
succinctly explains it, "There are a great
number of articulate, intelligent people
who don't always wear hunting caps."
Luckily, there are many of us here at
the University to prove it.
Meha Pandey
Engineering sophomore
Daily's coverage of RAs
incomplete and unfair

expose regarding new RA job obligations
while quoting just one RA? The Daily
does itself and the University a disservice
through its consistent lack of interest in
balanced journalism.
Reese Havlatka
The letter writer is a resident advisor
in East Quad.
Drama ofMSA meeting
cliched and uninspiring

The Michigan Daily has once again TO THE DAILY:
proven that it is incapable of objective I was so moved to read former Michi-
journalism. The picture and caption gan Student Assembly President Zack
accompanying Res hall desk jobs cause ire Yost's final words to his successor
(12/04/2007) unfairly suggest that resi- Mohammad Dar: "You go get 'em, you
dent advisors are not only angry about understand?" (Yost resigns, and Dar is
front desk duties, but are incompetent sworn in, 12/05/2007). Did Dar respond,
and ineffectual in their work there. I find "We're getting too old for this shit!" as
it disappointing that the Daily chose to tears brimmed in his eyes? Did the two
portray RAs as a whiny, hostile mass. grasp hands one last time before Yost
University Housing requests that RAs, turned and left without so much as a
not comment on policy until it has been backward glance, music swelling in the
reviewed internally. We comply not out of background?
fear or censure, but rather out of respect Is anyone going to tell these people
for the job. Regardless of any personal that the campus could care less about
feelings about working at the front desk, the self-important melodrama playing
I do it because it is part of my job, and I itself out here?
do it well because anything else would be
insulting to my position. Brian Schacter
How can you expect to write a viable LSA senior


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