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January 17, 2008 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-17

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4A -Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

my Id iigan Balih
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 oftheir authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes 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 can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
More to do on depression
A two-part fix: Reduce stigma and improve treatment
M any people don't want to talk about them; others don't
know how to talk about them. Unlike other diseases
that have more tangible effects, mental illnesses are
often health concerns that go unnoticed and untreated, especially
on college campuses. As part of its ongoing Michigan Healthy Com-
munity Initiative, the University is making a new push to address
this growing problem with two new programs to reduce the social
stigma surrounding mental illnesses: Understanding U and MiTalk.
If the University is hoping to improve understanding and treatment
of mental illnesses, these can't be the last of its changes.

I have to say the biggest threat comes from
overseas, and one of the places we are
increasingly worried about is Europe."
-Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, speaking about Europe being a launch-
ing pad for terrorist attacks against the United States, as reported yesterday by the BBC.


Do you think we should
complain about the 2008
Cormenecement location All
the cool kids are dong it


It's disgraceful! I want to see
Mary Sue and Rich Rodriguez
personally hand trucking porta-
ohns into the Big House if
that's what it takes to bring
Graduation back home! o


41 E '" 1t°

on tust want nonse
Untiversity ofdicas pertorming
back-hreaking abr, don't you?
Lloyd Carr s still around right?
He could help too!



-URI - ON-1 I Imp -
I llrrfl

Where our interests lie

Following the model of popular self-diag-
nosing Internet programs like WebMD as
well as offeringother information resources,
the University's newest programs - Under-
standing U and MiTalk (pronounced "my
talk") - are specifically aimed at increasing
awareness of mental health issues. Under-
standing U is designed to educate University
faculty, employees and supervisors about
the warning signs of mental illness. MiT-
alk, which was also launched this month,
is a similar program for students. Both pro-
grams emphasize anonymity by keeping the
focus online and not in person.
while noble in their goal, these two pro-
grams face a growingproblem thattheycan't
handle alone. According to a 2006 survey by
the National College Health Assessment,
more than 42 percent of all college students
experience depressionso severe that itmakes
it difficult for them to function. Almost ten
percent of students have considered suicide.
Many of these students don't get the neces-
sary treatment. In 2005, the Healthy Minds
Study surveyed 2,840 University of Michi-
ganundergraduates and found that less than
50 percent of the respondents with serious
depression had been treated for this prob-
lem in the preceding year.
For afflicted students, these mental ill-
nesses are crippling. They make it difficult
to focus and hard to engage with others. As
exemplified by the tragedy at Virginia Tech
in April 2007 - where a mentally ill student
killed 32 people - poorly treated or untreat-
ed mental illnesses can be also dangerous
to the rest of campus. Treating the growing
number of students who might need help
requires first convincing them that it is OK

to seek help and then making the necessary
resources available to them.
Besides the two new Internet programs,
the University can reduce the barrier of stig-
matization by eliminating its policy allowing
students tobe expelled if they admit to being
suicidal. While this involuntary-leave policy
is justified as a public safety and liability
concern and is only considered a last option,
the unintended consequence of having this
policy is that it gives seriously ill students a
reason to downplay their problems. This is
the wrong message to send students.
Reducing stigma is only half the battle.
While the University has an excellent treat-
ment resource, Counseling and Psycho-
logical Services, the current process for
students to receive care from CAPS is some-
times a slow one. According to the CAPS
website, "the wait for an open appointment
can stretch from 10-15 business days." Even
though emergency consultation is available
for walk-in patients and after business hours
students can talk to an emergency coun-
selor, students might not seek this many
resources out. It is already difficult for stu-
dents to take the first leap and ask for an
appointment, waiting two weeks is too long.
Further, CAPS is based on a "brief treatment
model," meaning they want patients to move
on to a private clinic outside of the Univer-
sity if long-term treatment is needed. For
some, this can be too expensive, especially
for uninsured students.
It has taken a tragedy at Virginia Tech for
colleges across the country to rethink their
mental health services. It shouldn't take
another here in Ann Arbor for the Univer-
sity to rethink parts of its services.

Tuesday's campus-wide e-mail
offeringinstructions forvoting
in Michigan's presidential pri-
mary election from
the newly-inau-
gurated Michigan
Student Assembly
President Moham-
mad Dar could
not have been any 3
more appropriately
timed. It appeared
in my inbox at 9:27 THERESA
p.m., exactly 87
minutes after my KENNELLY
precinct's polling
site closed for the
night. Sure, the e-mail added insult to
the already injurious voter turnout in
Michigan by arriving so late. But more
than anything, it underscored how
hilariously offbeat student participa-
tion in adult matters can be at times.
I will give Dar the benefit of the
doubt. I'm nearly positive the timing
of the e-mail was a fluke. It was prob-
ably meant to appear in my inbox sev-
eralhours earlier, especiallygiventhat
the e-mail promoted an MSA event
that had occurred four hours before
I received the e-mail. Besides, I don't
think Dar would have botched a self-
promotion opportunity on purpose.
However unintentionally late the e-
mail was, it's hard to not see the irony
of the situation. The spoiled e-mail,
which was Dar's first campus-wide
message and first impression, comes
at a time when MSA drama - not
"scandal," which would sound more
serious - is still fresh in our minds.
This is the drama that threw MSA's
credibility and relevance on campus
into question. It is also the drama that
Dar is supposed to quell.
Anyone even slightly conscious of
campus affairs doesn't need a refresh-
er of the MSA drama. But since the tri-
fecta of problems that have occurred
gets more entertaining every time I

explain it, I'll summarize. First, there
was former Rep. Kenneth Baker's res-
ignation following threats from LSA
Student Government after he made
public his and then-MSA President
Zack Yost's involvement in an offen-
sive Facebook group. Then came Yost's
resignation, after the criticism of his
membership in the Facebook group
became too overwhelming.
Most recently, former MSA Rep.
Anton Vuljaj resigned after plead-
ing guilty to two felony convictions
in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.
His felonies were tied to unlawful
MSA activity.
Try taking a step back from your
opinion of this drama and consider
havingto explainthe situations to your
parents or non-University friends?
Doesn't it all just reduce to a level of
inanity and childishness?
I tried to do that over winter break,
and was met with confused head tilts
and half-hearted follow-up questions.
Nobody seemed interested. In the
grand scheme of things, yes, Baker
and Yost offended a disabled person
and, yes, Vuljaj broke the law and will
never be able to get a good job with-
out having to explain his criminal
record. But the drama doesn't extend
far beyond the walls of the University
(or the walls of MSA's chambers, for
that matter). The energy surround-
ing this drama just represents how
much attention we pay to insignifi-
cant issues, which don't really end up
accomplishing anything meaningful.
That is, unless getting a couple of MSA
members to step down is meaningful,
since it won't result in any more pro-
ductivity from MSA.
This energy also speaks to the
large issue of what we as University
students (and The Michigan Daily)
prioritize. Our prioritization exposes
just how out of sync college students'
lifestyles and attitudes can be with
the real world.

Take for example the juxtaposition
of Monday and Wednesday's student
forums on the location of the 2008
Spring Commencementand Tuesday's
presidential primary. Angell Hall
Auditorium B was full of students
Monday crying about how, because
they "bleed maize and blue," they must
graduate in the Big House. Polling
places on Tuesday, meanwhile, were
desperate for voters. When I got to my
precinct's polling place Tuesday after-
noon, people were arriving at a steady
pace of one voter per 40 minutes. The
student forums had to change loca-
tions to accommodate the crowd.
This juxtaposition follows the idea
that students are more focused on
trivial and relatively inconsequen-
tial issues than issues that are more
Our priorities must
change if we're to
be taken seriously
distant and less scandalous. It also
emphasizes that we want to be treat-
ed like adults, wanting the University
to take us seriously, but are unwilling
to do adult work like voting or acting
like adults. The only way we're ever
going to get the University and presi-
dential candidates to respect our
desires is to start taking important
issues more seriously.
In the meantime, I'm going to con-
tinue wishing that Tuesday's presiden-
tial primary hadbeen as big on campus
as graduation or MSA drama. Maybe if
Dar's e-mail had been on time ...
Theresa Kennelly is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at thenelly@umich.edu.


M SA a little late in its . It's too bad I didn't receive that e-mail
until five minutes before most polls closed.
campus-wide e-mail If I hadn't already voted by 7:55 p.m., would
I really have had time to vote? Additionally,
Dar encouraged all students to come to the
TO THE DAILY: MSA's Winter Open House, which had already
I'm sure many students read the same e- started at 5:30 p.m. I don't know about you,
mailfromthe new MichiganStudentAssembly but I hope this isn't an indication of how the
President Mohammad Dar that I did Tuesday. remainder of Dar's term will play out - if it is,
It encouraged students to exercise their right bring back Zack Yost.
to vote in the all-important primaries here in Thankfully University students didn't need
Michigan. He emphasized that students have Dar's message to be able to figure out that the
a responsibility to vote and went into great primary was today. I still have a message for
detail explaining the voting and registration Dar, though: Get with the program.
process. Dar even detailed how students with-
out valid, picture identification could obtain Dustin Paige
an affidavit allowing them to vote. LSA junior

Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody,
Kate Truesdell, Robert Soave, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
Same 'U' on Coke and commencement *


f e\2 \
.. N

When I joined the student group Coalition to Cut
Contracts with Coca-Cola as a freshman in January
2005, I had high hopes. We had stacks of evidence
against Coca-Cola, including an independent investi-
gation by New York City Council Member Hiram Mon-
serrate, a study by the University of Exeter, BBC News
articles and eye-witness testimony from union leaders
in Colombia. And after all, this was the University of
Michigan, a celebrated progressive university with a
Vendor Code of Conduct that was ahead of its time in
promoting social responsibility. I was confident the
University would send a message to one of the most
influential multinational corporations in the world.
Yet when I picked up The Michigan Daily on Tues-
day morning, I felt sad to see the results of the Uni-
versity's investigation of Coke (Coke cleared in India
investigation, 01/15/2008) alongside its coverage about
student outrage about graduation being held at Eastern
Michigan University (BigHouse could still be an option,
01/15/2008). Let me clarify that I don't think that stu-
dents should be quiet about graduation - on the con-
trary, as a graduating senior I feel that students should
make every effort to make their voices heard. Further,
I do not appreciate those people who assert that stu-
dents should be ashamed to protest because gradua-
tion is not a significant enough issue. Our democracy
depends on civic engagement no matter if the issues
are big or small. The more voices, the better.
Rather, I was filled with a sense of sadness because
the rest of the student body was painfully learning
what I had learned over the last four years: The Uni-
versity administration shows a callous disregard for
student voices.
I remember when I first realized the University
disregarded students. It was the day I first received a
phone call from the Daily, less than four months after
the University had suspended its contract with Coke
in late 2005. Our campaign had been meeting with
the administration regularly, trying to find third-
party auditors to assess Coke's environmental impacts
in India and its labor practices in Colombia. Univer-
sity administrators assured us that it would take no

action before consulting us as well as the communi-
ties in India and Colombia we strove to represent. On
the day I received the call from the Daily, though, I
was informed that the University had gone back on its
word and resumed purchasing from Coke behind our
On Monday I got another call from the Daily. The
University had responded to a 16-month investigation
by The Energy and Resources Institute and decided to
continue doingbusiness with Coke. I was shocked. The
TERI report was scheduled to become public that day.
I wondered how University officials could have read a
report that was more than 500 pages and responded
in a single day. But as I learned at yesterday's meeting
with administrators, both Coke and the University had
access to the TERI report in December. Our organiza-
tion was never involved. Rather, Coke was given the
opportunity to read and respond to the report before
we even heard about it. The University made a decision
completely without student input.
Like Daily columnist Arikia Millikan, who argued
earlier this week that the decision to move commence-
ment was a typical example of how the University
works (Business as usual, 01/15/2008), I wasn't shocked
at the University's decision to consider Coke's envi-
ronmental practices acceptable despite TERI's report
finding that Coke's water usage is unsustainable in two
areas because of water exploitation. The University's
actions have usually been far from its words.
There is an important lesson to be learned here:
As students, we cannot assume that the University is
acting in our best interests or the best interests of the
community - local, national or international. Rather,
we must be prepared to be the conscience of this uni-
versity. We must insist that the University upholds its
own standards and values. We must demand to have a
voice in the process - not just on where we have our
graduation, but on diversity, fair trade, human rights
and monitoring Coca-Cola's compliance with the Ven-
dor Code of Conduct as well.
Lindsey Rogers is an LSA senior.


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