4A -Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
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and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
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Students must harness graduation ire, pressure 'U'
Last week, there was excitement in the air as University stu-
dents planned an important protest. For many, this protest
would show the administration that the decision to hold
commencement outside of Michigan Stadium was unacceptable.
Despite good intentions, the rally fell flat on its face, postponed at
the last minute due to a lack of interest. This isn't a good sign for stu-
dents, who must continue their outrage about moving graduation to
Eastern Michigan University if they hope to bring commencement
back to the Big House, make this decision transparent and hold the
administration accountable for its disregard of students' interests.
I feel good about dying now because I
feel like I'm alive in her ... but at the same
hand, you don't want to die because you
want to be around for the rest of her life."
- Actor Heath Ledger on how having a daughter has changed him in a recent interview,
as reported yesterday by The New York Times. Ledger died yesterday.
Bearing the Southern Cross
ike Huckabee is courting
the Confederate vote. In an
act of political pandering
that would seem
in Mitt Romney's
campaign, the for-
mer Arkansas gov-
that he supports
the right of states to
display the Confed-
erate flag. Speaking
to supporters in EMMARIE
Myrtle Beach, S.C., HUETTEMAN
Huckabee said, "If
somebody came to
Arkansas and told us what to do with
our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with
the pole." .
The next day, HBO host Bill Maher
asked his guest panel on "Real Time
with Bill Maher" to comment on
Huckabee's remarks. Comedian D.L.
Hughley replied that the Confederate
flag "is always codename for 'we hate
niggers and fags still,' always." But
Southern author and fellow panelist
Trace Adkins disagreed with Hugh-
ley, saying, "I'm supposed to be the
redneck cracker here, and ... I don't
know anybody that feels that way."
When it comes to the Confederate
flag, it seems that the Mason-Dixon
Line still demarcates an ideological
To many Americans, the Southern
Cross - as the battle flag of the Con-
federacy is often called - is bound
within its original context, the Civil
War. It represents little more than
racist convictions as a banner under
which white Southerners fought for
the rightto enslave black people.But to
many Southerners, the flag has much
to do with states' rights and heritage
and nothing to do with racism.
Having grown up in Georgia, I've
seen a lot of Confederate parapher-
nalia. These days, the Southern Cross
is more likely to adorn T-shirts, shot
glasses and pickup truck windows
than flagpoles. However, until 2001,
my home state prominently featured
the Southern Cross on its flag along-
side the state seal.
That was also the year I realized
that the Confederate flag didn't mean
racism to most Southerners. My class
took an end-of-the-year trip to the
Six Flags theme park in Atlanta, and
as we wandered through the park, I
saw countless Southern Crosses on
tank tops and T-shirts. However, the
strangest display of all was on a pair
of socks - worn by a black man.
Despite having taken United States
history in Georgia schools, my friends
and I were slightly horrified and
largely baffled by this man's fashion
choice. We trusted the winner's ver-
sion of the story, which opined that
the good of the North had triumphed
over the evil of the South. The Con-
federacy had fought to keep its slaves,
the Union had fought to free them and
there was nothing more to the story.
And considering our knowledge of
the civil rights movement, that ver-
sion sounded pretty accurate.
What has largely been glossed over
in that history, though, is that the
South wasn't just fighting for slavery;
it was also fighting for states' rights,
as Huckabee crudely asserted. It
fought for the right to make decisions
independent of the federal govern-
ment, even if the particular decision
for which it stood was not one worthy
For many Americans, that is still a
relevant cause, and supporting it has
become a part of Southern heritage.
In fact, the dispute over the Confed-
erate flag itself has become a mat-
ter of states' rights, most recently as
presidential candidates like Romney
have weighed in with their unfa-'
vorable opinions about the flag. But
because the rest of the states - and,
if my views are any indication, even
some Southern ones - are teeming
with anti-Confederate flag senti-
ment, it's crucial that Southern Cross
wavers and wearers make these true
To their credit, the heritage and
states' rights arguments are more
palatable than guttural chants of "the
South will rise again!" Even as a big
government liberal, I can appreciate
this perspective. While I opposed
keeping the Southern Cross on the
Georgia flag in2001, I certainly didn't
want the federal government to force
the state to throw out, for better or
For better or
worse, a flag that
flies for heritage.
worse, a symbol of its heritage. As
much as I disagree with my fellow
Southerners on a host of issues, they
do have a right to their opinions.
However, even if Confederate flag
enthusiasts were to endorse a kinder,
gentler platform than "we'll tell you
what to do with the pole," it would
still be a kinder, gentler argument for
a symbol that most Americans deem
purely racist. And as long as they
deem it racist, they will largely be
content seeing its supporters as racist,
regardless of whether they are white
men driving pickup trucks or black
men wearing socks.
Emmarie Huetteman is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at huetteme@umich edu.
Organized by Juhi Aggarwal, who creat-
ed a blog dedicated to the graduation issue,
the protest was set to take place Thursday
before the meeting of the University Board
of Regents. The intention was to overwhelm
the regents as they entered the Fleming
Administration Building for their monthly
meeting, using the leverage garnered by
mass participation to get a better location
for commencement along with transparen-
cy, explanations and a timeline for action.
Unfortunately, according to Aggarwal's
blog, the response students received from
the University at last week's two forums was
that a decision would be made within three
weeks. An e-mail sent out to the class of
2008 yesterday explained that the Universi-
ty was working on "an aggressive timeline"
that would require students to respond to a
survey by Thursday at 9 a.m. It did not say
when the University would make" ecision.
After the administration forgot about
graduation, neglected to solicit student
input and delayed announcingvits mishap
until after winter break, students deserve
a decision sooner than three weeks from
now. Since commencement was moved to
EMU, the University has protested that
the venue was chosen after careful consid-
eration of multiple locations. If this were
true, it wouldn't need three more weeks to
reconsider the same locations. It has already
had ample time. If anything, the fact that it
needs additional time to calculate a response
proves that the University didn't thoroughly
weigh all of its options to begin with.
Similarly, the final decision about where
to hold graduation needs transparency and
meaningful consideration of student input,
two things this administration has repeat-
edly failed to do. The two forums last week,
the upcoming survey and the newly formed
spring Commencement Advisory Commit-
tee are three sources of legitimate student
input. However, in yesterday's e-mail to
seniors, the University simply announced
that this committee was formed and had
already met Monday morning, with just
three students but 10 University officials.
Even when it seems to be trying to cover up
its mess, the University administration can't
get the idea of transparency right.
Students deserve an explanation of how
their input is being considered. If they
don't get satisfactory answers, they should
demand them. It's easy for the administra-
tion to get away with poor planning and a
lack of transparency if students stay quiet.
While the administration's decision to hold
graduation at EMU initially generated an
impassioned response, the issue is already
losing momentum. The longer a decision is
stalled, the farther it will be from students'
minds and the less options will be available.
According to her blog, Aggarwal post-
poned the rally because she didn't get a
strong enough response from students.
While it is understandable that she wants
to draw a noticeable crowd, waiting is the
wrong approach. If this protest couldn't gar-
ner sufficient support now by the organiz-
er's standards, then it is even less likely that
it will gain support as the issue grows stale.
Students can't simply wait to react to the
University's new idea; they should be proac-
tive and influence it. Students should make
sure to return the University-distributed
survey by Thursday at 9 a.m. They must also
emphasize to the University that they want
an explanation and a solution immediately.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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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 email@example.com.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
WVUwhat he owes
rather lack th.
ment of Public
to its mission
to and promot
TO THE DAILY: alert was post
As a West Virginia resident, I am writ- significant nut
ing in regard to the new saga of Michi- ably don't che
gan head football coach Rich Rodriguez. To truly abide1
Rodriguez decided he would rather coach secure commu
Michigan than West Virginia University mum, make su
- so be it. However, the contract Rodri- receives e-mai
guez signed with West Virginia required threat, especia
him to pay $4 million if he opted out of With the t
his contract and switched universities, fresh in our m:
exactly what he did. Why is it that Rodri- addresses safe
guez and by extension Michigan are try- this shooting u
ing to weasel out of this obligation?
Pay the money and move on, Rodri- Linnea Texin
guez. Good luck to Michigan too, after LSAjunior
hiring this classy guy.
ereof, reveals the Depart-
Safety's failure to adhere
statement "to contribute
te a safe and secure com-
ile I recognize that a crime
ed on the DPS website, a
mber of the students prob-
ck this website regularly.
to its mission to promote a
nity, DPS should, at mini-
re the entire student body
is when there is a safety
illy of this caliber.
ragedy at Virginia Tech
inds, I hope the University
ty concerns as severe as
vith more urgency.
posed that LSA Honor Council become
a part of LSA-SG, because of the nega-
tive perception of student government,
you might understand why I felt a group
like the LSA Honor Council that values
academic integrity didn't belong with
student government. After all, I thought
I knew what LSA-SG members were all
I was mistaken. Every executive, every
LSA-SG committee and many associate
representatives have instead embraced
LSA Honor Council and what it stands
for. Student government members are
doing great things, including work on
campus safety, student advocacy, funding
many other student groups and generally
trying to make their peer's experience
better. These members do this because
they believe in it, and they are constant-
ly asking what their constituents (you)
want. From my experience most people
are there because they want to do what is
right. They work hard to do it, and they
often get no reward or attention for it.
Honor Council is built on values, prin-
ciples and abelief in doingthe right thing
above all else. I am so glad it is part of
LSA-SG right now. It is a wonderful place
to get things done no matter what project
matters to you. It is a place for everyone
and every cause. I hope people can look
past MSA scandals and see that not all
student government is self-serving.
The letter writer is thepresident ofLSA Honor
Charleston, W. Va.
Happy hour story not so
happy for senior's wallet
TO THE DAILY:
I was excited when the Daily printed
an article in the B-side last week listing
the best happy hours in town (Happy
trails, 01/17/2008). However, I made the
mistake of taking it as fact that Grizzly
Peak Brewing Company has happy hour
every night of the week and ran myself
quite the bar tab.
Note to readers: Happy hour is not on
Saturday so don't buy beer like it is.
not informing campus
TO THE DAILY:
I write to express my dismay that I did
not receive a formal e-mail from the Uni-
versity about the murder on Plymouth
Road last Wednesday. I find it abhorrent
that the University did not think it neces-
sary to inform its students about a seri-
ous threat to their safety. This action, or
HoCkey jeering defended
TO THE DAILY:
In a letter to the editor yesterday, Jan-
ice Roller complained how the chant
"dirty Catholics" at Friday's hockey game
against Notre Dame was "a step back for
campus," especially because "sports have
paved the way for cultural breakthroughs
in both race and religion" (Letters to the
Editor, 01/22/2007). That was just the
Michigan way of breaking the ice.
Student government still
serves campus faithfully
TO THE DAILY:
As appointments for LSA Student
Government draw near, I can't help but
look around and reflect on the degree of
suspicion, lack of faith and utter apathy
the student body holds for student gov-
ernment of all kinds. The MSA scandals
- not LSA-SG scandals, mind you - have
eroded any confidence students had in
their peers to work to improve their lives,
not just attract more attention or improve
I came to understand LSA-SG when I
took over as president of the LSA Honor
Council last semester. When it was pro-