4 - Friday, February 8, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
From my money -
that's where I got the money."
- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, commenting on the source of the $5 million
donation her campaign recently received, as reported yesterday by the New York Post .
Standing up or our soldzers
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 publiceditor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and contentin every section ofthe paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Ushering f in a new era
'U' should get tough with apparel contractors
T he University logo is more than a brand. The Block M
emblazoned on thousands of baseball hats represents an.
institution that claims to value pride, integrity and toler-
ance. Ironically, the New Era Cap Company, the producer of these
iconic baseball hats, is battling allegations of unfair labor practices
at its Mobile, Ala. distribution center. The University's administra-
tion needs to take a stronger stance to defend labor rights, using
its weight to force these companies to respect basic rights and
upholding the University's values.
News of the war on terrorism
made front-page headlines
last week, but it wasn't an
update on the surge
or reports from
the brass that con-
sumed the papers.
It was a story about .
A study released
that five soldiers try
to kill themselves ASHLEA
every day. Before
the war on terror- SURLES
ism began, the rate
was only one each
day. Other studies show that about 30
percent of soldiers have sought mental
help upon returning home from Iraq
and Afghanistan. Reports reveal that
roughly 17 of every 100,000 men and
women stationed overseas in the U.S.
Army committed suicide last year -
an all-time high - and twice as many
took their own lives back home. And
the government doesn't seem to care.
It has never been easy for soldiers
to return from battle to resume life as
they knew it, but now - for veterans of
the war in Iraq coming back to today's
America - it seems like a Herculean
task. Not only are soldiers returning
from the Middle East more likely to
have witnessed brutality and experi-
enced combat than those returning
from other recent wars, but when it
comes to our valiant Purple Hearts,
the Bush administration has revealed
the heart-shaped hole in its chest.
In the last six years, there have
been myriad incidents and revela-
tions exemplifying the Bush adminis-
tration's substandard treatment of its
war veterans. From last year's investi-
gation exposing the inscrutable condi-
tions and inefficiencies at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center, to the half-
baked Wounded Warriors Act that
stops short of applying all of its ben-
efits retroactively, to the president's
recent $3.1 trillion budget proposal
that would cut veterans' health cov-
erage while pouring hundreds of bil-
lions of dollars into military spending, out for the people who have endured
the federal government has exhibited the brutalities of war - and the Uni-
gross insensitivity. versity is preventing that.
It is increasingly clear that this Roughly 130,000 troops are in Iraq
White House, which seems to play and right now, with thousands more sta-
discard soldiers as pawns on a board, tioned in Afghanistan and elsewhere
doesn't accept veterans as a funda- in the Middle East. It is inevitable
mental component of war. David Chu, that many of them will return home
thePentagon'sundersecretaryforper- with serious disabilities and add to
sonnel and readiness, wasn't bashful the 100,000 paralyzed veterans in the
about saying so wlxen he scrupulously country. And the Bush administra-
told The Wall Street Journal that vet- tion has ensured that re-integrating
erans' costs "are taking away from into a reasonably normal life will be
the nation's ability to defend itself." It an uphill battle. If the MPVA wins the
seems that our administration missed lawsuit against the University, would
what I consider to bea very moral and each of the 1,000 wheelchair-acces-
basic concept: Waging a war means sible Big House seats mandated by the
assuming the costs of the battle itself ADAbe filled? Probablynot. But would
and shouldering responsibility for the
aftermath - both overseas and on the
home front. As a consequence, our From , the 'U' to the
disabled veterans are returning home
to be screwed right out of what their
valor merits. W hite House,
And, as the federal government
shirksthis responsibility, I'mashamed veterans face battle
to say, so does our university.
If you haven't heard, the Michigan
Paralyzed Veterans of America have a young wheelchair-bound veteran
brought a lawsuit against the Univer- ever be prevented from cheering for
sity for failing to comply with, and the Maize and Blue ata football game
altogether dodging, the Americans for lack of a place to use the bathroom
with Disabilities Act of 1990, a federal or a place to sit? Definitely not.
law mandating the accommodation of As one of the nation's leading pub-
disabled individuals in public facili- lic institutions, and as a university
ties built or renovated after 1990. I that claims to exemplify the highest
am not suggesting that the University of moral standards and represent the
satisfy the organization's demands consummate values and character of
simply because they are veterans, and this country, this school has a duty to
I don't believe the University Board of support those who have sacrificed for
Regents should bow on that principle our nation. And thus, if the veterans
alone. But the fact that former ser- triumph, and one day I attend a foot-
vice members initially filed the suit ball game to find some of those 1,000
is undeniably relevant; it makes the seats empty, I will not be bitter. I will
University's behavior in the case par- be proud to know that my university
ticularly appalling. upheld American integrity when this
The ruling in this case will become country could not do it for itself.
precedent for ADA claims filed there- But for now I am embarrassed
after. In filing the suit, MPVA is because itappears our regents and our
attempting to make the lives of dis- president are goingto great lengths to
abled Americans across the country make sure that this does not happen.
more manageable. Inresistingthe suit,
the University is preventing that. Fur- Ashlea Surles can be reached
thermore, these veterans are looking at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University first received reports of
prejudiced practices at New Era's Alabama
distribution center from the Worker Rights
Consortium, an independent labor-moni-
toring organization. The WRC, which the
University and other universities pay to
monitor their apparel contracts, reported
that the company is discriminating against
black and female workers. Last month, the
NAACP confirmed these accusations after
conducting its own investigation.
Unlike the University of Wisconsin,
which immediately terminated its contract
with New Era after receiving reports of
these abuses, the University of Michigan
hit New Era where it really hurts - the
mailbox. The University wrote a letter to
the company, weakly reprimanding it for
its actions. The University refused to fully
acknowledge the severity of the situation,
asking New Era to fix the problem whether
it had been done "intentionally or not."
.In light of New Era's trouble in the past,
the University needed to take a more hard-
line approach. The University cut its con-
tract with New Era six years ago when one
of its New York factories was revealed to
have unsafe working conditions. Although
New Era corrected the problem and the
University reinstated the contract, the
company has to be held to a higher stan-
dard now. Repeat offenders like New Era
can't just be slapped on the wrist. While
cutting the contract again might not have
been necessary, the threat of terminating
the contract could have been dangled in
front of New Era.
The problem is that University has no
incentive to police the companies with
whom it has contracts. The administration
often turns a blind eye to its more lucra-
tive contractors because there is so much
money at stake. That doesn't mean it's not
hypocritical or embarrassing. The Univer-
sity must uphold institutional morality by
recognizing and regulating the types of
labor practices condoned in the University
Athletic Department's apparel contracts
- it cannot allow big businesses to dictate
the values associated with the University
To fight against unfair labor practices
and enforce the University's Vendor Code
of Conduct, the administration's first plan
of action should be to hold itself account-
able for its poor contractual choices. By
having the Board of Regents, rather than
the University Athletic Department,
review large merchandising contracts
like the eight-year, $60 million deal with
Adidas that was negotiated this summer,
there would be more transparency and
public discussion. The whole community
could then decide if these contracts, which
reflect on the entire University, uphold
this institution's values.
The University should also commit to
have its apparel produced at factories
approved by the Designated Suppliers Pro-
gram, a program that screens companies
for their use of fair-labor practices. Finally,
when possible, the University should find
a local vendqr to produce its merchan-
dise. By keeping apparel contracts local, it
would be easier to monitor the company's
labor practices as well as contribute to the
Instead of remaining dormant on anoth-
er potential scandal, the University needs
to stand up for its morals. If the adminis-
tration doesn't take quick and effective
action, the Block M will be forever tainted
with images of sweatshops, exploitation
It's better than drinking alone
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels,
Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha,
Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
"Sweet Valley High" series cites in her reviews.
is still one to be jealous of Thomas Kelly
Please stop going to The Brown
Jug. That's right, I'm talking to
you. I'm tired of waiting in line
behind a group of
haired dudes only to
watch them take alla'.
the good tables and
then leave for Rick's
at about 1:20 a.m.
It hasn't always
I turned 21 years
old last March, I MEKELBURG
was escorted to the ----
Jug to celebrate. I
was in alcoholic heaven. Somehow, it
seemed like I knew everyone in the
bar. The tables were plentiful, the
music was great and the drinks were
cheaper than I could have imagined.
Sometime last -semester, though,
this began to change. I started to
notice a new contingent of Rick's
pre-ganers and a longer line. But one
thing about the crowd didn't change:
Almost everyone was white.
Watching the dynamic of my favor-
ite bar change made me realize how
homogenous it had been in the first
place. I told myself that this was a
coincidence. The Jug and Charley's
are the two bars nearest to my house,
so it's no surprise I go there. I don't
know anyone at Touchdown Cafe.
Mitch's is filled with grad students.
and has a weird office vibe. And I
say the same thing about Rick's that
everyone else does: I hate it, but I
always get dragged there anyway.
Those are excuses. I was just lying
to myself. The reason that I find
myself at the same bars is because
that's where I feel most comfortable.
In an awkward paradox, this makes
me really uncomfortable. I like to
think that I care about diversity. I've
always sought out new experiences
outside my normal comfort zone. I
grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, one
of the most racially integrated places
in the country and I think I under-
stand the world a little better for it.
And frankly, I just like other people.
It's the way I am.
One of the biggest reasons I came
to the University was its reputation
for being diverse. But diversity isn't
easy. Everyone says they want it, but
nobody is willing to work for it. It's
easy to sign up for a committee, go to
a meeting or complain about the ban
on race- and gender-based affirmative
action in Michigan,. but diversity is
more than just sittingnext to someone
in class who looks different from you.
Segregation on this campus exists
everywhere, but nowhere does it
manifest itself as strongly as it does
on the bar scene. Bars aren't just seg-
regated along racial lines, but along
social and age lines too. Everyone
knows the stereotypes: Scorekeepers
is filled with students from the Greek
system with a strong contingent from
the New York/New Jersey area.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got
an e-mail from a friend. Apparently,
some asshole posted a racist rant on
Craigslist about how black people
were invading Scorekeepers. Having
gone there just a few days ago, I can
assure you that this is not the case. I'll
spare you the text of the disgusting
tirade, but it showed me how deep the
segregation spirit runs.
The poster on the website was rac-
ist, pure and simple. How many of you
have even heard about this? Where's
the campus outrage? Maybe people
heard about it, but then something
really scary happened: They under-
stood where the poster was coming
from. I'm not saying they agreed with
all the racial slurs, but maybe people
- all types of people - thought: I
wouldn't want my bar invaded with
people who aren't like me, either.
That scares me.
I have no idea how to fix some-
thing like this. Perhaps we the people
who value diversity could convince
some local establishment to throw
an "Everyone get the hell together"
party every Friday as a comfortable
place for those looking to get outside
of their own social trappings. Alas,
that would still be a safe haven.
Here's what I can do - go to.a dif-
ferent bar. It may not be easy, and I'll
probably have to bring a friend. But
Want to promote
diversity? Start at
your local bar.
I'm going to try it out before I gradu-
ate. I'm going to go somewhere that
isn't my scene.
There's something else I can do,
too. All this brings me back to what I
wrote at the beginning of this column
aboutthe pink-shirted kidswith spiky
hair who started coming to the Jug.
You know what? Ignore that. Come to
the Jug, please. You can probably find
me there tonight. I don't care who you
are, just come and have a good time.
And maybe, just maybe, we can take
a baby step closer to that great intaf-
gible - diversity.
David Mekelburg was a Daily fall/
winter associate news editor in 2007.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
TO THE DAILY:
I recently read Kimberly Chou's review of
the book series "Gossip Girl" (Sweet Valley,
but better, 01/31/2008). I must take issue with
some of her contentions.
For one, Chou stated that there is "a whole
lot more money being thrown around" in the
"Gossip Girl" books than in the "Sweet Val-
ley High" novels. It is unlikely, however, that
even "Gossip Girl" character Serena van der
Woodsen could come from a richer family
than Lila Fowler, who stars in the "Sweet Val-
ley High" series. Fowler's father is repeatedly
described as one of the richest men in South-
ern California. In "Sweet Valley High Super
Star: Lila's Story," it is established that there
is an original Picasso in her living room. In
"The Charm School Mystery" (Sweet Valley
Twins #64) readers learn that there is also
a Faberge egg in her living room. As if these
lavish items are not enough, Fowler gets
wealthier the summer after graduation when
the Italian count, Tisiano, leaves his fortune
to her after dying in a Jet Ski explosion.
Further, I disagree with Chou's statement
that "Sweet Valley High" is a tamer series.
"Gossip Girl" characters might have more
sex than characters in "Sweet Valley High"
novels, but instances of sexual' assault or
false allegations of sexual assault in "Sweet
Valley High" are more prevalent, includ-
ed in at least six books. The "Sweet Valley
High" series also deals with homosexuality
in "Amy's True Love #75," which was quite
daring for a young adult book for 1991. Final-
ly, it's hard to call a book series tame when it
features multiple murders and kidnappings
in at least 28 books.
Perhaps in the future Chou will consider
becoming more familiar with the books she
Graduating to bigger causes
TO THE DAILY:
I wasgladto seeAaronJohnson'slettertothe
editor supporting the administration's efforts
to fix the graduation situation (U has done well
fixing graduation mistake, 02/05/2008). While
I am disappointed that graduation won't be at
Michigan Stadium, I am glad that the com-
mencement will be on campus.
While some considered the situation ridicu-
lous and others criticized students for not pro-
testing about larger, more important issues,
I think this problem did a great deal of good.
The forums created for students tovoice their
opinions gave me an opportunity to see genu-
ine empathy from University administrators
and my first chance to speak with them one-
on-one. The issue also led administrators to
seek student input and fired up the long dor-
mant emotions of the student body.
In my four years at the University, I'm not
sure I've seen passions aroused so strongly.
I think these passions can now be directed
toward bigger issues, like the upcoming elec-
tions, which might satisfy the aforementioned
critics. For those critics, it's important to
remember to tackle the problems that we know
we can change. Students can influence smaller
issues, like a commencement ceremony, and
larger ones too, like a war or global warming.
I echo Johnson's thanks to University
administrators. I'm not 100 percent content
with the outcome of the commencement loca-
tion, but I'm glad to know the University's
administration is listening to my thoughts.
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