4A - Monday, March 24, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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HR ' EI Y
A bird in the hand
If proven safe, urban chickens are good policy
efore Steve Kunselman ran for Ann Arbor City Council, he
had to remove the skeletons from his closet - namely, the
illegal chicken he kept in his back yard. Now, Kunselman
is hoping to change that law. In a proposal before the City Council,
Kunselman asked the city to reverse its ban on keeping hens in resi-
dential homes. And it's not as bird-brained as it sounds. If proven
safe, this change would promote healthy, environmentally friendly
and affordable options for residents to farm their own eggs.
Let me tell you: we've had better
-Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), on a conversation he had with Hillary Clinton on Thursday night,
before he endorsed Barack Obama Friday, as reported Saturday by The New York Times.
HARUN BULINA E-MAIL BULJINA AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU
_jne \on wmnincae
Kunselman's proposal would add chick-
ens a city ordinance that allows only certain
pets to be kept in city homes. It would tack
on a host of restrictions for would-be chick-
en owners as well. Only one- or two-family
homes would be allowed to keep up to four
hens in regulated coops outside of the home.
These chickens could not be slaughtered.
Owning roosters is strictly prohibited, and
chicken owners will be subject to noise vio-
lations if neighbors complain.
Other cities - including New York City,
Oakland, Chicago and Seattle - have
approved similar urban coops. In addition to
being pets, chickens offer a range of benefits.
Just like backyard gardens, backyard chick-
ens provide an inexpensive way for resi-
dents to control their own food production.
Even for organic products, there is a divide
between food producers and consumers.
Knowing where your food comes from and
how it is grown and prepared is imperative.
Not only is the proposal healthy for indi-
viduals,itis also healthy for the environment.
Buying and growing local food decreases
the carbon footprint left by shipping and
transporting products long distances. Resi-
dents who harvest their own food remove
the need for packaging, and farming eggs
at home ensures that no growth hormones,
antibiotics or other unhealthy medications
are used to unnaturally enhance the food
products. Chickens are also a good source of
While this plan has its benefits, it is also
ruffling a few feathers. City Council has
rightly tabled the proposal until it further
explores the downsides of backyard coops.
Some council members are concerned about
the environmental impact of urban chickens
and the potential for chickens to spread dis-
ease. Others are concerned about who will
enforce the new ordinance and whether it
will require additional city staffing. Allow-
ing residents to own hens may be an afford-
able and healthy option for homegrown
eggs, but it should also be free of other
But if passed, this proposal will help
chickens cross the road from farm animal to
practical option for a cleaner environment
and better health.
few weeks ago I was at home
during the weekend, talking
about Hillary Clinton with
my mom as she sat
smoking Benson &
by the fireplace - a
habit she picked up
in the '70s, a time
when the prospect
of a post-feminist
era seemed about as
far-fetched as those
television phones ANNE
on "Star Trek." VANDERMEY
"What will it say
she asked me, "if we pass over the first
serious female candidate and elect a
It wasn't the first time I'd felt
guilty, as a woman, for not supporting
the nation's first formidable female
candidate for president. First a John
Edwards supporter and later a Barack
Obama fan, I wondered if I wasn't
somehow betraying the most impor-
tant accomplishments of my mom's
generation. Plus, deep down it bugged
me that I wasn't doing my part to
make the phrase "woman in charge"
feel like it meant more than that terri-
ble 2003 TV show with Geena Davis.
Partially because of the hesitance
of lukewarm young feminists like me,
Clinton has found herself walking a
fine line between wantingto be a fem-
inist champion and convincing people
that gender isn't a centerpiece of her
campaign. On "Meet the Press" in
January, she awkwardly tried to have
it both ways.
"You have a woman running to
break the highest and hardest glass
ceiling," she said. "I don't think either
of us want to inject race or gender in
this campaign. We're running as indi-
Yes, it was an impressive display of
doublespeak. But this statement also
manages to encapsulate both why I
like Clinton and why I don't want her
to be the Democratic nominee.
I like her because I love the idea of
shattering the glass ceiling. Unless
John McCain quickly starts sounding
less like a 107-year-old bully, Clinton
would be the first female frontrun-
ner for the presidency if she wins the
nomination - enough to make good
on her "making history" mantra.
What's troubling about that scenario
is that if she wins, Clinton would also
be the most divisive figure Democrat-
ic politics has ever seen.
Call me crazy, but that's not what I
had imagined when I wanted to put a
woman in charge.
It's not that I don't like Clinton.
It's that, for better or for worse, she's
fallen so far behind in the race that,
barring some seismic upset far worse
than an inflammatory pastor, she'll
have to badly exploit the system to
win come August.
victory would rest on superdelegate
votes. And it would be disenchanting,
to say the least, if party bigwigs over-
turned the will of the electorate.
To make a superdelegate-driven
victory even sort of acceptable, she'll
need to win the popular vote. Getting
it, however, would almost certainly
require counting the votes she won in
Michigan and Florida. In Michigan,
where her main rivals weren't on the
ballot and where no one campaigned,
it's easy to see how pretending that it
was a real election would disenfran-
chise millions of voters who might
have voted differently (or at all) had
the primary been a real one.
Pretending Michigan's January
primary was real isn't technically
breaking the rules. But it's just as bad,
if not worse. It's sending a clear mes-
establishment doesn't have a problem
upending the candidacy of the first
minority candidate poised to win. In
a way, it's a betrayal the other great
ideological movement of our parent's
generation - civil rights. That, and it
would alienate the party's most loyal
However you look at it, the Demo-
crats are in trouble if Clinton secures
the nomination. And frankly, so are
the feminists. Do we really want that
shining moment, our epochal first, to
be tainted with so strong a stench of
A woman could
- just not Clinton
I don't think we're actually in a
post-feminist era any more than I
think they've gotten TV phones to
work like they did on "Star Trek." I
know progress has slowed - women's
wages have all but leveled off since
1991 and the number of female execu-
tives in Fortune 500 firms has been
waning since 2005. But it will take
more than a symbolic gesture to buck
the trend anyway. As far as I'm con-
cerned, Clinton has already proved
what she needed to: that a woman
could do it.
I just don't think this one should do
Anne VanderMey was the Daily's
fall/winter magazine editor in 2007. She
can be reached at email@example.com.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Harun Buljina, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan,
Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, lmran Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
GRADUATE EMPLOYEES' ORGANIZATION
Stand with your GS s
There comes a time to stand up and act for
what is right. After four frustrating months of
negotiation between the University adminis-
tration and the Graduate Employees' Organi-
zation, that time is now for graduate student
instructors and the rest of the University
According to the Office of Financial Aid, the
median GSI's salary is $781 less than the cost
of attendance for eightmonths, which does not
include paying income tax. That figure is for a
single graduate student without dependents.
Many GSIs with families are eligible for food
stamps. For employees ofa wealthy institution
like the University, this is appalling. However,
when GEO presented its initial wage proposal,
the administration's lead negotiator said that
University officials did not see any relevant
connection between the cost of attendance
and a GSI's salary.
Nor has the administration moved on many
demands relating to our more vulnerable
members. GSIs working at low fractions earn
less per hour than their higher-fraction coun-
terparts. However, administrators refuse to
endorse the idea of equal pay for equal work,
a key issue of justice for our membership.
The University has rejected our demands to
provide for parity coverage of mental health
services. Finally, it has failed to ease spousal
work requirements that govern access to child
care subsidies. Current requirements often
eliminate the families of international GSIs
from child care support eligibility because
the spouses of many international graduate
employees cannot legally work in America.
Despite some movement during the last
several days, it is clear that the administra-
tion still does not take our demands seriously.
GEO has strenuously tried compromising
with the administration - dropping propos-
als that would lower fees and provide vision
care, as well as reducing our salary demand
by several million dollars - yet the adminis-
tration refuses to move substantively on our
For the 2007-2008 school year, GSI salaries,
health care benefits and child care subsidies
will cost the University less than $30 million.
That is about 2.3 percent of the outlays of the
Ann Arbor campus's $1.3 billion general fund,
which does not include the athletic budget or
the health system. The total salary increase of
unionized graduate employees cost $800,000
last year, in comparison to the $57 million
in revenues that the University's 7.7 percent
tuition increase generated. Even if GEO were
to accept the absurd and unjust notion that
graduate employees should bear the brunt of
the state's failure to invest in higher educa-
tion, clearly the University would not save
that much money on us. Yet in a recent letter
to the faculty and staff, LSA Dean Terrance
McDonald claimed that our demand for $781 a
year would put "insupportable" strains on the
GEO fights for the general good of the Uni-
versity community. GSIs pay dues to GEO's
parent union, the American Federation of
Teachers, which lobbies hard for additional
education funding for universities. This lob-
bying helps improve education and keep
tuition down for all students - undergradu-
ate and graduate alike. While the University
was spending untold thousands on trying to
evade the Americans with Disabilities Act
on the Michigan Stadium renovation proj-
ect, GEO was bargaining hard to make sure
that graduate teachers with disabilities had
proper accommodations in the classroom. In
its struggles for GSIs, GEO has supported its
rhetoric for increased diversity by fighting for
equality in hiring, benefit availability and on-
the-job treatment for all employees.
Our past lobbying for better training and
smaller class sizes improves both our working
conditions and the learning conditions of all
undergraduates. According to the University,
we teach 27 percent of the classroom hours
at the University. We also provide the bulk
of personal contact - in office hours, discus-
sion sections and writing recommendations
- between instructors and undergraduates
on this campus.
Many undergraduate organizations stand
with us and endorse our positions, like Stu-
dents Organizing for Labor and Economic
Equality and the College Democrats. The
Michigan Student Assembly and LSA Student
Government have overwhelmingly passed
resolutions supporting our demands. Numer-
ous on-campus and off-campus labor organi-
zations have offered their support as well.
If there is a walkout tomorrow or any other
day, we ask that you not cross picket lines. By
supporting our requests for better working
conditions, you stand up for the betterment of
the entire University community.
Stand with us - because we stand with all
This viewpoint was written by GEO President
Helen Ho, Vice President Kiara Vigil, Secretary/
Communications Chair Patrick O'Mahen,
Treasurer Denise Bailey, Organizing Chairs Matt,
Desan and Sara Crider, Grievance Chair Lauren
Squires and Bargaining Chair Julie Robert. It
is supported by the GEO Stewards Council.
eneration Y, The Millennials,
The 9/11 Generation (accord-
ing to William Kristol, the
servative New York
who surely has his
finger on the pulse
of young people),
(according to author
Anya Kamenetz), a
Reagan Babies, The
MyPod Generation, KARL
YouTube genera- STAMPFL
tion, The MySpace
com Generation, iGeneration, Gen-
eration Q (according to Thomas Fried-
man, the 54-year-old liberal New
York Times columnist who "spent the
last week visiting colleges"), Spoiled
Generation, Generation whY, Echo
Boomers, Google Generation, Net Gen-
eration, Generation Obama (according
to the Obama campaign).
That's an incomplete list of the
names that members of other gen-
erations have given our generation,
which is arguably defined as those
born between 1980 and 2000. Some of
these labels are dumb, some of them
are lame and some of them are con-
trived - the rest are worse. A few of
them may stick (let's hope one of those
is not the MyPod Generation).
But none of them are accurate.
The idea that a single event or con-
cept could define an entire genera-
tion in this increasingly complicated
world is asinine. Take, for instance,
the Internet Generation and its deriva-
tives. The Internet has played a large
role in our lives, and it has changed
the way we interact. We like to watch
YouTube; we even sometimes make
YouTube videos of ourselves reacting
to YouTube videos. And if you make
it through this entire column without
checking Facebook or changing the
song on your iPod, you've just defied
a stereotype. So what? Most of those
stereotypes are also true for our par-
ents, many of them Baby Boomers.
The Internet has changed everybody,
not just us.
Or take Generation 9/11, which is
perhaps the most perilous proposed
name. Our parents have certainly let
themselves be defined by the attacks
of Sept. 11, 2001, but will we? Probably
not. It was a tragic event that we will
remember forever, but we're not going
to let the ensuing fear dictate our lives
like the Bush Generation has. We've
moved past that, which is evidenced
by Democratic presidential candidate
Barack Obama's nearly ubiquitous
popularity among young voters.
That takes us to the Obama Gen-
eration. His campaign uses this on
its website, and its fairly exploitative.
We like Obama (again, look at the exit
polls), and we'll rally around him, but
there's so much more to our culture
than this one politician, however tran-
scendent he may be.
To be fair, generation names are
somewhat valuable. It's convenient to
be able to say the Lost Generation, the
Great Generation or the Baby Boomers
and everyone knows what you're talk-
ing about. Generation names also make
good titles for books and columns.
But wouldn't it be telling of this
generation's diversity to refuse to be
First of all, this generation isn't
only composed of isolated Americans,
because our society is increasingly
globalized. Our friends aren't just the
people we hung out with in high school
but the people we met studying abroad
in Chile. By the time we're 45 years old
we'll be doing business with people in
India just as often as we do business
with the people in Texas.
Diversity doesn't just apply to race
and ethnicity. For example, entertain-
ment is less homogenized. In 1968, for
example, our parents were all listen-
ing to the same songs and watching
the same television shows. In 2008,
we're culturally diverse.
In that same way, we can't be
defined by our religious or political
views. Some of us support the war in
Iraq, some of us don't and some of us
don't care either way. Some of us are
Christians. Some of us are Muslims.
Maybe Newsweek writes a cover story
citing poll data that says we're becom-
ing increasingly religious, but the next
poll says we're not. We can accept that
our peers are different fromus in a way
that our parents too often can't. We're
becoming comfortable with that, and
some of us can even talk about it.
Will one phrase
I hope not.
Generation X tried a similar tactic:
That generation's name refers to the
fact that it doesn't have an identity. The
problem is that having a name leads to
an identity. For one, it makes it easier
for journalists to write sentences like
"Generation X tried a similar tactic,"
as if an entire generation could do or
think or feel a single thing.
So what if we said: This is a different
kind of generation. You can't name us.
Maybe we'll name ourselves decades
But hopefully we won't.
Karl Stampfl was the Daily's fall/
winter editor in chief in 2007. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.