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March 26, 2008 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-26

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The civil debater
hen Fadi Kiblawi created
Students Allied for Free-
dom and Equality, a pro-
Palestinian student group, in 2001,
the group's initial attempts to dis-
cuss the contentious Israeli-Pales-
tinian conflict with other campus
groups often ended in bickering.
"Back then, around the beginning
of the Second Intifada, it was a very
emotional issue that often became
very personal and ugly - and that
affected the discourse," Kiblawi
said. "There wasn't that level of
civility."

Seven years later, the Israeli-Pal-
estinian conflict remains as conten-
tious as ever. But campus discourse
on the conflict, Kiblawi said, is far
more constructive and civil than it
was during his days as a leader of
SAFE.
Kiblawi attributes much of that
change in the dialogue on Middle
East issues to LSA sophomore
Andrew Dalack, one of SAFE's cur-
rent co-chairs.
"Andrew has done a great job this
year openingup the debate, creating
civil discussion on campus," Kib-
lawi said.
Increased civility in Israeli-Pal-

estinian discourse was unexpected
this year, considering the contro-
versy in September over the Uni-
versity Press's distribution of a book
called "Overcoming Zionism" that
advocates a single-state solution.
But under Dalack's leadership, the
group organized events that gar-
nered greater attention than SAFE
has typically received on campus,
like speeches by Joel Kovel, the
author of "Overcoming Zionism,"
and Profs. John Mearsheimer and
Stephen Walt, whose lecture drew
a capacity crowd at the Natural Sci-
ence Building earlier this month.
SAFE also hosted Palestinian
Awareness Week in February,
featuring a week of events focus-
ing on Middle Eastern issues that
included a lecture by an Israeli
professor who spoke on the occu-
pation of Palestinian territories
from Israel's perspective.
By bringing academics, jour-
nalists and scholars of varying
viewpoints to campus, Dalack
said he was trying to "raise the "We wanted to make sure that
bar" of the debate surrounding anybody who wanted the tit-for-tat,
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to back and forth arguing would be
a more academic level. marginalized, and that people who

a 0

I

really wanted to engage in a more
intellectual discussion could do so,"
Dalack said.
-ANDYKROLL
Chiles said.
SSDP had a hand in bringing to
campus two former presidential
candidates in favor of drug poli-
cy reform, Dennis Kucinich and
Mike Gravel. The Kucinich speech,
drawing more than 500 people,
was the candidate's biggest cam-
paign stop in Michigan.
The group also became the only
first-year chapter to win the SSDP
national organization's outstand-
ing chapter award.
"It's not simply a selfish act that
I'm doing here," Chiles said. "It
is truly an altruistic act - for the
greater good of society."
Chiles said his interest in drug
policy reform was first sparked
after a good friend's brother over-
dosed and died from cocaine that
had been laced with heroine.
"Obviously, him using cocaine
wasn't good for his body, but that's
not what killed him," he said. "It
was the policies surrounding the
black market of drug use."
Always diligent in defending
sensible drug policy, Chiles and
other SSDP members made a sur-
prise visit in September at a forum
on random student drug testing
held in Detroit by the Office of
National Drug Control Policy.
"Drug testing is often counter-
productive, because if a student
tests positive and is kicked out of
extracurriculars they have noth-
ing left to do but more drugs," he
said.
-JESSICA VOSGERCHIAN

8
7
4
7 3
fication.com,

The anti-anti-drug
warrior
SA sophomore Chris Chil-
es seems unlikely to be
the face for the marijuana
legalization movement on cam-
pus. Chiles speaks in a concise,
matter-of-fact manner, keeps a
well-groomed appearance and
smells of nothing in particular,
least of all patchouli.

But the clean-cut chemistry
major is responsible for the resur-
rection this year of the University's
chapter of Students for a Sensible
Drug Policy.
Under Chiles' leadership, SSDP
has transformed from a long-dor-
mant sponsor of smoking pot in
public to one of campus's most
active advocacy groups.
"There are more people who
believe the War on Drugs has
failed than people who smoke pot,"

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