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September 02, 2008 - Image 25

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

New Student Edition - 3C

Student organizations pay big bucks for Diag use

By CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
Daily StaffReporter
Mar. 13, 2008 - Yesterday on the
Diag, studepts bounced off the
walls of an inflatable moonwalk,
people in bright blue shirts gave
away free sandwiches and coffee
and an a capella group serenaded
passersby.
Off to the side, away from all the
commotion, two students stood
behind a folding table, almost com-
pletely overlooked.
"Free condoms!" they called as
only a few people stopped to listen.
Thetwostudents,fromthe office
of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans-
gender Affairs, were trying to pro-
mote safer sex. They weren't happy
to see Diag traffic diverted by the
much flashier Cancer Awareness
Week kickoff, hosted by University
Students Against Cancer..
"It's definitely hurting us," said
LSA senior Jenny Gutsue, who was
working at the table as part of the
office's Pride Week.
The problem Gutsue faced -
competing for students' attention
on a crowded Diag - is one of a few
obstacles student groups deal with
when they try to get their mes-
sage out on the University's central

square.
Another concern for many
organizations is cost. The price of
holding events on the Diag can be
steep.
Gutsue said her organization
would love to hold more attention-
grabbing events, but that they sim-
ply didn't have the resources.
Diag Administrator Jaden Felix,
who reviews every application
to hold events on the Diag, said it
costs nothing for groups to use the
space. But he acknowledged that
the costs that normally accompany
such events can add up quickly.
Upon receiving an application,
Felix estimates how much addition-
al items and services like a podium,
electricity and amplification will
cost. After he makes sure that the
group applying can pay, Felix files
a work order with the University's
Plant Operations Division.
Seemingly minor items some-
times come with major price tags.
Renting a single trash can costs $80
because groups have to pay for a"
vehicle to transport the receptacle
to and from the Diag.
Music at an event is even more
costly. Felix estimated that an hour
of amplified music would cost more
than $300. He said that electricity

for things like USAC's inflatable
moonwalk runs about $60 an hour,
or $360 for its six-hour long event.
Felix said the prices cover not
only the equipment rental, but also
the cost of labor from the Univer-
sity's Plant Operations Division,
whose employees set up, monitor,
and take down the equipment.
The average event hosted by a
student group costs $333, he said.
LSA senior Lexi Mitter, who
helped organize the Cancer Aware-
ness Week's Diag Day, said dona-
tions of supplies, fundraising and
funding from the Michigan Student
Assembly made holding the event
affordable. However, she said that
they would rather the hundreds of
dollars they pay the University go
to charity.
Gutsue said scheduling was a
problem because when they regis-
ter with SAL, groups aren't told if
any other groups are organizing
events for that same day. Gutsue
laid that when she inquired about
" other activity on the Diag that day,
Felix wouldn't tell them.
When asked why, Felix cited pri-
vacy issues.
"We don't reveal any student
organization information," he said.
To help prevent one event from

overshadowing another, the Uni-
versity does promote a "shared
space protocol," which asks event
organizers to be considerate of
other groups on the Diag, Felix
said.
Accordingto LSA senior Stepha-
nie Somerman, the co-president of
the Roosevelt Institution, the Uni-
versity's policies usually work well.
She said her organization tries to
use the Diag "as much as humanly
possible." But while most of their
events have gone smoothly, they
have encountered occasional diffi-
culties sharing space.
Once when they were gathering
signatures for a petition, she said
that members of the notoriously
loud pro-affirmative action group
By Any Means Necessary were
holdinga protest at the same time;
"It was the worst thing ever," she
said. "It's really hard to get peti-
tions signed when people are run-
ning around yelling."
Though Gutsue and other group
members had planned yesterday's
information table as a one-time
event, she said they would schedule
another day on the Diag.
"We think that if we do it again,
we'll be able to reach more stu-
dents," she said.

The Diag is always one of the most active places on campus during the day.

Your taxicab conversations may not be as private as you might prefer

By ARIKIA MILLIKAN
Daily StaffWriter
Oct. 17, 2007 - Think back on all
those nights when you had a few
too many drinks and the ability to
self-censor was gone. You call a cab,
and you expect that the driver will
regard you with the same indiffer-
ence that you do them.
"When people get into the car,
they don't know who we are," said
Linda, an Ann Arbor cab driver
who would only speak on the condi-
tion of anonymity. "They make this
assumption of what our intellectual
capabilities are and what our limita-
tions are."
But the cab drivers that circulate
the Ann Arbor area have your num-
ber, University of Michigan student.
And they had a lot to say about you.
THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST
Daryl Johnson, who moved
to Ann Arbor this year, has been
working for Yellow Cab for about a
month. In that short time, he's been
around the block more than once. So
far, he says, he's been impressed by

the academic achievements of the
people he drives around.
"I am just amazed all day long at
the caliber of students at the Uni-
versity of Michigan," he said. "I
haye met some amazingly bright
people here. And it makes me think,
you know what? This world's gonna
be all right."
On the whole, students seem to
make good customers, but there's
more backseat debauchery you than
you mightthink - especiallyaround
closing time. Johnson, who doesn't
drive late at night, misses that side
of student nightlife.
"I take 'em to the club and then
I'm ready to go home," he said.
The experience is different for
other, more seasoned drivers.
Linda says she has seen a side of
University students that makes her
more pessimistic.
She's met graduates of the Uni-
versity's medical and law schools
who act more like Miss Teen South
Carolina than a doctor or a lawyer.
"Everybody thinks they're here
on their superior intellect, but that's
not true," Linda said. "There are alot

of students who are here, not neces-
sarily because they're the best and
brightest. They're here because their
parents have a big-ass pocketbook."
THE HOOKUP
Driving the night shift isn't all
bad, though.
"A lot of (the passengers) are
really fun and entertaining, wheth-
er they know it or not," said Bruce
Nielson, a driver for Yellow Cab.
Nielson said he often hears snip-
pets of locker-room talk *hile driv-
ing students around at night. It's
late, it's the weekend, and many of
the conversations revolve around
the one thing always on the typical
college-student mind: hooking up.
"You try to pin them down as to
what exactly hooking up means,"
Nielson said. "I stillidon't know."
The common perception may be
that men are the predatory gender,
withsexconstantlyonthebrain,but
cab drivers know this isn't the case.
"The girls are just as bad as the
guys are," said 15-year Yellow Cab
veteran Alex Persu.
He said that while groups of

men he drives speak frankly about
their opinions of potential "dance-
partners," the groups of bar-bound
women often divulge even more
intimate details.
And while the single guys may
have a lot to say about how the night
will end up oi the way there, Persu
said the cab conversations are much
different on the way back.
"The girl dictates everythingthat
goes on once they get in the cab," he
said. "It's all 'Yes honey. Yes baby.
Where do you wanna go? Sure, no
problem.' It's definitely a woman's
world after 2 a.m."
Although the TV show "Taxi
Cab Confessions" may suggest oth-
erwise, but Persu said the couples
keep it tame - for the mostpart.
"There's been some couples that
have gotten to second and third
base," he said. "But they usually get
out before they go all the way."
DAZED AND CONFUSED
Although he's seen plenty of wild
things inhis cab,Persusayshe's never
kicked a passenger out or refused
to someone ride. That's impressive

because, judlging from the number
of people Persu says can handle their
alcohol, itseems like it would be wise
to start screening customers.
Persu said a passenger in his cab
vomits about once a shift, and he's
the one who has to clean it up.
"It really ruins your night," he
said.
Johnson said the worst for him
are Football Saturdays.
"That's when I think, some of
these folks ain't gonna make it," he
said.
After a point, the rowdy routine
ceases to be amusing.
"If I had a snapshot of the idiots
that get in here, it would be that
they're drunk and they need help,"
Linda said. "But do Iuse that in con-
versation and treat them badly? No.
But they do that to me."
BAD BACKSEAT BEHAVIOR
Linda says she has no problem
kickingstudents out of her cab.
At the Sept. 22 Penn State game,
she picked up some students who
started insulting her, calling her a
stupid bitch. So she turned the cab

around. The passengers asked her
if she knew she was going back to
where they started.
"I'm taking you back to where I
picked you up," she recalled saying
"You're not gettingthis ride. Sorry."
While drivers like Alex are fine
with being a fly on the wall, there's a
limit to what Linda will tolerate.
"I've kicked out people who were
talking about other people usingthe
N-word andstuff," she said. She said
people are entitled to their opinions,
but sometimes they forget they're
not alone inthe car.
She has also been solicited for sex
while driving. There's a big differ-
ence, Linda said, between the expe-
rience of male and female drivers.
"They don't get asked how much
for a little sugar at the end of the
ride," she said.
Linda says she has degrees in two
different fields from EasternMichi-
gan University and Arizona State
University in Temple, Ariz., but
because she's driving a cab, she said
she encounters endless stereotypes.
"For example, people think I'm
See TAXI, Page 4C

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