4A - Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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 ofttheir authors.
Regstration frustrati n
Voting in Michigan is a mess, but students must navigate it
A nother pivotal presidential election is approaching, and
the future of our country remains uncertain. With the
race tightening between Barack Obama and John McCa-
in, every vote counts. Unfortunately, Michigan's restrictive vot-
ing laws continue to complicate the voter registration process,
discouraging student participation and increasing voter apathy.
Rather than complicate an already intimidating system, the state
should simplify voter registration. But until the system changes,
it's up to students to navigate the tangled process.
Your honor, we now have the
- Florida public defender Carol Bickerstaff, urging a circuit judge to strike down a
Riviera Beach, Fla., law banning sagging pants, as reported yesterday by MSNBC.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI T Te PAT R E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
Did YOU know that Sah Did YOU know that Sarah Yo(sLibs say the darndest
Palin tried to ban Harry Palin once sh sat wolves things when you re
Potter boks from an from a helicopter with an completely terrified
Alaskan public library? automatic rifle?
Beging the conversation
There are two main voting obstacles for
students in Michigan: Rogers's Law and
the state's voter identification requirement.
Rogers's Law, which was a not-so-veiled
attempt in 1999 by then-state Sen. Mike
Rogers to disenfranchise students; requires
that the address on your driver's license
match the address on your voter regis-
tration card. Similarly, Michigan's voter
identification law requires that you show a
photo ID before you vote or sign an affida-
vit swearing you are who you say you are.
While these two laws may seem unnec-
essarily complicated (because they are),
they shouldn't stop students from voting.
There are simple solutions. If you want to
vote in Ann Arbor instead of your home
district, register to vote using your local
address and make sure to officially change
your permanent address with the Sec-
retary of State. In order to change your
address you need to go to the Secretary of
State's office to do it in person or down-
load the form from http://www.michigan.
send it in by mail. In either case, you will
receive a sticker to put on the back of your
If all else fails, you can vote wherever
you are registered if you sign an affida-
vit before you vote - whether or not your
driver's license matches your voter regis-
tration card. Keep that in mind.
Beyond those big issues, there are a few
more things that will help you make voting
easier. Plan ahead. When registering, come'
prepared with avalid form of identification,
including a driver's license, paycheck stub
or bank statement with your name and cur-
rent address on it. Don't assume that you're
registered just because you signed up with
a canvasser on the Diag. Sometimes these
people make errors or don't file the appro-
priate paperwork. To check if you're actu-
ally registered, visit www.michigan.gov/
vote. Keep in mind that it takes up to 30
days to record any recent changes to your
record. Anyone not registered by Monday,
Oct. 6 will not be able to vote in Michigan,
so don't wait until the last minute. Every
Unfortunately, this conversation needs
to be revisited every election year because
voting in Michigan is the opposite of what
it should be: simple. Our state legislature
has defaulted on its obligation to make
it easy, too. Implementing measures like
same-day registration helps simplify vot-
ing and increase voter turnout. Even bet-
ter, in Oregon, for example, all ballots are
mailed to registered voters and then either
submitted in a designated "drop box" or
mailed back to election officials. These
changes make it easier to vote and help
increase voter turnout.
These things aren't likely to change
anytime soon, though - at least not until
after November. Until then, students will
have to navigate Michigan's unnecessarily
complicated system. Whether you support
Barack Obama, John McCain or the ballot
initiative to legalize marijuana, you should
make sure to register and vote. Visit www.
michigan.gov/vote for more information.
[ ere at the University there
are two popular contact
sports. The first is evident
in the residential
with vehicles on
Saturdays and the
ing pupil into a pig-
skin enthusiast in
maize face paint.
The second, ROSE
audible, is less visi- AFRIYIE
ble. It occurs in the-
wee hours of theS
morning and dur- Speaking with
ing the day, in pairs Tongues
and in solitude. It
can be as thrilling as a touchdown,
as disappointing as a turnover and no
uniforms are required.
Much more than a sport, sex - as
novelist Fannie Hurst contends - "is
a discovery." But unfortunately in the
United States, thelessonswe learnare
fraught with ambivalence: desire and
disgust; openness and shame; knowl-
edge and misinformation; silence and.
discourse. Thus, this biweekly com-
mentary hopes to facilitate a campus
dialogue on the anxious yet ubiqui-
tous topic of sexuality.
I know what you're thinking.
I am, after all, just another mem-
ber of the erotic species with a per-
spective. My convictions, though,
have been shaped by my experience
as a sex columnist as an undergradu-
ate at the University of Pittsburgh. I
also studied sexuality on the gradu-
ate school level with Carol Vance, and
I have a hearty academic commit-
ment as a first-year graduate student
in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public
Policy to improve sexual policy in the
All that policy talk leads me to
today's discussion piece: sex and the
2008 presidential elections. Of par-
ticular interest is how sensitive the
national psyche is to issues of sexu-
ality and what the costs are of sensi-
tivities being exploited for political
Perhaps the'most palpable site of
sensitivity oflate is the issue ofsex edu-
cation. In recent weeks, John McCain's
cies have been criticized in the wake
of his vice presidential running mate's
teenage daughter's pregnancy:
In an attempt to deflect that atten-
tion, McCain deployed an attack ad
against Barack Obama last week. The
30-second commercial provides no
information about McCain's stance
on sexually transmitted diseases,
which the Centers for Disease Con-
trol and Prevention currently refer to
as a "major public health challenge."
However, it falsely asserted that
Obama's support for a bill that would
teach kindergarteners strategies to
combat unwanted touching from sex-
ual predators was instead a proposal
that promoted "learning about sex
before learning to read."
To truly understand the impact of
these words, one must know that sex
education policy has been an issue of
serious contention for decades now.
The issue has not been so much about
whether to implement "age and devel-
opmentally appropriate sex educa-
tion" as the bill in question, which was
never enacted in the Illinois state leg-
islature, promoted. Instead, emotions
have flared on the subjects of when
children should be taught and what
should be included in the curriculum.
Parsing through the root of this
anxiety, American parents seem to
be caught in a conundrum. That is,
how does one teach about sexuality
without provoking the onslaught of
questions from their offspring about
the circumstances under which they
were conceived and sexual behav-
ior that predated their conception?
Adulthood or procreation does not
absolve us from answering the inter-
nal questions that remain, the residue
of ambivalence. Many parents have
not fully reconciled teaching chil-
dren about sex with their personal
But there are costs when emotional
reservations and public policy inter-
sect. As the smoke and mirrors of a
shattering economy shelter us, few
have noted that the CDC's 2006 STD
Surveillance Data reported, "Direct
medical costs associated with STDs
in the United States are estimated at
up to $14.7 billion annually."
It's shocking to learn in the same
report that college-aged students
were beat out by our female siblings
ages 15 to 19 for the highest Chlamyd-
Obama proposes a comprehensive
break sexual silence.
sex education platform that includes
abstinence, contraception and sexu-
ally transmitted infection prevention
methods, along with a general senti-
ment that parents give moral guid-
ance to their youth. Undoubtedly,
there are deep-seated political ide-
ologies on many sides of the debate.
Still, the consequences of STIs are
incontrovertible and can be fought
with a bipartisan front.
As constituents, this is not the
year to let our sexual angst continue
the tradition of perennially unasked
questions on sexuality. Instead,
McCain must address these sexual
health concerns with a comparable
Rose Afriyie is the Daily's sex and
relationship's columnist. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Harun Buljina, Emmarie Huetteman, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed
The Daily is looking for smart people with an interest in campus issues
and excellent writing skills to be members of its editorial board.
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IETES T T E EITR 'SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Democracy is overrated
Criticism of boy band show
is tearin' up hearts
TO THE DAILY
As two Michigan Marching Band rank lead-
ers, we were very upset to read the not-so-rave
review of our performance at Notre Dame in
a letter to the editor Tuesday (Marching band
should say 'Bye, bye, bye' to boy band tribute,
Not only did we put two full weeks of prac-
tice into perfecting a show, but also, we were
proud to perform it. For many of the current
students at both the University of Michigan and
the University of Notre Dame, boy band music
is our era of music. It was so amazingly cheesy
and sappy that we had to love it.
When we performed in the Big House, many
students were singing and dancing along;
we received an overwhelmingly great crowd
response, and even after the game, students
told us how much they liked the show. My
88-year old grandfather loved it too, and he was
also a University alum. Unlike the letter writer,
he didn't feel embarrassed.
In our opinion, associating the band with the
football team's performance, as the letter writ-
er did, is ridiculous. When the team came back
out after halftime, who kept cheering no mat-
ter what? The band. It is our job, and we love
it. And we love the boys in blue, win or lose. We
sat through that pouring rain, in sopping wet
uniforms, and didn't let it break our spirits. To
say that we are an embarrassment is an insult.
Also, we heard people singing along with us,
and after the performance, several Notre Dame
fans approached us to tell us how much they
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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enjoyed the show. As a previous member of the
marching band, the letter writer should know
how much time and effort is put in to perfect-
ing every show. We will continue to be proud
of being members in the Michigan March-
ing Band, and we will continue to support the
Maize and Blue.
Kelsy Wilson and Cathi Castellana
The letter writers are Michigan Marching Band
Rush for real friendship,
not justfor the reputation
TO THE DAILY:
In response to Monday's editorial about fall
rush (Feeling less rushed, 09/15/2008), I agree
that fall rush should be pushed to later in the
winter term. Later rush permits freshmen to
get settled in their new surroundings and per-
haps develop some friendships on their own.
However, this change isn't possible at the
moment, so let me give some hard-knock
advice that freshmen should keep in mind: Be
the person you want to be, not what the frater-
nity or sorority expects you to be. Don't join
or rush a house just because of its reputation.
Choose the one that suits your own personal-
ity and values.
Ilearned these lessons when I was in a soror-
ity as an undergraduate at a different school.
The sisters or brothers at houses aren't stupid
- they know from your first impression what
kind of person you are and they decide wheth-
er you are a good fit for them or not. When I
visited one house that was notorious for heavy
drinking and partying, the sisters knew right
off the bat that I wasn't into that type of social
scene. They didn't invite me back. My sorority
accepted me because it realized that I was a
more laid-back person looking for sisters with
interests beyond sorority life.
It is true that students' interests change a lot
over the course of four years. But their values
generally won't. So freshmen, rush the house
with members whose personalities and values
match yours. You do that, and your Greek life
will be rich with experiences and friendships.
any in the West place great
importance on democracy,
as if the ability to elect a
ly lends legitimacy
to a government
and makes it "for
the people." What
makes us think
that democracy is
the best form of
government, that it
should be exported IBRAHIM
and installed in any
nation unfortunate KAKWAN
enough to lack it? Is
this justified? Let's
take the recent example of Pakistan.
Last Tuesday, Pakistan inaugurat-
ed Asif Ali Zardari as president, a man
nicknamed "Mr. Ten Percent" in ref-
erence to his numerous prior corrup-
tion scandals. Zardari is also widower
to former Pakistani Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto, whose death made
headlines last December.
To begin with, I was relieved when
his wife (the first choice for president)
died. While the West despaired that
the self-styled "champion of Pakistani
democracy" hadbeen done away with,
I was happy. Bhutto had been "demo-
cratically elected" twice before, and
left behind a legacy of corruption both
times. During her time as prime min-
ister from 1993 to 1996, it is believed
that she and Zardari stole billions
of dollars from the country, eventu-
ally stashing the funds in numerous
Swiss accounts, purchasing mansions
and supporting a lavish, self-imposed
exile in Dubai.
Listening to the speeches she
delivered just before getting shot, I
could only wonder about who was her
intended audience. She spoke more
about democracy and opposition to
terrorism than the economy, or any
other domestic matter of concern to
impoverished Pakistanis. It was as if
her speeches were intended to garner
Western support, first and foremost.
After all, everyone abroad knows that
if you want American support, all you
have to do is claim to be against ter-
rorism (whatever that may be) and to
"support democracy." And it certainly
worked, until she was killed by one of
her own countrymen.
Her popularity outside of Paki-,t
stan made a mockery of democracy.
A woman who was little more than
a thiefwas able to gain the support
of the entire Western world simply
by repeating the "D" word. Ironi-
cally, after her death the Vatican - a
religious symbol of piety and charity
- delivered a statement expressing,
"Deep sympathy to the entire Paki-
stani nation." Apart from stealing
billions and getting a number of her
supporters killed by foolishly ignor-
ing the security warnings during her,
protests (for democracy), what did she
do to elicit such sympathy?
Regardless, her husband and part-
ner in crime, a man who spent eight
years in jail and stood accused of mur-
der, has become president.
So why did Pakistanis support
Bhutto so strongly, and why have
they transferred their support to
her corrupt husband? Well, for one
thing they are tired of Pervez Mush-
arraf, the military general who until
recently led the country and the
same man who dealt with the United
States in the aftermath of the Sept. 11
attacks. Although he was technically
a dictator (sacking the chief supreme
court justice may been a bad move),
I consider him to be one of the most
underappreciated leaders of the cen-
tury. He carefully steered Pakistan
through the competing interests of
both the United States and institu-
tionalized Pakistani Islamists, mak-
ing Pakistan an American ally in the
war against terrorism and at the same
time appeasing the very people the
war was being fought against.
What did this accomplish? It kept
the country from becoming a U.S.
target (like Afghanistan), and also
prevented civil war ina nation where
numerous ethnic groups, tribes,
clans and political parties co-exist
in a weapon-rich environment. And
although a dictator, Musharraf did it
all without succumbing to the temp-
tation of corruption.
But now Musharraf is gone, and the
civilian government is in. The people
wanted democracy, and now theyhave
it. On the same day that Zardari was
sworn in, the United States attacked
a school where a Taliban leader was
supposedly hiding. It was at least the
fourth U.S. attack on Pakistani soil in
less than a week. There have been two
more confirmed since.
In the past, Musharraf had main-
trading the occasional al-Qaeda opera-
tive for additional time and American
backing, but until the military protest-
ed last week, the new democratic gov-
ernment seemed to have no problem
allowing U.S. incursions.
Whatever your opinion of "fight-
ing terrorism" in that manner, such
incursions lead to resentment. That
strengthens local extremists.
So is democracy the best thing for
Pakistan? I would say no. The short
periods of civilian rule in Pakistan's
history have consistently empowered
corrupt politicians. This time their
inability to cooperate has led to a
lack of productivity. At such a critical
time, with a civil war against extrem-
ists raging in the western provinces
and an economy faltering, such inef-
fectiveness hurts the stability of the
Sure, Pakistan is now a democracy
and people are happy they voted -
but what does that really mean? Life
isn't going to get any better for the
majority of them, in fact it may just
Ibrahim Kakwan can be reached