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October 17, 2008 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-17

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4 - Friday, October 17, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

The real winner last night
was Joe the Plumber."
- John McCain, commenting on the repeated references during Thursday's presidential debate to an Ohio man,
Joe Wurzelbacher, who aspires to own a plumbing business, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Civil rights vows
Michigan must reverse discriminatory gay marriage ban
Many young Americans don't realize that until recently,
two people of different races couldn't legally marry.
Starting in 1948, interracial couples could marry only in
California, and interracial marriage remained illegal in some states
until the 1967 Supreme Court ruling Loving v. Virginia. While inter-
racial marriage has become an accepted fact of life since then, gay
couples are still relegated to the same sort of archaic inferior status.
That has been changing because of state courts, with Connecticut
recently becoming the third to have its high court grant gay and les-
bian couples the right to marry. Michigan should be next.



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Our academic bailout


The Connecticut Supreme Court's bitter-
ly split 4-3 decision Friday puts the state in a
class with only Massachusetts and Califor-
nia. Unlike California and Massachusetts,
though, Connecticut's high court went a
step further, stating that allowing same-sex
civil unions but not same-sex marriage vio-
lates the state constitution's equal protec-
tion clause. As an inadequate appeasement,
civil unions have grown in popularity, with
Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey
now allowing them.
Whether they allow same-sex civil
unions or marriage, these states have one
thing in common: a history of progressiv-
ism. Though Michigan has traditionally
been a blue state on the electoral map, it is
far behind on this issue. While Massachu-
setts officially legalized gay marriage in
2004, the state of Michigan banned same-
sex marriage the same year, after 59 percent
of voters passed a constitutional amend-
ment with the change. Since that time,
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has
interpreted the amendment to mean that
same-sex partners of state employees can't
receive benefits either - an interpretation
Michigan's Supreme Court foolishly upheld
this summer.
On the most fundamental level, what has
transpired in Michigan has been wrong.
First, voters fell for social conservatiyes'
fearmongering about the gay marriage's
supposed threat to the American family.
Then, Cox took the law into his own hands
and broadly expanded the amendment's

scope. And finally, the Supreme Court,
dominated by four judges with a conserva-
tive social agenda, failed to call Cox out on
his abuse. What is left is a state that's largely
unwelcoming to gay couples.
The effects have been seen here at the
University, too. The University, as a state
institution, was forced to comply with Cox's
interpretation of the decision. Until then,
the University had a cogent system of pro-
viding benefits to the domestic partners of
gay employees. But the University, given its
progressive history and dedication to basic
rights, was not about to let a myopic, unjust
law get in the way of what's right. As a result,
it expanded its "other qualified adults" ben-
efits program to include people who meet
several very specific criteria - a roundabout
way of providing benefits to gay couples.
The new protocols work as part of a fair-
er system, but they require people to jump
through unnecessaryhoops. If gay marriage
were legal, the University and other Michi-
gan employers would not have to spend so
much energy trying to get past the red tape.
Our society is seeing a movement toward
greater rights for gay citizens. It's almost
inevitable that in a few decades, banning
gay marriage will seem as silly to future
generations as banning interracial marriage
seems to Americans today. So will Michi-
gan be remembered as part of a 21st century
Confederacy that stubbornly continued to
violate basic civil rights? Or will the state
go down in history as a locus of forward-
thinking tolerance?

For the past 48 hours, I've been
chugging Rockstar energy
drinks and triple-shot lattes
while slaving away
at pages and pages of
readings, essays and
study guides. The
last time I saw my
twin-sized mattress
before 3 a.m. was
in August. The only
thing that prevent-
ed me from drop-S
ping out of school HAKIRA
two weeks ago was SMILER
hope - hope that -
a letter from Uni-.
versity Health Service and a virulent
cough would get me an extension on
my term paper; hope that my grandma
would keep her promise to buy me a
diamond tennis bracelet if I gradu-
ated from college; and hope that after
fall study break, my batteries would be
recharged and I would return to class-
es rejuvenated, refreshed and reener-
I'd like to think of fall study break
as the University's own little academic
bailout. If all the students on campus
failed their classes because of anxiety
and stress, the University's empire
would crumble. So, with the interven-
tion of a two-day break, the University
stays billions of dollars richer, and we
students are given two extra days to
get our shit together.
Behind every bailout, though, there
tendstobe abadeconomicdecisionand
a failure to plan on both the executive
and the clients' part. I can't help but
wonder if we're abusing our resources
and making a poor investment.
Being a student is an overwhelm-
ing challenge. In between studying for
classes, going to meetings and office
hours, doing community service and

waiting in line for 30 minutes just to
get an undercooked piece of beef from
the dining hall, students don't get a
chance to take a moment for them-
selves. The demanding pressures of
being a well-rounded student leave
most of us in a total state of exhaus-
tion by the end of September.
Like the millions of homeowners led
astray by greedy bankers and manipu-
lative lenders, students are vulnerable
to pushy advisors who persuade them
to take 18 credits and intimidatingstu-
dent organizations that overload your
Inbox with dozens of tempting oppor-
tunities. Signing up for every table at
Festifall that gives away a free T-shirt
is like going to the mall and applying
for a credit card at every store. You
probably won't ever get turned away,
but the freebie might cost you the loss
of every extra dollar (or in this case,
minute) you have.
The same applies to course load.
Students who register for a full load
of classes knowing they struggled to
pass the three courses they took last
semester just because it "looks better"
are asking for a foreclosure on their
enrollment status. There are only so
many "W"s, "I"s, "P/F's and "C-"s you
can get on your transcript before red
flags start going up and your academic
credit score drops significantly.
I've noticed that a lot of students
overextend 1;hemselves to impress
their friends and family. Students'
competitiveness is disturbing, and
each day they go head to head with
other students to see who can get the
highest grades, build the best resume
and ingratiate themselves with the
most professors. While a little friendly
competition is good for keeping you
on your toes, trying to keep up with
the Joneses is an emotional meltdown
waitingto happen.

Like many Americans and govern-
ment officials who feared Wall Street
executives would abuse the Emer-
gency Economic Stabilization Act of
2008, some University officials and
alumni worry that students won't
use their time off wisely. During the
homecoming weekend, I heard several
alumni express how foolish and unnec-
essary they thought fall study break is.
According to them, students are out of
the classroom too much as it is. They
argue that the study break will only
give students two more days to party.
I can only pray that those heartless
people aren't interested in a career in
Fall break
couldn't have
come sooner.
While it's true that American stu-
dents are in class a lot less than our
international counterparts, it is also
true that most learning is done out-
side of the classroom. Besides, a neu-
rotic student who is spaced out in the
middle of class will hardly be as effec-
tive as student who is alert, happy and
I, for one, am happy that the Uni-
versity decided to provide its students
with a much-needed mid-semester
academic bailout. Who knows, maybe
the University will decide to give us
a stimulus check for our grade point
average inDecember.




More than fair-weather fans

Shakira Smiler can be reached
at stsmiler@umich.edu. 4{

"Ryan Mallett." Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.
"Ryan Mallett." Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. Last
year's cheers in the Big House's student section
stillringinmy ears. Iremember the mantrabeing
shouted every time Michigan quarterback Chad
Henne didn't perform as well as the Michigan
football dynasty demands.
Fortunately, last year, despite two notably
monstrous losses, the Michigan football team
managed to pull off a decent season with an
objectively impressive record of 9 wins and 4
losses. This year, already witness to four losses,
Michigan fans aren't yelling discouraging cheers
at their team - a step up from last year's behav-
ior, I thought.
But if you're sitting in the student section dur-
ing a game, you can't help but hear all of the snide,
rude comments quietly directed at the football
team. No one is rallying fans, saying, "Maybe we
can still win." And no one is still hoping for vic-
tory or trusting the team. If football players need
encouragement or support, they need to look to
each other for it, because up in the stands, the.
students just stand there and silently stare.
The stands aren't the only place where students
are falling quiet. If you visit any other college
campus, more often than not you'll find people
who think that Michigan students are arrogant.
Honestly, I don't mind that. students at other
schools think that. I kind of like that people who
attend the University are slightly bigheaded - I
call it Michigan Pride. But lately as I walk around
campus, I haven't been feeling the inflated-ego
vibe. Students are dejected, and I can only guess

that most of this disappointment is a result of the
poor state of Michigan football.
I share the frustration of my fellow classmates;
so far this year, Michigan football has been a
letdown. However, while I'm humbled by our
losses, I still have hope for the rest of the season
- perhaps winning a Big Ten title. I am tired of
listening to students adamantly stating, "I could
have made that pass." Head coach Rich Rodri-
guez had walk-on tryouts at the beginning of
the year. I suggest that people who feel that they
can play better than the current players try out
for the team next year. But until then, please stop
insisting that you are more talented than Steven
Threet or Nick Sheridan, because, let's be honest,
it's doubtful that you are.
University students aren't only arrogant; they
are seemingly fair-weather fans. This is one
reputation that makes me not want to wear my
Michigan apparel outside of Ann Arbor. True
fans support their team through thick and thin,
regardless of their winning or losing record. It's
not OK to wear your Los Angeles Dodgers hat to
football games just because it's blue. Throw on a
Michigan shirt and show some support.
Look at your ticket, the shirts of the students
around you and the scoreboard - this is Michi-
gan football. We have the best winning record in
college football history. We have gone to a bowl
game each of the last 33 years. We are the Victors.
So, even if you can't cheer because of the team's
performance, applaud its effort.
Elise Baun is an LSA senior.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee,
Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Matthew Shutler, Robert Soave, Eileen Stahl, Jennifer Sussex,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Margaret Young

Backing the Taliban would be
slap in the face to Sept. 11 victims
In his column Thursday, Ibrahim Kakwan supported
Defense Secretary Robert Gates's recent decision to open
talks with the Taliban's leadership in Afghanistan (Talk-
ing with the Taliban, 10/17/2008). While I agree that this is
the correct step, Kakwan's assertion that the United States
should back a revival of the Taliban was misguided.
To support his point that the Taliban might be a better
option, Kakwan noted that Hamid Karzai's government
would fail without U.S. financial and military support. This
is true, but how do you think the Taliban, which in 1990 was
a small group of Islamic seminary students from northern
Pakistan, came to control 90 percent of Afghanistan by
2000? Pakistan's government heavily backed the group. To
imply that the Taliban would be able to maintain the slight
stability it once had without heavy backing from another
country is simply wrong.
Kakwan also argued that the Taliban wasn't corrupt or
involved in the drug trade. Maybe the Taliban leadership
wasn't, but Osama bin Laden, who was closely tied to Tali-
ban leadership, certainly reaped profit from Afghanistan's
poppy production. And the Taliban wasn't as'nice as Kak-
wan implied. The group degraded women, banned music
and movies and ruled in an oppressive, puritanical way.
Almost all Muslims throughout the world reject the Tali-
ban's extreme form of Islam.
The United States may have made some mistakes in
Afghanistan. But supporting a revival of the Taliban, which
harbored the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks
and ran an oppressive, puritanical and unpopular form of
Islam, would not only be a much larger mistake; it would be
an insult to all the soldiers who gave their lives to depose
the group and capture the men responsible for murdering
thousands of innocent Americans on Sept. 11.
Adam Deutsch
LSA sophomore
During fall break, plan ahead
for absentee ballots, election
Attention in-state students who will be first time vot-

ers this Election Day: The best way you can spend your fall
break is making sure your vote gets counted.
Many in-state students who are registered to vote at their
home address plan on voting absentee. But for first-time vot-
ers, that's not so easy to do. In Michigan, first-time voters
have to "show themselves" at some point before voting. That
means that if you're a first-time voter who didn't register to
vote in person, you can't request an absentee ballot by mail.
If you're a first-time Michigan voter registered to vote at
your home address, and if you registered to vote through
a registration drive or by mail (rather than by going to the
Secretary of State's office or county clerk's office in person),
you must either request your absentee ballot in person or go
home to vote on Election Day.
Many students' plans to go home on Election Day don't
work out. If you are a first-time Michigan voter registered
at home who didn't register to vote in person, you can use
your fall break to save yourself a trip home on Election Day.
We suggest visiting your county clerk's office and filling out
an absentee ballot.You can also take an absentee ballot with
you. Just remember that your ballot will not be counted
unless your signature is on the return envelope and matches
your signature on file.
For more information on voting law and voter rights,
check out the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan's
student voting website: www.aclumich.org/studentvoting.
Michigan laws aren't always friendly to student voters, so
don't let your Election Day be spoiled by the realization that
you can't vote as you had planned.
Jack Temple and Renagh O'Leary
The letter writers are board members of the University's
undergraduate chapter ofthe ACLU.
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the
editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and
must include the writer's full name and University
affiliation. All submissions become property of the
Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.



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