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January 21, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-21

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4A - Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The 7 Jid4ian &i3 J
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All othersigned articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
FROM T E DAILY
Keeping a promise
Reducing college funding is a bad choice for state legislature
After a few months of breathing room, it looks like the Uni-
versity's funding is back on the state legislature's chop-
ping block. With deficits anticipated in Lansing, the state
legislature has started looking for costs to cut, and funding for the
University is a serious target. In such difficult economic times,
spending cuts will be necessary to balance the state's budget, but
these cuts shouldn't be aimed at education. Reducing funding to
public universities will devastate many students' ability to pay for
college, and by doing so, negatively impact Michigan's economy.
To invest in the state's future, the legislature needs to maintain its
current levels of funding for higher education in the form of schol-
arships and direct funding.

)pinion

4

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up,
dust ourselves off, and begin again the
work of remaking America."
- Barack Obama, the 44th President of the
United States, in his inaugural address in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
ELAINE MORTON | NATURE CALLS E-MAIL ELAINE AT EMORT@UMICH.EDU
h-lW lortj dliwe l~a yu tn' aready be
war + eSe 'ghiue e Coplani3 about
wasing letici {L3 h on!ev k1a iyofl O'.
~Chrohdtm 5 dor..- 1 9 Ol .AuAr
0--
Furries have feelings, too
A s students at a progressive fetishes. As long as you're not hurting self-esteem from being ostracized
University, most of us take anybody, it doesn't matter whether you for years. Their forums are filled
pride in our so-called toler- masturbatetopornoreroticdepictions with topics such as "What's wrong
ance. We're happy of refrigerators. That's tolerance. with me?" and "Serious Depression -
to tell you that we But red flags start going up when Life-threatening." The Otherkin FAQ
respectyou no mat- one realizes the phenomenon isn't has a section describing the longing
ter what your sexu- isolated. There's been surprisingly to return to a special "home" where
al orientation, race little research done on the furry pop- they feel accepted. It's been reported
or religious beliefs ulation, but I estimate there might be that suicide is disturbingly common
may be. Yet many upwards of 100,000. On the popular in the "dragon community."
of us still shun art website deviantart.com, for exam-
"that weird kid" ple, 85,776 results come up for "furry,"
- you know, the EILEEN and that's only when restricting it to
socially awkward the special anthropomorphic section.
person that's hov- STAHL A "furry convention" in Pittsburgh R
ered around since boasted over 3,000 attendees, and w ho identify more
middle school. It only the most committed furries go .
may not seem like much at the time, to conventions. w ith anim als.
but enough shunning can push some- It's because of the Internet that
one over the psychological edge. groups like this can form. People have
Given the lovely, intelligent and a desire for comfort, and online, it's These groups are coming onto the
overwhelmingly modest social but- easy to find people who can relate tq media radar and are usually a sub-
terfly I am now, it may surprise you to your experiences and tell you you're ject of ridicule, but I think we should
learn that I was once "that kid." Never okay. The problem is, that sometimes have more compassion. These people
knowing when to keep my trap shut, you're not, and people who have been need someone to talk to. They don't
I elected to do most of my socializing hurt enough can come to believe just be ome asuuned because ey're
on the Internet. It was there that I ran about anything. furries, but become furries because
into a number of bizarre groups who For example, furries who call they're shunned. These are people
had made the same decision. Many of themselves "Otherkin" take it a step who have given up on ever fitting in
their members were adults, and the further and purport to be fantastical with humans and have joined a fanta-
majority were far worse off than me. creatures, claiming they've always sy reality online that only reinforces
One of the most prevalent of these felt "different" fromhumans. They're their isolation. While they claim this
groups is the furries. You may have reincarnations of faeries, unicorns, coping mechanism is keeping them
heard of them - these are the people elves, and especially dragons. To "more sane," in the end it prevents
who identify as animals more than their credit, Otherkin are aware that true healing. The only way to recover
humans- think Disney's Robin Hood what they believe in might be hard from low self-esteem - like I did - is
or Sonic the Hedgehog - and cre- for others to swallow. Their response to come to love yourself and every-
ate vast online communities. They is that as long as you can behave as thing that comes with it.
create anthropomorphic characters a functional member of society, it Enough ostracizing can cause the
known as "fursonas" to represent doesn't matter whether you consider lifetime psychological damage you
themselves, which they draw pic- yourself a human or a creature from see in 40-year-old guys who believe
tures of, write fiction about, and role another planet. they're something called "star drag-
play. Most of this stuff is so heavily Again: I agreebut in reality,Other- ons." So while you don't have to be
sexualized it stops being creepy and kin are overwhelmingly not function- best buddies with the weird kid,
becomes hilarious. al. I'll be the first to admit that they're please show him or her some respect
Oddly enough, though, that part usually kind and intelligent people. - lest you unleash their inner beast.
doesn't bother me much. Sure, being However, they're psychologically
turned on by Chip and Dale is a little unhealthy; the majority are socially Eileen Stahl can be reached
weird, but alot of people have strange awkward and have cripplingly low at efstahl@umich.edu.

4

4

4

Michigan's Legislative Commission
on Government Efficiency - a taskforce
charged with finding ways to save the state
money - recently commissioned an educa-
tion study group to find costs for the state to
cut. Last week, the group released a report
outlining its recommendations. One such
recommendation was to eliminate the Mich-
igan Promise Grant Program, a major source
of the University's scholarship aid. Another
idea was an across-the-board.cut 7.1 percent
in funding to state colleges and universities.
The group also suggested some even less via-
ble options, like privatizing the University of
Michigan, which would actually require an
amendment to the state constitution.
These ideas range from disastrous to
absurd. And none of them take into account
the place higher education has in Michi-
gan's transforming economy. Canceling the
Michigan Promise Grant Program, which
accounts for 40 percent of all scholarship aid
to students at the University of Michigan,
would hamper the post-secondary educa-
tions of many students. As tuition continues
to increase each year and loan-based aid
becomes increasingly scarce, scholarships
are necessary to make college more acces-
sible and affordable. Though the abolition of
the program would mean short-term savings
for the state, countless students won't be able
to geta college degree without the assistance
of the scholarship program.
The proposed 7.1 percent cut in funding
to public universities is equally grim. The

University has had to raise tuition the past
few years even as state funding increased.
A decrease in funding would result in an
even higher tuition hike to offset the mas-
sive amount of lost revenue. The high cost
of tuition is already making college an
impossible dream for some students - even
higher costs would deter potential college
applicants from even applying to the Uni-
versity and stop many who were accepted
from attending.
But decreasing funding to higher educa-
tion affects more than just students who
depend upon scholarships and reasonable
tuition. As the state's economy reduces its
emphasis on heavy manufacturing, it will
need workers with new talents and skill sets.
Institutions of higher learning provide these
skills and are necessary for creating and con-
tinuing economic growth into the future.
To protect such an important component
for the state, lawmakers need to trim the
budgets of other discretionary items. There
are areas of the state budget than can bet-
ter absorb cuts - Michigan's dysfunctional,
costly corrections system is probably one of
those areas.
As money dries up in Lansing, it's true that
the state legislature will have to make tough
decisions on how to re-allocate precious dol-
lars. But devastating funding for education is
not an acceptable way to cut spending. This
state simply can't afford to stop investing in
public universities that will be responsible
for developing tomorrow's workforce.

4

4

4

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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. Letters are edited
for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

I

L ET' TER 1 T0T 1 -EDT1"S EN
Respecting others should
be way of life for students

ID LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
an event with you on campus, please email us at
expectrespect@umich.edu.
Amber Zarb
The letter-writer is a member of the Expect

JEREMY LEVYI VIEWPOINT

TO THE DALY: Respect Student S
It is no secret that Barack Obama's election
as the first African American president in U.S.
history has vast implications for us as individu- The Dail
als and as a society. For this reason, the Expect
Respect Student Steering Committee encour- remember
ages students to take some time to reflect on
their own personal beliefs while respecting
others. Reflecting on what is important to you TO THE DAILY:
in the present and in the future is a way to build Amy Munslow
energy for social change. ment inartificial b
But it is also important to remember that concise and infor
while we pause to celebrate this historic event, artificial bone ma
other events are going on around the world. type of article tha
The violence in the Middle East, the struggling the Daily. As the in
global economy, and the troubling housing and keep pace with ex
unemployment rates in the U.S. are just a few ic knowledge, it b
examples. It is our hope that the University to report on new
community will be respectful of each other's vigor and a critica
political viewpoints and feelings regarding the Despite their i
start of the new presidential term. events occurs wit
It is our individual responsibility to be aware print. There's note
of our own role in promoting a positive and safe articles on the Da
campus climate. If you feel that you have been concerned with .
a target of hate or bias, please know that there and sexual orien
are confidential resources available to you on in the make-up o
campus. Go to http://www.urespect.umich. written. But the t
edu/ and view the "reporting section" of hate/ reflect the Univer
bias incidents. ceptable to leavec
If you are interested in joining the
Expect Respect Student Steering Com- Arikia Millikan
mittee or would like us to collaborate Alum

teering Committee.
's articles should
the 'S'in LSA
's article on a recent develop-
bone marrow research was both
mative ('U' prof helps develop
rrow, 01/16/2009). It was the
t I would like to see more of in
habitants of the world strive to
ponentially advancing scientif-
ecomes increasingly important
developments in science with
1 eye.
mportance, coverage of these
th a relatively low frequency in
even a way to search for science
ily's website. The Daily seems
making sure all races, genders
tations are represented both
of the staff and in the stories
opics the Daily covers should
sity as a whole, and it is unac-
out the science community.

Making sense of Gaza

I

As an American Jew, I have been taught for my entire
life to support Israel in every situation without question.
My old Hebrew school teachers would probably say that
they taught students to be critical of both the Palestin-
ian and Israeli regimes, but I don't think it's a coincidence
that those teachers rarely, if ever, presented any of Israel's
decisions as wrong. I have spent nineteen years surround-
ed by pro-Israeli messages and images. I remain proud of
Israel, but only recently have I come to terms with how
limited my perspective has been. It is my hope that others
who have grown up in pro-Israel or pro-Palestine house-
holds can realize the same thing.
Due to the recent surge of violence in Gaza, campus
organizations like the pro-Israel Initiating Dialogue,
Education, and Advocacy and the pro-Palestine Stu-
dents Allied for Freedom and Equality have held rallies
and organized other events to raise awareness on cam-
pus regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Frustrat-
ingly, both sides promote rigid, one-sided views of the
issue, which leads to an even greater gap between the two
groups when they should be reaching for mutual under-
standing.
The fact that there has been violence ever since Israel
was created serves as evidence that no one - Israeli, Pal-
estinian, or otherwise - has yet grasped the full complex-
ity of the issue. And although Israel decided to end their
campaign on Sunday, I guarantee that this past month's
violence in Gaza will not be the final skirmish. As long as
each side expects the other to accept full responsibility,
peace in Gaza will not be possible.
Propaganda on either side of the argument is preva-
lent both on and off campus. Lately, the catchphrase that
seems to have attracted the most attention is "innocent
civilians." Depending on which side they support, Face-
book users can donate their statuses to either display how
many Palestinian civilians have been killed or how many
rockets have been launched at Israelis in the recent Gaza
skirmish. Pro-Palestinian students have set up vivid dis-
plays of wounded Palestinians to attract support. In the
e-mail I received about the Israel rally, the sender used
"innocent civilians" twice in the first sentence. These
images and slogans provide sad reminders of the number

of victims in this war. But, more importantly, they are
also ploys intended to convince spectators of the oppos-
ing side's cruelty. Appeals made about innocent civilians
are frequently one-sided and avoid the harsh truth that
both Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces kill innocent
civilians.
In promoting their interests, pro-Israeli and pro-Pales-
tinian organizations frequently deny their own role in the
conflict and place complete responsibility on the other side.
SAFE's recent viewpoint in the Daily (An appeal for human
rights, 01/15/2009) states, "Any ceasefire is destined for
failure as long as Israel and the international community
refuse to examine the core of the conflict." Similarly, the
Israeli government's assurance that it is taking every pre-
caution it can to protect Palestinian civilians does not seem
to be convincing the rest of the world. Every student who is
concerned about the situation in Gaza needs to understand
that attempts to place blame on one side and not the other
are oversimplifications.
All those who are hoping for a solution to this conflict
need to learn as much as they can about both the Palestin-
ian and Israeli viewpoint. As astarting ground, pro-Israel
students need to understand that supporting Palestine
is not synonymous with supporting Hamas, and that
although the Israeli government says it's doing all that
it can to prevent the deaths of Palestinian civilians, this
statement may not be viewed as adequate justification for 4
the large civilian death toll. Similarly, pro-Palestinian
students need to understand that Israelhas good reason to
believe that self-defense is necessary in Gaza, that nego-
tiating with an organization such as Hamas is extremely
difficult and that Israel has a right to exist because this
world needs a Jewish state.
I may not be an expert, but I do know that those who
are concerned need to educate themselves and engage
in a respectful dialogue. Students need to be critical of
the information they receive. On a campus with a diverse
population of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine students, I
think the most important thing any of us can do is talk
to each other.
Jeremy Levy is an LSA freshman.

The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed writers with
an interest in campus issues to become editorial board members.
E-MAIL ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU
FOR MORE INFORMATION.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emma Jeszke,
Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Matthew Shutler,
Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

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