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March 19, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-19

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4A - Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
"x Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
On-the-go blue
City proposal gives opportunity for better transportation
What has two wheels, four tires and chugs along a track?
The answer is Ann Arbor's proposed Transportation
Master Plan Update, which was approved Tuesday
night by the City Planning Commission. The plan features myriad
improvements to city transportation options that focus on conve-
nient, environmentally friendly alternatives to owning a car. Better
mass transit options are essential for maintaining the city's walk-
ability, protecting the environment and maintaining socioeconomic
diversity. City Council should uphold these ideals by swiftly passing
the Master Plan.

I'm sure if you went downtown and
polled ten people, nine would have no idea."
- Stacy Robertson, a business owner in Wilton, Conn., commenting on the fact that few people in
Wilton knew that AIG had an office there, as reported yesterday by the Los Angeles Times.
Abusing the system
n his column one week ago, my so affordability was a non-issue to us. care provider the federal government
fellow Daily columnist Mat- But free-of-charge care is what led my will use for veterans, and the system is
thew Green said healthcare is an family to abuse the emergency room frequently lauded for its excellent care
"inherent human and use it for headaches. Predictably, and ability to negotiate lower pre-
right' (A sick U.S. my family stopped this practice when scription drug prices for its patients.
healthcare sys- our insurance began to charge us for
tem, 03/09/09). I the emergency room.
thought his ]an- As I look at the national discussion
guage was intense, to provide affordable health care for The downside of
but nonetheless, all, I worry that the same abuse could
his opinion is not occur. If there is no disincentive from free health care
unique. The elec- going to the emergency room for rou-
tion of President tine care, then why not use it? It was in the U.S.
BarackO bama, PATRICK only afterthe emergencyroomwasn't
who promised to ZABAWA so affordable that my family stopped
provide afford- abusing it. Emergency rooms are
able health care already overcrowded, and some are But one of the reasons the system
access to all barely able to handle the patients that is so successful at negotiating lower
Americans, shows many Americans come in, so bringing in patients with drug prices is because it purchases
believe health care should be a right. non-life-threatening ailments will older drugs instead of newer ones. A
This belief is partially based on the only prevent fast treatment for those 2005 report by Columbia University
many horror stories told through- who more desperately need care. ' professor Frank Lichtenberg found
out the country about people unable Providing affordable health care thatheVHA administers older drugs
to cover their medical expenses or" for everyone allows everyone to then to its patients much more frequently
afford treatments even when they abuse their affordable health care. than the rest of the medical indus-
have health insurance. A 2005 Har- But it may also allow the healthcare try, which results in worse patient
vard University study of over 1,700 providers to abuse their patients. care. According to Lichtenberg, this
bankruptcies showed that medical Just last month, I went on an Alter- practice has resulted in a decrease
problems caused half of them, even native Spring Break trip to Baltimore, in average patient life expectancy
though three-quarters of those bank- Maryland. One of the sites at which of two months since 1997. The VHA,
rupt people had health insurance. I worked was Gallagher Services, a the only choice the veterans have for
I myself was always lucky to have home for the mentally handicapped. their healthcare, is abusingthem.
excellent health insurance. A visit to Gallagher Services is an aspect of As Green and others around the
the doctor only costs me five or ten Catholic Charities that started in the country begin to think of health care
dollars in copay charges, and I was 1980's because of the abuse the state- as a right, it's important to note that
free to visit the healthcare providers run institutions performed on their this right can be easily abused and
of my choice. When I was young, my patients. Because the patients were can cause abuse itself. In any health-
family's insurance completely cov- living in cells in the institutions, Gal- care system, both disincentives from
ered almost all medical expenses. lagher was designed to give the men- patient abuse and choice are essen-
This even included emergency room tally handicapped a home, education tial. For my own family, the way to
visits, so my family abused this privi- and meaningful work so that they prevent us from abusing the emer-
lege. Anything from acough to anear- could be respected as people instead gency room was simply to charge
ache resulted in a short drive to the of simply patients. us for its use. To prevent systems
emergency room where we received The mentally handicapped in from abusing their patients, patients
immediate treatment at a time of Maryland are lucky that an alterna- need the ability to choose their own
our choosing instead of making an tive to their state-run institutions healthcare provider so that they can
appointment and working around our opened. Others are not so lucky and move to another if their current pro-
family doctor's schedule. We did this are trapped within the system given to vider isn't providing - because in the
so often that to my young mind, a trip them. This is the case with the Veter- end, the system itself should not be a
to the doctor was synonymous with a ans Health Administration, the divi- patient's cause of death.
trip to the emergency room. sion of the federal government that is
My family's health insurance is dedicated to caring for the health of - Patrick Zabawa can be reached
provided by my parents' employers, military veterans. It is the sole health at pzabawa@umich.edu.
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 tohedaily@umich.edu.


The new 20-year update will be the first
serious revision to the city's transit infra-
structure since 1990. It aims to encourage
city development and create higher density
residential living through expansive pub-
lic transit overhauls. The plan proposes to
improve local highway interchanges, create
more bicycle lanes, build new train stations
and construct an Ann Arbor-Detroit rail line
that will eventually expand to incorporate
Dexter, Jackson and Chelsea in an effort to
reduce transportation congestion.
This new vision for transportation is
among many other programs being funded
through the Obama administration's Omni-
bus Appropriations Act. The $410 billion
provided by the act will delegate funding in
packages to local applicants for projects to
renovate and modernize areas vital to city
And developing better options for mass
transit is crucial to maintaining Ann Arbor's
walkability. There simply isn't enough avail-
able parking for every student to have a car
- and the spaces that are available should
be saved for commuters. Decreasing traffic
and allowing for easy transportation across
the city is important for all residents. Devel-
opments like bicycle lanes are great ways to
propose alternatives for getting around.
Better mass transit systems are also neces-
sary to combat the effects that urban sprawl

can have on socioeconomic diversity. A city
like Ann Arbor demands that those on the
fringes of the city have the same access to
downtown businesses and University insti-
tutions that other residents have. The plan
will also link Ann Arbor to other cities via
rail lines - a vital way to promote intercon-
nectedness between different cities.
Another example of city efforts to improve
transportation options is Zipcar. Although
relatively new to the rental car market, Zip-
car has become quite popular and useful
among .students and Ann Arbor residents
alike. By covering the cost of insurance, gas
and initial parking, Zipcar offers students
an alternative to bringing individual cars to
campus. It is this very expediency that the
DowntownDevelopmentAuthorityis hoping
to advance by supporting the company's pur-
chase of their latest cars. City Council should
recognize the great potential that ideas like
this have and support these efforts.
An Ann Arbor transportation overhaul
will work to counter the growing congestion
and pollution within the city, while effective-
ly creating a more sustainable infrastructure
for the future. Improving public transit and
pedestrian traffic ways, along with offering
more personalized options such as Zipcar,
is at the very core of a community already
invested in green technology and sustain-
able living.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Jeremy Levy, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
The Provost's panel

Violent gender roles

If we hope to maintain the quality of our edu-
cation and the quality of student life the Univer-
sity of Michigan is going to have to make cuts
in its budget. As students, we are keenly aware
of the effects of the current economic situation
on our personal lives. Many of us are aware of
our expenses, some of us are struggling to find
jobs or internships and others are being forced
to make some difficult financial decisions with
our families right now. Our college experience
and the University are also not immune to the
economic downturn and its ramifications.
In response to the economic situation, Pro-
vost Teresa Sullivan formed a small ad hoc
group, called the Prudence Panel. The purpose
of this group is to identify cost-cutting opportu-
nities in the academic operations of the Univer-
sity. With the state budget outlook appearing
grim for the next few years, the Provost wants
to identify meaningful ways to cut costs with-
out affecting the highest priorities of the Uni-
versity. The goal is to maintain the quality of
the University while being financially prudent.

As the student representatives on the panel,
we want to bring your ideas, thoughts and
experiences to this group for consideration.
Students experience the day-to-day operations
of this University and know the ins and outs
of campus better than anyone. Students also
have the ingenuity and the knowledge to craft
creative and innovative solutions to this prob-
lem. What things should the University stop
doing? What things can we do less of? What
things can we do more efficiently or cheaply?
Your input and suggestions will be vital to this
process. Please send ideas, questions, and con-
cerns to the email addresses listed below. Our
first meeting is Monday, and we will be able to
present ideas that are sent by the night of Sun-
day, March 22. We genuinely hope to hear from
We can be reached at lzaikis@umich.edu or
Leslie Zaikis is the president of LSA-SG
and Brendon Mika is a Law student.

Even though most of the con-
versation about violence in
relationships over the past
few weeks has been
dedicated to Chris
Brown and Rihan-
na, I'm glad the dis-
course is surging..
It's interesting how.
often the romantic
lives of everyday
people intersect ;
with public policy.
This week, Depart- ROSE
ment of Justice AFRIYIE
made available to
offer $43 million
of recovery act
funds to women in violent domestic
relationships who need transitional
But government can only go so far.
The key to addressing violence in
relationships is linked to questioning
the obsolete attitudes often expressed
in the discussion on violence. To
my dismay, many of the good old
gender norms have reemerged, and
these gender social norms are worth
exploring and analyzing as we pursue
healthy relationships.
There are two gender norms in
particular that I would like to grapple
with. The first is that a man should
never hit a woman. The subtextual
element to this gender social norm
is that women are, with respect to
physical strength, biologically infe-
rior. It would then follow that since
women are physically inferior, they
cannot commit violence in their rela-
It's not my intention to take on the
scientific community. But it seems
that research on the physicalstrength
difference between the sexes and
how it correlates with the capacity to
commit violence is lacking.
Beyond the data, I can't help but

feel bothered that an element of
sexism is the driving force behind
restraining oneself from intimate
partner violence. Updated norms
should reflect that women deserve
to live violent-free lives not because
they are women but because they
are human - and it's morally wrong
to commit violence against another
human being.
It's not only straight women who
experience violence. Lesbians and
men of all sexual orientations are
often victims as well. But we need
to recognize that women in hetero-
sexual partnerships disproportion-
ately experience this crime and that
there is an element of discrimination
involved that requires thoughtful
government intervention.
The second, perhaps more con-
troversial, gender norm is that there
are two types of men: the violent and
the non-violent. This is particularly
problematic considering that vio-
lence exists on a continuum and not
in two columns.
It's true that there's a difference
between the man who hospitalizes
their partner on more than one occa-
sion and the man who thinks that it is
perfectly okay to use their drunken-
ness as an excuse to grope a woman's
behind on a Friday night. But charac-
terizations that only recognize vio-
lence after the worst-case scenario
occurs allow socially acceptable
forms of violence togo unnoticed and
Andrea Dworkin, an author and
activist, once said she believed "in
the humanity of men against all the
evidence." Color me optimistic. I
believe in the humanity of men who
have been physically violent, no mat-
ter how deeply buried that human-
ity may be. We have gone to a very
dark place when we say that there
are crimes people can commit that

rob them of their ability to rehabili-
tate. Faith in rehabilitation is not in
opposition to the often-reported high
relapse rates of violent offenders.
It simply hopes to envision a world
where people aren't doomed to be
battered or a batterer after one act of
violence has occurred.
social norms in
But it all starts with us. We may
win brownie points in our social net-
works by polarizing the debate and
making it about how much we can
stick it to domestic violence offenders
in the public eye. But these actions
don't get women any closer to heal-
ing, men any closer to questioning
their sexism on multiple levels or our
society any closer to rethinking con-
flict resolution in partnership. These
constructive activities aim to stifle
violence and lead us on the path to
healthy relationships.
When pursuing healthy relation-
ships, these gender social norms
are highly problematic because they
often imply gender is destiny and that
behaviors can't be changed.
Violence can happen in relation-
ships and is harder to escape and pre-
vent for some more than others. But
we should be reminded that beyond
our political affiliations or gender
loyalties, we are responsible for our
own growth and development after
the storm.
- Rose Afriyie is the Daily's sex
and relationships columnist. She can
be reached at sariyie@umich.edu.





As the Michigan Student Assembly examines its own future on campus, the Daily would
like students to voice their opinions on what should be a part of its agenda.

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