4 - Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
Remains shouldn't remain
In addition to closing exhibit, 'U' should give back artifacts
M uch has changed since museum dioramas depict-
ing Native Americans alongside dinosaur fossils first
premiered fifty years ago. Though acceptable at the
time, today there is little doubt that such displays are cultural-
ly insensitive and misleading. The University's Natural History
Museum is correcting a wrong by removing a one such exhibit
from its museum. Administrators also have the means to right a
second wrong by aggressively investigating the rightful owners
of human remains and Native American objects being held by the
University and returning them to their owners.
The Natural History Museum, situ-
ated opposite the C.C. Little bus stop,
announced on September 12 that it will
close a 50-year-old Native American
Diorama exhibit by the end of the year. The
closure comes in response to prolonged
concerns raised by both Native American
and non-Native American visitors about
the exhibit's accuracy and appropriate-
ness. The exhibit depicted scenes of Native
American life using dioramas that were
placed in a museum filled with pre-historic
artifacts like fossils and dinosaur bones as
though the indigenous people were part of
pre-historic fauna, too.
By choosing to remove the exhibit,
the museum authorities have finally
acknowledged that these dioramas were
insensitive. This is certainly a positive
development, although the display will still
remain open for the rest of the year as part
of the LSA theme year to discuss the evo-
lution of museums and their contribution
to University life. The University is right
to acknowledge and discuss the insensi-
tive representation of Native Americans
in museums and popular culture and to
eventually put an end to a misleading por-
trayal of Native American culture.
But any measure of praise the University
may deserve for finally deciding to close
the exhibit is certainly squandered by its
continued ownership of cultural artifacts
that belong to Native American tribes.
University administrators have been cal-
lous toward requests by several tribes for
the return of certain artifacts - including
human remains and other funerary, sacred
and cultural objects.
The University still holds more than
1,900 artifacts on the grounds that it's not
possible to identify whom they belong to,
which is a condition of returning artifacts
under the Native American Graves Protec-
tion and Repatriation Act of 1990. Despite
repeated protests and well-supported
claims made by the Saginaw Chippewa
tribe to 1,428 of those artifacts, the Uni-
versity has avoided a re-examination of
The University's current efforts haven't
been good enough, and it should feel com-
pelled to make a better effort to determine
the origins of these artifacts so that they
can be returned. Keeping the artifacts
indefinitely is a disrespectful approach,
especially considering that these artifadesa
include human remains that the tribes
want to bury properly.
University administrators often claim to
value cultural sensitivity and undWrst~ii"n-
ing showcased by closing the diorama
exhibit. But they need to act on these val-
ues and take proactive steps to repatriate
Native American artifacts currently in its
We haven't been good at cutting when we add.
We just add'
- Robert Massa, vice president of communications at Lafayette College, on the responsibility
of colleges for the rising cost of tuition, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
ELAINE MORTON E-MAIL ELAINE AT EMORT@UMICH.EDU
I t leiy cdOn't Wher C sSal
caeoreirC -ba w'e
a Wild 1 anMos
T here's a town about an hour eight people or more living in a room Aid - a group that does exactly what
south of Ann Arbor, almost at no larger than a college dorm room. its name suggests - told me that
the Ohio border, called Bliss- They work long hours as long as there Michigan generally has been bet-
field. It's a small is work to be done and then they ter about migrant worker rights than
farming com- move on. Ina single year, they may go other states. But with the state's bud-
munity like hun- from Florida to Georgia to Michigan get crunch, resources for migrant
dreds of others several times to till, plant, weed, trim workers are being scaled back. Such
in Michigan and and ultimately harvest. services are of course the first to go,
across the coun- We visited during the daytime, so considring migrant workers won't
try. You've never most of the workers were out in the be around to avenge their rights at
heard of this fields. We did get to walk through the ballot box.
place, and there's some of the housing units and chat And so that leaves the rest of us to
really no reason with those that remained behind - decide their rights for them. The first
you should have. IMRAN either to take care of the children or step of course is to know that this
But Blissfield, SYED because there simply wasn't enough situation exists.
Michigan has a work to be done that day.
dirty little secret. They mostly spoke Spanish, so we
You wouldn't know it if you were communicated through translators.
just passing through on the highway. We asked them questions like how M ichigan has
Even if you took that exit, perhaps to they liked Michigan and how their
get gas or to hit the McDonalds, and working and living conditions, com- m igrant workers
wandered further downtheroad than pared to other states. These were the
normal, you wouldn't find anything right questions, but something was in its backyard.
out of the ordinary. Endless fields missing.
of corn give way to apple orchards, You see,thisisn'tyourtypicalwork-
which are fleetingly obstructed by ers' rights situation. If there were
gas stations, diners and farmhouses. violations, these migrants wouldn't But beyond knowledge, we need
Fields of peppers , are intertwined know. They've never known fair con- accurate perception. Surely there
with turquoise cabbage patches, all in ditions so anything better than the are those who would wave their fists
the shadow of magnificent red barn- absolute worst must seem like a relief. and demand that these migrants be
houses and other small white build- They make a minimum wage, have sent back to where they came from.
ings that seems to blend in almost their housing paid for and have plenty Perhaps some of them are illegal
seamlessly. of laws to protect them. But of course immigrants, though some certainly
Almost. Upon a moment's reflec- it's never that simple. were not. But such ignorantly nativist
tion though, those white buildings, The law requires runningwater, but outrage ignores an important truth:
neatly tucked in around the fields and some workers we talked to were quite These workers use up literally no
the road, do stand out. I wondered amused by thatconcept. The law regu- resources while doingnecessary, pro-
what those buildings were when I lates how many people can live in those ductive jobs that others simply would
first came there. But I already knew housingunits,butinmostinstances we not do under those conditions.
the answer - it's why I made my trip found about twice the limit crammed Seeing migrant workers living and
to Blissfield with Farm Worker Legal in there. The law requires that the working so close to Ann Arbor brings
Aid in the first place. Those buildings workers get minimum wage, but they the immigration debate home. It's
are barracks. are often paid by how much they do clear that we need these people, and
In those buildings - the largest of (by the bushel during harvest, for it's time we stopped pretending oth-
which were designed to hold about 50 instance) and not by the hour, making erwise.
people - were crammed nearly twice it nearly impossible to discern if they
that many migrant farm workers. are being compensated fairly. - Imran Syed can be reached
Entire families were here, sometimes An intern at Farm Worker Legal at email@example.com.
CLARK RUPER |
Don't make health care mandatory
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke,
Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
Students need quality care
Many of us know by now that 46 million
Americans do not have health insurance. Lost
in this figure, however, are the 13 million young
people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are
uninsured. Few people associate health care
with students, and most students do not even
think about health care until it directly affects
their lives. But young adults represent a dispro-
portionate number of the uninsured, and they
stand to gain from President Barack Obama's
health insurance reform proposals in numer-
Two weeks ago, after months of debate in
Washington and across the country, Obama
delivered an address to Congress in which he
clearly outlined the basic elements that health
insurance reform should include. One of the
central components of Obama's plan is a health
insurance exchange, which would make health
care more affordable by increasing competi-
tion in the market for individual coverage. The
health insurance exchange would be a market-
place where individuals and small businesses
shop for the best option from all of the par-
ticipating plans. All the plans that participate
in the exchange would be required to provide
a minimum level of coverage to ensure quality
The health insurance exchange would
benefit students since many students will be
dropped from their parents' insurance plans
upon graduation and will be forced to shop
the individual market for coverage. The eco-
nomic downturn has strained many employ-
ers and forced them to make tough cutbacks to
survive, and one of the first benefits to suffer
cuts has been health insurance - over 12,000
people lose their health insurance every day.
Many new employees in entry-level positions,
including recent graduates, are increasingly
left without access to quality, affordable health
care. An insurance exchange is a market-based
approach that would help young adults afford
individual coverage and help small businesses
provide coverage to their employees. Obama
has also proposed requiring insurance com-
panies to cover students under their parents'
health care plans until age 26, thereby buffer-
ing students in their transition from school to
the job market.
Obama's reform proposals would not only
expand access to coverage but also prevent
insurance companies from abusing their power
to the detriment of their patients. Under cur-
rent law, for example, insurance companies are
able to deny coverage to people who have pre-
existing conditions or drop people's coverage
when they are sick and need it most. But under
Obama's plan, insurance companies would be
prohibited from doing either of those things.
Health insurance reform would ensure that
the people who need care the most have access
to the coverage that they need at a price they
Comprehensive health insurance reform is
urgently needed to control skyrocketing costs
of care. Health insurance premiums have
doubled since 2000, but real wages remained
stagnant during that time. Without reform, the
cost of an employer-sponsored health care plan
is expected to rise dramatically. This increase
would hit young adults hardest, as they work
in entry-level jobs and often bear a debt burden
from higher education costs.
Whether or not students follow politics,
they clearly have a vested interest in the ongo-
ing health care debate. Last November, young
Americans showed that they can make an
impact on the direction of our country. The
thousands of students that worked on Obama's
campaign last fall and the millions of young
people that voted for him played a vital role in
This fall, students should follow the health
care debate closely and mobilize to support the
President's proposed reforms. As the reform
effort continues, young people should consider
the crisis of increasing health care costs and
think about their own prospects after college
with regard to health insurance. Then, stu-
dents should make their voices heard. Students
and all Americans should also consider the
question of morality. Is it right for a nation as
wealthy as ours to allow its citizens to go with-
out the health care they need?
This viewpoint was written on behalf of the
University's chapter of the College Democrats.
One aspect common to most of the health care reform
proposals currently being considered by Congress is a
government mandate that all individuals must have health
insurance. If individuals are not covered by their employ-
ers, they will be forced to buy a private plan or possibly to
buy into a government plan, or "public option." There are
many relevant questions in this debate, including: Who
are the currently uninsured, why are they uninsured and
why must we force them to buy coverage? Proposals in
Congress might solve the "problem" of the uninsured, but
will it have any real benefits? And is this the best way to
fix the problem while still recognizing each individual's
autonomy to make their own choice?
The consensus among politicians and political com-
mentators is that approximately 46 million Americans
are uninsured. Of that number, the largest identifiable
group is young people, accounting for around 13 million.
They are recent college graduates. They are students in
between undergraduate and graduate school and young
professionals in their first or second jobs. They are entre-
preneurs taking risks while they are young and have no
one to account for but themselves.
I belong to this group. I am 23 years old and have cho-
sen not to purchase health insurance. Four months ago, I
left a job that included employer-provided health insur-
ance to work for a start-up nonprofit called Students for
Liberty. The organization is young and I took an entrepre-
neurial risk when I decided to come on board. I took this
risk with full knowledge of the decision I was making. My
income at my new job is not great: roughly $25,000 a year,
which doesn't get you very far in Washington, D.C., where
I live. But with good budgeting, I could afford a private
health insurance plan if I wanted to. I am simply choos-
ing not to purchase one.
For many young professionals, this is a rational deci-
sion. Young and healthy individuals receive very little
benefit from health insurance. Why pay for insurance
that we do not use? We choose to use our little disposable
income on other investments such as our own savings and
personal health. I would rather spend money on my gym
membership and a healthy eating plan than health insur-
ance, and I consider myself fortunate to be in a position
where I can choose to not buy insurance that I don't want
and don't need. I, for one - and many other recent gradu-
ates in my situation - don't want to be forced by the gov-
ernment to buy a product with little discernible benefit.
The common rebuttal to my claim is that young people
like me are part of the current problem. We don't buy
insurance, and then when we get sick, we go to the emer-
gency room, get treated, don't pay our bills and run up
the cost for everyone else. We are taking risks and asking
everyone else to pay for it.
I agree that this is a problem with the status quo that
needs to be fixed. My solution is to change the laws that
require hospital emergency rooms to treat everyone. I
will gladly sign a waiver stating that no hospital is obli-
gated to treat me. If I am unable to pay for a hospital's
service, than it should be able to turn me away just like
any other business. This leaves very clear options in the
consumer's hand: (1) buy insurance, (2) save enough to
pay for your care on your own, or (3) take the risk of opt-
ing out of insurance with full knowledge of that risk.
The government should not force young people to buy
insurance - it should allow us to make our own choice
and to do what is best for ourselves based on our own
judgment. Those advocating a government mandate do
not think we are capable of making that choice and want
to make it for us.
I, for one, reject this authoritarian, nanny-state view
of the government's role in society, and I know that I am
Clark Ruper is a University alum and the
Program Manager for Students for Liberty.
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