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October 13, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-13

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4 - Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATEOWIAK
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR

GARY GRACA
EDITOR INCHIEF

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
Assembly required
MSA should pass policy to save time and focus on students

It is unfortunate that the president's star power
has outshined tireless advocates who have made real
achievements working towards peace."
- RNC Chairman Michael Steele commenting on President Barack Obama being
awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, as reported yesterday by CNN.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI | E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
That makes him the ferst "And do't w ryfl .
"All of us at W HO Radio President to win a NobeL a We'll be playing Obama ns
coegacausePreidet Tny t Congressiona Granney wineningnumber
Obama for winning the No Medal of I-Ino, and first on hit single as noun an he
bel Peace Prize" prize in Mrs. farmer's Annua records it Mose Ove Elvis,
--ft - - -
Going green, the slow way

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ome students may recall' the mockery that the Michigan
Student Assembly made of itself last winter when it spent
several meetings debating the passage of a resolution on
the conflict in Gaza. In light of the derailment of MSA that result-
ed from discussing these issues at length, MSA is now consider-
ing a resolution that would focus debate by changing the policies
for hearing community concerns. MSA should approve the pro-
posal because it needs to focus on its true purpose - improving
life for students, not grandstanding on issues better left to world
governing bodies.

Tonight, MSA is scheduled to vote on a
resolution that would make changes to a
controversial portion of its meetings called
"community concerns." This portion of the
agenda currently allows any member of the
community, regardless of University affili-
ation, to voice opinions on any issue. The
proposed resolution would reduce the time
limit on each speaker from five minutes to
three minutes. It would also require any-
one without a valid Mcard who wants to
speak to apply two days prior to the meet-
ing. MSA executives would then deter-
mine whether or not the concern would
be heard. MSA representatives noted that
this policy is not designed to limit or even
stop community members from speaking
out about community concerns but rather
to cut down on wasted time.
While it may be unfortunate that MSA
needs to limit the community concerns por-
tionofits meetings,this change isclearlynec-
essary. Inthe past, community concerns time
has been monopolized by certain residents
who speak at length on numerous issues that
MSA has no business debating. No matter
how important conflicts in the Middle East
may be - and no matter how many students
may feel passionately about them - MSA's
resolutions on these issues don't accomplish
anything. Spending time on the inevitable

debate that ensues when these concerns are
voiced is a waste of MSA's time, and it justifi-
ably annoys the student population.
It is important for community concerns
to be heard. There needs to be a beneficial
and progressive relationship between the
students, community members and student
government in public meetings. But ask-
ing non-student community members to
apply beforehand is reasonable to prevent
the meetings from being monopolized by
unproductive debate. MSA leaders should
proceed carefully and ensure that valid,
pressing community issues are cleared for
discussion at meetings.
Students and residents have a right to
address the assembly, but they shouldn't
abuse this right to hijack the meetings of
a governing body that should be tackling
issues like campus lighting, rising tuition
costs and landlord-tenant agreements.
MSA can only play a more productive role
within the University if it concentrates on
these issues and stays away from foreign
policy. Passing this resolution is a good
way to ensure that MSA is able to get to
work fulfilling its true role.
With responsible leadership, this policy
change can only improve dialogue at MSA.
The assembly should vote to approve it at
its meeting tonight.

hile I wasn't exactly expect-
ing great things from the
State of the University
address Mary Sue
Coleman gave last
week to explain
University initia-
tives and plans for
the coming year, I
was perplexed by
Coleman's vision ,
of campus sustain-
ability. With the
creation of a special BEN
counsel to advise CALECA
on sustainabil-_
ity issues, it sounds
like the University
may simply be paying lip service to the
issue more than actually producing
real change. That view is furthered by
the fact that Coleman also declined to
sign the American College and Univer-
sity Presidents' Climate Commitment.
I cannot help but feel the University
believes the sustainability movement
does not require any cooperation.
The ACUPCC itself is an idealistic
but fairly reasonable document. Its
mission is to get colleges to inventory
their carbon footprint and implement a
long-term plan to mitigate greenhouse
gas emissions. Additionally, it asks
signers to make at least two concrete
goals such as makingnew construction
projects LEED silver or greater or get-
ting at least 15 percent of energy from
renewable sources. Coleman has said
that experts have deemed the whole
of the document as "unreasonable."
I'd be more likely to buy that argument
if I had an idea of what her rubric for
"unreasonable" was.
How can the University address
the sustainability issue on its own, if
not by collaborating with other uni-
versities and making specific goals
that may be too ambitious to reach
for? Some of the answers do lie in sim-
ple changes in policy and administra-
tion, such as the special counsel and
collaborations between University
groups that Coleman proposed in her
speech. But collaboration is only the
first step, and signs that concrete are
steps being implemented from the top

of the University down better show
a true commitment to sustainability
goals.
The first thing the University can
look at comes to mind when I think
of my friends sweating profusely in
dorms - regulate the damn heat bet-
ter. Pumping heat into dorms to make
them warmer than most people need
is both inefficient and costly. Most stu-
dents will end up opening windows in
the fall to keep temperatures bearable.
At the very least, ensuring thermostats
are adequatelyregulatingtemperatures
in buildings or implementing better air
conditioning systems could help with
this and make accommodations more
comfortable for students.
Speaking of dorms, every once in a
blue moon, the University offers "sus-
tainable" meals made from locally
grown products so they don't have as
high a carbon footprint from transpor-
tation costs. Schools such as UNC Cha-
pel P4ill have even used local sources
for as much as 20 percent of their food
in an effort to be sustainable. If the
University really wishes to get serious,
they should expand this program.
Then there are new construction
projects and LEED.. While North
Quad, currently under construction,
has some green features, Univer-
sity officials deliberately chose not to
make it a LEED-certified building.
And the much-touted Ross School
of Business' silver LEED rating lags
behind many other schools' shiny new
gold- and even platinum-rated facili-
ties. The reason we didn't go for more
systems? Adding nifty features like a
geothermal heating system would cost
extra money in the initial price tag,
even though such a system would save
money in the long run. It's a bit disap-
pointing to see us fall short on some
causes due to purely financial reasons
even if the payoff would be greater in
time.
For projects such as installing
geothermal heating units instead of
conventional systems for buildings,
costs can be recovered over time with
the energy saved, as I addressed in a
column last winter (The heat beneath
your feet, 01/19/2009). This is true for

a lot of other innovative, green build-
ing materials such as high-efficiency
windows and insulation that decrease
energy required for climate control,
which further lowers lowering energy
bills for heating. As these building
practices have grown more common,
studies such as one carried out by
the Urban Green Council have shown
that LEED buildings, if designed well,
cost the same per square foot as con-
ventional buildings but use far less
energy.
'U' has a long
way to go on
sustainability.
If the University wants to prove its
sustainability, it needs to start working
on green design from the foundation
up. Cement manufacturing accounts
for five toeight percent of global car-
bon emissions, and new materials
such as geopolymers can offer equal
or better structural performance with
one-tenth the carbon generation of
cements. While this material comes
at a slight premium, if the University
implemented this kind of material for
use in new construction, it would send
a clear message that we are serious
about sustainability.
It's difficult to weigh all the options
that must be considered when imple-
menting new initiatives. To an extent,
I can understand skepticism regarding
how groups should deal with sustain-
ability. But the University can't be a
leader on sustainability unless its will-
ing to make the leap to toward lofty
goals, even if some deem those goals
unreasonable at first. In the end, a Uni-
versity counsel, no matter how spe-,
cial; means nothing unless it can both
develop tangible plans and implement
them.
- Ben Caleca can be reached
at calecab@umich.edu.

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam,
Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranaga, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

Columnist shouldn't blame
whitesfor black homophobia
TO THE DAILY:
I am tiring of Matthew Hunter's consistently
incoherent and racist columns, but the article he
wrote about the black community and homopho-
bia was just too much. There is an apparent prob-
lem with homophobia in society in general, but
this view especially permeates the black com-
munity as evidenced by the result of the vote on
Proposal 8 in California. He partially sees that it
is a problem, but then lays the blame on "whites"
when he says, "This issue is related to whites to
the extent at which all injustices in the black com-
munity - from crime to poverty to the education
gap - have their roots in the historical relation-
ship between blacks and whites."
There is no other ethnic group that gets to
blame its behavior on oppression. I don't see
many Jewish Americans being homophobic or
racist and blaming it on the Nazis' terrible treat-
ment of their people or claiming that the Nazis
taught the to hate gay people. And that, by the
way, was a far more recent period of oppression
than the time of slavery in the American South.
Why, Mr. Hunter, would you allow the black
community to be a victim of their history? Like
it or not, the history of every nation is filled with
oppressors and victims, but the victims in those
societies don't typically blame their behavior on
bad experiences. Every individual is responsible
for their views and their actions. We do not live
in a country where irresponsible actions have no
consequences. Just as the southern white com-
munity had to take responsibility for slavery,
the black community should take responsibility
for its homophobia and other problems they see
within their community.
Sarah Doukakos
LSA junior
Daily was right to support
gender-neutral housing
TO THE DAILY:
A recent Daily editorial offered welcome sup-
port for a gender-neutral housing option at the
University (Opposites attract,10/12/2009).
More than 35 years ago, the Intercooperative
Council offered to provide a "gay co-op" for les-
bian and gay male student occupancy. Fearing

that residents in a designated "gay co-op" might
be harassed, the Ann Arbor Gay Liberation Front
suggested that all co-ops welcome lesbian and
gay male residents.
Today, some co-ops may house one or several
LBGTQ students. I am not aware that such stu-
dents have experienced stigma or assault in their
residential settings. Were a co-op to be desig-
nated as "queer," "LGBTQ" or "gay," I hope its
residents would be safe from harassment. The
University must continue to provide education
on concerns of gender identity, genderexpression
and sexual orientation in support of the diversity
that enhances our environment..
Jim Toy
The letter-writer is the co-founder of the Spectrum
Center.
"Survival of the fittest"
attitude in Fishbowl is wrong
TO THE DAILY:
If you watch HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm,"
you may have found a few laughs in my Larry
David-esque momenttoday as I franticallyssought
out a computer on the Mac side of the Fishbowl.
Every time one computer appeared to be free, or
someone seemed to be packing up their belong-
ings, I ran over in that direction. Yet time and
time again, some sly, scheming, Fishbowl lurker
swooped in before I could claim hegemony on the
workspace. This carnage ensued for something
like 10 minutes, until I eventuallygot lucky. Unfor-
tunately, Ins certain that this scenario sounds all
too familiar to many of my fellow students.
So, 1 feel inclined to propose a VERY SIM-
PLE solution to this insanely frustrating pro-
cess of finding a computer during Fishbowl
rush hours: a fully integrated queuing system.
ICTS needs to set up two computers at the front
of the Fishbowl, one for Macs and one for PCs.
if all computers are full, you sign in your name
and as a computer frees up, voila, your name
appears on a screen, along with a Pavlov Dog-
style "ding" sound indicating that a workspace
has opened. This will ensure greater efficiency
and, more importantly, fairness, on a first-
come, first-served basis.
Delicatessens all over the world have figured
this one out already. Pick a number and wait
your turn.
Eitan Ingall
LSA senior

KATE STENVIG |
Don't censor community concerns *

Our University's long-standing commitment to free
speech and diversity of ideas is now facing a new attack,
this time from some of our elected student leaders. This
Tuesday, the Michigan Student Assembly is considering
a resolution to impose arbitrary political censorship and
drastic limits on the portion of its meetings that is devot-
ed to community concerns. The resolution purports to
"modernize" MSA meetings, and the rationale presented
for this draconian proposal is that some members of the
University community have used their allotted time to
yell at the assembly.
Yelling? Really? My, how sensitive! While manners are
often an indicator of social class, neither poor manners
nor low class should exclude anyone from participating
in the democratic process, nor should elected represen-
tatives be spared their criticisms. This should be obvi-
ous to anyone remotely acquainted with the principles of
democracy. The proposed resolution is a blatant attempt
to silence any difference of opinion and demonstrates
that the authors of the resolution deserve to face more
yelling, not less.
Especially disturbing is that the resolution would give
the executive board power of censorship in determin-
ing which items are a "topic of interest" for the assembly
and which are not. But on quite a few occasions, whole
groups of minority students, including black and Arab
students, have approached the assembly only to be told
that their concerns are not relevant to students - mean-
ing not relevant to white students. The real message in
each of those cases was that the minority students them-
selves were irrelevant. No such abuse of power should
be permitted from any member of any democratic body.
Minority students, in particular, have been the targets of
these abuses.
Then there is the rule of arbitrary censorship against
all non-student members of the community. Having to
apply two business days in advance and hope that the
czars of the assembly grant you an audience is ridiculous.
Dozens of student organizations work with people from
our community and from around the world. The quality
of life of every student is directly affected by the actions
of professors, administrators, local officials and world-
P.h

renowned politicians. There is indeed life outside the
bubble of this campus. If the assembly has any intention
of combating the rising costs of higher education, defend-
ing and expanding financial aid programs, reversing the
drop in underrepresented minority student enrollment
and ending the military's drain on precious potential
funds for education, does anyone really think that we can
accomplish any of these things without working along-
side people from outside our student body? And if there
is no intention of accomplishing such things, then what
on earth are these anti-free speech tyrants doing in our
student government in the first place?
Far from modernizing the assembly, the proposed
resolution would transform our student government into
somethingmore like an ancient despotism. Unfortunately,
that would be painfully consistent with the recent actions
of the MSA leadership, in recent years, which include
giving the Steering Committee (which is not elected by
the student body) the veto power to prevent any resolu-
tion from being discussed by the assembly; maneuvering
behind closed doors to remove opponents from elections;
creating an Internet group to degrade and insult a dis-
abled representative; engaging in shady financial transac-
tions; and attempting to disenfranchise the entire School
of Public Policy by not permitting it to have even a single
representative. We can't afford to leave organized student
democracy ii the hands of those who are trying to destroy
it by transforming it into a bureaucratic playpen of snob-
bery and impotence. It has been much better - it can be
much better.
We must turn to the future. Our membership in this
student body grants us unique opportunities to change
our world for better or worse. The current economic
crisis is taking its strongest toll on the poorest and most
disadvantaged students, many of whom are struggling to
stay enrolled and many of whom are still in grade school
and struggling to attain any higher education at all. We
must not allow the construction of an ivory tower to
seclude our student government from those who most
need it.
Kate Stenvig is an MSA representative from Rackham.

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