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December 04, 2009 - Image 4

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4 - Friday, December 4, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
E-MAIL BELLA AT BELLZ@UMICH.EDU

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
i Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
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 of theirauthors.
Majoring inmarijuana
Med Grow is succeeding where government has failed
In the 2008 election, Michigan voters legalized medical mari-
juana. Though a positive development for suffering patients
who can use marijuana to ease their pain, the new law left
many unanswered questions about how eligible persons would
obtain the drug. But one way to get those answers is to enroll in the
new Med Grow Cannabis College in Southfield. Educating Michi-
gan residents about how to grow and use marijuana in conjunc-
tion with this law is important, and other institutions, both public
and private, should follow Med Grow's example. This includes the
state government, which has an obligation to provide a forum for
education on medical marijuana use.

BELLA SHAH

lp N Iaew yeaIS
arpltidip5resolUtIol
LOSE WEIG HT
tips
to stayiing keep in rnind,-
Warm this you have to Not a fleec ej
season0 no shav-December? find one fit Northface
I Stop Exercising 2. Grow out your hair 3, Shave a wolverine 4. Buy a new co
A walk in someone else's shoes

0

While not a college in the traditional
sense, Med Grow offers a six-week cur-
riculum that teaches students about the
history of cannabis, methods of horticul-
ture and legal regulations of the treat-
ment. The program, which launched last
April and costs about $475, is intended
for caregivers - those who grow and sell
marijuana to patients - and the patients
themselves. Med Grow is even receiving
national attention - earlier this week, The
New York Times wrote a story about the
college.
Med Grow is a useful tool for people
who want to take advantage of the one-
year-old law, because even though medical
marijuana is suddenly legal doesn't mean
people know how to use or grow it. This is
a behavior that has only been permissible
in secret by a limited group of individuals
who are knowledgeable about the drug.
Bringing medical marijuana use aboveg-
round requires education.'
And educating people on how to use
and grow-medical marijuana canonly be
good for the people of Michigan. For one
thing, marijuana relieves the suffering of
sick people. As a pain reliever, marijuana
benefits injured and sick people who may
not react well to other pain relievers and
shouldn't feel discouraged about obtain-
ing relief. This is, after all, the reason that
medical marijuana was placed on the bal-
lot and approved in 2008.
That primary purpose .aside, increased
medical marijuana growth is also an eco-
nomic opportunity for the state. This is
important because the state's promis-

ing industries have begun to dwindle as
of late. But like California, another state
with progressive marijuana laws, Michi-
gan has the chance to pioneer an industry
that will likely grow across the country as
laws continue to become less restrictive.
People should feel empowered to partici-
pate in this up-and-coming sector of the
state economy.
But while Med Grow is leading the way
in the private sector, it's filling a void that
the state government created by failing to
deal with the legal ramifications of medi-
cal marijuana when it was approved last
year. The fact that there hasn't been any
direction coming from state government
is a shame. State authorities should be
offering classes and training sessions. The
government needs to follow Med Grow's
example and fulfill its role as an educator
for the public good.
With the state economy in such trouble,
national news outlets haven't had particu-
larly good things to say about Michigan
lately. But the fact that this state is leading
the way on marijuana reform is attract-
ing attention of a more progressive kind
- something unusually refreshing. As
marijuana laws continue to head toward
greater permissiveness, the state will ben-
efit from keeping ahead of the curve.
Concerns may exist that increased gov-
ernment advocacy of marijuana will one
day snowball into the total legalization of
marijuana. With any hope, these concerns
will prove true and marijuana usage will
finally become a universally accepted legal
activity.

ver Thanksgiving break,
I had an argument with a
white woman - let's call
her "Susan." She
made an off-hand
comment refer-
ring to Mexicans
crosing the bor-
der: "We should
blow them all up
with bazookas."
If I had been wise,
I would have
retreated some- MATTHEW
where far, far
away. But instead, HUNTER
I spent the next
two hours trying
to convince her
that this viewpoint is destructive
to humanity. She claimed that she
wasn't racist because she had a few
close black friends, but that Mexi-
cans are taking over with their dirty
criminality.
In vain, I attempted to describe to
Susan the process by which whites
white men and their ideologies
have dominated our world's most
prominent social spaces. The real-
ity of those who have actually "taken
over" throughout history is that that
they have colonized, forced entire
countries into poverty and corrup-
tion, enslaved millions, tortured
civilians, women and children and
committed war crimes. For exam-
ple, President John F. Kennedy was
notoriously decorated for supporting
human rights, but authorized chemi-
cal warfare in Vietnam. I left Susan
with one question: What if you were
one the oppressed?
Over the past few months, I
have addressed the linked modern
oppression of blacks, gays, Mexi-
cans and the disabled. That is not to
say that racial struggles are really
class struggles, or that gays' issues
should only be discussed in the con-
text of feminism. Rather, it means
we share a common ground in which

the essence of what it means to be
human is challenged by the frame-
work of our physical, mental, sex-
ual or social characteristics. I am
reminded the refrain from a song
titled "Dead Man's Party:" "Wel-
come to a dead man's party, who can
ask for more, everybody's coming,
leave your body at the door." None of
these characteristics, none of these
"bodies," measure value as a human.
In his article, "Transgender Rhet-
orics," teacher and self-identified
queer feminist compositionist Jona-
than Alexander reveals one of his
techniques of teaching gender issues
to his "traditionally" gendered stu-
dents. He knows that while some peo-
ple can relate to the movingstories of
transgender and feminist literature,
others' sentiments are less tolerant.
They ask insensitive questions like,
"Who cares ifa few freaks have trou-
ble using public toilets?" That's the
same as asking who cares that a few
disabled people need to search for a
ramp or access for a few extra min-
utes, who cares if gays do not have
access to the same rights as married
straights and who cares if blacks and
women don't have equal opportunity
of access to education.
Alexander designed a writing
exercise in which students must
write in the voice of one's opposite
sex within a plot designed by a part-
ner. He wanted students to virtually
reflect on the process of gender/sex
switching to see what it might tell
us about the construction of gender
in our society. After it was over, the
discussion that followed conspicu-
ously revealed reliance on sexist ste-
reotypes to understand the opposite
sex. He was asking the same ques-
tion I asked Susan, who also relied
on racist stereotypes to understand
Mexicans.
Similarly, we must begin to ques-
tion our own stereotypical notions of
other groups that shape our inaccu-
rate and often offensive understand-

ings. We must consider ourselves
gay before we oppose equal right for
gays; or women, before we decide
when, where, why and how they
birth a child. What would we want
for ourselves, if we were in their
place? When looking at vast social
disparities that still exist, we must
remember 500 years of slavery and
a system that has segregated blacks
into our poorest cities. Imagine you
are an unemployed, poor black man
in Detroit, where there are no jobs
and your family is starving. The only
option available for money was sell-
ing drugs. Wouldn't you do it? Or
would you let your family go hun-
gry? For oppressed social minori-
ties, gaining basic human rights is
about a struggle to survive.

0

Getting to the
roots of racial
oppression.

6

Rather than identify with some
external characteristic with which
our identities have been defined by
society's dominant forces, we can
transform society by understanding
what is means to be human. As bell
hooks tells us in her book, "Talking
Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking
Black," we must be "challenging the
politics of domination on all fronts."
By leaving our bodies at the door and
identifying with minorities who our
society as a whole does not under-
stand, we can find the common
ground that makes us all human and
begin to oppose the dominant forces
that corrupt the notion of a common
humanity.
- Matthew Hunter can be
reached at maIjam@umich.edu.

6

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, Will Butler, Ben Caleca,
Nicholas Clift, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff,
Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
ABIGAIL BARNARD, ALEX KULICK, CHLOE ZHANG, HOLLY STEHLIN
Stereotypes of sexual violence

The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed, passionate
writers to be columnists for the winter semester. Columnists write a
700-800 word column every other week on a topic of their choosing. If you are an
opinionated and talented writer, consider applying.
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Laughing at the holidays

When Rihanna went on Good MorningAmer-
ica on November 5th to talk about her relation-
ship with Chris Brown and the infamous night
he beat her, televisions across America were
filled with messages to teenage girls about pro-
tecting themselves. But these messages lacked
important questions like, "What if it's the girl-
friend who's abusive?" or "What if someone
isn't in a heterosexual relationship? What about
that kind of abuse?" It is from the lack of these
kinds of questions that the idea for our Women's
Studies Activism Project was born. We wanted
to investigate sexual violence on our campus -
including rape, sexual assault, verbal and physi-
cal abuse and sexual harassment.
We initially sought to critique the inclusive-
ness of resources on campus, but we discovered
that - contrary to our expectations - many of
the resources are actively seeking to be inclu-
sive of all kinds of sexual violence: men against
women, men against men, queer, straight, trans,
etc. While investigating campus resources, we
interviewed two campus organizations, Coun-
seling and Psychological Services and Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center,
both of which we felt dealt directly with sexual
violence and its consequences. We found that
both use gender neutral language when talk-
ing to victims and that their staff members are
trained to handle violence in same-sex partner-
ships and heterosexual couples. Our University
is not lacking in resources for victims of sexual
violence outside the perceived "norm." Rather it
is we, the students, who need to be more open-
minded when discussing this sensitive topic.
After discovering this, we sought to under-
stand why the resources on campus were so
different from our expectations. Drawing on
our personal experiences as individuals in vari-

ous student organizations, social groups and
classes, we realized that although the institu-
tional resources are adopting a more inclusive
view of sexual violence, the conversations we
have in our day-to-day lives reinforce norma-
tive narratives about sexuality and gender. As
a campus, we need to engage in conversations
about non-normative sexual violence. By ignor-
ing the fact that sexual violence occurs in queer
relationships or at the hands of a girl againsther
boyfriend, we are assuming that our campus is
made up of pairings in which the man always
possesses physical dominance over his female
significant other. Assumptions like these fuel a
sexist culture.
While we were happy to learn that our cam-
pus resources can accommodate and help sur-
vivors of sexual violence regardless of sexual
orientation and gender, we were saddened to
realize just how little attention these issues
receive in our daily lives. The University is
a diverse place and it is up to the students to
make sure that conversations, especially those
about something as sensitive as sexual violence,
include all identities and people.
If you or someone you know is the victim of
sexual violence, there are many resources on
campus. The SAPAC website has a comprehen-
sive list of many resources on campus, locally,
statewide and nationally: http://www.umich.
edu/-sapac/.
Additionally, the Rape, Abuse & Incest
National Network Crisis Hotline is available:
1-800-656-HOPE.
This viewpoint was written by LSA
sophomore Abigail Barnard, LSA freshman
Alex Kulick, LSA freshman Holly Stehlin
and LSA sophomore Chloe Zhang.

he ABS light clicked on and
no more than five minutes
later, my brother's car broke
down in the Bronx
right before the
George Wash-
ington Bridge on
Thanksgiving
eve. Although he
had to wait three
hours for AAA,
pee on the side of
the road and fend
off a man with LEAH
an aluminum bat POTKIN
(yes, this is all
true), he was for-
tunate enough
to be with his college roommate
and only a short distance from our
extended family. So, while my moth-
er sat anxiously between calls to my
brother, his roommate and AAA, I
couldn't help but smile and laugh
about the whole situation. And that
led me to this conclusion: everyone
should watch the Thanksgiving epi-
sodes of "Friends."
Thanksgiving inevitably brings
with it some sort of grand-scale
calamity, whether it be altered travel
plans, insufferable in-laws or burnt
turkeys. After all, whose families
haven't sparred over which relatives
to visit or invite over? But what if we
didn't view any of this obligatory trav-
el and forced family time as potential-
ly disastrous, but rather as comical?
Here's where the million dollar-per-
episode cast of "Friends" have some-
thing on all of us - and we should
learn from their (though admittedly
contrived) remarkable ability to make
light of any situation.
To state the obvious, there are few
comedies in history that rival this
10-year-phenomenon in universal
appeal. I laughed at Joey when I was
10 and understood more ofChandler's
jokes at 19. But why the Thanksgiving

episodes? From cameos by Brad Pitt
to a turkey stuck on Joey's head, the
absurdity of these tension- and disas-
ter-filled episodes, with the addition
of an audience laugh track, manage to
lighten the mood and help us appre-
ciate the commonality of our own
experiences.
In honor of David Schwimmer's
presence on campus (he's directing
a new movie called "Trust"), I picked
a few of my favorite Thanksgiving
episodes as examples. The situa-
tions may be fictional, butI would bet
nearly everyone can see a bit of their
lives through this classic 30-minute
comedy - and learn something from
it, too.
"The One With The Football" epi-
sode revolves around the cherished
Geller Cup, a trophy awarded to the
winner of a Thanksgiving football
rivalry of the Geller family. With
Ross and Monica pitted against each
other, needless to say, the competi-
tion is fierce. But instead of crying
(this is always my main tactic), pos-
turing and complaining, the Gellers
duke it out in what I find one of the
most entertaining sports games
I've ever viewed (sorry Wolverines,
"Friends" outdid you).
Another favorite, "The One With
All The Thanksgivings," shows flash-
backs of past Thanksgiving disas-
ters and manages to make light of
all of them. Most notable is the one
where Monica unintentionally drops
a knife, severing Chandler's toe. In
my household, this type of disaster
would be synonymous with tears
and chaos, rather than laughter and
amusement as is the case with the
"Friends." Even years later as they
reminisce, they still manage to laugh
about it.
Yes, maybe if you drop a knife on
someone's toe it won'tend in marriage,
but there certainly are lessons to learn
from similar misfortunes of life. My

brother's broken-down car provides a
perfect example. After waiting in the
Bronx, my brother ultimately had to
sleep at myuncle's house in New York,
which enabled him to spend time
with family he wouldn't have other-
wise seen. We should appreciate these
types of situations because the time
my brother got to spend with family
is truly something to be thankful for,
and is more important than the time
he could have spent stressing over his
poor luck..,
"Friends" showed
me the value of a
sense of humor.

And even more importantly,
watching these episodes reinforces
my own personal goal to lighten
up. Many of us are consumed with
stress over what we perceive as cri-
ses, whether it be stressing over
tests, relationships, the current
economic situation or prospects for
employment. But why not adopt this
"Friends"-inspired attitude and,
despite luckless situations, smile and
laugh at our own problems?
Because we unfortunately can no
longer rely on the Central Perk gang
to relieve our pre- or post-holiday
stress, we need to take matters into
. our own hands. Without the help
of NBC this Thanksgiving, I took it
upon myself to smile at my brother's
bad luck, just as the cast laughed
about Chandler's severed toe. And
as a result, I will fondly remember
this past Thanksgiving as "The One
Where The Car Broke Down."
- Leah Potkin can be reached
at lpotkin@umich.edu.

I
I

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