4A -Monday, December 14, 2009
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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 of their authors.
Until proven guilty
U should not lower burden of proof for student violations
here is no question that certain behavior is unacceptable for
University students. The Statement of Student Rights and
Responsibilities is correct to hold students to a high stan-
dard of personal conduct. But no matter how inexcusable a violation
of the code may be, the University should not lower the standard of
proof for determining whether a violation has occurred. The Mich-
igan Student Assembly, which retracted its support of an amend-
ment to the code that would have lowered the standard, did the
right thing when it changed its position. Now, University officials
should recognize the gravity of lowering the burden of proof and
end their pursuit of such an amendment. Instead, the preventative
education being done during University orientation and by student
groups should continue.
think I can see God.
You're scaring me.
Nothats just what happens
C when you eat a bag of cofee
beants durdng finals week
Obama's fighting words
J m sure I wasn't the only per-
son in the world feeling a little
miffed as President Barack
Nobel Peace Prize
on Thursday, just AL
nine days after
more U.S. troops
to a hopeless war
While Obama cited
like the closing SOAVE
down of the Guan-
tanamo Bay deten-
tion camp, the bulk
of his acceptance speech was a ring-
ing defense of the necessity of waging
"just" wars. And for Obama, Afghani-
stan is one of those wars.
The hawkish nature of Obama's
speech was shocking. What hap-
pened to the man who opposed the
troop surge in Iraq? What happened
to the man who promised a foreign
policy that was markedly different
from his predecessor? When I look
back on President George W. Bush
and compare him with Obama, I
see two imperialist presidents who
fought two interventionist wars.
I realize that at this point, most of
you are probably turning against me.
"You can't compare the two wars,"
you say. "We had good reasons to go
to war with Afghanistan - reasons
that didn't exist in Iraq." Such is
Obama's argument - we will fight the
war in Afghanistan because it's justi-
fied. But justified or not, isn't a more
important question whether or not
we will win? This is where Obama's
speech misses the mark.
The problem with the war in
Afghanistan - and with foreign wars
in general - is that it isn't an effective
way of achieving our goals. Ousting
their leaders and bombing their cit-
ies doesn't win us the support of for-
eign peoples, no matter how bad their
situations may be. The best thing that
the United States can do is to leave
the rest of the world alone.
There is no better example of this
than America's wars in the Middle
East, which have demonstrated that
foreign peoples don't want the U.S.
to help. They have come to hate U.S.
occupational forces just as much as
their own corrupt regimes. In Iraq, for
example, polls consistently found that
a vast majority of Iraqi people want-
ed the United States out. By trying
to solve their problems for them, we
cheat oppressed people of the sense
of victory they desperately need to
rebuild their countries on their own.
Aside from war, Obama mentioned
economic sanctions against hostile
countries as another foreign policy
tool. Specifically, he said, "Sanctions
must exact a real price." Unfortu-
nately, sanctions do exact a real price
- but they don't punish the leader of
a country. Dictators like Kim Jong
Il of North Korea don't suffer from
sanctions. They benefit from them.
The oppressed people of these coun-
tries grow to hate the prosperous
nations that are denying them trade
and decreasing their standard of liv-
ing. The dictators then feed off this
hatred to stay in power.
And while Obama may be entire-
ly oblivious to this point since his
foreign policy continues to mimic
Bush's, the American people aren't
quite so pro-war. Earlier this month,
the Pew Research Center found that
49 percent of Americans thought
the United States should "mind its
own business," the highest number
in 40 years, according to MSNBC. So
maybe even if Obama doesn't under-
stand that we can't defeat our ene-
mies by occupying their countries or
starving their people, the American
people are realizing that peace will
be best achieved when our govern-
ment is least involved.
president in an
world should have nothing to do with
the Middle East. But it is through free
trade, not war and sanctions, that
the United States and its allies will
defeat authoritarian regimes, spread
world peace and improve standards
of living. By interacting with these
people for mutual economic benefit,
they will be exposed to positive ide-
als like social and political freedom.
And when these ideas become popu-
lar enough, they will cast off their
overlords on their own.
We can't win that battle for them.
No amount of direct intervention -
just or unjust - will solve the issues
of the Middle East. But since pull-
ing out and letting the region solve
its own problems doesn't win you a
Nobel Peace Prize these days, I won't
expect Obama to follow such advice.
-Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Dec. .6, Vice President for Student
Affairs E. Royster Harper spoke to the Sen-
ate Advisory Committee on University
Affairs - the faculty's leading governing
body - about changes to the Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities, which
outlines the rules for students'behavior. One
of the proposed amendments would change
the standard of evidence needed to find a
student in violation of a policy from "clear
and convincing evidence" to a "preponder-
ance of evidence." Effectively, the amend-
ment would mean that University reviewers
wouldn't have to be certain that a violation
occurred - they would only have to believe
that a violation was more likely than not.
While MSA originally voted to support this
amendment in October, the assembly voted
last Tuesday to retract its support.
While the amendment would affect all
violations pertaining to the Statement of Stu-
dent Rights and Responsibilities, it appears
to have been created with sexual assault
cases in mind. There is no doubt that sexual
crimes are repugnant, but this policy change
is the wrong approach to prevent them. It
will only make it less certain that the Uni-
versity is justly punishing violators. Adju-
dicators have a responsibility to make sure
indisputable evidence exists that proves an
accused student violated the code.
It's terrible for any person to become a
victim of sexual abuse, but being falsely
charged with committing a sexual crime
is terrible, too. False convictions can ruin
students' lives. The University should be
exercising a high standard in determining
whether a violation has taken place. Too
much hangs in the balance for these deci-
sions to be made more lightly.
One justification for the amendment has
been that other universities like the Uni-
versity of Virginia and Dartmouth College
have similar standards of proof. But the
University shouldn't feel the need to bring
its policies in line with other institutions if
those policies are flawed.
Instead of adopting policies that could
lead to innocent students being held respon-
sible for crimes they didn't commit, the
University should focus on preventing sex-
ual assault in the first place. Many of these
measures are already in place - freshmen
orientation covers topics like how to protect
yourself against sexual violence, asking for
consent and what constitutes rape. Organi-
zations on campus, like the Sexual Assault
Prevention and Awareness Center, help to
stop sexual assaults before they happen. If
administrators feel like these efforts aren't
enough, they should expand them, not lower
their standards for determining guilt.
Students who breach the Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities should
be held accountable - but not unless they
are undeniably in violation. Proof isn't
something the University should ever
think it can do without.
Copi ng with herpes
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emily Barton, Jamie Block, William Butler, Ben Caleca, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Emma Jeszke, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee, Harsha Panduranga,
Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
BRITTANY SMITH |
My black experience at the 'U
Since the election of President Barack
Obama, I have given more consideration to
the idea that I am living in a post-racial gen-
eration. As I sat watching the polling results
on CNN, basking in happiness and shedding
tears of joy in my friend's dorm room, I began
to think, "Wow! I am so proud. I am living the
days when the impossible has become possi-
ble." Simply put, I thought Nov. 4, 2008 would
forever change the invisibility of the black race.
If this is perhaps the case for some parts of
the country, I hesitate to believe that this is the
case here at the University. While the Universi-
ty tries to promote diversity, it has fallen short
in providing a sensitive, inclusive and healthy
environment for black students. The racial cli-
mate at the University is tense and strained due
to the differing backgrounds that have social-
ized students. Admittedly, I - along with some
other black students - feel dismissed by the
University and our peers in the classroom.
Yes, the University has made strides towards
campus inclusion by admitting students who
were historically prohibited from attending.
But realistically, this university still has a long
way to go.
I struggle with what it means to be black on
this campus. Race relations at this university
have such a dark past that sometimes the big-
otry my friends and I experience comes as no
surprise. The University's Black Action Move-
ment in the 1970s and 1980s was a political
response to the practices of marginalization at
this university. Examples of such discrimina-
tory practices included a black cultural house
"mistakenly" fallingvictim to arson and others
calling black students "negros" when the black
students didn't self-identify as such.
Once, I heard a student say that "diversity is
better when it is embraced and not forced." Her
rationale suggests that often diversity breeds
conflicts like racism and poverty, which often
arise as a result of such enforcement. I have
encountered administration officials from
various departments that discouraged me from
applying to competitive programs and schools,
because they assume my grades aren't good
Appallingly, I have learned through my con-
versations with administration officials that
some of them are astounded by the insensitiv-
ity that some black students, if not all, must
endure by the administration, faculty and stu-
dents. But then again, sometimes I do under-
stand why some officials are left unaware.
There is a lot of pressure when speaking in a
classroom where students think that Africans
- who represent part of black American heri-
tage - wouldn't know how to operate a struc-
tured government without the United States
showing them how to be "civilized." Listening
to students say that Africans don't know how to
make or properly use roads or water can make
some black students feel that complaining to
the administration would be fruitless.
I, along with my black peers, am experienc-
ing similar strife. For the black students that
have come before me and will come after, the
University needs to acknowledge that racial
tension exists on campus. My hand sometimes
goes unacknowledged in student organization
meetings and in the classroom. A real conver-
sation needs to be had about why some profes-
sors are more willing to help students whose
faces look like my own. The University needs
to address the problems that afflict the black
community on campus and why some students
are told that they only made it to the University
through affirmative action alone.
I am often left to question the motive behind
the University actively seeking out black stu-
dents to enroll in this academic institution in
the first place. Honestly, I am skeptical when
I hear the concept of "diversity" constantly
preached by the University. I don't understand
the mantra that "Diversity Matters" at the Uni-
versity, when nationally and at the University,
it is understood that this university isn't equal.
The University must first fix the plight of
the black student before increasing the enroll-
ment of black students. When prospective stu-
dents are shown a welcoming environment, I
believe that they will in turn welcome the idea
of becoming a Wolverine.
Brittany Smith is an LSA sophomore.
s college students, we are
possibly the demographic
that's the most overexposed
to "wrap it up"
any given day, it's
ing condoms, and
the "safe sex"
nies the latex bliz- V
zard probably isn't
given a second ROSE
But it's impor- _
tant to consider
the possible impli-
cations of the "safe sex" advocacy
that we've all probably been guilty
of in some way. The subtext of "safe
sex" - or "safer sex" messaging, for
that matter - asserts that there is
something inherently dangerous and
threatening about not just unpro-
tected sex but also people living
with Sexually Transmitted Infec-
tions. It's that infamous scene we've
likely all encountered when an adult
employs scared-straight tactics to
encourage condom use. Usually, it's
a photograph of a familiar STI with
prominent symptoms. This is usually
followed by a look of disgust.
What's often forgotten in persis-
tent condemnations of these infec-
tions is that the pictures are attached
to actual people. According to the
most recent summary from the Amer-
ican Social Health Association, there
are 19 million new STI cases each
year, and half of those infections will
belong to folks between the ages of 15
and 24. But somehow, it seems that
the numbers alone don't quite capture
some of the faces these numbers rep-
resent. STIs negatively impact one's
sexual health. But those living with
STIs aren't defined by their infections
and there is more to someone's story
than outbreaks or symptoms. There is
life after infection and - dare I say it
- a sex life, too.
To further illustrate this point, I
met with a University student who
shared her experience living with
herpes. She asked for anonymity to
protect her privacy and the iden-
tity of her partner. We will call her
Jane. obviously, Jane's story isn't a
stand-in for everyone who has been
infected. But it's important to add
some dimensionality to an occur-
rence more common than we think:
She remembers her diagnosis: Dec.
31, 2007. A searing vadge sore sent
her and her partner to the emergen-
cy room. Her health care provider
handed her a fact sheet and explained
that it was likely that she had been
infected with herpes in the past 30
days. "You will have this for life," she
remembered him telling her.
"It was kinda like, I had too much
to drink and whatever happened, hap-
pened. We used a condom, but we
weren't officially anything," she said.
She hadn't been with anyone but him in
the past month. PIt was pretty tough,"
Jane said of his reaction when she told
him. Like most men, he had never been
tested for STIs. "He blamed me, swore
he didn't know where it came from
and continued having sex with other
women like it was nothing." She soon
cut ties with the man.
Here is usually where stories about
STI transmission end. But for Jane, it
was only the beginning. She was an
undergraduate senior at the time and
still covered by her parents' insur-
ance. They were floored when the
bill was mailed home. "My mother
was very anti-sex, so she was disap-
pointed," Jane continued. "My father
knows but, to this day, we have never
spoken about it."
For four months she sought coun-
seling and experienced a range of
emotions. "I was upset, depressed,
trying to finish (my) last semester of
college - it was my counselor that
saved me." Jane explained, "I was
living in a small town then. And she
was one of the first people to talk to
me about it in a non-judgmental way.
She helped me gain the courage to
talk openly with my mom." In time,
things got better between Jane and
her mother. She was accepted into
graduate school at the University.
It was in Ann Arbor that she start-
ed dating again.
She was three or four dates and
steady phone calls in when she told
him. All they had done was kiss. She
previously told him that she wasn't
ready for sex. One night, she just
said it: "I have herpes." Jane remem-
bered. "That is a scary word for peo-
ple to hear."
But what was done was done. She
had won him over and he still wanted
to see her. They dated for six months
and eventually became sexually
active. She took daily medication to
prevent outbreaks. "Surprisingly, my
partner didn't seem nervous," she
said. "It was much more me pushing
to use a condom than him." But per-
sonality differences led to the end of
Today, she and her live-in partner
have been together a little over a year.
He had been a friend, so he knew
about her situation going in. They
talked about sex and the risks that
existed despite medicine and protec-
tion. She explained to him she could
have kids and a normal life. "He was
nervous at first, and we dated for two
and a half months before we started
having sex," she said
Jane is currently on birth control,
so she and her partner don't always
use protection. But there is still one
notable hill she hasn't climbed since
becoming infected: She hasn't had
to the oral sex conversation yet. And
while she gleefully explained that
she masturbates and that her partner
will occasionally stimulate her clitoris
during intercourse, that is the extent
of clitoral stimulation. "I am not sure
that him not giving me oral sex has
everything to do with herpes, but it's
not totally unrelated either," she said.
Along with managing oral sex han-
gups, there is the pill regimen. She
takes a large Valtrex pill once a day.
This is largely covered by her par-
ents' insurance. "For the uninsured
person, it costs $195 a month. But
prices vary depending on how many
outbreaks you have," she said. When
I asked about side effects, she paused
for a moment."I had nausea at first...
And I do check my skin occasionallyto
make sure there is no discoloration,",
she said. Long-term use of Valtrex
has been linked to kidney problems.
But other than these things, Jane con-
tends she lives a normal life.
An STI diagnosis
doesn't mean your 0
life is over.
"Herpes is an issue in the begin-
ning. But it's nice to know that if
(partners) can talk about herpes and
abstain until we are both ready, sex
becomes more meaningful," she said.
In the past, Jane dated guys who
were non-committal and superficial.
She also noted that while she faced
rejection since contracting herpes,
she has never been rejected by a man
she has dated. "The only stigma I
have felt has been from the public."
Jane noted, "Most of the discussions
I have heard on campus are related
to STIs in general or HI. I haven't
heard anyone talking about herpes."
In the end, Jane's diagnosis has
had its impact, but it didn't stop her
from graduating from college, heal-
ing her relationship with her mother
and pursuing a partnership she val-
ues. But it's important to note that
just as Jane isn't defined by her STI
status, she also isn't defined by our
As we strive to be inclusive. and
minimize STI stigma, it's important
to note that it's not our place to vali-
date anyone based on his or her STI
status. ButI also recognize that what
we say and how we treat people mat-
ter, and we should respect each other
and strive to understand those who
-Rose Afriyie can be reached