4 - Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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The percentage of Americans
3 2 / who said that skating was
their favorite event featured
in the winter Olympics.
- According to a recent Marist Poll, as reported by The New York Times last week.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Updati ngyour status
'U' should make rapid HIV testing available on campus
Though students often joke about promiscuity on campus,
the dangers of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/
AIDS are very real. But with the help of a new public ser-
vice campaign called the P2 Initiative, the University's social scene
could become safer for students. The P2 Initiative will consist of
a series of advertisements encouraging students to get tested for
HIV/AIDS. But the P2 Initiative isn't enough to combat the threat
of HIV/AIDS. The University should provide students with the
most efficient testing services available, and students should heed
the advice of the P2 campaign and get tested.
Excited with exception
According to the World Health Organi-
zation, there were 33.4 million people liv-
ing with HIV in 2008. That same year, 2.7
million people were newly infected with
the virus and there were 2 million AIDS
related deaths. Alarmed at these numbers,
various University groups are working to
promote health on campus. A joint proj-
ect between University Health Services
and the Multi Ethnic Student Association
is in the works. Advertisements by the P2
Initiative will feature students with the
slogan "know your status." This project is
a further development of the Promiscuity
Project sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha
It's a common misconception that HIV
and AIDS only affect certain parts of the
world or particular cultures - diseases don't
discriminate. It's encouraging that student
groups are tackling the issue. Many students
have the impression that because they do not
live in an AIDS-prevalent society, they won't
get infected. But unsafe sex on college cam-
puses puts students at risk. Anyone practic-
ing unsafe sex can be infected.
It's important that students understand
that these illnesses affect students and
that they can - and should - act to protect
themselves and others. The best way for
students to stay safe from these diseases is
to be aware of their personal health status.
It's not enough for students to assume they
don't have the disease. All students should
use the resources available on campus and
get tested in order to ensure that illnesses
But for many students, getting tested for
HIV/AIDS can be intimidating. To get test-
ed, students must go to University Health
Services and return or call after two weeks
for results. UHS also offers sexually trans-
mitted infection screening on a walk-in
or appointment basis, with results in two
to three days. That testing is available is
good, but a two-week wait increases stu-
dents' stress over the issue and may dis-
courage them from getting tested.
To make the process less daunting and
encourage students' safety and health,
UHS should make rapid testing available
on campus. Rapid HIV testing provides
results in about 20 minutes. Rapid testing
will be provided by the Washtenaw County
Health Department on select days in the
next few months, but students should have
more access to this important resource.
And with a premier hospital here on cam-
pus, there's no reason this technology
shouldn't be available at the University -
especially considering the positive health
effects it would have on students.
Students should take every possible pre-
caution against contracting HIV/AIDS,
and getting tested is the first step. The Uni-
versity should work to make rapid testing
available on campus, and students should
utilize testing options available to them.
As a student whose time at the
University is drawing to a
close this spring, I had been
of the commence-
ment speaker for
this year's gradu-
ating class. This
speaker, as every-
one on campus
must by now be
aware, was finally
revealed last week ROBERT
to be none other SOAVE
Though I was out
of Ann Arbor this weekend - missing
the celebratory parades and firework
displays that probably took place on
the Diag - I can deduce from the
reaction on Facebook that my fel-
low students were overjoyed by the
And you-know what? I share their
satisfaction, though with a serious
After all, it can't be credibly denied
that Obama is one of the public fig-
ures most relevant to the lives of
University students, regardless of
whether you love him or hate him.
Unprecedented numbers of students
identified with his candidacy and
were inspired to vote for him. But
even beyond that, for the first time in
years, University students were suf-
ficiently energized by a presidential
candidate on behalf of whom they
spent hours rallying, fundraising and
registering others to vote all over
It is also an honor for the Universi-
ty to feature a president of the United
States as its commencement speaker
for the second time in three years.
(Bill Clinton addressed the class of
Because of this and all the other
reasons that make Obama an impor-
tant figure for college students of the
times, I agree that he is the right choice
for commencement speaker and I look
forward to his speech. But I must take
issue with the Daily's over-the-top edi-
torial about just how perfect Obama is
(Big man at the Big House, 02/12/10).
Particularly, it demonstrates the hol-
lowness of pro-Obama fanaticism to
suggest that, "There is no leader bet-
ter qualified to provide students with
advice on leadership."
People, and perhaps University
students in particular, tend to ideal-
ize political leaders, especially high-
profile ones like presidents. From
Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy
to Ronald Reagan, we award mythic
status to the presidents who have
meant something to us. We consider
their achievements the result of unim-
peachable personal integrity and
intellectual beliefs put into practice.
In reality, political leaders are
just like anyone else. They have the
same incentives and motivations as
your average person: they want to
be successful, powerful and popular.
Whether they succeed or fail at this
doesn't make them good leaders, but
rather good politicians.
Obama is certainly no exception.
Take, for example, his handling of
"Don't ask, Don't tell," the U.S. mili-
tary's controversial policy of allow-
ing gay people to serve in the military
only if they keep their sexuality a
secret. During the 2008 presiden-
tial campaign, Obama advocated the
repeal of the policy, promising to
work with the military to do so when
elected. But once in office - despite
having the power to instantly end
enforcement of the policy, if not the
policy itself - Obama did nothing.
Only last month, after a full year of
largely ignoring the issue, did the
president take any action.
Of course, the action he took is
unlikely to lead to a change any-
time soon. In his State of the Union
address on Jan. 27, Obama announced
that he would work with Congress to
repeal the ban. If he cared enough
about ending discrimination in the
military though, Obama could simply
instruct the military not to enforce it.
Then, once it became clear that open-
ly gay people who serve in the mili-
tary aren't a detriment to the armed
forces, it would be time for Congress
to act. But certainly he must know
that leaving it up to Congress (which
has struggled with health care
reform since the middle of summer)
is the best way to ensure inaction on
Despite the hype,
Obama is not
Obama's motivation for placing this
policy's reform in the hands of Con-
gress is no mystery: he doesn't want
to risk a backlash against him or his
party with a national election coming
up next year. That doesn't sound like
such a perfect leader to me.
So, class of 2010, please con-
tinue the celebratory festivities. If
I'm pelted by confetti and heart-
shaped Obama candies when I enter
the Diag, I won't be complaining.
But part of graduating from college
means becoming more realistic about
the way government works and what
political leaders are like. Let's keep
that in mind.
- Robert Soave was the Daily's
editorial page editor in 2009. He can
be reached at rsoaveggmich.edu.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Jordan Birnholtz, William Butler, Nicholas Clift,
Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith,
Robert Soave, Radhika Upadhyaya, Laura Veith
MADELINE O'CAMPO |
It's my graduation, not Obama's
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For years, the Michigan Student Assembly
has faced a crisis of relevancy. When students
look at MSA, they see a group of elected peers
that fails to engage with the campus and live
up to campaign promises. Students remember
the $7.19 MSA fee they pay each semester, but
can't call to mind any substantial action the
assembly has taken to better their lives. The
2010 MSA election will be a decisive moment to
do away with business as usual in the assembly
and bring relevancy back to MSA.
MForward is a group of student leaders who
have joined together to meet this challenge
with fresh ideas, bold action and commitment
to a student-oriented community. Under the
banner of "Ideas, Action, Community," MFor-
ward seeks to transform MSA from a stagnant,
self-interested body into avibrant forum where
inter-student dialogue is encouraged and facil-
MForward will be led by proven, experi-
enced and energized students from a broad
coalition of student organizations and com-
munities. Our candidate for MSA president,
LSA junior Chris Armstrong, has proven him-
self a leader in the LGBT community as Chair
of the assembly's LGBT Commission. Arm-.
strong has a track record of being a powerful
advocate and a tenacious leader. Over the past
year, Armstrong has successfully worked to
bring the 2011 Midwest LGBT conference to
campus, increasing the University's stature in
the national LGBT community. Our candidate
for vice president, Business junior Jason Ray-
mond, has been the student body's greatest
defender on the assembly, leading efforts to
stave off tuition increases through the Stop the
Armstrong and Raymond, as well as our
growing slate of representative candidates,
have records of being inclusive, progressive
and engaged leaders in every facet of the Uni-
MForward will harness the drive of our
candidates into an idea-focused assembly that
pulls from the best that the University of Mich-
igan offers. Our assembly must be a strong
voice advocating on behalf of students. Over
the past year, we have heard almost nothing
from the MSA leadership on the issues - big
or small - that are most relevant to students.
MForward is committed to holding town hall
meetings with the student body and student
groups to build a voice that speaks for Michi-
We will immediately take action to make
MSA a better body for students. We will trans-
form the much criticized student organization
funding process by integrating organization
treasurers, making the process more accessible
and transparent. Our pledge is to roll out this
new and improved funding process next fall.
Furthermore, we will deliver on the promise
to streamline the MSA website and make it a
community building tool for students. Most
importantly, we will continually engage all
parts of campus in a dialogue regarding stu-
dent priorities and creative ways to maximize
MForward promises to hold the adminis-
tration accountable. We will ensure that the
administration is in constant consultation with
the students on issues that affect them. The stu-
dent body isn't represented well when its elected
representatives fail to consistently engage the
administration as independent, equal partners.
We seek to form a broader coalition of represen-
tatives across majors, student organizations and
communities to show that the student body is
engaged and will not be silenced.
The MForward mass meeting will be held
this Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Hen-
derson Room of the Michigan League. We are
seeking passionate campus leaders, especially
from under-engaged communities like the
Dental and Nursing Schools, among others, to
join our effort.
We strongly believe that the success of the
Michigan Student Assembly is dependent on
the excitement and passion its representatives
bring to the body.
This viewpoint was written by Chris Armstrong
and Jason Raymond on behalf of MForward.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that
President Barack Obama is speaking at spring commence-
ment. And you've probably also heard that everyone in
Ann Arbor and everyone graduating is pretty thrilled
about it. But this isn't entirely true. There are more than
a few people on campus who are less happy about it. I'm
one of them, and I've been doing a lot of explaining about
why I am so upset.
I only get to graduate from college once in my life. My
family was going to come all the way from Oregon, and
we were all looking forward to it, and now I'm not going
Here's why: University President Mary Sure Coleman
announced the speaker with this statement: "President
Obama has captured the imagination and enthusiasm
of many students with his inspiring words of hope and
change. We are honored to welcome a leader of his dis-
tinction and look forward to his message. We could not
be happier for the graduates who will celebrate their
academic achievements with the president of the United
States" (President Obama to deliver spring commencement
What about the students who haven't had their imagi-
nations and enthusiasms captured by "hope and change"?
There are some students here who aren't Obama fans.
Maybe we're not so happy to celebrate with him.
And I'm not convinced that it's graduates' achieve-
ments that we'll be celebrating. I have a feeling that
the whole weekend is going to be everyone celebrating
Obama instead. He's got rock star status in this town.
Friends who weren't planning on coming to commence-
ment called me asking for tickets when they found out
about him. The University is planning ways to deal with
increased demands for tickets. People won't come to see
us - students who have worked for four or more years to
get a degree - they will come to hear Obama. This week-
end was supposed to be our graduation, not his event.
And for those of us who aren't Obama fans, it's going
to feel a lot like the night of Nov. 4, 2008, when all of Ann
Arbor danced in the streets, butI went to bed at 10:30 p.m.
and worried about what this meant for me and my coun-
try. I wished I was almost anywhere except Ann Arbor.
Everyone here is supposed tobe open-minded and accept-
ing, but it felt like I had a target painted on my back when
I pinned a McCain-Palin button to my bookbag during
the campaign. My friends tried to talk me out of voting
Republican and treated me like an idiot when I refused. I
was made to feel afraid and ashamed to express a legiti-
mate viewpoint. This discrimination is as unacceptable as
anything inflicted on any other minority community, but
because we're Republicans, people in Ann Arbor some-
how think that it's okay.
Half of the country didn't vote for Obama. Recent
approval ratings show that over half the country doesn't
think he's so fabulous now. And the fact that this never
gets addressed - because Democrats are overwhelm-
ingly the majority in Ann Arbor - bothers me. Don't get
me wrong: I think it speaks volumes for the University's
prestige that the current president is our commencement
speaker. But Obama is one of the most polarizing figures
in a country that's weathering one of the most tense polit-
ical climates in years, and it's that polarization that makes
me question if he's a good choice.
I went to commencement when former President Bill
Clinton spoke in 2007. I'd go if he were speaking this
year, even though I dislike him. But he's not the current
president. He's not the focal point for so much emotion on
both sides of the political aisle. He doesn't have control
over issues that so many people feel so strongly about. He
doesn't represent a party and an agenda that many people
oppose. Obama is all of these things, and his presence
will turn the graduation ceremony into a political event.
Everyone in Ann Arbor - business owners, politicians,
students - now has something they want him to focus
on in his speech like jobs, manufacturing or Michigan's
economy. These are all important things that the presi-
dent needs to talk about. But our commencement ceremo-
ny is not the place to do it.
I wanted to go to my college graduation and pose in my
cap and gown with my friends. I wanted to walk into the
Big House for the last time as a student and out for the
first time as a graduate. Now I won't, because I wanted a
graduation, not a political event.
I'm deeply disappointed in the University for perpetu-
ating the myth that everyone is inspired by Obama and
that everyone will be happy that he's speaking. I wish
someone had considered that maybe some people don't
want graduation day to be about Michigan's economic
woes or the president or the state of American politics.
These are all things that everyone, party affiliation aside,
is concerned about. But this one day out of the year, our
college graduation, is supposed to be about us.
Madeline O'Campo is an LSA senior.
The Daily is looking for a diverse, passionate, strong group of student writers to join
the Editorial Board. Editorial Board members are responsible for formulating and
writing the editorials that appear on the left side of the page.
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.