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February 18, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-18

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4A - Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

4C iidi an tip
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
He she/ze
The University should adopt gender-neutral language policy
M ost students would identify themselves as either male
or female. But students who defy the traditional gen-
der binary have brought to light the importance of
using gender-neutral language on campus. Limited use of gender-
neutral language on campus has resulted in an exclusive environ-
ment for students that don't categorize themselves as "he" or "she."
But a recent resolution by the Michigan Student Assembly could
encourage the use of gender-neutral language on campus. Univer-
sity President Mary Sue Coleman should sign MSA's resolution and
University departments should adopt policies that require the use
of gender-neutral language to create an inclusive environment for
everyone, regardless of gender identity.

wow - in less than 30 hours almost
17K of you are following - amazing -
watch out Kim Kardashian."
- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, commenting on the number of followers
on his Twitter account, as reported by Fox News yesterday.
eli ir ~s ~~~l.' r,-e~~st.l I ,~.~ ' ~s
3 ecf, cuYf, 's 0 . ,'s' S t rv ra0 isr so css eie 1e:>
sty' pA L' Y
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Hail to the maverick


As reported by the Daily on Monday, MSA
recently passed a resolution that would
change the language of the Statement of
Student Rights and Responsibilities to be
gender-neutral. The resolution is current-
ly being reviewed by the Senate Advisory
Committee on University Affairs, the facul-
ty's main governing body. If SACUA passes
the resolution, it will proceed to Coleman's
desk for final approval. Currently, there are
no University policies that enforce the use
of gender-neutral language.
There have been some movements on cam-
pus to use gender-neutral language. Some
professors in the Women's Studies Depart-
ment have begun to use gender-neutral lan-
guage. Similarly, the Department of English
recently determined that the use of the sin-
gular "their" - formerly a grave grammati-
cal error - was appropriate instead of "he/
she." And some gender-neutral students sub-
stitute pronouns like "ze" for "he" or "she."
Gender-specific language contributes
to a learning environment that excludes
some students. Gender-neutral language
has a base in efforts to eliminate the ways
that language favors males - most people
are familiar with using "he/she" instead
of a singular male pronoun to be inclusive
of women. Though individuals who don't
identify with any gender haven't usually
been the focus of gender-neutral language,

the use of binary gender language doesn't
include their identity. On campus, students
are excluded by the use language that is
specific to either gender in the classroom
and assignments.
Adopting a University-wide policy would
be the most effective means to encourage
an inclusive environment. The symbolic
weight of such a policy would create a sig-
nificant impact among students and faculty.
What's more, gender-specific language is
not merely a problem at this University, but
also nation-wide. By adopting such a policy,
the University would stand out as a leader
on the progressive front.
And it wouldn't be a burden on professors
and staff. It would simply require profes-
sors to more carefully consider their words
and avoid using gender-specific language
that doesn't include all students. And, as the
Department of English has determined, not
even the use of the once-abhorred singu-
lar "their" is grammatically out-of-bounds.
Students should also be encouraged to use
gender-neutral language.
But first, the University should enact
measures proposed in the MSA resolution
to include gender-neutral language in the
Statement of Student's Rights and Respon-
sibilities. If this resolution passes, more
progress in the use of gender-neutral lan-
guage will follow.

D ear Sarah Palmn,
I know you've been busy
with book signings and tea
parties and all, so
I won't blame you
if you haven't had a
chance to read any
of my columns. To
be honest, if you
had read them,
you may have got-
ten the wrong
impression of me.
For some reason, MATTHEW
my readers tend to
think I'm some sort GREEN
of glib pawn of the
pro-choice, pro-
gay, elitist, Jew-
ish, liberal establishment. Under that
assessment, one would think that I'd
detest everything for which you stand.
But, boy, would that be wrong!
In the reflection of your rim-
less glasses, I see the heartbeat of
America. It calls to memory images
of the good old days that I never had
the opportunity to know - before all
those crazy "rights" movements in
the 1960s - when life just seemed so
pleasant for everyone, you know? The
future just looks brighter when I hear
you talk about returning to family val-
ues and taking the power away from
the educated elites. You've proven that
you don't need to spend all four years
at one college to have a lot of thought-
ful plans for the country.
On matters of so-called "health
reform," your resolve to keep the gov-
ernment's greedy hands off of Medi-
care is just what we need in a leader.
If you were our president, when our
men and women come back from Iraq
and Afghanistan (and presumably Iran
and North Korea by then, am I right?),
there wouldn't be any death panels
denying them their needed operations.
When it comes to the recession, I

know all your economic expertise will
surely come in handy. Your idea that
tax cuts will help reduce the national
deficit is spot on! You understand that
spending money on what liberals call
"infrastructure" is really just irre-
sponsible pork barrel phooey. And I
know you won't tolerate the injustice
of Wall Street getting a bailout when
my friends and I on Main Street can't
afford going to the Chop House on a
Friday night.
So let's get down to brass tacks: You
have simply got to run in 2012! I know
you're thinking about it, so I'm letting
you know that you have my endorse-
ment. You and I both know that it was
John McCain who held you back in the
fast election. Those temper tantrums
and that haircut! Gevalt! With so
many brilliant ideas for the country,
so much vigor and charm, how could
any real American resist you?
But before you rush back to the
Republican Party, I think you ought
to consider your options. Why should
you constrict yourself to the parochi-
alism of the Republican Party? It's
so rigid and status oriented - hardly
a place for a maverick! Do you sum-
mer in Kennebunkport or do you hunt
caribou on the Aleutian Islands? No,
ma'am, you're not one of them. And
that's a good thing!
The two-party system is old hat.
Now's the time for a party that nei-
ther defers to big business nor goes
overboard with social reforms. We
need a party to oppose the corrupt
Republicans and Democrats alike,
and to stand up for "Average Joes" all
across America.
Just a week or two ago, those patri-
ots over at Gallup asked everyday
Americans who they'd be most likely to
vote for in 2012. Among independents,
24 percent said they were unsure or
would vote for a candidate not from
the two major parties. Sounds to me

like a pretty good place to start for a
third-party 2012 bid. And judging by
the way President Barack Obama and
the Democrats lose support from cen-
trists every day, it also looks like that
number will only increase.
How could any
real American *
resist you, Palin?
Now, I know you might be think-
ing, "Well, gee, if I run, I'll just take
real American votes from my conser-
vative pals up in Washington, giving
the election to the liberals." And it's
true that this methodology has a basis
in history. Third-party candidates
almost always fail, and they oftenruin
the electoral chances of the candidate
nearest to them ideologically. If you
run, you are all but guaranteeing vic-
tory for the Democrats.
But it would send a message. Real
Americans must be heard! It may be
political martyrdom - but think about
all the publicity for the movement!
I know you've been doing a lot of
palm-reading lately, so perhaps you
don't need me to predict the future for
you. You might already know that it's a
good idea for you to run for president
in 2012 as a third-party candidate,
and an even better idea to convince a
handful of real Americans to run for
congressional seats in your party, too.
If that happens, the political land-
scape in Washington will definitely be
brighter after the 2012 election.
Your friend,
Matthew L. Green
- Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@unich.edu.

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
MSA shouldn't eliminate MedicalAmnestyActmakes
rights in a new constitution irresponsibility acceptable

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be
fewer than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation.
Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
Cooperation, not competition

The new all-campus constitution being pro-
posed by the Students for Progressive Gov-
ernance is not progressive. It should not be
approved by MSA this week or adopted by the
student body in the March election. The last
attempt to re-write the constitution by hold-
ing an unelected constitutional convention was
ruled unconstitutional by the Central Student
Judiciary and was ordered to disband. The con-
vention was effectively reconvened as a student
group in order to achieve the same purpose.
The proposed new constitution is far less dem-
ocratic, more bureaucratic, much more vague
and omits many important rights and protec-
tions that are provided to students and student
organization in the current constitution.
While the current constitution's Bill of
Rights protects against discrimination based
on "race, sex, color, religion, creed, national
origin or ancestry, age, marital status, sexual
orientation, gender identity, gender expres-
sion, disability, Vietnam-era veteran status,"
the proposed new constitution omits national
origin or ancestry, gender identity and expres-
sion and veteran status. This is unacceptable.
The proposed constitution also omits the Bill
of Rights article on dissenting opinions, which
under the current constitution protects the
right to be graded solely on academic perfor-
mance and not be penalized for disagreeing
with a professor's views.
The proposed constitution would give the
MSA president the right to veto resolutions
passed by the assembly. The assembly would
then have to meet a two-thirds vote in order to
overrule the veto. This would allow one person,
the president, to severely undermine the abil-
ity of the assembly to put the democratic will of
the student body into action. As we continue to
face a crisis in public education and a decline in
minority student enrollment, we cannot allow
our democratic rights and our ability to mobilize
the power ofxhe student body tobe abridged.
Kate Stenvig
Rackham Representative to MSA

The Daily's recent editorial about exempt-
ing intoxicated minors from legal repercussions
when seeking medical attention overlooked
some key factors when calling for the state Sen-
ate's action on the Good Samaritan bill (The safe
callfor Michigan, 02/15/2010).
The attention-grabbing first line of the edi-
torial, "An individual shouldn't be punished
for doing the right thing," fails to negotiate
the other side of the discussion. The individual
currentlybeingpunished under existinglaws is
an underage adult consuming alcohol illegally.
Why does someone breaking a law deserve to
be protected? Perhaps the drinking age should
be lowered, but by making the decision to drink
illegally, minors are immediately in danger of
facing legal trouble and are acceptingresponsi-
bility for any situation that arises.
Should this be the avenue we take to corral
college binge drinking? The Michigan Student
Assembly, by petitioning the state government,
thinks so. By accepting the fact that college
students will continue to drink inordinate
amounts of alcohol, we are surrendering the
fight to curb the lethal behavior.
An increase in 9-1-1 calls at Cornell University,
which is cited in MSA's resolution to support the
Good Samaritan bill, may be a result of the law
being passed. Increased 9-1-1 calls at Cornell
University may also be a result of an increase in
underage drinking due to the law being passed.
Without the danger ofpotentiallygettingintrou-
ble for calling for help from a friend, one might
ascertain minors will drink more freely.
So where should we look to fight the deadly
game of college binge drinking? Passing the
Good Samaritan bill is not the answer we need.
It forfeits our ability to successfully attack
binge drinking, the root cause of alcohol-relat-
ed deaths. Admitting defeat to the higher edu-
cational problem of alcohol is not in the best
interest of the University, nor does it follow its
role as "in loco parentis."
Stephen DeMare
LSA Senior

remember my first year on this
campus like it was yesterday.
I recall being surprised to see
packed librar-
ies on a Sunday. I
remember being
introduced to the,
bell curve system
and dreading the
competitive spirit
it brought forth.
To this day, I still
don't understand
how this system BRITTANY
is helpful. For SMITH
example, students
placed in Math
115 still take Math
105 and do exceptionally well, and
their sky-high scores are a detri-
ment to other students who aren't as
advanced. This, in turn, makes the
grading for less advantaged students
even more stressful, adding to an
already exacting course load.
But I digress. What stood out the
most - and what continues to catch
my attention - are the innumerable
student organizations on campus.
Students are involved in a laundry
list of organizations. Sometimes they
overlap in interest, and other times
they are as diverse as the campus
community itself. But what makes
me scratch my head is this question:
do students really have an invested
interest in the organizations in which
they hold leadership positions, or do
they simply claim leadership in mul-
tiple organizations for their own self-
The events that student organiza-
tions plan often overlap with other
organizations' plans. In my experi-
ence, however, I have noticed that
the student leaders of similar orga-

nizations are hesitant to collaborate
on events with each other. Instead, it
seems that students prefer to work in
a fragmented model - one where each
organization works alone. But in real-
ity, some organizations with overlap-
ping interests would produce better
events if they decided to work togeth-
er instead of as separate entities.
I am again left to wonder why this
is so. Perhaps it is because the cul-
ture at the University is one in which
students are self-absorbed and more
interested in the "I" instead of the
"we." If collaboration could further
advance an organization's mission
to, for example, provide mentor-
ship to inner-city youth, then it's not
apparent why collaboration is often
replaced by multiple student orga-
nizations with parallel agendas but
fragmented activities.
My question about the lack of coop-
eration isn't condemnation - it's curi-
osity. I wonder why collaboration is so
rarely pursued on campus. And I can't
help but ask if student leaders' self-
interest is the cause. If student orga-
nizations with similar interests were
suddenly a singular organization, the
student leaders that run these orga-
nizations would no longer be able
to have resum6-building leadership
titles, which wouldn't be as helpful
to their future prospects. But I would
hate to think that students have lead-
ership titles in one or multiple orga-
nizations simply so they can impress
prospective employers and graduate
program admissions officials. This
helps explain why student organiza-
tions don't collaborate to a greater
extent. Holding separate events may
not always be the best way for groups
to advance their causes, but it does
allow leaders to say that they orga-

nized the events themselves.
The optimistic part of me would
like to think that the culture of this
university is one that defines lead-
ership as independent and that stu-
dent organizations prefer to advance
causes in their own independent
fashion. However, I admit that when
I see students who don't seem to have
a fire in their belly for the interests
that their organization serves, I can
only assume the title that they hold
is held for personal interests and not
the community's interests.
Student orgs
should collaborate
for greater results.
Sadly, it seems that some student
organizations have been reduced by
their leaders to resum6 builders. The
interests many student organizations
serve might be better furthered by
cooperative efforts between similar
groups. Consolidation is perhaps too
much to hope for, but greater col-
laboration between student leaders
is a very real possibility if leaders can
set aside their egos - and their resu-
mes - and work together to produce
greater results. It's not always neces-
sary for organizations to hold their
own independent events, and leaders
should consider if their organizations
could better further their cause by
partnering with others in the com-
- Brittany Smith can be reached
at smitbrit@umich.edu.



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