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February 22, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-22

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4A - Monday, February 22, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C ICdI,&an 4aly
Edited and mandged by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St
AnnArbor, MI 48109
=m" r rothedaily@umich.edu


I was positive that I won... But I saw that
Evan needs a medal more than I do.
Maybe because I already have one."




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.
Keeping close to home
'U' must encourage graduates to stay in Michigan
T he University has always been known for its high-caliber
academics, its dedication to furthering research and its
large in-state student body. But with Michigan residents
leaving the state in large numbers in response to the poor econom-
ic climate, the ratio of in-state to out-of state students enrolled at
the University could change. And though the University may be
forced to change its in-state to out-of-state student ratio to main-
tain its academic reputation, it should remember its commitment
to the state and its residents. To help benefit Michigan's failing
economy, the University should focus on the creation of programs
that will keep students in Michigan after they graduate.

- Russian Olympic figure skater Yevgeni Plushenko, commenting on his belief that he should have
won the gold medal instead of American Evan Lysacek, as reported Friday by Time magazine.
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Polit ical correctness run a mo

Currently, 65 percent of University stu-
dents are Michigan residents. 35 percent of
students are non-Michigan residents. But,
as the Daily reported last week, a Decem-
ber 2009 U.S. Census study showed that
at least 32,759 residents have left the state
between July 2008 and July 2009. The
state population is currently hovering at a
little under 10 million 'residents. The resi-
dential population has not been under 10
million since 2001. Despite the declining
in-state population, the number of in-state
applications to the University rose by 6.6
percent. And while the University is fully
aware of the dwindling population, offi-
cials - including University Provost The-
resa Sullivan - aren't concerned about the
decrease in state population.
As Sullivan pointed out in a recent Daily
article, the declining state population isn't
expected to reflect a huge change in in-state
applicants and enrollees in the near future.
But in the event that an even larger popula-
tion decrease occurs in the future, the Uni-
versity must stay committed to Michigan
and its residents: The University is a public
institution and Michigan residents support
it through taxes. In return, the University
must maintain its commitment to the state.
But the University's commitment may
not always mean preferring in-state to out-
of-state students. The state depends on the
University to produce the best possible
workforce, and that means the University

must maintain its high academic caliber.
It would be a disservice to the University
and the state if students accepted weren't
well qualified. University graduates are in
prime position to stimulate the growth of
science and technology industries in Michi-
gan. Regardless of population changes, the
University must continue to admit highly
qualified individuals to ensure its continued
production of students that will benefit the
changing Michigan economy.
It is currently unclear what - if anything
at all - the state's population decrease
will mean for University enrollment. The
University may find no shortage of highly
qualified Michigan students to admit. But
regardless of a potential ratio change, the
University should encourage students to
stay in Michigan after graduation. The
University should further develop partner-
ships like the job placement program that
the College of Engineering has with Ford
Motor Co. Programs similar to this partner-
ship will encourage University graduates to
seek employment within the state.
To maintain a balance between a com-
mitment to academic excellence and a
commitment to the state, the University
must produce a workforce that will benefit
the state's economy. Building up and cre-
ating programs that would encourage stu-
dents to remain in state after graduation
is just one way that the University and the
state could improve.

We all want solutions - it's
a basic human need. The
world is a big, complex
place, and we want
to deal with its
problems in bits -
and pieces so that
we may at least
have the satisfac-
tion of solving a
partof the problem.
But too often such
an approach simply
doesn't work. TheI
Michigan Student IMRAN
Assembly and the SYED
Daily's editorial
page, in their push
to mandate the use
of gender-neutral language on cam-
pus, have forgotten this timeless les-
The idea is simple enough: Propo-
nents say that the pronouns "he" and
"she" discriminate against students
who do not identify with either. The
better approach, they say, is to have
the University, its faculty and stu-
dents use gender-neutral references
such as "they" whenever possible.
But that solution is so perfunctory
that it borders on offensive.
MSA recently passed a resolution
to switch to gender-neutral language
in the Statement of Student Rights
and Responsibilities. The Daily's edi-
torial page went several steps further,
calling for a University-wide policy -
one that, alarmingly, would "require
professors to more carefully consider
their words and avoid using gender-
specific language that doesn't include
all students" (He/she/ze, 02/17/2010).
The reaction was predictable, with
most of the online comments to the
Daily's editorial expressing varying
degrees of frustration over political
correctness gone wild.
The simplistic political correct-
ness driving the change bothered me
as well. But I'm much more concerned

that this is yet another instance of a
hollow gesture masking a gross lack
of commitment to understanding the
underlying issue and to taking the
costly steps to resolve it.
To make my argument clearer,
let's consider the example of "Don't
ask, Don't tell." The policy was insti-
tuted in the mid-1990s and sold to us
as progress. Gay people could now
serve in the military, as long as they
pretended not to be gay, which, of
course, really means that gay people
still cannot serve in the military.
Since the policy was instituted, more
than 13,000 service members have
been discharged because they chose
not to pretend.
The stopgap rhetorical change
that "Don't ask, Don't tell" brought
was not only not a solution but actu-
ally stands in the way of a true solu-
tion today: Every time a proposal to
change the policy is brought forth,
opponents can simply point to DADT
and say it was compromise that is
progress enough - while knowing
full well that the policy did nothing
to change the underlying biases that
led to the exclusion of homosexuals
in the first place and, in fact, encour-
aged the view that homosexuals are
outsiders who don't belong.
It is exactly that sort of exoticiza-
tion and polarization that I fear will
result from this simplistic switch to
using gender-neutral language.
That women feel excluded by
the default use of the pronoun "he"
and that transgendered people feel
excluded by "he/she" being the only
options are undeniable. But these
feelings of exclusion are symptoms
brought on by the wider problem of
discrimination and lack of under-
standing. A superficial rewriting of
the student handbook (proposed by
MSA) or even outright censorship
of classroom discourse (which is the
inevitable outcome of the Daily's
proposal) will do nothing to correct

those underlying problems.
Like our hyper-sensitive society,
the University is very good at saying
all the right things. In the brochures
for the University's various schools,
you can read pages upon pages about
its commitment to diversity of all
forms. And yet the fact remains that
the moment I step foot into any of my
Law School classes and take a look at
the racial composition of the class, it
mayas wellbe 1910 as opposed to2010.
Discrimination in
language is part of
a larger problem.

For all its talk aboutbeing inclusive
to people of all backgrounds because
they bring unique experiences to the
campus community - rhetoric that
was carried all the way to the U.S.
Supreme Court in the 2003 cases of
Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bo-
linger - this University still had to
be threatened, harassed and coerced
into meeting the requirements of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of
1990 in the Michigan Stadium reno-
vation process.
Be it a race and ethnicity require-
ment that lacks bite, a Detroit Center
that's closed to all but those with a
special card or yet another sympo-
sium on this, that and the other thing
plaguing inner cities, we've had plen-
ty of talk and empty gestures around
this campus. Perhaps an institution
of such immensity can do no bet-
ter than a glacial pace. But students
should know better than to become
- Imran Syed can be reached
at galad@umich.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
Good behavior, bad regulation

Two eyes on the road

What is more important to the state of
Michigan: money or crime rates? This question
is now less hypothetical than you may think.
A new proposal from Michigan Gov. Jennifer
Granholm, a Democrat, aims to bring back
an ideal that was banned over 30 years ago in
the state. Granholm has introduced a measure
that would reinstitute the time off for good
behavior practice in Michigan penitentiaries.
Granholm has decided to bring back the poli-
cy, which was phased out in 1978, shortening
prison sentences for inmates with good prison
records. So which is more important?
It is a tricky question, to be sure. Michi-
gan has been driven almost to bankruptcy by
a combination of the failing auto industry and
inept governments in Detroit and Lansing. As
a result, any money-saving venture should cer-
tainly be welcomed. But the cost of security is
definitely something that needs to be looked at
It seems to me that the concept of time off
for good behavior is a fairly counter-intuitive
measure. If someone murders another person
but gets along great with other convicts, I don't
think that makes the murderer any better of a
person. In the same vein but on the other end of
the spectrum, ifa man goes to prison for pos-
session of marijuana and repeatedly acts up
in prison, that doesn't mean he's less fit to be
The issue at hand here shouldn't be time
credits or good behavior, but a complete reform
of the justice and corrections systems in the
state. Non-violent offenders, such as posses-
sion or white-collar crimes, shouldn't be pun-
ished in the same fashion as people convicted
of rape or murder. The sentencing system -
and the 'use of prisons - should be looked at
with a more critical eye and include more cre-

ative punishments for non-violent crimes.
Granholm has allowed Michigan to turn into
a national laughingstock on her watch - argu-
ably, the state has two of the worst cities in the
nation in terms of crime and economics. To
allow more violent crimes to occur by repeat
offenders is not a good way to combat this.
Another issue to be dealt with is the issue of
Michigan's state government and its inability
to manage anything resembling a budget. Gra-
nholm and her cronies seem to believe that if
you tax high, then somehow businesses will
flock to your state and your best and brightest
will stay in the state. In actuality, this leads to
less money and less opportunity for the state to
bounce back.
If Granholm wants to save money, she has a
few resources at her disposal. She can trim cor-
rections in earnest. Decriminalize drugs like
they did in season three of the television series,
"The Wire." Make parts of Detroit into "Ham-
sterdam." (I don't feel bad about not explaining
this. If you don't watch "The Wire," you don't
get the pleasure of the reference.) Or maybe
don't overspend on welfare by $6.2 million.
There is also the issue of state lawmakers and
their salaries but maybe we can discuss that
issue another day.
For me, this comes down to a personal deci-
sion. I don't want to walk down the street and
wonder if some child rapist got out of prison
early because he was buddy-buddy with a
guard in prison.,There are a million ways to
save money in Michigan, cut parts of correc-
tions, cut stupid unnecessary funding in other
departments like agriculture. Granholm has
effectively killed this state enough. Please
don't allow the actual killers back into society.
Asa Smith is an LSA sophomore.

know the buttons on my phone so
well that I can text with my eyes
closed. But when I try to multi-
task while texting
or talking on the
phone, the results
are usually ugly.
I tune people out, ,
trip over bumps in
the sidewalk and, ;
once, ran right
into the black poleh
separating the two
open, double doors COuinwinE
at Panera.
But I'm willing RATKOWIAK
to accept my weak-
nesses. That's why
I rarely talk on the phone or text while
driving a car, especially while navigat-
ing Ann Arbor, where student pedes-
trians (including myself) blatantly
disregard all traffic laws. Most of my
friends regularly type and talk while
they drive, though. And one of the first
things they say about it is, "I do it, but I
know Ishouldn't."
The Ann Arbor City Council is try-
ing to change that, and it's about time.
On Tuesday, the council passed the
first draft of a proposed city ordinance
that would make it illegal to text or
talk on the phone while drivinginAnn
Arbor. Of course, this isn't a novel idea
- the state of Michigan is currently
in the process of passing legislation
that will prohibit texting while driv-
ing. But I'm glad to see Ann Arbor has
decided the issue of impaired driv-
ing is serious enough to take action
now instead of waiting for the state's
bureaucracy to take its course.
The proposed Ann Arbor ordinance
prohibits both motorists and bicy-
clists from talking on the phone, lis-
tening to voicemail, texting, using the
Internet or operating a GPS, unless in
an emergency situation. There is one
big exception - hands-free devices


aren't included in the ban. That seems
like a cop-out, considering multiple
studies have shown hands-free devic-
es are no safer than using handheld
cell phones. But despite that, the City
Council still has the right idea - even
if most University students aren't
going to like the law.
According to the Governors High-
way Safety Association, six states
and Washington, D.C. currently ban
cell phone use while driving, and 19
states and Washington, D.C. ban tex-
ting while driving. In both the state of
Michigan and in Ann Arbor, similar
legislation is long overdue. A New Eng-
land Journal of Medicine study from
February 1997, one of the first studies
on the topic, showed that motorists
using cell phones while driving were
four times more likely to get in a car
accident than those who weren't on
their phones. Those findings have only
been reinforced over the past 13 years
but not without a few shocking adden-
dums - like the fact that driving while
on the phone is as statistically danger-
ous as driving drunk.
But even without those facts, it's
easy to see the dangers of distracted
drivers who talk on the phone while
navigating campus. In a city like Ann
Arbor, with cramped streets and a
high population of bikers and walkers,
the ordinance should be as unforgiving
as possible to discourage the behavior.
And in its current form, the proposed
legislation will be plenty strict.
In the Ann Arbor ordinance, talk-
ing or texting while driving would be
a primary offense. That's a leg up on
the state's version of the bill, where
texting while driving is only a second-
ary offense - the motorists can only
be ticketed after they've been pulled
over for another traffic violation,
which makes it hard to take the state's
law seriously.
And the proposed fines for vio-

lating the Ann Arbor ordinance are
steep, especially for cash-strapped
college students - a $125 fine for a
standard violation and a $300 fine if
the violation resulted in a motor vehi-
cle accident.
Driving on the
phone is as risky as
driving drunk.


The high fines might seem unnec-
essary, but when students drive in
Ann Arbor, we're often only in the
car for five or 10 minutes at a time.
It's not like most of us are commut-
ing or sitting in gridlock, where it
might be more understandable to
talk on the phone to pass the time.
I know that the thought of making
a $125 mistake would definitely be
enough to make me put the phone
away until I got home from Meijer.
Some people may complain that
this is just another way for the Ann
Arbor Police Department to make
easy money handing out tickets. I'm
usually in that camp - after all, I
often wish our city's law enforcement
had better things to do than ticket
cars at 9:45 a.m. for parking in spots
that are only free from 10 a.m. to 6
p.m. But now it looks like Ann Arbor
might be about to crack down on an
activity that will finally have more
positive effects than just feeding the
city's coffers - and that should be
enough to support hanging up our
phones before we start our cars.
- Courtney Ratkowiak was the Daily's
managing editor in 2009. She can be
reached at cratkowi@umich.edu.

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. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print
anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

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