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February 25, 2010 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, February 25, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

JbE *ICdigan 0at4i
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 of their authors.
Opening the doors
'U' Board of Regents should be more transparent
E thical standards haven't appeared to be the University's
strong suit lately. Allegations that the University violated
NCAA regulations are damning enough. On top of the
NCAA debacle, alum Robert Davis has filed a lawsuit against the
University alleging that a closed-door meeting of the Board of
Regents violated the terms of the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Though it's not yet clear if the meeting was technically a viola-
tion of the law, the regents clearly weren't as transparent as they
should be. The Board of Regents makes important decisions that
directly affect the University community and it has an obligation
to disclose everything it discusses.

The lawsuit, which was filed last week,
alleges that a meeting that took place on
Feb. 3 in University President Mary Sue
Coleman's private conference room was in
violation of the Michigan Open Meetings
Act. Davis claims that he was denied entry
into the meeting, and that the regents have
refused to release the meeting's minutes.
As reported by the Daily last week, Univer-
sity spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham has
said that the regents haven't done anything
wrong in this situation. University spokes-
man Rick Fitzgerald has said that because
the meeting was informal, it didn't fall
under the act's jurisdiction.
The meeting in question was held to dis-
cuss the then-ongoing NCAA investigation
of the University's Athletic Department. The
investigation aimed to discover if the foot-
ball program had violated NCAA policies
regarding limits on practice time. The Uni-
versity has since received official notice of
allegations that five violations of NCAA rules
occurred. Punitive action is pending.
It is ironic that the regents may have
ignored state regulations in a meeting in
which they were discussing whether stu-
dent-athletes had violated NCAA regula-
tions. And though the regents' intentions
may have been pure, their actions seem
like subterfuge. This type of exclusive and
secretive behavior is damaging to the Uni-
versity's reputation, especially since the

issue at hand was potentially unethical
behavior within the University. It would
have been in the regents' best interest to
be frank and forthcoming about their han-
dling of the investigation.
The meeting's legality is still under scru-
tiny. And the University may have acted
within the boundaries of technical law. But
the regents certainly violated the spirit of
the law. As a public institution, the Uni-
versity has an obligation to Michigan resi-
dents to be transparent about its decisions.
That the regents thought that they should
keep their discussion of the investigation
private is troubling.
And the regents have a history of keep-
ing their decision-making processes in the
dark. They routinely vote unanimously for
tuition increases without public debate and
discussion, with the exception of the last
increase, which two regents voted against.
But the debate that often gets withheld
from the public is valuable. And the Uni-
versity has a responsibility to include the
community in its choices.
It's likely to be quite some time before a
conclusion to the lawsuit is reached. But
regardless of the outcome, the regents
should understand that their lack of trans-
parency is unacceptable. The regents have
a responsibility to the University and it is
imperative that theybe upfront about their

I give her the gold medal for courage:'
- Olympic ice skating coach Robin Wagner, commenting on Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, whose
mother passed away two days before her performance, as reported by the New York Times on Tuesday.
me a favor. Next time
you're in the mood for aduk I wakeup last night, and all I --
entertainment. Owrn the ~ ) hear is, "Yep, yes! Go! Yes! i don't tare what the ids
sound down. Hauder! Hurry hard! REAL call it these days. just keep ita
6 ...x.na.' a
6 C 6 CID
06 *
0 0 0 O tC
Blah la la
W ooooooooeeeeeeee! photographs to go along with it?" gets WILD. Ann Arbor becomes New
Spring break! SPRING Whatcthey're trying to say, of course, Orleans on Mardi Gras.
BREAK. Spring BREAK. is that censorship is perfectly all right.
Ooh, that one's No, I mean that they're trying to
the coolest look- keep this paper respectable, which is No one is reading
ing. Hey, maybe definitely a good idea since the presi-
they should call it dent will be coming to campus soon. this.Im a just
"Winter break #2" Instead of having a spring break issue t . mean,
at the University. this week, for instance, yesterday's look at the title!
Ha ha! Because it's edition of the Statement featured the
still snowing out. ',. slightly less raunchy - yet no less
I wonder if people exciting - topic of landscaping.
will get the joke. Also, this year, we at the Daily Many have questioned the reason
Not that it matters WILL would like to shed light on what hap- for all this excitement from non-stu-
because I don't GIUNDLER pens in Ann Arbor during the week dent Ann Arbor citizens. There are,
have to worry of spring break, rather than "what's in fact, lots of reasons:
about anyone actu- happening" in Cancun or someplace 1. There are no students.
ally reading thi- else. 2. The Squirrel Club ceases its
Woah! You're still here? AND So then, what goes on here in Ann operations.
you're reading the Daily? (Why?) Arbor when you're gone? It's actu- 3. Squirrels start to starve.
Well I guess this column does matter. ally quite interesting. To use an 4. Cars are permitted to drive.
I'm sorry, what would you like to read analogy: Remember in the "Harry 5. There aren't any boring, philo-
about? Health care? The economy? Potter" books when just about every- sophical and elitist conversations
Animal rights? Ellen Degeneres on one leaves for spring break, leaving from said smart-alecky students who
American Idol? I have a firm stance Harry, Ron and Hermione all alone, are so busy having them on their lit-
on all the major issues. I walk into and then Harry flings the invisibil- tle cell phones that they just walk in
the Daily and all the other colum- ity ring into the big volcano? Wait, front of said cars.
nists say, "Man, just look how firm I'm remembering it wrong. Maybe 6. The Michigan Student Assembly-
his stance is!" Even if I don't know Dumbledore dies first? Okay, MSA, I'll letcyou off this time, but
about an issue, I make sure I'm firm Anyway, the point is that stuff goes ONLY because youguys are alwaysstar-
about it. down when 40,000 students who feel geted for abuse and/or humor.
But let's address spring break. You that they "run this town" leave, and 7. MSA ceases operations.
probably have a Friday class or some- that stuff is... a huge party. Still reading? Well, you can stop
thing, and then after that it's down to it's unbelievable, right? While now because I'm done. I've got a
Mexico to get fur - we're supposed to be having the time break to take! I just don't know which
I will have to apologize again. My of our lives on aswarm beach in Flor- one - I've got tons of offers. And I
editors, who are outstanding indi- ida, Ann Arborites are partying it up mean TONS. You get really popular
viduals, have just informed me that back here! You would think that the when you become a Daily colum-
"obscene articles about spring break stores would close their doors and nist. Acapulco, Jamaica - these nice
are in poor taste, and though they people would just sort of stay in bed people at Exclusive College Spring
have appeared in the past, this is or die off, but what happens is com- Break keep offering mesweet deals.
ultimately a prestigious paper with a pletely the opposite. This is why we But I may just stay here and watch the
circulation of- Well, you're right, it's always get an e-mail from the Uni- madness.
not a HUGE circulation, let's be clear, versity reminding us to secure our
but- Look, will you just listen? Stop valuables, lock our doors and take - Will Grundler can be
shouting. What doyou meanyou have any alcohol with us, because it just reached at wgru@umich.edu.
The Daily is looking for diverse, passionate, strong
student writers to join the Editorial Board. Editorial Board members
are responsible for discussing and writing the editorials that
appearon the left side of the opinion page.
Amore inclusive call to action


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.
Rational release policy

While I understand Asa Smith's concern for
Michigan's safety and reputation, his analysis of
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposal
to release 7,500 prison inmates relies on several
untrue assumptions (Good behavior, bad regu-
lation, 02/21/2010). This proposal is obviously
an issue of concern to Michigan citizens and it
needs to be handled delicately. But by framing
the conversation as a clear trade-off between
public safety and budget cuts, Smith distorts
the issue. Many politicians have capitalized on
public fear by presenting the same narrative. It
is possible to make budget cuts to our prisons
without putting ourselves in more danger. Gra-
nholm just has to do it correctly.
Earlier this month, Granholm proposed mak-
ing over $130 million in cuts to the state's prison
system. The state would release roughly 7,500
prisoners early based on "goodbehavior credits."
People imprisoned for all types of crimes could
potentially qualify forthese credits.
My biggest problem with Smith's analysis is
his portrayal of the makeup of Michigan's pris-
oners. His use of child-rapists and murderers
as examples suggests that most of our prison-
ers are incarcerated for crimes of equal sever-
ity. The public tends to envision a prison system
crawling with those convicted of only the most
serious types of crime. But not only are there
violent crimes that aren't as severe as murder,
there are also plenty of felonies that aren't vio-
lent. While it's surprisingly difficult to find sta-
tistics on the makeup of Michigan's prisoners,
I have good reason to believe that the general
public's narrative is wrong.
Let's start with prisoners convicted of rape
and other sexual offenses. The term "sex-offend-
er" is a vague term that is too often used inter-
changeably with "child-rapist." The Michigan
State Police department provides alist ofoffenses
for which an individual can wind up on the sex-
offender list. Many kinds of offenses, like what
the Michigan Penal Code describes as "solicit-

ing, accosting, or inviting to commit prostitution
or immoral act" could mean a number of things
that don't involve adult-to-child rape. This fall,
for instance, the Daily reported on the case of a
teenager who could have been put on the list for
a crime he committed when he was 15 years old.
Furthermore, many criminology studies
show that individuals frequently overestimate
the amount of murder occurring in the U.S. and
this is often a result of the way crime is por-
trayed in prime-time television. Ina 1997 study,
Vandiver and Giacopassi asked criminal justice
students to estimate the number of homicides
that occurred in the U.S. that year. The aver-
age estimate was 250,000, even though the real
number thatcyear was 18,208.
There are several other problems with Smith's
analysis. It assumes that long prison sentences
are necessary to decrease crime recidivism, even
though there is a body of research showing that
the opposite is true. It also doesn't acknowledge
that Michigan has a recent history of having
unusually high incarceration rates in relation to
other states. Finally, inflamed crime rhetoric like
referring to murderers as inherently bad people,
or stating that criminals must be removed from
our society, suggests thatall criminals are utterly
hopeless. If this were true, we would just give
them all lifetime sentences or the death penalty.
I agree with Smith that good behavior cred-
its should not be granted blindly to all types of
criminals - one who is imprisoned for murder
should not be subject to the same discretion as
someone who is imprisoned for drug use. But
this is not enough of a reason to go against the
policy altogether. Fear rhetoric is a powerful
tool and I encourage the public to look past it
in the arguments that are inevitably going to
be made by Republican legislators. As we con-
tinue to discuss Granholm's policy, let's be sure
not to lose our heads.
Jeremy Levy is an LSA sophomore.

Imran Syed's column this week (Political correctness
run amok, 02/22/2010) provoked a flurry of online com-
ments as he responded to a recent Daily editorial on
gender-neutral language at the University (He/She/Ze,
02/15/2010). Syed wrote, "I'm ... concerned that this
(MSA and University move to use gender neutral lan-
guage) is yet another instance of a hollow gesture mask-
ing a gross lack of commitment to understanding the
underlying issue and to taking the costly steps to resolve
it." I appreciated his acknowledgment of how entrenched
discrimination against transgender people is, so I read
on enthusiastically to hear what drastic remedy he might
call for.
Sadly, he didn't offer better actions and left readers with
a call not to "enable" the University to take even "simplis-
tic" action. Basically, it was a call to do nothing at all. If
we were to forego taking even these small steps, we could
guarantee that change would come only at the glacial pace
Syed worries is our fate - if change were to come at all.
Syed writes, "that solution is so perfunctory that it
borders on offensive." However, I am not offended by
MSA moving to use language that causes no harm to non-
transgender students and facilitates a sense of inclusion
for gender variant students. It would be offensive were
this the only solution being considered.'
It is true that transgender students, staff and faculty
face challenges much greater than discomfort with non-
inclusive language - for example, the right to use our
preferred names, change gender markers on legal docu-
mentation, have access to gender neutral bathrooms and
housing, be treated respectfully and fairly at work and in
Ifusing inclusive language were so simple and perfunc-
tory, why does it inflame such vehement resistance? In a
world of rampant prejudice, a "simple" language change
is not at all simple. Language change can be uncomfort-
able. When we made the shift away from using "man" and
"he" as universal, it was awkward. Writers to this day
must decide how to handle this and explain themselves
in prefaces or footnotes. Reviving the use of the singular
"they" would resolve that dilemma. So this solution does
not serve only a tiny minority of transgender folks.
Discrimination in language is part of a larger problem.
Adjusting pronouns in official documents and making
proclamations about inclusion doesn't change the world.
If that were the only support transgender people were to

get from the University, I would be concerned. However,
arguing against such changes does not improve the situ-
ation either. As with most social change efforts, multi-
pronged approaches are necessary. It makes more sense
to fight for change in your own way than to fight against
someone else's efforts toward the same end.
Syed offers the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy as an
example of a "solution" that didn't solve the problem.
He points out that it "did nothing to change the under-
lying biases that led to the exclusion of homosexuals in
the first place." This is true. By dishonorably discharging
anyone who admits to being gay, the military states loud
and clear that being gay isn't acceptable. But, this is not
a parallel situation. Adopting gender inclusive language
acknowledges the presence of - and models acceptance
of - gender variant students. This acknowledgment cre-
ates visibility, which some would argue is an important
step toward tolerance and acceptance.
Many online comments seem concerned that anyone
would bother to make adjustments to better include stu-
dents who are in an "infinitesimal" minority. It's true:
Very few students today openly identify outside of the
gender binary - emphasis on "openly." It used to seem
that there weren't many gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer
students at the University either. This wasn't because
they weren't here. Rather, they weren't visible because to
be open abouttheir identities ina climate of socially sanc-
tioned homophobia might have endangered their careers
and their physical and psychological safety.
Individuals who don't identify with the gender binary
of man or woman are rare; we will possibly always be
quite rare, even where it safe for us to be visible. This
doesn't dismiss our right to basic respect and courtesy.
Online writers pointed out that my career and my reputa-
tion as a sane human being are at risk because my gender
identity and expression aren't normative. I can't tell from
your gender whether you are mentally stable, a good stu-
dent or worker, or a decent human being. You can't tell
that from mine either. When people assume they can is
proof enough that language change is necessary. It isn't
a small issue. It is a necessary addition to initiatives on
campus aimed at fulfilling the University's commitment
to nondiscrimination. -
Timothy Corvidae is a School of
Social Work graduate student.


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

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