4A - Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
tE JiCdigan ,Ealy
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Attention Wal-Mart customers:
All black people leave the store now.
- An unauthorized announcement made over a New Jersey Wal-Mart PA system, as reported
yesterday by Time magazine. Wal-Mart officials have apologized and are investigating.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE 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.
'U' should return Native American remains
ver the course of the last two decades, University officials,
students and Native American organizations have been
locked in a controversial debate over museum artifacts
deemed "culturally unidentifiable." But this week, the debate over
these artifacts at the University's Museum of Anthropology may
finally advancing after years of gridlock. Recent changes to the 1990
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act will force
museums, including those at the University, to re-evaluate "cultur-
ally unidentifiable" remains and return them to the Native Ameri-
can community. The University should act in a timely manner and
return the 1,390 "culturally unidentifiable" remains it currently
possesses to the appropriate Native American groups.
This watchdog is ticked
f you're a regular reader of this
column, you know that some-
thing might be wrong with you.
But you also
know that some-
thing might be
wrong with the
University, too. ;
And you know that
I'm a watchdog of
the University. You
know that if some-
thing isn't right,
I will loudly alert WILL
others of the prob-
lem, in hopes that GRUNDLER
they will make it
go away. This is
what beinga watchdog is all about.
Well, something isn't right. In fact,
everything is wrong. I am referring
to, of course, the tour groups that are
all over campus. PLEASE STOP THE
TOURS. The Daily will double what
you are making to stop, tour guides!
E-mail my editor for details!
No, I am kidding. The tours aren't
the problem. They are only part of
the problem. A lot of bad things have
been happening on campus ever
since the weather turned unnaturally
warm, and not just smarty professors
telling us "We told you so" about cli-
Actually, one bad thing happened
off-campus. Like thousands of other
students whose sole reason for exis-
tence is Michigan sports, I was shak-
en beyond measure last Friday when
the basketball team lost to Ohio State
after a buzzer-beater. Our - and by
"our" I mean "the basketball team's"
- last chance to make a miracle run
to the NCAA Tournament was shat-
tered, and now we - and by "we" I
mean "the basketball team" - are
not even in the NIT. This is just an
embarrassment. I mean, why do the
sports teams think students go to
school here in the first place?
It gets worse. If you thought our
athleticswere a jokeyou'll be pleased
to know that our faculty thinks the
LAW is a joke. I'm referring to last
week's traffic violation by Vice Presi-
dent of Student Affairs E. Royster
Harper and University President
Mary Sue Coleman, who were caught
speeding to Bursley Hall. Accord-
ing to a report on Daily's news blog,
E. Royster Harper, who was driving,
had the nerve to tell the police officer,
"Don't you know who I'm with?" To
teach hera lesson, the officer ordered
her out of the car, cuffed her and
yelled repeatedly, "Whatndoes the
"E" stand for!? Huh? No one knows!
Edith? Eleanor!? What gives!?"
This last exchange hasn't been ver-
ified, but nonetheless the vice presi-
dent of student affairs thinks joking
with an officer of the law is morally
So, to recap, tour groups, athlet-
ics and administrators - one would
hope the embarrassment would end
there. One would hope, as a Wolver-
ine, that one could hold one's head
up high and say, without a shred of
sarcasm, "At least we'll always have
our student government." Indeed,
in turbid times, the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly has always been a last
vestige of respectability. No longer.
The recent website scandal has torn
the very fabric of MSA and its many,
many faithful supporters apart.
At first I thought the website scan-
dal stemmed from the fact that when
you google "MSA," the Michigan
Student Assembly website doesn't
appear until page two, after such
organizations as the Michigan Snow-
mobile Association and the Miner-
alogical Society of America. MSA,
of course, is way more relevant than
these trash organizations, and should
really have the top spot in the Google
results (currently held by Mine Safe-
tyAppliances Company). But THEN I
discovered the real scandal: MSA was
buildinga NEW website (presumably
to overtake Mine Safety Appliances)
and went over its budget by $6,000,
for a total of $9,000 on a site that still
We're in the midst
of dark days here
at the University.
As reported by the Daily yesterday, a com-
mittee representing NAGPRA approved an
alteration to the initial 1990 legislation on
Monday. Under NAGPRA, museums are
obligated to keep public record of Native
American artifacts in their possession.
The changes approved on Monday would
require museums to inform nearby tribes of
where "culturally unidentifiable" remains
were unearthed. Based on that informa-
tion, Native American tribes may request
the return of the artifacts. The change will
take effect on May 14 and will be followed
by a 60-day comment period. Under the new
rules, the University's Museum of Anthro-
pology will be required to re-examine the
1,390 artifacts in its collection.
The University has refused to take
action to return "culturally unidentifi-
able" remains to Native American groups
for years. Since NAGPRA's inception in
1990, the University has been repeatedly
asked to re-examine its Native American
remains by tribes hoping to find remains of
members of their groups. And though the
University returned a fraction of its human
remains, along with other artifacts, to
Native American tribes in 2005, the Uni-
versity has still failed to act upon other
"unidentifiable" artifacts. But this cultural
insensitivity is unacceptable. The Univer-
sity should take more aggressive action to
identify and return the artifacts.
While the University may feel the pos-
session of these remains is important for
research and educational initiatives, it can't
simply ignore the request of Native Ameri-
can groups to regain ownership of their
history. Native American groups at the Uni-
versity have been fighting for decades for
the proper return of these artifacts, and the
University has unacceptably taken exces-
sive efforts to avoid fulfilling its legal obliga-
tion to do so. The University has an ethical
responsibility to stop dragging its feet and
return the property that rightfully belongs
to Native American tribes.
The battle between the University and
Native American groups has been long
and contentious. But with the passing of
new NAGPRA regulations, the University
now has no excuse for its inaction. It must
make more efforts to return the artifacts.
And now the University has an opportuni-
ty to put the controversy behind them and
return the artifacts without undue delay.
Making sure that these artifacts are
returned in a timely fashion won't make
up for the delay, but it will help establish
a beneficial relationship between the Uni-
versity and Native American groups. This
would herald an important step towards
the reconciliation between the two par-
ties while still allowing the University to
continue its research - without hoarding
During the outrage that followed,
many students experienced intenise
psychological and physiological reac-
tions: shock, disbelief, disgust, loss of
appetite, loss of purpose and rashes.
I think I threw up - though I con-
fess I can't remember exactly what
happened. For the first time in MSA
history, it failed to accomplish whatit
had set out to do.
In my previous columns about the
moral shortcomings of this institu-
tion we all love, Ihave urged students
to not let these types of things get
to them and to instead focus on aca-
demics. But who comes here for the
academics? I realize now that this is
a shallow solution at best. I realize
now that as I pass those infuriating
tour groups, and those infuriating
tour guides - with their little yellow
jackets on, standing on some bench -
I want to stuff a brochure down the
guide's throat and yell to the group,
"What's wrong with you? Can't you
see what a failure this place is? How
do you think you'll get a job after-
ward, with no athletic presence in
theBig Ten and astudentgovernment
who can't even enact a website?"
I guess this is why I see so many
students getting drunk on the week-
ends. These are dark days.
- Will Grundler can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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
Love all your neighbors
ELLEN STEELE |
Time to modernize gendered housing
Perhaps you've seen someone on the Diag
holding a sign that says "God Loves Every-
one (Yes, including the gays)." And perhaps
he's told you "God bless you, and have a good
day." If you haven't taken the time to speak to
him, you should. He's a pretty nice guy. I know
because I am that guy.
If you count yourself among those that are
confused by my message, don't be ashamed,
you're not alone. Some-people wonder, "How
can a person who is openly gay be a devout and
true Christian?" Answering this question in its
entirety can't be done in the 800 word limit of
this viewpoint, but it's not as simple as saying
"Read Leviticus 18:22 and it's written plain as
day. Homosexuality is just wrong!"
I often (perhaps too frequently) have this
debate with individuals who claim to be "true
Christians." Every time someone thinks theBible
condemns homosexuality, they are coming from
a philosophy that views the Bible as the inerrant
and infallible word of God. The simple response
to these objections is that the Bible just isn't iner-
rant or infallible. One only need observe verses
like Ephesians 6:5 (which condones slavery) or
Matthew 15:4 (which commands parents to killI
the children that disrespect them with a rod) to
realize that the Bible is not perfect, and that it has
some questionable things to say. However, I do
believe that the Bible contains the word of God.
It's just a matter of analyzing the Bible's many
verses critically and with this core philosophy at
the forefront of your mind: Love your neighbor
Using the Bible to disparage any group of
people, including gays, is a dangerous misuse
of the text. Using God as an excuse to hate any
group of people is not only wrong, but is one
of the main reasons that the religious are in
such poor standing among the agnostic and the
atheist. And religious people should care about
what the faithless think about them.
For an extended discussion of these ques-
tions and the issues that they raise, I encourage
students to attend the 2010 TBLG Interfaith
Conference this Saturday, . Mar. 20 from 12
p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dana Building. It's being
organized by Spectrum of Faiths, an Inter-
faith LGBT organization at the campus. The
aim of the organization and the conference
in general is to help shed some light on these
issues and allow for a different kind of discus-
sion that doesn't end with, "Well, if it's in the
Bible, that's the way it is, and there's no point
in debating it even further." The issue is deep-
er and more complex than that. Additionally,
the conference will address how other faiths,
including Judaism and Islam, are handling
these issues related to sexual orientation and
gender expression. Attending this conference
is a valuable opportunity to learn about the
important role that faith can and does play in
the lives of gays and lesbians.
The bottom line is that if you believe in a lov-
ing God (which I do) and if you believe that God
holds love higher than all other values, there
is no credible way you can object to the genu-
ine love that two people, of any sexual orienta-
tion, have for one another. That also includes
romantic love. Perhaps you don't think that
homosexuals are capable of displayingthis kind
of love. I know many a street preacher that hold
this view. Maybe they think that gay and lesbian
love is not really love, but rather a misplaced lust
that can only manifest itself sexually and pro-
miscuously with the aid of crystal meth. I can
assure them that this view is fundamentally
flawed, and I often find that the people in some
of the most loving, committed and long lasting
relationships, are gay. In the great majority of
cases, they don't even have the official bonds of
marriage keeping them together. Their relation-
ship is sustained in its entirety by the passion-
ate commitment that they have for one another,
and I can find fewer things in life more beauti-
ful than that. The thought of God rejecting this
kind of love is illogical and inconsistent with the
one central commandment: Love your neighbor
as yourself (Romans 13:8).
I encourage you as students of this great
University to learn more about these issues,
and continue to find ways to accept LGBT indi-
viduals into the fabric of your communities,
both secular and spiritual.
Adrian Madriz is an LSA senior.
This week, the Residence Hall Association will be con-
ducting a survey of current residents in order to gauge
student interest in creating a gender-neutral housing
option in the residence halls. I encourage all eligible resi-
dents to respond to the survey to give Housing an accu-
rate portrayal of the community's opinions.
Gender-neutral housing means that Housing residents
would have the option to choose a roommate they would
like, regardless of gender. Two people of different gen-
ders could live in the same room. Gender-neutral housing
would be offered in specific areas within the residence
halls, in addition to the single-sex and co-ed floors that
already exist. The proposed policies aren't meant to elim-
inate housing choices or force residents into housing situ-
ations, but simply allow more options for all students.
The current housing policy that restricts students to
same-sex rooms is outdated. Many universities already
offer gender-neutral housing options, including the Uni-
versity of California, Berkeley, the University of Pennsyl-
vania, Brown University, and the University of Chicago.
As a leading progressive public university, the University
of Michigan should join these institutions in allowing
The creation of a gender-neutral housing option is
essential to assuring equality in the dorms for all people,
regardless of their gender, gender expression or sexual
orientation. Gender-neutral housing will benefit the
entire campus community by making the dorms more
inclusive. The University has already made improvements
to the housing policy by offering more options to trans-
gender students, but an openly-available gender-neutral
housing option could help many LGBT students feel more
comfortable in the residence halls.
By forcing men and women to live separately, the Uni-
versity promotes heteronormativity, or the discrimina-
tory mindset that heterosexuality is the norm and other
sexual orientations are less valid. The current housing
standards don't allow men and women to room together,
therefore preventing couples from living together. How-
ever, gay and lesbian couples can share the same room.
The current policy denies that men and women can live in
close quarters without having a sexual relationship.
Many students of different genders choose to live
together off-campus. They are aware that gender alone
isn't a good indicator of whether people will be able to
live together peacefully, feel at ease around each other
or address conflicts successfully. As adults, we should be
able to determine the best living situation for ourselves.
For many students, living with a friend of a different gen-
der would not only be a reasonable choice, but it would
also be the best decision for both parties. However, the
message our same-sex roommate policy sends to those
who would prefer an alternative is "pay up for a single or
get out of the dorms."
Men and women may wish to live in single-sex hall-
ways for personal or religious reasons, and the University
won't violate their rights by randomly assigning them to
a roommate of a different gender. Moreover, University
Housing will continue to offer co-ed halls without gen-
der-neutral options. Gender-neutral housing will simply
be another choice available to students who specifically
Gender-neutral housing would be beneficial to all stu-
dents regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. It
gives students the right to determine their own living
situation and thereby empowers them. Gender-neutral
housing could create a greater sense of community in
the dorms and make University Housing more appealing
to upperclassmen. The dorms should accommodate the
needs and rights of all students.
Gender-neutral housing may seem like a radical shift,
but it would not differ much from the co-ed floors Hous-
ing already offers. It is time for the University to offer a
gender-neutral housing option to all students.
To take the survey and support gender-neutral hous-
ing, please follow instructions in the e-mail sent out yes-
terday by the RHA. The results will help determine how
to best structure gender-neutral housing at the Univer-
This viewpoint was written by Ellen Steele on
behalf of the Undergraduate Chapter of the ACLU.
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
appear on the left side of the opinion page.
E-MAIL RACHEL VAN GILDER AT RACHELVG@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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