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March 26, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-26

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4 - Friday, March 26, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

NJ1L ihigan 43a4l
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.
Funds derailed
Commuter train must change track for federal aid
lans for a commuter train from Ann Arbor to Detroit
have been temporarily derailed. The Southeast Michigan
Council of Governments planned to have the line up and
running by October, but the project has been delayed. Though
the project initially received federal funding in a larger grant to
Michigan, monetary difficulties have halted. progress. But there
are more federal funds that could be available, though currently
the project doesn't meet all of the requirements. This commuter
train would be beneficial for both Ann Arbor and Detroit com-
munities. SEMCOG should make sure the project satisfies the
federal requirements so they can get this commuter service back
on track.

Reforming patriotism


The proposed commuter train would run
between Ann Arbor and Detroit, with stops
in Ypsilanti and Dearborn and at Metro
Airport. The train would make four round-
trips a day during the week, and three per
day on the weekends. One-way tickets
would be around $6 and the trip from Ann
Arbor to Detroit would take about an hour.
In December, the U.S. Senate allocated $3.5
million to the project, but SEMCOG says it
needs more money to keep moving forward.
For now, the project has been halted. SEM-
COG hasn't announced a new start date.
The project could qualify for an additional
$100 million from a 2005 federal transpor-
tation earmark if it reworks plans to meet
all of the requirements.
Hopefully, this postponement will be
only temporary, because the commuter line
holds a great deal of promise for Southeast
Michigan. It could lead to some hefty eco-
nomic benefits. Among other things, the rail
line would give commuters between Ann
Arbor and Detroit access to cheap, speedy
transportation and save them money on
parking and gas. This would be significant
considering that, according to Ann Arbor
City Councilmember Carsten Hohnke (D-
Ward 5), between about 60 and 70 thousand
commuters travel to Ann Arbor by car each
year. The rail line would also make it easier
for people to move between Ann Arbor and

nearby cities, opening markets up to new
consumers. Add to this the benefits from
reducing car traffic, pollution and conges-
tion, and the project is obviously a worth-
while investment.
And the train would also be a useful
resource for students. Cheap, hassle-free
travel to Detroit would help kick Detroit-
based outreach and volunteer programs
into high gear. University departments
could expand interactive course offerings
in Detroit and students would be free to
travel to events in the city. And out-of-state
students would have a reliable, inexpen-
sive way to travel to and from the airport
when the Michigan Student Assembly-
sponsored Airbus isn't running.
But money troubles are stalling the
train. Currently, the project isn't eligible
to receive the federal aid because its cost
per rider exceeds federal standards. But
federal funding is the most reliable - and
probably most easily accessible - source of
financial support. SEMCOG should tap into
this resource and find ways to decrease the
cost of a ride to allow it to reapply for fed-
eral cash.
An inexpensive, easy form of transpor-
tation would improve cities' economies
and students' learning experiences. And
SEMCOG must do whatever is necessary to
ensure that the train starts rolling.

The evening of Mar. 21, 2010,
when President Barack
Obama's watershed health
care bill passed,
might mark the
beginning of
a time when I :
no longer feel
ashamed to say
that I am Ameri-
can. I may now
begin to embrace
my citizenship.-
This in some ways BRITTANY
parallels a remark
made by Michelle SMITH
Obama during the
2008 presidential
campaign: "For
the first time... I am proud to be an
Up until now, what I thought it
meant to be an American was not
encouraging to who I am or where I
come from. For me, to be American is
to be oppressive to other "Third World
Nations" for the sake of spreading
nationalism and combating terrorism.
The United States historically hasn't
acknowledged how this country uses
its willpower and massive weapons of
destruction to agitate less resource-
ful nations. To me, for so long, to be
American has meant spreading values
like liberty and justice in undemocrat-
ic nations while failing to extend the
same values at home. More often than
not, to have status as a U.S. citizen has
been associated with demanding apol-
ogies from other nations and for their
savage disciplinarian tactics while
dismissing our own government's acts
that have terrorized human beings -
for instance, those that took place at
the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Many times, I have felt embar-
rassed by fellow Americans' patrio-
tism. For me, seeing someone wave the

American flag proudly was too bold
a symbol of pride. It was a statement
of arrogance that assumed that every
wave of the flag signified this coun-
try's superiority over the world.
I once heard someone say that there
are two types of people: Those who
stand with other people and those who
stand on top of other people. While I
think the United States is often like
the person that stands on the heads
of other people by asserting its power
over the weak - encouraging immi-
grants to replace their culture with the
"American" culture and using powerto
forcibly assert nationalism in countries
where it is not wanted - all of these
defects of the institutions and social-
ization processes in place in the United
States don't take away from the fact
that Obama is using his presidential
power to reorient the "American" label.
For me, there always stood a bla-
tant paradox about what it meant tobe
"American." The whole ideaof making
it if you try, of pulling yourself up by
your bootstraps, of makinga space for
oneself in the green pastures under
the red, white and blue was confus-
ing when I knew that this image
wasn't one that mirrored the lives of
all people in this country. What about
my grandmother, who in her prime
worked and provided for her family,
but whose health insurance isn't as
comprehensive as it needs to be? Or,
what about the single parent who must
make comprising sacrifices to see that
her child who has asthma is able to
see a physician, given that she doesn't
health coverage? I once speculated
that people of these circumstances
must not be "American."
If what it means to be "American"
is defined within these limited param-
eters, to be American must mean that
people who experience inequalities
must be unequal to what is defined

as the American standard, in which
everyone is thought to be equal. This
could not be truer than when the
media claimed that the victims of
Hurricane Katrina were "refugees,"
as if they were sub-par to the Ameri-
can status and were undeserving to
be labeled as such. How can a coun-
try like ours be a melting pot when it
penalizes people for havingcome from
differing circumstances?.I'm not sure
what title of citizenship people of such
challenges would fall under - perhaps
"disowned." But it certainly wouldn't
be "American."
I may finally
become proud to
be an American.


For so long, to be "American" was a
label that for some, including myself,
disassociated itself from identities
that did not fit the often monolithic
standard of what is considered "Amer-
ican." However, with the landmark
health care bill that insures 32 million
of the uninsured, I have more hope
than I did yesterday that perhaps, I
too will one day feel a sense of equality
- when to be American entails inclu-
sion of the "other." A more inclusive
health care system is an important
step toward creating a baseline level
of equality for everyone. Hopefully,
this landmark health care bill will be
considered a patriotic act, and Ameri-
cans will acknowledge that division is
a reality in this country.
- Brittany Smith can be
reached at smitbrit@umich.edu.

Innovation and 'U'

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.
Extracurclar growth

According to Wikipedia, a polymath is "a per-
son, with superior intelligence, whose expertise
spans a significant number of different subject
areas." Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly the
most well-recognized polymath, and arguably
one of the greatest innovators to ever walk this
earth. He was fearless in his exploration into
every realm of study that intrigued him. His
many titles included painter, sculptor, architect,
musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer,
mentor, anatomist, geologist, botanist and writ-
er. Students should take a hint from Leonardo:
Remarkable things happen when we explore
beyond the limits of our self-imposed boundaries.
The TED event taking place in April at the
University seeks to open people up to this multi-
disciplinary pursuit. "TED" stands for Technol-
ogy, Entertainment, Design - three subject areas
that are shaping our future. The event will show-
case ideas that matter in any discipline.
TED was started in 1984 in southern Califor-
nia. The conference takes place once a year. At it,
the world's leading thinkers and doers are invit-
ed to share what they are most passionate about.
The aim is to offer attendees a chance to discover
new ideas and push the boundaries of their own
intellect. Attendees have called it "the ultimate
brain spa" and "a journey into the future."
In March 2009, TED offered up their name
and format for independent organizers to create
their own "TED-inspired" conferences through
a spinoff organization called TEDx. Since then,
events have taken place in every corner of the
globe: from Paris to Hyberabad, India to Kibera
and Kenya to universities across this country.
In this very short period of time, TEDx has
emerged as a global phenomena, showing that
people everywhere are eager to discover new
ideas and spread inspiration.
There is no question that the University is a
colossal entity. Imagine the faces of 40,000 stu-
dents and 6,000 faculty members - it's mind-
boggling. The sheer number of highly driven and
intelligent individuals in such a small space cre-
ates infinite opportunities to realize new possi-
bilities. Think of the University as a microcosm
of the world. The University prides itself in its
flourishing diversity of ideas. This is why we

have decided to bring TED to the University- to
unleash the collective talent and creativity it has
incubated for so long.
On Apr. 10, TEDxUofM will gather the leading
thinkers, makers, and doers from the University
for a stimulating day of presentations, discus-
sions, entertainment and art that will spark new
ideas and opportunities for all. The audience
will be composed of a diverse, yet curated, mix
of 300 students, professors and thought leaders
from the University and beyond. We see this as
the start of a conversation, a preview of profound
things tocome.
Most conferences give that information about
who is presenting pretty early on. Well, where's
the fun in that? We are inviting you to discover.
To imagine what's in the gift-wrapped box. To
enter the auditorium with the buzz that tells you
something big is about to happen. Because in
return for a bit of risk, we promise to showcase 20
of the most fascinating and engaging minds the
University and Ann Arbor have to offer.
Over 15 different departments at the Univer-
sity will be represented at the event. Just imag-
ine an aerospace engineering student enabling
us to dream beyond our planet, a design pro-
fessor displaying the incredible things you
can do with basic materials, an MBA student
discussing the power of simplicity in solving
the most pertinent issues our world faces and
a Wolverine athlete discussing his brief brush
with fame. Now imagine being there, watching
this unfold and partaking in the various dis-
cussions. Think of all the possibilities that this
idea sharing holds. You do not need to travel far
to find an incredible pool of talent. The Univer-
sity is your TED universe.
In the words of University President Mary
Sue Coleman, "Great universities like Michigan
must transcend disciplines to be truly effective
in addressing societal needs." TEDxUofM is the
answer to this reality. We invite you to explore
beyond your comfort zone. Finda little Leonardo
Da Vinci in yourself. To discover the University at
its best, go to www.tedxuofm.com.
Alexander O'Dell and Austin
Kronig are TEDxUofM leaders,

As Ann Arbor thaws with the
coming of spring, most of us
feel some combination of gid-
diness (my face
isn't numb!), anxi-
ety (I still don't
have a summer
internship!) and
terror (I'm even
closer to the home-
less, jobless, fun-
less post-graduate t
This year seems LIBBY
to have come and
gone even faster ASHTON
than the last,
prompting an
awareness in me of
the transience of my time at college.
Essentially, I have two years left to
broaden and deepen my understand-
ing of self and the world around me
before I have to go out into the world
and represent myself as a fully devel-
oped person (almost).
Many of us came to the Univer-
sity with the goal of repeating the
academic success we knew in high
school. I've found that to meet my
preconceived standard for academic
excellence, I've had to make big sac-
rifices in other areas of my life. Ambi-
tion and work ethic are exactly the
kind of attributes we hope to develop
here, but neither should blind us from
the importance of life outside our
textbooks. Developing meaningful
interpersonal connections and gain-
ing introspective insight about the
kind of person I should strive to be
is also important. Striking a balance
among these elements is, for me, the
hardest and most important step to
achieving a truly successful college
When the intimidating newness of
college wears off and we finally start
to feel at home with a set of classes, a
group of friends and a social routine,
it's easy to lose our initial curiosity.

Despite the complacency that com-
fort invites, I need to self-motivate
my exploration.
The posters and chalk advertise-
ments that decorate the Diag and
almost every available wall space are
a testament to the endless supply of
extracurricular educational resourc-
es on campus. I couldn't possibly take
advantage of all of them - but if I
make a habit of ignoring the activity
around me, I'll miss out on the most
accessible pool of potential inspira-
tion I'm likely to ever encounter.
Greek life, the Residential College,
sports teams and other extracurricu-
lar activities provide a community for
their participants but do not have to
dictate a lifestyle of one set of experi-
ences. Actively seeking out the unfa-
miliar should be a habit that extends
beyond freshman year.
Gaining self-knowledge is the most
serious benefit of exposing myself to
the variety of stimulus packed into
this college town. Beyond simply
allowing the flashing lights to pass
before my eyes on my way out of here,
I must internalize the relationships,
the guest lectures, the concerts and
the people watching. I need to allow
the energy of Ann Arbor to resonate
with me in order to gain an under-
standing of the kind of energy I want
to create for myself when I no longer
have it flowing around me, waiting to
be tapped.
We're here to ask ourselves what
kind of people we want to be, what
kind of lives we want to lead and what
kind of impression we want to make
on our communities. The only way
we'll be able to answer those ques-
tions is by engaging our environment
and paying attention to the kind of
reaction we have to that engagement.
For example, my involvement in
a couple of large philanthropy orga-
nizations during my freshman year
revealed my natural discomfort with
fundraising and my preference for

hands-on service projects. About a
month ago, I started working with
826Michigan, a tutoring program
that focuses on creative writing for
6- to 18-year-olds. I consistently
leave their Robot store feeling awe-
I want to engage
with Ann Arbor's
unique energy.
But not all ventures end on such
an uplifting note. Two weeks ago, I
left a Groove Spoon show at Elmo's
T-shirt shop on a Stevie Wonder high
that ended with a face-plant on Main
Street. I walked around with a bruise
covering half my face, but it was
worth it because now I know I want
to find funk bands everywhere I go.
Our potential for success - the
kind that guarantees a fulfilling life
- is at its peak and unless we make a
conscious effort to correct our semi-
distorted measures of a successful
college experience, it will pass by
unmet. I hope that as the change of
the seasons breathes life back into
Ann Arbor, I can revitalize the wide
eyes and anxious excitement that I
felt during my first September here.
These are not only supposed to be
the four best years of our lives, but
they can also be the four most trans-
formative years. If we waste them on
daily panic attacks in the stacks and
nightly beer pong tournaments in the
basement, we'll have lost the oppor-
tunity absorb the richness -academ-
ic, cultural and interpersonal - that
surrounds us.
- Libby Ashton can be reached
at eashton@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

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