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April 20, 2010 - Image 14

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4S - Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4B - Tuesdy, April 2, 2010 TheMichigan Dily - michgandailyco

W Id tigan B3aily
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.
concern. In honor of the class of 2010, this page represents a compilation of insights
surrounding the most compelling events that occurred over the past four years.

Ready or not, here we come


Big Man at the Big House
Why Obama is the right choice for commencement speaker

This year, the field of Michigan Stadium
will play host to President Barack Obama
as he delivers the keynote address at
spring commencement ceremonies. Obama is
the perfect figure to send University graduates
off as they depart from the University to pursue
their careers. Obama's history in academia and
ability to demonstrate the ideals that an insti-
tution of higher learning should embody make
him the ideal candidate to speak at the Univer-
sity's spring commencement.
It's difficult to think of a more appropriate key-
note speaker for the University's commencement
ceremony, even if one considers only Obama's
unrivaled ability to encourage students. During
Obama's campaign for the White House, his mes-
sage ofhope and change, alongwithhis infectious
charisma, resonated with voters nationwide, and
especially with students. Regardless of one's
political opinions, it's undeniable that Obama
generated more enthusiasm and excitement
among students than any other political figure in
recent memory. And Obama motivated many stu-
dents to not only think, but to act - successfully
mobilizing students in an unheard-of movement
and gettingthem to the polls in force.
Obama's charisma aside, he also demon-
strates a strong commitment to the values that
the University shares. Intellectually tenacious,
committed to public service and a beacon of
multiculturalism, Obama possesses leadership
qualities that graduates should emulate.
Obama's biography and life experiences allow
him to speak with authority to a wide range of
people as diverse as the University's 2010 grad-
uating class. Obama, who made history when

he was elected the nation's first black president,
has lived a life that provides him with the per-
spective and experience to speak with author-
ity to students from traditionally marginalized
groups and less privileged backgrounds. His
multiracial heritage and childhood in a single-
parent family are perhaps more relevant to
many students than the privileged backgrounds
that often accompany distinguished leaders.
Obama is the right person to speak to students
who intend to lead in thought and action. The
University has a history of producing leaders in a
wide range of fields, from former President Ger-
ald Ford to great American playwright Arthur
Miller to the entire crew of astronauts of the
Apollo 15 mission. This kind of leadership could
hardly be better exemplified than in Obama. As
a community organizer in Chicago's South Side,
Obama applied his mind to the challenges fac-
ing the area. He carried his commitment to his
values into the Illinois legislature and the U.S.
Senate. Now, he represents the United States in
confronting major global conflicts. There is no
leader better qualified to provide students with
advice on leadership.
The University's 2010 graduates face daunt-
ing challenges as they enter the job market,
considering the cripplingeconomic climate. But
Obama's career success makes him the perfect
speaker for this group of students. As an aca-
demic, community activist and successful poli-
tician, he can provide University graduates with
valuable insight on leadership in the real world.
The University could have fared no better in the
commencement speaker.
- Feb. 12, 2010

h, the obligatory good-
bye column - a graduat-
ing opinion writer's last
duty. The aim
is to say some-
thing insight-
ful about the #
future by
reflecting on
one's time at
the University.
But when I sat
down to write ROBERT
this column SOAVE
two nights
ago, nothing
worthwhile sprung to mind. I
tossed three terrible drafts in the
trash before finally giving up and
heading out for a walk.
I was hoping it would be one
of those walks where I just let my
feet carry me forward, randomly
stumbling across people and plac-
es from the past, generating ideas
for this column. After ten min-
utes, I had walked directly to the
only place my feet were trained to
take me - the front steps of The
Michigan Daily.
This newspaper has been both
the greatest challenge and deepest
reward of my time at the Univer-
sity. I arrived in the fall of 2006 as
a brash, naive conservative with
a sincere desire to infiltrate and
eliminate what was in my view
the University's arbiter of liberal
propaganda, The Michigan Daily.
Imagine my surprise when the
Daily actually hired me.
What followed was a long,
demanding and enjoyable career
as a columnist and, eventually, the
editorial page editor. Expecting
to make enemies with the rest of
the writers, I instead gained life-
long friends. And while some of
my views certainly rubbed off on
the Daily's editorial perspective,
having to defend arguments that
I didn't necessarily agree with
influenced my opinions as well.
The ideological exchange was well
worth it, and my opinions became

more sensible because of it.
Bidding farewell to the Daily the
other night, I headed back toward
my apartment. As I crossed the
Diag, I inadvertently stepped on
the block M for the very first time,
having avoided it for years due to
that silly superstition about fail-
ing blue book exams. Like most of
you, I first heard that one at fresh-
man orientation, when the entire
campus seemed like a daunting
maze of mythology, tradition and
the unknown. I wondered how
I was possibly going to survive
the next four years. Meeting new
people, getting good grades, suc-
cessfully navigating LSA distri-
bution requirements and finding
adequate housing - all without
going broke - seemed like it would
be more than I could handle.
And you know what? Some-
times, it was more than I could
handle. I've had more than my
fair share of disappointing grades.
I ran out of money. And I'm still
expecting to discover some hidden
LSA requirement that I missed,
barring me from graduation.
Still, the most important les-
sons weren't discovered in
classes. They were learned as a
consequence of interacting with
students who dressed differ-
ently than me, listened to dif-
ferent music, had different goals
for their lives and had different
beliefs about themselves and the
world. Ann Arbor has imparted
to us its lessons about tolerance,
diversity, peace and personal
freedom. It's changed us - and
mostly for the better.
But the world around us has
changed considerably, too. When
we first arrived at the University,
George W. Bush was still the pres-
ident, and the nation was already
tired of the wars in the Middle
East. Four years later, we're even
more tired of them. In 2008, the
United States elected its first
black president, who will reward
the many University students

supposed to do.
With that in mind, I made my
third and final stop on my walk - 9
the Arb. It's both prohibited and
slightly terrifying to enter the Arb
at night, but I needed to say good-
bye to my favorite place at a time
when no one else could interrupt
me. And surrounded by the dark
woods, the one piece of advice I
had to offer finally came to me:Do
something that you're notsupposed
to do.
2010 graduates face a future
that is just as grim yet as won-
drously mysterious as the Arb at
night. We won't fix this troubled
world of ours by following all the
rules. We go forward as people
with the right and the responsibil-
ity to question the presumptions
of all forms of authority to create
a more freethinking and critical-
minded society.
And undergraduates, that
goes for you too. Start a provoca-
tive group. Protest a policy you
disagree with. Tell your profes-
sors and classmates that they're
wrong. Take a walk through the A
Arb at night. But whatever you do,
love every minute of it.
To my readers: Thank you for
hearing me out all these years. It's
been a pleasure and an honor.
- Robert Soave was the Daily's 9
2009 editorial page editor. He can
be reached at rsoave@umich.edu.

who worked tirelessly to elect him
by speaking at commencement.
And after graduation, we will be
thrust into a national economy
so abysmal that in many ways, it
might not be ready for our entry
into the workforce. Ready or not,
here we come.
Do something
that you're not

The humble elite

Swonder wha senario
CiliaPowel endorsed would be worse- I think that depends on how
Obama this week. They E'astLansing afterWolverine you measure worse-
as well skip the election. 's Footbal victryor Ann number of couches burmed
n thebbabuby. L Arbor after McCain victory. umber hippiescying ;
4 e
a 4 Q

Access denied
Regents continue to skirt ADA standards

A mong us graduating
seniors, a great divide is
opening - one unlike any
we have faced
This divi-
sion does not
conform to one
of the irrecon-
cilable binaries'
that typically
separate people
in our nation. GARY
It's not between GRACA
men and
women, Repub-
licans and Dem-
ocrats, whites and blacks, the haves
and have-nots, those who believe in
smallgovernment and those who -
accordingto those in the Tea Party
movement - hate America, or even
Team Edward and Team Jacob.
More concerning, it is not a dif-
ference we can easily hide. It's
noticeable during conversations
at bars, parties, saloons, watering
holes, American Cafes and other
places where young people - lack-
ing in work ethic and recently
empowered to legally consume
alcohol - gather. It's etched into
our eyes when abstract topics like
"the future" are mentioned. It's
woven into the tone of our voices
when we talk toour parents.
It is, of course, the division
between those who know what
they're doing after May 1, 2010 and
those who do not. And it's quickly
becoming a difference that may
split the student bodyin half.
I'm here to plead for an end to
the madness.We can't continue liv-
ing like this - those with well-laid

plans smugly implying that they
are mentally, physically, emotion-
ally and sexually superior because
they have jobs or graduate school
plans while those without direc-
tion tell them to "eat shit" under
their breath.
Just as importantly, we can't
continue drinking this much alco-
hol, whether it's out of jubilation
for our future or because we want
to wallow in our misfortune. We
almost certainly risk severely dam-
aging our livers, if not the brain
cells that got us through this place.
Instead, we must realize that,
come May 1, 2010, we all share one
very special trait: privilege.
Statistically speaking, as college
graduates, we are now entering a
new American social class. We'll
be much more likely than our high
school graduate friends to have
full-time, year-round employment,
earn thousands of dollars more in
annual income, own homes and
marry wealthier spouses. We'll be
much less likely to spend time in
a prison or be a victim of violent
crime. In other words, it's much
more likely that - across many
metrics - we will lead comfortable
lives. At the very least, we won't
have to worry so much about some
of the basics like food and shelter.
That future probably attracted
many of us to the University of
Michigan. Sure, we came for the
high-minded intellectual jour-
ney. Or maybe we just came for a
chance to leave the nest. But that
after-college horizon loomed in the
distance the whole time - and it
looked pretty attractive.
But here's where the danger lies.

A fine line exists between desiring
that future and believing it's owed
to us. From there, it's a hop, skip
and a jump to the belief that others
don't deserve this future because
they didn't spend tens of thousands
of dollars and a handful of sleep-
less nights studying like we did.
or, alternatively, that those people
who didn't take the same road we
did should have.
We all share one
very special
trait: privilege.
The best of us sometimes
become trapped in this elitist
view - even the do-gooders who
spend their free time volunteer-
ing in crumbling cities and donat-
ing their extra money to charity.
When we begin to think we have
a right to a bright future, we for-
get what's truly important. We
forget that while a desk job push-
ing paper may pay more than a job
growing food, making clothing or
building houses, it may not be as
vital to our existence or happi-
ness as a society.
As the supposed incoming class
of privileged elites, I hope the one
thing that ends up uniting our
future is an awareness that we're
really no better than anyone else,
degree or not.
- Gary Graca was the Daily's
editor in chief in 2009. He can be
reached at gmgraca@umich.edu.

In one last confirmation that nothing - not
fans, not tradition and not even the law -
will stand between the University and its
quest to add skyboxes to Michigan Stadium,
the University Board of Regents gave its final
approval of the project last Thursday. But as
the plan continues to ignore the opposition
- and pending lawsuit - from the Michigan
Paralyzed Veterans of America it has evolved
into a mockery of the University's tradition of
diversity and acceptance.
Back in April, the Michigan Paralyzed Vet-
erans of America filed a lawsuit against the
University because the stadium project fails to
meet the guidelines of the Americans with Dis-
abilities Act of 1990. According to that law, any
stadium built after 1990 must make 1 percent
of its seating handicap accessible and that seat-
ing must be dispersed throughout the stadium.
For the University, this means that more than

1,000 of the current 107,501 seats in the stadium
should be handicap accessible. The project only
increases that number of seats to282.
Instead of meeting the requirements of the
law, though, the University has danced around
the issue. Although the University agrees that
the new luxury boxes must meet ADA stan-
dards, by classifying the changes to the con-
crete bowl as repairs and not renovations, the
University is skirting the ADA requirements.
But the University's stance is nothing more
than semantics. There are legitimate renovations
being made to the concrete bowl including wid-
ening the aisles and eliminating more than 4,000
bleacher seats. By ignoring these concerns, the
University is putting itself in an uncertain legal
situation that could topple the stadium construc-
tion just as it begins - wasting much of the $226
million going to the project.
- July 2, 2007

The Michigan Student Assembly was established to advocate for student con-
cerns and improve the experience of those attending the University. Here's a look
back on some memorable stories featuring MSA during your time here.

Still talking about that website

A new year for MSA
Atop the list of major changes in MSA this semester,
several old faces won't be around. Earlier this month,
MSA Rep. Anton Vuljaj pleaded guilty to felony charges
for his denial-of-service attack on the Michigan Pro-
gressive Party's website during the 2006 MSA elec-
tions. Similarly, before winter break MSA president
Zack Yost and Rep. Kenny Baker resigned from their
positions after it was revealed that the two were mem-
bers of a controversial Facebook group mocking Rep.
Tim Hull's Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.
The assembly should start by improving its commu-
nication with students. When the assembly completes
projects, it's usually because it demonstrates to the
administration that its demands reflect mass student
concern. But students have no reliable way of knowing
what is happening in MSA or how they can help.
These are easy problems to fix. The website is cur-
rently under construction after a change in webmas-
ters. That's a good start. But the changes need to go
beyond aesthetics.
- Jan.15, 2008

Wasting students' time
After two long, drawn-out meetings, the Michi-
gan Student Assembly finally passed that it had
debated for so long - a statement expressing regret
for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. As the student
government of the University, MSA is supposed
to represent the students and work toward solv-
ing issues that concern them. But with this reso-
lution, it has only wasted time arguing about an
issue over which it has no jurisdiction to address.
The assembly needs to follow through on its
promise of better lighting across campus. It needs
to improve its website so that students have a way of
checking up and seeing what's going on in MSA. Rep-
resentatives need to confront campus crime. And, as
the University faces the prospect of decreased fund-
ing from the state, students are counting on MSA to
be their voice for college affordability. What we're
getting now is a student government that cares
more about debating distant international issues
than discussing the improvements students need.
- Jan. 26, 2009

Blind to oversight
A recent investigation by the Daily revealed that the
Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee is
all but incapable of fulfilling its basic function. Not only
are student representatives illegally appointed by MSA
rather than elected in a campus-wide election, but the
student seats on the committee have been empty for
months at a time. This year, there was no student rep-
resentation from May through November. This com-
mittee - designed to keep tabs on police who directly
intervene in students' lives - simply isn't making sure
it includes a consistent student voice.
MSA's defense of this policy also smacks of Univer-
sity administration over-involvement in MSA affairs.
When University professor Dr. Douglas Smith e-mailed
the assembly regarding its appointment of students to
the committee. Soon afterwards, MSA pulled an about-
face and asserted that it was, without a doubt, follow-
ing the law. The fact that the University appears to
be forcing its legal defense upon MSA further under-
mines the credibility of the assembly.
- Nov.18, 2009

Site not found
Last week, MSA President Abhishek Mahanti
announced that MSA had drastically exceeded its
budget to repair and update its website, which has
long been in need of update. MSA spent an appall-
ing $9,000 on graphic and web designers, though it
budgeted only $3,000 for the project. Not only did
MSA mismanage its funds, it isn't even using the
website it spent $9,000 attempting to fix. MSA has
failed to justify the trust that students place in it to
spend their money wisely, and it has a responsibility
to monitor its use of funds more closely in the future.
MSA exists to improve student life on campus,
but the assembly has repeatedly failed to fulfill this
role. This event is sure to stick in students' memories,
along with last year's several meetings spent discuss-
ing a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
over which it has no jurisdiction. Pledges to work with
the Ann Arbor City Council to improve off-campus
lighting continue to go unfulfilled. The failed web-
site is a testament to MSA's ongoing incompetence.
- Mar. 15, 2010

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