4A - Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.corn
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Cox should dismiss assistant attorney general
ften, it's best to turn the other cheek in the face of hate-
ful ignorance. But when hate speech is extreme and
public, it must be confronted. Andrew Shirvell, a Uni-
versity alum and a current assistant attorney general for the state
of Michigan, has taken aim at the Michigan Student Assembly
President Chris Armstrong almost exclusively because Arm-
strong is MSA's first openly gay president. Shirvell's undisguised
hatred for members of the LGBT community has compromised
his ability to serve as a public official. Michigan Attorney Gener-
al Mike Cox shouldn't be comfortable employing someone who's
bigotry so clearly has the potential to influence the work he does
on behalf of Michigan taxpayers. Cox must take decisive action
to respond to Shirvell's hate speech - and his pro forma slap on
the wrist this week isn't going to cut it.
Mr. Green goes to Washington.
Jnterns in Washington, D.C. tend
to have certain attributes in com-
mon. Unseasoned yet confident,
scious and general-
ly affluent enough
to afford to live in
D.C. without get-
ting paid. They're
a pretty w61-edu-
cated crowd, and
they're often well MATTHEW
With all that going GREEN
for them, it's no_
wonder why many
of them think
they've got their lives figured out.
They think that this step leads to that
step which leads to this law school
and that job and this whole, wonder-
ful planned-out life.
Barely a week into my internship
this summer, I started to get nervous
that I hadn't completely sketched out
my life post graduation. Even though
I still have two years left in Ann
Arbor, I would lay awake in bed some
nights considering a host of ques-
tions about the next stages of my life.
Should I really study abroad? Take
another internship or two? Washing-
ton? New York? Law school?
I'll admit I'm rather anxiety-prone
in general. I could've spent the sum-
mer studying Buddhist meditation in
Nepal and I still probably would've
had panic attacks. But from talking
to some of the friends I made while
I was in D.C., it became clear I wasn't
the only one who was getting nervous
about mapping out my future.
I decided I'd start looking for guid-
ance from people who had insight into
more than merely which LSAT class
to take. I asked the advice of every-
one it was socially acceptable to ask.
Fortunately, in addition to the myriad
ambitious twenty-somethings there,
D.C. is also home to scads of profes-
sionals eager to give opinions and tell
First, I spoke with congressional
staffers, young lawyers and non-prof-
it types. They were my first glimpse
into what a political career is really
like. Their stories varied, but a com-
mon thread was that none of them
went immediately to law school after
college - and about half never stud-
ied law. This was surely a departure
from what my friends and acquain-
tances were planning on doing.
As the summer progressed, I got to
meet an eclectic bunch of Washing-
ton insiders - a television producer,
a CEO, a journalist and a couple lob-
byists, among others. They had vastly
different success stories, but they all
had similar things to say. For starters,
they each suggested that I ignore the
nonsense spewing from the interns
around me. That might've been the
best advice of all. Yet more than that,
they all reassured me that a career
need not follow a linear path. Each of
these people had seemingly unrelated
professional experiences that didn't fit
neatly together, but all of them were
quite successful. Once I realized this,
an unfamiliar calm came over me.
Then, on one of my last days in
Washington, I went to a Middle East
policy seminar in one of the congres-
sional office buildings. I got there
early, and when I noticed a table
with coffee and pastries, I couldn't
resist. As I spread a modest portion of
cream cheese on a bagel, a man asked
me where I found the schmeer with
chives. I didn't recognize him at first,
but I quickly realized - admittedly
from his nametag - that he was a
congressman. After I pointed to a tub
of Philadelphia, the man made small
talk with me and eventually asked ifS
wanted to pursue a career in politics.
I said yes, but that I didn't know the
path I ought to take to get there. I was
pretty awkward at this point and I'm
not quite sure why he didn't leave me
to play with his Blackberry.
career advice from
ButI was glad to hear the congress-
man's advice. He said I ought to use my
twenties to grow as a person before
really worrying about my career. I
mentioned my study abroad anxiety 0
and he told me to go for it. His advice
was not to be concerned about what
classes or experiences will be profes-
sionally "useful," but which will make
me a balanced human being. In other
words, he told me to do everything
conventional wisdom said not to. And
he did so in a tone perhaps more befit- 0
ting a maharishi than a politician.
In spite of so many invaluable and
quirky experiences this summer, I
don't know if I'll end up in politics.
But I figure the lessons I learned all
boil down to wisdom that could be
relevant to any career path. Experi-
ence as much as possible, don't get
nervous and don't decide upon a
- Matthew Green can be reached
Shortly after the MSA election in March,
Shirvell launched a campaign against
Armstrong. Shirvell started his blog,
"Chris Armstrong Watch," in late April.
The blog has railed against what Shirvell
calls Armstrong's "radical homosexual
agenda," as he put it in his initial Aug. 29
post. The first blog post also contained a
photo of Armstrong with "Resign" writ-
ten over his face and a rainbow flag with
a swastika in the middle of it next to him.
Subsequent posts have labeled Armstrong
a liar, an elitist, a racist, a pervert and a
"viciously militant homosexual activist."
Over time, the attacks have expanded to
include several MSA members who work
closely with Armstrong. Recently, Shirvell
has taken to showing up at events at which
Armstrong is present.
Though much of Shirvell's tirades are
one step from utter nonsense, his dis-
dain for the LGBT community is obvious.
Shirvell criticizes the LGBT community's
push for social equality in blanket state-
ments that are plainly offensive to every-
one. Though offensive, however, Shirvell's
hateful remarks aren't a threat to campus.
The University community recognizes
Shirvell's attacks as what they really are:
the rants of a bigot.
Attorney General Mike Cox has not
reacted appropriately to this reality. As
reported on Tuesday, the attorney general's
office confirmed to the Daily that the office
was aware of Shirvell's blog. Yesterday, the
Detroit Free Press reported that Cox had
"chastised" Shirvell for the statements
made on the blog. According to a statement
from Cox, Shirvell is entitled to "a right to
free speech outside working hours ... But
Mr. Shirvell's immaturity and lack of judg-
ment outside the office are clear."
Shirvell's increasingly extreme actions
of discrimination aren't the result of a lapse
in judgment. His behavior does not stem
from immaturity. It stems from hatred.
And this type of hatred makes Shirvell
unsuitable to remain a government offi-
cial. It will affect his ability to objectively
interpret laws - which is the job of the
attorney general's office. It's unacceptable
that Cox hasn't dismissed a member of his
staff who is so blatantly bigoted. A finger-
wagging won't change the fact that Cox
has a responsibility to employ a thoughtful
staff that will fairly carry out their jobs on
behalf of the citizens of this state. Shirvell
doesn't fit this mold.
Cox shouldn't tolerate such offensive
behavior from someone who is required
to fairly defend the law. A scolding isn't an
acceptable response to the hatred that con-
tinues to be published on Shirvell's blog.
Cox must take serious action. He should
remove Shirvell from his position in the
attorney general's office.
ASHLEY GRIESSHAMMER I
College rankings matter
The Daily's opinion blog wants to know what you think about life on campus. Check out
the twisted thoughts of Will Grundler as he laments how annoying aggressive joggers are.
Go to michigandaily.com and click on 'Blogs'.
The net should remain neutral
I'm one of those people who considers a
school's ranking to be very important - a view
contrary to that of many other students. Maybe
it's because I like to know that my school is
among the top performers in the country or
because I want to reassure myself that I am get-
ting the best education possible. Whatever my
personal underlying reasons, a school's rank-
ing is important. Yet many students neglect to
consider rankings as one of the school's biggest
assets when making college decisions.
First, let's talk about where the Univer-
sity stands. In this year's rankings released
by Kaplan and Newsweek, the University was
featured as number 11 among the top 25 most
desirable large schools (having10,000 students
or more). Among the higher-ranking schools
were New York University and Harvard. The
University of Michigan also came in fifteenth
on a list of 25 top schools for future power bro-
kers, beating out Notre Dame. It's great that
the University is pulling in high rankings, but
how do students connect with these?
As a freshman,)I can still clearly remember
long months of college searches, applications
and decisions. My brother is currently a senior
here, so the University was already on my list
of schools to apply to. But how did I decide to
apply to other schools? Because I intended to
become a business major, my goal was to end
up here at the Ross School of Business. But I
needed a back-up plan just in case that didn't
happen, so I went to a list of rankings. Finding
that Indiana University was right behind the
University of Michigan, I chose to apply there.
Since the two business schools were neck and
neck at the time, I had a tough decision of
where to go. And I based my whole decision on
Thankfully, I ended up here, at a fabulous
school that has consistently been among the
most prestigious universities in the country.
The academics here are excellent, especially
for a public university. Our school's name
has been thrown around with the likes of Ivy
And what can the University of Michigan
name do for us? Land a job, of course. When
I saw the rankings in an article on Sept. 13, I
also spotted an item at AnnArbor.com with
the headline "Job recruiters find University
of Michigan grads more valuable than Ivy-
leaguers." I was shocked. I skimmed the article
to find that our University was ranked num-
ber 6 by the Wall Street Journal on a list of
schools that produce the best graduates over-
all. Schools like Harvard, Stanford and Princ-
eton, for example, were nowhere on the list.
The University seems to produce some heavy-
hitters, at least according to The Wall Street
As a preferred-admission student to the
business school, I'm partial to Ross. I love the
building, the people and the academic pro-
gram. As a side note, The Wall Street Jour-
nal's survey also found that, to recruiters, the
University ranks first for business grads, first
for finance, sixth for accounting and seventh
for marketing and advertising. People clearly
know what we're all about. When I'm apply-
ing for internships and jobs, it's reassuring to
know that prospective employees will recog-
nize the prestige thatgoes along with the name
of my school.
So how important should these rankings
be? For me, it's all about landing a fantastic
job. The problem with many recruiters is that
they don't know much about the school itself.
So they look at our rankings. And when poten-
tial employers to go off rankings, which many
probably do, they will see before we even enter
an interview situation that any student from
our University will be well prepared to enter
the workforce and succeed.
Rankings are like a first impression. They're
the first things people will see about a school.
Along with a high ranking comes high prestige,
and I would hope that as students continue to
make decisions about their college choices,
they factor in where the school ranks. Even
though a ranking shouldn't matter enough to
define an individual, it does.
Ashley Griesshammer is an LSA freshman.
Google has long reveled in its position as the Internet
firm that could do no wrong by consumers. The 12-year-
old company, which has strong ties to Ann Arbor, has long
distanced itself from its competition not only through
famously complex algorithms - which maximize web-
browsing efficiency - but also by repeatedly safeguard-
ing the free flow of information on the Web.
The uncluttered, clean appearance of Google is one
of the many aspects that make it so universally loved.
Google's recent headline-grabbing squabbles with China
over censorship appealed to the masses for altruistic rea-
sons. This was one of the world's most powerful brands
foregoing profits in favor of taking a stand against the
oppressive Chinese government. In April, Google even
published statistics showing the number of requests
made by national governments for removal of data from
Given these actions, it's no surprise to hear that Google
was once among the staunchest of the Obama adminis-
tration's allies for net-neutrality. According to Bloomberg
BusinessWeek, net-neutrality means all information on
the Web is shared free and equally.
"Allowing broadband companies to control what peo-
ple see and do online would fundamentally undermine
the principles that have made the internet such a suc-
cess," Google employee and Web pioneer Vincent Cerf
told Congress, according to The Economist, prior to the
April ruling by a federal court that the Federal Communi-
cations Commission - the FCC - had no right to regulate
Internet service providers.
Everything changed on Aug. 9, when Google complete-
ly reversed course and abandoned net-neutrality, much to
the chagrin of the administration and the FCC - as well
as advocates for the freedom of information. Google CEO
Eric Schmidt teamed with Verizon to suggest a plan for a
tiered pricing system on the Web, essentially partitioning
the Internet into fast and slow lanes depending on what
each user is doing.
Congress has yet to reach a consensus on the issue,
but if this plan comes to fruition, service providers will
be able to decide what content will flow quickly and what
will flow more slowly. Making the concept of net-neutral-
ity a relic of the past.
"Google has taken a big step back in people's eyes," ana-
lyst Craig Moffett of the financial research firm Sanford
C. Bernstein told Bloomberg on Aug. 12. "The company
that's supposed to not be evil is suddenly being character-
ized by the net neutrality crowd as the arch-villain."
Schmidt supports the plan by saying the market has
created the demand for a tiered system and that efficiency
will lead to better results for everyone. Advocates point
to the usual free-market talking points, like the idea that
government involvement with the Web will lessen pri-
vate investment and derail innovation. However, it was
the government's innovation that created the Web itself
through the Department of Defense.
The Economist recently posed the question of wheth-
er or not companies such as Amazon, Facebook and yes,
even Google, could have become what they are today
under such a plan? Would open source systems - essen-
tially allowing anyone to create anything - be able to
thrive under a Web that is no longer open?
The future of the openness of the Internet has never been
so bleak. The book is currently being written and net-neu-
trality advocates appear headed for tough times given the
stunning shift by the company that has been named as the
world's most powerfulbrand four years running.
The potential for abuse of power by the service provid-
ers seems limitless. Advocates of Google and Verizon's
plan may point to the open market as a positive, but an
open market is characterized by competition. The market
being entirely dominated by AT&T, Verizon and Comcast
is hardly a beacon of open competition. Furthermore,
given Comcast's pending acquisition of NBC Universal,
a major provider of content, the stage is set perfectly for
such abuse. These are all firms, and their primary goal is
profit not altruism. Just read the wistful words of former
Fed Chairman and free-market icon Alan Greenspan as
the economy spun out of control in 2008:
"I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests
of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such
that they were best capable of protecting their own share-
holders and their equity in the firms," said Greenspan as
quoted by The Guardian in Oct. 2008.
Abandoning the concept of net-neutrality is a mistake for
many reasons, not merely basic principles. Google is among
the most powerful, trusted companies in the world. This
180-degree shift is disturbing and likely to actually mean
something, as the laws that govern the Web are essentially
being written as we speak. President Barack Obama made a
career as an academic and he certainly represents the inter-
ests of the University and everyone involved in academia
with his support of net-neutrality.
Google has close ties to Ann Arbor and the University.
Its co-founder attended college here and many Univer-
sity graduates find work at Google, which has an office in
Ann Arbor. The University trains the leaders and the best,
often for jobs at Google, so it's about time we stepped u
and made a difference while the book is still being writ-
Roger Sauerhaft is an LSA senior.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler, Michelle DeWitt,
Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Tommaso Pavone,
Leah Potkin, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Laura Veith