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October 06, 2010 - Image 4

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0'

4A - Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

"This could be the tipping point for our city...
We need hope:'
- Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, on Mike Ilitich potentially buying the Detroit
Pistons, as reported yesterday in the Detroit Free Press.

JACOB SMILOVITZ
EDITOR IN CHIEF

RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

MATT AARONSON
MANAGING 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.
Big benefits in nanotech
'U' and federal government should invest in research
J nrthe wake of cuts to state funding on higher education facil-
ities across the state, the University received some uplift-
ing and positive news - a nanomechanical engineering lab
complex will be built on North Campus by 2013. The new lab,
called The Center of Excellence in Nano Mechanical Science and
Engineering, will be home to a nanotechnology research project.
It will focus on progress in healthcare and biotechnology, among
other areas. When the facility is complete, it will have the poten-
tial to greatly benefit the University and the state. The Univer-
sity and the federal government should continue to invest in this
project and other similar lab projects.

Relax and have a beer

According to a Sept. 29 article in the Daily,
the University received a $9.5 million grant
from the National Institute of Standards
and Technology to dedicate to the creation
of a $46-million nanomechanical engineer-
ing lab complex on North Campus. In addi-
tion to the federal grant, the University, the
College of Engineering and private pledges
will also contribute to the lab's funding.
Jack Hu, the organizer behind the original
proposal and the associate dean for academ-
ic affairs in engineering, noted in an inter-
view with the Daily that the new facility
will contribute in vital nanoparticles behav-
ioral research that will benefit the medical
and manufacturing fields.
The potential benefits of The Center of
Excellence in Nano Mechanical Science and
Engineering and similar research efforts
are too im ortant to be ignored. The oppor-
tunity to further commit to research could
have the potential to have many tangible
benefits for generations to come. In this
case, research devoted to furthering the
advancedelnts in'the medical field could'
lead to scientific breakthroughs that actu-
ally save lives. For example, nanotechnol-
ogycould help to better detect and diagnose
several types of cancer, as well as create
new treatments, according to the Project on
Emerging Nanotechnologies.
Research could also prove to be a helpful

investment for the state as well. As Gov. Jen-
nifer Granholm said ina press release about
the buildings' creation last week, the new
lab complex could help diversify our state
economy as well as create new jobs. And
these benefits are exactly what our state
needs as it faces a high unemployment rate
and an uncertain future. This facility is just
one way to help revitalize state employment
by encouraging the growth of the research
industry and drawing esteemed researchers
and scientists to Michigan.
Not only is the creation of this lab com-
plex beneficial to the state, but it could
also encourage and add to the growth of
research at the University. With the open-
ing of this new facility, the University will
have the opportunity to broaden the scope
of its research. This lab complex could draw
researchers to the University. In turn, this
influx of researchers could improve the
speed of research progress. This win-win
situation will lead to impressive technologi-
cal and medical breakthroughs.
The University has shown its commit-
ment to research. And now, the federal gov-
ernment has demonstrated its support, too.
But furthering advancements in research
shouldn't end here. The University and fed-
eral government should continue to invest
in research developments that will lead to
valuable real-world benefits.

n his column about combat-
ing underage drinking three
weeks ago, Tyler Jones referred
to alcohol as a
"crutch" that stu-
dents shouldn't
have to rely on to
manage stress or
social situations
(The battle for State
Street, 09/17/2010).
And while colum-
nist Joe Sugiyama
showed a better JEREMY
understanding of
college life in his LEVY
response column
the following week,
he didn't outright refute the idea of
alcohol as a crutch (It's a sober world
after all..., 09/21/2010).
If you asked the authors of a recent
study entitled "Late-Life Alcohol Con-
sumption and 20-Year Mortality,"
they'd likely tell you that alcohol has
very tangible social benefits, and is far
from a crutch
in most cases.
In a sample of
1,824 partici-
pants between,
ages 55 and 65
over a= study
period of 20
years, the
study found
higher mor-
tality rates for
non-drinkers
than for heavy
drinkers.
Yes, you
read cor-
rectly. The
study showed
that moder-
ate drinkers
had the low-
est mortal-
ity, while
heavy drink-
ers - defined
as those who
drink three drinks or more a day on
average - also showed lower mortal-
ity rates than abstainers. The authors
attributed the difference in mortality
rates to the social differences between
drinkers and non-drinkers. Non-
drinkers were more likely to suffer
from depression, isolation or other
mental health issues.
Granted, this study should be
taken with a grain of salt. While the
findings in favor of moderate drink-
ing were robust, the authors didn't

go as far as to say that the social ben-
efits of binge drinking outweigh the
health problems.
Still, the study can serve as evidence
that drinking - and not just moderate
drinking - holds a legitimate social
role in many aspects of our society,
including college. To borrow a term
from sociology, drinking under the age
of 21 may be technically illegal, but it's
by no means socially deviant. In other
words, it's more common for a college
student to drink than abstain. This pat-
tern has a lot to do with the prevalence
of alcohol in all aspects of our culture
- and contrary to Jones's view, that's
not necessarily bad. Drinking among
college age kids isn't an epidemic, as
some public officials want us to believe.
It's just normal.
In this vein, there's a major con-
tradiction between what students
are taught about alcohol and how it's
actually perceived in society. At least
among adults I know, there's ageneral
consensus that to a certain degree,

Just take a moment to think about
the role of alcohol in society. How
many beer commercials do you see on
a dailybasis? Try and count the num-
ber of adult social events - fancy din-
ners, bar nights, high school reunions
- that involve alcohol. Even at many
religious gatherings, drinking is the
custom. Alcohol is prevalent in many
aspects of social life and it's simply
naive to think that those under 21
aren't going to partake.
Of course, I realize that alcohol can
be extremely dangerous when con-
sumed irresponsibly. I agree that the
number of late night hospital visits
from underage kids due to drinking is
unacceptable. But college students are
disproportionally lectured about the
dangers of drinking, even though they
are not necessarily the most endan-
gered. According to the Center for
Disease Control, of all fatal car crashes
in 2008 in which the person who died
had a BAC above .08, 34 percent were
21 to 24 years old, 31 percent were 25
to 34 years old
and 25 percent
were between
35 and44years
'I ~ - old. The 18-to-
21 age group
isn't even in
the top three.
Yet, a slogan
like "Mothers
Against Thir-
ty-Year Olds
Drinking" just
doesn't have
o the same ring
r': to it.
But 5 don't
think irre-
sponsible
- drinking is
what we're
really talking
about here.
The subject is
agencies like
The National
Institute of
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that
claim that it's a problem that 83 per-
cent of college students drink at all,
or those who argue that alcohol is
an unnecessary crutch. Ultimately,
these are the same groups that argue
for stricter, ineffective law enforce-
ment of underage drinking and fail to
see the realities of alcohol's place in
social life and it's potential benefits.

0'

drinking at a young age isn't a prob-
lem. Many adults tend to be okay with
high school students drinking in con-
trolled situations, such as family func-
tions, and for the most part know that
college students are going to drink
underage. Most of our parents prob-
ably drank when they were in college,
and for some of them, the drinking age
in their state was 18 at the time. These
perceptions stand in sharp contrast to
the hyperbolic messages we receive
from public sources.

0

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.
MATTHEW SHUTLER I
Stand strong for Armstrong

Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu

-the
podium

Call it like you see it. Jeremy Levy discusses the
nuances of proper seating etiquette in University libraries.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium.

When I wrote a viewpoint coming out in The
Michigan Daily during my freshman year (Com-
ing out for acceptance, 03/04/2009), I received a
lot of e-mails and comments from people, both
good and bad. Some congratulated me, while
others told me that I was going to burn in Hell.
I knew there was a risk to coming out in such a
public way, but I believed that if I could help
anyone feel comfortable with who they are or to
realize that others were going through what they
were, it was worth it. I honestly didn't expect
the criticisms from people who never met me -
or ever cared to for that matter - but for every
person telling me that I was wrong or disgusting,
two others were asking for advice or telling me
that reading the article was helpful.
I'm sure everyone has heard the recent news
about Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attor-
ney general for the state of Michigan, and his
open attacks on Michigan Student Assembly
President Chris Armstrong. I'm not here to
give you a recap or rewrite all the unprovoked,
malicious statements this grown man is mak-
ing about a college student. My point is to tell
Shirvell and anyone who agrees with his meth-
ods and beliefs that the student body of the
University stands behind Armstrong. The work
he has been doing to make the campus a more
inclusive place for all students, no matter how
they identify themselves, is something to be
commended, not met with bigotry. I'm tired of
sitting back and letting someone attack one of
my peers for being openly gay and for trying to
makea difference on campus.
I started hearing about Shirvell and his blog
"Chris Armstrong Watch" a while back, but I
chose to avoid reading it because I figured the
whole situation would soon blow over and he
would realize that cyber-bullying a college stu-
dent isn't be the best way to spend one's time

and energy. I was wrong.
As the publicity increased, and with "The
Daily Show" on campus's steps, I knew it was
time to read what was being said about the
person I voted to represent me and my school.
I was outraged by his callous assumptions and
so-called "reporting," which looked much more
like stalking to me. Yet, despite the public back-
lash, Shirvell still holds a position of power in
the Michigan attorney general's office.
I would like to congratulate Armstrong for
taking these personal attacks with maturity and
coolness. Armstrong, having expressed his inten-
tions to continue with what Shirvell calls his
"radical homosexual agenda" and enact the pro-
posals that prompted the studentbody to vote for
him (such as the much-needed open housing and
that oh-so-radical cafeteria hours extension, as
noted by Anderson Cooper in his interview with
Shirvell last Tuesday), is showing that he won't
be silenced or scared into submission.
I think Armstrong is setting an example that
we all, as future leaders, should follow: Stand up
for what you believe in. Fight for your rights and
the rights of all those around you. I also think
it's important to understand that, while it's hor-
rible to think in this day and age that people
can still be so condemning of members of the
LGBTQ community, the national attention that
this affair is receiving can only help the fight for
gay rights by putting a spotlight on MSA's work
and the progress it's trying to make.
As the University "Expect Respect" campaign
says, "I expect respect for myself and my com-
munity." So speak up and show the world that the
University supports its student body president
and won't sit idly by while he is attacked and bul-
lied for who he is and what he believes in.
Matthew Shutler is an LSA junior.

DAN MEISLER I

0

State redistricting process is flawed

As a newspaper reporter for more than a decade, Ihad the
chance to cover nearly every level of government, from Con-
gress and the Supreme Court to the Pinckney Village Coun-
cil. One of the greatest joys of that work was interviewing
the "man/woman on the street" to gather the general pub-
lic's thoughts on the political issue of the day.
One of the inescapable conclusions of talking to so many
people about so many different topics is that the level of
consensus on politics in America - that is, agreement
among the actual people, not politicians - is surprisingly
high. I would wager that most people agree on most things
(excluding some seemingly intractable issues like abor-
tion rights). Sm convinced that a non-dogmatic, centrist
approach to government is what most people want.
Now, however, polarization is the order of the day. Grid-
lock in Washington, demonization of one or the other side
by TV, radio and Internet pundits and the infusion of great-
er and greater amounts of cash into political campaigns
have combined to create a toxic political atmosphere.
One often-overlooked contributor to these divisions is
the current practice of redrawing political districts every 10
years based on the decennial census. Ina classic case of the
fox guarding the henhouse, the job of redistricting is tasked
to the state legislature. The very people who would benefit
from drawing the lines to create "safe" districts - districts
so heavily populated by voters of one party that the other
party's candidates essentially have no chance of winninga
general election - are the ones who actually get to do it.
The result is a system in which politicians have absolute-
ly no incentive to appeal to the center. That's because in a
safe district, all a candidate has to do is win the primaryand
he or she is virtually guaranteed to win the general elec-
tion. So all they have to do is win over their party's primary
voters, generally a more hard-line group than the electorate
as a whole, at least in my experience.
Perhaps a more troubling effect is the disparity between
the voting preferences of the electorate and the makeup of
our Congressional delegation. For example, in Michigan,
according to a 2 07 report from the Michan Campaign

Finance Network, 49.2 percent of votes in the 1998 Con-
gressional elections were cast for Democrats. But because *
the party had drawn the districts after the 1990 census,
10 of Michigan's 16 seats in the House, more than 62 per-
cent, were held by Democrats. After Republicans drew the
districts following the 2000 census, an equal and opposite
situation emerged: In the 2006 election, 44.5 percent of the
Congressional vote went to Republicans, but they ended up
with 9 of the 15 seats, or60 percent. If this isn't a subversion
of the will of the voters, I don't know what is.
This issue has gained some attention this year, as vari-
ous media outlets have written about how high the stakes
are in this election cycle. In effect, the winners of this
election will control each states' political scene for the
next 10 years. Michigan stands to lose one of its Congres-
sional seats because of our population loss. For the most
part, however, these media accounts fail to point out the
ridiculousness of the system in which political partisans
essentially get to choose their voters, instead of voters
choosing their candidates at the ballot box.
Ann Arbor residents have a great opportunity to learn
more about the issue with the screening of a new, unre-
leased documentary called "Gerrymandering." A special
showing of "Gerrymandering" is set for 7 p.m., Oct. 6 at
the University's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy on
State Street. Writer/director Jeff Reichert will attend and
participate in a panel discussion after the showing with
University Professor John Chamberlin, former U.S. Rep.
Joe Schwarz (R-Mich.) and Rich Robinson of the Michi-
gan Campaign Finance Network.
Reichert will also attend a fundraiser in Detroit for
Common Cause of Michigan, which is making redistrict-
ing reform one of its top issues this year.
Other states, notably Iowa, have implemented non-par-
tisan systems of redistricting. It can be done. And if we
want to take positive actionto overcome the artificial divi-
sions plaguing our political system, it should be done.
Dan Meister is a University staff member.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Adrianna Bojrab, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Harsha Pandur9 ga, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin, Asa Smith, Laura Veith

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