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September 09, 2010 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *

17 an a
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.
Sustained commitment
Michigan should support building the green industry
Traditionally, the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission
has been hesitant to allow any change to the city's historic
landmarks. But saving the environment has increasing-
ly become a more essential component of this city's identity. In
August, the Historic District Commission's approved the instal-
lation of solar panels at the iconic Michigan Theater on State
Street. These types of environmentally-friendly initiatives are a
smart move for Ann Arbor and could lead to good economic news
for the state of Michigan. Students and city residents should
support sustainable projects like this. Other cities in Michigan
and around the country should follow Ann Arbor's example and
encourage similar green initiatives.

Diversity is no laughing matter.

Led by Major John Hieftje, Ann Arbor
has been at the national forefront of the
green movement. Solar panels have pow-
ered the Ann Arbor Farmers Market for
two years. Now, according to a Sept. 6 arti-
cle in The Ann Arbor Chronicle, the Ann
Arbor Historic District Commission has
approved the installation of two solar proj-
ects in the historic district. One is at a pri-
vate home and the other is at the Michigan
Theater. The Michigan Theater project is
being headed up by XSeed, a division of the
Ypsilanti-based Clean Energy Coalition.
By now, most people are aware of the
many benefits of using alternative energies
like solar panels. Converting solar energy
into power allows owners to save on elec-
tricity costs. This can make up for the cost of
installation in only a few years - especially
since installation costs can often be offset by
federal and state tax credits. And depending
less on fossil fuels like coal - which releases
incredible amounts of carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere as it is burns - and non-
renewable resources like oil helps to reduce
humanity's carbon footprint.
And increased use of solar panels could
help to jumpstart businesses In Michigai
by encouraging the growth of the alterna-
tive energy industry. Many Michigan cities
already have the infrastructure to manu-
facture these solar panels. For example,

the old Wixom Ford Plant was retrofitted
by two companies to produce solar panels
and environmentally-friendly storage bat-
teries in September 2009. Putting these old
factories to work constructing new, ener-
gy-efficient products would create desper-
ately-needed jobs - and hopefully draw
even more alternative energy businesses to
Michigan to develop a thriving new indus-
try on which Michigan can depend.
Ann Arbor's commitment to this ideal
is setting a precedent that other commu-
nities should follow. While Ann Arbor has
always put preserving the historic district
at the top of its priority list, deciding to
go green in the district once again proves
how dedicated it is to creating a more envi-
ronmentally-friendly community. Despite
some objections brought up during the
Historic District Commission meetings
about the aesthetic effect of the panels, a
commitment to sustainability won out in
the end - as it should have.
Ann Arbor's commitmentt.,alterna-
tive energy and the successes it has to
show, like the solar-powered Farmers
Market and soon the Michigan Theater,
are encouraging signs for individuals and
businesses looking to join the green move-
ment. The city of trees has again shown its
willingness to move forward and go green.
Now, other cities must follow its lead.

n Aug. 25, University Hous-
ing celebrated the start of the
academic year with its annual
housing kickoff at
Rackham audito-
rium. For the first
time, student staff
- including me
as a resident advi-
sor - were also
invited to attend.
So it's unsurpris-
ing that everyone
would want to start TOMMASO
the year off with an
impressive bang. PAVONE
And so it was
that Dr. Bertice
Berry, a well-
known sociologist, author and moti-
vational speaker who has appeared
on "Oprah" and "The Tonight Show"
with Jay Leno, was invited to deliver
the keynote address. "No one defies
stereotypes, generalizations or cliches
more than Dr. Bertice Berry," read the
day's program, a phrase that's repeated
on Berry's website. The program then
concluded with a big promise: "One
thing's for certain, you will leave dif-
ferent than when you came."
Berry was supposed to "redefine
diversity;" humor, according to the
kickoff program, would help the
audience come together to under-
stand why diversity benefits every
individual. This, along with the two
former promises that she would move
beyond stereotypes and change our
perspectives, makes three promises
that Berry failed to keep.
Ironically, it was Berry's-humorw
that got her into the most trouble. She
digressed, for example, about visit-
ing Korea, and acted out how every
Korean bows down and speaks in a
whisper. Then, all of a sudden, Berry

became rambunctious and loud,
because she had moved to recount
landing in Atlanta, where apparently
everyone behaves that way. Almost
without fail, Berry laughed theatri-
cally at her own jokes, as if her laugh-
ing made it acceptable to guffaw at
anything she said. Sadly, it worked.
After an hour of talking the good
talk about diversity, infusing the rou-
tine with often stereotype-based jokes
and awkwardly breaking into song
three times, Berry had the grace to
take time out of her busy schedule -
she reminded everyone several times
about how she had a flight to catch - to
answer some questions from the audi-
ence. That's when a housing employee
walked up to the microphone.
Before he could start, Berry mused,
"Are you a man or a woman? I can't
tell!" The questioner, Berry had
noticed, had fairly long hair. Some-
what taken aback, he nevertheless pro-
ceeded to ask his question. After Berry
replied with an answer, he mentioned
that he had a follow-up inquiry. "You
know you're ghetto if you ask a follow-
up question," Berry laughed. I am sure
it was a pure coincidence that the man
with the follow-up question was black.
It may come as a surprise to Berry,
but I, a middle-class white Italian
immigrant from the well-off Detroit
suburbs, also ask follow-up questions.
I also doubt that everyone in Korea
whispers and bows and that everyone in
Atlanta is sassy and loud. But then again,
perhaps I shouldn't disagree because, as
Dr. Berry emphasized, she is a scholar
with a Ph.D. I, on the other hand, am
only an undergraduate student.
And yet, for all her supposed aca-
demic claims to fame, Berry's work has
only been cited a handful of times by
fellow academics, as a cursory search
on Google Scholar will reveal. It seems

that fellow sociologists have some res-
ervations regarding Berry's message.
Perhaps it's because it borders more so
on motivational speaking than socio-
logical research. Perhaps it's because
it's full ofthe very stereotypes and gen-
eralizations Berrystates she's tryingto
overcome. Either way, it seems I'm not
the only one who takes issue with some
aspects of Berry's message.
Here's my
"ghetto" follow-up
for Dr. Berry.
Laughter is a powerful thing - it's
one of the most effective forms of peer
pressure. If half of the auditorium is
laughing, you feel compelled to laugh
too. Berry would do well to remem-
ber this point when she considers the
effectiveness of her humor. I, asan
audience member that day, invite my 0
peers to reassess Berry's speech. If we
believe that stereotyping is no laugh-
ing matter, as our training as Housing
employees emphasizes,then our think-
ing shouldn't change just because a
charismatic "diversity expert" likes to
laugh at her own jokes.
To her credit, Berry did provide us
with mind-blowing insights regarding
our roles as Housing employees. When
asked by an audience member about
how resident advisors can help build
inclusive communities, Berry was
uncharacteristically silent. "Keep yotir
door open," she finally responded. Bril-
liant - absolutely brilliant.
- Tommho Pavone can lie
reached at pohamen@umich.edu

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.
The hijab as a statement of faith

Stalking to stay connected


For those of you unfamiliar with the story
of Imane Boudlal, let me provide some back-
ground information. According to an Aug. 18
Associated Press report, Boudlal is a Muslim
woman who has worked for Disney the last two
years. This year, she decided to wear a hijab -
a type of women's head covering common in
Arab countries - for Ramadan, the Muslim
month of fasting and reflection. Her employer
told her this violated dress code. Boudlal is
insisting that Disney's attitude is anti-Islam
and anti-Arab.
Her employers, however, are part of a vast
entertainment industry known for its strident
dress code policies. Though Boudlal worked as
a hostess in a restaurant, these employees are
treated as performers. Her head covering was
not part of the accepted costume. In theory, yar-
mulkes and crucifixes would also be considered
violations of the dress code. Boudlal was offered
the alternative of working "behind the scenes"
where she would not be seen by customers. She
refused and the lawsuit is pending.
I'm not questioning Disney's right to dictate
the dress of their employees, as long as the cor-
poration rejects all ethnic dress. I also won't
intend to delve into some of the other details,
like the fact that Boudlal asked her boss if she
could wear her hijab and was told that Disney
would design one for her. Disney never pulled
through. However, it is evident that by refusing
to compromise, Boudlal pushed herself into the
spotlight as another so-called deviant, unrea-
sonable Muslim.
Muslims didn't need this publicity. America
doesn't need this publicity. Coming from small-
town Michigan, I've heard plenty of people
express prejudice against Islam. In many cases,
Islam isn't understood on its own terms. Rather,
it's perceived based upon the minority of Mus-
lims who make it onto the news in spectacular
and negative fashion. In fact, the persistent
drama over the "Ground Zero mosque" (which
isn't at Ground Zero, by the way) just highlights
a fact that certain Americans seem to have trou-
ble grasping: not all Muslims are terrorists.
on a smaller scale, even the hijab is vastly
misunderstood. An innocuous status update on
Facebook exploded my notifications as two of
my friends - one a Muslim, the other an atheist
- butted heads not over Boudlal's right to wear

her hijab in the workplace, but over a woman's
right to decide to wear it at all. In America, this
head covering seems strange to many. This
isn't surprising, considering that our culture
has longsince stopped struggling against short
shorts and tights worn with shirts and skimpy
tank tops. An extra garment worn to defend
modesty is an anomaly.
We don't understand the hijab except in
extremist terms - like the defense that the hijab
is a woman's protection against lustful glances
and rape. My atheist friend believes that the
hijab is sexist and anti-feminist in the worst
way because of these prejudices. But my Mus-
lim friend vehemently opposed this view. "It's
not even about religion," she posted in response.
"It's about non-Muslims suppressing these
women by denying thatthey could ever have had
a brain and made this choice on their own."
My Muslim friend didn't wear a hijab on a
daily basis as a student at the University. In
Pakistan, however, she dons one. It's the cul-
tural norm there, she explained to me. And,
yes, there are stares and leers at women who
choose not to wear the hijab. It's considered
a cry for attention - just like wearing tight
pants, revealing shirts and the like is for Amer-
ican girls.
The University prides itself on its diverse stu-
dent body. And I've seen a fair handful of young
women sporting jeans, t-shirts and hijab of all
patterns. These girls are not forced to wear it.
They wouldn't be subject to lustful stares if
they removed it. Instead, they choose to wear it
as a statement of their faith. As an expression of
modesty, it doesn't matter.
The fact is that wearing the hijab in Ameri-
ca is a choice. Denying Muslim women's right
to wear the hijab on well-intentioned but ill-
researched feminist motives is wrong. Some of
these girls would feel naked without their head
covered, just as most other students would feel
a bit exposed if they walked outside without
pants. Choosing to wear their hijab is, whether
they intend it tobe or not, an expression of their
control over their sexuality. In this context, the
hijab is just as feminist an item of clothing as
Susan B. Anthony's bloomers. Perhaps we've
learned enough by now to take it in stride.
Daniela Edwards is an LSA junior.

magine a scenario in which
you're a single person at a bar
and someone you don't know
comes up and talks
to you. At some
point in the con-
versation, you find
out that this per-
son approached
you because he
or shepulled up
your Facebook
profile on a smart-
phone and saw that JEREMY
you were single.
Sounds creepy, LEVY
right? But who _
knows, maybe I'm
just being pre-
sumptuous. Who's to say that one
couldn't meet a future spouse in such
a situation?
This scenario may happen as a result
of the launch of Facebook's new Places
feature on Aug. 18. If users choose to
use this application, they can log onto
Facebook from a smartphone and
Facebook will broadcast their location.
Users can also track their friends' loca-
tions and pull up the profiles for other
individuals who are broadcasting from
the same location.
As social media expands and
becomes more advanced, it forces us
to reevaluate what we consider to be
socially acceptable behavior. It's often
too easy to assume that these changes
cause people to be less personal and
more isolated. The first time a friend
told me about the bar scenario men-
tioned above, my gut reaction was
that such technology was obtrusive
and unnecessary. I envisioned iPhones
turning into human tracking devices
analogous to the collars they use to
track the wild deer in my neighbor-
hood. However, I quickly came to real-
ize that I was unnecessarily focusing

my attention on the worst possible out-
come of new technology.
Such responses are common when
it comes to technology. Consider a Jul.
16 column in The New York Times
from Bob Herbert entitled, "Tweet
Less, Kiss More." That title succinctly
summarizes his argument. one of
Herbert's examples is an engagement
party in which many of the guests
were sending text messages instead of
paying attention to the toasts. I'm not
convinced cell phones are what cause
people to not pay attention - if there
were no smartphones, the same num-
ber of people still would probably have
been twiddling their thumbs.
The media response to the launch
of Places was similarly critical. Many
news reports on the subject seemed
geared toward concerned parents
rather than those who will actually
be using the feature. Several news-
papers reported on the privacy issues
surrounding Places. The Washington
Post even provides instructions on
how to turn it off.
An argument that resonates
strongly with me is that each tech-
nological change brings positive and
negative effects to our social lives and
it's hard to immediately predict what
these effects will be. In the words of
Slate blogger Farhad Manjoo, "(Plac-
es is) sure to affect your relationships
in amazing and awful ways, most
likely both." By looking at some past
technological changes, one can see
how this statement rings true.
Let's start with Facebook. Face-
book is an easy way to keep tabs on
friends you don't see very often,
share pictures and direct others to
amusing things you find on the Inter-
net. I don't see it as a cop-out way of
socializing. I see it as a way to share
things that I wouldn't always have
time to do otherwise. But there are

some strange social consequences.
For instance, it's common to pick up
information on people you aren't very
close with. This can be an uncomfort-
able problem when you come in con-
tact with such people later and don't
know how to react as they tell you
about their life.
Facebook's Places
isn't necessarily
a cyber leash.
We can also look at texting. I was
very skeptical of texting when it first
came out. But there are situations
when texting is more convenient than
calling - if you have to ask the same
question to six different people, or if
you want to know about something
small that doesn't merit a full discus-
sion. Then again, I hate getting into
drawn-out text conversations when
it would make more sense to simply
talk on the phone.
I suspect that Places will have the
same combination of positive and
negative social effects. It might make
it easier for singles to meet in public.
It also might make it more difficult
to casually lie to someone about your
location, which can be useful. What-
ever happens, there will likelybe skep-
tics who see Places as yet another way
technology is causing people to isolate
themselves. But those who always
assume the worst with technology
should really embrace positive changes
- even if it clashes with their idea of
what is socially acceptable.
- Jeremy Levy can be reached
at jeremlev@umich.edu

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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

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