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November 23, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-23

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4 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C ii t 1 pan iai
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


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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.
A safety check for DPS
University needs to review campus trespass policy
J tcan be difficult for the University to maintain a balance
between protecting students and abusing power. This can
become particularly complicated when political protests
cross into disruptive or threatening behavior. Recently, the Uni-
versity has been criticized for its trespass policy - especially in
regard to the Andrew Shirvell case. The American Civil Liber-
ties Union of Michigan has questioned the constitutionality and
implementation of the University's policy. While the power to
issue trespass orders is an essential tool for keeping students safe,
the University's Department of Public Safety must re-evaluate its
trespass policy to avoid giving DPS excessive power.

North Quad's blemishes

On Sept. 14, former Michigan assistant
attorney general Andrew Shirvell was
issued a trespass order that banned him
from campus in response to behavior that
DPS considered threatening to Michigan
Student Assembly President Chris Arm-
strong. Earlier this month, the order was
modified to allow Shirvell on campus except
for at events at which Armstrong is likely
to be present. Last week, the undergradu-
ate chapter of the ACLU here on campus
suggested that the trespass order threat-
ens Shirvell's First Amendment rights and
asked the University to modify the policy.
Shortly thereafter, the ACLU of Michi-
gan said it was looking into the policy and
is considering filing a lawsuit. University
President Mary Sue Coleman told the Daily
last week that it would be "appropriate" for
the office of General Council to examine
the policy to determine if it needs revision.
The ACLU's requestto reconsider the tres-
pass policy seems sensible - but its request
to have Shirvell's trespass warning reviewed
or revoked is unwarranted. Shirvell's
increasingly extreme behavior this summer
- includingshowingup at events Armstrong
was attending and even showing up outside
Armstrong's house - justifies the trespass
order. The modifications made to the order
in early November are adequate to allow
Shirvell on campus grounds while continu-
ing to protect Armstrong.
There is merit to the ACLU's claim that
the University's trespass policy gives too

much power to individual DPS officers
and lacks an appropriate appeal process.
Currently, the University's trespass policy
allows all 56 DPS officers to issue a trespass
warning at their discretion, which gives
a fair amount of power to a lot of people,
increasing the likelihood that it could be
misused. Additionally, the warnings are
lifetime bans. At Eastern Michigan Univer-
sity, bans expire after one year. A one-year
ban on Shirvell would be sufficient to pro-
tect Armstrong, who is expected to gradu-
ate in April.
And only DPS Director Ken Magee has
the power to overturn a trespass order.
Those who wish to appeal a trespass order
must meet personally with Magee to argue
their case. While Magee has dealt appro-
priately with the Shirvell order, there is no
guarantee that future directors will show
proper discretion. And the director of DPS
isn't a disinterested third party. Though
there's no evidence that Magee has acted
inappropriately, it's concerning that there is
clearly the opportunity to do so. The power
to revise orders should be entrusted to the
Department of Public Safety Oversight
Committee, an impartial body that can
make an objective decision.
The ability to enact trespass orders is
important to protect students and other
members of the University community -
but it shouldn't be abused. DPS must revise
its trespass policy to ensure that orders are
issued only for appropriate reasons.

I f you've passed by North Quad
or if you've spent a couple min-
utes perusing its grounds, you
were probably
impressed. This is a
completely normal
reaction, I assure
you. But after liv-
ing there for the
past three months,
I've got to tell you
that North Quad
is hardly the resi-
dential paradise MATTHEW
you might imagine
from a quick walk GREEN
through its halls of _
faux marble.
To be sure, it
starts out great. You walk into this
beautiful new building and you can't
help but admire the delicately placed
wood paneling and crown molding
above. From sweeping windows, you
take in a grand view of the "collegiate
gothic" architecture as you look out
into an impressive courtyard, replete
with a colonnade and arched entry-
ways. But soon you'll notice - as you
begin to text your friends about the
building's perfectly placed study
spots - that you're probably out of
cell reception. Indeed, this is just the
beginning. By this point, North Quad
has you in its snare.
If you're hungry and you have a
meal plan, you might think you want
to try out the cafeteria. After all,
you've probably heard fantastical sto-
ries about the food there, but be fore-
warned. The dining hall will woo you
with vaulted ceilings, chandeliers and
a gourmet menu touting shark, sushi
and creative tofu dishes. And admit-
tedly, the food itself is pretty good. But
the portions! Oy. If you enjoy a dish
(perhaps a nice Midori vegetable med-
ley) you'll probably have to go up two
or three times - and then wait in line
- in order to get a satisfying amount

of food. Sure, no one's stopping you
from going back to get as much as you
want, but the crowded room will make
doing so a real pain.
of course, that's the real problem
about dining in North Quad - the
crowd. If you're hoping to find a table
for four at lunch or dinnertime, you
may have to wait a while to find a
comfortable spot to enjoy that rack of
lamb. There's clearly nothing anyone
can do about the limitation of physi-
cal space in the dining hall, but per-
haps if its hours of operation were
extended past the current impossibly
short window of time, the bottleneck
may ease up a bit. As of right now, the
cafeteria is open for lunch from 11
a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and for dinner from
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. - and only on week-
days. For less congestion, University
Housing ought to consider extend-
ing the hours to go continuously
from lunch through dinner. That's
what East and South Quads do, and it
seems to work swimmingly.
And if you want breakfast during
the week, you'd better have blue bucks
or dining dollars to pay for the a la
carte menu. This, too, is a despicable
fact of life in North Quad. Diners in its
state-of-the-art cafeteria deserve the
same breakfast opportunities as their
counterparts in other dining halls.
How can North Quad residents go on
to cure cancer or win a Pulitzer Prize
if their meal plan doesn't allow them
to conveniently eat the most impor-
tant meal of the day?
But I digress. While food may be
the first thing on my mind, one could
argue that the real North Quad expe-
rience is upstairs - where residents
actually live. So how about those top
seven floors? Apart from the pleasant
color schemes and mod furniture in
the study lounges, the rooms them-
selves aren't all that different from
those in older dorms. My single room,
at least, is almost identical to my pre-

vious single in East Quad, but with
none of the charm. And the closet
space is practically nil.
At first I was thrilled to see that
with new lighting technology, the
rooms and hallways in North Quad
at least have the illusion of conserv-
ing energy. But when you take into
account that there are two plasma
screen televisions on every floor - one
of which is on at all times to showcase
the North Quad Twitter feed - you
realize that this commitment to ener-
gy conservation is only half-hearted.
And though two of the University's
recent building projects have LEED
certification, North Quad isn't among
them. To be fair, many components
of the building - from water flow
controls to maximal insulation to the
heating system - are all reportedly
eco-friendly. But with a price tag of
$175 million, the University could've
sprung for the qualifications neces-
sary for all-out LEED certification.
This new dorm
isn't the paradise
you might think.
Surely, North Quad has its merits.
But when everyone on campus is rav-
ing about it, I can't help but point out
its imperfections. As I always say, it
may have dual flush toilets, but its toi-
let paper is as coarse as ever. I know
you know what I'm talking about.
Needless to say, the University's lat-
est residence hall doesn't sit well
with me. And, clearly, that's not just
because of the toilet paper.
Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@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. Letters are edited for clarity, length and factual accuracy.
All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous
letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.


Aida Ali, Jordan Birnholtz, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt,
Ashley Griesshammer, Will Grundler, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata,
Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga, Teddy Papes, Tommaso Pavone, Leah Potkin,
Roger Sauerhaft, Asa Smith, Julian Toles, Laura Veith, Andrew Weiner
Re-work registration rules

Pursuing the semester's theme

It's thattime of year again: Students are antici-
pating Thanksgiving break and finals are loom-
ing in the distance. With this comes registering
for classes for Winter2011, an exciting process as
the University offers a wide range of classes. But
for some of us - like me - registration can be a
terribly stressful time.
Before the option of backpacking even opened,
I was already thinking of what classes I wanted
to take. Since this is the last semester during
which I will have the opportunity to take first-
year seminars, my tentative schedule includes at
leastone - and hopefullytwo -of them.So when
backpacking began on Nov. 15,I was ready at my
computer to pick my classes. Since I had already
gone through the course guide and crafted a per-
fect schedule, I was ready to backpack as soon as
it went live. But then I remembered I needed to
check my registration date. At that point, I found
that I will not be registering until Dec. 13 - one
of the latest possible days. I was furious as I saw
my perfect semester start to slip away.
I didn't understand why I was in one of the
worst situations possible. As a freshman, I have
only backpacked and registered for classes
once before and that was at orientation. At ori-
entation, you register the d'ay after you back-
pack, so you know exactly what your schedule
will be. Later, I was informed that registration
dates were determined by the amount of cred-
its a student has. So a senior would have an ear-
lier registration date than a freshman - which
I'm fine with. They should have priority. But
what I didn't understand was why one of my
close friends - also a freshman - had a reg-
istration date almost two weeks before mine. I
then learned that Advanced Placement credits
were the determining factor.
But as freshmen, we're all relatively in the
same boat and no one has really had the oppor-
tunity to establish themselves here on campus.

I don't think that using AP credits as a way of
determining registration dates is fair.
I understand that some people come in with
many AP credits - and that's great for them.
But some of us aren't that lucky. As a student
from a very small high school (only 97 students
in my graduating class), we were only offered
a small number of AP classes. So I had fewer
opportunities to earn AP credits than my peers
from larger high schools. I don't think students
like me who didn't have the chance to take as
many AP classes should be punished when it
comes to registering for classes.
Aside from the AP credits, there's also the
issue of student-athletes. In a Daily article
from November 2008, it was reported that
"athletes will receive priority over non-ath-
letes when registering for classes." Athletic
officials backed up their policy by saying that
athletes typically travel on Fridays and there-
fore need to be able to schedule classes around
travel times. I agree that it can be more diffi-
cult for an athlete to craft a schedule because
they want to miss as little class as possible, but
it's completely unnecessary for them to have
the first registration dates. In my opinion, it's
not difficult to find a schedule that would allow
you to not have class of Fridays.
So between the student-athletes - which
I'm not - and the people with a ridiculous
amount of AP credits - which I don't have -
I'm stuck with a poor registration date. I may
sound like I'm just complaining because I have
a late date, but there are other students in the
same situation as me. We all pay to attend the
University, and we should all be given an equal
chance to get the education we want. The Uni-
versity needs to implement a better way of
assigning registration dates.
Ashley Griesshammer is an SA freshman.

uring my first few days back
on campus at the end of
August, the banners adorning
South University
made my flutter-
ing back-to-school
butterflies feel a
bit heavy. Univer-
sity students and-
Olympic ice danc-
ers Meryl Davis
and Charlie White
smiled down at me
wearing tee-shirts LIBBY
that bore the Uni-
versity's fall 2010 ASHTON
semester theme:
"What makes life
worth living?" And
in that moment, I was reminded of my
purpose at the University, which is to
find my own answer to that question.
I can't remember being aware that
the University had semester themes
before this one. Perhaps I was pre-
sented with them but didn't register
their weight because they weren't as
jarring - neither in meaning nor in
structure - as this one. Examples of
past and upcoming theme semester
titles include "The Universe: Yours to
Discover" (Winter 2009), "Meaning-
ful Objects: Museums in the Acad-
emy" (Fall 2009 and Winter 2010)
and "Water" (Winter 2011). These
are simple declarations of things
that exist and the implication that
the University intends to spend the
semester learning more about their
But this semester, the theme is an
entirely different form. By posing a
question to students, it reaches out
and grabs at our cores as conscious,
rational beings. Mere comprehension
of the question makes us vulnerable
to its power - the source of which is
the possibility that we won't be able
to answer it. This semester's theme,
unlike any other, pulls us into an
existential debate with ourselves,
even if just for a moment.
Psychology Prof. Christopher
Peterson and Director of the Uni-

versity's Center for Ethics in Public
Life John Chamberlin, the professors
responsible for organizing the semes-
ter theme "What Makes Life Worth
Living?," set out to engage us in a pos-
itive search for our own answers. In
an e-mail interview, Chamberlin said
that the theme's structure as a ques-
tion "provides an active prompt to an
individual to think about what makes
life meaningful for her/him." This
exploration, he thinks, is essential
to a liberal arts education and often
doesn't receive enough engagement
in our curriculum.
Peterson, who came up with the
idea for this semester's theme, said in
an e-mail interview that the question
"has been, is, and will be important."
He said his career as a positive psy-
chologist is defined as "the scientific
study of what makes life worth living."
The question is central to both Cham-
berlin's and Peterson's professional
lives. Their work to make it a Univer-
sity-wide focus this semester reminds
us of its centrality to our own lives.
It seems strange that we would
need to be reminded to think about
the reasons behind our walking these
streets, writing papers and maintain-
ing relationships. As beings whose
capacity to question makes us dis-
tinct, I'd think we wouldn't lose sight
of the most fundamental question we
could ask: Why are we? Though it
may be a contradiction, people - and
the institutions they comprise - are
often lost in the muck that distracts
from considering the meaning of life.
Governments around the world
have mistaken measures of wealth
and power to be synonymous with
measures of happiness. And, in doing
so, have faulted on their commitment
to their peoples' pursuits of happiness.
A British daily newspaper, The Guard-
ian, recently ran an article announc-
ing the United Kingdom's plans to
begin measuring the happiness of its
citizens in an effort to ensure that
Britain's general well-being is "at
the heart of future government pol-
icy-making." According the article,

"France and Canada are looking at
similar initiatives as governments
around the world come under pres-
sure to put less store on conventional
economic measures of prosperity such
as gross domestic product."
Britain plans to measure happiness
by gathering information on "subjec-
tive well-being" and an "objective
sense of how well they are achieving
their 'life goals."'While the intentions
of the British government certainly
seem to be nobly in the interest of its
citizens, how can they be sure that
their citizens' "life goals" are any less
misguided than the government's pri-
oritization of the GDP? As Peterson
pointed out, there's a scientific field
of study dedicated to discerning what
makes our lives worth living. It's likely
that many of us don't always live in the
interest of our happiness.
We're distracted
from considering
the meaning of life.
The answers to the semester's
theme "What makes life worth liv-
ing?" are as important to discover as
they are elusive. The answer depends
on the individual, making it impera-
tive that each person works to dis-
cover the meaning of her or his own
life so as never to forget that such a
meaning exists. This column alone
isn't long enough to highlight any
especially resonant declarations of
life's meaning. In my next column,
I'll attempt to (modestly) substanti-
ate the meaning of life by exploring
how various individuals, fields and
disciplines answer the question. But
until then - and even after - explore
the question yourself.
- Libby Ashton can be reached
at eashton@umich.edu.

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