4A - Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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We are ready to give him
residence in Ecuador, with no
problems and no conditions.'
- Kintto Lucas, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister, speaking about WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange, as reported yesterday by Time magazine.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE 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.
City should appropriately utilize public art funds
Ann Arbor is an artsy town. But while it plays host to the Ann
Arbor Art Fairs each summer, there strangely isn't much
public art in the city. Three years ago, Ann Arbor created a
program that allocated city money to purchase public art. But now,
some city politicians argue that funding the initiative is too expen-
sive and that money currently set aside for the program should be
spent to address other concerns in a time of economic downturn.
The city shouldn't simply eliminate funding for public art. Ann
Arbor should maintain funding of the public art program, but it
must also monitor it closely so that money is well-spent.
The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission
was founded in 2007 and is the only pro-
gram of its kind in Michigan. According
to a Nov. 23 article in the Daily, the pro-
gram is funded by the Chapter 24 Public
Art Ordinance, which diverts 1 percent of
each capital project estimate to establish-
ing public art. So far, one project has been
completed and one more - a $750,000
water piece to be placed outside the Police
Municipal building - is being constructed
under the program's umbrella. In the past
three years, Ann Arbor has allotted more
than $2 million for public art.
Art helps foster a vibrant, dynamic and
beautiful community. The positive effects
of public works on the city may be as sub-
tle as adding flavor to a walk in the park
to as salient as making Ann Arbor a more
attractive city for visitors and prospective
residents. In essence, art adds depth and
another dimension to a community that
may otherwise be at risk of appearing dull.
AAPAC Chair Margaret Parker argues that
art fulfills a need that typical necessities
of life don't - it "feed(s) your spirit and
But it's true that since its inception,
AAPAC hasn't been particularly productive.
The fact that two projects have been taken
up over three years demonstrates a slow rate
of progress. Similar programs in other cit-
ies like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles
and Portland have existed for 30 years and
have had rewarding results. The problem
isn't the idea of a public art program itself,
but rather that AAPAC specifically doesn't
seem to be functioning as efficiently as pos-
sible. AAPAC should take action to improve
its operations and work diligentlyto provide
more tangible results.
Critics of the program have a point: $2
million dollars is a lot of money that sim-
ply can't be wasted, especially in a time
of economic downturn. To avert wasteful
spending, city council should be allowed to
increase its oversight of AAPAC by moni-
toring the funding and ensuring that it's
being spent on worthwhile projects. More
direct involvement from the city govern-
ment would increase accountability for the
funds spent through the program.
AAPAC must increase its level of activ-
ity to provide the community with tangible
results, and city council should increase its
engagement with the program. Public art
breatheslife intothe mundane and shouldn't
be a casualty of the struggling economy.
Andrei Markovitz, a Golden
Apple professor at the Uni-
versity, asserts that the U.S.
is the most meri-
try in the world.
Nowhere else are
one's past achieve-
ments as impor-
tant to one's future
successes as in this
country. He says
that studies show-
a larger percent- JEREMY
age of U.S. citizens
than any other LEVY
live in poverty due
to lack of a strong work ethic. And
no other culture is equally obsessed
with rankings as we are. According
to Markovitz, even the BCS system of
re-ranking college football teams on
a weekly basis has a distinctly Ameri-
Discussing the pros and cons of
our merit-based culture goes beyond
the scope of this column. But I do
want focus on one area in which our
continuous pursuit of achievement
has gotten out of control: college
preparation, particularly the College
Board's Advanced Placement exams.
Today's high schoolers are pres-
sured into thinking that such exams
- which have almost no long-term
significance - are the pinnacle of all
high school achievement.
If you took any AP exams in high
school, take a second to think about
why you made that decision. Maybe
the most logical answer is that suc-
cess on an AP exam leads to college
credit. But I don't think that's the real
reason - as a high school senior, it's
very difficultto gauge how AP credits
might help you fill your eventual col-
lege requirements. I can only speak
for myself, but the reason I took AP
exams is because I lived in a neigh-
borhood where teachers and parents
were neurotic about anything hav-
ing to do with college preparations. I
hardly knew any better.
But let's take a look at what my AP
credits got me. Because of AP cred-
its, the University thinks I'm a senior
even though it's only my third year
here. Upon arriving home for Thanks-
giving last week, I found plenty of
mail reminding me to take my senior
portrait. And when the University
began charging me upper class tuition
last winter, no one in my family was
particularly happy about it. Over the
course of high school, I took eight AP
tests, butconly two ofthem have helped
me fill prerequisites for my major.
The entire. AP system is a scam.
High schoolers invest loads of time
and energy into one test - which they
have to pay to take - under the pre-
sumption that the credits will be use-
ful in college. But students often take
tests over a broad range of subjects,
meaning that few AP credits are actu-
ally useful for a specified major. In the
end, AP credits bump up tuition faster
without necessarily helping students
I'm not saying that AP classes
themselves are useless. Rather, I think
students would learn more if such
classes weren't structured completely
around passing one meaningless test.
Take U.S. history, for example. To
me, the most valuable aspect of tak-
ing AP U.S. history during my junior
year of high school was readingJames
Loewen's book, "The Lies My Teacher
Told Me". The book details how com-
mon renditions of U.S. history - often
repeated in elementary-level text-
books or public discourse - roman-
ticize historical figures by excluding
accounts of their less-than-flattering
actions. Loewen gave a strong argu-
ment that history courses need to
be more analytic because classes in
which students primarily memorize
information often perpetuate false
narratives. Ironically, after read-
ing this book at the beginning of the
year, we proceeded to prepare for the
AP test, which strongly emphasized
memorization over analysis.
The caveat here is that AP exams
for math and science courses are
decent approximations of college level
exams, since one's ability to do math
and science problems is easy to mea-
sure objectively. But for humanities
and social science classes, AP exams
are often far from their college-level
equivalents. Students would likely
learn more if the class emphasized
papers or analytic projects.
entire AP system
is a scam.
College preparation today is steered
by people who look to the U.S. News
and World Report College Rankings
as their guide. Merit, achievement and
prestige are always emphasized. Just
as many students are convinced that
going to the 15th best university is
better than going to the 16th best, they
are also convinced of the importance
of getting fives on multiple AP exams.
The College Board shouldn't be the
main authority that determines what
high school students are learning. As
a student who's more than halfway
through college, I'd like to show that
AP tests have gotten me little more
than an earlier registration date and
some unnecessary mail.
Jeremy Levy can be reached
The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed, passionate
writers to be columnists for the winter semester. Columnists write a
700-800 word column every other week on a topic of their choosing.
If you are an opinionated and talented writer, consider applying.
E-MAIL MICHELLE DEWITT AT DEWITTM@UMICH.EDU FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Remember World AIDS Day
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ROGER SAUERHAFT k
Too close to the TSA for comfort
Today stands as a landmark of commit-
ment to improving public health: It's the 22nd
annual World AIDS Day. Each year, Dec. 1 is
recognized and celebrated as World AIDS Day
by countries all around the world. The purpose
of World AIDS Day is to raise awareness about
the AIDS pandemic, remember those who have
died from the disease and celebrate those who
are receiving treatment and living happy lives.
Though progress in prevention and treat-
ment of the disease has improved in the past
several years, the statistics surrounding it are
still staggering. In 2008, it was estimated that
33.4 million adults around the world were liv-
ing with HIV/AIDS. The goal of World AIDS
Day is to make the entire planet aware of the
statistics and encourage everyone to join in the
fight against HIV/AIDS.
One of today's worldwide celebrations is the
(RED) campaign's goal to "turn the map of the
world (RED)." Thirteen countries will light
up more than 80 national landmarks, turning
them red. This event will begin in Sydney, Aus-
tralia with the Sydney Opera House and travel
west across the globe time zone by time zone,
finally ending at the Los Angeles International
The goal of the campaign is to raise aware-
ness about babies born with HIV. Though there
is medicine that can prevent mothers who are
HIV positive from passing the disease onto
their children, roughly half a million babies
were born with the disease last year, accord-
ing to this year's UNAIDS Report on the Global
AIDS Epidemic. (RED)'s goal is to bring this
number to zero by the year 2015 by making
the proper treatment available to all pregnant
Another event is being carried out for World
AIDS Day, by celebrities, in support of a char-
ity co-founded by singer Alicia Keys called
Keep a Child Alive. The goal of the charity is
to raise money for children and families whose
lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Celeb-
rities are getting involved through a campaign
called Digital Life Sacrifice. They will log off of
all social networking sites on Dec. 1 and not get
back on until $1 million has been raised for the
charity. Participating celebrities include Alicia
Keys, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Jus-
tin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and others.
These are all large-scale examples of World
AIDS Day in action around the world, but it's
important for this day to be a success on a local
level as well. The University of Michigan's Art
Museum is having a Day With(out) Art event
today that focuses on the effect of HIV/AIDS
on the art community and the need to find a
cure. There is also a discussion today on the
effect of HIV/AIDS on the LGBT community
at the School of Public Health. These are just
a few events going on around campus to raise
awareness about this important issue.
Potentially the biggest thing that each indi-
vidual can do - not only on Dec. 1, but always
- is ensure their personal health. Every Mon-
day during the academic year from 6 to 8 p.m.,
the Spectrum Center offers free and anony-
mous HIV testing. Students should take advan-
tage of this service to be knowledgeable of
their sexual health. Getting tested is important
for those who are sexually active, and preven-
tion is equally important. There are a variety
of University resources available at the Spec-
trum Center and University Health Services.
Students need to use these resources to edu-
cate themselves on prevention techniques and
overall sexual health.
World AIDS Day brings to light the unfor-
tunate realities of AIDS around the world and
reminds us that there is much to be done in the
fight against this disease. But this day is also
something to be celebrated. The fight against
AIDS is finally getting support and the stigma
surrounding the disease is slowly being elimi-
nated. These efforts need to be continued
beyond Dec. 1 to give hope to those suffering
from AIDS that a cure will be found.
Michelle Dewitt is a senior editorial page editor.
There have been many sacrifices that we deal with in
our everyday lives made in the name of American safety
and security since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Just before I flew to New York City last week to be
home with my family for my birthday and Thanksgiv-
ing, my mother sent me an e-mail telling me to get to the
airport as early as possible because of the Transportation
Security Administration (more lovingly known as the
TSA) crackdown for the holidays that was sure to slow
everything to a crawl in airports. Not only would I be
subject to head-to-toe groping from someone who prob-
ably dwarfed my six-foot-three frame - a joyous early
birthday present - but I'd also be put through a full-body
scanner so TSA could thoroughly view the precise con-
tours of my beer-belly and my private parts. And if they
liked what they saw, they could store it.
Even though I've never had an affinity for getting that
close to women twice my size, I didn't really mind the
extensive pat-down or the virtual strip search because I
value everyone's safety more than my personal privacy.
But I can see how many would have a problem with these
practices, especially if they aren't all sorely needed to
I read an article about the scanner machines by Jef-
frey Rosen in The New Republic a year ago that quoted
multiple security experts calling the scanners and other
such things "security theater" and claimed the scanners
are completely ineffective at spotting liquids and other
low-density items. The article continued to cite research
showing the scanners really don't do much that a metal
detector wouldn't do aside from spotting wax and giving
graphic images of the human body.
It's also worth nothing from Rosen's article that the
Bush administration could have chosen machines that
would blob certain parts of the body such as the geni-
tals, but they elected to have machines that displayed the
naked body instead. And strangely, when both houses of
Congress voted on whether or not to keep TSA from stor-
ing the images, the Senate was against such restrictions.
I'll try to refrain from making any jokes about Sen. David
Vitter (R-La.) - not that he's alone. Do that on your own.
This leads me to the fear shared by Rosen that if the
images can be stored, then they can leak. Sure, they can be
confidential, they can have any label on them and the assur-
ance from the government and the TSA that no leaking will
occur, but those words only go so far. Given the sensitivity of
what we're reading this week through the latest WikiLeaks
scandal that exposed some of the darkestsecrets of the State
Department, can anyone really trust that nothing will ever
turn up after Scarlett Johansson gets scanned?
As Rosen points out, President Barack Obama's initial
nominee for head of the TSA was forced to step down after
it was discovered that he "conducted two searches of the
confidential criminal records of his estranged wife's boy-
friend, downloaded the records, and passed them on to law
enforcement, possibly in violation of the Privacy Act." This
is someone the administration trusted - and even though
the candidate withdrew his name from consideration, it
raises fears even further about the unnecessary privacy
issues we face.
But while I don't really mind sacrificing some privacy
for collective safety, I am partly worried about the poten-
tially harmful effects of the body scanners. As a frequent
flier and traveler, the dosage of radiation I receive is mul-
tiplied, and a recent CNN article quoted the director of
the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia as say-
ing, "it's very likely that some number of those will devel-
op cancer from the radiation from these scanners."
The old idea of waiting in long lines and being groped
by TSA as a reward for my patience (as well as some added
security) sounds far more appealing to me than the com-
bined risks of WikiLeaks publishing a compromising pic-
ture and getting cancer. Let's go back to the old system
or at least come up with a system that experts can agree
actually works and doesn't pose a health risk to innocent
Roger Sauerhaft is an LSA senior.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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