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February 16, 2011 - Image 4

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4A -- Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

"

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

Blogging Blue: Will Butler and Seeing Red: Kylie Kagen
d h discuss the conservative political action conference.
SO U u1Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
More than final feedback

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

KYLE SWANSON
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.
Adopt eqlualit
Both partners in same-sex couples need rights
There are plenty of horror stories about custody battles
for same-sex couples. As the law currently states, only
one parent in a same-sex couple can have legal rights
over his or her children. In the event that a partner dies or
wishes to separate, the parent without legal right doesn't have
any custody over his or her children.

That is the case in Michigan, where current
adoption laws reflect the state's unwillingness
to recognize same-sex couples as parents. But
last Monday, Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)
proposed state legislation that, if passed,
would extend the adoption rights currently
granted to heterosexual couples, to same-sex
couples and other unrepresented guardians.
This measure is long overdue and is absolutely
necessary to ensure that responsible, same-
sex parents are afforded full custodial rights
and don't suffer discrimination.
Though single homosexuals are legally
allowed to adopt in Michigan, Irwin's bill
would expand the existing law by allowing a
second parent to petition for joint custody of
their partner's child, according to a Feb. 14
AnnArbor.com article. The law would apply to
legal adoptions by same-sex couples and chil-
dren conceived through in-vitro fertilization.
Michigan has already granted second-parent
privileges to stepparents who wish to adopt
their spouse's children, but the law doesn't
recognize same-sex couples.
The bill would give the children of same-
sex couples unfettered accessato the insurance,
Social Security and other financial benefits of
both parents, rather than just one. These chil-
dren would also enjoy the stability of a two-
parent household without a barrier of red tape
that confuses their perception of a cohesive
family. Under the current system, if some-
thing happens to the custodial parent, the
child could be placed into protective custody

without regard for the fact that the child has
another parent who is simply not recognized
by the state.
As it stands, the current law doesn't pro-
vide shared custody between separated, same-
sex couples. Regardless of how longa couple is
together and raising a child, if they separate,
the non-custodial parent has no rights to that
child. Irwin's bill would protect the inter-
ests of the adoptive parents by granting them
shared custody in the same manner as hetero-
sexual couples.
The sheer lack of precedent to justify the
current same-sex adoption restrictions is star-
tling. Two separate studies - one published in
the September 2009 issue of Adoption Quar-
terly and the other in abook by Assistant Prof.
Abbie Goldberg of Clark University - found
no significant difference between the long-
term well-being of children raised by same-
sex couples and those raised by heterosexual
couples. Yet the state has a system in place that
refuses to grant a legitimate parent of custo-
dial rights, and potentially endangers the sta-
bility of the child's life, simply because of the
parent's sexual orientation.
This type of discrimination reflects an anti-
quated perception of whata parent is and what
a family is. Instead of focusing on the gender
of the partners, the state should be examining
whether or not a couple can provide a healthy
and stable home for a child. Couples who are
able to do so should be granted full custodial
rights - for both parents.

ast week I got a CTools noti-
fication that I've received
countless times over the past
few semesters: A
reminder to com-
plete my course
evaluations. The
only strange.
thing is that I
have never gott
that e-mail just Y
six weeks into a
semester. What is JEFF
even more shock- WOJCIK
ing is that while
some LSA profes-
sors provide a venue for feedback
mid-semester, most LSA professors
only offer the opportunity through
the required end-of-term online
evaluations. College of Engineering
students are offered the opportuni-
ty to complete mid term evaluations
for every class they take. LSA stu-
dents should have the same oppor-
tunity to critique our world-class
faculty and staff. And all faculty
and staff should use midterm evalu-
ations to better cater their instruc-
tion and work to the students they
are teaching.
Unlike end-of-term evaluations,
which can only create improve-
ments for future students, instruc-
tors benefit from midterm feedback
because they can augment their
teaching, if necessary, for students
who are currently taking the course.
This immediate response can help
students learn better and allow
professors to adopt a style that best
accommodates specific semesters
and sections of students. Feedback
also allows students to indicate an
interest ina relevant political topic,
a small change to lecture slides or
other suggestions that might not
warranta meeting with a professor.
Additionally, while I suspect
many instructors are approach-
able and receptive to criticism
from students, the barriers against

complaining and the perceived risk
of communicating dissatisfaction
with a course is high for under-
graduates. Online course evalua-
tions, facilitated feedback sessions
provided by the Center for Research
on Learning and Teaching or other
methods of evaluating classes is
needed to ensure genuine, reliable
criticism. Without the formalities
of an anonymous interface and rou-
tine request for feedback, soliciting
teaching advice is ineffective and
likely incomplete. Using institu-
tional evaluations of teaching pro-
vides a level of comfort for students
to take action about their courses.
As I mentioned in a column two
weeks ago, LSA rocks. I think most
people would agree professors are
largelyresponsible for makingtheir
experience in LSA a positive one.
That said, there is always room for
improvement, and constructive
criticism half way through each
semester can only make things
better. Short of requiring midterm
online course evaluations for all
courses, LSA could provide incen-
tives to faculty to conduct midterm
evaluations. Departments and the
college already take end-of-semes-
ter course evaluations very serious-
ly and use them in making decisions
about tenure, among other things.
It might be appropriate to allow
instructors the chance to add to
their record of evaluations through
the data collected from mid-semes-
ter evaluations. This may already be
the case, and if so, faculty and staff
should be even more motivated to
take advantage of the opportunity
to poll students about their classes.
Given that course evaluations
and feedback surveys are cheap to
provide, easy to create and don't
take a great deal of time for stu-
dents to complete, there isn't be
a reason not to mandate midterm
evaluations in LSA. More evalua-
tions can only improve our learning

experience at the University, and
more interaction in this way will
continue to propel the University
to be recognized as an outstanding
institution. We don't need to over
do it and have a survey after each
class period, but given how easy it
is to provide a venue for grievances
online around the seventh week of a
course, there really is no reason not
to utilize some evaluation resource
at least twice a term for each class.
Mid-semester
evaluations can
be constructive.
Of course, an increase in course
evaluations is a two-way street,
as it only helps faculty and staff if
we students take the few minutes
needed to give feedback, when it is
requested. Many students fill out
course evaluations at the end of
each term, but a handful still fail
to do so. It's our responsibility to
complain when given the chance
or alternatively indicate our appre-
ciation of professors who do a great
job.
I hope all LSA faculty and staff
will take just a small part of their
next lecture to distribute surveys,
point students to a CTools evalua-
tion or have CLRT conduct a Mid-
term Student Feedback Session.
Even if professors, lecturers and
GSI's use the exact same CTools
questionnaire they'll use at the end
of the term, it would allow them to
address student needs on a term-by-
term basis and make their excellent
instruction even better.
-Jeff Wojcik is the LSA Academic
Relations Officer. He can be
reached at jawojcik@umich.edu.

0

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Ellie Chessen, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Pat Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM ELLIE CHESSEN |

Anti-Muslim sentiments in
Israel are exaggerated

countries. As
in the Middle
short of joinin
And as for1
crimination it

TO THE DAILY: Shiite Pakista
In his viewpoint (A Palestinian-Israeli and author, de
approach, 02/03/2011) Hamdan Azhar wrote: of Israel don't
"'Palestinians face systematic discrimination Arabs are pr
merely because of their race, ethnicity and principles and
national origin, depriving them of electricity, leges of Israel
water, schools and access to roads. The situa- dom House, "(
tion within the Jewish state, of which around of the Israeli
20 percent of citizens are Muslim, is even most represer
worse." one of Israel's
Allegations of widespread "systematic dis- estinian Arab.
crimination" are false: If Palestinians face dis- So accordi
crimination in the Jewish state, where else are partners with
they being deprived "electricity, water, schools of Israel, that
and access to roads... because of their race, eth- ing segregatio
nicity and national origin?" Perhaps the perpe- It's sad that A
trators are the Islamic theocracies of Yemen, personal ands
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi that this isbei
Arabia, Mauritania and Oman? Perhaps they're the saddest th
the discriminatory parties referred to? Oh coward to call
wait, that's not true at all. On the other side, Rather, he has
I'm Jewish and NOT ONLY would I be denied
electricity and road access in every single one BenDuchan
of those countries; I can't even get into those LSA junior

a Jew, I can't travel anywhere
East - except Israel - any way
rgthe army.
the alleged anti-Palestinian dis-
rn Israel? Dr. Tashbih Sayyed, a
ni-American scholar, journalist
enied that Muslim Arab citizens
t have equal rights and said that
otected by Israel's democratic
[afforded all the rights and privi-
i citizenship. According to Free-
Currently, 14 of the 120 members
Parliament are Arab citizens,
nting Arab political parties and
Supreme Court judges is a Pal-
ng to Azhar, if the University
an institution in the Jewishstate
would be "inadvertently endors-
on and de facto discrimination."
zhar has such low concern for his
academic integrity. It's doubly sad
ing made into an issue at all. But
ing is that Azhar is too much of a
I his anti-Semitism for what it is.
"anti-Jewish prejudice."

For Detroiters, the Chrysler commercial featuring
Eminem stood out as one of the highlights of the Super
Bowl, showing a different side of Detroit than what we
have been seeing in the media. The commercial's narra-
tor gave Michiganders reason to be proud of the Motor
City, boldly stating, "What does a town that's been to
hell and back know about the finer things in life? Well,
I'll tell you: more than most. You see it's the hottest fires
that make the hardest steel. Add hard work, and con-
viction and the knowhow that runs generations deep in
every last one of us. That's who we are. That's our story."
But Detroit headlines are trumpetinga different story.
Instead of hearing about Detroit's progress, we've been
reading about soaring unemployment and urban decay.
The sob story in the media only reveals a superficial
understanding of what is really happening in Detroit. For
reporters, it's easy to keep up the image of destruction
- anyone can go to Detroit and find abandoned houses
and decaying buildings. But personally, I'm tired of hear-
ing about Detroit's disrepair. I'd like to hear more about
what people are doing to put the city back on its feet.
More and more young innovators are moving to Detroit
to help with community revitalization. It seems that the
younger generation is able to see creative opportunity in
a place that others regard as rough around the edges.
As University students, we have a vested interest in the
revival of Detroit. The University offers academic pro-
grams to students who want to experience Detroit first-
hand. Semester in Detroit is a University program that is
co-sponsored bythe Residential College and the Ginsberg
Center for Community Service and Learning. Students
who enroll in SID live in the Detroit community for-one
semester, taking classes at Wayne State University and
interning at Detroit non-profit organizations. Many of
these University students have formed lasting bondswith
the city - in the first two years of the program, 50 percent
of seniors involved in the program moved to Detroit after
graduation to continue their work and give back to the
city. We need more University students to become per-
sonally invested in the social and economic betterment of
the city, and get to know the community outside of the
abandonedbuildings featured on the news.
University students can also play a role in Detroit's
rejuvenation by moving to the city after graduation. For
people who are paying off student loans or can't afford

expensive Ann Arbor housing, Detroit is a great option.
Housing in Detroit costs a fraction of the price of Ann
Arbor housing. While most University students love
living in Ann Arbor - despite its increasing commer-
cialization - Detroit is worth a closer look, as it's fast
becoming a place for innovators and local businesses.
Michigan artists and architects have already become
involved in community betterment through large-scale
projects in Detroit. Five young teachers from the Taub-
man College of Architecture and Urban Planning made
their footprint in Detroit by buying a foreclosed house
for only $500 and completely revamping the inside
through a series of innovative architectural projects.
The team, known as the Five Fellows, took on five sep-
arate projects in different sections of the house. Each
section served as an architectural experiment for the
fellows. The house has become famous in the neighbor-
hood and is now a point of pride for the residents. The
Five Fellows project is living proof that through creative
thinking and dedication, urban decay can become urban
renewal.
University graduates who are interested in art, archi-
tecture or renewable energy should consider becoming
a part of the Power House Project in Detroit - a non-
profit organization that inspires neighborhood revital-
ization. One goal of the PHP is to introduce stabilization
in communities by renovating abandoned houses in cre-
ative ways. The PHP offers an artist residency program
for members, providing artists with a space to live while
working on projects in Detroit neighborhoods. The PHP
and similar organizations see art and community better-
ment as an essential part of Detroit's development. The
PHP relies on young people, like University students to
carry out this goal.
Young people couldn't ask for a better place to get
started than Detroit. Detroit offers unique opportuni-
ties that a fully developed city like New York City can-
not. In Detroit there is space for redefinition - anyone
can make their own, unique mark. The city has been
broken down, but the exciting part now is the building
back up. This city, bursting with possibilities, is right at
the fingertips of University students. So students, when
planning your future, think Detroit.
Ellie Chessen is an LSA junior.

Students shouldn't rule out Detroit

0

Mohammad doesn't offer any
concrete solutions for Egypt

as a better "man
dei would only s
imperialism in E
or more brutal p
much as Presiden

TO THE DAILY: ing the discredite
In his column (American's man in Cairo, Mohammad, "co
02/14/2011) Neill Mohammad excuses all sorts but presumably b
of historic crimes of United States imperialism like "change you
around the globe in order to put forward his What is actua
own advice that the U.S. continue its imperial- a speaker at the:
ist policies, but without looking so much like for Social Equalit
an empire. In light of the Egyptian revolution, lution in Egypt, o
the U.S. must, according to Mohammad, do es of the represen
what it can to soften its image in the eyes of like ElBaradei "
workers and youth under its thumb around the "independent org
world. can become the b
Aside from asserting the need for a new to the working cla
"man in Cairo" other than the hand-picked standing that "th
torturer-in-chief Omar Suleiman, Mohammad essential democr
doesn't offer any concrete solutions as to how from the implemE
Egyptian workers and youth can achieve full Perhaps these
democracy and complete the revolution which like to contain.
has onlybegun.
Law scholar Dr. Mohamad ElBaradei is Mitch Marcus
someone being feted by the U.S. and the media LSA sophomore

in Cairo." However, ElBara-
erve as the new face of U.S.
gypt, culminating in equally
olicies than his predecessor,
t Barack Obama did in replac-
ed George Bush. According to
ntainment" should continue,
be called something different,
can believe in."
illy required, as David North,
recent International Students
ty public meeting on the revo-
utlined is that "false promis-
tatives of the capitalist class"
be ruthlessly exposed," that
ans of workers' power, which
asis for the transfer of power
sass be created" and the under-
he realization of the workers'
ratic demands is inseparable
entation of socialist policies."
are what Mohammad would

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@michigandaily.com

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