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April 06, 2011 - Image 4

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4A - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, April 6, 2011 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@michigandaily.com

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

KYLE SWANSON
MANAGING EDITOR

The desecration of any holy text, including the
Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry."
- President Barack Obama said, referring to this weekend's deadly protests in
Afghanistan in response to a Koran burning led by a Florida pastor, according to Time magazine.
A diversified experience

s

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.
(More) open housing
New gender-neutral policy is too exclusive
or the University's LGTBQ students, gender-neutral hous-
ing - also known as open housing - has been a goal they
have strived to achieve at the University. Gender-neutral
housing gives students the option to live with a roommate regard-
less what gender the individual identifies with. While the majority
of students have positive experiences with their roommates, recent
tragedies among young people add cause for concern. In Septem-
ber, for example, a Rutgers freshman committed suicide after his
roommate videotaped him having a sexual encounter with another
male and posted it online. While this obviously doesn't represent
the norm, isolated incidents like these make a case for the benefits
of gender-neutral options for students.

The University, with the guidance of the
Spectrum Center and the National Center for
Transgender Equality, recently broadened
its definition of transgender to include gen-
der non-conforming and gender-questioning
students. The school deserves recognition
for the decision. For many students, college
is a time of identity exploration, and forcing
them to ascribe to strict gender identifica-
tion to obtain gender-neutral housing could
be counterproductive. Still, these definitions
are too exclusive.
A gender-neutral housing policy will take
effect atthe Universitythis fall. But the Univer-
sity Housing website specifies that only trans-
gender and gender non-conforming students
will qualify for the policy. The new policy will
allow gender non-conforming and transgender
students to live with other students who have
the-same gender identification.
While this policy is a positive start toward
creating a more comfortable environment in
University Housing, it does not go far enough
in helping all students. All students should
have the choice to obtain gender-neutral
housing, not just those who ascribe to partic-
ular gender identifications. University Hous-

ing should be a safe and comfortable place
for all students, and steps should be taken to
ensure that gender-neutral housing contrib-
utes to that goal.
Gender-neutral housing has long been
a pet project of former Michigan Student
Assembly President Chris Armstrong. His
support of the Open Housing Initiative aided
the progress toward full open housing oppor-
tunities for all students, not just the select
few the University deems it appropriate for.
While the University has a history of sup-
porting the LGTBQ community, this policy
prioritizes the needs of transgender and gen-
der non-conforming students over other stu-
dents. It is unacceptable to consider that one
minority is more important than another. It
is not only transgender students who face
harassment or uncomfortable situations that
open housing could potentially combat. Crit-
ics of full open housing argue that students
would abuse the policy in order to live with
their significant others in residence halls.
But the poor decisions of a few should not be
a hindrance to the majority of students who
would greatly benefit from a comprehensive
gender-neutral housing policy.

ot all of us have had the
opportunity to truly expe-
rience different cultures
before coming to
Ann Arbor. Sure,
we have worked
hard to prepare
ourselves for col-
lege, but when it
comes to diversi-
ty, many people's
first time living
with someone of JEFF
a different faith WOJCIK
or political ideol-
ogy happens at
the University. It is this embrace of
diversity of thoughts and excellence,
that makes it so great to be a part of
such an amazing team of scholars,
athletes and artists. Diversity is the
most important part of our educa-
tion, and the most important compo-
nent of our pride in the Block 'M.'
It's not the world-class profes-
sors or amazing classmates who
make the University great, but
rather their coexistence and col-
laboration that define the Michigan
difference. To illustrate, look first
at our curriculum.
As students, all of us enjoy an
extraordinary academic playground
at the University. The LSA cur-
riculum requirements are the per-
fect example of the important role
diversity plays in academic excel-
lence. Many people bemoan the need
to complete distribution require-
ments and the need to experience all
aspects of LSA. Yet, the breadth of
our education is the real strength of
our degrees. There are other liberal
arts colleges in America, that have
courses taught by similarly creden-
tialed faculty to our own. However,
there is no other College of Litera-
ture, Science and the Arts. There is
no other space at any institution,
that motivates students to grapple
with natural science, social science,
humanities and other topics in an
attempt to balance undergraduates'
education quite the way the Univer-
sity does. So get excited about taking
that changing atmosphere class, and
don't be scared by a poetry course.

The variety is good for us.
Yet the University is more than
a diverse selection of seminars and
lectures. It's not just the variety
infused in our education, but the
uniqueness of our experiences out-
side the classroom that makes the
University so special. Many of us
bringdifferentbackgrounds and dif-
ferent approaches to decision mak-
ing to the table. This often causes
conflict, and it can cause us to push
each other in opposite directions.
However, this conflict mimics the
larger conversation of Michigan and
the United States. Debating issues
related to campus affairs, perform-
ing research to prove generalizable
theories and working through polit-
ical disagreements prepares us for
the real world, and will help us with
problems we cannot even imagine at
this stage in our lives.
These disagreements most fre-
quently manifest themselves in the
student organizations. Whether
working to increase the graduation
rates of minorities, hosting events
like the Latin@ Cultural Show or
organizing volunteers for Greek Ser-
vice Day, the reason for the strength
of a group is the multitude of opin-
ions about how to get the job done.
More than the diversity of beliefs,
opinions and views that matter to our
1,200 plus student organizations on
campus, it's the summation of all our
individual organizations working
together that advances the mission
of the University, and demonstrates
the importance of a Michigan edu-
cation. This means that individually
we do not always need to place first
in all we do to remain "the victors."
Take the Athletic Department for
example. Though national champi-
onships are great signs of athletic
excellence across the nation, it's the
entire department that demonstrates
our influence in collegiate athlet-
ics. It's not just football, but softball,
track and field and volleyball which
powerfully represent the Block 'M.'
Combine those with conference
championships for the men's swim-
ming and diving team and men's ice
hockey team, in addition to the first

Big Ten Championship for the men's
soccer team, and it's clear we have
an outstanding Athletic Department
- especially outside revenue-gen-
erating sports, even when Michigan
doesn'twin the national title.
In addition to the success of South
Campus, this University has become
a safe space for LGBT students. We
have an award-winning daily news-
paper, a men's glee club that will
share its talent with Cuba this sum-
mer and the Sexual Assault Preven-
tion and Awareness Center that
defends the rights of all students. All
these aspects contribute to our edu-
cation at Michigan. All are necessary
for the creation of the next genera-
tion Michigan men and women.
Academic variety
is a strength of
the University.
The diversity in our curriculum
supports the dynamic nature of our
understanding and our experiences
away from our courses. Individually,
our programs are good: We're top 20
or top 10 in almost everything. But
what makes us the Leaders and the
Best is the combination of all the aca-
demic-departments, sports teams,
arts groups, student governments,
faculty, students and staff provid-
ing an uncommon education for us
common men and women. So go to
a women's basketball game, learn
from and appreciate ROTC students,
fight back against famine and pov-
erty in Africa, attend events puton by
your hall's multicultural council and
interact with the Muslim Students'
Association or a community other
than your own. Get involved and
take pride in being a part of the team,
the team, the team.
-Jeff Wojcik is the LSA-SG
academic relations officer. He can be
reached at jawojcik@umich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Ellie Chessen, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Harsha Panduranga, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
YONAH LIEBERMAN AND DAFNA EISBRUCH |
Invest in peace

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
CASSIE BASLER x
Support Detroit Partnership Day

Yesterday the Michigan Student Assembly
reviewed a proposed resolution calling for the
University to divest funds from, among other
companies, Northrup Grumman - a compa-
ny that supplies the radar equipment used in
Israeli military aircrafts. While we recognize
the concerns of those who seek to encourage
more responsible investments by the Univer-
sity, this is not a resolution we can support.
We believe resolutions that cast Israel as
solely responsible for the Middle East conflict
only lead to greater polarization on campus.
This resolution will inhibit - rather than fos-
ter - the ability to build the broad coalition
necessary for peace.
While we oppose this resolution, we ear-
nestly stand with the writers of the reso-
lution in their desire for justice for the
Palestinian people and we condemn the
targeting of innocent civilians - Palestin-
ian or Israeli - as immoral. However, in the
long history of this conflict, both sides have'
committed grave violence toward the other
and both sides have experienced tremen-
dous loss. This resolution incorrectly assigns
blame only to Israeli military actions with-
out acknowledging the context in which they
occur. The devastation in Gaza that elicited
condemnation from international human
rights groups was a response to months of
terrorist rocket attacks on Israeli cities.
Targeting Northrup Grumman for supply-
ing Israel with weapons and technology that
have contributed to Palestinian civilian casu-
alties dismisses the necessity of these same
supplies inthe work of ensuring Israel's legiti-
mate defense. Creating an environment where
peace can be achieved will require partner-
ships based on recognition of the legitimate
claims of both sides and real loss suffered by
both peoples.
At other campuses that have reviewed
resolutions such as these, the result was only

greater polarization. At the University of Cali-
fornia, Berkeley, for example, the student gov-
ernment sessions ran for hours as protesters
and counter-protesters chanted insensitive
and ignorant slogans. Tears were shed, rela-
tionships were lost and, in the end, the out-
come did not bring peace any closer.
While we do not support this resolution
and fear its effect - as this debate unfolds -
we reject rhetorical arguments that polarize
campuses further. We do not believe that sup-
port for divestment from Israel is inherently
anti-Semitic, and we know that opposition to
divestment is not equivalent to support for
the occupation. We aim to model an engaged
dialogue, free from simplistic rhetorical slo-
gans and derivative attacks on opponents,
in the hope that all sides will recognize our
collective responsibility to civil discourse on
campus.
. We believe rather than pursuingthese divi-
sive resolutions, we can find ways of work-
ing together on campus to achieve peace. We
can support Palestinian businesses through
microfinance and encourage Palestinian-
Israeli economic cooperation through invest-
ment in the Trade Unions United for Israel
and Palestine. In addition, we can and must
exert political pressure on all parties to nego-
tiate for peace.
The peace that we all want to see can come
about only by consensus, and consensus is
built through cooperation. Even amid the
most difficult arguments, we hope to contin-
ue to seek platforms for cooperation with all
groups on campus working toward peace and
justice in the region in the coming weeks.
This viewpoint was written on behalf of
the J Street UMich Board by LSA sophomore
Yonah Lieberman, chair of J Street UMich,
and LSAajunior Dafna Eisbruch, Coffee Talk
Committee Chair of J Street UMich.

Despite a fearful forecast of freezing rain on this past
Saturday's Detroit Partnership Day, the sun shined on
Detroit as 1,100 University volunteers worked alongside
hundreds of community members at 29 sites. Partici-
pants fought blight by demolishing abandoned homes,
beautifying neighborhoods with urban gardens, creat-
ing friendlier spaces for children by cleaning up parks
and schools and changing the landscape of neighbor-
hoods by painting murals. The goal: To perform service,
and form bonds with Detroiters.
DP volunteers did more than just make a difference
in the city. They formed a connection to the city, to its
people, its organizations and its neighborhoods. DP
Day is about more than community service; it's about
service learning. Volunteers met residents, learned
about community nonprofits and engaged in mean-
ingful conversations with neighbors and volunteers
from across the city. This is part of the true value of DP
Day. DP Day is not about "saving" the city, and the DP
doesn't view Detroit as merely a backdrop for service.
The purpose of DP Day is to open volunteers' hearts
and minds to the city of Detroit, to engage with com-
munity members, to reflect about what it means to do
service, to explore ways to become more involved in
the larger community and to show why we should be
interested in the city.
This Thursday, DP Day volunteers are invited to dis-
cuss their experience at a pizza chat at 7 p.m. to 8:30
p.m. in3463 Mason Hall. Volunteers can come to reflect
on their service work and tell the DP how they would
like to see the volunteer experience improved for next
year. Even those who did not participate may come to
learn more about ways to stay involved in Detroit. For
students who missed DP Day, the DP will provide infor-
mation on an upcoming service opportunity in Bright-
moor, a neighborhood on Detroit's northwest side where

more than 700 DP Day volunteers worked. In addition to
offering weekly volunteer programs in schools, church-
es and community centers, The Detroit Partnership is
working with The Ginsberg Center to create Sociology
389 - athree-credit Project Community course that will
further foster the learning aspect of the DP weekly vol-
unteer service-learning experience. Attendees can also
hear about a weeklong DP Day experience: A Detroit
Partnership alternative spring break trip.
Students interested in getting more involved in
The Detroit Partnership, who have passion for raising
awareness about social justice issues, breaking stereo-
types about people and the city of Detroit and actively
creating a movement for social change by engaging in
service learning, should apply to the planningteam and
become DP leaders.
The DP Planning Team is an enthusiastic group of 50
people with a common goal: Spread love for the city of
Detroit through service learning. In addition to plan-
ning major events such as the One Stop Shop food and
clothing drive and DP Day, team members organize edu-
cational events, publicity, finance and weekly volunteer
programs throughout the school year. Applicants don't
have to be "Detroit experts" to be on the team, they just
have to be willing to open their eyes, minds and hearts
to Detroit. In the process, The DP hopes members will
learn just as much about themselves as they will learn
about Detroit - and that they'll have fun with DP plan-
ning teammates along the way.
So volunteer for a weekly program next fall, visit an
education event or apply to the planning team at www.
thedp.org. Planning Team Applications are now avail-
able on the website. Please submitthem by Sunday, April
10 at 5 p.m.
Cassie Basler is the Detroit Partnership external director.

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