4A - Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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We will all need to make sacrifices, but we do not
have to sacrifice the America we believe in.
- President Barack Obama on the plan to reduce the
national debt, as reported by the New York Times yesterday.
Should we lock up criminals?
EDITOR IN CHIEF
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
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.
An outdated policy
Legalize transplants of HIV-positive organs
Throughout the 1980s, HIV caused major anxieties in the Unit-
ed States and a law was passed to prohibit any HIV-positive
patients from being organ donors. However, in recent years,
the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed the disease
to be much less threatening than initially thought, if proper medical
practices are followed. Federal health officials and other experts are
working to overturn the 23-year-old law in order to allow HIV-posi-
tive patients to receive organs from HIV-positive donors. This change
in policy would give more HIV-positive patients the chance to live lon-
ger lives and would end the waste of viable organs.
There's ahuge shortage of transplant organs
in the United States. There are currently more
than 110,000 people awaiting transplants.
According to an April 11 article in The New
York Times, "500 to 600 HIV-infected livers
and kidneys would become available each year
if the law were changed." Every time an organ
from an HIV-positive donor is given to an HIV-
infected person, one less patient remains on the
ever growing organ transplant list. Currently,
organs from HIV-positive people are simply
going to waste. They could be used to save lives.
There are obvious health risks involved with
receiving an organ from an HIV-positive per-
son. HIV-positive patients wouldn't be forced
to accept an HIV-positive organ, as there are
concerns that it could intensify their own ill-
ness because they could receive an organ from
an HIV-positive donor with a more advanced
strain of the virus. But doctors have already
begun to discuss criteria necessary to give or
receive an organ from an HIV-infected donor,
in which patients whose illness has progressed
past a certain point wouldn't be allowed to
donate or receive an organ. If precautionary
screening measures are taken, HIV-positive
patients should at least be given the option of
accepting an organ donation from another
HIV-positive patient after discussions with
According to the Times article, if the ban is
overturned, a clinical trial will most likely be
implemented before the option to receive an
organ from an HIV-positive donor is available
to patients. While some experts quoted in the
article have said they can "foresee such trans-
plants even for HIV-negative patients because
contracting [the virus] would be preferable to
kidney or liver failure," the initial trial plans
would include only HIV-positive patients
because it is still unknown what effects an
infected organ would have on an HIV-negative
patient. It's vital that doctors take every pre-
caution while implementing this trial in order
to ensure the safety of transplant patients.
Another safety concern is that an HIV-infect-
ed organ could be mistakenly transplanted to a
healthy person. While errors have been made in
past transplant procedures, hospitals can miti-
gate this possibility by being attentive to their
patients and careful about the storage and trans-
portation of HIV-infected organs, so there is no
reason this should have to be a major concern.
HIV has become a manageable disease with
the proper treatment, and many HIV-positive
people live long lives. It is time to begin to
work past the stigma of this disease, and allow
patients to make their own, educated decisions.
Patients who are HIV-positive shouldn't have
to wait a long time on an organ transplant list
when they could safely be receiving organs
from HIV-positive donors. The amendment
to the National Organ Transplantation Act
should be repealed.
S ince thisAprilmarks the 150th
anniversary of the Civil War,
I'll begin this column by ask-
ing: What makes
Of course, it's
labor on the basis
of race without
is unethical and
ing, especially LEVY
when taking into
account the abu-
sive conditions slaves were often sub-
That's actually only the modern
answer. If you were to ask a member
of the nineteenth century Free Soil
Party what was wrong with slav-
ery, one likely answer would be that
poor white farmers were out of work.
Many Free Soilers didn't want slav-
ery to expand into the Western states
because it would have allowed land-
owners to employ slave labor for free
instead of white labor for wages. Abo-
litionists who called for the immedi-
ate end of slavery on moral grounds
were actually a small minority, con-
trary to what many of us learned in
high school history class.
Keeping this in mind, let's switch
to a modern question. What's wrong
with the criminal justice system
today? If you've led a safe life and
have never had an encounter with
law enforcement, you might say noth-
ing. Or, if you've noticed the inten-
sity of the crime alerts recently, you
might say that the system isn't doing
a good enough job keeping us safe. On
the other hand, you may be critical
of the system (I'll put myself in that
category) for any number of reasons
- U.S. law enforcement incarcerates
a grossly disproportionate number of
racial and ethnic minorities, the U.S.
experiences higher rates of recidi-
vism(when those released from pris-
on commit another crime) than other
modernized nations, many families
and communities have been devas-
tated by life sentences, etc.
But what will people say of
today's systemin 150 years?Accord-
ing to the advocacy group Critical
Resistance, the people of the future
are going to wonder why today's
society thought it was rational to
lock humans up in cages. The group
deliberately refers to themselves as
an abolitionist group - invoking
the language of the nineteenth cen-
tury anti-slavery movement - call-
ing for an immediate end to the use
of prisons and current law enforce-
Before we get to the technical
issues of this proposal, take a sec-
ond to consider the historical pos-
sibility. Could future societies look
upon our criminal justice system
with the same derision with which
we view slavery? Or even the way
we view past incarnations of crimi-
nal justice? Think about how you
react to movies set in previous cen-
turies, when prisoners may have
been shackled by their neck and
wrists in the street for public ridi-
cule or subjected to similarly out-
dated forms of punishment. Will
future generations see our prison
system as equally inhumane?
Okay, nowI'll address the elephant
in the room. Why the hell would we
choose not to lock up criminals?
Critical Response argues that incar-
ceration does not address the root
causes of crime; such as depravation
from substantial food and housing,
and that mechanisms to reduce such
problems would be more effective at
reducing crime than a criminal jus-
tice system it considers "violent."
The abolition of prisons is not a
near-term possibility, and Critical
Resistance's explanation offers little
inthe way ofhow we could transition 6
to that point. But there is a rationale
to reducing prison use. Our system
rests on the assumption that we
need prisons to instill order, and that
without them, criminals would run
free in a chaotic and violent society.
The research on this subject is vast,
but it is certainly debatable to what
degree the system succeeds in fulfill-
ing this task. Meanwhile, it causes
harm to countless families - primar-
ily minority families in poor, urban
neighborhoods. The usefulness of
incarceration as a guiding paradigm
for keeping our society safe is hardly
set in stone.
There's a rationale
The point of this column is two-
fold. Though today we have a clear
answer to the slavery question,
around the time of the Civil War, it
was a complex political issue. The
different coalitions that made up the
various sides of the debate could not
at the time be separated into neat
moral categories at the time. Looking
150 years down the road, then, there
is no telling what society will be like,
even on a matter like incarceration
that is rarely questioned politically.
Sure, Critical Resistance's analysis of
the problem is shaky, butI commend
their drive to put criminal justice
issues on the nation's political agenda
because today's radicals may be the
pride of the future's history.
-Jeremy Levy can be reached
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Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Asa Smith, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
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NAOMI SCHEINERMAN I
Divestment is divisive
With warm weather dawning, I've come to
realize that I really love nature. The sun is high,
the birds are chirping and flowers are bloom-
ing. I've evenbeen known to love the snow too,
on occasion. Nature is awesome. Natural sci-
ence on the otherhand, just isn't my thing. Sure
there are those who want to study biology and
geology and things to do with Aerospace, and
good for them. They should do what they love.
But is an enforced natural science requirement
While backpacking my classes for the
upcoming fall semester, I realized that, as a stu-
dent in the College of Literature, Science and
the Arts, I have to finish at least seven natu-
ral science credits before I receive my degree.
What? I'm majoring in communications. What
does communications have to do with the Biol-
ogy of Animal Diversity or 20th-century con-
cepts of Space, Time and Matter (two possible
courses for natural science credits)? Is strug-
gling my way through a natural science class
really going to prove useful in the long run?
The University should stop enforcing these
pre-requisite courses and instead have stu-
dents focus their time and efforts more wisely
on their chosen fields.
I recognize the value of having a solid
knowledge and understanding in the four basic
areas: English, math, science and social stud-
jes. But how much is too much? Classes and
credit hours have a price, which should be
taken into consideration. Why should students
pay for something they aren't actually going to
use to furthertheir careers?
College should be a tool, a way to prepare
for a job and a future. Spending four years on
a bachelors degree is useless if half the time is
spent in classes students don't want to take, or
more importantly, need. With all the require-
ments hoisted upon students these days, it's no
wonder so many are ready to break under the
stress. Why make students, who already work
hard enough, force themselves through these
credits that won't necessarily help them excel
in their chosen field of study?
The enforced credit that is the most useful
is the first year writing requirement. Having
the knowledge to write a decent paper will
aid a student in multiple areas of learning.
Research papers aren't exclusive to the Eng-
lish department. However, the same can't be
said for natural science. In each of my classes
this past semester, I had to write at least one
paper. However, in none of my classes was it
necessary to explain the charge of an atom or
describe whether the clouds outside were cir-
rus or cumulonimbus. So why do we need the
natural science requirement?
According to the University, these natural
science classes - and other pre-requisite cours-
es - are required to foster a well-rounded stu-
dent body. That seems like a rather ineffectual
pretense. Well-rounded might as well mean
mediocre. However interesting these natural
sciences courses may prove to be, students will
more than likely finish with just an average
understanding of biology, geology, physics or
any other natural-science related field. More
importantly, what if students come out of these
natural science classes with a less than desir-
able grade? Havingthis standard knowledge of
natural science seems minor when compared
to a less than stellar grade point average that
could actually affect a student's future.
So what is the point, exactly? In all honesty,
it seems like there isn't a real reason for requir-
ing these courses, aside from the vague desire
for students to be more "well-rounded" indi-
viduals. So more irritating than having to pack
an extra course into my fall semester schedule
is the fact that I'm taking these courses with-
out a valid reason. Let's be honest, being well-
rounded in all these different areas doesn't
really mean anything. Students should strive
to be well versed in their chosen field of study,
rather than just passing time on a subject mat-
ter that isn'tpertinent to their future career.
Kelly Etz is ans LSA freshman.
I'm both relieved and concerned by the Michigan
Student Assembly's vote against its proposed resolution
calling for divestment from four companies - Northrop
Grumman, Monsanto, British Petroleum and Hanes-
Brands Inc - that occurred Tuesday night.
I'm relieved because the vote signified that MSA
rejects stratification of our campus and taking sides on
matters deeply important to significant sectors of cam-
pus. The authors of the resolution called for divestment
from Northrop Grumman, a company that sells mili-
tary supplies to Israel, which "has been widely accused
of committing war crimes" ('U' should practice what
it preaches, 04/11/2011). MSA adopted an amendment
that removes Israel from the reasons for divesting from
Northrop Grumman and emphasizes the company's
manufacture of weapons deemed immoral, rather than
stressing a single client of the company. This resolution,
plus amendment, was voted down - an act that is of
great relief to me.
The topic of Israel and the Middle East conflict is
nuanced and complex, and incredibly important to many
on campus. The views expressed in the MSA resolution
were one-sided and unrepresentative of the passionate
perspectives of a large segment of campus, one that I rep-
resent. Any divisive issue shrouded in great controversy
entails multiple perspectives, facts to consider and narra-
tives to contemplate. The resolution represented only one
of those perspectives. More significantly, it demanded
that MSA decide which perspective is the correct one -
an act existing well beyond MSA's jurisdiction and legiti-
mate authority. MSA isn't an international tribunal. The
representatives did not campaign on foreign policy plat-
forms nor did we elect them to take sides on issues that
divide and stratify campus. The resolution, even with the
amended exclusion of Israel, threatened to do just that.
MSA made the right decision by rejecting a resolution
that would divide campus communities.
I'm also troubled. The authors of the resolution
stated that its reason was to install a campus standard
of influencing social change. When asked why more
companies that committed similar socially unjust acts
weren't included, the authors stated that the four com-
panies selected were only a representative sampling as a
means to commence action and not a comprehensive list.
However, authors rejected a proposal for a new resolu-
tion that included only the other three companies as the
prototype for MSA to spark social change. There was a
persistent insistence to include Northrop Grummon
specifically in the resolution. Why, if the sole purpose for
the resolutions small sample was for MSA to spark social
change, was the resolution ineffective with just one less
company? This is a troublesome turn of events that was
both puzzling and disconcerting.
The vote against the resolution is a vote against tak-
ing sides in a divisive issue that inevitably shuts down
conversation. The vote against the resolution is a vote
against the MSA ruling on an incredible divisive topic
that it has no authority deciding on and threatens to cre-
ate a painful rift on campus.
Encouragement of open dialogue, discussion and
collaborative action should be the precedent we set on
campus. Multicultural groups, such as MuJew, seek to
integrate and bring together individuals with diver-
gent perspectives on the Middle East Conflict. Dia-
logues, such as IGR classes, bring students together.
We shouldn't ask MSA to declare what we stand for,
to accept one viewpoint as representative of the entire
campus community. Instead, we should declare it our-
selves. We possess the power to effect change on our
own by coming together, exploring differences and
similarities and avoiding labeling groups and alienat-
ing others. I look forward to continuing conversations
of both social change and the Middle East conflict in
a campus climate where discussion is the status quo
and stratification is taboo. It's deeply important to me
and the community I represent that we do not reduce
this complex discussion to sound bites and rhetoric,
as was the case in the original text of the divestment
resolution. Explore nuances, ask questions, challenge
yourselves. The situation in the Middle East may be a
conflict, but our discussions of it on campus don't have
to be. We have the power to transform this situation
into an arena for collaboration and discussion.
Naomi Scheinerman is an LSA junior.
She is the Israel Chair of Hillel.