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January 14, 2011 - Image 4

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4 - Friday, January 14, 2011

4 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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

SIMON BORST

E-MAIL SIMON AT SIMKAL@UMICH.EDU

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.
A lesson in kindness
Michigan should enact anti-bullying legislation
School bullying is by no means a new issue. But the age of
technology has made tormenting students outside the class-
room a bigger concern than ever before. And as more stu-
dents identify themselves with the LGBTQ community, factors of
gender identity also come into play. Ann Arbor recently held a sum-
mit that attracted politicians, educators and students from around
the nation to discuss bullying, specifically pertaining to LGBTQ stu-
dents. This summit is an important step for combating bullying of
LGBTQ students in schools, but promoting tolerance and kindness
for all students should be a priority. Public schools need to work to
instill these ideas in their students and teachers, and the state needs
to formulate concrete anti-bullying legislation.

1
ity 0

Flaunt huma

According to a Jan. 9 article by Ann
Arbor.com, Michigan is one of only six
states without an anti-bullying law. There
has been discussion over whether the issue
should be handled locally, with school
administrators instituting anti-bullying
policies specific for their district, or at the
state level. Many of the summit's attendees
voiced concerns that education of LGBTQ
lifestyles is missing in local schools and
the lack of awareness contributes to bul-
lying directed at LGBTQ students. At the
summit, attendees also discussed how the
increased role of social media among stu-
dents has impacted bullying.
One of the bestways to combatbullyingis
with open dialogue and education. Among
the concerns discussed at the summit was
students' ignorance about the LGBTQ
community, which leads to intolerance
and bullying. If accurately informed of the
about LGBTQ lifestyles, students would
likely become more tolerant and kind to
their peers. Teachers also need to be bet-
ter trained on how to handle bullying in
school. With better education and train-
ing, teachers would be better equipped to
stop future instances of bullying.
Though this wasn't the principle point
of the summit, college students - includ-
ing student body leaders - are in danger

of being bullied. The recent onslaught of
cyber-bullying has shown that a bully can
target essentially anyone - like Michigan
Student Assembly President Chris Arm-
strong, who was verbally harassed on a
blog by former Michigan assistant attor-
ney general Andrew Shrivell. The anonym-
ity of the Internet is a breeding ground for
intolerance that can seriously threaten
students' safety. Schools need to recognize
the danger of cyber bullying and the harm
it can cause for all students, and actively
campaign against it in the classroom.
As a state, Michigan is behind the curve
in terms of anti-bullying laws. Michigan
needs to pass legislation addressing issues
of bullying, with an emphasis on LGBTQ
students and cyber-bullying. Though this
wouldn't completely solve issues of bully-
ing, a law would likely deter students from
engaging in hurtful behavior and encour-
age parents to get involved. This needs to
become a priority for legislators to keep
all students safe and promote awareness
about the dangers of bullying.
While bullying may not be new, for
today's students it can pack an even big-
ger punch. But with increased anti-bully-
ing education in schools and anti-bullying
laws, Michigan can begin to work toward
ensuring students' safety.

T OMS Shoes pioneered the
socially-conscious business
platform and implementation
of this success-
ful model is rising
steadily. The idea is
simple: With each
purchase, compa-
nies donate goods'
or services to those
in need. And, bestof
all, there's no catch
- you don't have to
sacrifice your sense JULIAN
of style or original- TOLES
ity in the name of
altruism. Compa-
nies like TOMS
offer goods that are just as trendy and
durable as their mainstream counter-
parts. As responsible consumers we
have a duty to seek out and support
these attractive alternatives.
It's easy to become immersed in the
virtual microcosmic utopia that is Ann
Arbor - forgetting that there are mil-
lions of people who are much less for-
tunate. TOMS-esque merchants make
life-changing impacts on people half-
way across the world. Known as the
one-for-one model, for every pair of
shoes bought, TOMS donates an addi-
tional pair to people in need in under-
developed countries. Feet are often
the only mode of transportation in
these places, and as the TOMS website
says, bacteria transmitted through soil
is a leading cause of disease in devel-
oping countries.
Ironically,thecountries thatreceive
the bulk of donations are also the pri-
mary location of sweatshops, which
often use inhumane labor tactics. Nike
- the world's leading shoe and sports
apparel manufacturer - has been crit-
icized for its involvement with these
factories since the early 1970s. Just
last April, two Honduran workers at
a factory contracted by Nike brought
their case before the public forum,
Portland Area Worker's Right's board
in Oregon, after being laid off with no
notice or legally mandated severance
pay. GAP, Inc. - the largest clothing

retailer in the United States-has also
come under recent fire for exploitative
practices in places like India, where
labor laws are virtually non-existent.
Patronizing socially responsible com-
panies decreases the demand for this
exploitative labor.
TOMS and similar companies guar-
antee that the production of their
goods adhere to labor standards at
each step of production. While TOMS
still contracts factories in China and
Ethiopia, it certifies that these manu-
facturers obeya "strict code of human
rights conduct (and the factories) are
audited regularly to ensure that these
standards are met." Ethical labor prac-
tices are a necessary component of an
ethically-based business plan. It would
be hypocritical for a company to disre-
gard workers' rights while at the same
time donating the final products to
similarly disadvantaged people.
A sense of personal gratification
is associated with items bought from
responsible companies. There is the
intrinsic sense of having done a good
deed for the sake of humanity. But
there is also pleasure in knowing that
your product is a status symbol with
social meaning. Too often, logos and
insignia represent nothing more than
a person's disposable income.
Why not flaunt your status as a
humanitarian? The sense of compas-
sion that these products convey is a
selling point for one-for-one condom
company Sir Richard's. After all, feet
are not the only appendages that go
bare for lack of access to proper means
of protection. Founder Matthew Ger-
son states that the "global demand
for condoms is huge, and only 10 per-
cent of that need is met each year."
For every Sir Richard's condom sold,
one condom is donated to a country in
need. The company's phrase is "doing
good never felt better," and Gerson
says that using a pack of Sir Rich-
ard's indicates a more tender, intimate
and caring lover. This is assuming, of
course, that the person didn't buy the
product for the sole reason of sending
this message.

One of the biggest incentives to
shop responsibly is the price fac-
tor. Both Sir Richard's condoms and
TOMS shoes are comparably priced
with their mainstream competitors.
Other similar companies promote
mainstream quality even at a discount.
Warby Parker is another one-for-one
company, whichprovides apairof eye-
glasses to a child in need for every pair
purchased through its website. The
eyeglasses are fashion forward and
can be bought for less than the $300
benchmark that has been "artificially"
set for prescription eyewear - selling
for $95 a frame. And Warby Parker
cuts out the middleman by maintain-
ing its operation online.
TOMS makes it
easy to impact lives
around the world.
While the TOMS-inspired one-for-
one model has taken off, there are
other ways to allow your product to
speak to your beliefs and values. One
such example is the I Miss You Brand,
founded by University alum and for-
mer Michigan Men's basketball team
captain David Merritt. The company
that sells T-shirts dedicates itself to
spreading happiness through service
and encourages customers to actively
give back to their own communities.
IMU's unique service component
offers customers a25 percent discount
for those who volunteer one hour of
community service with IMU.,This
gives customers a tangible connection
to the effects of their patronage.
Now that we have alternatives
to corporate juggernauts - socially
responsible alternatives - it's incum-
bent upon each of us to seek them out
and spread their collective messages.
- Julian Toles can be reached
at jaytoles@umich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Will Butler, Eaghan Davis, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Harsha Panduranga,
Teddy Papes, Roger Sauerhaft, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
TIMOTHY RABB I
Too much credit card control

podium

Healthy, Happy Women: Anny Fang encourages resisting
temptation and building lasting relationships.
Go to michig'andailycom/blogs/ThePodium

01

Broaden your horizons

Despite the drop in sales that every retailer
experiences post-holiday, the inception of a
brand new decade is likely to usher in crowds
of college-age shoppers hungry for the latest
in brand name merchandise. However, others
(including myself) may be equally likely to balk
at their astronomical credit card summaries -
the unfortunate result of a season of charitable
gift-giving.
According to a recent study by Sallie Mae,
the average college student has four credit
cards and a debt of $3,173. That's well over the
national average reflected by the entire credit
card-carrying public.
To help quell the rising debt, the Obama
administration passed the Credit CARD Act of
2009, which - among other restrictions - bars
non-working young adults under age 21 from
obtainingeredit cards. Evenworking18 to21year
olds are now required to prove that their income
is sufficiently high before they're considered eli-
gible to own a card.
This has already led to a significant decrease
in the use of credit cards among college students
and older consumers alike. But even as a 21-year
old who's exempt from this particular statute, I
take issue with its unreasonable imposition on
fiscally responsible students.
Let's face it - at some point after gradua-
tion, the vast majority of college students will
be forced to make several large purchases to
prepare for their first years in the work force.
The necessary investments could range from
the manageable - like a car - to the downright
overwhelming -like a condo, house, or four-year
graduate program. Most of us won't have suffi-
cient savings to foot the full bill for any of these
necessities and will likely have to apply for a size-
able loan or mortgage.
That said, we can't ignore the importance
of the credit card. Granted, it's a convenience
that we don't absolutely need in our day-to-day
lives, but it's the only means by which creditors
can determine our ability to pay the larger, more
essential debts that we'll inevitably encounter
down the road.
Generally, an ideal credit score requires an
individual to have several open lines of credit
with an average of at least three years. This

allows creditors to verify a consumer's financial
means, not only to pay off debt, but to pay it off
consistently. This is understandable, considering
the risks a bank takes when it approves a sizeable
mortgage that won't be paid back for anywhere
from 15 to 30 years. A well-established credit
history is a vital means to ensure credit-creditor
trust and a low interest percentage on subsequent
loans.
Aside from simply establishing a history with
creditors, credit cards give students an opportu-
nity to learn important financial lessons the hard
way - without burdening ourselves with massive
debts. If an average debt of $3,173 seems astro-
nomical to you as a college student, imagine the
following scenario: You've just completed gradu-
ate school and are now looking for a house. Inex-
perienced with the mores of credit-lending, you
go well beyond your means and put 10 percent
down on a $200,000 mortgage. Ten years later,
you've paid $60,000 on the house when an unex-
pected financial deficit causes you to default on
the mortgage. Now, your entire $60,000 invest-
mentbelongs to the bank, along with your exces-
sive house.
I'm not suggesting that this is a common sce-
nario, but isn't it better to learn tough lessons
with a $3,000 credit line? Sure, you might have
to ask mom or dad to help with the bill when all is
said and done, but it's better to gain this valuable
experience with small lines of credit so you don't
carelessly accrue massive amounts of debt as an
inexperienced consumer.
Most facets of the new credit card law pro-
vide numerous protections against consumer
exploitation by creditors, but I've never been
a fan of age-specific restrictions for those over
18. Liberal government may equal big govern-
ment, but why not simply adopt the "harm
reduction" approach espoused by liberals
who disapprove of the country's strict drug
laws? It's more effective to teach college stu-
dents how to properly use credit cards, rather
than ban them outright. It's not fair to deprive
responsible young adults from their right to a
credit card, even if they're a small minority in a
population of swipe-happy shoppers.
Timothy Rabb is an LSA junior.

For many Greek Life students
returning to Ann Arbor, the
beginning of the New Year is
the perfect time to
get more involved
on campus. While
September might
be the right month
for many Michi-
gan students to
seek out new clubs
and organizations,
Greek students
often face time SARAH
constraints in the SMITH
fall semester -
like recruitment
and acclimating to
life in a chapter house - that make
it difficult to seek out new activities.
Consequently, many students in the
Greek community decide to get more
involved on campus in the winter
instead.
A problem exists, however, when we
look at "campus involvement" as a syn-
onym for "Greek involvement." Many
of us - myself included - find our-
selves taking on new roles in our frater-
nities and sororities instead of seeking
out other opportunities to get involved
on campus. Now, Greek involvement
is certainly not a bad thing - we're all
proud of our chapters and our commu-
nity, and fraternity and sorority lead-
ership can be very enriching. But by
limiting our extracurricular involve-
ment to the Greek community, we're
overlooking the larger community
that we all belong to as students - the
Michigan community.
And the Michigan community clear-
ly has a lot to offer. With nearly 1,210
student organizations listed on Maize
Pages, I'd wager that any student could
find a group that interested him or her
outside of Greek Life. Whether it's club
sports, service organizations, political
or religious groups, or clubs tailored

around specific interests like Quidditch
or ballroom dancing, the Michigan
community offers so much that it's sim-
ply wasteful not to take advantage of
the opportunities. At the risk of sound-
ing like your orientation leader from
freshman year, I want to encourage
you to seek out these opportunities on
campus. Browse through Maize Pages
the next time you're bored, or check out
a couple of mass meetings this month.
You're bound to find something that
you'll enjoy.
In addition to enriching the college
years of students in the Greek com-
munity, getting involved in non-Greek
organizations willhave several benefits
post-graduation. For one thing, seeking
out specific campus groups forces us
to define what our interests are. While
you may have always enjoyed getting
down at campus bars or participating
in the Variety competition, it may take
involvement in a campus dance troupe
to illuminate your passion for dance -
same goes for athletics, philanthropy,
creative hobbies and the like. Further-
more, non-Greek organizations enable
us to meet new people outside of our
chapters. We obviously spend a lot of
time with our brothers or sisters, and
we get to know them very well, but
sometimes this comes at the expense
of getting to know other students on
campus. In addition to expanding our
social circles on campus now, joining
a campus-wide organization can also
teach us how to interact professionally
with new groups of people and provide
us with a new network of people with
similar interests, which could definite-
ly come in handy in the future.
Beyond these personal benefits,
however, involvement in non-Greek
organizations can actually enhance
our experiences in Greek Life. By
showcasing our interests outside of
Greek Life, we add another dimen-
sion to our membership in the chap-

ter. In my house, for example, we
have several girls involved in an a
capella group on campus. Many of
my sisters regularly attend their con-
certs, and the a capella members also
put together our Sing ensemble for
Greek Week and lead our members
in song at various chapter events.
Their a capella membership makes
my chapter better, as my sisters have
the opportunity to learn from their
talents and become more cultured
members of society. Moreover, when
we as Greeks get involved on cam-
pus, we positively represent Greek
Life as a whole. We often lament that
as Greeks, we're stereotyped or mis-
understood by some non-Greeks on
campus. But if the people that per-
petuated those stereotypes played
with us on a club basketball team or
worked alongside us during a Circle K
service project, they might form a dif-
ferent opinion about Greek Life.
Students in Greek
Life should join
other clubs too.
Joining a non-Greek organization
makes us more well-rounded as stu-
dents and as people. It also provides
many benefits for the future while
making our time as Michigan Greeks
even more rewarding. So if you're look-
ing to get more involved this semester, 5
consider joining campus-wide organi-
zations as well as the Greek community
to make the most of the opportunities
available at Michigan.
- Sarah Smith can be reached
at smisarah@umich.edu. _

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