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November 04, 2011 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-04

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4 - Friday, November 4, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

te idtigan 4at*)
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
The scope of marriage shouldn't be constrained
nly six states in the United States currently allow members
of the LGBTQ community to get married. A common argu-
ment against legalizing this policy across the country is
the sanctity of the traditional institution of marriage. But this argu-
ment is flawed. Laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, like the Federal
Defense of Marriage Act and certain state statutes and amendments,
should be eliminated.

Open up to open housing

ost University students
would agree that their
housing experience has
a significant
impact on their
day-to-day life.
A typical student
lives in a residen-
tial community
for at least one
year. I can say
that though my
freshman year NORA
roommate and STEPHENS
I were not best
friends, I always
felt comfortable with my living situ-
ation in Couzens Residence Hall. I
vividly remember looking over the
housing options during the summer
before my freshman year and choos-
ing to live in a co-ed dormitory. But
one thing I do not remember is con-
sciously thinking about my gender
when signing up for my housing. As
someone who identifies asa woman,
I never questioned my decision to
live in a room with another woman.
But for some, this decision is not as
easy. University Housing accom-
modates men who want to room
with men and women who want to
room with women, which leaves
out individuals who are gender
non-conforming - a term for indi-
viduals whose gender expression is
different from societal expectations
related to gender - or students who
would feel more comfortable living
with someone of a different gender
than themselves.
Until 2008, if students identified
as transgender and had undergone
sex reassignment surgery, their
only option was to live in a single
apartment in Northwood on North
Campus, which is typically filled
with graduate students. Last year,
the Open Housing Initiative worked
with administrators to expand the
options available to include all gen-
der non-conforming students. Cur-

rently, students can request - on a
case-by-case basis - a gender-neu-
tral suite if they already have room-
mates in mind. This year, about a
dozen individuals chose this option
and are living in various residence
halls across Central Campus. This
expansion demonstrates that the
University is willing to support stu-
dents who do not feel comfortable
living within the traditional resi-
dence hall experience.
However, this isn't good enough.
As a member of the Open Housing
Initiative , I have been working to
put a gender-neutral option on the
Housing application. We feel that
even though accommodations can
be made, they are limited. Students
currently only have the option to
live in a suite and are therefore
required to have multiple room-
mates. This is unlikely to be feasible
for a freshman or incoming transfer
student who may not know other
students on campus, nor does it
allow students to live with just one
other person.
Across campus, residence halls
have been renovated, which has
created more gender-neutral bath-
rooms. The space is there, so why
isn't the option on the Housing
form? All we need is a "yes" from the
We need student support from
different corners of campus to
rally for student rights - includ-
ing people like myself who are not
directly affected by the policy, but
think it's a student's right to live in
a comfortable and safe environment.
Additionally, all students should
have easy access to all their possible
housing options before entering the
I can't see why anyone would
disapprove of these additions to the
gender-neutral housing policy. One
main concern is that heterosexual
couples would abuse the option and
choose to live together. However,

the research file of genderblind.org
illustrates that other college cam-
puses.with gender-neutral options
have not faced the issue of couples
wanting to live together. This mind-
set also ignores the fact that under
the traditional housing policy,
gay and lesbian couples could live
together in the dorms. Another fear
is that students will unwillingly or
unknowingly be placed into gender-
neutral rooms. only students who
explicitly request gender-neutral
housing will be given gender-neu-
tral rooms - adding this option will
not change traditional housingroom
Students deserve
a comfortable
living situation.
However, we believe fully imple-
menting open housing will affect
every student on this campus. We
all benefit when our community is
inclusive. Let's work together to
support each others rights to choose
who we want to live with and ensure
that we all feel comfortable in our
Have something to say about the
Open Housing Initiative? Want to
help? Come to the Open Housing
Initiative Town Hall Meeting from
8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Monday Nov.
7th in the 3rd Koesseler Room of the
League. Hope to see you there.
This column was written with
members of the Open Housing Ini-
This column was written with
members of the Open HousingInitia-
-Nora Stephens can be
reached at norals@umich.edu.

The divorce rate for heterosexual couples is
more than 50 percent, and it seems many mar-
riages take credence from the "traditional"
debate. With the widely publicized announce-
ment that celebrity Kim Kardashian ended
her marriage after only 72 days, it's difficult to
argue that same-sex couples would disgrace
the sanctity of marriage when heterosexual
couples do that on their own.
On Monday, The New York Times reported
that Kardashian filed for divorce from NBA
player Kris Humphries. The couple earned
more than $17.5 million in television and
magazine appearances during their 10-week-
long marriage. Though Kardashian denies the
marriage was planned for her to make money
or gain publicity, many people are hesitant to
believe she's telling the truth.
Obviously, the forthcoming divorce of Kar-
dashian and Humphries is a highly publicized
example of an unconventional marriage. Dur-
ing his visit to campus on Monday, House
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was
questioned about his views on gay marriage.
In response, Cantor cited his "traditional val-
ues," which has become the vague, politically
correct answer conservatives use to respond
to this question.
Historically, the United States has had one
of the highest divorce rates in the world. If
politicians have a duty to defend the institu-
tion of marriage, shouldn't they target cou-
ples filing for divorce by providing marriage
counseling? Or shouldn't they pursue poli-
cies to ensure engaged couples aren't going to
get divorced? These precautions would likely
lower the divorce rate and protect marriage.

Instead, politicians focus on banning
LGBTQ citizens from engaging in an inherent
right with social and financial benefits. Until
the 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v.
Virginia abolished the practice, several states
had racial restrictions on marriage. To many
politicians of the time, interracial marriage
didn't fall under the umbrella of "traditional
marriage" either.
Today, any race-based marriage constraint
would be promptly dismissed as racism. The
same logic should apply to same-sex marriage.
Arguments like Cantor's should be dismissed
as homophobic and hostile toward millions of
Pentagon officials showed broad support
for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which
was enacted last month and allows gays to
serve openly in the military. In July, New
York became the most recent state to legalize
same-sex marriage. The Obama administra-
tion ended its legal defense of the Defense
of Marriage Act which defines marriage as a
union between a man and woman. The coun-
try is on a progressive track, and the admin-
istration needs to move more swiftlyn-that
Opponents of gay marriage and the-politi-
cians who support their arguments should be
consistently challenged to define their notion
of "traditional values." Using the term as an
end-all answer to their opposition is unac-
ceptable and ignores important arguments.
The Obama administration and state legisla-
tors should accept marriage as an institution
between two consenting adults regardless of
gender or sexual orientation.

r Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley, Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb,
\/Vanessa Rychlinski,;Caroline Syms, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
the people, for the people


Savor the siesta

Friendly faces, laughing, glasses clanking
and lively chatting. This is how more than
a few nights were spent on the cobblestone
streets in Salamanca during my six-week stay
in Spain this past summer. These festivities
did not last for one or two hours as they would
have in the United States, but in fact took up
a hefty four hours of our night. If Spain had
a motto, it would be "take things slow, and
enjoy all the pleasures of life." Granted, there
are a few exceptions to this lifestyle, but for
the most part it is a notorious norm of Span-
ish culture. The people of Spain know how
to truly enjoy life's greatest pleasures: talk-
ing with friends, drinking cheap wine and
eating good food. Whether it's time for tapas
or lunch, the Spanish custom is to dine with
close friends and family, while catching upon
recent events and stories.
Coming from the States, it was a huge shock
when I first arrived in Salamanca, Spain and
witnessed this laid-back, slow-moving life-
style. Growing up on the East Coast, I was
especially used to the hustle and bustle, fast-
paced life of your average American student. In
high school, it seemed I barely had enough time
to sleep, nevertheless eat, get my work done on
time, study for exams and go to sports practice
every day. This way of life has not changed
since coming to college. The fast-paced Ameri-
can lifestylethat so many of us take for granted
is in actuality an extremely demanding way of
life that the U.S. has learned to run on.
When was the last time you felt completely
comfortable taking a two-hour nap in the mid-
dle of the day or spending a solid four hours
catching up with friends and ordering appetiz-
ers at local bars? The Spanish understand the
importance of having a four-hour break in the
middle of the day to eat lunch with your family
and take a short nap. During this time, which
is known as the siesta, shops and restaurants
close as storekeepers run home to see their
family and take some time off to relax.
But here in the U.S., we've learned that in

order to live a productive life, napping and
relaxation is exclusively reserved for vacations
and breaks. In reality, taking a few hours each
afternoon to unwind and catch up with fam-
ily would be exactly what we need to power
through the rest of the day. It is this concept
of a perfect balance between work and leisure
that makes the Spanish lifestyle an ideal way of
living for all of us.
Contrary to popular belief here on campus,
double shot espressos and energy drinks will
never be an acceptable substitution for sleep.
We have learned to run on caffeine and daily
coffee trips to help us stay awake through gru-
eling late night homework sessions and study-
ing at the UGLi. We've trained our bodies to
sleep less in order to pound out countless hours
of work and prepare for dreaded exams. Yet
in the end, no matter how much caffeine we
pour down our throats, we will never be able to
make up for the many hours of lost rest.
It is up to us, as students here at the Univer-
sity, to realize thattaking a few hoursout of our
busy day will not kill us. Taking time to catch
up with friends, share stories, take a nap and
relax our minds is exactly what we need to live a
healthy, balanced life. We have to start taking a
little bit of time away from our hectic lives here
on campus to reflect on what's really important
to us We've all heard countless times that "col-
lege is going to be the best experience of your
life," so isn't it time we actually adopt this idea
and start enjoying all of life's pleasures?
Yes, we don't live in Europe, and can't actu-
ally spend four hours in the middle of the after-
noon each day eating and napping when we
have classes to attend, exams to study for and
work to do. But we can definitely put aside a bit
of time to catch up with friends, let our minds
rest and relax our over-worked bodies. A mini-
siesta is exactly what students here need to
escape the hectic, demanding lifestyle that we
have been all too quick to adopt.
Sarah Skaluba is an LSA sophomore.

The University is public. But
I mean to say more than
that some of the Univer-
sity's funding is
fromethe gov-
ernment. And
it's more than
just the Uni-
versity's pride
in its private-
like standard
of excellence, LIBBY
which allows ASHTON
it to compete
with private schools whose students
loudly profess that we'll be pumping
their gas someday.
The way I've understood the Uni-
versity's public-ness is not in terms
of its in-state tuition (I'm not from
Michigan) or its lusted-after Foot-
ball Saturday pandemonium (despite
my last column, I don't actually care
about football) Instead, I conceptu-
alize our public character as being
one of commitment to the people.
And it's a character that will remain
long after the state pulls its last dol-
lar from our endowment.
We are, by definition, of the peo-
ple. So how, in practice, are we to be
for the people? We're for the people
in that we maintain a large demo-
graphic of students from Michigan.
We're for the people in that we pro-
tect the access to opportunity for
students who wouldn't otherwise be
able to afford tuition. We're for the
people in that we fiercely pursue a
diverse community, even when the
judicial system hasn't quite figured
out how they'd like us to fashion our
As an abstraction from our finan-
cial structure and admissions poli-
cies, we're public because we're
committed to the public good. In
an academic context, that commit-
ment shows itself in the breadth and
depth of the liberal arts education
many of us have been able to attain
here. Relative to the academic expe-
riences of my friends who are spread
out among several private colleges

and universities around the country,
my professors seem anxious to root
the theoretical discussions of justice
and good in the tangible realities
outside our classroom walls.
But the most palpable commit-
ment to the good of the people has
been by way of the University com-
munity's justice work. If you were
to identify with any disadvantaged
group or if you were to feel espe-
cially engaged in the advocacy for
one disadvantaged group, there's
an institution on campus that will
support you. Growing Allies, Expect
Respect, the Spectrum Center - to
name a few - are positioned to pro-
mote equality and unity at the Uni-
An innumerable amount of stu-
dent organizations declare their
fight for justice in one social arena or
another and new initiatives develop
all the time. Students who haven't
yet been moved to think about how
to tackle the inequalities that per-
sist today have an incentive togain
exposure to students who have.
Classes like Project Community,
Project Outreach and Intergroup
Relations accredit service work and
social investigation. Rather than
simply relying on students to vol-
unteer when they're not sitting in
class, the University has essentially
knocked down its classroom walls
by partnering service with learning.
And the classic social justice
schools and departments aren't the
only University actors who are pro-
moting social consciousness and
action among- students. The Ross
School of Business has its own mode
of incentivizing business designs
to promote the public good. Busi-
ness Prof. Michael Gordon's course
"Solving Societal Problems Through
Enterprise and Innovation" chal-
lenges students to view "the world's
toughest problems (as) opportu-
nities for for-profit companies,
non-profits and other enterprises,"
according to the course description.
So every facet of the University is,
at least to some extent, commonly

committed to the good of the public.
But I would argue that, relative to
the amount of money, human capi-
tal and influence the University has,
its social ventures aren't enough in
number or in reach. Though stu-
dents with even a small interest in
learning more about avenues for
social change have many options,
the institutional commitment to
creating socially conscious and
active citizens isn't active enough.
Much of the change work on cam-
pus is because of a few incredibly
hardworking and dedicated people.
Without them, the University may
not display the admirable charac-
ter of a public university that I just
'U' should
promote social
Departments should be required
to incorporate an aspect of the Uni-
versity's commitment to the public
good in their courses for concen-
tration. Institutions like Dr. John
Burkhardt's National Forum on
Higher Education and the Public
Good should receive additional
funding with the expressed pur-
pose of fostering their ideals and
facilitating action projects and
ideas among undergraduate stu-
dents. And programs like Project
Community and Intergroup Rela-
tions should be expanded to other
departments in an effort to reach
more students.
I don't suggest this strength-
ened commitment because we can
and because it's the right thing to
do - though we can and it is - but
because it's essential to what we are
as a leading public university.
- Libby Ashton can be reached
at eashton@umich.edu.

it t

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