4A - Thursday, November 10, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
eJbE 1Jigan &aI j
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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
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Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Life sentence too long
State should reconsider juvenile lifer policy
M ichigan has more juvenile lifers - people between age 14
and 17 who are sentenced to life in prison without the
opportunity for parole - than every state except Penn-
sylvania. With 358 people currently serving life sentences who were
convicted as juveniles, this is not a ranking the state should be eager
to maintain. While some of these young people committed heinous
crimes, some were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Michigan
lawmakers must re-evaluate the policy of life sentences for juveniles
because some of these youth may deserve a second chance.
E-MAIL HANNAH AT HDl)OW@UMICII.EDU
It's almost time... V'Wifwcr Qo0y
To look about 30
Consider returning to nature
Some of the charges that can result in a life
sentence include first-degree murder and sec-
ond-degree murder. A life sentence is unrea-
sonable for some youth who receive these,
charges. This was the case for Keith Maxey,
who at age 16 fled the scene of an attempted
drug theft in 2007 in which another person
was killed. Maxey was unarmed and was shot
during the incident, but he was still charged
with felony murder and sentenced to life in
prison. He is currently involved in a federal
lawsuit against the state to overturn the life
The purpose of the penitentiary system is
not to keep criminals locked up forever but to
provide an opportunity to rehabilitate them
back into society. Criminals who enter the sys-
tem as youth are more likely to go through this
process successfully. A person undergoes major
psychological and personal changes from ado-
lescence to adulthood, and young criminals are
no exception. These individuals should be re-
evaluated to see if they have changed from the
time they committed their crime.
The state should grant convicted juveniles
a second chance at a free life if the state feels
they are genuinely remorseful. Teenagers who
are convicted of serious crimes should still face
substantial jail time, but allowing them to be
sentenced as adults to lifetime imprisonment
without parole is unjust. Michigan should not
exclusively treat juveniles as adults in murder
convictions, but should evaluate crimes com-
mitted by youth on a case-by-case basis.
Michigan should also provide services to
help imprisoned juveniles learn to understand
the impact of their crimes and what led to the
decisions they made. Offering counseling and
mental health services could help with this
rehabilitation process. Trained mental health
professionals should routinely monitor a juve-
nile's mental health.
Locking up juveniles for the duration of
their lives is also an extreme financial burden
for Michigan citizens. Supporting juvenile lif-
ers costs Michigan residents more than $10
million each year. Taxpayers must foot the bill
for food, clothing and medical care for every
prisoner. The longer a juvenile is imprisoned,
the more expensive it becomes for taxpayers.
There are terrible crimes committed by
young people that are unforgivable and deserv-
ing of a life sentence. But as is the case with
Maxey's conviction, this is not always the cir-
cumstance. Michigan needs to reconsider its
current treatment of juvenile lifer convictions
and make sure it gives all criminals fair treat-
ment under the law.
W e're approaching
asked if it was
"really possible -1
to have an hon-
est Thanks- "
giving in an
industrial civili- JOEL
zation." Instead BATTERMAN
ing the gifts of
nature and nature's God, he wor-
ried, the holiday risked becoming
a collective pat on the back, since
humans thought they mastered
nature with their machines. That
might be true. But ina development
Niebuhr might not have anticipat-
ed, some of the most industrialized
youth who've ever lived are now
looking to find honest work beyond
A surprising number of students I
know are going into novel fields, so
to speak. They're working on organ-
ic farms scattered across the coun-
try: at the shores of Lake Michigan,
against the foothills of the Rockies,
on a small island off the coast of
Washington, even in the post-indus-
trial cities of the Rust Belt. For some,
agriculture is a temporary activity.
"WWOOFing," or taking advantage
of World Wide Opportunities on
Organic Farms, is an easy route to a
summer, semester or longer period
of farm work in exchange for room
(or tent) and board. For others,
agrarian living is a lifelong vocation.
I haven't spent more than a day
on one of these farms myself, but
I can understand their attraction,
especially for a set of environmen-
tally conscious, fairly privileged
students from professional fami-
lies. Many aspects of industrial
civilization are getting hard to deal
with, not just at a global level, but at
a personal level as well. The agrari-
an escape can provide a way out, for
individuals who pursue it, though
I'm less sure whether it would work
for society as a whole.
If you think about it, getting back
down to Earth is a logical response
for young people confronting the
hyperextension of higher educa-
tion, the joke that's the job market
and the crazed competition that
dominates both. It's no wonder that
some of us are forsakingthe resume
rush for an occupation that tends
to emphasize cooperation, stability
and a slower pace of production. No
plant is going to complain if you're
a few minutes late with the water.
Farming also involves making
real, tangible products - stuff you
can sink your teeth into, which
citizens of this country don't do too
often anymore. Indeed, many pro-
fessional students don't get to do
any kind of real work at all. Educa-
tor John Dewey warned about the
"loss of moral power that arises
from the constant impression that
nothing is worth doing in itself, but
only as a preparation for something
else, which in turn is only a get-
ting ready for some genuinely seri-
ous end beyond." When you grow
things, though, you can have your
crops and eat them too.
Then there's the political sub-
text. For many practitioners, do-it-
yourself agriculture offers a radical
alternative to industrial civilization
and its evils - from McDonald's to
climate change. These practitioners
see growing food as the first step in
a new agricultural revolution that
would eliminate the unequal rela-
tionship between producer and
consumer, shake off supply chains
and liberate local communities
from global capital.
I have some doubts about that.
It can be hard to separate what's
revolutionary from what's merely
therapeutic. The metaphor of "cul-
tivating our garden," observed by
1960s activist and historian Todd
Gitlin, often represents "the tradi-
tional middle class way of renounc-
ing the world." Some student farm
workers hint at that notion. "I'm
not sure that I can change ... poli-
tics in Washington, but here I can
see the fruits of my labor," one
told a reporter, while another says
he's gained self-reliance, a classic
industrial virtue contradicting the
natural interdependencies Niebuhr
mourned. Meanwhile, the planet
burns and 3 million immigrant
farm workers in this country lack
the rights we take for granted.
The agrarian adventure has
promise. We badly need alternative
models to industrial civilization.
Yet I tend to think the best farms
will be the ones that also foster con-
tinuous engagement with the soci-
ety beyond their fences. We require
hands to sow the seeds of change,
but we also need others to redis-
tribute the harvest they reap.
-Joel Batterman can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
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
KATHARINE ZUREK I
A class in relationship safety
--the The Complete Spectrum: Chris Dyer evaluates a British
man's claims that a stroke made him gay.
poi um Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
MADELYN STUMPOS AND JORDAN REILLY I
Spare some change for change
In her viewpoint (Workshop in need of a
remix, 11/8/11) Jesse Klein asserts that the
concepts presented in the Relationship Remix
Workshop are, to incoming freshmen, "obvi-
ous and basic about relationships - things
that anyone smart enough to get into the Uni-
versity would already know." As a facilitator
of these workshops I can understand where
Klein is coming from. Sure, it may seem obvi-
ous that trust, communication and consent
are all components of healthy relationships.
Those of us who work in the field of sexual-
ized violence prevention, however, are aware
of the theory-to-practice disconnect present
in discourse on healthy relationships. While
many incoming freshmen - and much of the
general population - are able to assert the
obvious components of healthy relationships,
when 20 to 25 percent of women in college
have experienced a completed or attempted
sexual assault, the disconnect between what
people say they know and how they behave
In order to bridge the theory-to-practice
gap in consent and healthy relationships on
campus, the Relationship Remix Workshop
asks participants to pair up and practice hav-
ing conversations in which giving and receiv-
ing consent is necessary. Klein thought this
experience was "uncomfortable, unrealistic
and purposeless." I completely affirm Klein's
experience of discomfort. However, I believe
the general discomfort in these activities
arises from the fact that we are not taught to
have conversations about sex. In movies, sex
just happens; music plays and things happen
smoothly - there is never a realistic conver-
sation about the expectations of, or feelings
about, the activity.
As facilitators of Relationship Remix, we
expect these conversations to be a bit awk-
ward because we have all been socialized to
remain silent about sex. In response to these
practice conversations being "unrealistic," I
again affirm Klein's feelings - these conver-
sations aren't happening at the frequency we
would like to see. But there lies the point of
the workshop: for people to integrate conver-
sations about consent and healthy relation-
ships into their lives.
It is unfortunate that Klein feels the Uni-
versity is treating all incoming freshmen like
naive children because that is far from what
they are doing. Rather, the University is tak-
ing into account the diverse experiences of
all incoming freshmen. While some people
have learned about consent and sexualized
violence in high school health classes, and
some have been in situations in which they've
been able to give, decline to give, receive or
accept the rejection of consent, these are not
the experiences of all freshmen. There are
many communities that do not approve of
dating, partying or drinking alcohol. There
are some students who have come from fami-
lies and high schools in which interactions
with potential dating partners were limited.
Starting with the basics of healthy relation-
ships, consent and coercion and actually
skill-building around these issues are ways
to educate in a way that is inclusive of all
previous experiences, knowledge levels and
choices of dating partners.
As a final note, I sincerely do not doubt the
maturity level and lack of naivete of Klein
and appreciate very much the attempt to
answer the questions of facilitators during
the workshop. However, in my experience,
some audience members are unable to lis-
ten respectfully when a Relationship Remix
facilitator is speaking, some make offensive
and homophobic remarks and, in Klein's own
words, treat the experience "as a joke or (do)
not do the activit(ies) at all." It is my sincere
hope that freshmen (and all students) rec-
ognize the need to practice healthy behav-
iors rather than just hear about them and
that this recognition will result in attentive,
mature audiences for all future Relationship
Katharine Zurek is an LSA senior.
Many students who attend the University would like
to become involved in community service, but some-
times it may be difficult to find an organization or
cause in which you can become actively involved and.
actually see the impact of your service from the begin-
ning through the end.
The University's chapter of the Foundation for the
International Medical Relief of Children is a student
organization that helps students become involved in
community service locally and abroad. FIMRC was
started in 2002 to address the health disparities found
in many countries - paying particular attention to the
plight of underserved pediatric groups. The founda-
tion operates through clinic sites to provide high-qual-
ity medical care and preventative education to those
who don't have access to health care.
At the clinic sites, children often come in malnour-
ished or with pneumonia. First, the doctor needs to
prescribe medication to immediately treat the prob-
lem. But the problem is often due to poor hygiene or
parasites, and the patient and the family need to be
educated on how to prevent the problem from occur-
ring in the future.
Since its inception, the national organization has
started self-sustaining clinics around the world and
now has more than 3,000 staff and volunteers who
help carry out their dream of improving the health of
impoverished children around the world.
But what makes FIMRC unique is the importance
of its many college chapters. It's primarily through the
fundraising efforts of college chapters that the inter-
national clinic sites stay open all year.
Something service organizations - like ours - are
often asked is, "Why does FIMRC bother going abroad?
Why don't you focus on helping United States citizens in
need?" Some people may think that we need to honor our
duty to our own country before helping people overseas.
But we believe if we accept arguments like this, we will
be valuing the lives of Americans over those around the
world, and that is undesirable. The value of a person's
life is the same, no matter where he or she was born.
But we don't believe in neglecting our community.
FIMRC strongly believes in having a large local impact.
As volunteer chairs, we can certainly say this is true,
since our role in FIMRC is to find opportunities for
FIMRC members to reach out to the Ann Arbor com-
munity. We hold a variety of events from volunteering
at retirement homes and serving at soup kitchens to
playing games with kids at the Detroit Medical Center.
So how can students get involved in service proj-
ects here and abroad? We'll help find opportunities for
students who join FIMRC to serve in local communi-
ties in a variety of ways. Another hands-on way to get
involved is to travel to one of the clinic sites and volun-
teer. One of our members, student Stephen Philip, went
for a week to Costa Rica to visit the clinic site in the
summer of 2010.
"When you are at the clinic, you can see the health
problems that underserved populations experience
and some of the political and socioeconomic reasons
for those problems," Philip said about his experience.
"The impact on your life will hopefully be profound.
Once you come back from a mission trip, you will be
more willing to educate others about what you have
seen and have a greater passion for fundraising for the
clinics based off your firsthand experiences."
The final way to help out with service projects is
to go to some of the fundraising events FIMRC holds.
We will be holding our largest fundraiser of the school
year, the annual Benefit Dinner, tonight from 5 p.m.-
8 p.m. in the Psych Atrium in East Hall. Restaurants
from all over Ann Arbor donate food to the event for
students and the community to enjoy. There will also
be items up for auction. The admission ticket for the
dinner will get you as much food as you can fit onto
one plate and, more importantly, it will go directly to
improvingthe lives of children around the world. With
this in mind, please come and "spare some change for
change," and get a great meal out of it too!
As students, we need to do everything we can to help
promote a spirit of volunteerism and service. In the end,
it's not a matter of which organization you choose to
work with, but rather the motivation and passion with
which you work. Rather than simply reminiscing about
the great service deeds done by University students in
the past, but use that legacy to propel you to do greater
acts of service in our community and around the world.
Madelyn Stumpos and JordIan Reilly are
the fundraising coordinators for FIMRC.