4A - Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ANDREW WEINER JOSH HEALY
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS 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.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FR0M T EA
Keep the heat on
DTE shouldn't shut off utilities in winter
've had a mild winter this year - the 50-degree tempera-
tures in January are a testament to that. But that doesn't
mean that the'winter is bearable without heat and elec-
tricity. Thousands of Detroit families have had to suffer through the
cold because DTE Energy shut off lights and heat to 105,348 custom-
ers last year. While DTE is a profit seeking company, it still needs
to recognize basic human needs. Like all companies that perform
important utility services, DTE needs to do its part to help suffering
Michigan residents who can't afford utilities.
How important is Florida? Today it's the most
important thing in the world to me.
- Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov.
Mitt Romney on his victory in the Florida GOP primary last night:
Religion isn't going anywhere
Three hundred protesters took over the
lobby of DTE headquarters last Thurs-
day to protest these shut offs, chanting "no
more shut offs." Organizers included reli-
gious, labor and even Occupy leaders. The
protesters claimed that DTE was shutting
off electricity to houses while giving its
top executives salary increases. They also
accused DTE of not paying its share in taxes.
A DTE spokesman said the company was
doing all it could to keep the power on in
these tough economic times, but they didn't
address the accusation of salary increases.
Michigan law states that it's illegal to shut off
power between the months of November and
March, but thousands of people had utilities
cut in October, forcing them to deal with the
cold winter months.
Many Michigan residents, especially those
in Detroit, have suffered due to the economic
downturn. Detroit residents have few pros-
pects and little opportunity. The least DTE can
do is keep their houses warm. DTE supplies
services that keep people alive, and if these ser-
vices disappear, so will the people who depend
on them. DTE needs to have humane morals in
addition to its profit-making attitude.
While there are services for the poor to help
them pay their electric bills, there is still more
to be done. The Michigan Low Income and
Energy Efficiency Pund provides assistance to
low-income households to pay bills and keep
the electricity on. LIEFF is a much needed pro-
gram, but it's running out of money. Programs
like LIEEF are necessary, and Detroit should
work to create more programs to help the poor
in hard winter months.
DTE is a large company that can afford to
keep some families' lights and heat on in the
dead of winter. If it's true that it's giving sal-
ary increases to executives, then DTE needs
to rethink its business model. Giving its exec-
utives salary increases and bonuses doesn't
make sense if the company is unable to avoid
shut offs. All its extra money should be used
to keep electricity running for the most
amount of people possible. They shouldn't be
handing out money to people who don't need
it at the moment. Those who need electricity
should come first in something as important
as electricity and heat.
Despite the weather in recent weeks,
winters in Michigan are hard, and heat can
be the difference between life and death.
Detroit's residents are already struggling,
and not having electricity makes it even
worse. More programs like' LIEEF would
relieve Michigan residents' stress as they try
to make ends meet. DTE should work hard
to keep the power on. The salary increases
are not an efficient or moral use of money.
DTE provides a service that is crucial to life
in Michigan and it needs to put that above
n places like Ann Arbor, I often
hear that religion is on the way
out. Scientific advances have
- one doesn't
need to believe
in God to know
where the sun
goes at night.
I agree. I dis-
agree, though, SETH
with the idea SODERBORG
that religion will
People raised outside of reli-
gious traditions tend to think that
religious beliefs are predicated on
well-known, obsolete ideas about
nature, like the idea that a specific
deity created the earth in exactly six
24-hour periods. That way of think-
ing obscures the primary motivation
of those who are religiously obser-
vant. People pray, meditate and go to
church to satisfy spiritual urges.
We ought to think of religion
and spirituality as different things.
Spirituality, in broad terms, is a
class of feelings and accompany-
ing actions. The feelings people call
"spiritual" tend to come in moments
of wonder, hope or longing. Beauti-
ful music, the sight of candles at a
vigil, and the thrill of standing atop
a mountain are all things that peo-
ple identify as spiritual. The sen-
sation that ties these experiences
together is a sense of unity - the
feeling of being part of something
greater than oneself, be it nature,
the sublime, or a human communi-
ty. The variety of things recognized
as spiritual - prayer, meditation,
ecstatic outbursts, singing - speaks
to the breadth of experiences that
generate the sensation of oneness.
Religions are communities built
around guidelines for how best to
experience and draw meaning from
spiritual feelings. Some religions
are dogmatic, providing compre-
hensive rules of ethical and spiri-
tual conduct. Other religions are
anti-dogmatic, emphasizing that
the many varieties of spiritual expe-
rience - and the ways of achieving
these experiences - are similarly
worthwhile. Just as the experience
of spirituality is infinitely varied,
so too are the ways in which people
have organized and interpreted
their spiritual experiences.
The varieties of religious prac-
tice reflect the many ways in which
humans experience spiritual sensa-
tions. Thus there are religious tradi-
tions that say the best life is solitary,
and time is best spent in the con-
tinuous contemplation of the divine.
Other religious traditions proscribe
the solitary life, declaring that unity
is best felt in the presence of others.
Science speaks to our understand-
ing of natural phenomena. Where
religion attempts to provide answers
to questions about nature, it is vul-
nerable to challenges from science.
Scientific inquiry has little to offer
in the field of ethics, and less still on
questions about extracting meaning
from life. A randomized controlled
trial is unlikely to shed light on why
we are here.
Naturalistic philosophy, which
is often informed by science, might
reject the question, "Why are we
here?" on the grounds that it pre-
supposes narrative reasoning to be
an underlying part of nature. This is
a reasonable position, but for many
people it is deeply unsatisfying. It is
in our nature to build narratives and
extract meaning. We aren't going to
stop asking "Why?" anytime soon.
It's important that those who
think about religion's role in society
recognize that natural phenomena
are only one aspect of what reli-
gion discusses. It's in our nature to
seek answers. It's also in our nature
- more in some of us than in oth-
ers - to experience spiritual feel-
ings. Spiritual practice organized as
religion provides answers to ques-
tions and explanations of sensations
that touch the deepest levels of the
human psyche. The choice to join a
religious community is often emo-
tional and deeply personal.
Spirituality is a
class of feelings
Religion has always been a mani-
festation of the human desire to
understand - and derive meaning
from - the world in which we live.
That desire led to both scientific and
religious inquiry. So long as humans
desire to give meaning to their
lives, some will turn to religion and
spirituality for answers. The level
of attendance at specific religious
denominations will change over
time, and some religions will disap-
pear while others flourish. In the
distant future there maybe as many
Muslims or christians as there are
sun-worshipers today. We should
not mistake the end of religion as
we know it for the end of religion -
ways of organizing spirituality have
always changed with the times.
Churches come and go. Spiritual-
ity - and its counterpart, religion
- will endure.
- Seth Soderborg can be reached at
email@example.com& Follow him on
twitter at @thedailyseth.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Laura Argintar, Kaan Avdan, Ashley Griesshammer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Harsha Panduranga, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne
Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Sarah Skaluba, Seth Soderborg, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
CAROLINE SYMS .
Do the crime, pay the time
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The law exists for a reason, prisons exist
for a reason and that little box on job appli-
cations that convicted criminals must check
exists for a reason. Individuals who com-
mit such offenses should be held account-
able; permanently. It doesn't matter if their
motives were unintentional, if they were
minors at the time or if someone seemingly
forced them into such behavior. The bottom
line is once you're a convicted felon, that's
one strike that shouldn't be removed from
The Michigan Legislature should reject
the January proposal by the Fair Chance
Coalition - a group advocating for the
rights of convicted felons - to "ban the
box." Approving this legislation would
eliminate any criminal history information
from appearing on job applications, meaning
employers would be "blind" to an individual's
criminal past. Doing this would send a com-
pletely ridiculous message that any and all
crimes will essentially be overlooked in the
hiring process. Imagine the societal impact
that can result from crimes going unpun-
ished in the long run. It won't be pretty.
Americans all have the same civic duties
and responsibilities, and we must all follow
the same stringent rules and regulations as
established by our national government.
When an individual breaks these rules and is
convicted of a crime, they must face the con-
sequences - no matter what. One of those
consequences is facing disadvantages in the
workforce. Passing this legislation would
essentially grant convicted felons the same
opportunities and privileges as those who
abide by the law.
Imagine for a moment that you're an
employer. You're rifling through piles of job
applications. Wouldn't you want to know
if someone you're considering hiring has
robbed a bank or committed credit card fraud
in the past? I certainly would. What if you
had to choose between two individuals with
equally impressive skills and experience for
a position? Yet one of them could have com-
mitted murder five years ago. Withholding
information about criminal history on job
applications means there is a 50/50 chance
you end up hiring the murderer. They'll be a
great asset to your company. ,
It's commendable that convicted felons are
takinggreat steps to turn their lives around.
Seeking employment opportunities is exact-
ly what they should be doing, but employ-
ers deserve to know everything about their
potential employees, especially their crimi-
nal history. Crimes need to be reported on
an individual's record because they aren't
something to be ignored.
I realize that mistakes do happen, and
sometimes criminals are truly remorseful
for crimes they've previously committed.
Steps should be taken to improve the crimi-
nal history section of an application instead
of removing it all together. Convicted felons
should have a fair chance to explain them-
selves and their history in greater detail.
Perhaps providing more information on the
individual's rehabilitation or recovery stages
and an update on their current standing with
the law would help employers better assess
these individuals. Employers need more
information than just a simple answer when
evaluating convicted felons as potential
employees. But convicted felons shouldn't be
allowed to simply erase their past.
There are no excuses for breaking the law,
and convicted felons need to understand and
accept the consequences of doing so. These
individuals can't expect their wrongdoings
to just disappear. It's not practical and it's
not fair to those citizens who take their civic
responsibilities and morals more seriously.
Improvements can be made to allow these
lawbreakers a better shot at securing a job,
but one thing is certain: the box must stay.
Caroline Syms is an LSA sophomore.
At almost 22 years old, it's been a longtime since I've
been babysat - literally and figuratively. The fact that
my parents treated me like an adult in most ways years
before others probably adds to that, but the reality is
that I've been in charge of my own academic life since, at
least, the beginning of high school.
It seems like every time we moved up from school
to school - elementary to middle and middle to high -
teachers told us that at the new level we would be held
to a higher level of self-sufficiency. We were expected
to organize our own work and keep our own schedules.
Basically, they weren't going to baby us. From what I
remember, it never seemed to be true and I was frustrat-
ed that I was still being treated like a child - precocious
middle schooler that I was.
In college, though, it was finally true. We are in charge
of our own educations. No one approves our schedules
or academic plans, reminds us to do our homework and
reading, ensures that we get to our exams or makes sure
that we don't forget to do our papers.
This fact is why I'm so surprised that one of my pro-
fessors is-currently treating our class like children.
Personally, I think that as college students it's our own
responsibility to do the work and go to class. In a small,
discussion-based class it makes sense to take attendance.
Each student's presence and participation makes a dif-
ference in the class. In a 60-person lecture,.though, it
doesn't. It probably helps to go to class, but if I don't,
that's my own choice and I'll face the consequences.
The same goes for paying attention in class. Obviously
taking notes is a good idea. But it's on the student to do so.
It's most definitely not the professor's job to make sure I
attend lecture and pay attention. If I choose not to do the
work, then that's my business and I'm the one who will
have to deal with the ramifications. But I certainly don't
expect to be treated like a high schooler mere months
before my graduation.
This is exactly what is happening in this particular
class. The professor has threatened to banlaptops if any-
one is found doing something other than taking notes.
And attendance is taken before every lecture, for all 60
people in the class. We're required to attend and pay
Honestly, it's highly likely that I would do both of
these things most of the time. But the fact that I am
mandated to do so is a little annoying. And as a gener-
ally good student with good grades, I think I should be
trusted to figure it out for myself.
Frankly, I think it's a student's choice to go to class
and pay attention. If a student finds they can get by with-
out paying attention or attending class, they should be
able to use their time in a more productive way. We pay
enough in tuition that we should be allowed to choose
how to allocate our time. While class is usually my top
priority, sometimes other things like job searches and
writing my thesis take priority over paying attention for
the entire class or attending at all.
I think that by now, I'm old enough to make that deci-
sion for myself. Certainly no one is going to be making
that decision for me after this semester. These are the
sink or swim years, and professors who insist on babying
students aren't doing anyone a favor.
Erika Mayer is an LSA senior.
T W EETIT R IAL
EDIT ORIALS IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
S@MotherNature Make up your mind: Is it
winter or not?
WA m ow mae....#5Sdegreesandcounting