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February 17, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-17

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4 - Friday, February 17, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com ',

4 - Friday, February 17, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

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 solelythe views of their authors.
Imran Syed is the public editor. He can be reached at publiceditor@michigandaily.com.
Same sex, same rights
Mich. should follow trend of marraige equality
The state of Washington's recent legalization of same-sex mar-
riage is an important step toward equal rights in this country.
This is a positive breakthrough for the United States, not only
because of the moral obligation to provide equal rights to all, but also
for practical economic reasons. Same-sex couples should be allowed

Don't skate around the issue

This weekend, the University
will sponsor free ice skat-
ing on North Campus in an
attempt to dis-
pel the notion
that the campus
is a lost abyss.,
There are worse
ways to use our ,
money. But as a
North Campus
denizen and an JOEL
Architecture and BATTERMAN
Urban Planning
student, I have to
conclude that without more serious
change in the University's approach
to the campus, efforts to re-brand it
are bound to fall flat.
Frankly, we'd be better off if North
Campus didn't exist. The University
could have chosen to grow up instead
of out, keeping its original Central
Campus footprint with some added
expansion into the near-downtown
neighborhoods. Ann Arbor's sky-
line would look a bit different, and
we wouldn't see as many deer, but
we'd have saved ourselves innu-
merable hours crammed into buses
and countless calories consumed at
Panda Express.
Unfortunately, in 1952 Univer-
sity planners still believed that cars
would make the very concept of
distance disappear, and felt wide
open spaces were more necessary to
human life than daily conveniences
you could reach on foot. Back then,
not much existed in Ann Arbor
north of the Huron River, but that
didn't stop the University from buy-
ing itself a giant new campus in the
middle of nowhere. The US-23 free-
way was originally planned to run
up Huron Parkway, so they might
have been counting on being right
near the off-ramp.
Whatever the weird logic of that
decision, there's no going back now.
Yet that doesn't mean we have to
resign ourselves to the North Cam-
pus that currently exists. Indeed, the

University is realizing that the cur-
rent state of the campus is a liability.
It seems candidates for faculty
positions have complained North
Campus doesn't even feel like a part
of Ann Arbor, setting off alarm bells
among the deans anxious to recruit
top talent in engineering and other
disciplines that are housed in North
As a result, more substantive
action - beyond ice rinks and hot
air balloons - is underway. In 2008,
the University completed a North
Campus Master Plan Update that
envisioned a more densely developed
campus, with a walkable city block
replacing the current car-oriented
Northwood culs-de-sac. The Univer-
sity has also helped fund a study on
improving the heinously overcrowd-
ed transit line between the campus-
es, though only after much coaxing
from the city.
The University has also helped
fund a study on improving the hei-
nously overcrowded transit line
between the campuses, though only
after much coaxing; one City offi-
cial I spoke with last year expressed
exasperation that the University had
to be persuaded to put up a paltry
$50,000 for the project.
But none of this goes far enough.
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the
University is not the solution to
North Campus; the University is
the problem. The biggest issue with
North Campus isn't the absence of
skating opportunities, but the pathet-
ic lack of choices for basic goods like
food, a direct result of the Univer-
sity's monopolization of the 800-acre
North Campus area.
My politics run left, but the
dearth of decent conveniences on
North Campus relative to Cen-
tral is an excellent argument for
the superiority of open markets in
certain contexts. A single block of
South University adjacent to Cen-
tral Campus has more restaurants
than the whole of North Campus.

Perhaps half the late-night traffic on
Broadway is pizza delivery vehicles
smuggling contraband edibles onto
campus, while long lunchtime lines
for often sub-par food on North itself
resemble those of 1980s Moscow. In
fact, the Pierpont Commons base-
ment is crony capitalism atits greas-
iest, since the University essentially ,
auctions off fast food rights to the
highest bidders.
economics for
North Campus. *
To fill the North Campus abyss,
the University could start by permit-
ting food carts there. It should also
consider selling real estate at key
locations, such as the parkinglots off
Fuller Road, so that developers can
meet demand for more stores and
services there and the properties can
contribute to Ann Arbor's tax base.
As University Planner Susan Gott
said, Ann Arbor might not need a
second downtown like that of State
Street, but the growth of the small
shopping district at Plymouth Road
and Murfin Avenue, which already
contains a few excellent restaurants
despite its distance from the cam-
pus's core, indicates just how much
of an afterthought North Campus's
people are under current University
policy. Changing that would make
students a lot happier, which is in
the direct interest of the Univer-
sity. And heck, if new development
brings a few bars within walking
distance of the Taubman College of
Architecture and Urban Planning,
I'm sure not complaining.
- Joel Batterman can be
reached at jomba@umich.edu.

to marry in all 50 states.
On Monday, Washington Gov. Christine
Gregoire signed a gay marriage bill, making
Washington the sixth state to legalize same-
sex marriage. Gay marriage is already legal
in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Same-sex
marriage is also legal in Washington, D.C. New
Jersey's gay marriage bill, approved by the
State Senate yesterday, was sent to Republican
Gov. Chris Christie for his signature, though he
is expected to veto it.
The steps these states have taken toward
equal marriage rights are commendable and
a positive trend for our country. Michigan
should not sit on the sidelines of progress.
In addition to the states that have legalized
same-sex marriage, there are 16 others that
currently offer either civil unions or domes-
tic partnerships. But Michigan is not follow-
ing suit. On the contrary, on Dec. 22, Gov.
Rick Snyder signed a ban forbidding state
employees from receiving domestic partner
benefits. It is inexcusable that while the rest
of the country becomes increasingly tolerant,
Michigan's legislature is inhibiting the rights
of a minority.
For those not convinced by the moral argu-
ment for marriage equality, legalization of gay
marriage helps the personal finances of the
couples involved and benefits the economy
at large. Married couples are privileged with
joint finances and shared insurance, whereas
unmarried couples end up paying extrafor
these services because they are kept separate.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry would
make them more financially secure - some-
thing that should be a priority in hard eco-
nomic times. Some companies will resent
having to cover additional spouses under their
insurance plans, but the financial costs do not
outweigh the moral implications of marriage
equality. This should be no excuse to hinder
marriage legalization.
California's Proposition 8, which was a 2008
ballot measure banning same-sex marriage,
was declared unconstitutional by a federal
appeals court last week. The case will likely
be brought to the Supreme Court where the
justices will have a pivotal opportunity to pro-
mote equal rights. The legality of the Defense
of Marriage Act of 1996 also has frequently
been called into question. America's judiciary
system should continue to take action against
discriminatory laws such as this and stand up
for equality.
The time has come for America to fully
accept gays as equal citizens. This is a question
not of personal opinions or religious beliefs, but
rather of the progression of society. Jim Crow
laws are still in recent memory, and we shud-
der at the ignorance and bigotry of those rac-
ist policies. The present question of same-sex
marriage puts us at a similar crossroads. Mich-
igan needs to reverse its shift toward repress-
ing same-sex couples. Michigan, along with the
other 43 states that have yet to legalize same-
sex marriage, should choose to be on the right
side of history by taking action now.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and viewpoints. Letters should be fewer
than 300 words while viewpoints should be 550-850 words. Both must include the writer's full
name and University affiliation. Send submissions to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.
Sit back and relax

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


Dibbern should waive
FERPA and release records
It's time to hear the full story surrounding
the Jennifer Dibbern case.
ees Organization, has publicly claimed her
GSRA appointment ended because of her
involvement in union-forming efforts. The
University claims it ended because of poor
academic performance. Due to FERPA - the
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
- the University has been prevented from
releasing the full story to the public. We
have heard from Jennifer's colleagues who
claim she wasn't an effective researcher, but
they don't have access to academic records,
department files and records of conversa-
tions between Dibbern and her advisors.
These records can only become available if
Dibbern waives her FERPA rights.
I understand Dibbern wants to retain her'
privacy, but this situation is being used as
support for unionization, which will affect

2,200 current GRSAs and may affect GSRAs
for years to come. Having chosen to make
this matter public, all the facts are necessary.
The key question is whether the Univer-
sity's decision is academically justified or
not. If this situation is as clear-cut as has
been claimed, then certainly the release of
all department files will back that up. While
we understand and respect FERPA, these
records need to be released so this issue can
be properly examined.
Dibbern cannot have it both ways. She
cannot expect us to believe that she was
unfairly dismissed while refusing to give all
parties access to evidence that could support
or refute her claims. If Dibbern and GEO
are not playing a political game and really
believe what they say, it is time to show their
cards. If GEO intends to continue to making
claims of intimidation, then Dibbern needs to
waive her FERPA rights, and let us all see the
whole story - not just the part of the story
that Dibbern and her GEO colleagues choose
to release.
Steven Raiman
Founder ofStudents Against GSRA

Boeing 747s, security lines
and seat belt signs are all
things I associate with
stress. Consid-
ering air travel
in my family has
long consisted
of frantic checks
to make sure
bags are prop-
erly packed and
three-ounce LEAH
containers are
tightly sealed, POTKIN
the stress has
certainly been
Well, apparently I'm not alone
in my anxiety. Enough travel-
ers share my concerns that a
recent article in Time magazine
announced the addition of a yoga
room to the San Francisco Inter-
national Airport to promote relax-
ation during travel.
Quite frankly, this is a lovely
idea - props to San Francisco. But
if airport travel causes enough
stress to justify a room dedicated to
relaxation, then college campuses
certainly do too. In fact, with the
winning mix of midterms, papers
and job applications, I can't think
of a place better fit for - or more in
need of - such a calming space.
Many students would agree that
life on campus, though rewarding
in its challenges, is at least as cha-
otic as an airport, and certainly
deserves a space dedicated to relax-
ation. Thus, the University should
follow in the footsteps of the inno-
vative California airport, which
converted a 150 square-foot stor-
age room into an open space with
chairs and yoga mats, and create
public spaces for students to take
study breaks and escape from the
stresses of life on campus.
To promote relaxation, the yoga
room in San Francisco requests
that visitors remove their shoes and
refrain from bringing food, drinks or

cell phones into the silent area. These
requirements, referred to by the air-
port as "Yoga Room Etiquette," cre-
ate an environment of tranquility in
an otherwise chaotic arena.
In the same way a traveler could
use the yoga room to de-stress after
dealing with a particularly irritat-
ing Travel Security Administration
official, students could use relax-
ation centers to relax during exams,
after a long study session or even
between classes.
Sound mental health is vital for
students' success here on campus.
Having a convenient place to de-
stress during the day, perhaps in the
UGLi or Duderstadt, would benefit
students immensely.
Not only would students have
the leisure of popping in for a quick
mental break between classes, but
they'd also have the benefit of a
place where dissociation from their
fast-paced lives is both possible and
encouraged. And while the Univer-
sity does already offer classes in
meditation and yoga, students have
to work these into their schedules
- not on an as-needed basis. Keep-
ing in mind that most students
already lead very busy lives, the
convenience of drop-in relaxation
centers on campus would likely
encourage students to take advan-
tage of this resource more readily
than if they had to schedule time
into their days.
Ann Arbor certainly has its fair
share of yoga studios. I'd assume
from the number of people I see
double-fisting backpacks and yoga
mats that they're popular, but these
classes come at a price. All students
should have access to places where
they can center themselves free of
charge, and the creation of relax-
ation centers would quite easily
allow for this.
As the Time article mentioned,
the yoga room in the airport doesn't
include instructors or any additional
amenities, and merely serves as an

environment in which people are
free of noise, commotion and other
external stressors. And while the
term "yoga room" might conjure up
images of people in the downward
dog position, a campus relaxation
center would not be limited to yoga
practices and could be used merely
as a place to sit in silent meditation.
Thus, creation of such spaces would
require little effort on the Universi-
ty's part, yet would benefit students
in big ways.
Not to mention, the benefits of
relaxation practices, while already
widely appreciated, are only recent-
ly becoming better known, and dare
I even say, trendy. With celebrities
like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and
Russell Brand promoting Transcen-
dental Meditation, the popularity of
such practices is no longer limited to
the hippie, alternative type and will
undoubtedly continue to grow.
Students need
quiet recharging
So, while airports are certainly
stressful, college campuses with-
out a doubt rival them as places in
need of some good old R&R. While
some students may find it easy to
relax either at home or in front of
the television, many students would
take comfort in having a convenient
place here on campus to escape their
everyday stress. The San Francisco
International Airport is onto some-
thing, and the University should fol-
low in its footsteps.
- Leah Potkin can be reached at
lpotkin@umich.edu. Follow her on
Twitter at @LeahPotkin.

@UMichMemes Stop being creepily
accurate about our lives.
"" '" #needtostudyformidterms
. -Ih My Ann Arbor:
O " Eliana Fenyes explores the (G) men
Pod iU f behind the music. A capella, that is.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium


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