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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 5A

Learning wisdom

A new kind of travel

The end is near for us graduates
to be, and in the next few weeks,
we'll be getting lots of advice.
With anecdotes, aph-
orisms and earnest
looks, those who have
been where we are
now will share their
hard-earned wisdom.
Some of it will be
idle speculation. Any-
one who's seen "The
Graduate" remem- SETH
bers the neighbor's SODERBORG
prophecy to Dustin
Hoffman - "Plas-
tics!" - and knows that such suggestions
are worth less than the effort it takes to
make them.
But some of these things will change
our lives. If we listen carefully, we Mpight
manage to catch a little of our anteced-
ents' wisdom without having to earn
it. That would be a wonderful thing, for
much of what they will share are lessons
learned from mistakes.
In theory, at least, the people who will
speak with us are full of wisdom we do
not yet possess. The prospect of hearing
them has led me to wonder about those
people and what it is they know. What
does it mean to be wise? What kinds of
things might a wise person tell us? And,
vexingly, if the lessons they share with us
were drawn from their lives, will it really
be possible to apply them to our own?
Most of us know the refrain "You don't
know what it's like!" with which ado-
lescents distance themselves from their
0 parents. There's a part of me that worries
that, in fact, those around us don't know
what it's like to be us, here, now.
One of the main themes of the speech-
es will be our pending entry into the "real
world." The speaker's wisdom is, one sup-
poses, that he or she knows something of
this other world that we do not. If that is
what makes them worth hearing, perhaps
we should be worried about our futures.
In one of the saddest moments in our
country's history, shortly after the death
of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Rohert Kennedy spoke to a disconsolate
Indiana crowd ahout the kind of nation
we are and where we might want to go.
His own difficult life was very much on
his mind.
In his brief remarks, Kennedy quoted
Aeschylus's "Agamemnon," one of the
first books I read in college. The line he
chose said that wisdom comes through
suffering: "Even in our sleep, pain which
cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the
heart until, in our own despair, against
our will, comes wisdom through the

awful grace of God."
There's a whole genre, call it the Great
American Novel, that tells stories of men
- the ones about men seem to win more
prizes - who wake up in the morning and
realize they've done it all wrong. This is
the Aeschylus kind of wisdom - pain-
ful knowledge, slowly accumulated, that
leaks from regret-filled people.
Stories like these are popular, and that
should give us pause. Do most people
wake up one morning certain that the
preceding 25 years were a waste? Are we
on track to do the same? Advice will come
our waybecause our elders hope that wis-
dom can be transferred, less painfully, to
those who will listen.
Listen to people
who were once
in our shoes.
At Kenyon College in 2005, author
David Foster Wallace told graduating
seniors that a liheral education gives con-
trol over "howand whatyouthink."Incthe
real world, where the way one sees what
happens is the product of patterns that
"you gradually slip into, day after day, get-
ting more and more selective about what
you see and how you measure value with-
out everbeing fully aware that that's what
you're doing," control over what and how
one thinks is a kn of freedom.
Being trained in thought means that if
we put in the time, we can figure out what
it i we're trying to achieve. Itngives us the
chance to understand what's pushing us
to chase our goal. The choices we make
now will set the course of our lives more
than many others - it would be prudent,
maybe even wise, to make such choices
conscious of our reasons.
Choose to think about why you want
the things you are pursuing. Use your
freedom to examine your motivations. Do
your due diligence - know the costs of
whatcyou hope to achieve and weighethem
carefully. Then move forward, confident
in the knowledge that if someday in the
middle ofyourlife you,like Dantewake to
find yourself in dark woods you'll at least
know why you're there. Self-knowledge,
kept, is a sure bulwark against regret.
- Seth Soderborg can be reached at
sethns@umich.edu. Follow him on twitter at
@thedailyseth.

met this guy who liked to talk
about infinity. He was tall, healthy,
6 foot 2, and he
thought about things 4
- a lot. Everything ,
was a question; noth-
ing could be solved.
Well, unless he pro-
posed the ideas. We
must talk about life,
he said. Liberty. The MELANIE
Pursuit of Happy- KRUVELIS
ness and other Will
Smith movies. "Don't
you realize we're all infinite?" he yelled,
sloshing beer all over my shoes. A real
prophetic Buzzed Lightyear.
And the strangest thing - well,
besides the fact that I was awake at 5
a.m. in Valencia, Spain, watching the
entire city burn alive for a festival that
celebrates man's right to ignite - was
that I didn't hate him. This man of the-
ory and meaning and all those terrible
things - this man was not hated. In the
72 hours I spent in his normally nause-
ating, pseudo-intellectual presence, I
never considering grabbing that hemp
necklace around his neck and strangling
him until there was no tomorrow. Au
contraire. I fell in love. And I fell hard.
I promise, this is not a love story. Nor
is this a poorly written Carrie Bradshaw
rant about how great sex is in Europe -
after all, as an empiricist I couldn't make
such a claim in good consciousness. No,
the subject matter of this poorly writ-
ten rant is CouchSurfing. And why this
website made me stop brushing my hair
and start believing in humanity.
My lover's name was Miguel, by the
way. Or, more precisely, Miguel was the
name of my feigning prophet lover. But
he wasn't the only inamorato I made
that weekend. There was the girl with
the dolphin laugh. The girl with the

dragon tattoos. The feisty blonde Ger-
man who was last seen looking for her
pants. And the kind of smelly Italian kid
who was never ten centimeters away
from a bottle of hair gel. In just a matter
of hours, this free floor to crash on, this
free shower to neglect to use and these
people - these strange, wonderful,
shiny happy freaky people - became to
me what peanut butter is to jelly. Which
is to say, a sandwich.
Before Igo off and grabmy cake of rain-
bows and smiles from the oven, I'd like to
address your concerns about CouchSurf-
ing, because I have a hunch that no mat-
ter how much weed you're smoking right
now, you must be wondering how much
weed I was smoking when I signed up for
this freak show. The answer is a lot but
that's really not the point. CouchSurfing
is an online community where members
can create profiles to either host guests
or find a couch to drool on for a couple
of nights - for free. And yes, of course,
Mom, the site is teeming with thieves,
axe murderers and Ponzi schemers.After
all, with more than a million users and
reviews in The New York Times, Time
magazine and now the world-renowned
Michigan Daily, we can only presume
that the Hitlers of the world congregate
here to do bad things to weird people.
But in all seriousness, we all know
that the neo-Nazis aren't really good
with computers, and if you just use a bit
of common sense, it's not hard to be a
safe surfer. For instance, do you request
to surf with a 35-year-old man who,
accordingto his profile, only has a couch
for blonde women between the ages of 18
and 22 with bra sizes between 34C and
38DD? Perhaps. But if you'd rather not
wake toa large man friend smelling your
hair, pick the vegetarian. The vegan.
The macrobiotic tree bark eater. Anyone
who describes themselves as looking for

their place in the universe. These are the
people you want. These are the people
who will make you breakfast (tree bark
tea with a side of stick), who will give you
space, tell you whatto do and where to go
- probably somewhere with trees.
But sometimes, you decide to stay
CouchSurfers
look for new
people and new
things.
with the guy who "likes to party" and
doesn't own any yoga mats. And that's
okay too. Because maybe you'll end up
sleeping on the floor with ten other
surfers. Ten other Brits. Californians.
Swedes that are far too attractive to
even be in the same room as you. Ten
other nomads who just want to figure
out how to see everything with the ten
bucks they've got. You wouldn't think
something as trivial as frugality would
bring people together, but after our first
meal together, well, we kind of became
inseparable, this non-functional unit
of sorts. I guess that's called a family.
It was more than just people looking
to drop their crap off in some random
dude's apartment while they go get
hammered in a new city. They were
looking for new people and new things.
And that's the story of how traveling
can change and should change. Ad infi-
nitum.
- Melanie Kruvelis can be reached at
melkruv@umich.edu.

FRANK QUINONES AND LENA CINTRON I
Fighting to win, and not afraid to lead

CAROLINE SYMS|
Oh the places you'ii go

The Defend Affirmative Action Party
stands for restoring affirmative action,
defending and expanding public educa-
tion and fighting for the DREAM Act and
in-state tuition for undocumented stu-
dents. We are the longest-standing party
on campus and we have proven in action
that we have a strategy to win - building
an independent, student-led movement
and leading by example through direct
action.
We are the only party prepared to hold
the University accountable for abandon-
ing its defense of affirmative action,
refusing to lead the fight to increase
public funding for education, becoming
more the creature of its corporate donors
and less a place that stands for academic
freedom.
Student-led struggles have made the
University a standard-bearer for inte-
gration and equality. When affirmative
action came under attack in Michigan
in Grutter v. Bollinger, we as the student
interveners led the fight to defend affir-
mative action as co-defendants with the
University. In 2003, DAAP led the cam-
pus and the nation in mobilizing 50,000
students to march at the Supreme Court
as the arguments were heard in the Uni-
versity affirmative action cases. That
mobilization won a historic victory
upholding affirmative action.
The challenges we face and the oppor-
tunities we have now stem from the con-
tradictions coming out of the Grutter

case and the increasing conflict between
the two poles of leadership in the fight
for affirmative action: the student move-
ment and the University administration.
The University's defense of affirma-
tive action was based on their First
Amendment rights to create a diverse
student body, rather than the rights
of minority students to obtain equal-
ity. This emphasis on the power and the
rights of the University has created a
climate in which minority students are
made to feel dependent on the adminis-
tration to defend their right to be on cam-
pus. Now, the University has abandoned
its defense of affirmative action both by
refusing to express public support for
the legal effort to overturn Prop 2 and
restore affirmative action, and by allow-
ing minority enrollment to drop precipi-
tously. It is becoming increasingly clear
that we cannot depend on the University,
and we mustbuild an independent move-
ment in order to win now.
The University's abandonment of this
fight is tied up with its increased privati-
zation. Anticipating defeat in the Grutter
case, the University raised large sums of
private money to use for minority schol-
arships in order to mitigate the effects of
the loss of public scholarships. Through
this process, the University has become
the most privatized public university in
the nation. Those private donors, who
are now calling all the shots, are no lon-
ger interested in maintaining affirmative

action because they are trying to lower
living standards and want to bury issues
of racism and inequality. This privatiza-
tion has caused an erosion of academic
freedom and has distorted the mission of
the University. The only way to restore
the public character of the University
now is to win a definitive victory for
affirmative action.
Students who want to defend affir-
mative action and public education now
must turn to the power of the student
body. We need student leaders who are
prepared to speak the truth about rac-
ism. Thevastmajorityofstudents oppose
racism and want an integrated campus,
but if we don't speak up, we allow the
small number of blatantly racist people
to determine the climate on campus. The
burden of speaking out against racism
cannot be placed solely on the shoulders
of minority students.
We want a University where everyone
can develop to their greatest potential,
where research is driven by the needs
of humanity, not profit, and where our
dreams are not crushed and our talents
are not squandered.
We are not just asking for your vote;
we are calling on you to act and join the
new civil rights movement.
FrankQuinones is DAAP Social
Work candidate for CSG representative
and Lena Cintron is DAAP LSA
candidate for CSG representative.

In referencing Dr. Seuss's light-
hearted children's story, "Oh, the Places
You'll Go!," a meaningful message about
the importance of seizing new opportu-
nities, keeping an open-mind, and try-
ing new things stands out. I've learned
that life is certainly one huge adventure,
jam-packed with unexpected twists and
turns. The excitement, adventure and
craziness of these experiences, how-
ever, make life special and create long
lasting memories.
This underlying message about tak-
ing chances and pushing beyond your
comfort zone has inspired me to take
advantage of the country I live in by
experiencing the United States' unique
culture and distinguishing geographi-
cal features. There's so much waiting
at your fingertips, so adventure beyond
the borders of Michigan this summer
and broaden your horizons. As college
students, we're young, full of energy
and passion, and we possess a strong
sense of adventure. Be responsible,
make good choices, but most of all,
have fun while you explore and dis-
cover the hidden gems in the Land of
the Free.
Once you get behind the wheel or
find your seat 14C on the airplane, the
adventure begins. Whether you're head-
ed north, east, south or west, you'll be
exposed to new scenery, authentic cui-
sine and diverse lifestyles. To kick-start
your tour of the United States, there a
few destinations that should receive top
priority on the travel list:
""I left myheart in San Francisco."
Get a taste of the laid-back West Coast
atmosphere by visiting San Francisco,
home of the Golden Gate Bridge and
Fisherman's Wharf. "San Fran" is a
popular tourist destination filled with
California sunshine, high spirits and
wonderful adventure. Take a tour of
Alcatraz and see the prison cells that
the Anglin brothers and Frank Mor-
ris busted out of nearly 50 years ago.
Spend some time at Pier 39 to see hun-
* dreds of enormous sea lions barking and
lounging all day long. Walking along
the Golden Gate Bridge - the ultimate

symbol of the city - is a must. Take lots
of pictures so you can look back on this
experience ten years from now.
*"It's up to.you, New York, New
York." If you've never been to the "city
that never sleeps," the glamorous lights
of Broadway await you, so prepare to
submerge yourself in a hectic city that
bustles around the clock. From the mon-
umental Statue of Liberty to the famous
American Museum of Natural History,
New York City is a magical place filled
with plenty of energy and entertain-
ment. There's quite a lot of culture to
explore in this chaotic yet one-of-a kind
East Coast hot spot.
""Welcome To D.C." Visiting our
nation's capital, though a less leisurely
and more educational trip, will be a
rewarding and enriching experience.
Take a stroll through The National Mall
and touch the Washington Monument,
one of the classic symbols of American
government. Spend hours at the Smith-
sonian museums where you can explore
American history, wildlife or aeronau-
tic exhibits. While you're out and about
sightseeing, be sure to snap photos by
the White House, the U.S. Capitol and
the Lincoln Memorial.
If you're adventurous enough to
think outside the box even further,
experience America's natural beauty by
visiting the Grand Canyon or immerse
yourself in American pop culture while
dancing at a live country music "honky-
tonk" in Nashville.
There really are no limits or bound-
aries. It's important to take advantage
of all the opportunities that allow us
to experience things we wouldn't nor-
mally be exposed to on a daily basis.
Gaining a rich and diverse cultural
understanding and appreciation of our
country can go a long way, so these des-
tinations across the United States mark
the beginning of your traveling expedi-
tions. An open mind can get you all the
way to San Francisco.
Caroline Syms is an LSA sophomore

ALLISON SHERMANI
Support LSA-SG's new constitution

While Thomas Jefferson may not
have been at the Constitutional Con-
vention in 1787, he believed that the
document should be rewritten every 19
years. While the U.S. Constitution has
prevailed for more than 220 years, LSA
Student Government's Constitution,
written in 1993, has reached its 19th
birthday. LSA-SG's founders created a
strong foundation for our organization,
but a lot has changed since then, nearly
two decades later. This semester, LSA-
SG decided to amend their constitu-
tion. The amendment process happens
by and for the students, and in order
to adopt the new constitution, LSA-SG
needs the approval of the majority of
student voters in the winter election.
LSA-SG has made tremendous devel-
opments over the years, and we have
decided to update our constitution
accordingly. While these changes serve
to benefit our organization, the moti-
vation behind making them is student
driven: we want to reach out to each indi-
vidual, and the revised constitution lays
the foundations to do so.
One of the largest changes is to our
mission statement. Old and dated, the
original was long, repetitive and ambig-

uous. Collectively, we agreed to make it
more succinct, focusingon ourone, main
purpose: "LSA Student Government
shall be the democratic government
representing the entire Student Body
of the College of Literature, Science
and the Arts. The Government shall
actively seek the voices of LSA students
and advocate their interests to improve
academic and non-academic life." We
wanted to guarantee that our statement
became short, simple and translatable
by every student in the college, and we
truly believe that we have succeeded in
doing so. Our responsibility as a student
government is to serve the students in
whatever way possible. It's important
for LSA students to know that not only
do we speak up to administrators, we
are a resource to improve the college
in a multitude of realms. We want to
interact more with student organiza-
tions and different parts of campus. We
are able to do this by awarding students
money for events and simply listening to
students' desires.
Additional changes include elimi-
nating the LSA Judiciary - which has
not been represented in LSA-SG for
more than four years - and expand-

ing legal disputes through the Central
Student Judiciary. Also, many terms,
government positions and actions were
phrased in a confusing manner. The
new constitution is streamlined, orga-
nized and clearly defines these posi-
tions and procedures.
Members of LSA-SG approved the new
constitution on Feb. 22 during our gener-
al meeting. During the All-Campus elec-
tions on March 21 and 22, we encourage
LSA students to approve updates to our
constitution. In addition, drafts of the
improved constitution are available on
the LSA-SG website (www.lsasg.umich.
edu) for LSA students to review. We
want you to know that these changes do
not just benefit our organization but will
improve the LSA community as a whole.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "Democra-
cywill cease to existwhenyou take away
from those who are willing to work." Let
us work for you to improve the College of
Literature, Science and the Arts. Please
take the time to support the amended
constitution and other LSA-SG projects
by voting in the winter elections.
Allison Sherman is a member of LSA
SG Counsel and is an LSA junior.

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