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April 11, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-04-11

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4A - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Q be Midiigan &taUl

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


While this presidential race is over for me - and we
will suspend our campaign effective today - we're
not done fighting:'
- Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said yesterday
in Gettysburg, Pa. as he suspended his presidential campaign.
The Bible and'Hunger Games'

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.
Stressing over schedules
The University must update Wolverine Access
T he University has a wide array of computer-based offerings,
from informatics and computer science in LSA to comput-
er engineering in the School of Engineering. These majors
instruct students to speak and code the language of computers, a skill
that's highly sought after in the current job market. Complex comput-
er skills, however, shouldn't be necessary when registering for classes
prior to each semester. Unfortunately for the majority of students,
the stress of selecting classes is multiplied by the complexity of Wol-
verine Access. The University should streamline and modernize its
entire course guide and registration process by remodeling Wolverine
Access to save students time and trouble.

few weeks ago, "The Hunger
Games" movie was released,
based on the book with

the same name
by Suzanne
Collins. The
movie and book
describe a dys-
topian country
where a tyran-
nical govern-
ment subjects
its surround-
ing districts to
an annual tele-
vised battle to


In early April, those returning to the Uni-
versity for the fall semester began registration
after having added potential courses to their
"backpack." Wolverine Access and schools'
individual course listings are housed on sepa-
rate websites. Students browse courses, and
then add them individually to their backpack
for registration at an appointment time that's
determined based on total credit hours.
The current system is an apparent relic of
the early days of the Internet. The separation
of course listings from Wolverine Access pro-
vides a needless complication to the scheduling
process. Instead of simply clicking on a class
to backpack it, the course number must be
entered into Wolverine Access and confirmed.
Besides creating frivolous steps in an already
frustrating process, the separation misses
opportunities to help students select the best
schedule available.
There would be numerous advantages to
combining the two systems. The course guide
should take into account previously complet-
ed courses along with courses in a student's
backpack. A smarter course guide could flag
these previously taken or already backpacked
courses, so students can pass over them more
easily. Even more useful, it could flag courses
that don't conflict with previously backpacked
classes. This way, students could first add
courses with the least flexibility due to require-
ments or classes only offered on one occasion.
Then, when browsing, there will be less time

wasted looking at classes that coincide with
courses that students want to take more.
If the two were combined, students could
potentially use advanced searching tools to
more easily select classes. Advanced course
searches should take several factors into
account: students' graduation requirements,
previously completed courses and scheduling
conflicts. More specific searches would expert-
ly narrow down the overwhelming selection,
and translate which courses are especially per-
tinent to completing a concentration.
Individual aspects of Wolverine Access and
course guides should also become more user-
friendly. Wolverine Access currently only
displays a "calendar view" of classes upon reg-
istration, instead of logically during backpack-
ing as well. In the course guide, sections of the
same level courses sometimes are totally dif-
ferent classes. Separating these further would
lead to less confusion and greater interest in
each class. Simple measures like these may
seem frivolous, but peeling back each unneces-
sary layer of complication will lead to a more
efficient process.
With finals on the horizon, registration
occurs during an already stressful time for
students. Picking courses is an important deci-
sion and should be done carefully. The system
in place, however, detracts from the end goal.
The University has the meansto simplify it and
help students more efficiently select the best
schedule possible.

the death using kids from those
districts as contestants. Another
recent event was Easter, which
was celebrated last Sunday and is a
holiday where Christians of many
denominations celebrate the resur-
rection of their savior Jesus Christ.
These two events may appear to
have little in common, but, after
some reflection, I believe that
Collins' message in "The Hun-
ger Games" and some of Jesus'
teachings complement each other.
Though I'm a nonbeliever, I'd like
to think that I live life with values
that adhere to some Biblical teach-
ings, even if I don't do so because
of religious doctrine. And, because
the messages from the two books
have some parallels, "The Hunger
Games" resonated with me like
very few books had before. Let's
take a look at how Collins and Jesus
work together.
Any reasonable reading of the
Bible reveals that God and Jesus
repeatedly call for society to take
care of its poorest members (note:
the GOP seems to skip all these
parts). One example: Deuteronomy
15:7. "If there is a poor man among
you ... you shall not harden your
heart ... but you shall freely open
your hand to him and generously
lend him sufficient for his need in

whatever he lacks." In fact, God
sometimes condemns the rich, as
in Luke 6:24, "But woe to you who
are rich, for you are receiving your
comfort in full."
In "The Hunger Games," we get
to examine a society where the
richest and most powerful people
are selfish, arrogant and unwilling
to help those who have the least.
One look at the pretentiousness and
excess of the Capitol makes us sick
because we see the rest of Panem
struggling to make ends meet.oWe
react viscerally to the Capitol's
fundamentally wrong relationship
with its districts. If the people in
the Capitol followed Jesus' instruc-
tions to take care of the less for-
tunate in Panem, the country's
citizens would be undeniably better
So, both books advocate for soci-
ety taking care of those with the
least. And with that point in mind,
let's go a little further - you could
reasonably expect that Jesus would
agree with this slight extrapola-
tion of his message: We should be
sensitive to the suffering of others.
After all, how are the powerful sup-
posed to help the weak if they don't
sympathize with the plight of those
barely scraping by?
Collins conveys this message
powerfully with her depiction of
"The Hunger Games." When we
hear Capitol officials utter the now-
infamous phrase "May the odds
be ever in your favor," we realize
that the brutal deaths of innocent
kids are a game to them. The gar-
ish appearances of Capitol residents
during the Games compared to the
modest dress of Panem citizens fur-
ther illustrate the disconnectedness
of the Capitol. But the insensitivity
to suffering would be tolerable if it
existed only in fiction - Collins is
actually taking a shot at us.
The United States is a country

where wars are increasingly fought
by a small portion of the population
that is quite detached from the rest
of the citizenry, and some statistics
show that many who join the mili-
tary are economically disadvan-
taged - they enlist because they
feel it's their only ticket to a better
life. In this way, citizens "use" the
less fortunate to fight their wars
while they get to stay home without
In both, the rich
are unwilling to
help the poor.
making any sacrifices. And, because
the wars are mostly being fought
overseas and because of the devel-
opment of the 24-hour news cycle,
Americans are largely oblivious or
numb to the burdens shouldered
for us by soldiers and their families.
This callous Capitol-like country
is one that Jesus would certainly
As you celebrate Easter and go
crazy for "The Hunger Games,"
take a moment to reflect on the
teachings of Jesus and warnings
from Suzanne Collins. Pope John
Paul II once said: "A society will be
judged on the basis of how it treats
its weakest members." As soon-to-
be Michigan alumni, many of us
will eventually be powerful people.
We'll have the responsibility of pro-
viding for the less fortunate. And,
regardless of political or religious
affiliation, this responsibility is one
that we should take seriously. Let's
live up to it.
-Dar-Wei Chen can be reached at
chendw@umich.edu. Follow him on

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
Question everything

Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the debate.
Check out @michdailyoped to get updates on Daily opinion content throughout the day.
Why go through the motions?

When it comes to the Middle East, question
everything. Question quarter sheets handed
to you on the Diag, question "facts," question
sources, question motives, question opportu-
nities - especially missed opportunities like
Palestine Awareness Week, which had such
amazing potential to share the rich culture of
a people too often ignored. Question how the
chance to share the traditions, not the trag-
edies, of a people so frequently used as pawns
was spoiled by turning it into a page out of the
anti-Zionist playbook; how the rare occasion
to get people to acknowledge the humanity of
the Palestinian people, not the sheer numbers,
was thrown away by talking about "occupa-
tion" on Palestinian Cultural Day. That dis-
course propagates the belief that Palestinian
culture is defined by its opposition to Israelis,
not by its history or traditions. Question how
an organization whose mission is to "bring
equality to all peoples" hands out FAQs that
use the words "Israel, Israeli, Jewish," or
'fZionist" 13 times, but "Palestine" or "Pales-
tinian" only 10 times. It uses the language of
"killed, forced, and demolished," as opposed
to talking about life, accomplishments, and
hope. Question the obsession with victimiza-
tion and hate.
Question single-mindedness. Question the
sincerity of a student organization whose
members claim to be "rights activists" with
a "moral obligation," but is so narrow in its
focus to only talk about financially destroying
Israel as the means to achieve peace. Question
a movement that in February, even the most
ardent of anti-Zionists called a cult. Ques-
tion the genuineness of MichiganBDS and its
inflammatory, inaccurate claims.
Question conversations without dialogue.

Question people who espouse rhetoric and
consistently fail to listen. Question one-liners,
buzz words and irrational claims. Question
the blame game, and those who try to make
their side out to be the greater victim. In the
end, the real victims on campus are those who
fail to challenge what they hear.
Question how educated people on this cam-
pus can be so vehemently against - or pas-
sionate about - the state of Israel. Ask them
why they feel the way that they do - and
understand the emotions inherent in the con-
flict, and the bias that goes with that. Question
how otherwise rational, intelligent people can
be dedicated to a cause so seemingly removed
from Ann Arbor. Question how events, groups
and viewpoints on the issue are suddenly
prominent features of the campus climate.
Question leaders on every level. Question
Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
cries for Israel's destruction. Question why
Mahmoud Abbas - who has taken the most
public steps toward creating a Palestinian
state - has been stalled. Question why Ben-
jamin Netanyahu - and every Israeli leader
since 1948 - has been insistent on maintain-
ing secure borders for the Israeli people.
Question leaders on this campus who claim to
support one cause or another, and hold them
to their word.
Question your peers. Question people fly-
ering or tabling on the Diag. Question me.
Question yourself. Find the truth. Understand
that when it comes to conflict in the Middle
East, there is no single truth. But more than
anything, question those who fail to question
anything at all.
Allison Berman is a Business junior,

My grandmother - a Hungarian Holocaust survi-
vor - passed away on Nov. 18, 2011. Both of my pater-
nal grandparents went through Auschwitz. Growing
up, I was painfully aware that if it weren't for the
unspeakable torment they experienced, I never would
have been born. These stories were a personal family
matter, consequences of a mad history of genocidal
extermination and an ethical lesson that no human
being ought to suffer such atrocities in any place or
My grandmother's struggle, however, was not only
the Holocaust. She was born into a poor family of 10
siblings in rural Hungary, and as an immigrant in the
United States, she raised seven children. My grand-
mother taught me lessons that fueled my progressive
political ethics. Her suffering was not primarily about
Jewish collective memory, but about class oppression
coupled with a specific history of genocide in which
Jews happened tobe the primary victims.
For this reason, last week, on April 2, I was appalled
to see the manner in which American Jews were com-
memorating the Holocaust on the Diag. I have always
felt alienated from the idea of a "Jewish collective
memory of victimization." American Jews should
learn about the Holocaust, but my impression from the
youngest age has been that too many assume this "col-
lective memory" as a badge of their own victimization.
As a grandson of Holocaust survivors, at an early age I
learned that the victims were my grandparents, ances-
tors and father, rather than me as a Jew. Focusing on
Jews' subjection to oppression throughout history flies
in the face of the affluence and racial privilege most
of us American Jews currently enjoy at the expense of
One of the signs at the event displayed the oblivi-
ousness of American Jewish students to this privi-
lege. Dick Cheney shared his supposed wisdom on the
Holocaust: "We are reminded that such immense cru-
elty did not happen in a far-away, uncivilized corner

of the world, but rather in the very heart of the civi-
lized world." I approached the young woman at the
booth and pointed out the racism of dividing the world
into rungs of civilization. As a Latino Jew with South
American heritage, I was all too aware of this natural-
ization of the genocide of black and brown peoples as if
it formed part of a more generalized barbarism.
This dehumanization of non-European peoples is at
the heart of a global racist colonial project which in
turn, is situated in the heart of what Cheney calls "the
civilized world." The ideological barbarism of this
project existed prior to and after the Holocaust, and
even served as a justification for colonial genocides:
Germany almost wiped out the Herero and Namaqua
peoples between 1904 and 1907 in modern-day Namib-
ia, and King Leopold II's slave labor in the Congo
obliterated an enormous portion of the local popula-
tion. Yet the victims of these genocides were black; the
influence of colonialism on Germany's perpetration
of the Holocaust in Europe has not entered into pub-
lic discourse on the matter. The idyllic myth of Ger-
man civilization - one in which Gentile and Jewish
Germans alike participated in the early 20th century
- was blemished from the start. While the director of
Hillel graciously responded with interest to my e-mail
complaint about the sign, students showed consider-
ably less engagement.
For me, there are several questions to think about
when commemorating the Holocaust: Why go through
the motions each year if no new lessons are to be
learned? Why hold fast to a sense of victimization that
flies in the face of socioeconomic and racial realities in
our country and ignore the oppression of others? Why
uphold racism and colonial discourse when speak-
ing of the Holocaust? These are not the lessons that
one Holocaust survivor, my grandmother Adel Stern,
taught me throughout her life.
Ramon Stern is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature.

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