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September 05, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-05

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4A - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
_f Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Present-day prejudice
Recent'severe incidents act as sobering reminders
Z achary Tennen, a sophomore at Michigan State Univer-
sity, was brutally attacked at an off-campus party on
Saturday. According to Tennen, two men approached
him and asked if he was Jewish. He answered that he was, and
then was brutally beaten. It's discouraging that in 2012, Ten-
nen may have been targeted because of his religious beliefs or
cultural background. Our communities - especially universi-
ties - need to take steps to ensure the accuracy of Tennen's
claims and prevent similar hate crimes.

Cynicism isn't the answer

Its only a matter of time before
the frenzy of classes, clubs and
extracurriculars picks up. How-
ever, no mat-
ter how hectic
college life is,
it's essential to
remember that
this fall is also
a crucial time
for the political
and economic
future of our HARSHA.
country. NAHATA
This year,
we are return-
ing to campus in the midst of a
much-heated presidential cam-
paign, and a closely contested
election that will have huge impli-
cations on everything from health
care to education.
A quick glance at the news makes
it hard to ignore the fast-approach-
ing election between President
Barack Obama and Republican
Presidential nominee Mitt Rom-
ney. News channels, papers and
radio stations are covering the
campaigns incessantly. whether
it's debates on policy issues, can-
didates' speeches or nominating
conventions, the election will be
the big news story until November.
We have access to overwhelming
amounts of information - aboutthe
candidates, their positions, their
personal lives and their records.
This knowledge is indispensable.
It's necessary that we have all the
facts to make well-informed deci-
sions at the voting booths.
But with the nonstop news cycle
we're also getting a lot of political
rhetoric. As the election becomes
closer, campaigns are stepping it up.
We're seeing an increase in negative
attack ads and campaign rhetoric.
For those inbattleground states, The

Washington Post warned in a Sept.
2 article, "the worst is yet to come."
Candidates and other interested
parties are set to unravel upwards
of $3 billion in advertising over the
next three weeks alone.
Endless rhetoric is taking its
toll. With special interests pulling
out all the stops to sway the media
cycle and candidates in different
directions, it's hard to discern facts
from campaign chatter. It's even
harder to determine what the can-
didates actually stand for, and who
their influences are. It's difficult
to know what information to trust
and where to look for true assess-
ments of policies and issues.
In turn, this is leading more
and more people to become disil-
lusioned with America's political
process. According to recent Gal-
lup- polls, Congressional approval
reached an all-time low in August.
Only 10 percent of Americans
approved, the lowest percentage in
38 years. In fact, more Americans
approve of the IRS and Paris Hilton
than of Congress.
Why wouldn't people be cyni-
cal? There's a lot wrong now and
a lot that's frustrating - from a
slow economy to a deteriorating
public education system to a grow-
ing income gap. People's patience
is waning and it's only natural to
become frustrated. Everywhere
we look, it seems as though there
is an overflow of problems and not
enough solutions.
The fluffed up campaign talk
coming from both sides doesn't
help. Political Action Commit-
tees, super PACS, corporations and
interest groups are pouring more
money into this election than ever
before, making it difficult to trust
what candidates are saying. The
inefficiencies of Congress com-

bined with the back-and-forth
attacks add to citizens' frustration.
In the past week alone, I've heard
many people comment on how
upsetting it is to follow the election
and how the widespread partisan-
ship disillusions them from the
won't be the
path to change.


entire process.
But, in atime like this - where so
much is at stake - it's more impor-
tant than ever not to become cyni-
cal. Yesterday, -I was sitting in a
public policy class when Professor
Yazier Henry said something that
really struck a chord. "Cynicism is
a privilege in my opinion. It allows
us to shirk our responsibilities as
leaders." It's easy to be cynical, to
complain about problems or to sim-
ply live with them.
Pessimism won't change any-
thing and doesn't stand in for
action. And if there is a time for
action, it is now. It's during times
that things seem exceptionally bad
or frustrating that it's most neces-
sary to be engaged.
So even though it's going to be
a frustrating election season, and
even though some of the rhetoric
will make you want to pull your
hair out, cynicism and apathy are
stopgaps. Because now more than
ever, it's necessary that we - espe-
cially as college students - are
engaged and active.
- Harsha Nahata can.be
reached at hnahata@umich.edu.

Tennen claims that the two male students
raised an arm in a "Heil Hitler" salute before
attacking him. He was knocked unconscious,
left with a broken jaw and a stapled-shut
mouth. While there were several witness-
es, no one called for help at the time. After
Tennen regained consciousness, he called
himself a taxi to take him to the hospital.
Currently police are not investigating the act
as a hate crime.
Though the University touts its diversity,
it would be naive to think societal tensions
don't still exist. An attack such as the one at
MSU could happen in Ann Arbor. This kind
of sweeping declaration is easy to say, but
much harder to enact. Such an implementa-
tion involves a strong administrative influ-
ence and openness from the student body.
Honest, open dialogue is the only way to
address xenophobia.
Prejudice does not only exist in action, but
also in a lack of action. It is a lazy tendency
to push responsibilities onto others, like the
bystanders at MSU. In a group situation, many
people assume teat someone else will help or

be the person to call 911. But, unfortunately
in Tennen's case, someone else didn't take
responsibility. Interfering when someone is in
need is a basic objective of communities.
When the police remove the "hate crime"
label, they challenge the definition of hate
crimes in this country. Recent events such as
the deathly attack on a Sikh temple in Wiscon-
sin or the burning of a mosque in Tennessee
are only a sobering reminder of when preju-
dice turns to extremism. The actions against
Tennen are obviously aggressive and targeted
at a subset of the American population that
shares a common religion or culture. Any such
action should be labeled as a hate crime.
Though it is difficult to admit,,hate crimes
and racism still exist in our nation. It's despi-
cable that a crime against a Jewish student
could occur at a major university, and col-
leges across the nation should step up their
tolerance programs and awareness. If stu-
dents are encouraged to accept those differ-
ent from themselves as young adults, they
will carrythese values with them for the rest
of their lives.

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
Kaan Avdan, Eli Cahan, Ashley GriesshamMer, Nirbhay Jain, Jesse Klein,
Patrick Maillet, Harsha Nahata, Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski,
Sarah Skaluba, Caroline Syms, Andrew Weiner
The student housing gap


Coming out feminist


"Expect Respect" and "Allyhood" are mot-
tos of social justice often spoken of at the
University. Our haven of Ann Arbor is far
from the malevolence of selfish, small-town
suburbia (five minutes away) or the sprawl-
ing urban cityscape of Detroit (45 minutes to
the east). We indoctrinate our newly arrived
freshmen with orientation leaders enrobed
with slogans, our faculty with trainings, and
returning students with free t-shirts and
endless chalk. There are programs like Inter-
group Relations that teach about privilege
and oppression. There is the Growing Allies
retreat. And there are people like me.
Free resources are everywhere. They're
better than the free pizza during Welcome
Week and mass meetings, but they are unde-
rutilized and oftentimes ignored. And it's
obvious. People are not sly about hiding their
"Dude, but you're gay. Do you even like
women that much?"
"You're a man, just go with it."
Their comments shocked me. Our haven is
infiltrated, or rather populated, by some who
just go through the motions of college. These
two statements were made by "friends" when
I came out to them - as a feminist. Though
not much of a closeted affair, as I tend to wear
my feelings on my sleeve - oftentimes liter-
I'll admit two things: I am gay, and I love
women. Perhaps I don't want to sleep with
them, but I do support them. One evening
while at nightly activities with incoming
freshmen at orientation, a few of the students
proclaimed quite loudly,- "What SLUTS,"
to a group of students that walked by on a
Wednesday night. That's a problem.
Before we come to college, we're well
versed in our high school culture, which-
is mixed with our family and community
lives. People who show more skin, people
who enjoy more sex, people who party on a
Wednesday night are stigmatized. What we
sometimes forget is that we, at some point in
our lives, will either be that person or know
that person. However, our connection to the

subject in question shouldn't dictate what we
say about others. I talked to the students to
not only discuss why they said those things
but also to start educating them on how life
is different on campus. Saying something is
always the first step.
I also identify as a cisgendered man -
someone whose gender identity matches the
sex they were born with. After growing up
and watching movies about men that can be
anything they want - professor, astronaut,
assassin - my ambitions skyrocketed (we're
the leaders and best, right?). After having
many opportunities come my way, I am well
accustomed to succeeding in most things I
do. However, I don't want to be the only one
who can get job offers, be paid reasonably,'or
be able to walk confidently around by myself
at night. So why would I just go along when
this patriarchal system works? Sure, I ben-
efit, but I want all genders to benefit, too. I
want them to be able to wear what they want,
act how they want and say what they want.
Walking around campus, going to a club or
working in a classroom with women will con-
vince the men reading this that society does
think it's too hard of a request. I'd hate to be
yelled at from cars, grabbed in a room full of
strangers, or thought to be less intelligent
just because of my identity. Once I realized
there was a problem, I started to act.
As a feminist, I don't want to destroy soci-
ety. It doesn't mean I yell at every assumed
man on the street. It doesn't mean not shav-
ing. Or it does. Feminists come in every
shape, size and identity.
For me it's more than the fact that I know
women. They account for half of our student
population. It's when I realize that there are.
people who denythe fact that a white woman
makes seventy-seven cents to every dollar a
white man makes, that one in four college-
aged women are sexually assaulted, and that
women make up about seventeen percent of
the House of Representatives. Iam a feminist
to educate, to liberate and to enact change.
Taylor Portela is an LSA junior.

I spent the entirety of my summer in a veritable pig-
sty. After four months of living in an apartment with a
roach problem, an ant infestation and a general lack of
cleanliness, I'm nearing the end of my patience with
student housing. As new Zaragon copycat apartments
appear, the state of living options for-those without the
$1,200-plus-a-month allowance seems to disappear.
It's almost as if landlords have given up - why pre-
tend your crappy building is a four-star, amenity-rich
opportunity when you can just throw up a dilapidated
sign offering "$600 a month!"?
I'm not expecting luxury here - we're college kids.
We're supposed to live off of mac and cheese, take cold
showers and learn how to avoid that creaky stair when
we're sneaking a "friend" in at 3 a.m. I can even live
with a basement laundry room that recalls bad child-
hood nightmares of "The Shining." I can't, however,
justify an entire complex without locks on windows
that lead straight into bedrooms from fire escapes.
I can't explain away broken glass, shattered lights or
trash scattered in hallways. With only days left on my
lease, I can't imagine living here one day longer.
The question I've been struggling with all summer
is simple: where is the in-between? Why is there such a
large disparity between decent living and housingthat
may rival the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in? I don't
need my apartment furnished by Three Chairs Co.,
with a rooftop grill and hot tub or granite counter tops
- all of which are boasted by Landmark. I'm simply
asking for a clean living space with reasonable pricing
and responsible landlords.
The entirp process of finding housing would benefit
from renovation. Right now, finding housing is a mat-
ter of knowing the right people, namely, those with
the nicest houses and locations and hoping they'll set
you up with the landlord. It's 5 a.m. lease signings
after nights spent in line, hoping that you'll be the
first to glide your pen across the paper that will prob-
ably still only entitle you to coin laundry and leaky
ceilings. I spoke with a rental manager at what would
be considered a more sought out apartment complex
in town - though mainly inhabited by grad students
- and she expressed a similar frustration. The apart-

ments she manages failed inspection the first time
for all requirements. Things like "pin locks installed
on double hung windows that are readily accessible"
and "...light fixtures function properly and free of
damage" are listed on the Ann Arbor "Rental Hous-
ing Pre-Inspection Checklist" she had to pass. Yet my
building is in clear violation of six, by my last count.
Hers? Failed.
Even dorms are restricting access to their rooms
- as the University accepts a larger pool of incoming
freshman and closes dormitories for renovation, so
shrinks the availability of University sponsored hous-
ing to current students. Capped off by the new student
housing. policy that states that students with fewer
total credit hours have first access to dorms, many have
been left to scour Craigslist advertising, "41 y-o male
looking for two female roommates, must be under 24
to inquire."
This year, I'll be moving into the Courtyards. Yes,
,on North Campus. No, I'm not an engineering student,
nor of the art or architecture schools/I'm just unlucky
in leases and late to the signing game. Yet, the closer I
get to my move-in date, the more accepting-I become
of my exile. There, I'll have neat, tidy rooms and hall-
ways alike, backed by modest pricing and a full-time
staff to aid in the case of a broken faucet or faulty
dryer. I'm far-removed but well kept, a trade-off that
I'm willing to make after four months of questionable
filth and safety.
I'll chalk these past weeks up to a learning experi-
ence - see what happens when you live with three
college age boys in a shady apartment complex? See
how you become indifferent to leaky ceilings, crack-
ing linoleum and mildew stains? I'll appreciate my
new bedroom, rather than resenting its distance from
campus. I'll begin searching for apartments now for a
school year that is still more than 13 months away. I've
learned much, but I still would rather have been taught
a lesson from the comfort of a room without ants on the
floor. I think we all, even those of us without an extra
grand to throw around, deserve that.
Erin Pavacik is an LSA'junior.



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