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4 -,Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

d f
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
TIMOTHY RABB
JOSEPH LICHTERMAN and ADRIENNE ROBERTS ANDREW WEINER
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.
FR IMT H E
*STEM surplus
More emphasis needed on other fields of study
The University boasts one of the strongest engineering
programs in the country: ranked seventh by U.S. News
and World Report in 2012. Last Thursday, the University
received a $2 million dollar grant to support science, technology,
engineering and math students. While the University and country
have great interest in promoting graduates in STEM fields, it's also
necessary to recognize other fields of study that may develop simi-

The deal on Black Friday

Black Friday has both its ori-
gins and its growth in our
consumer-driven culture,
and there's noth-
ing wrong with
that. But we have
to remember that «
our choices as
consumers have h
far-reaching
effects on others.
Over the last
decade, con- JAMES
sumers have BRENNAN
decided that
they don't want
to wait until Thanksgiving is over
to start holiday shopping. This year,
Toys-"R"-Us, Wal-Mart, Sears and
K-Mart will open their doors at 8:00
p.m. on Thursday, while Target will
allow shoppers in at 9:00 p.m.
Sound ridiculous? Well, retail
giants are only able to rip peo-
ple away from their families on
Thanksgiving evening because it
works. This phenomenon is con-
sumer-driven. The problem is not
that the retailers employ this strat-
egy, but that it works. And every
year, it starts earlier and becomes
even busier than before.
Being a flaming anti-consumerist,
it irks me to hear that people will
shop on Thanksgiving before they
even have time to enjoy the inevi-
table food coma. But this column
isn't about the problems I have with
American materialism or conspicu-
ous consumption. What concerns me
most about these insanely early sales
is the effect on retail workers.
With stores opening so early,
employees will barely have time to
wrap up their leftovers before their
shifts begin. Shopping on Thanks-
giving is completely voluntary
- working isn't quite the same. Pro-
tests have already begun regarding
these Miore demanding schedules.

An online petition asking Target,
Wal-Mart and other retailers to
give employees all of Thanksgiving
off has gathered more than 340,000
signatures.
As encouraging as that is, a store
like Wal-Mart doesn't respond to sig-
natures - it responds to money.
People often forget that when they
spend money, they are essentially
voting. Buying a product expresses
your approval of that product, and
buying it from a certain store con-
fers your agreement with that store.
So long as you keep spending money
there, that company will stay in busi-
ness and will generate profit. Wal-
Mart is notorious for mistreating
employees, selling imported goods
and running small businesses out of
town. But people love the low prices,
so they keep the convenience con-
glomerate in business.
Black Friday is the epitome of the
United States' moral failure: Self-
ishness is now a virtue in Ameri-
can society. Ignore the fact that
hundreds of female employees have
filed lawsuits against Wal-Mart
for discrimination. Ignore the fact
that employees all over the country
will have to leave their families on
a national holiday. And ignore the
fact that retail giants rake in bil-
lions in profits but pay their employ-
ees a wage that's barely livable. The
American consumer benefits, so it's
all good.
I'm not trying to rally against
capitalism here. I'm making a point
about work in America. There are
major injustices committed against
our neighbors regularly that we
have the power to stop. Suppose a
few million people who were going
to shop at Wal-Mart on Black Fri-
day refused, as a way of standing in
solidarity with the striking employ-
ees. Their business loss would be
significant. Now imagine that lasts

for months. Wal-Mart would begin
labor negotiations and the problems
of poor working conditions and
low pay could be resolved. As con-
sumers in this system, we hold the
power. It will force us to sacrifice:
Personally, my family is strapped
for cash and we need to stretch
things as far as we can.
Our consumer
choices have
far-reaching
effects.
Regardless, we never have and
never will shop at a Wal-Mart. We
refuse to support a business that
does what they do. It hurts us, but
we make that sacrifice in the hope
of influencing a change.
As consumers, we need to under-
stand what spending our money
means. our purchases will decide
when people work, how much they
get paid and whether or not they
deserve equal treatment because of
their gender.
I propose something very simple:
if you want to help retail workers all
over the country, then don't go shop-
ping at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Send a message to businesses that
they can't do this to their employ-
ees. Go and enjoy the deals if you'd
like, but just remember that at one
point, you'll be at a register looking
into the eyes of a person who had to
leave Thanksgiving dinner early just
to ring you up. Personally, I would
rather stay home, eat some pumpkin
pie and watch more football.
- James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthree@umich.edu.

s

lar. impoTtance or economic relev
The National Science Foundation funds a
grant for a high school to college transition
program aimed at establishing M-STEM
academies at the University for a five-year
period. The University has pledged to expand
its STEM programs to attract a more diverse
group of undergraduates and award more
STEM degrees.
The grant the University received is an
impacting contribution to world-renowned
program in the sciences. STEM fields are a
weak point of American education and cer-
tainly deserves advocates. Post-graduation,
STEM degrees can be highly profitable and
important, while funding provides a resource
of interested high school students.
However, there are many other areas of
study that are essential. The ability to read
critically, write clearly and form effective
arguments will always be necessary skills
for any job. These are skills that are heav-
ily emphasized in liberal arts programs. An
average person will change their career five
to seven times in their lifetime. A liberal arts
program provides the platform necessary to

learn skills that are a necessity to the ever-
changing job market, and can work in con-
junction with other fields.
While the grant for the STEM programs
is enormously beneficial, this emphasis
shouldn't be at the expense of other aca-
demic fields. There should be equal incentive
for high school students to join every field of
study in higher education, as diverse educa-
tional backgrounds makes for more knowl-
edgeable world citizens. With a shift toward
only STEM degrees, the liberal arts and edu-
cation fields could eventually receive less
funding, negatively impacting the students
who choose to study these fields.
Promoting STEM degrees in under-rep-
resented groups should be applauded. The
future of higher education, however, depends
on every discipline taught at the University.
The overall purpose of higher education is to
teach students how to think critically about
the world. We cannot be successful mem-
bers of an ever-changing society unless our
graduates are well-rounded and come from a
series of diverse fields.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata,
Timothy Rabb, Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Gus Turner, Derek Wolfe
JOEL ELSTER 1VE P NT
Tikun olam

'Li.E F T PTLR F
U@The Big Ten So the midwest expands
to the east coast now? The Jersey Shore
is about to have a lot more
farmers tans than fake tans now.
#UofMaryland #Rutgers #Big74?
-@michdailyoped
JESSE KLEINI I -
Give thanks for the'break

0

Last week, I had the opportunity to
attend the Jewish Federations of North
America's General Assembly in Baltimore,
where more than 3,000 Jews from around
North America gathered to discuss the cur-
rent state of Judaism.
The loose theme of the event was Tik-
kun Olam, Hebrew for "repairing the world,"
which is one of the most important tenets of
Judaism. For us, Tikkun Olam means leaving
the world abetter place than you found it.
In one of the opening sessions, I heard
amazing speakers talk about inspiring work
being done by the Jewish community in places
such as Rwanda and Haiti. I heard about how
my community mobilized during Hurricane
Sandy relief. These acts are commendable and
should be praised - but that wasn't why I went
to Baltimore.
I went to Baltimore hoping to discuss how
my Jewish and Israeli identities are struggling
with one another. I went to Baltimore to figure
out how the conflict fits into my Jewish values.
I went to talk about Palestinians.
As a Jew, I feel a strong connection to the
state of Israel. As a liberal and someone who
believes in undeniable, universal equality,
I feel a strong moral imperative to fight for
human rights for everyone, regardless of
which side of a border they live on. Increas-
ingly, I feel that my liberal, Jewish and demo-
cratic beliefs are at odds with the actions of
the state of Israel. Israel occupies Palestinian
land, and with violence on both sides, a peace-
ful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian con-.
flict appears distant.
My desire to process this aspect of my iden-
tity began the first time I met a Palestinian. I
attended a Jewish day school and was brought
up well inside the comforts of a Jewish estab-
lishment. I was taught to always defend Israel
against its enemies and that all criticism of
Israelwasveiled anti-Semitism.Atage 17, Iwas
introduced to a Palestinian. I was prepared to
argue with him, refute all of his points about
Israel and explain to him that Israel was only
acting to protect itself in all situations.
What I wasn't prepared for, however, was
his story. After hearing it, I could no longer
view Israel as perfect and Palestinians as evil
- Isaw both sides fight for the same rights and
values. More importantly, I realized that being
pro-Israel or pro-Palestine views were not

mutually exclusive, but interdependent. I was
met with hostility, however, when I expressed
my views within my community, to the point
that I felt uncomfortable discussing the con-
flict at all.
To me, at its root, the conflict reflects the
struggle for Israel to embody both a Jewish
and democratic character. The choice seems
to lead either to an Israel that pursues Jew-
ish tribalism and occupation, or an Israel that
pursues democratic ideals. When I was in Bal-
timore, only one session dealt with this ten-
sion. One speaker in particular discussed this
tension in a way that appealed to me. Rabbi
Professor Naftali Rothenberg, a deeply devout,
Orthodox Jew, spoke about his.love for Israel
and Judaism. When asked what he would do
if his views on Judaism and.democracy con-
flicted with each other, he gave the answer I
needed to hear. "It is no question, I would give
up a Judaism with no democracy in it. Judaism
without democracy is not a Judaism for me."
I feared questioning and struggling with
my identity would be isolating as I arrived
on campus at the University, but at Festifall,
I found J Street UMich. As the only student
organization on campus actively campaigning
for a comprehensive two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we're working to
hold our democratic values and Jewish iden-
tity together. As the Jews involved in J Street
UMich, we have decided that a concern for the
future of both Israelis and Palestinians rests at
the very center of our work of Tikkun Olam.
This week, while pro-Israel and pro-
Palestine students rallied on the Diag, we
hand-delivered nearly 300 postcards signed
by students calling for American leadership
in the region to help create a two-state solu-
tion. While divisive actions run rampant on
our campus, we seek to be proactive in ensur-
ing safety and security for both Israelis and
Palestinians.
Unfortunately, interesting and nuanced
discussion about our identity as it relates to
today's state of Israel were absent at the assem-
bly. It was unacceptable that only one session
out of dozens dealt with the actual issues fac-
ing Judaism today. Luckily, these discussions
aren't missing on campus - you just need to
know where to find them.
Joel Elster is an LSA junior.

The University prides itself on
having a large out-of-state student
population of 42.6 percent of the
student body. University President
Mary Sue Coleman has expressed
interest in trying to attract even
more out-of-state students to
Ann Arbor. However, the Univer-
sity makes itself unattractive to
these students by not only giving
an incredibly short Thanksgiving
vacation break, but by scheduling
tests the first three days after stu-
dents return to campus.
Breaks should be a time for stu-
dents to recharge, and for many
out-of-state students Thanksgiving
break is the first time they will see
their families in four months. Sched-
uling a test on the Monday, Tuesday
or Wednesday after Thanksgiving
ensures that most students, local or
out-of-state, will spend most of their
break with textbooks and practice
tests instead of their families.
University professors should be
conscientious when they are sched-
uling tests, so hardworking students
can enjoy the few breaks they have.
The University has already
come under criticism for begin-
ning Thanksgiving break at 5 p.m.
the day before Thanksgiving. The
largest proportion of out-of-state
students come from New York or
California, 13.7 percent and 14.1
percent respectively. For these out-
of-state students, the average flight
is between three and six hours long,
decreasing the amount of time spent
with one's family down to 92 hours,
or 3.8 days.
Most students have come to
accept this part of life as a Univer-
sity student, however the organic
chemistry test and physics test

scheduled for the Tuesday and
Thursday cement the fact that these
students will spend their Thanks-
giving stressing over exams. They
will feel guilty when they spend
time with their families instead
of studying. Time not spent at the
Thanksgiving table will be spent
working at their desks.
There are many other tests sched-
uled for the week after Thanks-
giving but physics and organic
chemistry have the distinction as
some of the hardest introductory
courses offered. The averages on an
organic chemistry test usually fall
in the high 50s or low 60s as stated
in the course syllabus. Physics has
similar averages. Organic chemis-
try doesn't even give answers to the
practice tests, in the hope that stu-
dents will work together and learn
as a group.
Organic chemistry professor
Brian Coppola states in his sylla-
bus that the best way to learn is "to
be able to explain your ideas while
you are answering exam questions.
Study together productively. Set up
a group through the Science Learn-
ing Center or just do it on your own.
Our campus is filled with empty
classrooms - take turns going to
the board and teaching each other."
He's right, this is the best way to
learn. However, a campus that is full
of empty classrooms is useless when
students aren't on campus to utilize
them.
Finally, Thanksgiving is not fall
break. It's not supposed to be a time
before midterms for students to
spend hours on end in the library.
This is a national holiday celebrat-
ing a part of our country's history.
It's mandated by the United States

that this day be a vacation for public
schools and government workers.
This public university is funded, at
least in part, by government money.
While the school is following the
government's policy in the literal
sense, it is not doing its justice to
follow the spirit of the holiday. On
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the
University sponsors gatherings
and speeches like Shirley Sherrod's
speech in 2011. These events keep
the meaning of MLK Day alive, but
the University has not done the
same for Thanksgiving, a holiday
that has become synonymous with
family time.
The University wants to increase
the number of out-of-state students,
yet they do very little to make the
University appealing for such stu-
dents - such as insanely expensive
out-of-state tuition rates, limited
vacation time and the inability to
enjoy vacations without the looming
threat of tests. Professors at a large
university already have to combat
the stereotype that they care more
about their research than their stu-
dents, and by scheduling tests at
unattractive times they are rein-
forcing this idea.
Students at the University are
hardworking and care about their
grades, and the fact that they
should have to choose between
their scholarship and their family
time is shameful. Thanksgiving is
a national holiday and professors
are acting in a disrespectful man-
ner by expecting students to forgo
their holiday traditions to either
stay on campus engross themselves
in silent study.
Jesse Klein is LSA sophomore

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