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December 11, 2012 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-12-11

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4 - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

4

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
=w' 420 Msynard 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.
FROM THE DAIUY
n transi
Regional plans should benefit all counties
comprehensive and well-planned transportation system bene-
fits local commuters and increases the efficiency and possibil-
ity of regional transportation. In recent months, policymakers
have worked toward a regional transit system connecting the counties
of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. In theory, this propos-
al could benefit all counties. However, in reality it focuses too much
on rebuilding Detroit and catering transportation to commuters at
the expense of other counties. While revitalizing Detroit should be a
priority for the state, state senators must consider the needs of all the
counties so that the proposed Southeast Michigan Regional Transit
Authority would benefit all involved.

NTAFLEQUOTABLE
The governor of Michigan is one greedy
nerd and he's one weak geek."
- Incoming Michigan Senate Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills)
said about Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
Find value in variety

The Michigan legislaturehasbeenworking
on a bill that would create a regional transit
authority in southeastern Michigan with one
representative from each of the four coun-
ties involved. The new proposal does stipu-
late that a unanimous vote would be required
for all funding or rail projects. As a result,
the Ann Arbor Transit Authority would fall
under the jurisdiction of the Regional Tran-
sit Authority. Other counties not included in
the program could petition the authority and
become a participatory member.
Theoretically, the RTA is an innovative and
efficient way to promote inter-county trans-
portation for these four areas. However, it does
not address the needs of Washtenaw County.
Currently, the local government has a strong
transportation system. State Sen. Tom Casper-
son (R-Escanaba) said the "only way to make
this work is it has got to be regional" and there
has "to be buy-in from the whole region, not
just Wayne County or Detroit." The proposed
bill would make Washtenaw County pay for
transportation in the other counties without
improvingthe local system.
By not addressing the needs of each coun-
ty, the proposal might hurt certain areas.
According to State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann

A'rbor), the new legislation would prevent
Washtenaw County from repairing existing
tracks and projects, which may hinder future
transportation endeavors. Irwin added that
the new authority could take away funds
from Ann Arbor's current transportation
system as well as others.
Furthermore, the bill privileges bus trans-
portation over other types of transportation,
such as railways. By only focusing on buses,
Michigan would limit the possibility of future
expansion and would fail to create county-
specific transportation solutions. For example,
cities like Seattle have developed a multi-facet-
ed approach to transportation, which includes
buses, rail projects and ferries. While there
have been debates about the effectiveness of
the plans, Seattle has allowed itself to expand
its infrastructure. Michigan should aim for a
similar system. By requiring unanimous votes
for funding and rail projects, the Michigan
legislature would severely limit the scope and
potential of this proposal.
Anewregionaltransitauthority,inprinciple,
could bring benefits to all counties involved.
Nevertheless, the current plan mustbe revised.
At this juncture, Washtenaw County stands to
gain verylittle fromthis proposal.

There's currently a dispropor-
tionate focus on particular
majors, specifically science,
technology, engi-
neeringand math
concentrations.
From President
Barack Obama to
the U.S. Cham-
ber of Com-
merce, everyone
is talking about
the need to HARSHA
produce more NAHATA
workers with
an expertise in
STEM fields for the United States
to stay competitive.
While there's a need to spur eco-
nomic growth and make American
workforce more globally competitive,
there's an overemphasis on STEM
majors, including sote of the more
drastic measures placing other fields
of study at an unfair disadvantage.
On Dec. 9, Florida Republican Gov.
Rick Scott's task force on higher edu-
cation proposed to keep state univer-
sity tuition rates frozen for majors
in "strategic areas." In other words,
students pursuing degrees in engi-
neering or biotechnology would pay
less than students pursuing degrees
in history or psychology. Scott also
suggested that the 28 community
colleges in Florida offer certain four-
year degrees for $10,000 - $3,000
cheaper than normal. Again, this
discount would apply for degrees
only in certain fields.
Scott argues that doing so works
to satisfy market demand, consid-
ering the shortage that companies
claim exists in STEM professions.
But in the drive to overcome a so-
cslled shortage in one area, we're
downplaying the importance of
other fields, namely the humanities
and social sciences.
Being a social science major
myself, I feel the need to reiterate
the classic pitch for the humanities
and social sciences. While science

and math provide tangible results
that can be evaluated, the humani-
ties provide a way to understand the
intangibles - a way to understand
the history, culture and ideas of soci-
ety. Yes, you need people inventing
and calculating and programming,
but that also needs to be coupled
with a knowledge of where society
is, where it's going and where it has
come from. Many argue that human-
ities are vital for the construction
of successful societies and commu-
nities because they force people to
critically analyze the philosophies
and ideas that cultures, societies and
communities are built around.
A study in the United Kingdom
found that 60 percent of Britain's
leaders have degrees in the humani-
ties, arts or social sciences. Only 15
percent have degrees in STEM sub-
jects. These leaders include FTSE 100
CEOs, a group of leading UK firms,
members of Parliament, vice chancel-
lors of universities and lawyers.
Perhaps this comes as a surprise.
But the fact is that the liberal arts
are instrumental in teaching criti-
cal thinking and analysis. And in a
way, while the subject matter may
not translate as tangibly as knowl-
edge gained in a biology or chemis-
try class, the skills taught in terms
of analysis are invaluable.
This inclination to favor STEM
majors touches upon the age-old
dichotomy between science and
math vs. humanities and social sci-
ences. But that's exactly the prob-
lem. There doesn't need to be such
a wide divide between the fields.
Most areas of study are intercon-
nected and add or detract from each
other. By favoring one over another,
it's only creating even more of a
separation between the subjects,
falsely giving the idea that they
are two separate entities not to be
intertwined or combined.
The mostvaluable education is an
interdisciplinary one. Believe it or
not, there are things that engineers

or math majors can learn from his-
tory, English or the arts. And simi-
larly, there are essential skills that
students in the humanities can gain
from science or math classes. The
best education is a holistic one, one
that allows you to see the subject
you're studying from a variety of
different lenses.
Not only that, but the inherent
Tuition freezes
for STEM
majors are
short-sighted.
problem with such a policy is that
it nudges students toward STEM
majors whose talents and passion
may lie elsewhere. By pandering
solely to where the jobs are, we
might be squelching people's inner
brilliance in avariety of other fields.
In this situation, I'm reminded of
a quote by Howard Thurman: "Don't
ask what the world needs. Ask what
makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is peo-
ple who have come alive."
In the end, that's what will make
for successful economic growth.
People doing what they love, what
they feel passionately about, what
makes them come alive - whether
that's physics or math or history or
writing. The key goal of education
shouldn't be to fit people into a nar-
row mold of what makes the perfect
job applicant, but rather to give
them the skills and creativity to
have a broad scale of opportunities.
-Harsha Nahata can be
reached at hnahata@umich.edu.
Follow her at @harshanahata.

w

0

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
ELI CAHAN.IE N
Deactivating extroversion

Donate digifr6

I just took down my Facebook account. No,
no, don't worry those of you who so religious-
ly check my timeline - as Facebook asked me
when I quit, yes, I'll be back.
And yet, something in me hated checking
that little circle - as much as I was comforted
that Illbe back and that it wasn't a permanent
deletion, I despised myself for it. So what's
the big emotional deal about deactivating an
account during finals? On one hand, it's as if
I've finally succumbed to the professors who
have been trying so hard to get us off Face-
book and phones during class.
On the other, there's a sense of relief in
leaving. I don't have to live up to the expecta-
tion of adding new photos to show people that
I still exist; I don't have to post on a friend's
wall so I can get a response showing that peo-
ple have some minor desire to communicate
with me.
What does it say about me that I'm so con-
scious of something my grandma would sim-
ply call a wise decision? Well, in a society
ruled by extroversion, where social interac-
tion is not only encouraged but also required,
it seems as though I've literally "signed off."
To leave Facebook is to leave your friends, at
least according to the Facebook team, who
was so kind to remind me that Spencer, Ste-
ven, Sophia and Sam would all miss me; it's to
leave your circles - the Facebook team was
generous in recommending I appoint a new
group administrator given I was shirking my
responsibilities; it's to divest from societal
news - the Facebook team made it clear I
would no longer receive notification updates
telling me when I ought to pay attention. It's
to become completely absent - the Facebook
team thought it important I recognize that
people would no longer be able to search for,
nor find me.
Where does introversion fit into all of
this? I'm just trying to take care of my men-
tal health and my sanity during a ridiculously

crazy couple of weeks. Who knew looking out
for oneself could be so profoundly selfish?
Maybe the issue with "work and play" is that
work - as we've experienced it - is inher-
ently introverted. Maybe the reason we can't
stand work is that it's just so damn personal.
During that work, that Sunday to Thursday
week which is so unbearable, we've become
introverts - we've cut ourselves off from the
network. Now it's clear that the reason why
we so frequently "play hard" after we "work
hard" is that we've got so much to catch up on.
There shouldn't be anything about work-
ing that cuts us off from the rest of human-
ity. I think that in a world where work might
actually be play, where we might enjoy the
means and not just the ends, work would be as
social as play. Play is fundamentally social, as
the word itself indicates interaction, so why
should work be separated from that?
So back to finals week and Facebook. I got
emotional about whether or not my account was
still up was because I felt like I was sacrificing
my friends for myself. It's in that context, where
work is individual and play is social, that extro-
version mustbe "deactivated" to focus inwards.
I don't think that's the way it should be. I'm not
sure working at 11:52 p.m: on a Saturday should
be frowned upon, as I'm not sure getting up at
8 a.m.on a Wednesday during Welcome Week
should be, either.
We've created this rule for ourselves that
we must step "in the zone" at work and "zone
out" at play. I'm against the belief that the line
between work and play should be so clearly
defined. I just don't understand the idea that
we can only struggle through work alone, and
that can only enjoy play together, and that's
the way it is. The integration of social engage-
ment and individual focus should be a goal of
ours. Maybe then I wouldn't feel so bad about
quitting Facebook for all of 10 days.
Eli Cahan is a Business sophomore.

As the semester winds down
and the holiday season
approaches, the spirit of
giving is in the
air. Advertising
exhorting the
public to buy
Christmas gifts
can be found all
over the TV and
Internet - since
Thanksgiving
and Black Fri- ERIC
day weekend, FERGUSON
The Salvation
Army's bell rings
outside of grocery stores, malls
and other retail outlets. Anyone
walking up State Street by Nickels
Arcade will hear it as well, accom-
panied as always by a bundled-up
volunteer and a red bucket with a
slit in the top for donations.
If you plan on donating to the
Salvation Army or another charity,
you're not alone. In 2011, 81 percent
of people in the United States made
a charitable donation, and the total
amount of money donated by individ-
uals, foundations and corporations
totaled nearly $300 billion. Many
students at the University share a
desire for making a difference in
the community through charity, but
donating money can be difficult to
justify when students pay for tuition,
rent, food and all the other expens-
es of college life. But thanks to the
Internet, giving to charity is now
so easy that you don't even have to
spend any of your own money.
You can do this by hopping on

YouTube on Dec. 17 and 18 for the
Project For Awesome on Hank and
John's channel. Inaugurated in
2007, the P4A is a yearly event where
thousands of people upload videos
supporting charitable organizations.
Award-winning author John Green
and his. web-entrepreneur brother
Hank run the P4A, and more than
843,000 subscribers to the brothers'
YouTube channel provide a massive.
base for participation. They and all
YouTube visitor's are encouraged to
view, "like" and comment on all of
the videos under the P4A hashtag in
order to promote charitable causes.
On the P4A's website, which goes
live on Dec. 17, the public can vote
for their favorite cause and donate
to the P4A fund. Every dollar in the
fund is split between the five chari-
ties that receive the most votes. The
fund already has $15,000 and anon-
ymous donors have offered to match
contributions up to $50,000.
This campaign is more- modern
than the Salvation Army bell ringer.
The P4A leverages the power of the
world's largest video-sharing com-
munity to make the work of charities
all over the world available for free to
anyone with an Internet connection.
Many of the videos are extremely
well produced, and there's no lack
of charities to pick from. It's an
extremely democratic process, and
doing anything beyond watching the
videos is obviously voluntary. Even
those charities that don't place in the
top five benefit - they gain exposure
to a public that would have been dif-
ficult to otherwise reach. Moreover,

viewers don't have to go through the
P4A in order to donate - many par-
ticipants solicit direct donations to
their charity during their video.
In previous years, people navi-
gating to the main page of YouTube
on the days of the P4A have been
greeted not with trending videos of
erratic cat behavior and pop music
videos, but with videos supporting
the microfinance site Kiva, a Bangla-
deshi orphanage and thousands of
other causes. It acts as a small sug-
gestion for all YouTube users to post-
pone their entertainment or how-to
video for amoment andbe exposed to
organizations that they would have
never come into contact with other-
wise. In this way, the project's impact
is far larger than the amount of cash
doled out to the top five charities.
YouTube videos
for charity.
So take some time out of studying
for finals and watch a few of the P4A
videos on Dec. 17. Throw in a vote
while you're there, and ifa charity
particularly moves you, send a few.
dollars its way. The top five chari-
ties in 2011 each received $14,269,
and the top five this year may get
even more than that. When making
a difference is this easy, why would
anyone pass up the chance?
-Eric Ferguson can be 4
reached at ericff@umich.edu.

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