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February 01, 2013 - Image 4

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4 - Friday, February 1, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

L C4e atchioan wily

Wake up and.smell the Adderall

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MELANIE KRUVELIS
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR

ANDREW WEINER
EDITOR IN CHIEF

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.
Lets get high
New high-rise apartment buildings can benefit Ann Arbor
n the fall, The Varsity, a new luxury high-rise apartment complex
geared toward students, will be opening its doors to the commu-
nity. Located on East Washington Street, The Varsity will be the
sixth high-rise built in Ann Arbor in recent years. With new high-rises
being planned in different parts of Ann Arbor as part of City Council's
commitment to city development, there's concern about changing the
culture and spirit of Ann Arbor. That being said, these high-rises have
the potential to greatly benefit the city's economy.

The Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown
project, or A2D2, was established in Septem-
ber 2006. The goal of the project is to give
Ann Arbor a more city-like atmosphere, and
has received a positive response from the pub-
lit in a survey. As a result, at least two more
high-rises are in the proposal stages of devel-
opment: one above Pizza House on Church
Street and one in the spot of the Papa John's on
East Huron and North Division streets. While
the commission approved the high-rise above
Pizza House, the East Huron high-rise was
indefinitely postponed. However, these high-
rises are the inevitable outcome of A2D2's
push for a bigger-city features.
High-rises will make off-campus housing
for students more affordable and efficient
for the University's student body of approx-
imately 43,000. With high and constant
demand for housing closer to campus, the
increased supply will drive down the price
- which is often over $1,000 per month for
complexes like Landmark and Zaragon Place
- of these apartments. The induced compe-
tition with the added high-rises will likely
allow the average student to live near campus

for a more reasonable price.
There are two aspects of these develop-
ments, however, that the City Council should
consider while approving these new apart-
ments: sustainability and a balance between
luxurious and affordable. The city and the
University have a dedication to environmen-
tally-friendly policies and programs, and
these new high-rises should remain true to
the trend. These apartments should all meet
LEED standards. The University has made-
steps to ensure that their buildings are LEED
certified; the city of Ann Arbor should fol-
low suit. City Council should not approve all
high-rises; they should set specific criteria
when they approve these buildings that will
benefit students and the city alike.
Students and residents should accept and
encourage the growth and development of
Ann Arbor. The quirky spirit of Ann Arbor
won't diminish because that spirit comes
from the people who live there, not from the
height of apartment buildings. With more
people living in the heart of the city, there's
more opportunity to enjoy what the down-
town has to offer.

magine a world where you can
earn a college degree without
walking into a single classroom.
Actually, con-
sidering the fact
I'm skipping '
class right now,
let me rephrase
that - imagine
getting a bach-
elor's without
ever knowing
where your ecol- MELANIE
ogy lab is, and KRUVELIS
none of the guilt
that comes with
being too lazy to watch the iTunesU
lectures.
Sound too good to be true? Not for
the fighting Badgers.
Last week, the University of Wis-
consin finalized a new program that
allows students to earn a degree not
based credit hours but - get this -
what they actually know.
Dubbed the Flexible Option plan,
the program is pretty straightfor-
ward: Degree-seekersindependently
prepare for exams written by pro-
fessors who specialize in one of the
four majors offered by Flex Option.
A couple of good exam scores, com-
bined with online coursework and
outside credits and, bam, you've got
yourself a degree.
Proponents are calling the pro-
gram visionary, revolutionary -
the future of university education.
"This is a new direction inAmerican
higher education," said University of
Wisconsin System President Kevin
Reilly. Even the governor of Wiscon-
sin backed the program, saying - oh,
dear god, am I about to non-ironical-
ly quote Gov. Scott Walker?
"We can maintain high stan-
dards," Walker said of the program.
"And we can stillgive non-traditional
learners another way to finish their
degrees."
According to a recent article in
The Wall Street Journal, educators
in Wisconsin developed the idea
after noticing the relatively small
number of degree-holders in the
state. About 20 percent of the state's
workforce had a stockpile of credits
but no degree to show for it. Given
that a college degree is just about as
much of a prerequisite for the job
market as being able to sign your
name on a contract, officials pushed
for a program that allows students
to get that bachelor's degree on their
own terms.
An education that's self-taught
and self-directed? A bachelor's that's
based on what you actually learnand
not how many credits you've slept
through? A relatively cheap degree
from a world-renowned university,
not wherever that chick in pajamas
is blabbering about in those YourEd-

Connect commercials?
Seems to make sense. So, natural-
ly, people are spazzing.
"I don't want (Flex Option) to
be a misstep," said Wisconsin state
Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-32). UW
professors echoed the senator's con-
cerns, worryingabout watered-down
degrees and a disconnect from cam-
pus life. "There's got to be very rigor-
ous documentation that the degree
will live up to the quality of (the
school's) name," said Mark Cook, a
professor at the Madison campus.
In all fairness, these anxieties
aren't new. Ever since Coursera and
other massive open online course
sites popped up, some educators
across the country began to fret
over the future of universities. If
they haven't gotten their bow ties in
a bunch over the Internet's impact
on their institutions, then they're
discrediting the MOOC movement
altogether. "Can you be successful in
truly meaningful ways without going
to college?" asked Engineering Prof.
James Paul Holloway in a recent
piece for Consider magazine. "The
answer for mostofyou is 'No."'
Most of the hubbub surrounds
whether these fast-track, DIY
degrees can replace a full-on univer-
sity education. After all, no matter
how much you verbally assault your
MacBook, it's not going to give you*
any feedback on your essay, much
less a recommendation letter.
But as our dear friend Scott Walk-
er knows, these programs aren't
necessarily a substitute for a campus
education. "It's one more way to get
your degree," Walker said. "I don't
see it as a replacement."
And for the first time in his life,
Walker's right. The Flex Option
plan is primarily aimed at adults
who didn't have time to fin-
ish school. Moreover, these self-
taught programs also give liberal
arts graduates the chance to beef
up their Cv, after the cruel world
reminded them that a humani-
ties degree has approximately the
same value as a sock full of nickels
(and it's a very small sock). Because
when every entry-level job asks for
10 years of experience, five refer-
ences and fluency in Java, Python
and/or C++, maybe it wouldn't hurt
to take a Coursera class in coding.
Unless you want crash on Mom's
papasan forever. ,
I saw this self-guided liberal arts
paranoia myself the other day. I
stopped by a friend's apartment and
noticed a calculus book open on the
table.
"You just graduated," I said to my
friend. "What's with all the deriva-
tives?"
He sighed. "Are you kidding me?
I'm a Screen Arts and Culture major

- my degree isn't worth sack."
And the reaction's just the same
for my Political Science degree or
your Spanish minor or that double
concentration in Deep Ocean Lit-
erature and Creative Toxicology.
Not that these majors are useless -
long live the humanities! But when
the jobs don't rush to your door,
strengthening your skills isn't a bad
option. Presumably, our universities
want us to grow up and be successful
so we can buy lots of $100 Wolverine
fishing reels. If some online courses
help us get there, what's the big deal?
The real issue seems to be this
break from a traditional, on-cam-
pus education. "Universities are the
unique intellectual space," Holloway
said in his Consider article. "The uni-
versity isthe place where we grow."
The face of education
is changing
faster than Kim
Kardashian's.
True. There's really nothing that
can replace the college experience
- unless, of course, you find another
porch in another town to butt-chug
beers on. But I guess Holloway is
more interested in the dialogue that
comes out of the college classroom,
like this one I'm hearing rightnow -
"Did you see him puke in that
sharkbowl last night?"
In all seriousness, critique and
communication - the most obvi-
ous benefits to an in-class educa-
tion - are incredibly important. But
the intellectual world doesn't stop
once you drive past the Big House.
Chances are that if you're motivat-
ed enough to teach yourself a thing
or two, you'll be able to find fellow
nerds to collaborate with. Insert the
names of a bunch of dropouts who
made it big if you don't believe me.
It may not be as easy as it is on cam-
pus, but hey - you're already reading
books that don't start with the pre-
fix 'face.' You're gonna make it, you
overachiever, you.
The face of education is changing
faster than Kim Kardashian's. And
for educators, that's kind of frighten-
ing. But just as students are adjusting
to a world with minimal job security
and maximum loan burdens, uni-
versities must adjust too and back
away from these xenophobic fears
of the Internet. Wake up and smell
the Adderall, higher education. Oh,
and mind if I buy a couple of pills?
- Melanie Kruvelis can be
reached at melkruv@umich.edu.

I

0

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan; Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh,
Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Sarah Skaluba, Adrienne Roberts,
Vanessa Rychlinski, Paul Sherman, Michael Spaeth, Derek Wolfe
SORIN PANAINTE
Make Adidas sweat

A new year has arrived. Accordingly, United
Students AgainstSweatshops presented a New
Year's resolution to University President Mary
Sue Coleman in a letter delivered to her office
on Jan. 16. The resolution is pretty simple: The
University should follow its own Code of Con-
duct for Licensees and take a stand against
sweatshops and worker abuse. Namely, USAS
demands that the University put Adidas
Apparel Company on notice and if the com-
pany fails to pay the legally mandated sever-
ance owed to the PT Kizone factory workers,
then the University should terminate its $60
million contract with Adidas. Other universi-
ties such as the University of Washington and
Rutgers University have already done this, and
Michigan should follow suit.
USAS isagrassrootsorganizationrunentire-
ly by students and youth. We develop youth
leadership and run strategic student-labor soli-
darity campaigns with the goal of building sus-
tainable power for working people. We define
"sweatshop" broadly and consider all struggles
against the daily abuses of the global economic
system to be a struggle against sweatshops.
PT Kizone, a factory in Indonesia, had a
contract with Adidas that stated the German-
based corporation would pay severance to the
workers if the factory were to close. The facto-
ry did indeed close in April 2011, leaving 2,800
people out of work and Adidas owing $1.8 mil-
lion in severance. For over a year and a half,
the 2,800 former PT Kizone workers have
been fighting for the severance pay - which
Adidas promised, but has failed to pay them.
Up until the time of its closure, PT Kizone
was producing University of Michigan appar-
el. That's right, the maize and blue we proudly
wear on our home games and around campus
was produced by sweatshop labor. Of all uni-
versities who have contracts with Adidas,
Michigan has the largest, at $60 million. If our
Universitywere to put pressure on Adidas, the
company would be forced to pay the severance
payments it owes.
Adidas has dodged its obligations by provid-
ing food vouchers and medical assistance to

the workers instead of paying the $1.8 million
it owes them. Adidas, in a Jan. 23 letter to Presi-
dent Coleman, stated, "ensuring fair labor prac-
tices, fair wages and safe workingconditions in
factories throughout our global supply chain
is critical to our business and a priority for the
Adidas Group." If that were trulythe case, then
they would simply pay the severance they owe
to their former workers. The aid provided so far
is mere breadcrumbs compared to whatAdidas
legally owes. Even our president, in a letter to
Adidas on Jan. 25, stated, "There is stillconcern
regarding the gap between aid being provided
by Adidas Group and the legally mandated sev-
erance owed to the workers."
On Jan. 25, Coleman responded to USAS'
Jan. 16 letter. In the e-mail, she said that "the
University is committed to fair and ethical
business practices as set forth in our Code of
Conduct," and that "we remain committed to
finding an appropriate resolution." Coleman
knows that Adidas is not living up to the terms
of the University's contract, and if she's com-
mitted to fair and ethical business practices as
set forth in our Code of Conduct, then the only
appropriate action is to put Adidas on notice.
On Feb. 13, two PT Kizone workers from
Indonesia will arrive to the University of Mich-
igan's campus. At a speak-out event hosted by
USAS, the workers will tell students and the
Ann Arbor public about their experiences. Join
us in the Union Pond Room from 6 to 7 p.m. on
Feb. 13 to hear the truth about Adidas' viola-
tion of workers' rights. You can see for yourself
exactly who these "sweatshop workers" are,
and ask them any questions you may have.
If you want our school to shed its shame-
ful affiliation with an apparel company that
violates workers' rights, write an e-mail to
President Coleman and the Board of Regents
and tell them to put Adidas on notice. If you
want to support workers' rights at home and
abroad, join us at our weekly meetings on
Mondays at 8 p.m. in the CSG wing on the
third floor of the Union.
Sorin Panainte is an Engineering freshman.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
@michigandaily @michdailyoped

BARRY BELMONT I
Fre
I have a problem when filling
out forms. It isn't merely the low-
level contempt many of us have for
bureaucratic rubber-stamping, hoop
jumping and red-taping. I under-
stand the need for a paper trail on
lots of things. This is all done in an
attempt to draw conclusions when
necessary. If you want to track a per-
son's purchases, determine their risk
for cancer or see how their resume
has changed with time, one could do
far worse than a detailed history of
such facts maintained by our bureau-
cratic gatekeepers.
My problem comes in the form of a
single question: "What is your race?"
This question has been asked for
countless instances from job applica-
tions to scholarship forms, including
nearly every governmental ques-
tionnaire starting from the original
1790 U.S. Census - it asked for total
number of "white" men and women,
"other" free persons, and "slaves."
Today, the federally mandated
question on race and origin of eth-
nicity gives seven total choices: His-
panic/Latino, American Indian and
Alaska Native, Asian, Black or Afri-
can American, Native Hawaiian and
Other Pacific Islander, and White.
The census also gives the option of
checking two or more races. What
will no doubt strike some readers is
a lack of some categories altogether.
Where do people from the Middle
East, India or the Basque Country
lie along these categories? There's
also a lack of descriptive force.
Does "black" describe Aborigines,
Haitians and Ethiopians in equal
measure? What I find particularly
distasteful is the notion that such
categories even exist.

edomfrom race

Try for a moment to formulate
what "race" could even mean. A myr-
iad of factors are likely to spring to
mind such as skin color, geographical
origin and physiology.Some may even
try to be a bit more scientific in their
reasoning and say it's ultimately a
shorthand notation intended to stand
in for underlying genetic factors.
But there's clear scientific evidence
to suggest that the genetic variation
within "races" far exceeds that seen
between races. Physical traits such as
skin color, hair type and bone struc-
ture show just as wide a range within
geographical areas and racial bounds
as they do across the whole spectrum
of humanity. To suggest that there is
some number of biological demarca-
tions one could draw across human-
kind along ethnic and racial lines is
to be mistaken at best and outright
deceptive at worst.
Race is, at most, asocial construct.
It has no basis in reality aside'from
the one we impart on each other.
Only by pretending that such a thing
as race describes us do we give it any
credence or manifestation. This is not
to say that race has not had very real
consequences in our world but rather
to lay the blame squarely atthe feetof
those who trod along this evanescent
landscape. Furthermorethat anyone
would wish to divide us any further
than ideologies, predilections and
actions already do is abhorrent.
Spme even go so far as to have
pride in racial divisions. Numer-
ous organizations, institutions and
groups exist to emphasize "us-and-
them" mentalities and to deepen
those lines in the sand over which
we dare not cross. Even worse than
the mistake of separating yourself

based on race is taking pride in your-
self based on it. Esteem in one's self
should stem from one's actions, one's
behavior and one's way of life. There
is nothing to be intrinsically proud
of in bearing the human condition.
What matters is how one comports
oneself while bearing it.
Let us forget the lack of scien-
tific evidence favoring a distinction
amongst the races. Let's do as many
others do and pretend for this para-
graph that there are races of people
that have differing qualities and
aspects. Let's pretend further that
these differences confer benefits
and deficiencies of their respective
races. Let's pretend that race mat-
ters. Where in Ais state of affairs is
pride to be found? Where is shame to
be had? The circumstances of one's
genetic origin (millions of sperm
assaulting an egg with a single win-
ner) is as irrelevant to our characters
as whether we were born during
the day or at night. There is nothing
about us to which race can add.
That is, until other people say
there is. Once enough people pretend
that something is true, it becomes
exceedingly hard to convince them
it's false. It becomes even harder to
convince them that the questions
they are asking are pointless. And
yet there are forms asking us to
divide ourselves, to state to which
category we belong, to account for
the happenstance of our lives. These
forms would have us place ourselves
in boxes. I will not do so. There is
only one such box aboutour race that
I would agree to check: human.
- Barry Belmont is an
Engineering graduate student.

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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.
Send the writer's full name and University affiliation to tothedaily@michigandaily.

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