4 -- Friday, February 8, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4 - Friday, February 8, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
EDITOR IN CHIEF
If somebody sneezes on a cake, I probably
don't want to eat it either - but if you're
blowing out candles, how many organisms
are transferred to a communal cake, for
- Australian Medical Association President Steve Hambleton said in reponse to a ban of blowing out
candles on birthday cakes in Australia in guidelines set by Australia's National Health and Medical
Research Council, a Sydney newspaper reported.
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.
Open for debate
Universities should promote forums for controversial issues
n Thursday, two supporters of Palestinian independence
spoke at Brooklyn College in New York. The event, co-
sponsored by student organizations and Brooklyn College's
department of political science, has attracted an array ofcriticism
from pro-Israel groups, Jewish students and the New York City Coun-
cil. Many have called sponsoring the event a "tacit endorsement" -
something they see as unacceptable. These criticisms and threats are
inappropriate; they threaten to stifle debate and therefore hinder the
promise of academic freedom.
The speakers represented a group that
advocates for boycotts and sanctions against
Israel. Brooklyn College has a significant Jew-
ish student population, and thus the scheduled
speakers have provoked harsh responses. On
Jan.29, the New York City Council sent a letter
to Brooklyn College's president, Karen Gould.
They demanded the event be canceled and
threatening to suspend funding to the school.
Gould replied 'with a letter in support of the
event and invited student groups to bring
groups with differing views to campus.
Brooklyn College has the right to host this
event without any threats. Many of the criti-
cisms levied against it are highly exagger-
ated. For example, Alan Maisel, the New York
state assemblyman representing Brooklyn,
called this a "potential for a second Holo-
caust." This is a gross exaggeration of the
speakers' legitimate views in an academic
debate. This incident is similar to one that
occurred in 1999, when NYC Mayor Rudy
Giuliani threatened to cut funding to muse-
ums because of a controversial exhibit at the
Brooklyn Museum of Art. New York is setting
a precedent in which politicians intervene
in public spheres of education and culture.
Bloomberg notes that government shouldn't
be "micromanaging the kinds of programs
our public universities run." The city coun-
cil has no right or responsibility to label any
academic opinion it disagrees with as wrong
Controversial events are common at uni-
versities. For instance, in 2003 the University
held a political forum with both an Israeli and
Palestinian advocate. In 2011 at Brooklyn Col-
lege, David Horowitz, a pro-Israel conserva-
tive, spoke, but he wasn't sponsored by any
department. Exposing students to new ideas
and perhaps challenging them with other per-
spectives. Politicians shouldn't reprehend col-
leges for promoting academic debate.
The controversy over academic freedom
at Brooklyn College is highly exaggerated.
Many of the criticisms of the speakers are
misguided, and the council's threat to revoke
funding is an inappropriate extension of gov-
ernment into higher-level academics. Schools
consistently sponsor events with controversial
speakers, and fostering academic expression
and debate is part of their job. Brooklyn Col-
lege should be supported for their dedication
to academic freedom.
we've officially survived
the first month of winter
semester. And I
can't say I'm sur-
prised to step out !
of my house and
face the frigid,
streets of Ann
morning. It's a
utopia - rare SKALUBA
few blue skies
and an ice-cold chill that occasion-
ally makes you question your deci-
sion to come to school here in the
Meanwhile, half your classmates
are casually spending the semester
abroad in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris,
Prague - insert any romantic Euro-
pean city of your liking - while we
continue pushingthrough our class-
es in the great state of Michigan.
And it's a great state indeed, minus
the gloomy weather and freezing
But the constant Facebook albums
and statuses that bombard my news-
feed each day make things in Ann
Arbor seem a little bleak. It's no sur-
prise that we're a community that
lives online - constantly uploading
new pictures, tweeting about the
day's adventures and blowing up
our friend's walls. But at a certain
point this constant communication
We all suffer from the epidemic
at some point in our lives. It's a
syndrome that affects our genera-
tion at unprecedented levels. Espe-
cially considering how freely we
allow Facebook, Twitter and other
social media sites to consume us.
It's the "fear of missing out" - a.k.a
FOMO. We love our friends abroad,
really we do. But the 760 pictures
they jam into a single album and
the continuous stream of #nofilter
photographs uploaded to Instagram
prove exhausting. As much as I want
to "like" every photo in their album
and throw myself a pity-party while
stranded alone in Ann Arbor - I
The other night I was speak-
ing with an exchange student from
Istanbul, whining about how expen-
sive it is to travel to Europe, when
she simply asked, "But why worry
about traveling across Europe when
you have yet to see all the sites here
in your own country?" And she's
Living in Ann Arbor and experi-'
encing Ann Arbor are not one in the
same. A conscious effort needs to be
made if we really want to challenge
ourselves, explore the community
around us, create our own adven-
tures and immerse ourselves in the
Staying sane during the long
winter months is no easy task, I
know that. But flocking to Rick's in
record-breaking numbers and hit-
ting the South University bars like
they're the next best thing to Ibiza
may not be the answer. Nor will we
find refuge bundled up in our blan-
kets all weekend, rolling around
our apartments. While Facebook-
stalking our beloved friends abroad.
Instead, I challenge you to take a
new approach to combat these drea-
ry winter months.
Have you ventured to the Farm-
ers Market in Kerrytown yet? It's
open every Saturday morning Janu-
ary through April, which means
you can't exactly use the weather
for an excuse. What about dragging
your textbooks and homework to a
not-so-run-of-the-mill coffee shop
- maybe Crazy Wisdom Bookstore
and Tea Room or Comet Coffee?
Living in Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor are not
one in the same.
It's easy to fall into a funk of repe-
tition and hibernation when it seems
like so many of your friends are off
seeing the world oceans away, and
you're quite literally stuck in the
snow at Michigan. But I dare you
to do something different - to shy *
away from the repetitiveness we so
often find ourselves in.
Last weekend, I. had breakfast
at Selma Cafe - an Ann Arbor-
only, community-run cafe - for the
first time. Needless to say, I busted
straight into the kitchen and looked
like a lost puppy ina crowd of regu-
lar breakfast-goers. But did I have a
fabulous meal, meet new people and
make the executive decision that I
would have to return for round two?
Yes. And this weekend I'll be trek-
king to Mt. Brighton to snowboard
on a large mound of garbage. Sure,
it might not be the Swiss Alps, but
there's no harm in trying.
To my dearest friends abroad, I
loveyouall. Butif Ihappentounsub-
scribe from your newsfeed and
spend a drastically smaller amount
of time on Facebook this semester, I
promise it's nothing personal.
- Sarah Skaluba can be reached
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Sarah Skaluba,
Michael Spaeth, Luchen Wang, Derek Wolfe
Study-a-Blog: Madrid Edition: Is it important for American
students to learn foreign languages at an early age? Alexis
Biaggi explains why being able to say both
'yes' and 'oui' is essential.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
All too often we hear from those with gray
hair that "chivalry is dead." Well, whether
or not that is fact or fiction depends on how
chivalry is defined.
If by "chivalry" they mean there are no more
gentlemen knights to defend royal princesses,
then perhaps I don't have an argument; there
just aren't any, unless you go to a park in New
Jersey on some Saturday mornings.
But, if our elders mean that there are no
more gentlemen, then I'd have to disagree.
The issue is not whether or not knights and
princesses exist in the student body. It's
whether they'd ever be brave enough to don
their shining armor while living on campus.
And that's the thing we ought to consider.
So, this is all a little abstract - let's bring
it back to reality, specifically to the memo-
ries from my time in middle and high school.
There's a funny term I've heard since Bar
Mitzvah season in seventh grade, when we all
first started talking about girls: "whipped."
I've never gotten a clear definition, but I'll
discuss my interpretation.
"Whipped" is the idea that doing nice
things for women is more of an act of despera-
tion than anything else. It's "laying all your
cards on the table," presumably because get-
ting laid just isn't in the cards for you. It's put-
ting out far too much effort because nobody
puts out for you.
Since when did "trying hard" become
"trying too hard?" When did any semblance
of "effort made" become "too much effort?"
Being a knight is incompatible in a world of
whips; rather than a horse chomping at the bit
to prove your worth to someone who's worth
it, being whipped makes you into an ass.
So let's go back to that original statement:
chivalry is dead.
I think if anything, the problem is more
systematic issue than individual. In a world
networked communicators and informa-
tion, what is there to prove? I suppose, since
the first thing we look at when we hear a
new name is their pictures, it matters more
where they've been than where they're going.
Perhaps the absence of chivalry is due to a
change in perspective; the question is not
"will he sweep me off my feet," but rather,
"has he swept people off their feet before?"
been replaced with our compulsion to evaluate
by online. "Proving himself" has become more
passive than active. The death of chivalry is
born out of the basic idea that "if he were really
like this, he'd have done it before."
Maybe in that sense, the idea of the phrase
"whipped" is not so far off. It's the belief that
you have met someone who has changed you;
they controlyou and they have somehow trans-
formed you. But is that really such a bad thing?
In the movies, when someone says "you
complete me," what does that meanPIs it to say
that they've found that single piece that beau-
tifully fits into the puzzle that was already
almost finished? Or does it indicate that what
the puzzle means to show is completely incom-
prehensible without that piece - that there's
no identity, there's no picture, without that
one little bit extra. This begs the question,
when I flirt with anyone and everyone, am I
really trying to prove "me" to them, or am I
trying to prove "us?" Because, according to the
latter jigsaw analogy, there isn't a "me" that's.
significant without that last little part.,
Perhaps chivalry has died out of our own
narcissism. In a constant world of compari-
sons, relativity and self-identification, is try-
ing to establish a relationship really about
"me," or can it be about "us?"
There's an expression we all know that
supports this sort of realization: "you'll find
your Prince Charming." There's no defini-
tive person with first name Prince, last name
Charming. It's about "us," not about "him."
The knight in shining armor doesn't exist
without the princess. But undoubtedly, Mr.
Knight was riding around for a good long
while in the stifling heat without Gatorades
or Clif Bars before he found his princess out
there in that forest - that sounds like he was
trying pretty hard to me.
So I should ask: am I "whipped" for
really taking the time and effort to see if
this girl I met is my princess? And even if I
am, am I okay humiliating "me" in front of
all of my friends for the prospect of "us?"
Eli Cahan is a Business sophomore.
Lance cheated, so what?
Lance Armstrong lied to us. He
cheated, doped and silenced anyone
who tried to expose him. He also
raised millions of dollars to fight
cancer, but who cares? He deceived
us and we're hurt. We looked up to
him and he betrayed our trust. We
praised him and his great American
story - the story about fighting and
winning and competing and, most
importantly, more winning. Arm-
strong's desperate desire to win
helped him survive cancer and then
seven Tour de France titles. So good
for him, but better forthe poor souls
fighting cancer. Without those vic-
tories - which he said himself he
probably wouldn't have earned
without doping - he wouldn't have
had the celebrity-status to start his
Livestrong Foundation, which has
today raised about $470 million,
according to Livestrong's website.
But we still don't care about his
successes, because he betrayed
us. This story circles back to the
too-familiar theme of any another
American idol deceiving his or her
Clinton and Tiger Woods's affairs?
What about the baseball players who
doped? Well, it turns out Armstrong
is just another flawed human being
like the rest of them - like the rest
of us. Why do we assume athletes
and other celebrities are perfect role
models? We have no one to blame but
ourselves for our disappointment
after investing so much into heroes
But who's to say Armstrong is a
bad role model? When I make a mis-
take, I'm usuallyrushing to the drug
store for Plan B. When Armstrong
made his mistakes, cancer research
got more funding. I wish I could
make mistakes like Armstrong's.
If we get to make mistakes, show
arrogance and fall to our vices, so do
the supposed heroes. I'm not saying
it's good. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm
just sayingthat's the way it is and we
should be aware of it. Sure, we'd love
all our heroes to be infallible, omni-
scient and pure. We'd have truly
honorable role models for our kids
to look up to. But those don't exist.
Even Homer's heroes and gods
were a little screwed up. Zeus raped
people. Odysseus cheated on his
wife. Was Homer trying to con-
vince us that these actions should
be accepted, no questions asked,
because they were gods?In my opin-
ion, he wasn't. But what was true
of Greek gods and heroes is true of
modernAmericanheroes: they're all
tragic; they're all imperfect.
So if you're waiting for Super-
man, fuck off. He's not coming.
Even our great American stories
- you know, the ones where the
protagonist overcomes some great
obstacle (cancer), overcomes more
obstacles (seven Tour de Fran-
ces), uses him fame and celebrity
to raise money to fight disease,
then lives happily ever after -
these stories usually only maintain
their greatness so long as the dark
truth remains hidden. And per-
haps it would be better not know-
ing the real story and believing the
In the end, the guy cheated; but
so did everyone else. Sure, he raised
millions of dollars for fighting can-
cer, but he did so dishonestly and
deceptively, so fuck him, right? I
say: whatever. Fuck him or punch
him - this one dude doesn't matter
as much as we pretend he does and
we can't continue believing in per-
fedt idols like we thought he was.
We'll continue to be let down. We
also need to examine how and why
we judge people. Does our judgment
spawn from personal feelings of
betrayal, or are we truly examining
a person's actions? $470 million to
fight cancer? I'll let the cheating go,
because it's only sports (in fact, it's
only cycling). But money for cancer
research? That's life or death. I say
that end, however unintentional,
Charles Barkley once said, "I'm
not a role model." I always wanted
to tell him: Chuck, you are whatever
we say you are. Hasn't he listened to
Eminem? And so, the blame is on us
- the fanatics searching for some-
one to follow and then dropping
them when they make a mistake.
So perhaps like you, I'm left ask-
ing myself: Who should I follow?
Who should I copy? And then I look
in the mirror.
Zak Witus is an LSA freshman.