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4 - Friday, February 22, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C 1
4e Michinan l 3

A not-so-sexy solution

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.
FIR OM T HE D A ILY
Prevent Pell Grant fraud
Colleges and universities must create policies to stop abuse
The Federal Pell Grant Program - which distributes need-
based grants to college students - is crucial to college afford-
ability. In the 2011-2012 academic year, the program helped
over nine million students attend college. Some students, however, are
registering for classes in order to obtain a Pell Grant and then imme-
diately dropping out - pocketing the leftover money. Last school year,
this kind of fraud cost taxpayers $1.2 billion. Colleges and universities
in Michigan and across the country must ensure that they have policies
in place that enable them to prevent Pell Grant fraud and to track down
students who have abused money that is vital to a strong workforce.

To start things off on a
rather bleak note, yester-
day, an independent review
team officially
declared the
city of Detroit
to be in a state
of financial
emergency. And,
unfortunately,,
it's not all that
surprising. SARAH
Our economy SKALUBA
remains stag-
nant, the job
market dreary
and unemployment continues to
plague millions of Americans.
It's clear there's no miracle solu-
tion to this never-ending dilemma.
If there were, President Barack
Obama would have our coun-
try back on its feet and leading
the global economy with a snap
of his fingers. However, Detroit
City Council hopeful Attie Pollard
believes he knows otherwise. The
magic fix to all our fiscal problems
is not economic reform or higher
taxes, but prostitution. Yup, Pollard
believes a practice banned in every
state besides Nevada - and Lord
knows what they're doing over
there - will be the cure to the city's
crumbling economy.
In a radio interview last week,
Pollard explained this novel solu-
tion: "For instance, starting off with
a strip club district ... Once the time
goes on, we can see if brothels or
other means of sexual entertainment
are needed." How lovely, right?
I can already picture the con-
versations this project would spark
on campus:
"Guys, let's go to Detroit this
weekend!"
"Why would we visit that dump?
The Tigers haven't won a game

all season."
"No, man, to visit the new red-
light district, duh."
And to be honest, the young men
and college students that would inev-
itably be attracted by the change of
venues would be the least of the city's
worries. HasDetroitreallybecomeso
desperate that City Council leaders
are throwing around ideas involving
brothels and a possible red-light dis-
trict toget the economy back on track
and increase tourism? Maybe it's just
me, but a project like this won't be
attracting your everyday, family-
friendly tourists looking to spend a
casual weekend in one of America's
favorite rust-belt cities. Nope, I'm
thinking it will instead attract a dan-
gerous mix of individuals involved in
serious crime including sex traffick-
ing, drugtrade and the like.
Maybe Pollard was just desper-
ate for a new idea to garner sup-
port for his campaign. Regardless
of his intentions, prostitution is an
extremely dangerous practice. It
has ruined thousands of lives across
the United States and is often con-
nected to illegal drug use, rape,
assault and sex trafficking. So why
would anyone in their right mind
want to use prostitution as a means
of tourism and economic incentive?
In the United States, prostitution
is the most dangerous job a person
can come by, with 204 murders per
every 100,000 individuals work-
ing in the field. Moreover the aver-
age American sex worker begins
at the extremely young age of 13
years. Not only would a proposal
like Pollard's prove detrimental
to poor women and children liv-
ing in Detroit and the surrounding
neighborhoods, but it would pro-
vide strong economic incentives to
adopt a destructive lifestyle that
otherwise wouldn't prove practical.

By making the naive assumption
that all women involved in sex work
"know what the risk is, and ... what
the hazards are," Pollard manages
to ignore the fact that many of these
women are brought to America via
transnational sex trafficking. Sex
trafficking, a major human rights
violation, uses coercion and threats
to force women into exploitative
situations like prostitution. Not
only do these women have no safe
way out, but they are often brought
thousands of miles away from their
homes and families as well. The
destructive costs of human rights
violations, intense violence and
widespread rape will never out-
weigh the profits of a select few.
204 prostitutes
are killed for
every 100,00
working.
Sure, prostitution brings in mas-
sive amounts of money for certain
individuals involved - a.k.a. the
pimps, sex traffickers and drug
dealers - but in no way is it a seri-
ous solution to the greater issue at
hand. Rather than encouraging sex
trafficking in an already violent,
economically wounded city, Detroit
leaders and state officials should be
looking for viable answers that will
create jobs and bring in much need-
ed funding. As for Pollock's propo-
sition, it's just not sexy.
- Sarah Skaluba can be reached
at sskaluba@umich.edu.

I
0

Pell Grant funds, which range from $500
to $5,500, are distributed through a two-step
process. First, higher education institutions
distribute the grants by putting them towards
tuition. Then, they send recipients a check for
the rest of the grant. It's at this second stage
that fraud occurs, with some students taking
that check andnever attendingclass. Only some
colleges and universities have policies aimed at
curbing this behavior, such as requiring Pell
recipients to provide a bank account or credit-
card number in case of fraud, or having profes-
sors take attendance for the first few weeks of
class and delaying grant payments.
Schools making an effort to stop fraud, how-
ever, should keep in mind that Pell Grants are
designed to help students - not to embroil
them in bureaucracy or to make it harder to
earn a degree. Community college students
are especially at risk for this, since the fraud is
worst at that level. Since some Michigan com-
munity colleges have tuition as low as $700 for
a full-time course load, a Pell Grant can often
cover the cost of tuition with ample money to
spare. (Whatever form anti-fraud efforts take,
they must include some leeway for students
who can't make it to every class or who need
ALEX EDWARDS VIE ON
Come out f
The campus climate for LGBTQ individuals
is anything but great. This may be surprising
given that the University prides itself in offer-
ing a welcoming environment for everyone.
After all, Michigan houses the first-of-its-kind
LGBTQ community center, recently imple-
mented gender-inclusive housing options and
supported its student body president when
faced with nefarious bigotry. Yet LGBTQ indi-
viduals are far less welcomed on campus today
than our formal institutions, traditions and
anecdotes suggest.
I returned to AnnArbor onlyweeks ago after
spending three years in London and Wash-
ington, D.C. Since returning, I've encountered
more men who have sex with men but outward-
ly rejectcbeing labeled "gay" than in all my pre-
vious 36 months spent elsewhere. It is the same
for the number of times I've heard "fag" hurled
as a pejorative. On two occasions - admitted-
ly, both at bars after 1 a.m. - I've been on the
receiving end of hate speech.
Rather than a prevalence of prejudice and
negative stereotyping among just a few stu-
dents, these experiences taken together under-
score an active culture of discrimination. Often
masked, and varyingly resonate, it's a real and
perverse reality.
Not convinced? Look no further than a
recent Daily article in which an anonymous
male senior detailed the "secret" hook-up
culture among closeted men on campus. Con-
tinue to laugh when your friends use negative
epithets, the author suggests. Endure the anti-
quated, intolerant views of your politics, reli-
gion and parents. Coming out is hard, so don't
bother. Just look online for sex.
It's precisely these elements - overt preju-
dice, internalization of guilt and acceptance
of the status quo - that fashion LGBTQ infe-
riority on campus. Oppression, acquiescence
and more oppression. It's a dynamic culture
that we - gay and straight alike - continue
to reproduce. And, more importantly, one that
we can change.
The gay struggle is unique in its individual
effect - the intrinsic power of LGBTQ people to
change perceptions and thereby create change.
Among historical struggles for equality, this
powerful role of the individual is the exception,
rather than the rule. Just try to imagine the
Civil Rights Movement if African Americans
fought oppression by convincing whites of their
individual merit,nrather than through a collec-
tive struggle against racism.
Not so with gays. Poll after poll shows the
close link between increasing acceptance for
LGBTQ rights with the percent of individuals
who know someone who identifies as gay. It's

the extra money immediately in order to make
ends meet.)
Continued fraud in the Pell Grant pro-
gram would not just be a waste of money, it
would also make it even more difficult for
students to obtain the grants and a college
education. The program has already faced
cuts; the number of semesters that a student
can receive the grants was reduced last year
from 18 to 12, and the maximum income level
for receiving a full grant dropped signifi-
cantly as well. A college education translates
to between $250,000 and $350,000 more in
earnings over a person's lifetime, and the
knowledge obtained at college enables stu-
dents to engage more deeply with the world.
There are too many people dependent on
Pell Grants to cut the program because of a
few instances of fraud. Policy changes would
work just as well.
In a time of constantly rising tuition rates
and growing income inequality, the cost of
college is an ever more salient issue. Ensur-
ing that Pell Grants are used for their intend-
ed purpose is vital for the program's integrity
and effectiveness, as well as the promoting of
higher education.
or equality
surprisingly simple. Coming out diminishes
prejudice and advances equality. It breaks the
circle of intolerance.
Focusing on the incredible power of LGBTQ
individuals to effect change is just that. It nei-
ther places them at greater fault for continued
injustice, nor minimalizes the complexity sur-
rounding the coming out process.
Is it hard? Of course. You must be prepared
for some to think less of them, but you must
also have the strength to realize that these
people don't matter. I'm the first to admit that
fear of "being outed" pervaded many of my
formative years.
Is coming out personally liberating? Abso-
lutely. In fact, there are few things greater than
the euphoria of finally being free with yourself,
your family and your friends.
More importantly, is it transformational?
Incredibly so. When I came out to my closest
group of high school friends, whom can only be
described as bro-er than bro, not only did our
relationships strengthen, but they themselves
also changed. They invested in my experience
as a gay man, paying particular interest to
the struggles I faced. They consciously made
efforts to rid anti-gay slurs from their rhetoric.
They called out prejudice where it manifested
in their circles. Two even joined me in canvass-
ingfor equal marriage.
Not all transformations will be of this type.
Few may change their views on equal rights;
even fewer will hit the pavement for equality.
But, in the words of Harvey Milk, once people
realize "that (gay and lesbians) are indeed their
children, that we are indeed everywhere -
every lie, every myth, every innuendo will be
destroyed once and for all."
So, to every openly homophobic bigot, for
whom no amount of knowledge or familiarity
will lessen his or her prejudice: an unapologetic
fuck you.
To the frat star, who after hooking up last
weekend called me a goddamn queer, the face-
less Grindr torso, the guilt-ridden bisexual, the
closeted B-school student, biology major and
aspiring engineer, who in their silence legiti-
mize the notion that being gay is shame-wor-
thy: please, please come out.
Turn inward and accept yourself; you will
not outgrow it or evolve in any other direc-
tion. Talk to a friend; talk to anyone. Take
your time; do it on your own terms. But make
sure to do it. Our rights - and your happiness
- depend on it.
And for those that still refuse, well, then,
fuck you too.
Alex Edwards is an LSA senior.

0

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, 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
Dependent on Wikapedia.

40

0 h, you're from Michi-
gan? Which Great
Lake do you live
closest to: Erie,
Huron, Michi-
gan, Ontario or
Superior?" Alex
asked me.
Normally,
this question
wouldn't be
especially odd if PATRICK
it were asked by
a Midwesterner MAILLET
or perhaps a par-
ticularly inquisi-
tive American. Instead, I was asked
this question by an 8-year-old boy
who had never left the city of Hang-
zhou, China.
I spent a month of this past sum-
mer teaching English in Hang-
zhou, a city about an hour away
from Shanghai. Part of my job was
hosting "English hours" in local
libraries, where I would help locals
practice their English.
It was during one of these "Eng-
lish hours" that I met Alex - which
isn't actually his given name; it was
the English name he chose at the
beginning of his studies.
After Alex asked me the Great
Lakes question, I felt two equal-
ly powerful emotions. The first
one was sheer amazement at how
impressive it was that this boy
knew where Michigan was in the
United States, let alone the fact
that he could name all of the Great
Lakes. The second emotion was
embarrassment. I'm from New Jer-
sey and, unfortunately, I never paid
attention to the Great Lakes and I
certainly don't know which one
Ann Arbor is closest too. (Admit-
tedly, I had to double-check the
names of the Great Lakes when I
wrote this column).
I asked Alex if he was the smart-
est kid in his class. He informed me
- in perfect English, mind you - that
in his class of 100 children, he fell
somewhere in the middle - not much
more than an average student at his

local elementary school. Just an aver-
age 8-year-old Chinese boy - with a
better understanding of U.S. geogra-
phythan a21-year-old American.
China, like many other countries,
is currently investing huge amounts
of resources toward improving
their primary and secondary edu-
cation systems. Although China
certainly has some catching up to
do with developed Western coun-
tries, its test scores, literacy rates
and the number of students gaining
a secondary education are all rap-
idly growing at a rate that may soon
match the best.
While China realizes that invest-
ing in education is a great way to
ensure future economic and societal
growth, America continues to slash
funding for schools and fire teach-
ers. Not surprisingly, our test scores
have begun to show it. According to
a recent study by Harvard Univer-
sity, "... students in Shanghai who
recently took international exams
for the first time outscored every
other school system in the world.
In the same test, American students
ranked 25th in math, 17th in science
and 14th in reading."
America once dominated the
global student test score ratings.
Unfortunately, we now have things
that our government finds more
vital than education. For example,
an NPR study found that, up until
the end of 2011, the United States
was paying an annual $20.2 billion
for costs associated with providing
air conditioning to troops in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Let China worry
about tomorrow's problems, we
need to focus on keeping cool. For
the record, I'm not advocating that
U.S. soldiers should be forced to suf-
fer in 125-degree heat. Instead, I'm
just shedding light on what some of
the money spent on our multi-tril-
lion dollar wars may ha'e done if it
were used more effectively. Also, I
use the phrase "multi-trillion dol-
lar wars" because no one really
knows how much our conflicts in
the Middle East will end up cost-

ing this country, though estimates
range anywhere between $1.2 and
$3.6 trillion.
The earlier a child
attends school, the
better prepared he
or she is for college.
So what can America do to reig-
nite its education system other
than going back in time and invest-
ing money spent on war on schools
and teachers instead? Among
many things, we have to expand
our education system to include
pre-kindergarten schooling for all
American children. As President
Barack Obama pointed out in his
State of the Union address, study
after study shows that the earlier a
child begins school, the better pre-
pared he or she is for either gaining a
higher education or learning a tech-
nical skillset suitable for a career.
As deficit reduction talks con-
tinue and the financial sequester
looms, funding for education is
likely to continue to stagnate, if not
decline. If America does not repair
its education system soon, we may
be in for a dark future. Yes, invest-
ing in our education system will be
expensive. Yes, we are at a point
when fiscal responsibility is cru-
cial. But remember, an investment
toward a child's education is one
that never stops paying dividends
not only to that child, but to society
as a whole.
We need to invest in our future
and revamp the American educa-
tion system. After all, our society
can't depend on a generation that
needs to seek advice from Wiki-
pedia to find out the names of the
Great Lakes.
- Patrick Maillet can be
reached at maillet@umich.edu.

0

6
6

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