4 -Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4 -Tuesday, February 26, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Quit chewing the fat
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and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
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EDITOR IN CHIEF
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Juvenile, but harmless
Controversy surrounding Pike pictures misses the point
Last week, the University's chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity,
often called Pike, garnered worldwide headlines after photos
were spread of its members posing semi-nude with American
flags. The photos, part of a party invitation to a sorority, were accom-
panied by an e-mail stating that Pike "paddles pledges because it's a
comprehensive upper body workout." After the media got a hold of the
photos and letter, the Pike national chapter ordered a 15-day suspen-
sion of the fraternity. What Pike did was juvenile; however, this pub-
licized incident is laughably tame compared to serious offenses that
have surrounded Greek life and campuses at large, and is receiving
Around 10 percent of female
University students purge
in some way - make
vomit, use laxa-
or diet pills.
60 percent of
conscious after ZO
starting college. STAHL
And 27.8 percent
of female under-
graduates and 11.8 percent of male
undergraduates screened positive
for eating disorders. I could go
on, but the remaining figures -
which are consistently higher than
the last study in 2008 - paint an
equally grim picture.
These are the preliminary results
from the University Study of Habits,
Attitudes and Perceptions around
Eating. In October 2012, researchers
from the University collaborated on
U-SHAPE with Ann Arbor's Center
for Eating Disorders, surveying the
University student body "to under-
stand students' habits, attitudes, and
perceptions around eating, dieting,
exercising and body image and how
these fit into a larger picture of stu-
The researchers attribute these
high rates to the University students'
competitive nature. And the study
offers other clues too: On average,
students considered hook-up culture
and Greek life to negatively influence
their eating habits and body image.
However, I think there's another
issue at hand: anti-fat prejudice.
I know that makingcausal claims
about the relationship between fat
discrimination and eating disor-
ders is tricky. However, with more
than half of the student body con-
ceding, "I would like myself more
if I were thinner" and with 90 per-
cent of female students and 55 per-
cent of male students worried about
gaining the "Freshman 15," it's hard
to deny there's a fear of getting fat.
This study, along with many oth-
ers, reveals how detrimental this
fear truly is. In a recent article
from The Washington Post, Abigail
Saguy, a sociology professor at the
University of California, Los Ange-
les, argues that "Anti-fat prejudice
harms average-size and thin people
... as the fear of becoming fat drives
many of them to develop eating dis-
orders and body-image problems."
And even more, this anti-fat prej-
udice harms those considered over-
weight or obese. Though research
has shown that obesity is a chronic
disease caused by a combination of
one's genes and their environment,
many consider the obese to be lazy
and self-indulgent. This stereotype
has many negative consequences.
Many health professionals practice
size-profiling - or attributing a
patient's ailments to weight - and
thus fail to provide the adequate
care. Not only are there medical
consequences, but there are also
emotional ones. Studies reveal
that the obese routinely experi-
ence insulting and dismissive treat-
ment when shopping and that obese
women receive lower wages than
equally qualified, thinner women.
This isn't to say there aren't
health risks associated with obesity
- for example, as weight increases
so does the likelihood of develop-
ing Type 2 diabetes. But there are
also negative health consequenc-
es associated with being average
weight. For example, a study at the
Center for Disease Control and the
National Institutes of Health found
that adults considered overweight
or obese had a lower mortality risk
than average-weight individuals,
showing that weight is not always
proxy for personal well-being.
The results of
cause for a
So, what's the point in citing all
of these statistics and studies?
It's to say that using weight as
a stand-in for health is a slippery
slope. And discrimination of the
obese can be just as detrimental to
society's physical and emotional
health as obesity itself. With this
in mind, I think we ought to listen
to Judith Banker, principal inves-
tigator of the U-SHAPE study,
when she encourages "students (to)
become activists on a very personal
level by avoiding diet and weight
talk ... The collective power of such
individual actions can't be under-
estimated. Imagine if everyone on
campus stopped talking about feel-
ing fat or pointing out fat people
or stopped talking about what diet
they were on or should be on."
I can already hear the collective
sigh of relief.
Compared to other fraternity actions, Pike's
photo stunt was rather innocuous - perhaps
nothing more than a future regret for the flag-
draped members. Recently, Duke University's
chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity hosted
an Asian-theme party, leading to student pro-
tests against the so-called "racist rager." The
fraternity was later suspended from campus,
but according to Larry Moneta, the university's
vice president of student affairs, the suspen-
sion "had nothing to do with the Asian-theme
party." Such parties create uncomfortable
campus environments for students - arguably
more so than boys covered in American flags -
and yet, universities and nationwide fraternity
organizations have refused to openly punish
fraternities for these tasteless transgressions.
Beyond offensive parties, the handling of
these Greek life incidences have been a con-
troversy in and of itself. While the Pike invi-
tation received worldwide attention, inciting
debates on everything from sexist language
in the e-mail to questions of disrespecting the
American flag, more threatening incidents
haven't received nearly as much attention. In
an Rolling Stone article, Dartmouth College's
chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was accused
of extreme hazing practices including forcing
pledges to eat vomeletes (vomit omelets), swim
in kiddie pools of semen, urine and other bodi-
ly waste and of course, binge drinking. Later,
the college's Undergraduate Judicial Affairs
Committee dropped all 27 charges held against
the fraternity. Though the body concluded
that there was insufficient evidence to punish
the fraternity, the hazing surrounding many
fraternities makes it difficult for members to
speak up against these horrific behaviors, with
many either silencing themselves or, in the
case of Andrew Lohse, a Dartmouth student
interviewed by Rolling Stone, being ostracized
by fellow fraternity brothers.
Unfortunately, many universities choose to
deal with these grave issues not through inter-
nal problem solving, but by disassociating the
fraternity from the campus community entire-
ly. After reports of hazing surfaced in March
2011, the Interfraternity Council removed the
Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the Univer-
sity of its campus affiliation. Nevertheless, the
fraternity is now able to recruit members each
year and hold parties without University over-
sight that other fraternities and sororities have.
The University's disaffiliation doesn't solve any
of the problems that plagued the fraternity and
instead allows these organizations even more
freedom as they no longer have to answer to a
university governing body.
By and large, these incidents receive the
most punishment only when they cause enough
attention, like in Pike's case, with many more
serious infractions left unaddressed. There's
a lack of transparency associated with these
transgressions that isn't helped by the Univer-
sity's tendency to push the more unpleasant
incidents under the rug.
- Zoe Stahl can be reached
Bleeding Blue: $7.25 today is not what it was worth a few
--the decades ago, so why hasn't the minimum wage budged?
* Joe Paone preposes linking wages and inflation to cut out
p Ii m the politics that prevent the necessary change.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium
More equal than others
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
State of our universities
In my State of the Union Address, I laid out
ways Democrats and Republicans can work
together to reignite the true engine of Amer-
ica's economic growth - a rising, thriving
We should ask ourselves three questions
every day: How do we bring good jobs to Amer-
ica? How do we equip people with the skills
those jobs require? And how do we make sure
hard work leads to a decent living?
Strengthening the middle class requires
making America a magnet for new jobs and
manufacturing and rewarding hard work with
wages that allow families to raise their children
and get ahead. But it also means recognizing
that the surest path into the middle class will
always be a good education.
As college students, you're already well on
your way. The education you're getting right
now is the single best investment you can
make in yourselves and your future, and it will
put you in the best position to get a good job
and build a great life for yourselves and your
families. Now it's up to us to help keep the
cost of that investment within reach, and to
give even more Americans the opportunity to
earn the education and skills that a high-tech
We should start in the earliest years by offer-
ing high-quality preschool to every child in
America, because we know kids in programs
such as these do better throughout their aca-
demic lives. And we should redesign America's
high schools to better prepare students with
the real-world skills that employers are looking
for right now.
But the truth is, most young people will need
some type ofhigher education. It's asimple fact:
The more education you have, the more likely
you are to have a job and work your way into
the middle class. And that means we have to
do more to make sure skyrocketing costs don't
price you and your families out of a college
degree, or saddle you with mountains of debt.
Already, my administration has worked to
make college more affordable for millions of
students and families through a mix of tax
credits, grants and loans that go farther than
before. But we also need to do something about
the rising cost of college.
Over the last two decades, tuition and fees
at the average college have more than doubled,
and right now, students who take out loans end
up leaving college owing more than $26,000.
That much debt can force you to pass over valu-
able opportunities that don't pay as well - such
as working for a non-profit or joining an orga-
nization like the Peace Corps. And it can mean
putting off big decisions like when to buy your
first house or start a family of your own.
That's why colleges also need to do their part
to lower costs. And we need to make sure they
do because the taxpayers can't keep subsidizing
the rising costs of higher education.
Already, I've called on Congress to consider
value, affordability, and other factors when
they decide how much federal student aida col-
lege should get. And last week, we released a
new "College Scorecard" that lets students and
their parents compare schools based on simple
criteria: where you can get the most bang for
your educational buck.
As a nation, our future ultimately depends on
equipping students like you with the skills and
education a 21st century economy demands. If
you have the opportunity to reach your poten-
tial and go as far as your talent and hard work
will take you, that doesn't just mean a higher-
paying job or a shot at a middle-class life - it
means a stronger economy for us all. Because if
your generation prospers, we all prosper. And
I'm counting on you to help us write the next
great chapter in our American story.
Barack Obama is the
president of the United States.
s an American life worth more
than a Syrian life?
More specifically, do we,
value the lives
of people inside
more than those
of people out-
exclusive to our ANDREW
society. Now ECKHOUS
that we live in
nected world, it's an increasingly
significant philosophical debate in
international relations. Ignorance
is no longer an excuse for failure to
act, as nearly every violent conflict
receives coverage in some way, test-
ing our concern for other people.
Even as the Syrian civil war
continues mercilessly claiming
lives of fighters and civilians alike
- the most recent estimates are at
about 70,000 deaths - the inter-
national reaction is tepid. Echoing
this sentiment, the Syrian Nation-
al Coalition, a collection of anti-
government militias, announced
that they would no longer attend
diplomatic conferences to end the
conflict due to the international
community's toothless reactions.
Though the United States, the
European Union and the Arab
League have given the Syrian reb-
els communications and humani-
tarian aid, Syrians want weapons
"We want the U.S. to help the
people on the ground," said Adib
Shishakly, a Syrian National Coali-
Are we morally obligated to
intervene militarily in Syria? The
American national identity revolves
around the belief that we're on the
right side. Though that's been prov-
en false on more occasions than we'd
like to admit, Americans are ever
steadfast in their conviction that the
world is theirs to improve.- facts be
damned. The United States is John
Winthrop's "city upon a hill." We
are manifest destiny and American
exceptionalism, right? Isn't it an
easy decision to sacrifice ourselves
so that the Syrian government ends
its repressive reign?
Not quite. Our history in the
Middle East complicates the deci-
sion a bit. We've supported oppres-
sive dictators like the Shah and
Hosni Mubarak. We armed Tall-
ban fighters in Afghanistan, only
to have them harbor Al Qaeda and
Osama Bin Laden, making us wary
of arming a band of rebels again.
And we 'installed democracy' in
Afghanistan and Iraq, a quixotic
dream that has proven incredibly
costly and divisive.
But Syria seems different.
Whereas arming the Taliban rep-
resented the fight against commu-
nism, Cold War rhetoric doesn't
inform Bashar al-Assad's decisions.
He only wants to retain power for
himself and his followers, and will
kill anyone in his way. Intervention
seems to be less of a political deci-
sion and more of a moral one this
When I hear about killings and
destruction in Syria, I know that I
don't want our government to send
any Americans into that warzone. It
pains me to admit, but I do value an
American life more than a Syrian
one. My blood runs red like every
other human being on this planet,
but it seems the man-made construct
that labels me American trumps the
human bonds that we all share.
It feels callous to voice this senti-
ment so publicly, but I'm not alone.
For as long as countries have exist-
ed, good people have failed to act in
the face of evil, simply because "it
wasn't their problem," thus becom-
ing accessories to the crimes.
That is why I struggle so might-
ily with my own beliefs. As a Jew-
ish person, I've spent countless
moments of my ife lamenting the
inaction that allowed the Holocaust
to happen, and it's difficult to rec-
oncile that belief with my thoughts
Elie Wiesel famously said, "We
must always take sides. Neutral-
ity helps the oppressor, never the
victim. Silence encourages the
tormentor, never the tormented."
I absolutely agree with him. But
what about encouraging killing? I
oppose direct intervention because
I don't want to see any Americans
die, but if I support arming the reb-
els, and by extension, the killing of
more people, is that right?
Can we call
while we watch
By the same token, can we call our-
selves humane while the internation-
al community sits idly by, watching
and reporting the massacres? And at
what point does an 'armed conflict'
become genocide? The opposition
and forces loyal to the regime are
both mowing each other down pretty
efficiently - does that mean the reb-
els don't need our help?
I don't have answers to these
questions, and I don't think any-
body really does. I support arming
the rebels, if only to pick a side, but
haven't the slightest idea of whether
that move will come back to haunt
us. One thing I am sure of is that
the blood of 70,000 Syrians drips
from Assad's fingertips. Adding
fuel to the fire and guns to the fight
will also add names to the casualty
lists - that's a fact - but if we are to
help the victim and not the oppres-
sor, we must eventually make some
fatally difficult decisions.
- Andrew Eckhous can be
reached at email@example.com.
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