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March 15, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-15

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4 - Friday, March 15, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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420 Maynard St.
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Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Bad business
Grading policies should be consistent across campus
The University's Ross School of Business is consistently ranked
as one of the top ten business schools in the country, but on
campus it has a reputation as an exclusive community. While
the Business School's private gym might earn some jealous eyerolls, the
School's unique grading structure is a real cause for concern. Accord-
ing to Lynn Wooten, the Business School's associate dean of under-
graduate programs, the School has been assigning a grade point of 4.4
to Bachelor's of Business Administration undergraduate students who
earn an A+ in any class since the 1950s. This grading policy, which will
be reviewed next year, is different than the grading policies of other
undergraduate programs at the University. In all other schools, a 4.0 is
given for an A+. This policy creates inequities in the grade distributions
of non-business classes taken by Ross students. The Business School
should make its grading policy consistent with other undergraduate
schools and programs within the University.

Chivez's real Venezuela


In an LSA class, a Business student can
earn a 4.4 grade point, while at the same
time, an LSA student who worked equally as
hard can earn a maximum of 4.0. The Busi-
ness School's current grading policy incen-
tivizes taking classes perceived to be easier
to boost GPAs, rather than selecting classes
based on interest. This may inflate the grades
of students who choose classes based on their
expectations of receiving a high grade.
The Business School's grade-inflating poli-
cies are by and large unique to the University.
In top business programs like those at Notre
Dame University, University of Virginia and
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, any
grade within the A range grade earns a 4.0
with no disparity between other colleges. The
Business School's grading difference might
give students a slight edge in employment
opportunities, but also highlights a discrep-
ancy among how the University prepares its
Business undergraduates for post-graduation
life. Grades are important, but inflating the
grades in only one program suggests that the
Business School is more focused on making its
graduates appear attractive on paper than by
merit. The fact that other top business schools

refrain from such inflation suggests the Busi-
ness School should change its policies.
The Business School also has a number
of unique policies outside of grading that
contribute to the Bachelor in Business
Administration program's high rankings in
publications like U.S. News. For example,
Business juniors and seniors have an extra
week added to their winter break in order
to seek out internships and job offers. In
addition, Ross avoids scheduling Friday
classes so that their students can compete in
case competitions, attend special events at the
Business School and work on group projects.
It's not that Business students don't deserve
these perks, but if they're offered to them,
they should be offered to undergraduates
across the University.
This year, the University unveiled plans
to allow LSA undergraduates to receive a
Business minor. Slated to start in the fall of
2013, LSA students will take classes to learn
business skills alongside their other studies.
As the University moves toward integrating
Ross into the rest of the campus community,
it's essential that the administration change
the inequities that exist between colleges.

Gabriela Vasquez's opinion piece,
("Shake off Chavismo," 3/13/13), was a
particularly crudeexample ofthe dis-
tortions that have characterized U.S.
press coverage of Venezuela since
Hugo Chavez was first elected presi-
dent in 1998. Since then, U.S. politi-
cians and the press have portrayed
Chavez as a tyrant who destroyed
his country's democratic institutions
and economy. As Vasquez argued,
"Chavez had completely taken over
Venezuela and turned it into a pov-
erty-ridden, semi-military, semi-per-
sonalistic dictatorship, disguised as a
Unfortunately, Vasquez's col-
umn suffers from a complete lack
of empirical evidence. Rather than
citing any data, she relies entirely
on impressions gleaned from her
time visiting Venezuela as a child
and the comments of her right-wing
family members, who are evidently
wealthy enough to finance many
family trips to Venezuela each year
("We were always there for our
birthdays, our relatives' birthdays,
holidays, etc.").
Personal opinions and stories are
important, but the views of a few
affluent Venezuelans are a poor sub-
stitute for polls and economic data.
The evidence tells a very differ-
ent story. Hugo Chavez was elected
four times, beating the right-wing
opposition candidate by a substan-
tial margin each time. Annual opin-
ion polls conducted by the Chilean
organization Latinobardmetro
have consistently found that Vene-
zuelans are relatively satisfied with
the state of their democracy. In the
last poll in 2011, Venezuelans rated
their country the third most demo-
cratic in all of Latin America, and
only 25 percent said "citizen partic-
ipation" in politics and government
"is lacking" - the best rating in the
entire region. Close U.S. allies such
as Columbia, Mexico and Honduras
have fared far worse in the Latino-
bardmetro polls.
Vasquez's claim that "inde-

pendent media virtually disap-
peared" under Chavez is often
heard in the U.S. media but is sim-
ply false. According to a 2010 study
by the Center for Economic and
Policy Research, state TV chan-
nels account for about 6 percent
of audience share. Most Venezu-
elan media sources are still owned
and controlled by wealthy private
interests. Most of these sources
not only oppose ChAvez's party, but
some even openly supported a 2002
military coup against him - a coup
backed by the United States. Imag-
ine what would happen to CNN or
The New York Times if they advo-
cated the military overthrow the
U.S. government.
The implication that Chavez
has further militarized Venezu-
ela is also, disingenuous. In 2011,
Venezuela spent $3.1 billion on its
military, according to the Stock-
holm International Peace Research
Institute. By comparison, the Unit-
ed States spent about $700 billion
- roughly as much as the rest of
the world combined. Venezuelan
cities do have a problem with vio-
lent crime, which may explain the
armed guards that Vasquez saw in
the streets, but in that respect, Ven-
ezuela isn't dramatically different
from many other Latin American
countries. And that problem exists
despite, not because of, the govern-
ment's policies.
Contrary to Vasquez's imagery
of vast slums created by the Chavez
government's failed economic
policies, since 2003, Venezuela
has maintained strong economic
growth while cutting poverty in
half and reducing extreme poverty
by 70 percent. As economist Mark
Weisbrot notes, "Millions of people
also got access to health care for
the first time, and access to educa-
tion also increased sharply, with
college enrollment doubling and
free tuition for many. Eligibility for
public pensions tripled."
Vasquez expresses thinly veiled

contempt for the millions of poor
and working-class Venezuelans who
support Chavez's political project.
The only explanation for his popu-
larity, she implies, is "the ignorance
of the population," who "blindly
remaining oblivious to the reality
around them. But the real problem
- at least for the traditional Venezu-
elan elite and the U.S. government -
is that most Venezuelans are acutely
aware of reality. They understand,
based on their own experiences, the
problems caused by two centuries
of oligarchic rule, particularly the
neoliberal period of the 1980s and
1990s when public services were
privatized, social spending slashed
and foreign oil corporations made
out like bandits while the major-
ity of the population languished in
dismal poverty.
Despite the conventional depic-
tion in the U.S. media, the changes
in Venezuela since 1998 haven't
simply been the result of Hugo
Chavez imposing his personal will
on the country. Millions of Venezu-
elans have played an active part in
promoting - and radicalizing - the
transformation associated with
Chavez. Workers have occupied fac-
tories and have taken to the streets
to defend against right-wing coup
attempts and U.S. meddling. Hun-
dreds of thousands of citizens have
participated in community-run
media .outlets, democratic worker
cooperatives, community gover-
nance structures called communal
councils and other institutions of
participatory democracy. Whatev-
er his flaws - and he certainly did
have some - Chavez opened a space
for the poor majority to make them-
selves heard. Though Chavez is
gone, it's unlikely that Venezuelans
will allow the clock to be turned
back anytime soon.
Kevin Young is an academic
affiliate with the Center for Latin
American and Caribbean Studies.

Read this, I'm Irish

The other day I was lamenting the fact that
I have to work on St. Patrick's Day even though
I'm Irish. Other people couldn't believe that I
was going to work on March 17 because some-
how being Irish has become such an identify-
ing feature for me. But then I started thinking
- does St.Patrick'sDay really mean more to me
because I'm Irish? Does this holiday that was
once a celebration of Irish-American culture
really mean anything to me aside from the fact
that suddenly everyone thinks it's really cool
that I'm Irish? After all, isn't Everyone Irish on
St. Patrick's Day?'
I hear people complain all the time that
America takes religious or cultural holidays
and injects them with consumerism. Mardi
Gras is now "Paczki Day" - let's be honest,
Fat Tuesday isn't really a better name - and
St. Valentine's Day has turned into "the day
of buying chocolate and going out to dinner/
staying in with a pint of ice cream." I'm not
really bothered by the fact that these holidays
have come to represent American consumer-
ism. I've accepted that that's just something
we do. After all, St. Patrick's Day celebrations
in America started as a way to show solidarity
for Ireland when it was trying to gain inde-
pendence from Britain.
But now that Ireland is independent, what
significance does St. Patrick's Day hold any-
more? It's hard to say that the holiday is a cel-
ebration of Irish-American culture when Irish
blood is so ubiquitous that there's hardly a spe-
cific culture anymore. So now the holiday is
an excuse for drinking. And that's fine - but it
would be nice if we could distance it a bit more
from Irish culture.
Unlike all those other holidays that became
excuses for consumerism, St. Patrick's Day
projects a negative stereotype. There's this idea
that 'everybody's Irish' and thus celebrating
like the Irish by getting drunker than all of the
Real Housewives of New York combined.
To be fair, this stereotype of the Irish being
heavy drinkers has a basis in reality: Drinking
is socially acceptable in Irish culture. Beer was
brewed in monasteries for hundreds of years -
St. Patrick himself is said to have had his own
brewer. I've come to realize that drinking is
not so acceptable in other cultures, and maybe
that's where this idea of 'everybody's Irish'

comes in. People hide behind another culture
to justify binge drinking. St. Patrick's Day has
become some sort of excuse for debauchery.
That's all right, but let's at least recognize that
this element of St. Patrick's Day - going to the
bar at 7 a.m. - is decidedly un-Irish. After all,
anyone who's truly hardcore Irish would only
be getting up that early to go to church.
Someone recently asked me if my mom was
going to the bar all day for St. Patrick's Day
since she's Irish. That was a little embarrass-
ing for me. Do people really think that all Irish
people embrace such intense binge drinking?
My mother may be Irish, but she's much too old
to drink for eight hours straight - and perfectly
horrified at the prospect of me doing the same.
This is something that college kids do, not the
Irish. And this is where the stereotypes get per-
sonal: The British used the stereotype of the
Irish as drunken savages to justify their coloni-
zation of Ireland.
Now, the fact that St. Patrick's Day contin-
ues to reinforce those stereotypes that made
life so much harder for my ancestors is pretty
frustrating. We may use cultural holidays as
an excuse for consumerism, butI can't think of
any other consumerist version of a culture that
upholds a stereotype like this one. "Paczki Day"
doesn't portray Poles as fatsoes. Cinco de Mayo,
now also an excuse to drink, doesn't project the
same image of alcoholism on Mexicans. To my
knowledge, St. Patrick's Day is the only holiday
that embraces a derogatory stereotype.
So, yes, I'll be drinking on St. Patrick's Day,
but I'll be sober in time to go to work - though
given my Irish pride and the stereotypes, I bet
my boss will doubt my sobriety. My mother
will also probably have a beer or two and most
definitely will make corned beef for dinner. As
an American college student, St. Patrick's Day
to me means drinking Irish beer and wearing
green. As an Irish-American, St. Patrick's Day is
the one day where it's coolto be pale and where
I'm not ashamed to blast "The Rocky Road to
Dublin" from my porch, car and workplace.
I have no qualms with people drinking from
dawn 'til dusk, but for the love of God, do you
have to deck yourselves with tacky cloverleaves
and Irish flags?
Vivian Burgett is an LSA senior.

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
A love letter to Amy Poehler


I've been really grateful for all
of the smart women in movies and
on television lately: Kristen Wiig is
makingbox-office hits, MindyKaling
has her own TV show and Tina Fey
seems to have the Midas touch.
The leading lady that captured
my heart, however, is Amy Poehler.
Like a breath of fresh air in a stale,
male-dominated media, Poehler
is hilarious, opinionated and sup-
portive of her gal pals. Her televi-
sion show can give women hope
because, while plenty of shows have
amazing character actor ensembles
or witty writing, "Parks and Recre-
ation" has realistic female friend-
ships, namely that of Leslie Knope
and Ann Perkins.
The relationship between these
two women is loving and support-
ive. They have tons of fun together.
They aren't catty, manipulative or
competitive like the "Real House-
wives" women. They work hard at
their friendship. They set aside time
for each other and help each other
achieve their life goals. And their
friendship is independent of any man
- "Uteruses before Duderuses!"
Even better is that this show isn't
primarily targeted toward women

- it's full of humor that appeals to
both genders. This is a noteworthy
feat, especially considering most
exemplary female friendships in
the media are exclusively relegated
to female-targeted media. Lifetime
movies, romantic comedies and
"Sex and the City" immediately
come to mind.
It's easy to overlook the rarity of
strong female friendships on televi-
sion. Many shows suffer from the
"Smurfette Principle," which states
that unless a show is purposefully
aimed at a female viewing audi-
ence, the characters will tend to be
disproportionately male. This often
manifests itself as a group of guys
with one girl in the main cast. Obvi-
ous illustrations of this include "It's
Always Sunny in Philadelphia,"
"Seinfeld," "The New Girl," "'The
Big Bang Theory" and of course,
"The Smurfs." I love you Miss
Piggy, but are you really content as
the only female Muppet?
Other movies or shows have
female characters, but their main
purpose is to enhance the male
cast members. Don't believe me?
The Bechdel test was designed to
measure this exact phenomenon.

A movie or an episode passes the
Bechdel test if it has three elements:
at least two female characters who
speak, those female characters
speak to each other and when they
speak to each other, they're talking
about something other than a man.
Sounds easy enough? At least half of
all films and TV episodes fail.
Don't get me wrong. I love the
media despite misogyny. "The Lord
of the Rings" trilogy is my favorite
set of films, even though Middle
Earth is mostly devoid of females. I
own all the seasons of "It's Always
Sunny on DVD, and Sweet Dee is
her own awesome flavor of a-hole.
But as a smart female, I want to see
females on TV that I can relate to,
maybe even admire. And I want to
see those females in healthy, sup-
portive friendships with each other.
How can we achieve this change?
By demanding it! By watching
shows like "Parks and Rec", and
appreciating it as the rare, beautiful
musk ox that it is. And I'm sure my
weekly love letters to Amy Poehler
don't hurt either.
Elizabeth Brouwer is a
Public Heath student.

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