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March 27, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-27

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4A - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C Iyc Midiian Batly
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MELANIE KRUVELIS
ANDREW WEINER and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
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.
Take the 'U' out of fossl fuel
New CSG leadership must focus on sustainability
Last Tuesday, the Central Student Government voted to reject
a petition urging the University to reform its current sub-
stantial investments in the fossil fuel industry. Proposed by
the Divest and Invest campaign, a coalition of students, faculty and
community members, the petition called on University administra-
tion to disclose its investments in fossil fuel industries and commit
to divesting the estimated $900 million the University presently
holds in the industry. As a national leader in research and educa-
tion that promotes sustainability, the University has a demonstrated
obligation to invest in industries that align with the goals it espous-
es. When the new CSG executives take office, a renewed focus on
sustainability must become a critical piece of the administration's

No more dining hell

T he University is home to
nine dining halls, seven
residence hall cafes and
countless other
University-oper-
ated eateries.
Eating options
for students are
innumerable,
and freshmen
are even known
to gain the infa-
mous "freshman HEMA
15" from the KARUNA-
plethora of food KARAM
available.
But quantity
and quality don't seem to go hand
in hand with University Dining. In
fact, it's not even a big stretch to say
they're inversely related.
Last week I bit into one of South
Quad dining hall's breakfast egg-
and-cheese croissants and found a
whole uncooked egg yolk spilling out
of the center onto my plate. Abso-
lutelyhorrified, I wrote a Facebook
status later that day sharing this
anecdote. The response was over-
whelming.
My uncooked egg sandwich
was only one of several atrocities
supposedly found in the dining
halls. Other students encountered
strands of hair in their "fresh" sal-
ads or dirty utensils that should've
been thoroughly washed. Nearly
every studentI told about my raw
egg had an equally - if not more -
disgusting experience to relate. On
top of that, several students found
that their concerns over allergies
or dietary restrictions largely fell
on deaf ears among the residence
hall staff. When I asked them why
none of these matters had been
pursued, something along the lines
of "no one cares" was the general

response.
I don't niean to go all Upton
Sinclair on the dining halls. To be
fair, the options available are still
sufficient for many students. As
a vegetarian, I've never found it
particularly difficult to geta meal
in dining rooms, even if my narrow
choices have become monotonous
over time. Horror stories of unsafe
food or utensils are the exceptions,
not the norm. There are plenty of
diningstaff members who are pas-
sionate about accommodating for
allergies and restrictions, and get-
ting students the best, safest food
possible.
So why does there continue to be a
gap between what students want and
what they actually receive?
Perhaps part of the issue lies
within the organizational struc-
ture of the dining halls. Sumana
Palle, a sophomore and former
North Quad Residence Hall dining
hall employee, reports having wit-
nessed an obvious lack of sensitiv-
ity among staff for students with
food allergies. "As soon as someone
who was complaining walked
away, the supervisor would turn
to me and roll his eyes, which was
very disheartening," she told me.
Like Palle, many of the employees
are students themselves and likely
aren't particularly passionate about
improving the dining experience.
Those who actually care, such as
the managers, tend to be behind
the scenes and less frequently
directly encounter issues that stu-
dents face.
Over the past several years, there
have been pushes for more health-
ful and sustainable food options in
the dininghalls fromboth students
and administrators. While these are
important improvements, the pri-

mary concern should be making food
safer to eat.
Part of the solution, however,
lies in our hands, too. Leave it to
our generation to Facebook and
tweet about dining hall atrocities
instead of actually sending in a
complaint to someone who might
be able to help - I've since sent
in a formal complaint of my own,
though I haven't heard back yet.
The dining halls are always asking
for feedback, so if you want to see a
difference, fill out a comment form
or do it online. If the food or uten-
sils you're using make you uncom-
fortable in any way, tell someone
who works there instead of just
complaining about it on Facebook.
Though human nature is such that
we often only remember our worst
experiences, employees who genu-
inely care do exist, and it is pos-
sible you will encounter someone
who wants to hear your complaints
and make your dining experience
better.
I don't want to
find raw eggs in
my meals.
I don't want to find any more raw
eggs, strands of hair or bits of old
food in the meals I'm served in the
dining halls. But if we don't start
talking about it, who will? It's time
we take dining back into our own
hands and'start workingto improve
the food we're served on campus.
- Hema Karunakaram can be
reached at khema@)umich.edu.

0

platform.
From creating the Program in the Environ-
ment major a decade ago to the Planet Blue
campaign, sustainability on campus exists in
many forms. In September 2011, University
President Mary Sue Coleman announced a
$14-million investment in sustainable proj-
ects, including hybrid buses and an alterna-
tive-fuel vehicle fleet as a means to reduce
fossil fuel use. LSA also expanded after Cole-
man's announcement, offering an academic
minor in sustainability through the Program
in the Environment. "I want the message to
be clear: Sustainability defines the University
of Michigan," Coleman said.
While Coleman argues the University's
commitment to sustainability is clear, admin-
istrators have been opaque about the school's
investments in fossil fuels. Though Michigan
law protects specific investment data from
being made public, the University should be
held accountable for how it spends money
donated by the community it represents.
The University's investment office provides
a breakdown by percentage of the school's
funds that are spent on various types of
investments. According to statements made
Monday by Erik Lundberg, the University's
chief investment officer, natural resources
account for 9.3 percent of current invest-
ments. Making a further distinction between
fossil fuels and alternative energy sources
would add a level of accountability to a pro-
cess in which many students and community
members demand more transparency.
Currently, specific data on the Univer-
sity's endowment investments in the fossil

fuel industry are not available to the public,
although the divest campaign estimates the
current total to be over $900 million. The
University's endowment ranks as the second
largest among public universities and sev-
enth largest of any university in the United
States, in part due to the profitability of these
investments. The purpose of the endowment
is to provide for the continued operations and
financial growth of the University, a goal that
is not at odds with its environmental responsi-
bility. Industries focused on alternative energy
and other environmentally friendly technolo-
gies are responsible for a growing portion of
our economy. Ownership in these ventures
would be lucrative and in line with the Univer-
sity's self-defined ethical responsibilities and
a commitment that would appeal to potential
endowment donors with similar values.
While the Board of Regents stated pol-
icy is to not let social or political factors
influence the University's investments,
there is a historical precedent for divesting
from funds deemed socially irresponsible.
Instances of this include pulling invest-
ments out of the tobacco industry in the
early 2000s and from South African firms
during apartheid. The University's current
investment in the fossil fuel industry is not
only environmentally irresponsible but also
runs in direct opposition to the research
and social objectives set out by the Universi-
ty's administration and students. CSG needs
to be a driving force in urging the Univer-
sity to follow its own precedent and pursue
responsible financial policies.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Eric Ferguson,
Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet,
Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata,
Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth,
Daniel Wang, Luchen Wang, Derek Wolfe

i

TREVOR DOLAN AND RYNE MENHENNICK |
A 20/20 vision

NOEL GORDON|
F(
After a failed Central Student Gov-
ernment presidential bid last year, it
appears youMich is back. And this
time they brought gimmicks! The
latest of which is a YouTube video
featuring some fictional character
named Da'Quan Carter, who is clear-
ly a not-so-veiled attempt at showing
us just how "with it" - read: black -
youMich really is.
Rest assured that the sarcasm
dripping from every word I've writ-
ten so far isn't out of disrespect for
any one person affiliated with you-
Mich. In fact, I happen to like some
of their ideas quite a bit. No, my big-
gest problem with youMich is that I
don't see myself reflected anywhere
in their platform, which is problem-
atic for a political party that claims
to care so much about the students.
Unfortunately, the Da'Quan video
only made things worse by asking the
question: Which students are left out
of the "you" in youMich?
According to their official party
website, youMich is a student orga-
nization that is all about "YOU ...
whether it's about your academics,
your student organization, or your
campus environment." I would love
to take youMich seriously - no, real-
ly I would - but nowhere on their
site do they mention issues that affect
students from underrepresented
communities on campus. There's no
mention of tuition equality. No men-
tion of increasing minority reten-

zwgetting yoi
tion and recruitment. No mention
of fighting tuition hikes. Hell, they
don't even use the words "diversity"
or "social justice" anywhere on their
website - a standard practice for
most CSG political parties even if
they secretly don't give a damn about
creating a more inclusive campus. I
suppose I could take some solace in
the fact that youMich is running a
somewhat diverse slate of candidates
this time around but that means
nothing if the head of the ticket is too
busy focusing on solutions to a rather
narrow set of "everyday problems
and issues that University of Michi-
gan students face."
I'm a University student who just
last week was called a faggot by stu-
dents in my residence hall, who sees
more black and brown boys on Uni-
versity crime alerts than in my politi-
cal science courses, who can only
afford to be here because of an ever-
increasing amount of unsubsidized
loans, who is annoyed by the fact that
CSGgave its largestbudget allocation
to the Entrepreneurship Commis-
sion when there are first-generation
college students struggling just to be
here. Do these problems not count
because they affect students who
don't fall under the "you" in you-
Mich? Maybe they do, but you sure
as hell wouldn't know it by watching
the Da'Quan Carter video. The only
thing I learned about youMich after
watching the clip was that even CSG

presidential candidates are capable
of cultural appropriation when it
suits their political ambitions.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on
youMich, but then again, at least
momentUM has pledged to "increase
cultural dialogue between student
organizations." Even the indepen-
dent candidates have a whole section
of their website dedicated to building
"a global and diverse U-M." Appar-
ently, youMich is one of the only CSG
political parties not to get the memo:
Diversity is "in" this season. Look
no further than the last presidential
election, in which President Barack
Obama crushed Mitt Romney, in
large part due to changing racial and
gender demographics. Republicans
got whipped badly - to the point
where they've finally begun to real-
ize that you can't win general elec-
tions by alienating women, LGBTQ
folks, people of color and poor peo-
ple. Hopefully, youMich learns a
similar lesson.
Being the political man that I
am, I'm going to vote for forUM.
Although they're far from perfect,
forUM is the only party in this race
with a demonstrated track record
of supporting students from under-
represented communities. But, more
importantly, they're unafraid to see
the student body in more colors than
maize and blue.
Noel Gordon is an LSA senior.

a

Providing a secure education for our youth is
an essential responsibility of the state govern-
ment. In Michigan, we need our state govern-
ment to step up now. Despite being home to two
of the top 30 public universities in the United
States, Michigan ranks 36th in the nation in
college attainment. Michigan's Senate Demo-
cratic Caucus, led by Ann Arbor's own Rep.
Rebekah Warren, has put forward a proposal
that would propel our state to the forefront on
this issue and make Michigan a leader on edu-
cation policy in the United States.
The proposed Michigan 2020 Plan would
award any high school graduate in the state of
Michigan $10,617 per year to put towards the
payment of tuition at any college in Michigan.
The grants would be available to any student,
whether educated in a private school, a pub-
lic school or at home and would increase over
time to match rising tuition rates.
The Michigan 2020 Plan was first intro-
duced during the 2012 legislative session.
Despite the support of the entire Michigan
Democratic Caucus, the Republican-con-
trolled Senate didn't allow the bill to pass
beyond the hearing stage. The bill has been
revived this session, and Gretchen Whitmer,
senate minority leader, says that the 2020
Plan is her highest priority for 2013. Senate
Democrats recognize the importance of high-
er education to Michigan residents and hope
to "drive Michigan into the 21st century."
Students at the University understand
firsthand the difficulties of affording a college
education. The skyrocketing costs of tuition
at the University and across the state have
saddled current students with overwhelming
student loan debt and deterred students from
even applying to schools like Michigan just
because the costs seem too high.
Not only will the Michigan 2020 Plan help
students attain higher education, but it will
also spur an important economic stimulus.
Whitmer has said that the state of Michi-

gan needs to produce "a million new degree
holders by 2025 if we are going to be a place
to do business. This could be a game-changer
for Michigan." The 2020 Plan will encour-
age parents and young people to stay in the
state of Michigan to experience the benefits
of this plan, hopefully stemming the popula-
tion slump that our state has experienced for
the past decade while attracting a diverse and
well-trained workforce as our state moves
away from manufacturing as a primary
source of employment.
The 2020 Plan would be funded by a com-
bination of the elimination of corporate tax
incentives, of which the state of Michigan
awards some $35 billion every year, and an
elimination of some of the $28 billion in-state
contracts. Whitmer proposes that some of the
money from both of these sources be diverted
to pay for the plan, thus preventing tax pay-
ing families from incurring any of the costs.
The Michigan 2020 Plan provides oppor-
tunities for those who wouldn't otherwise
have them. With the increasing cost of col-
lege, more and more low-income families are
shying away from saddling their kids with
tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and, con-
sequently, qualified students are unable to
attend schools like the University of Michi-
gan because of the cost.
Attending a Michigan college requires
hard work and dedication on the part of the
student. We should reward students' hard
work by allowing them to continue their edu-
cational achievement rather than putting up
financial barriers. Education is an invest-
ment. The Michigan 2020 Plan recognizes
the importance of investing in the future,
and, through easing access to higher educa-
tion, hopes to reap the returns of a more edu-
cated and skilled Michigan workforce.
Trevor Dolan and Ryne
Menhennick are LSA freshmen.

0

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SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM

youMich and Brody
must apologize Jbr an
overtly racist video
TO THE DAILY:
The Defend Affirmative Action
Party condemns the actions of Lucas
Brody, youMich and all those associ-
ated with the party's video featur-
ing the minstrel character Da'Quan
Carter. It's deeply disrespectful and
the fact that someone would think
it is otherwise makes this a day we
are ashamed to call ourselves Wol-

verines. The history of white Ameri-
cans playing caricatures of African
Americans is a long and shameful
vestige of institutionalized racism
in this country. We'd like to remind
you all that this kind of disrespect
of campus identities isn't an isolated
incident. Just a few months ago, the
hate crime at Haven Hall resulted
in the destruction of materials from
numerous departments representing
many of the identities we all share
on campus. The Reflection Room in
this same space has also, on numer-
ous occasions, been made unusable
due to vandalism. As a campus com-
munity, we cannot allow such actions
to stand.

We demand that youMich and Brody
apologize to the campus community.
We also demand that the University
take action to address this incident
and the numerous others that have
occurred. The way we treat and
respect each other is a reflection
on ourselves and our communities.
Somethingis wrongwithour campus
culture on the day we can claim to be
"the leaders and best" silent in the
face of these attacks on the our most
deeply held values.
Andrew Bradley and Ashley
Garrick
LSA senior, Social Work student

6

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