4A - Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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kAINC UP bURlNG BReaMK: JAdNC, t/P AT SCHOOL:
Be perfec. o pressure.
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.
Right-to-work and Pure Michigan don't mix
T he Pure Michigan logo has done great things for Michigan's
travel and tourism industry. However, to promote the fact
that Michigan is now a right-to-work state, the Michigan
Economic Development Corporation has attached the Pure Michi-
gan logo and brand with advertisements touting the passage of this
legislation. The branding was prominently displayed in a full-page
advertisement in The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 8. The text of the
advertisement cites the legislation as a "once-in-a-generation trans-
formation (that) has Michigan poised to become a preferred place to
do business ... the perfect storm of opportunity, resources and passion
is Pure Michigan." While business opportunities in Michigan should
be promoted, MEDC should not have politicized Pure Michigan, a
brand solely dedicated to encouraging tourism.
The Pure Michigan brand started as an
advertising campaign in 2006, with the goal
of branding Michigan as a travel destina-
tion. Pure Michigan was created by Travel
Michigan, a division of the MEDC. MEDC is
a state-funded economic development corpo-
ration. While Travel Michigan does receive
funding from the MEDC, right-to-work has
no association to the Pure Michigan logo.
Under right-to-work laws, employees cannot
be forced to pay union dues in any work place.
Right-to-work was quickly passed in Decem-
ber without public hearings. In a December
poll, 51 percent of Michigan voters. did not
support this legislation. Right-to-work is a
polarizing issue in the state, and it's too soon
to determine whether or not it will bolster
The advertising decision completely chang-
es the meaning of the Pure Michigan brand
and sets a dangerous precedent. In 2011, the
MEDC reported that the Pure Michigan tour-
ism campaign generated $1 billion of revenue
for businesses in the state. This was accom-
plished without the mention of polarizing leg-
islation passed in Michigan. The addition of an
anti-union agenda to Pure Michigan could sti-
fle the tourism campaign when the two have
nothing to do with each other.
It's important- for Michigan to advertise
business opportunities. However, this can be
done without the use of specific, partisan leg-
islation. MEDC should focus on the Michigan
Business Tax, the educational opportunities
available and the vibrant cities Michigan has
Although economic investment in Michi-
gan should be encouraged, branding right-
to-work as "Pure Michigan" as a potential
answer to this challenge is deeply misguided.
The decision abuses the bipartisan and uni-
fying nature of Pure Michigan by giving it a
political agenda and unfairly flaunts an image
of Michigan at the cost of the tourism indus-
try. In doing so, the advertising decision not
only taints the Pure Michigan brand, but also
uses taxpayer dollars to promote an unpopu-
lar and polarizing decision.
n the end, it boils down to
this: How many elbow patch-
es is too many?
Can Iwear an
neath a jacket
patch exten- JOSEPH
sions? Let's HORTON
get serious -
can my actual
elbows be graft-
ed with patches? If so, could I be on
the reality show, "I Gave Up My Skin
For Suede," or star in an episode of
that long-running academic fashion
series, "Say Yes To The Tweed?" As
a new semester arrives - as I step in
front of a new class - how do I look
like I know what I'm doing?
It's my second year as a lecturer
in the English Department Writing
Program. Before that, I was a gradu-
ate student instructor. Before that,
a graduate student. Before that, an
undergraduate. As an undergradu-
ate, I looked forward to the first
day of a new term. I wasn't always
pleased to be back at school, but I
was thrilled to have at least one day
where nothing seemed required of
me. Sit, introduce myself, play some
terrible name-game, look over the
syllabus. Consider my schedule -
is a five-day weekend possible? Be
physically present in the room and
deal with everything else later. First
days are easy.
It is not, let me say, the same for
The first day of class is huge. Let's
put aside for the moment the work
that's gone into the syllabus - plan-
ning four months of classes is like
squeezing all your worldly posses-
sions into a carry-on bag and then
jamming it wheels-first into an over-
head bin. When I enter and amble
to the front of the classroom, I must
introduce myself. The voice inside
my head says, be brief and be clear.
Explain your qualifications, your
background. Don't brag, but be con-
fident. Don't oversell yourself, don't
undersell the material. Be delightful
and welcoming and witty and acces-
sible. Do not rant about reality tele-
vision. Do not be an insane person.
Be perfect. No pressure.
Now ask members of the class to
introduce themselves. What ques-
tions beyond the obvious (name,
major, year in school, hometown)
allow a thoughtful and interesting
human being to appear thought-
ful and interesting? How can I ask
a group of strangers to share a part
.of themselves so soon - do I say it's
a leap of faith? I usually go simple,
asking for favorite books and mov-
ies. Harry Potter and anything
Channing Tatum prove big winners.
(What house, then, would suit Chan-
ning? My money's on Hufflepuff.)
Or I use the standard, I-give-you-a-
like-to-go vacation query, where
Europe and warm islands always
do well, with Florida an honorable
mention. (And what-is the Michi-
gander obsession with Florida?)
After that, the easy part's over.
How do I begin to build a place where
everyone feels comfortable to share
their ideas, take intellectual and cre-
ative risks and trust their peers to
do the same? At this point, I'm just
praying I don't trip over myself, spill
coffee everywhere and collapse in a
weeping mass of damp tweed. I
Judging by the amount of advice
out there, I'm not the only teacher
mindful of first day dynamics.
Guidance from our own excellent
Center for Research on Learning
and Teaching includes the basics:
"Learn students' names and use
them ... Be expressive and enthusi-
astic ... Be open to helping students
with problems ... " The Center for
Teaching at vanderbilt University
notes that first days can be calendar
commodities: " ... several of your
students may be 'shopping' for a
schedule the first week of classes."
Carnegie Mellon University's first
day survival guide speaks directly
to me: "More formal attire commu-
nicates expertise and confidence,
less formal attire communicates
approachability." So then, a suit
jacket with jean shorts? Too
creepy? An expressive tuxedo with
enthusiastic pajama pants? Woody
Allen glasses and at least six intel-
A good class finds
itself, settles in,
I know there's no formula for
the perfect first class. A good class
finds itself, settles in, grows togeth-
er. I know first impressions aren't
everything but they are something.
We who survive Michigan winters
know better than most that ice can
be broken in a day, but it only melts
Suffice to say that I - and I sus-
pect many other teachers - care
deeply and sweat freely when pre-
paring for this first day, a day that
at its worst seems like equal parts
audition and open house. But the
day I'm not nervous, not excited,
not willing to try again is the day
I quit teaching. The stakes are too
high and the rewards too great to
do otherwise. First days matter.
Sorry, yes. A question in the back?
Well, that's kind of you to say. I do
have splendid elbows.
- Joseph Horton can be reached
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Jesse klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata,
Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Derek Wolfe
SETH WOLIN I
Funding to flourish
The value of a liberal arts education, partic-
ularlyone inthe humanities, is currentlyques-
tioned in the United States. What's in question
is not the contentofaliberal arts educationper
se, but rather its usefulness in society.
Just last October, Florida Gov. Rick Scott
expressed this concern to the Sarasota Her-
"If I'm going to take money from a citi-
zen to put into education, then I'm going to
take that nroney to create jobs. So I want that
money to go to degrees where people can get
jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the
state to have more anthropologists? I don't
think so," he said.
Scott's remarks spark an interesting ques-
tion in political philosophy: What are the
vital interests of the state, and, more gener-
ally, of society? Surely, the promotion of eco-
nomic growth through investment in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics
education can be counted amongst those
interests. Another might be upholding the
rule of law, since this advances the objective
of security and civility that are necessary to
Economic growth, security and civility are
vital to the state because they're valuable in
promoting human flourishing. Human flour-
ishing, in all of its diverse and wonderful
forms, is the real goal of the state. We don't
create jobs for the sake of jobs, enforce laws
for the sake of laws or invest in technology
for the sake of technology. We do all of these
things for the sake of human flourishing.
With the goal of human flourishing in
mind, one might ask what a liberal arts edu-
cation has to offer. The answer is a world of
good. Activists, poets, playwrights, politi-
cians and artists trace the development of
their identities back to experiences in the
liberal arts. Where would Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. be without his engagement in theol-
ogy? How about David Foster Wallace, Ter-
rence Malick or Lawrence Lessig without
earlier immersion in philosophy? These are
people whose art and ideas enrich our lives
in ways beyond the discovery of theorems
or development of devices. These are people
whose output can't be measured in terms of
dollars, but in terms of their power to strike
at the very core of our being.
Of course, not every English major is the
next Arthur Miller or Susan Sontag. But this
doesn't mean every student of 19th century
French poetry or ancient philosophy is gam-
bling to become the next great literary theo-
rist or Plato scholar. Rather, the experience of
a liberal arts education lends itself to all kinds
of fields that require a broad-minded, human-
istic approach to one's life and career.
Skeptics may accept all the assertions
about the value of a liberal arts education
but continue to deny resources to these dis-
ciplines in a turbulent economy. However,
in terms of job prospects, the numbers don't
support the idea that a liberal arts degree is
significantly less viable in today's job market.
A recent study from Georgetown University
reports an unemployment rate of 9.27 percent.
for recent liberal arts graduates, compared to
a rate of 7.8 percent for STEM discipline grad-
uates. That's a difference of only 1.47 percent.
The idea that liberal arts majors don't find
jobs is pernicious and flat-out wrong.
We need to abandon the concept that we're
only worth what we've been taught in the
past and embrace an attitude that values the
person we may become in the future. Doing
so means changing our discourse surround-
ing the liberal arts. It means giving up our
obsession with how an art history major will
function in society and instead discovering
how she will flourish.
Seth Wolin is an LSA sophpmore.
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DEREK WOLFE|IE 7'
Justice failed for Swartz
The world is small, but the Inter-
net makes the world infinitely small-
er. This became even more apparent
to me when I learned of the recent
Jan. 11 suicide of Internet activist
Aaron Swartz. He was prosecuted
by the federal government for down-
loading nearly four-million articles
from the online academic journal
database, JSTOR, which charges
extremely high fees for scholarly,
articles. Unfortunately, the possi-
bility of a 35-year prison sentence
proved too much for Swartz to bear.
Swartz is a testament to the
importance of Internet freedom.
Despite his huge impact on the
Internet, he's much less famous than
Mark Zuckerberg, who's constantly
criticized for the ever-changing pri-
vacy settings of Facebook.
Swartz was a co-founder of
Reddit, a site where users post
thousands of articles, videos and
pictures with the hope that others
will find them of interest. Over this
past winter break, I became a more
active Reddit user, posting a couple
of links daily. While it was quite
humbling to realize that my humor
may not be consistent with the rest
of the world, I was reminded how
awesome it is to share and converse
with others in a society that's domi-
nated and funded by the wealthy -
an indisputable fact regardless of
party affiliation. Not to say we're
oppressed people, but the fact that
the government pursued Swartz for
trying to release documents that
arguably should have been public in
the first place is troubling.
The amazement generated by
websites like Reddit is where our
society's problems lie. Why should
sites like Reddit, which promote
the interaction of people, be consid-
ered a triumph? Shouldn't they be
I, like many others, spend a lot
of time on the Internet and have
noticed the huge influence of large
corporations cloudingthe web. Seri-
ously, how annoying is it to be forced
to watch a 45-second advertisement
in order to watch a one-minute
Of course, I didn't know Swartz;
however, I feel like he would've
hated big companies shelling out
millions of dollars to advertise, con-
sidering censorship would surely
follow suit. Swartz was also strongly
against the Stop Online Piracy Act
that galvanized national debate in
2012. When the bill was ultimately
shot down he said, "It was really
stopped by the people; the people
themselves - they killed the bill
dead." It was clear then that Swartz
valued the power of the masses and
the ability the Internet has to rally
Glenn Greenland of The Guard-
ian summed up the significance of
Swartz's life and the state of our
society nicely in a Jan. 12 article.
He said, "Swartz was destroyed
by a justice' system that fully pro-
tects the most egregious criminals
as long as they are members of or
useful to the nation's most powerful
factions, but punishes with incom-
parable mercilessness and harsh-
ness those who lack power and, most
of all, those who challenge power."
I had never heard of Swartz
before his death. At first the only
reason I found it of interest was
because I like the website he helped
create. But after reading more about
him I learned that he's considered a
modern day civil rights activist who
fought hard for the sanctity and
purity of the Internet. He cherished
the public good and remains impor-
tant despite his lack of fame.
What needs to be taken away
from his life, however, is that we
should not take our freedom, espe-
cially on the Internet, for.granted.
Because the reality is that there are
people out there who are trying to
take it away from us. The Internet
connects people - we need to keep
it that way.
Derek Wolfe is an LSA freshman.
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