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January 17, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-17

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4A - Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

I c MICl igan +

An army of women

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109


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.
Blurry vision
Snyder needs to be more concrete in 2013
D espite his claims of being a political outsider, Michigan Gov.
Rick Snyder's State of the State address delivered more of the
same watered-down rhetoric. In his hour-long speech, Sny-
der focused on the state's accomplishments in the past year, empha-
sizing Michigan's now-stabilized economy. However, rather than
outlining a definitive vision for the state's future, the governor spoke
in generalities. Michigan is at a crossroads in its recovery, and Snyder
missed the opportunity to discuss several key issues that will signifi-
cantly affect the state's economy. In 2013, Snyder needs to provide the
public with specific plans rather than the vague goals he outlined in
his address.

ike a lot of families who
don't know what to do on
Christmas Day, mine went
to see a movie.
between a trailer
for "Pain and
Gain" and "Djan-
go Unchained," an
army recruitment ,
filled the screen. EMILY
This wasn't like PITTINOS
many of the
advertisements on TV: It wasn't
a son informing his dad of the
army's tuition benefits over a game
of backyard basketball or a weepy
mother gushing about the pride she
feels for her golden boy. This ad
was unusual to me because it only
featured women.
Oneshotshowed awomaninbattle
fatigues running through dry terrain
before diving into a whirring heli-
copter. Another woman bore glinting
Medals of Honor as she paced before
a lecture hall packed with men in
uniform. A female doctor stitched up
soldiers in adusty medical tent while
triumphant music blared through
the theater's surround sound. Each
woman was powerful, satisfied and
in charge.
Whenthe commercial was over,
my aunt, a decidedly anti-warliberal,
leaned toward me between bites of
unbuttered popcorn and whispered,
"Wow, that was a really good ad."
And it was.
Itsgrand shots made me marvel at
the strength of female soldiers and
women in general. Not too long ago,
girls could hardly dream of being
physicians, let alone receive medical
training on the government's dime.
Here, however, was an advertise-
ment promising exactly that.
I already knew enlisting has its
benefits. I live with a girl whose dad
has helped build their family's life
with his career in the military. I've
also known troubled kids who have
bettered themselves immeasurably
from the army's structure. But these
military women radiated with a new

sense of possibility.
For a moment, I felt like the
advertisement was administer-
ing an injection of hope to its cho-
sen audience. Movie trailers and
commercials are targeted to spe-
cific areas, and it's no accident that
this ad was being shown in Benzie
County, one of the poorer parts of
Michigan. Growing up, I com-
monly heard about guys enlisting
in the military for steady employ-
ment and the hopes of affording a
college education. And while I was
applying to schools, many girls my
age were taking full-time jobs at the
local Best Western and Papa John's
to help their families pay the bills. It
probably didn't occur to them that
they could do what the boys were
doing, and I liked the idea of women
around me realizingtheir options.
However, my pride receded once
I realized the advertisement wasn't
givinghope to Benzie county girls as
much as it was manipulating them
with vivid shots of these bold beau-
ties at war.
If you ask any feminist if women
should fight in wars alongside men,
the answer would probably be a ten-
tative "yes." It's a common under-
standing in the interest of progress
that women must populate every
field that men do, from urology to
presidency, and that includes being
respected as soldiers and officers.
But in an effort to recruit from a
relatively untapped source of warm
bodies, this advertisement used
feminist ideals to its advantage by
exploiting the rare successes of
women in the field.
It also left out the harsh truth:
War is a practice that has histori-
cally included women in its car-
nage. Its history is full of civilian
girls taken as war brides and sex
slaves. While focused on shots of
women striking punching bags
"Million Dollar Baby"-style, the
advertisement failed to mention
that it's even less safe for women
to be on an invading team than the
average male at war. Women can be
war heroes, but they also risk facing.

sex-specific dangers that male sol-
diers are less likely to experience.
Last year, Ms. Magazine's blog
published an article about "The
Invisible War," a documentary about
sexual assault overseas. The arti-
cle says that there have been some
reports of male rape victims, but
the number is nowhere close to the
Department of Defense's estimate
"that during 2010, as many as 19,000
women were raped in the military."
Even worse, many of those sur-
The military
should work
toward safety for
female soliders.
vivors did not receive the physi-
cal and psychological treatment
they needed after coming forward
about their trauma. According to
CNN, victims have said the mili-
tary's "conflicted chain of com-
mand structure did not protect
them from avoidable harm or sup-
port their need for justice." In other
words, if the rapist was a superior
officer, the event was often negated
or ignored, making the victims feel
crazy rather than comforted.
Though awareness of these
issues is increasing, it'll take a
lot of change for the military to
become a truly safe environment
for female soldiers. However, if
a friend of mine told me she was
thinking about signing up in order
to gain education or a career, I
wouldn't try to stop her. I'd only
implore her to seek out female vet-
erans and ask them about the story
behind the glory displayed in ads
like the one I saw. Women need to
know that they could face special
dangers that go beyond bombs and
night terrors before they decide
to ship off for basic training.
- Emily Pittinos can be reached
at pittinos@umich.edu.


In his speech, Snyder introduced "the new
big three" - the auto industry, agriculture
and tourism. This departure from the tradi-
tional automotive Big Three - General Motors,
Ford and Chrysler - highlights a nuanced
understanding of Michigan's economy, with-
out leaving the automotive companies behind.
Specifically, Snyder's emphasis on tourism
through the expansion of the Pure Michigan
brand proves the governor is paying attention
to agrowing, sustainable industry.Accordingto
Snyder, revenues from Michigan tourism grew
by $500 million ip the last year alone, while
hotel room occupancy and rates continue to
rise. The governor also stressed improvements
in outdoor facilities and parks, mentioning
the development of water recreation in Grand
Rapids. Focusing on tourism has not only been
effective in bringing new people to Michigan,
but in recapturing residents' pride in their
home state and promoting between residents.
Snyder spent a great deal of his speech
emphasizing the rebuilding of Michigan's
crumbling infrastructure, proposing more
than $1 billion in new funding for repair proj-
ects. As necessary as it is to rebuild the state's
notoriously broken highways and roads, Sny-
der ignored the real issue Michiganders are
craving action on: public transportation. The
governor's address briefly mentioned the
Regional Transit Authority and ta new head,

DTE executive Paul Hillegonds, but he failed
to specifically discuss the state's ailing need
for expanded public transit. The concept of
a light rail system has been steadily gaining
traction, and a reference from the governor in
his most important speech of the year could
have galvanized further action. Improving
our roads is certainly important and helpful
to residents, but an affordable, efficient sys-
tem of public transportation is what will push
Michigan forward.
What was most apparent during the State
of the State wasn't anything that Snyder said,
but rather everything he didn't say. Despite
massive protests in Lansing over the state
legislature's lame duck session, which saw the
passage of right-to-work and restrictions on
abortion, the governor never mentioned the
new laws. If Snyder is going to support such
divisive policies, he needs to own up to them.
Instead, he hid from the defining moments of
his governorship, failing to address several
key issues. Along with the more than 40 bills
he signed into law since December, Snyder
also failed to mention funding for higher edu-
cation, Detroit's precarious fiscal situation,
the renewed battle over emergency managers
and the growing gun debate. In the next year,
Snyder needs to communicate a clear, spe-
cific vision fortre-energizing Michigan that
addresses the state's most pressing concerns.

Keep up with columnists, read Daily editorials, view cartoons and join in the debate.
Check out @michdailyoped and Facebook.com/MichiganDaily
to get updates on Daily opinion content throughout the day.

Tenants need an advocate


Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James'Brennan, Eli Cahan, Jesse
Klein, Melanie Kruvelis, Patrick Maillet, Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata,
Adrienne Roberts, Vanessa Rychlinski, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Michael Spaeth, Derek Wolfe
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer than
300 words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. We do
not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.
Set boundaries, create safety

One in three women will be sexually
assaulted in her lifetime. One in five women
will be raped while in college. As the details
of the sexual assault that occurred in West
Quad Residence Hall last weekend become
clearer, it's important to remember two things:
First, rape can take many forms, but none are
acceptable. Second, there are ways to be as
safe as possible by being alert at all times.
Let's establish that rape, sexual assault
and unwanted touching of any kind is never
the fault of the victim. It doesn't matter what
she's wearing - women are never "asking for
it." Sexual assault can take many forms. Any-
time a woman leaves a sexual encounter feel-
ing uncomfortable because she didn't want it
or felt confused or coerced, this constitutes
sexual assault. Many consider rape to be "real"
only when a stranger violates another strang-
er. This is false. Sexual assault and rape hap-
pen all the time between established couples
or friends with benefits. Since lines between
friendships and casual sexual relationships
are drawn so thin in college, throw a little
alcohol in the mix and you may have the per-
fect circumstance for a sexual assault to occur.
For men: If she says no or acts like she
doesn't want a sexual advance - through body
language or lack of control - stop pursuing. It
doesn't matter how inebriated she is. You might
think your harmless butt-grab or walk-by-
breast-graze is okay, but it's not. That is consid-
ered sexual assault, and no matter how funny or
innocent it seems can make anyone uncomfort-
able. Only make sexual overtures on someone
when it's obviously mutual.
If that means you have to ask before you put
your arm around her, do so. You won't look
stupid. It will be refreshing and appreciated.
For women: Have a plan in mind. Of

course it's never your fault if you are sexually
assaulted, but you can take proactive steps to
prevent being harmed.
First, before a sexual encounter with some-
one set your boundaries clearly. You're allowed
to go as far as you want with someone in a con-
sensual sexual encounter without being consid-
ered a "tease" when you choose to stop. Decide
what you will and won't do. State your bound-
aries clearly, no matter how odd it sounds. As
an Ann Arbor self-defense instructor told me,
never let 30 seconds of potential awkward-
ness and embarrassment stand between you
and your safety. If you feel your red flags go up,
do everything and anything in your power to
leave before it's too late. Of course, there may
be extenuating circumstances where it is not
possible to run or flee the situation. But if it's
an option and you feel even the slightest hint of
"weirdness," trust your gut and remove your-
self from the situation. Again, a minute of awk-
wardness and embarrassment is never worth
the pain that may ensue.
The sexual assault that recently occurred
in West Quad is one of many. Sexual assaults
go unreported for various reasons including
embarrassment, confusion and emotional dis-
tress. If you or a friend has been raped, sexu-
ally assaulted in any manner or is confused
about a sexual encounter, there are places
on campus you can seek help. The Sexual
Assault and Prevention Awareness Center is
a great resource. Never feel embarrassed
or ashamed to seek help. Sexual assault is a
pressing issue on a college campus and we
must look out for each other. No matter if you
know her or not, if you see a woman in trou-
ble, don't let it slide. Get help immediately.
Maura Levine is an LSA sophomore.

magine this: mice scurry
around your kitchen cupboards
in search'for food. The scent
of sewage fills
your house for
days on end. Your
water suddenly
shuts off. And
all of this is your
landlord's fault.
It's 1970 and
the tenants of
708 E. Kings- KEVIN
ley Street didn't MERSON-
imagine this; BARG
they lived it.
Fortunately, these students could
turn to the Ann Arbor Tenants
Union for help. The AATU mobi-
lized masses of tenants to picket
against the offending landlord. In
part, holding landlords account-
able for tenants' rights was what
the AATU did from its inception
in 1969 until its untimely demise in
2003. It provided an invaluable ser-
vice to tenants across Ann Arbor -
student and non-student alike.
Today, student tenants often rec-
ognize when their rights as tenants
are violated and look for resolutions.
However, these ideas fall on deaf
ears. They lack a vehicle to make
them a reality. They may not realize
it, but they need a powerful advocate.
The AATU was that powerful
advocate. It burst on the Ann Arbor
scene in 1969 as part of what became
a two-year strike against the city's
slumlords. More than 1,500 tenants
around the city rose up in opposi-
tion to poor living conditions and
withheld their rent. Collectively,
they sent their rent money to an
escrow account in Windsor, Ontar-
io. Unless the landlords got their
act together, they wouldn't see a
dime of rent from strikers.
Increasingly, the AATU amassed
victories. It helped numerous ten-

ants reach out-of-court settlements
in their favor. It gained recogni-
tion from landlords as a force to be
reckoned with and became the sole
negotiator for tenants. It lobbied for
and won city ordinances and state
laws that secured tenants' rights.
Moreover, the AATU provided
resources and services to tenants
that catered to their needs. It taught
themto object to illegalcleaningfees
and to withhold rent if their land-
lord failed to fix problems. It warned
tenants of landlords that historically
treated tenants and their housing
poorly. It reviewed tenants' leases
to ensure tenants understood them
and landlords followed the law.
When all else failed,they helped dog
down landlords until they returned
security deposits.
All of this is gone. In its place,
student tenants are left with the
University's StudentLegalServices.
While its legal advice is sometimes
helpful, that's all it can provide to
these tenants. Along with tenants'
other needs, SLS fails to meet the
biggest one: defending their rights.
Increasingly, tenants' rights are
under siege. Landlords constantly
assail the right to affordable housing.
When the University - Ann Arbor's
largest landlord - buys up land, such
as Blimpy Burger, its not-for-profit
status diminishes the taxbaseinAnn
Arbor and thus, through increased
taxes, drives up the rent for everyone
else in the city. Meanwhile, develop-
ers erect 14-story high-rise apart-
ment buildings that cause rents inthe
vicinity to rise higher yet.
On another front, landlords,
such as those in the Washtenaw
Area Apartment Association, cru-
sade against the early lease-signing
ordinance. The ordinance protects
freshmen and current tenants from
landlords that attempt to sign the
next lease as the current lease starts.

Aside from a few brave souls, there is
no organized opposition against this
effort. It's merely another instance in
which tenants' rights are left at the
mercy of landlords.
Landlords take
advantage of
students with few
Student tenants faced the same
stark reality 43 years ago. Rather
than accept the status quo, they
acted. They understood that only a
tenants union could prevent land-
lords from violating tenants' rights
with impunity. They identified
ways to expand and secure their
rights. They then went to work to
create a mechanism to realize those
rights, which became the AATU.
These days, there's a 708 E. King-
sley on every block. While the prob-
lems may have less to do with mice
and more to do with money, student
tenants continue to get the short
end of the stick. More than ever,
tenants need the AATU if they want
to have a fighting chance against
landlord interests in city hall and
Lansing. Once more, students must
rise to the challenge and organize a
tenants union.
A revived AATU would once
again fill a void- a void the Uni-
versity fails to fill. And -upon
return, it would defend tenants'
rights' and provide comprehen-
sive services to tenants with
resolve long unseen. It would be
the fierce advocate we all deserve.
- Kevin Mersol-Barg can be
reached at kmersolb@umich.edu.

The Working Ethic: Has community service turned from a
selfless act into a resume builder? Charlene Lerner
podium discusses if this is the case.
Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium

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