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September 19, 2013 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com



4e fitichinan 3ailu

Second-class scientists

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.
Encourage entrepreneurship
Universities should offer financially support student innovation
Located in Palo Alto, Stanford University has long been known to have
deep ties to the surrounding culture of startup companies in Silicon
Valley, but now the school is taking steps to foster its direct involve-
ment. StartX is a student-created nonprofit that helps Stanford students develop
their start-up ideas. Students must go through an application process to receive
assistance from StartX. Those accepted receive training, office space and men-
toring and the program also connects students with potential investors. Stan-
ford University recently announced that they are forming a partnership with
StartX to create the Stanford-StartX Fund to invest in these startups. Programs
that provide resources for student entrepreneurs through funding opportuni-
ties are immeasurably helpful, but may lead to a conflict of interest between the

n Sunday night, I nearly had
a double heart attack due to
basic cable programming.
The first
occurred con-
tinuously over an
hour as Break-
ing Bad hurtled
across the Amer-
ican Southwest
toward its meth-
fueled rampage JULIA
of a conclusion. ZARINA
The show has
been the subject
of debate about
the glorification of the male anti-
hero and, conversely, the prominent
hatred of female characters, like Sky-
ler White (played by Anna Gunn),
who don't conform to archetypical
ideals. On television, men don't have
to be good to be celebrated as being
interesting and they certainly don't
need a moral compass to be cele-
brated as "good". Female characters
aren't written to the same degree of
flawed complexity very often and are
even less frequently praised in roles
where they are.
The second happened when Uni-
versity alum Nina Davuluri made
history when she was crowned the
first Miss America of Indian-Amer-
ican descent. In the days that fol-
lowed, she graciously brushed off
racist complaints that she doesn't
look or act the part of a "typical"
Miss America - whatever that's sup-
posed to mean.
In the entertainment industry,
like other fields where there's a well-
established majority, being a minor-
ity often comes with the expectation
that if you want to succeed, you con-
form to the long-standing cultural
status quo or you destine yourself
for a niche market. If you're simul-
taneously successful and a minority,
then your description usually comes
with qualifications.
Nobody writes of a strongmale TV
character, a best-selling European-
American author, or a famous man
in computer science because those
qualities are implied. To appropri-
ate Toni Morrison, being a minority
and a scientist, or a minority and a
comedian, or even a minority and an
American still means you "have to
hyphenate" your title.
I've found this to be especially
true as a woman studying engineer-
ing. Here at the University, 23 per-
cent of students in the College of
Engineering are female and only 8
percent of all Engineering students
come from historically underrepre-
sented backgrounds. These statistics
reflect national trends: According to

recent studies, less than 25 percent
of jobs in science, technology, engi-
neering and mathematics fields are
held by women, despite the fact that
today women make up almost half of
the workforce.
This data quantifies a frustrating-
ly obvious duality for minorities in
STEM fields. Although discrimina-
tory policies are legally prohibited
in the United States, an internalized
culture of exclusion often prevails.
As recently asS2005, Lawrence Sum-
mers, former president of Harvard
University, was infamously quoted
on his beliefs that the underrepre-
sentation of women in science is due
to inherent biological shortcom-
ings, not because of "discrimination
or socialization."
Attitudes like these are particular-
ly damaging in light of actual facts.
According to studies fundedby the
National Science Foundation, young
women express an initial interest
and aptitude in STEM studies at
similar rates to men, but many who
start off in these fields later drop out.
when interviewed, nearly 40 per-
cent of women and minority students
report feeling discouraged from pur-
suing careers it these fields due to
the culture of those professions.
Even the way textbooks are writ-
ten can impact female interest in
certain fields. Word problems that

serious engineering culture.
Being praised for not "acting like
a girl" is a misplaced designation
of value. Just as I hated being told
in high school that I had "become
American" after I started dressing
and speaking the part of a middle-
class white girl, I find it frustrating
to be told I'm "one of the boys" and
expected to take it as an unshaded
compliment. I take it as a fact. Just
like I take my status as a woman
as a fact, not a condition in need
of remedy.
The prevailing culture in STEM
fields isn't inherently invaluable.
However, the expectation that to be
relevant as women we must fill a cer-
tain role is not only marginalizing,
but also defeating of a main tenant
of engineering philosophy. As scien-
tists, we seek innovation and value
global perspectives and diverse opin-
ions as essential to growth.
So, if you want to show up to your
thermodynamics class in heels and a
dress, rock it out. Take yourself seri-
ously, because defining yourself as
feminine shouldn't be stigmatized.
To everybody else, recognize that we
look fly as hell and move on.
Equality isn't reached by degrad-
ing the majority voices, but by ele-
vating the minority ones. When the
playing field is level, true equals
compete and collaborate. When

school and its students.
While the university "will participate as
a minority investor alongside other venture
capital and angel investors," it's Stanford's first
attempt to make money from entrepreneurs
coming out of the university. The fund will
support the operations of StartX, and what's
called the "entrepreneurial education pro-
gram" which can essentially invest any amount
of money in a company. However, Stanford
also received criticism when it became public
knowledge that some professors would invest
in their own students' companies, a clear con-
flict of interest.
The Stanford-StartX fund is particularly
helpful due to the typically high barriers to
entry in the ultra-competitive tech industry
of Silicon Valley. StartX has helped to create
a number of successful companies, including
MedWhat, a search engine that allows users
to ask questions regarding health or medical
problems. If other universities invest in such
programs, they should establish guidelines in
order to ensure the academic and educational
priorities. If a university-backed program
encourages students to drop out to pursue a
business opportunity it would be contradictory
to the principles of an academic institution.
Stanford has garnered controversy regard-
ing their focus on entrepreneurship due to a
concern over whether these types of initiatives
detract from education and create pressure on
students who are not interested in startups.

There are also ethical questions that come
about when a university invests funds in com-
panies founded by undergraduates. Conflicts
of interest may arise when the university has a
profit-making agenda over its students. Recent
Stanford alumni have suggested that the inten-
tions of these start-ups have shifted from solv-
ing world problems to founding companies for
the prestige of owning a successful startup.
Universities looking to fund student-led start-
ups should carefully screen whether students
are dedicated to having an impact.
Here at the University, student, faculty and
administrators alike have been pushing for
more entrepreneurial opportunities on cam-
pus. OptiMize is a program that offers fund-
ing to startups that combine entrepreneurship
with social service, furthering the University's
principles while encouraging student initia-
tive. Startup Academy by MPowered Entrepre-
neurship hosts a series of sessions on coding
languages and starting a business taught by
successful entrepreneurs or professors, while
providing networking opportunities for every-
one involved. While the increased emphasis on
entrepreneurship is noteworthy here in Ann
Arbor - even getting a shout-out in the White
House's blog - the University should take note
from Stanford's model. An increased access
to responsible funding for student businesses
is key to keeping students competitive in an
already competitive field.

deal with cars
and baseball,
for example, are
tailored to inter-
ests socially
perceived to be
As students
get older, this
culture inten-
sifies. From the
discourages wearin
career fair becausee
"take you seriously
enrollment of wom
science in part due
they had grown u
women perceive th
row range of social
STEM fields. The ac
or so it seems, is ma
Popular stereoty
perspectives thatv
and-class citizensi
Femininity in pop
portrayed - inaccur
inherently superfici
ally guided. In envir'
rational analysis, th
are especially det:
associated, however
superficiality and a
comings automati
being feminine from

one group has
to spend a dis-
'U' STEM culture proportionate
amount of time
lacks women and and effort just
proving they
other minorities. are competi-
tors, they are
competing not
to thrive, but
professor who to survive.
ig skirts to the While valuable resources tai-
employers won't lored towards minorities in STEM
y," to declining fields exist, we must recognize
en in computer problems that persist.
to "stereotypes Science and engineering teach
p with", many us to never accept adequacy, that
ere to be a nar- we as components of a complex
acceptability in system must be constantly evolving
ccepted median, and that by definition, no system is
le-oriented. perfect. As scientists, we're driven
pes help guide by the pursuit of something we
women are sec- have yet to achieve. As members of
in the sciences. one of the world's most influential
culture is often engineering universities, we need
ately - as being to continue to support programs
al and emotion- encouraging minority involvement
aonments built on in STEM fields. Until women and
sese stereotypes other underrepresented minorities
rimental. Being have an equal place, our STEM cul-
r unfairly, with ture is inherently lacking.


nalytical short-
cally excludes
what is seen as

Julia Zarina can be reached
at jumilton@umich.edu.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Eric Ferguson, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh,
Megan McDonald, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
An American hypocrisy
On June 30, Russian President Vladimir Gym" publication, which could be deemed
Putin signed a bill into lawthat prohibits the "pro-homosexual."
distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional That October, Sen. Helms marched into the
sexual relations" to minors. If you are unclear Oval Office, pamphlet in hand, telling President
as to what "non-traditional sexual relations" Ronald Reagan that the GMHC had received
are, look no further than the explanation from $600,000 in public funding to publish disturb-
the Russian government itself: "relations not ing pamphlets that advanced a "homosexual
conducive to procreation." Basically, Russia is agenda." Helms then quickly drafted his anti-
now forbidding the gay community from pro- gay amendment. This efficiently disabled the
moting LGBT equality and justice - as if they public from learning about the potential risks
were so lenient in their policy before. associated with anal sex or similar sexual activ-
Rightfully, many gay activists around the ities. Local, state and federal agencies were
world - Americans largely included - jumped afraid to publish any information that could be
at criticizing the bill, urging countries to dis- deemed as homoerotic.
suade the Russian government from supporting At a crucial time when stigma ran rampant,
the homophobic legislature. the U.S. government could've stepped in and
Though the Russian law is disconcerting, the educated the American gay community about
American public is beinghypocritical by calling the dangers of unprotected sex and the ways
to overturn the law when a similar U.S. amend- HIV/AIDS is transmitted. Instead, they failed
ment has largely been in practice since 1988. their citizens and specifically prohibited the
Inthe1980s,the United States finally decided federal government from teaching its people
to take some action after years of non-response about a vulnerable population.
by providing federal funding for AIDS aware- The Helms amendment seemingly fell out of
ness. Before the 1988 fiscal appropriations bill practice with the CDC funding some education
for the Department of Labor, Health, Human in the gay community. However, even today
Services and the Department of Education was only 10 percent of CDC funds are allocated to
officially passed, Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) specific HIV/AIDS riskgroups, with just33 per-
proposed an amendment that would prohibit cent of that funding MSM educational material
the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Let me remind you, MSM accounts for nearly
from funding AIDS programs that "promote, 62 percent of all diagnoses). The allotment of
encourage or condone homosexual activities." federal financial support for AIDS awareness
Since the early cases in Los Angeles in the targeted at gay males is unreasonably small at
1980s, AIDS has disproportionately affected 3.3 percent.
gay men in the United States. In a recent report Educating the public on prevention and test-
the CDC determined that men who have sex ing is the only way to inhibit HIV/AIDS. But
with men - or MSM - accounted for 79 per- howcan the U.S. government achieve this when
cent of all the estimated HIV diagnoses among there's limited financial support available for
men 13 years of age and older. In statistics that educating the most affected group?
include both sexes, MSM accounted for 62 per- The government need to increase their atten-
cent of all diagnoses in 2011. tion to AIDS awareness and funding. Though
In 1987, the Gay Men's Health Crisis orga- infection rates have drastically declined since
nization published a pamphlet called "After the end of 20th century, HIV/AIDS is still
The Gym" in an attempt to counter the rapidly an epidemic killing thousands every year. It
spreading disease. GMHC carefully segre- deserves the government commitment for pre-
gated their finances to make sure government vention and treatment.

C'mon, Common Core

ver the past few months, the
Michigan state legislature
has been carefully deliber-
ating over the
of a nationwide
education initia-
tive known as
Common Core
State Standards.
Since 2010, 45
states - includ-
ing Michigan - JAKE
have adopted the OFFENHARTZ
standard, and of
those 45, the vast
majority has either implemented the
program or plans to do so by 2014.
While the Michigan Department
of Education adopted the policy in
2011, in June 2013, a coalition of con-
servative lawmakers successfully
blocked the funding needed to imple-
ment the policy. Led by state Rep.
Tom McMillin, these conservatives
have spent much of the summer gar-
nering support for their cause.
The debate over Common Core is
complex and of of huge importance.
With the budget going into effect
on Oct. 1, it's a time-sensitive issue
as well. But while the congressio-
nal battle may be nuanced, it's clear
that education reform is desperately
needed in Michigan.
First, let's agree that secondary
education in the United States is not
where we'd like it to be. According
to Organization for Economic, Co-
operationand Development polls, the
United States is now ranked 22nd in
high-school graduation rates among
27 industrialized nations - a sta-
tistic in which we once held the top
spot. If country-to-country compari-
sons seem irrelevant or arbitrary, it's
worth noting that, according to the
National Assessment of Educational
Progress, every two out of three
eighth graders can't read proficiently,
while three of four can't write profi-
ciently. This is far from ideal.
Second, let's agree on some broad
solutions to the problem of depreci-

ating educational quality: e
ing critical thinking in thec
over rote memorization, r
our most dedicated and
ful teachers without stifl
creative freedom and pro
opportunity for clearly fail:
schools to reverse course.T
by no means exhaustive,c
but it's a good place to start
The question then becot
the Common Core initiati
to meet these objectives a
be successful in raising th
standard of U.S. education?
the answer is yes, and -
importantly - so do an ov
ing amount of educators.
According to a recent1
the National Education As
about two-thirds of teacher
Common Core either wh'
edly or "with some rese
Teachers, more than a
stakeholder, possess the co
raising the condition of)
education. Their approval o
standard may be .

emphasiz- minimum expectations developed
classroom on the state level that specifies what
ewarding students should know at each grade
success- level, while still permitting each dis-
ling their trict to design its own curriculum.
viding an The argument that Common Core
ing public will only exacerbate the problem
This list is of teaching-to-the-test is similarly
of course, bankrupt, as each state is given the
. option to develop an independent
mes: Does assessment - intentionally moving
ve aspire away fromthe model of standardized
rnd can it testing that so many object to.
e current It's this benchmark assessment
I believe that has set off some Michigan rep-
far more resentatives, who worry that the
erwhelm- adoption of the Smarter Balanced
assessment - a state-led consor-
poll from tium aligned with the Common
sociation, Core standards - will lead to even
rs support poorer test scores from Michigan
ole-heart- public schools. But a fear of failing
rvations." the assessment proves the necessity
ny other of adopting it, especially consider-
mpass for ing that more than half of students
American in the state failed the math, science
if the new and social studies portions of the
Michigan Edu-
cational Assess-
lucation in the ment Program.
.S. isn't where Core standards
. u b are not an all-
it should be. encompassing
antidote to the
sorry state of
American educa-

the most crucial
and telling sta-
tistic available.
Perhaps most
the recent poll
lends credence
to the argument
that Common


Core can be an alternative to for-
mer President George W. Bush's No
Child Left Behind legislation - an
act widely condemned among edu-
cators - and not an extension of it.
While Common Core is similar to
NCLB by awarding federal money to
schools that meet certain standards,
the scope of those standards and
method of assessing them varies
greatly between the two initiatives.
For one, Common Core is a state-
led initiative and addresses a major
criticism of NCLB - that national,
uniform standards would create a
one-size-fits-all curriculum. On the
contrary, Common Core is a set of

tion. The standards won't pay our
teachers more, they won't eliminate
the woes of poverty on our schools
and they probably won't make
American kids smarter than their
Japanese counterparts.
They will, however, provide our
educational system with a path
toward much-needed reform. If they
fail to restore the funds necessary to
implement Common Core, Michigan
lawmakers are ignoring the recom-
mendation of teachers and, above all
else, the needs of students.
- lake Offenhartz can be
reached at jakeoff@umich.edu.

funding was not spent on activities that might
be deemed controversial like the "After the

Aarica Marsh an LSA junior.


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