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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-25

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4A - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

}C Mihigan 4 1r
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.

The curious case ofAlice Walker

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MELANIE KRUVELIS
and ADRIENNE ROBERTS MATT SLOVIN
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR

ANDREW WEINER
EDITOR IN CHIEF

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.
F RO0M 11* D A IL Y
Bdpolic,, B bad logic
Michigan's defense of ban on adoption by same sex couples is baseless
In October, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, a gay couple who have
three adopted children, will challenge Michigan's ban on same-sex
joint adoption before the U.S. District Court in Detroit. Basing their
case on the precedents established by United States v. Windsor, which
found the Federal Defense of Marriage Act's restriction of the definition of
marriage to "one man, one woman" unconstitutional, Rowse and DeBoer
hope to convince the court that Michigan's ban on adoption by homosex-
ual couples is in violation of the right to due process. With the gay-rights
movement gaining momentum across Michigan and the rest of the United
States, overturning the ban is a logical decision for the state's future.

n August, the esteemed Ameri-
can novelist, activist and Pulit-
zer Prize winner Alice Walker
was disinvited
from giving the
keynote address
for the Univer-
sity's Center for
the Education
of Women's
50th anniver-
sary event in ZEINAB
March. On herZ
blog, Walker KHALIL
expressed her
disappointment
in the University's decision. Just
a few days later, this news made
national headlines, and the Univer-
sity wasn't looking too hot for disin-
viting a world-renowned writer and
peace activist committed to trans-
formative change.
The University then announced a
few weeks later that it had extended
a different invitation to Walker, this
time for the Zora Neale Hurston Lec-
ture co-hosted by the CEW and the
Department of Afroamerican and
African Studies next fall. Walker has
accepted the new invitation and will
speak on campus in November 2014.
while I'm thrilled that Walker
will come to campus - though it's a
bummer that I will have graduated
by then - the "ending" to this highly
embarrassing and murky situation is
far from peachy. Walker's reinvita-
tion doesn't excuse the University
from answering some serious ques-
tions that have come to light through
this incident.
What symbolic message does the
University send when it appears to
silence and monitor a prominent
Black, female activist? What does
this incident tell us about the voices
of figures who hold critical, counter-
hegemonic perspectives - in this
case about Palestine and Israel? And
finally, what does the case say about
donor transparency and accountabil-
ity at the University?
Too often, Black women are
policed for how they behave and
what they say. This marginalizing is
perhaps even more severe for women
activists who promote alternative
models of framing and understand-
ing of social and political issues.
The revoking of Walker's initial
invite must be read against the back-

drop of a campus that has a lot of
work to do in fostering an inclusive
college climate: underrepresented
minority enrollment - including
Blacks, Hispanics and Native Ameri-
cans - is worse now than it was 10
years ago, falling from 13.6 percent in
2002 to 10.2 percent in 2012. Just as
troublingis the 6.6-percentrepresen-
tation of women of color from under-
represented groups in 2011 and the
7-percent representation of women
of color faculty in 2008 - only 3
percent for full professors. Campus
climate certainly goes beyond statis-
tics, but these numbers nevertheless
point to something telling and dis-
tressing that can't be detached from
campus happenings such as this one.
Walker's racial liberation activ-
ism stretches back to the Civil
Rights Movement, where she mobi-
lized Black voters in the south dur-
ing the 1960s and demonstrated
alongside Dr. Martin Luther King
in the 1963
March on
Washington. How can w
She continues
her activism such decisi
through more don't know
recent events:
in March the decisior
2003, on
International
Women's Day, just 11 days before
the United States dropped its first
bombs on Iraq, Walker was arrest-
ed in front of the White House with
a number of other anti-war woman
activists. Walker demonstrated
because she believed the lives of
Iraqi women and children to be just
as precious as American lives, but
the petty charges waged against
her made clear that her anti-racist,
anti-imperialist message posed a
threat to the mainstream warmon-
gering narrative.
But perhaps even more unsettling
to the status quo - and her stated
reason for being disinvited from the
University in the first place - are
Walker's views on the Israeli gov-
ernment's military occupation of
Palestine. Walker joined the Free-
dom Flotilla in 2011 to challenge
the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and
prior to that, in 2009, she travelled
to Gaza with the anti-war feminist
organization, Code Pink, in wake of
Operation Cast Lead, a three-week

assault launched by Israeli military
forces that resulted in the deaths of
1,416 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Ina
show of extremely disproportionate
force, Israeli-armed forces repeat-
edly violated international law and
exercised collective punishment
by dropping white phosphorous on
densely-populated communities. On
her trip, Walker spoke out against
this assault and implored Israel and
Egypt to open their borders and end
the ongoing siege of Gaza, a territory
roughly the size of Detroit inhabited
by nearly two million people.
Most pressingly, the Walker case
begs a question of transparency:
Who's calling the shots? While the
University insists that Walker's dis-
invitation had nothing to do with
her political positions or the con-
tent of her speech, her agent noted
that the disinvitation happened at
the request of an unnamed donor's
"interpretation" of her "comments
regarding Israel"
How can we
e challenge challenge such
decisions - or
ions if we similar future
who affects ones - and hold
their actors
n-making? accountable if we
don't know who
affects the deci-
sion-making? It's unfair and shallow
to point to'those who are the face of
the University --that is, CEW and its
administration, as bearing the brunt
of responsibility in answering these
questions. Rather, those who play a
more behind-the-scenes role in the
decision-making must also respond.
Obviously, donors to the Univer-
sity are crucial for the role they play
in sustaining campus life. But where
is that role ever clearly defined? At
what point do the perspectives of
alumni and donors - many of whom
are no longer on campus and may
not realize the changing climate
- encroach on what voices are wel-
comed on campus and what views
students are exposed to? The Uni-
versity community must openly and
urgently confront issues of academic
integrity and financial pressure to
ensure that such insidious behavior
has no place on our campus.
- Zeinab Khalil can be
reached at zkha@umich.edu

0
0

Attorneys representing Michigan, led by
Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette,
are disputing Rowse and DeBoer's motion to
challenge the law in court. However, their
argument can only be described as inap-
propriate. In a brief filed earlier this month,
Schuette claimed that Michigan has a legiti-
mate interest in restricting child adoption
to heterosexual couples in order to encour-
age "the unique procreative capacity of such
relationships." He goes on to say, "...social
scientists have consistently recognized the
essential connection between marriage and
responsible procreation and childrearing."
Essentially, the state must exclusively sponsor
opposite-sex marriages to promote popula-
tion growth. This explanation is preposterous
and doesn't represent the state of Michigan.
Practically speaking, fighting this case
continues the growing waste of the state's
resources and keeps vulnerable children
from families. Most times, there are about
3,000 foster children in Michigan in need of

a home. Continuing to fund these kids when
there are families willing to care for them is
careless spending and simply cold-hearted.
Snyder should not allow his personal or his
administration's beliefs interfere with letting
a child live in a positive environment. Baseless
claims, like this one, are the cause of pointless
arguing within Michigan's government that
takes upa great deal of time.
According to the Michigan Department
of Human Resources, "Michigan has been
recognized as a leader for our innovative
approach to adoption and our high adoptive
placement rates." However, allowing this pol-
icy to continue is the contrary. Withdrawing
Michigan's legal defense of the ban on same-
sex joint child adoption and instituting a fair
procedure to allow these adoptions to occur
needs to be the state's course of action. Like-
wise, Schuette and his associates should be
publicly censured for their abuse of science in
the brief challenging the motion from Rowse
and DeBoer.

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, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman,
Sarah Skaluba, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
ALEXIS NOWICKI
Pedestrian paradise

INTERESTED IN CAMPUS ISSUES? POLITICS?
SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK'N'ROLL?
Check out The Michigan Daily's editorial board meetings. Every Monday and Wednesday at
6 p.m., the Daily's opinion staff meets to discuss both University and
national affairs and write editorials.
E-mail opinioneditors@michigandaily.com to join in the debate.

a

a

On Sept. 20, an event called PARK(ing)
Day came to Ann Arbor for the first time in
three years. In promotion of a pedestrian-
centered city, two University graduate stu-
dents - Rackham student Jenny Cooper and
Rackham and Public Health student Arielle
Fleisher - took over a parking spot on State
Street and converted it into a mini-park - a
place for relaxing, lunching and socializing,
open to any Ann Arbor resident who hap-
pened to be walking by between 11:30 a.m.
and 5:00 p.m.
A public place of this sort seems almost
necessary for a well-planned city, but if you
think about it, downtown Ann Arbor seems
to be lacking these open-space environments.
There are currently four designated "city
parks" downtown, but there are problems.
First is Liberty Plaza - great for Sonic Lunch,
but otherwise a popular gathering place for the
homeless. Next is the Kempf House Museum,
which is a museum, not a park. Sculpture Plaza
is a charming brick area surrounded by restau-
rants. And lastly, the Farmers Market is a pavil-
ion-covered area usually inhabited by people
only during the brief times when it is open.
While all these places are beneficial in their
own ways to the character of downtown, they
aren't exactly the image that comes to mind
when most people hear the words "city park."
Ann Arbor residents want to be able to spend
time downtown without being in a store, at
a restaurant or walking through areas that
seem to be more automobile-friendly than
person-friendly.
PARK(ing) Day makes a much-needed
statement for the necessity of more green
spaces and open areas downtown and brings
forth the unfortunate truth that Ann Arbor,
like the majority of cities, is made for cars.
While cars provide the "easiest" mode of
transportation for most people - especially
families - they aren't the most city-friendly, and
they are definitely not the most environmental-
ly friendly. People often get out of the suburbs

and head downtown for a car-free experience
that you can't find elsewhere, but many down-
town experiences have come to mirror those in
the suburbs: driving, parking, buying and then
going back home to the "burbs."
From an urban planning standpoint, there
are many things that could be addressed to fix
the city's car-plagued atmosphere. Ease for
walkers and bikers seem to be at the foreground
of these potential solutions, with proposals for
more defined bike lanes and more bike parking
in and out of parking garages.
Most often, citizens complain that they
can't find locations downtown where they
can spend more than a few minutes without
being expected to make a purchase. Hanging
out at Starbucks is great, but not without first
purchasing an overpriced beverage.
One main problem here is that it's most
cost-beneficial for the city to dedicate space
to businesses that will pay to use it. Naturally,
less profit is being made if the area is desig-
nated for the recreation that doesn't involve
spending money.
Part of the solution to this problem comes
from the way that public areas are set up. If
they're open to events that will end up making
the city money, they become more economi-
cally practical in the eyes of officials, as well as
more welcoming in the eyes of the community.
Another more significant part of the solu-
tion is in the community mindset. This is
what PARK(ing) Day is trying to get across -
the point that urban spaces weren't created to
be made up of cars and concrete, but to foster
a walkable, bikeable environment that allows
a city of students and workers to clear their
heads during every bit of the short hours
they're able to spend outdoors.
Ann Arbor might not have the capacity for
a Central Park, but the interspersingof urban
and green environments is the ideal equiva-
lent for a pedestrian's peace of mind.
Alexis Nowicki is an LSA freshman.

LET T E RS T O T HE E D IT OIR
Give full refunds on
basketball tickets
TO THE DAILY:
I'm not entirely opposed to the
idea that fans have to "claim" their
tickets for basketball games next sea-
son, but the Athletic Department's
plans to resell unclaimed tickets
without providing compensation to
students is pure thievery. If the Ath-
letic Department is so confident in
the non-student demand for tickets,
then give all 4,500 students their
guaranteed seats, provide a window
two or three weeks prior to basket-
ball games for students to sell their
tickets back to the Athletic Depart-
ment, and then go resell them them-
selves. Did they think that students
enjoy eatingthe cost of notbeing able
to resell unused tickets?
By offering season ticket refunds,
the Athletic Department is tacitly
acknowledging that they broke the
rules when they materially changed
Academics a priority
over basketball
TO THE DAILY:
Last year, I purchased Michigan
basketball season tickets. Going to
Michigan basketball games was a
great break from my studies as a
first-year law student. I was excited
to purchase season tickets again this
year.
But I confess - I didn't make it to
every game last season. I was there
for the big games. But I missed a
few, mostly in the non-conference
season. I missed games because
I had to focus on school. After all,
I'm a student. Given the amount of
tuition I pay to the University of
Michigan, I couldn't afford to skip
studying to go to a basketball game
during finals week.

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@MICHIGANDAILY.COM
the ticketholder agreement after simply buy individual game tickets
the time of sale. But refunding my this year, and I requested a refund
$200 does not put me back where of my seasdn tickets from the Ath-
I started six months ago. I paid a letic Department, with interest and
$15 "application fee" for season application fees. They replied, "We
tickets (as, I assume, did everyone will only be able to offer you the
else). What exactly did this appli- $200 refund. Our policy is that any
cation fee cover? Dave Brandon's refund we issue is cost of ticket only."
$800,000 salary? I asked them to elaborate on the
The Athletic Department also "policy" that was in place at the time
owes me interest on my $200. While I bought my tickets. They replied,
this is only a few dollars, had Iknown in relevant part, "REFUNDS: If you
about the forthcoming change in apply for a season ticket and later
policy, I would have chosen to keep decide not to enroll for the Fall 2013
my $200 tucked away in my bank term, you may receive a full refund
account or elsewhere, earning some provided you send a written request
sort of return, however small. From to the Ticket Office prior to Nov. 1,
season-ticket sales, the Athletic 2013 ... Please consider this matter
Department collected approximately closed." I replied by pointing out the
$90,000 in fees and retained interest, obvious fact that the quoted refund
not to mention $900,000 in sales rev- policy has nothing to do with the
enue. While the Athletic Department circumstances surrounding my
can bully individual season-ticket refund request. I'm still waiting on
holders into forfeiting $20, the aggre- an answer.
gate amount at stake may be enough
to justify a class-action lawsuit. Zachary Robock
This weekend, I decided that I will Law Student

4

I often hear rhetoric about col- student good-will translates into
legiate amateurism and educa- future financial support). But attend-
tion of student athletes. Student ing Michigan basketball games is not
non-athletes also need to focus on my priority. Academic success is my
school. I don't enjoy the prospect priority. Forced to choose between
of a National Basketball Associa- attending games zealously - or los-
tion contract. Instead, I enjoy the ing my money and my ability to
prospect of working hard in school attend games - and flexibility to
and finding a job to pay back my pursue my studies appropriately, I
loans. Michigan's new student sea- choose to focus on academics. Please
son ticket policy encourages students refund my season ticket purchase.
to neglect our academic obligations I'm disappointed by this policy.
so that we don't lose the chance to The University of Michigan is a
attend future games and our (soon- wonderful academic institution.
to-be nonrefundable) investment The fact that it is also a great bas-
in season tickets. This policy is ill- ketball school shouldn't threaten
advised and disappointing. the University's academic focus.
I enjoy going to Michigan basket- The Athletic Department should
ball games. Michigan's basketball not bully students into attending
team has boosted my allegiance to games at the expense of academics.
the school (and given that this seems
to be a revenue-driven move, the Eli Temkin
University should remember that Law Student

i

Building Blocks: Have you heard of Elon Musk
the and his plans for travel on and outside of
gm earth? Abhishek Cauligi talks about his impact,
du I urn and how it affects the future.
Go to michigandoily.com/blogs/The Podium

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