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October 30, 2013 - Image 4

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4A - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, October 3D, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

l e Iic[ igan wily

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

OK Cupid, hook me up


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.
Show me the money
Ads with anonymous donors are problematic in elections
More money was spent in Michigan's 2012 non-partisan Supreme
Court campaign than in any other in the state's history - and
never before has so much of that money come from anonymous
donors. According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, $19,mil-
lion was spent on the campaign in total, and $13 million - with no names
attached - went to advertisements that were clearly intended to influence
voters' choices in the election. Under the current interpretation of Michi-
gan's campaign finance law the organizations running these "issue ads"
are not required to reveal their backers. However, this interpretation
leaves too much room for secret spending, and a stricter understanding
of what qualifies as campaign spending is needed in order to prevent this
type of electioneering in the future.


The Michigan Secretary of State's current
interpretation of the Michigan Campaign
Finance Act dates back to 2004 and establishes
that "issue advocacy advertisements" are not
"expenditures." This means that as long as an
ad doesn't use words that specifically advo-
cate for or against a certain candidate, such as
"elect" or "vote," their buyers have the option
to remain anonymous. However, the kinds of
advertisements that ran during the 2012 elec-
tion clearly don't meet any reasonable defini-
tion of an "issue ad." While these kinds of ads
maybe legal and even typical for political cam-
paigns, they, too, pass off support of individual
candidates as mere issue advocacy. Many of the
ads use time-honored techniques such as using
highly emotionalized, out-of-context refer-
ences to candidates' pasts in order to imply
that they should not be elected or assert that
a candidate should be elected because they
support families. While relevant to the elec-
tion to some degree, these qualities are far
less important than an understanding of the
law and impartiality, for example.
The exemption that issue ad buyers have
from disclosing their identities is of greater
concern than the ads themselves. While anony-
mous campaign contributions are problematic

in any kind of election, they're especially dan-
gerous for judicial branch elections. Even more
so than the legislative and executive branches,
the judicial branch mustbe as non-partisan and
removed from the political game as possible.
Conducting judicial elections with the same
secret money present in legislative and execu-
tive elections blinds Michigan voters to the
people who poured money into these ads.
The legitimacy of Michigan's Supreme Court
is also at risk under the current rules. Even
though the Court's judges may not know who
paid for the ads supporting them, it's still prob-
lematic. And to make matters worse, Michigan
now has the dubious distinction ofthaving more
secret campaign spending than any other state
as a result of the loophole. Moreover, more than
twice as much money was spent this way than
was spent by individual candidates, parties and
interest groups on campaigning efforts where
their involvement was mace obvious by report-
ing requirements or other disclosure laws.
Money from undisclosed sources and judi-
cial elections is a dangerous combination. A
review of the MCFA's issue ad provision would
present the state with an opportunity to close
this loophole and create greater integrity in
these elections.

I n a certain light, wouldn't
nuclear war be exciting?"
"Do spelling mistakes
annoy you?"
'Are you
happy with your
These are a
few of the first
questions I '
answered when
I filled out my EMILY
OKCupid profile PITTINOS
in August.
I told friends,
and myself, that I set up my OKCu-
pid for the sake of entertaining jour-
nalism. I said it'd be fun to write
about in my column. And that was
true, but there was also more to it
than that; I wanted to give online
dating a shot.
It's not that I was having trouble
getting dates at the time. In fact,
as noted by my friends, my sum-
mer was shaping up like a roman-
tic comedy. I was getting asked out
by strangers in bookstores, coffee
shops and while out to dinner with
my roommates' families. I was kiss-
ing the boy next door while simulta-
neously schtiiping the punk rocker
who had dreams of writing fiction
in Nashville. In other words, I was
.ankle-deep in trysts.
But I was at a point where, after a
hiatus from relationships, I wanted
more than flirtation and tipsy kiss-
es on the way home from the bar. I
wanted someone with a great brain
and an artistic sensibility, who had a
high capacity for empathy and could
spend hours discussing poetry and
gender and love itself - you know,
the usual. However, that person was
not readily available to me and, like
many lonely people, I considered the
Internet as a viable short cut to love.
The site consumed me almost
immediately. I sat in my living room
for hours on a Friday night, answer-
ing multiple choice and short answer
questions about my worst fears, fan-
tasies, ambitions and opinions on
God. It was like a cross between a

midterm and a psych e'
but way sexier and moree
ishing. Of course, I loved a
these obscure questions
they forced me to think ab
I wanted out of a relatioi
future and myself. It seem
with the help of my trusty;
Internet - I was learninga
who I was. Clearly, I w
buying it all.
OKCupid also inser
responses to these quest
complex algorithms andthe
objective judgments on my
ity inthe form of graphs an
ages. I believe that every p
some level, desires to kne
they stand in social circle;
no exception. I
was into the idea
that hard evi-
dence could tell
me things like
whether I was C1
cool, or pretty,
or boring. You a.
can even ask the
site to conduct PS
a survey that bi
will determine
whether or not
your pictures
make you seem bone-able
plete strangers.
Neat! I thought. This
I'm hot.
It was all very logical
But OKCupid isn't all f
may be easier to suss out
dates with the help of the
but online dating still incur
emotional risks as traditiot
You can still get stood up
still be unsure about the te
date - is it romantic, or ju:
thing? A date can still go p
I met two people from
in safe, well-populated
ments. One spent the majo
time complaining about I
ex who ran away to Chin
other has become my fr
artistic collaborator. The

Ann Arborites
who've suddenly
It was like a become candi-
dates for future
ross between coitus.
I don't doubt
midterm and that sites like
OKCupid work
ych evaluation for some people.
It's proven that
at way seXier. they lead to hap-
piet marriages,
and I'm sure
to com- they're handy if you're looking to
get life-long serious. Even if you're
data says young, this method may be a conve-
nient way of evading loneliness, or
and sci- finding a hook up near-by, but it's all
too logical for my taste. If I'm going
lattery. It to risk the other humiliations asso-
potential ciated with dating anyway, why not
Internet, hold out for sparks? Sites like this
s the same reduce romance to an exact science,
nal dating. which doesn't settle well with me. I
. You can could find someone who is a 94-per-
rms of the cent match for me, but there's no way
st a friend the science behind that'percentage
oorly. can account for the chemistry and
OKCupid intangible attractionsthat fuelyoung
environ- love. As schmaltzy as it may sound,
rity of the I'd rather take my chance on magic
his recent than be guaranteed a date.

bout what
nship, my
ed like -
guide, the
slot about
as totally
ted my
ions into
erson, on
sw where
s, and I'm

bad experiences, but weren't par-
ticularly romantic, either - which
is how I feel about the entire online
dating process.
It was all flattering and fascinating
for a while, but I started missing the
magic associated with discovering
attraction in real time. I don't want to
know whether or not my future lov-
ers are OK with sharing their tooth-
brushes, or howmany people they've
slept with, before I've even shaken
their hands. By knowing answers to
intimate questions like those, I felt
like I was robbed of the intimacy
that's born out of telling secrets in
person. When I share details of my
life, I want it to be with someone
I already have a connection with,
not hundreds of


Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan,
Eric Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Melanie Kruvelis,
Maura Levine, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Onestudent's trash...

a, and the
iend and
y weren't

- Emily Pittinos can be reached
at pittinos@umich.edu.

Please don't e(race) me

"No person shall store solid waste or solid
waste containers on property except at locations
as permitted by this chapter or regulations imple-
menting this chapter."
This is the section of the City Code of Ann
Arbor my house was cited under Oct. 5 dur-
ing the football game against Minnesota. My
housemates and I hosted a party on the front
lawn and about 50 cups had been left on our
porch and scattered around the lawn when we
all left to go to the football game. Those cups
remained there until city employees cleaned
them up completely by the time we returned.
In 2002, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and
the CityCouncilenacted thisordinance, among
others, under the Clean Community Program.
They were intended to keep "unsightly debris
and buildup of trash off the lawns," according
to former councilman Michael Reid in 2005.
Trash had become an issue in the Ann Arbor
area near the University's campus - student
housing - and the city council was determined
to do something about it. Fines in associa-
tion with infractions of theseordinances have
incrementally increased over time, reaching
$250 for the first offense, $500 for the second
offense and anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for
every subsequent offense.
The ordinances were put into place because
the trash that had began to accumulate on the
lawns of houses was detrimental to the image
of the city and University and was potentially
damaging property values in the area. It's
true that trash remaining on the front lawn of
a house for days or weeks on end might very
well damage the image of the city as a whole,
but property values in areas where the houses
are almost entirely student rentals isn't really a
huge issue. The rental companies that own the
houses aren't really worried about the resale
value of the property, as students will rent the
houses regardless - not buy them - and these
companies are going to hold onto their proper-
ties for a long time.
The lawmakers in Ann Arbor have denied
that these ordinances are targeting students,
but the vast majority of citations - 196 of the

261- in the year 2007 were issued during foot-
ball season, from September through Novem-
ber. In the hearing my roommates and I had,
the community standards officer that issued
the citation said that she was tol d to go around
during the football game on Oct. 5 and issue
citations - conveniently when the majority of
the students will be at the game and not be able
to either clean the property or speak with the
issuing officer.
While I agree that littering tickets should be
issued when waste is left on lawns or property
for extended periods of time, being tasked with
going out during the football games and seek-
ing out offenders causes citations to be dispro-
portionately issued to students. The magistrate
dealing with my ticket said that there was no
timeframe for the littering ordinance, meaning
the ticket can be issued no matter how short of a
time the trash has been on the property.
The students and the University itself bring
Ann Arbor a huge amount of economic activ-
ity. If this ordinance is centered on increasing
revenue for the city, they shouldn't attempt to
get that revenue from students. Students sup-
port a huge amount of the business around
the University - be it at local stores or by
renting properties around the campus -
which in turn gives the city money. The city
exists at its current state because of the Uni-
versity and can get revenue from other sourc-
es. Ann Arbor has lower property taxes than
Detroit and, should they need revenue, could
raise those property taxes. Attempting to get
revenue from students, who most likely don't
have excess funds, is wrong.
The ordinance could have been dealt with
in other ways. For example, the city could
have started this process with a warning sys-
tem for houses that aren't repeat offenders of
the ordinance, telling the residents to clean
their property within 24 hours or otherwise
receive a citation. The city should respect the
students of the University and not specifically
target them with punitive legislation.
Matthew Seligman is an LSA junior.

If I were a chameleon, many
people may think that I have hor-
rible survival techniques due to
my inability to blend in with my
surroundings. But they're wrong.
What they misunderstand is that
chameleons don't actually change
color to remain inconspicuous -
they change color to communicate.
What many misunderstand
about me is that I, too, am not trying
to hide from anything or anyone.
All my life, the identities that
I consider most salient are the
same ones that make me differ-
ent from everyone around me. I
am a Lebanese-American woman
who, despite being a dual citizen,
has never really felt that I teetered
toward one end of the hyphen.
So I sit here, like the surprisingly
effective chameleon that I am, and
change colors depending on where I
am and who is around me. I change
colors to communicate, to be seen,
and to be heard for who I am.
I change colors because I can. I
change colors because I get to deter-
mine what it means to be me.
After three years ofbeing defined
by others at this University, I've
learned to claim ownership of my
identities - both marginalized and
privileged. In Lebanon, I proudly
represent America, and at the Uni-
versity, I proudly represent my
Lebanese heritage. I've accepted
that no number of hyphens will be
all-encompassing of the complex-
ity that is me. I've come to realize
that, while labels can be dehuman-
izing and dismissive at times, they
allow for some degree of visibility
and recognition.
So don't you dare obliterate what
I have so proudly cultivated.
Too often at this university I hear
ignorant comments such as, "Race is
not biologically a thing; it's a social
construct; therefore, race doesn't

matter," and "I think diversity educa-
tion is unnecessary; I don't under-
stand how it's supposed to enhance
my experience here." If you think
these things, I'm talking to you.
Perhaps you don't get it because
you're blinded by your white gaze.
Let's take a look through my
eyes, shall we? Of the plethora of
issues embedded in your ignorant
statements, I will emphasize two
main points:
First, in saying, "race doesn't
matter," you're essentially denounc-
ing my very existence as a person
of color. You're dismissing my emo-
tions, my experiences and my choic-
es that are often attributed to this
identity that is apparently invisible
to you. But forget about me - do you
seriously believe that the experience
of a Black, Latino, Arab or Native
American is no different than that
of a white American? Race matters.
There are books on that very subject
- enlighten yourself.
And second, when you deem
diversity education "unnecessary,"
you're pretty much ridiculing our
history and experiences as people
of color. I'm sure I'm not alone in
saying diversity education has been
everything to me. It has been my
frustration, my validation and my
empowerment as a woman of color
navigating an overwhelmingly
white institution. Just a general tip
to be a more worldly person: Issues
and affairs shouldn't have to affect
you directly for you to have an
interest in learning about them. Be
inquisitive. Be empathetic.
Because counterarguments to
"controversial" topics such as race
and ethnicity have become so pain-
fully predictable, I'll be proactive and
try to address them here.
Your angry tone is not conducive to
effective dialogue. That's fine by me
because, one, this is not a dialogue,

and two, anger is an emotion to
which I am entitled when faced with
bigoted, racist or sexist remarks.
Don't get me wrong - there is cer-
tainly a time and place for every-
thing; I have engaged in my fair share
of productive dialogues over the past
few years. But at this very time and
place, this chameleon just wants to
be seen - riled or not.
Too often in our diversity or social
justice conversations we are afraid of
making the privileged feel uncom-
fortable. Those who are excluded
from the dominant narrative are
arguably always uncomfortable. Your
comfort is not more important than
mine - especially when it's myiden-
tity that is at stake.
Or to those who say, "I don't see
race! I'm honestly color-blind!" No
you're not; stop lying.
I don't want you to be color-blind.
Colorblindness is a fallacy that
far too many people try hard to
believe because it sounds politically
correct. Much like my cold-blooded
counterparts, I don't want to blend
in. I don't want to assimilate, and
I despise the bigoted implications
of a "big melting pot." I want to be
seen for who Iam. I want myunique
voice toAbe heard. My olive skin is
very much a part of me - more than
ever amongst the sea of white at
Michigan - and I'm proud of it.
What I'm saying is that I'm try-
ing to communicate, so please stop
pretending that I'm not here.
Instead, recognize, respect and
embrace the different individuals
around you for who they are. If you
don't already, ask questions. Take a
step out of your comfort zone and
engage in random conversations
with people who don't look like
you. Who knows, you just may-learn
something about yourself.
Rima Fadlallah is an LSA senior.



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