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October 31, 2013 - Image 4

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4A - Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaiiy.com

4A - Thursday, October 31, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

l e gan .+ aily

The problem with ghosts

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

hosts are lame. Ghosts are
boring. Ghosts are whol-
ly uninteresting things.


Spooks and
ghouls trapped
between this
world and the
next, ghosts
are typically
described as the
soul or spirit of
a person who.
has died and for
whatever rea-
son not gone to


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.
Move forward fairly with FAFSA
Lack of transparency leaves some students at a disadvantage
This fall, millions of prospective college students around the nation
will be filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid,
to determine if they are eligible for financial aid. The FAFSA
allows students to list 10 schools where they would like their form to be
submitted; many students, however, are unaware that some colleges use
these rankings to inform their admission decision. In some cases, depend-
ing on how students ranked schools, university admission offices use that
list to determine how much aid to grant students, often offering less money
to students who rank their university highest. Universities are conceal-
ing their use of these FAFSA lists in order to best gauge student interest
and save money, but a lack of transparency creates inaccurate surveys and
hurts both schools and students. The fact that the admissions process con-
siders how students prioritize their potential schools in the FAFSA needs
to become common knowledge in order for both sides to benefit.

the place where
everyone else goes. Typically
they're these semi-translucent
shapes of their former selves trying
to convey messages, scare people or
just wait out eternity. I suppose the
nicest thing that can be said about
ghosts is that they aren't real.
Let me state that emphatically:
There are no ghosts. There are no
hauntings. Everything that goes
bump in the night has a name, and
there is nothing under your bed
aside from what you yourself have
placed there. We do not live in a
paranormal world. However, we
also do not live in a normal world.
Far too many of the possible expe-
riences this universe has to offer
are outside of sensible reality for
us to call anything around us nor-
mal or ordinary. Our universe is
extraordinary, and that's my prob-
lem with ghosts.
If pop culture is anything to go
by - and it probably isn't - then the
above description I gave for ghosts
tends to hold true. This is what
people report when they report see-
ing ghosts. When places are said to
be haunted, they are often said to
be haunted by someone who died
there under bad circumstances -
think Civil War battlefields, aban-
doned hospitals or hotels with a
sordid past. Observers of ghosts

will say they see soldiers, patients
and caregivers - all people. And
that's my first gripe with ghosts:
Why stay in the shape of one's for-
mer body? Why not become gigan-
tic or exceedingly small? Why not
experience the world from the per-
spective of an amoeba or a nebula?
And beyond that, why stay in
the shape of your former body, let
alone go to the trouble of wearing
the clothes you died in? Is there
some limitation on how far ghostly
particles can spread apart from one
another or some inhibition from
them assembling in some manner
beside how they were moments
before someone's death? How do
ghosts' underwear know to travel
with them to the other realm but
not to do so if simply thrown away?
And just which of a person's earthly
possessions knows to follow to the
afterlife? Clothes have figured this
out, but cars and computers are
notably absent.
And exactly which moment
before, during or after the death
process does one become a ghost?
The cells of a person continue liv-
ing long after they themselves have
died. So too do the populations of
bacteria we culture all through-
out ourselves - and the 100 tril-
lion or so microorganisms in our
guts surely appreciate it. A heart
can stop beating before a brain
ceases to work; a brain can die long
before the rest of the body. Strokes
and ablations can ruin parts of
the brain years before death, so
does my soul know this and adjust
accordingly? And has the spiri-
tual world figured out how blood
transfusions and organ transplants
affect their ghostly systems? They
figured out their clothing policy,
but have they really kept up with
the medical literature?
And why is it that ghosts only
seem to be found in dark/aban-

doned/scary places? As I said,
ghosts supposedly walk the
grounds of where they met their
untimely deaths, but what is off-
bounds here? Are there ghost
police that say other ghosts can go
a couple hundred feet from the spot
of their demise, but not a couple
hundred more? Can they go up in
the sky, down in the ground? How
far? Is it a spherical region equidis-
tant in all directions? Referenced
to the earth obviously, otherwise
every death would just leave a spec-
tral breadcrumb trail of the path of
the earth as it spins (at about 1,000
mph), as it goes around the sun
(at about 67,000 mph), as the sun
goes through the galaxy (at about
420,000 mph), as our galaxy moves
through the universe (at about 2.2
million mph). If ghosts like dark/
abandoned/scary places, there
are few better than the distances
between galaxies.
Our universe is extraordinary
and ghosts are boring. With this
universe around all around us at its
different scales of space and time,
why would anyone bother scaring
teenagers? Ghosts are free of their
earthly limitations. They could
hear the moan of space-time warp-
ing around giant stars, they could
taste black holes and they could
smell the void. Evwn if requited to
stay on earth they could experience
the molten center of it, a thing of
cosmic beauty just beneathour feet.
They could watchevolutionary pro-
cesses on a global scale. They could
feel our world grow warm.
They could do so much and they
don't. This is why ghosts are lame.
Or maybe I've gotten this all wrong,
maybe thatis what they're all doing.
At least that would explain why we
don't see them.
- Barry Belmont can be reached
at belmont@umich.edu.


According to the College Board, more than
two-thirds of full-time undergraduate stu-
dents receive some type of financial aid in the
form of grants, scholarships or work-study.
Filling out the FAFSA provides a gateway to
the nine federal student-aid grants, the 605
state student-aid program and most of the
institutional aid available. It includes more
than 100 questions about a student's assets,
income and dependency that are used along-
side several other factors to determine a stu-
dent's financial aid eligibility. The form notes
that the information included can be sent
to state agencies that will be awarding the
student's aid, but it fails to mention that the
same information will be sent to individual
colleges - let alone used by these schools as a
calculated admission tool.
Universities have found that their rank-
ing on the FAFSA list is a very reliable tool in
determining a student's commitment to that
institutions. W. Kent Barnds, executive vice
president of Augustana College, shared with
CBS News.com that 60 percent of students
who list Augustana first on their FAFSA list
end up enrolling - a much higher percentage
when compared to 30 percent of those who
listed it second and the 10 percent who listed
it third.
The lack of transparency around this tactic
is unfair to those students who rank schools
unaware of how the information can be used,

both in determining a student's admission
and financial aid package. Counselors who
are aware of this secretive, but strategic
.admission tool have advised their students
to list the schools alphabetically to avoid dis-
closing their preferences. Students who are
aware of this policy may rearrange their list
to game the system, leaving other students at
a disadvantage. The institutions also suffer
because when students are not aware of this
process, the information listed is less accu-
rate, and therefore less useful for the schools.
Last Friday, InsideHigherEd contacted
the U.S. Department of Education about this
issue, and they said they will "review the
longstanding practice of sharing the FAFSA
positions with every college." The depart-
ment should undoubtedly work to make
this a more transparent process that cannot
adversely affect those who are unaware of
how their information is being used.
One way that the Department of Education
can work to make sure this process is bene-
ficial to both students and institutions is by
automatically alphabetizing the school rank-
ings. This way, schools will know that they
are part of the student's top-10 list without
rankings. If a student wishes to show more
interest in particular schools, it is that stu-
dent's prerogative to reach out to these spe-
cific institutions and move forward in a way
that is transparent and fair.


City council elections arean oppor-
tunity to voice progressive values
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, Ann Arbor City Council elections
will be held in all five wards. Students in Ann Arbor, as
a significant portion of the city's population, will have
the opportunity to determine their representation on the
most fundamental level.
It's easy to get caught up in the spectacle and scale of
federal politics and lose sight of the decisions being made
locally. However, local politics affect you more than you
might realize. City council determines the bus routes

for the AATA buses you use. City council mandates
that landlords provide you with the "Rights and Duties
of Tenants" booklet. City council's commitment to the
environment provides you electricity fromnearly 68,000
square feet of solar panels on North Campus. Much more
than on the federal and state level, constituents feel local
policies in a very real way.
Election Day is our opportunity to voice our progres-
sive values. The Democratic candidates have proven to
be allies of students and rely on our support in elections.
Democracy simply doesn't work without participation. If
you've registeredto vote inAnn Arbor make sure you get
out and vote on Nov. 5.
Trevor Dolan
LSA sophomore

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
'Hood raChe Thrsday'

Why we should say no to Munger dorm

As a member of Greek life, Iclicked on my
Facebook notifications to find yet another fra-
ternity party invitation. Iviewedthe eventepage
to see what exactly Theta Xi was inviting me to
this week, and what I found was confusing, dis-
turbing and hurtful.
"World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratch-
et Thursday," read the event title. The descrip-
tion went on to inform me that "bad bitches,
white girls, basketball players, thugs, gang-
sters" and "ratchet pussy" (a new term to me)
were all invited.
Scrolling down the event page, I was
appalled by photos of Black men holding fist-
fuls of money and multiple comments made
by people I've met and know stating, "BEST
THEME EVER" and "I'm dressing as Lii'
Wayne/Nicki Minaj".
This invite was sent to me because I'm a
member of Greek life. As a member of Greek
life I can only speak for myself, not my soror-
ity or anyone with similar identities to my own.
It was assumed that my member status negates
me from being offended by such an oppressive
and derogatory theme and the subsequent com-
ments. It angers me that members of a com-
munity - that I often defend to others - could
exploit the identities of students and faculty on
this campus. It's sad to see that list of Greek life
members I defend shrink right before my eyes.
"Why can't you just take the joke?" so many
have already asked. I can't take the joke because
of the alarming number of fraternity brothers
that have asked me if I'm from Detroit when
I attend their events as one of the few women

of color. I can't take the joke because of the.
obscene number of times I've been asked to
"twerk" and "dance" for these white men,
because my Black identity obviously tellsthem I
possess the inherent talent and desire to do so. I
can't take the joke because I don't have the lux-
ury to remove the labels of "hood," "ratchet" or
"bad bitch" after the partyends. The privileged
students on this campus tie those labels to my
identity because of my racial minority status. I
can't take the joke because racism and oppres-
sion are alive and well on this campus; a cam-
pus where I'm often the only person of color in a
classroom. And when I speak in that classroom,
what I have to say is taken as the narrative of
every other Black woman these privileged stu-
dents come in contact with.
So no, I cannot simply take the joke that
Theta Xi thought was an appropriate way to
invite the people they share this campus with,
to have a nice time at their event. Theta Xi invit-
ed the wrong "bad bitch" to their party.
Their first mistake was allowing this
incredibly offensive party theme to make
its way to a Facebook invite that infiltrated
our campus. Theta Xi's second mistake was
commenting and posting on the event page
- making a mockery out of a culture they do
not belong to. Their third mistake was invit-
ing me; assuming that as a member of Greek
life I would be a bystander, doing nothing to
stop "Hood Ratchet Thursday" from going on
without a hitch.
Erin Fischer is an LSA senior.

A few months ago, we were
treated to another media blitz over
the "largest donation in the Univer-
sity of Michigan's history," $110 mil-
lion from the Charles Munger, vice
chairman of Berkshire Hathaway,
earmarked for a graduate dormi-
tory. Donations like Munger's are
presented as unqualified wins for
the University. By cultivating rela-
tionships with successful alumni,
the University grows its endowment
and receives money for infrastruc-
ture projects that, in theory, provide
needed educational and residential
spaces. But is this the whole story?
In the last decade, the Univer-
sity has transformed itself into an
institution that is run for-profit
and increasingly tied to Wall Street
investment banks, hedge funds and
institutional investors. In the turn
to profit, the University has decided
to pursue wealthy out-of-state stu-
dents who can pay outrageously high
tuition. To do so, it has had to borrow
extensively to build new buildings
and facilities that would attract such
students:As of Dec. 31,2012, the Uni-
versity had $1.8 billion in outstand-
ing - primarily construction - debt
secured by general revenues which
include student tuition. This has
meant developing relationships with
investment banks and institutional
investors who buy the University's
construction bonds. These inves-
tors, however, will buy bonds only if
they are very secure: As a result, the
University, like many other universi-
ties, has offered up student's future
tuition as collateral for this debt and
engaged in aggressive campaigns'
against unionized and precarious
workers' wages and benefits.
Large donations are a critical
part of this strategy of building to
attract wealthy consumers. One of
the hidden costs of large donations
for infrastructure is that they actu-
ally force the University deeper

into debt. For example, the Munger
graduate dorms' projected price
is $185 million. Of the $110 mil-
lion pledged by Munger, $100 mil-
lion will go toward construction,
so what began as a "donation" has
now turned into $85 million of debt
for the University. Such donations
don't address the needs of students;
rather, they advance the pet proj-
ects and educational ideologies of
the rich. If this donation is a "gift,"
is it most certainly in the form of a
Trojan Horse.
Donations are inherently anti-
democratic - a stealthy way to avoid
any kind of due process or checks on
university spending. If the Univer-
sity had decided outright to build a
$185-million dormitory, graduate
students - and undergraduates too,
since their debt is going to pay for
$85 million of it - would have had
something to say about the project.
Instead, because it was a dona-
tion there was no public discussion
about the project and no debate over
its need. Rather, there was only an
announcement from above.
Had the administration consult-
ed its graduate students, it might
have considered potential gender,
sex and trans-gender concerns
with such a project. The University
and Munger claim that "throwing"
students together will result in
the "liberation" and "creation" of
knowledge - "breaking down the
silos" - but it might actually result
in unsafe living conditions for many
groups, in particular queer-identi-
fied individuals, trans-people and
women. Moreover, at their esti-
mated current price point - $1,000
per month - the Munger dorms will
cost graduate student instructors 77
percent of their yearly income to
live there - truly, this is the libera-
tion we have been waiting for.
Given the amount of graduate
student ire after the dorm project's

announcement, it's clear the admin-
istration has overstepped on this
project. They've taken a donation
that a rich plutocrat hung in front
of their noses and are trapped into
building something that even they
don't want. The question is then
what to do about it?
The option we propose has two
parts. First, we should demand that
the University reject all donations
that come with strings attached.
This means we should demand
that the University return Mung-
er's donation. We must reject all
donations that contribute to the
financialization of the University
through construction bonds. and
student debt. As such, big spending
decisions should be made through a
democratic body composed of stu-
dents - graduate and undergradu-
ate - and workers from all areas
of the University and University of
Michigan Health System.
However, it seems unlikely that
the University will return the
Munger donation and even less
likely that they will include stu-
dents and workers in the decision-
making process on how funds are
allocated. That means that the only
way is to oppose the building proj-
ect through direct action. If you feel
strongly that the University should
not be spending $85 million on a
dorm that no one wants, if you feel
that the University should not be
tryingto avoid public discussions of
how resources are allocated, and if
you feel that the University should
not let itself become the site of the
educational experiments of con-
servatives and the far-right, we ask
you to join qs Nov.1 at 5 p.m. in Can-
terbury House for an open meeting
to discuss what steps we should
take next.
Paige Andersson and Brian
Whitener are Rackham students.

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