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September 04, 2013 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-04

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4A - Wednesday, September 4, 2013 1

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

aloe Michioan, t 43atly

(Not) going the distance

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.
Common Core, common sense
It's time to focus on educating students and end ideological debates
orty-four states have adopted the Common Core State Stan-
dards, a set of federal benchmarks that spell out math, read-
ing and writing skills for students in kindergarten through
twelfth grade. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Michigan is not one of these
states. Despite the fact that these standards would ensure that Michi-
gan students are on the same level as students across the nation, state
lawmakers are clearly comfortable wasting their constituents' time
with arbitrary and strictly ideological debates about the idea of man-
dated standards. A clear majority of states are currently working on
developing curricula, educating teachers on how to help students
meet these benchmarks and utilizing technology for the classroom.
It's about time Michigan does the same for its students.

J this school year is like any
other, many of you new stu-
dents are arriving at the Uni-
versity with a
boyfriend or
girlfriend at
another col-
lege or back
home. A couple
of weeks ago,
you left each
other for EMILY
what might PITTINOS
be the first
time. Now, as
you navigate the cereal dispens-
ers in the Hill Dining Center, you
imagine them longing for you in
the midst of golden wheat fields or
on smoky fire escapes. As you lay
awake in your dorm room with a
stranger's snoring filling the dense
Ann Arbor night, you read and
reread their text messages.
"I love you so much," they say.
"This is the worst, but we'll get
through it."
Of course, it's good to know that
someone cares for you, especially
when your surroundings are so
frighteningly new. You don't know
where to find Angell Hall Audi-
torium A or if you'll have to play
another icebreaker tonight, but
you're sure that there's a person
missing you from miles away. Your
sweetheart - excuse the gender-
neutral '50s slang - is a security
blanket, a perceived constant, a
reminder of the comforts of home.
But, there's such a thing as being
too comfortable.
I know from experience that it's
easy to use a long-distance rela-
tionship as a crutch. It can become
an excuse to stay in and video
chat on a Friday night while kids
from your hall are exploring the
mysterious streets of Ann Arbor.
They're being brave and making
new friends, while you perform
Skype sex in your dim dorm room
- hoping to God you don't hear the

sound of your roommate keying in
the code to your door. They're get-
ting tipsy, maybe even laid, while
you've got your pixelated genitals
traveling all the way to a space sat-
ellite so your partner can get off on
a wavering image of you.
Sure, there's something tragi-
cally romantic about having a lover
so far from your fingertips, and
physical loneliness may not seem
so bad in the face of all your damn
love. But in reality, sexting gets old
real fast and relying on weekend
visits with your roommate in the
bunk below you is goingto make
the long, cold Michigan winter feel
even longer.
I know itcan be especially hard
to imagine yourself with a new
person if your sweetheart was the
first girl to slide her hand down the
waistband of your underwear, or the
first guy to treat your nakedness as
a gift. However, Ican promise you
that there are many others out there
who would gladly do the same. It's
also not just about sex. Imagine what
you could be missing out on while
you slip away from your friends to
update your sweetheartonwhat you
ate for breakfast or what your pro-
fessor was wearinginlecture.
' The classes, choicesand experi-
ences you have now will change
you immeasurably in the long run.
College is a microcosm of endless
possibility and due to its magic, it's
unlikely you'll be the same person
once you graduate. You could take
geology classes that inspire you to
spend the rest of your life on archeo-
logical digs. One wacky Residential
College puppet-making class could
convince you to join the School of
Art & Design. Most importantly, no
matter how greatvYou 2.0 willbe,
you won't be the same person your
sweetheart signed up for, and that
could be true for them as well.
"This is hard!" your lover's texts
say. So, ask yourself: Why are you
doing it? Do you imagine a life
with them after college, a wedding

attended by your entire family and
your genes converging into babies?
If so, then do what you have to do;
in that special case, you'll have the
rest of your lives to be together after
school. If you're unsure, have an
adult discussion about the future
with your partner. If you're mak-
ing the commitment to stay faithful
from a distance, then you should be
able to discuss whatyour relation-
ship may look like in the longterm.
If there's no endgame,
then why commit
yourself to years of
shared lonliness?
But, if there's no endgame in
mind, if there's no plan, then why are
you committing yourself to years of
shared loneliness? Is it true love pro-
pelling your long-distance relation-
ship or fear of the unknown?
New social and sexual experi-
ences are worth the uncertainties
that come along with being on your
own in an unfamiliar place. At this
very mome'nt, there are thousands
of other new students wandering
starry-eyed through campus. Their
collective excitement is building an
energy that sparks new friendships
and bravery, but it will dissipate
once classes fall into full swing.
This is the sweet spot - now's
the time to take advantage of the
fact that everyone is jittery and
unsure and open to new experi-
ences. Be nervous with them. Get
out there and use your fear. You
could be anyone, and do almost
anything. This is the time to move
on from your old life and join in on
the excitement of firsts sweeping
through campus.
- Emiily Pittinos can be
reached at pittinos@umichedu.


The Michigan State Board of Education
adopted Common Core standards in 2010, and
schools subsequently adopted these standards
into their curriculum. However, in July, the
state legislature blocked funding that would
help to implement the standards. One of the
main reasons Common Core is still not univer-
sally welcome is general misinformation. The
Common Core establishes what students need
to know by the end of the year to make them
college- and career-ready. However, they do
not dictate how teachers must instruct stu-
dents, nor do they determine which schools get
funding based on standardized test scores. An
Education Next poll shows that, in general, the
more people know about the new standards,
the more they like them.
Despite the benefits of the initiative, conser-
vative-led opposition has prevented Common
Core from becoming state law. State Rep. Tom
McMillian (R-Rochester Hills) has spearhead-
ed the campaign against the standards, spend-
ing hours badgering the subcommittee with
irrelevant questions. At the crux of his dissent
is the Tea Party notion that the Common Core
is a gross exercise of federal power, undermin-
ingthe state's ability to develop education.
Regardless of political ideology, this under-
standing of the standards is off base. While the
federal government offered grant money to
states that adopted the standards, the Common
Core campaign was lead in part by the National
Governors Associatiod - in other words, it's a

state-led effort. Common Core is not a part of
No Child Left Behind, nor does it "track every-
thing about our nation's children and report it
back to the federal government," as U.S. Sen.
Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) suggested. And while
some adversaries of the initiative dubbed it
"ObamaCore," the standards were being draft-
ed before the presidenttook office.
Common Core is not a nationalized curric-
ulum but a set of educational goals - a list of
math and English skills students should have
regardless of where they are from. The stan-
dards have been developed by teachers and
education experts with significant experience
and understanding of where American stu-
dents should be heading. Adoption of the stan-
dards is voluntary - it's not being forced down
anyone's throat by the federal government.
Gov. Rick Snyder understands this and sup-
ports the initiative. So does former Republican
Gov. John Engler.
WhileMcMillian and other opponents' dis
sent. may make them heroes of the right-wing
fringe just in time for election season, it's not
doing any favors for Michigan's students who
continue to fall behind. Michigan ranks near
the bottom in most subject areas compared to
other states. These standards will help Michi-
gan to not only compete on a nationwide level,
but on an international one as well.Michigan's
lawmakers need to set the ideologically driven
paranoia aside and focus on what we really
need - better education.

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and viewpoints.
Letters should be fewer than 300 words while viewpoints should be 550-850
words. Send the w r iter'sfull n versity a ' orito
tothe d y dal' ! om. x.
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, Eli Cahan, Eric Ferguson, Jesse Klein,
Melanie Kruvelis, Maura Levine, Patrick Maillet, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald
Jasmine McNenny, Harsha Nahata, Adrienne Roberts, Paul Sherman, Sarah Skaluba
Michael Spaeth, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Go nuclear?


One size d(
Weeks after the Egyptianmilitaryoverthrew
democratically elected President Mohamed
Morsi from power, an Egyptian court ordered
the release of former President Hosni Mubarak
from prison after failingto chargehim with any
crimes - one of many testaments to the rever-
sal of the democracy-seeking Arab Spring.
These events, in tandem with the military's
new self-imposed rule, have left the country
in a state of "Mubarakism without Mubarak,"
and, asa result, prompted many to jump to the
conclusion that Islam and democracy are irrec-
oncilable - if they weren't already convinced
so. Egypt dabbled in democracy for a short
period, but its failure reaffirmed the precon-
ceived notion that Muslims are incapable of
maintaining a democratic government due to
their inability to suppress their violent tenden-
cies, respect people of different faiths and grant'
basic rights by virtue of their holy book.
From the onset of the uprisings in the Arab
World, the West has offered its recommenda-
tions for achieving democracy in the region -
imperialistically, I might add. What is unclear
to many is that political beliefs are relative
to individuals within a specific identity, and
prescribing Western democracy is not a viable
solutionto the hot political climate of the Mid-,
dle East, for cultures will clash with systems
that aren't mindful of their intricate dynamic.
It's not the Middle East that is unsuitable for
democracy, but rather Western democracy is
unsuitable for the Middle East.
Indispensable in the discussion of Ameri-
can and European endeavors in the Middle
East is the distinction between Western
democracy and -the shape of democracy
appropriate for the Middle East. The West-
ern prescription for democracy in the Middle
East includes a substantial dosage of secular-
ism, but neglects the most vital ingredient for
democracy - pluralism. Egypt's experiment
with democracy failed for many reasons, but
most importantly because it attempted to uti-
lize an imposed model of government that
doesn't take into consideration the religio-
cultural fabric of the country. In failing to
recognize Islam and democracy's inherent
commitments to pluralism, Egypt's Muslim.,
Brotherhood illegitimated itself and razed
any hope for sound human rights policy in

)esll't fit all
the country.
For decades, Egypt's people withstood
censorship in every sense under Mubarak's
despotic regime. Since being released from
his stronghold, the Muslim Brotherhood has
reacted erroneously to the public's concerns.
Consequently, critics around the world were
quick to jump the gun and herald Egypt as
the paradigm of what democracy looks like
among Arabs and Muslims. Never mind that
Morsi and his cronies thrived on sectarianism
and followed their own deluded interpreta-
tion of Islam. And never mind that this placed
the Muslim Brotherhood at odds with the
legitimate democratic process that brought
the party to power and Shariah law, which it
claims to have been trying to implement.
What is most important to note when
discussing the Shariah is that men created
this body of laws. The Qur'an is the primary
source used to construct said laws, but it's by
no means a book of laws. This supplements
the suggestion that Islam doesn't intrinsically
encourage any form of government. Seeing as
the Shariah is man-made, it's predisposed to
change just as man's opinions are with time,
thus not ruling out the prospect of democracy.
Contrary to popular belief, it's not blasphe-
mous for Muslims to live under the rule of a
government by the people and for the people.
In a region such as the Middle East, how-
ever, where a person's religion defines his or
her identity, it's difficult to isolate faith and
politics. So, the most practical solution is to
implement a fusion of the Shariah and democ-
racy - in Muslim-majority countries, that is.
Moreover, a culturally relativistic approach
when offering advice as an outsider is impera-
tive. The United States is without a doubt the
most important actor in the global political
arena, but what our government fails to rec-
ognize at times is thatthis isn't a one-size-fits-
all world, and what is suitable for our secular
society may not be so in the Middle East. We
must not impose our visions for the region
in such a way that will thwart any progress
towards governments that will honor the
rights of their people and promote diplomatic
relations with the rest of the world.
Layan Charara i, an LSA junior.

Across artylines, politi-
cians in recent elections
have agreed on one thing:
We have an
"energy issue."
What precisely
that issue is has
been more dif-
ficult to define,
but whether
the motivation
arises from geo-'JUA '
politics, environ- ZAEINA
mental concerns
or technologi-
cal forecasts, the widely accepted
consensus is that we, as a nation,
simply cannot stay the course when
it comes to fuel.
Last November, Michigan voters
struck down a ballot proposal that
would have mandated that 25 per-
cent of the state's energy usage be
supplied from renewable sources.
Scientifically, it was a feasible goal,
although the outcome of the vote
shed light on a more complex reality.
The roadblock to reaching a solution
to our "energy problem" isn't tech-
nological, but political. If Michigan
is serious about being a leader in
addressing the energy concerns, we
must be serious about supporting
alternative fuels. The most economi-
rally, technologically and geopoliti-
cally sustainable way to do this is tq
advocate for the continued growth
of nuclear energy throughout Mich-
igan and the rest of the country.
Opposition to alternative ener-
gy often comes from an economic
standpoint. Fossil fuels provide
more energy output per unit than
many other types of fuel and are eas-
ily deliverable to consumers given
current infrastructure.
For many Americans, the price at
the pump is-the measure for wheth-
er or not we have an "energy prob-
lem" worthy of political action. We
expect our fuel to be cheap, con-
sistent and available. If the costs
are too high, there's an issue..But,

currently, we don't have another
choice besides literally buying into
the problem.
The technology required to
achieve, indepen ent, sustainable.
energy already e ists. If the United
States undertook a massive over-
haul of our current electrical grid
and replaced all power stations
with breeder nuclear reactors, we'd
be able to meet ogr energy needs at
Jhe current consumption rate for up
to five billion years. France already,
gets almost 80 percent of its electric
power from nuclear sources com-
pared with Michigan's 22 percent
and the United States' 19 percent.
So why don't we "go nuclear?"
Simply put, the technological switch
to more sustainable fuel sources is
being held back by a society that has
adapted to fossil fuels. Even if the
infrastructure of our current power
grid were taken out of the equation,
many examples of societal rejection
of energy alternatives would still
exist. From the long-established
coal mining communities of the
eastern United States to the power-
ful anti-nuclear obbies, the energy
issue isn't play d out in research
labs, but in polit' al campaigns.
Fear is also '2 strong motivator
against change Although there
are legitimate concerns about what
the United States would do with
its nuclear waste, the issues raised
about the safety of nuclear power
are largely misconstrued. Nuclear
power is statistically the safest
form of energy currently available.
When assessed by the number of
deaths per terawatt hour of energy
produced from each commercially
viable power source, nuclear ener-
gy is at the very bottom of the list.
Coal and oil combined are respon-
sible for almost 5,000 percent more
deaths than nuclear power. More
people have had fatal accidents
falling, off their roofs installing
solar panels than have ever died by
nuclear incidents.

Despite these statistics, the fact
that nuclear power was first intro-
duced to the world as the atomic
bomb - a devastating source of
destruction - continues to have
lasting effects. Following the Fuku=
shima Daiichi disaster of 2011,
public support for nuclear power
dropped to 43 percent, though pub-
lic support for hydroelectric power
has remained fairly consistent over
the years, even in the wake of the
dam failure in China that killed ail
estimated 171,000 people. If we're
to fairly address energy issues, we.
must present the facts accurately
and encourage a culture in popular
media and schools that leans away
from an anti-nuclear bias.
The roadblock to
reaching a solution to our
"energy problem" isn't
technological but political.
Michigan's rejected ballot pro-
posal represents a crossroads that
the United States must contemplate.
Have we reached the point in our
society where we perceive the limi-
tations of our fossil-fuel-dependent
infrastructure to finally overshad-
ow the costs that overhauling the
system would incur? or do we still
perceive our economic and societal
situation as one where the oppor-
tunity cost of devoting significant
effort and resources to this kind of
overhaul would be too great? At this
point, the limiting factor in prevent-
ing a solution to our "energy prob-
lem" isn't technological, but rather
political and ultimately, societal
- a problem that we can and must
change through education, policy
and politics.
- Julia Zarina can be reached
at jumilton@umich.edu.





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