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December 11, 2013 - Image 4

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4A - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

1C4e fitichipan 4:3at*lv

It's time to face our demons

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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.
Improving prison life
Michigan must reassess living conditions and sentencing guidelines
ast week, in an e-mail to the Livingston County Board of Commis-
sioners, Sheriff Bob Bezotte criticized Livingston County Jail's poor
living conditions, urging the commissioners to take action. The
e-mail included a photograph of the jail's crowded sleeping arrangements for
female inmates, displaying eight prisoners sleeping on the floor of a small
intake cell. Last Friday, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus received
the e-mail through a Freedom of Information Act request, moving the situ-
ation into the public eye. The unacceptable conditions in Livingston County
is just one example of the subpar living conditions prisoners across the state
face. Gov. Rick Snyder's call for a prison overhaul needs to include better liv-
ing conditions, mental health services and security conditions for prisoners.

t Racism is not merely a
simplistic hatred.It
is, more often, broad
sympathy toward
some and broad-
er skepticism
toward others."
The words of
writer Ta-Nehisi
Coates echoed
through my head
as I scrolled JAMES
through hun- BRENNAN
dreds of #BBUM
tweets - a move-
ment about Being Black at the Uni-
versity of Michigan - reading about
the challenges Black students face
on campus. Some are as subtle as
being glared at during walks to class,
while others are far more visible,
like being accused of stealing a chair
from Angell Hall.
Sadly, modern racism has evolved
from explicit statements of loath-
ing and prejudice to gestures and
words coated with a layer of distrust-
ful scorn. As #BBUM has shown us,
many students can attest to facing
this subtle racism. Far more students
could attest to being complicit in
these acts, if only they were aware.
There are countless actions indi-
viduals commit every single day that
are deeply rooted in some kind of
racial bias, one that many of us prob-
ably don't even notice - whether it's
picking up your pace after you see a
group of Black men, or doubting the
legitimacy ofsomeone's opinion "just
because."You would be hard-pressed
to find a person - White, Black, His-
panic, or otherwise - who does not
have asingle racistbone in their body.
Society pumps racial biases into our
brains from the day we're born, and
this subconscious prejudice forces us
to make assumptions and decisions
contrary to the logical, anti-racist
positions most of us hold.
The first step to solving any prob-

lem is admitting that there is one.
While we, as individuals and as a
collective student body, must face
the fact that we all hold some unfair
prejudice, the University has its
own demons to face as well. College
should teach us how to lose the rac-
ism that's been programmed into us,
but instead it appears that many of
us make little real progress during
our time in school. If administrators
truly plan to take action toward race
relations, then they must fully come
to terms with the realities of our
campus. This would mean address-
ing the need for all of us to face our
inner biases, as well as an admission
they'll probably hate to make pub-
licly: The University is no longer a
racially diverse school.
Though this seems to be no secret
among the student body and several
faculty members I've spoken with,
the University itself still pushes the
image of a diverse campus on pro-
spective applicants, donors, and the
student body itself.
Since 2006 - the year Michigan
voters banned affirmative action
policies in public institutions - the
enrollment of underrepresented
minorities at the University dropped
some 30 percent. Combined, Blacks,
Hispanics and Native Americans
make up less than nine percent of all
students-at the University.
I hate to admit it, but my school
simply isn't diverse - and while say-
ing negative things about the Univer-
sity certainly won't help our image,
ignoring the truth will do far worse
damage to campus race relations.
Accepting our inherent preju-
dices and the woeful state of
diversity should not make us all
feel ashamed, but motivate us to
accept the challenge of defeating
these problems. So we all hold some
inner racism? Maybe instead of
our easy-to-fulfill race and ethnic-
ity requirement, we push students

to actively engage and fight their
inner biases through more rigor-
ous, soul-searching experiences
inside and outside of the classroom.
So our campus is no longer diverse
and race-based affirmative action
is off the table? Maybe we can fight
dropping minority enrollment by
instituting income-based affir-
mative action and focusing our
recruiting efforts on racially and
socially diverse areas like Detroit.
No, these ideas are not silver bul-
lets to improving race relations on
campus, but if the Board of Regents
and administration plan on keeping
their promise, they need to engage
the student body and translate their
intentions into actual policy. More
flowery statements about a need to
"create safe spaces" and "celebrate
diversity" to placate those who took
action in the #BBUM campaign
is simply an insult, and students
should not take administration
seriously until we see actual poli-
cies aimed at fighting racism.
At the end of the day, this is a
campaign to be led by students.
With the death of former South
African President Nelson Mandela
this weekend, we should be remind-
ed that no change happens without
action. We as students are not pow-
erless - the future of the University
is in our hands if we want it to be.
Our collective words atd actions
can determine exactly the direc-
tion our school takes if we set our
minds to a goal. A wildly success-
ful social media campaign has got-
ten a response from the University
and woken up students, faculty and
administrators to the realities of
racism and Black student life on
campus.
They're all listening very care-
fully - it's time to make a statement.
- James Brennan can be reached
at jmbthree@umich.edu.

In an address to a graduating class of correc-
tions officers Friday, Snyder claimed that the
reduction of spending in the area of corrections
during the recession was unwise, and suggested
reform. "Too often, legislators, other leaders in
the state and the public look to corrections as a
place to cut back," Snyder said. Since Snyder took
office in 2011, the state has reduced corrections
spending by a quarter of a billion dollars - the
poor conditions of corrections facilities across
the state tell the consequences of the cut. Snyder
is calling for various upgradesto Michigan'spris-
on system, suggestingthe modernization ofsecu-
rity features and cameras along with investment
in improved mental health services for inmates.
The poor living conditions of the Livingston
County Jail reveal the larger issue of Michigan's
prison system. The female section of Livingston
County Jail has 31 beds, but averages more than
60 inmates on any particular day. In spite of this
issue, County Commissioner Ronald Van Houten
claims that the call for improvement is merely a'
"ploy," labeling the photograph of the females'
sleepingconditions as propaganda. The commis-
sioner's inability to consider the jail's conditions
and the rights and dignity of all residents is a
serious issue that speaks to a broader problem of
prison conditions being ignored by state officials
across Michigan.
The case in Livingston underlines many prob-

lems with the state's prison facilities. A report
from Prisoner Reform, an advocacy group, high-
lights the inadequate health services offered to
Michigan prisoners. Despite the massive bud-
get of Michigan's Department of Corrections,
the state's prisons lack adequate preventative
care. Furthermore, Michigan's prison sentences
are the longest in the country, and increasing
amounts of older people populating the prisons
adds pressure on the health needs of Michigan's
inmate population.
If Michigan wants to overhaul the prison sys-
tem as Snyder suggests, the state should reevalu-
ate its sentencing policies as well as the conditions
its prisoners are subjected to. Stricter sentencing
policies would decrease the number of inmates
filling the jail and requiring healthcare, relieving
the issues of overcrowding and neglected medi-
cal attention. Alongside more rigorous sentenc-
ing, offering parole hearings to those with life
sentenceswould reassess inmates who were sen-
tenced to life in prison as minors, making more
room for newly sentenced individuals.
It is clear that the living conditions of Michi-
gan's prisons are of very low quality and that this
issue should be taken seriously. Michigan must
upgrade various facets of its prisons and reassess
its sentencing guidelines, as Livingston County
Jail's situation simply calls outthe poor quality of
facilities across the state.

I
R

Who called the sex police.?

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Rima
Fadlallah, Eric Ferguson, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Kellie Halushka,
Melanie Kruvelis, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble,
Adrienne Roberts, Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN I

it IL - -1111L

CONOR ANDERSON / Daily

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A transformative experience
The Development Summer Internship Pro- the College of Engineering, the Law School, the
ram is a program run bythe University of Mich- Office of University Development and the Office
an's office of University Development, which of Student Life --just to name a few. Others were
pretty much the fundraising arm of Michigan. located in Ann Arbor nonprofits, like the Perry
-SIP educates Michigan students, like me, on Nursery School. They were all contributing to
hilanthropy and fundraising in higher educa- their own offices by undertaking projects that
on. Monday through Thursday, students do played to their skill sets.
aid work in one of the University's many fund- On Fridays, we gathered together for class
ising offices or in an Ann Arbor nonprofit. On to share these experiences with one another.
riday mornings, we took a 3-credit philanthro- Throughout the summer, we built a support
y course and an afternoon session on profes- system where we could share our weekly vic-
onal development. tories and challenges, as well as talk about
On the first day of orientation, I found myself our own personal growth. We also heard
tting with 26 students, ranging in age from from amazing speakers, learned about the
eshman to graduated seniors. They represent- development profession, completed a consult-
d dozens of student organizations and studied ing project in 90 hours for a local nonprofit,
verything from kinesiology and violin perfor- and engaged in activities designed to help us
ance to business and philosophy on the Ann know our personal values and goals. Like the
rbor and Dearborn campuses. Michigan draws first day of orientation, the discussions were
wide variety of students, but how often have not always easy. I continued to be challenged
au found yourself in a room with students from by my peers who spoke from personally and
roass the University? academically diverse backgrounds. These
The instructors had warned us that the pro- Friday conversations were exciting because I
-am would be intense and stimulating, but I could feel myself learning about new ways of
asn't expecting it on day one. In our first con- thought and becoming more aware of who I
rsationtogether, someofmypeerstalked about was and for what I stood.
ow social identity influenced philanthropy and So, why join D-SIP? One of my favorite
ie workplace. My background in economics quotes is from Junot Diaz. He said: "Life is
nd communications had given me a wealth of going to present to you a series of transforma-
nowledge, but I had rarely grappled with con- tions. And the point of education should be to
optsofprivilege andhowit could manifestitself. transform you. To teach you how to be trans-
felt uncomfortable, soI raised my hand and told formed so you can ridethe waves as they come."
y new classmates. Thankfully, honesty and D-SIP was one ofthosetransformations that an
enuineness were greatly valued inthis program. education should provide. I graduated from the
-SIP was about to be much more than a summer program in August with valuable work experi-
b and a Friday class. ence and skills, knowledge about philanthropy
In my work as a corporate relations intern at and development, and a heightened sense of
fe Business Engagement Center, I learned how self-awareness. Equally as important, I gained
)mpanies give philanthropically to Michigan. I a wonderful group of friends who are some of
as fortunate to work side-by-side with incred- the smartest and most compassionate people I
leco-workers and help communicate the mis- have ever had the fortune of meeting.
on of my department to businesses across the I hope you will take the leap to challenge your-
ation. My internship exposed me to an entirely self this summer by participating in an award-
ew profession and connected me to people winning, paid internship program. I now know
ross the University. Through my projects, I my original discomfort on that first day was part
ained hands-on experience in marketing, social of the most productive and inspiring summer I
edia, event planning and research. In fact, could hope to experience.

few months ago t was out
on a weeknight with my
group of friends. We were
at a bar that's
unprecedented
late-night happy
hour and chalk-
board walls have
lured us through
its . doors so.
often that we ;
refer to it as our
"Cheers." I was EMILY
perched on a bar PITTINOS
stool next to a
dude I'd known
since freshman year. We'd never
been very close, but our brains
were steeped in half-priced Bum-
percrop IPAs and as our gaggle of
friends flitted around the empty
bar scrawling "Red Rum" and
drawing pictures of genitalia on the
walls in chalk, we'd somehow tum-
bled into an easy and enthusiastic.
conversation. I'm not sure what we
were talking about - maybe our
lists of ex-lovers or our childhoods
in Michigan or the way pieces of
discarded gum meld with the side-
walk over time - but it doesn't mat-
ter. We were enjoying each other's
company and it felt good.
I sat facing the exit and when
my eyes wandered past the guy I
was chatting with, I saw a mutual
friend of ours slip on her coat by
the door. We made eye contact and
she immediately brought the "V" of
her fingers to her mouth and gar-
ishly wiggled her tongue between
them. She then brought her elbows
to her hips and gave the air a few
slow, sensual thrusts. With a wink
and a cigarette behind her ear, she
strolled out of the bar.
The guy didn't notice and we
went on talking about lead paint
or the history of rubber produc-
tion or whatever it was that fasci-
nated us at the time. However, the
conversation didh't feel as simple
as it did only moments before. I was

suddenly tainted by embarrass-
ment and scrutinizing every giggle
and smile. 'Wait, am I into him? Is
he picturing me naked right now?
Does he think this is going to hap-
pen? Is it obvious to everyone?'
I. quietly scanned the room and
realized we were being watched
by several of our friends, many of
whom gave us knowing smirks or
performed their own cunnilingual
gesticulations. Maybe I slipped into
enchantment with the guy before,
but I was shaken out of it once I
realized my peers' blatant sexual-
ization of the experience.
I wouldn't be surprised if any
of this sounds familiar to you. If
you've been to school between
the ages of 12 and 22, you've prob-
ably been the witness, recipient
or unknowing subject of "get-it-
in" gestures along these lines. I'll
admit it's a generally harmless and
common scenario, but it did make
me think about how much friends
tend to police each other's sex lives.
It seems like sex has become the
encouraged, and even expected,
result of two people spending any
time together at all. I can't tell you
how many times a friend has wit-
nessed me exchanging coy glances
with someone and almost immedi-
ately pulled me aside for an interro-
gation beginning with 'Is anything
happening between you? How's
the sex?' Questions about feelings
or potential for later dates aren't
asked until the sexual secrets are
spilled.
Of course,,like most other behav-
iors that peeve me, I'm just as guilty
of this as anyone else. Iknow this
interest often comes from a loving
place - we want our friends to be
happy and have endlessly fulfilling
love lives and all that - but these
good intentions can be eclipsed by a
selfish satisfaction. Despite the fact
that our culture is oversaturated
with sex, it's still a fundamentally
private and personal endeavor.

There is something delicious
about being privy to those intimate
details of a friend's life. It's invigo-
ratingtohearthe hilarious orsteamy
particulars of another person's sex
life. Plus, it can be personally vali-
dating to receive that information;
on some level, this divulgence con-
firms the closeness and trust you
have within a friendship.
But I think it's important that we
all examine these personal inter-
ests and recognize how our sexual
policing can negatively affect the
people we're "encouraging." Our
vulturous gazes can put a new
relationship into a sexual pres-
sure cooker and convince fledg-
ling couples to make moves before
they're ready. We can make things
awkward by projecting sexual ten-
sion onto truly platonic friend-
ships. And, most importantlyto me,
we can perpetuate the theory that
our generation places more signifi-
cance on sexual acts than meaning-
ful, personal connection between
humans.
As you've probablyheard else-
where, our generation is becoming
infamous for the invention of hook-
up culture and I believe sexual
policing is a side effect of this phe-
nomenon. We seem to care so much
about who's having sex with who
that we belittle the importance
of the potential emotions behind
these actions. Sure, we want every-
one to bone - it's fun and we're
young and why not use these hot
bodies while we've got them?
But we should also recognize
that the sexual pressures we place
on our friends can be unnecessary
and even uncomfortable. If people
want to have a sexual relationship,
they will. They don't need us wink-
ing or air-humping from the side-
lines in order to realize and act on
their own desires.
- Emily Pittinos can be reached
at pittinos@umich.edu.

1

A

ich of my D-SIP peers were having their own
nique experiences, working in development in

Elizabeth McLaughlin is an LSA junior.

0

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