4A - Thursday, April 3, 2014
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, April 3, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109'
PETER SHAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
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.
Keep the lakes reat
Michigan needs to enact stricter legislation on oil transportation
n March 24, the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind.
experienced a malfunction causing crude oil to spill into Lake
Michigan. BP initially estimated that nine to 18 barrels - about
377 to 755 gallons - were spilled. Later, those estimates were doubled.
Lake Michigan, along with the other Great Lakes, is a significant element
of the state's identity and play a large role in Michigan's tourism industry.
To protect the lakes, Gov. Rick Snyder and other state legislators should
exhaust all options to implement stricter regulations when oil is processed
or transferred near the Great Lakes.
Another petty election
F or a minute there, I actually that our work in college is pointless, Can we stop this charade?
thought we'd be better off but we shouldn't take it to the point I've become so annoyed with
without astudentgovernment of suing people and running a these ridiculous elections, I actually
entirely, campaign like the U.S. Senate. Rarely argued to my roommates that CSG
Yet another can we make the wide-ranging doesn't need to exist. It serves no
year has gone by impacts we hope for, and those who purpose, I told them - student
with a group of do are typically not members of organizations can do better alone.
self-important, student government. According to But before we plunge into anarchy
pretentious can- Make Michigan - our new student (sorry, YAL) let's remember
didates taking government executives - they're that CSG actually does have
themselves and "changing campus culture." real responsibility. They control
the shoddy insti-JAMES No, no you are not. hundreds of thousands of dollars
tution of Central BRENNAN CSG and political parties don't in student organization funding,
Student Govern- change campus culture. The Coali- are supposedly our unified voice on
ment far too seri- tion for Tuition Equality changes campus and have the ability to create
ously. I'm just campus culture. The Black Student dialogues on important causes. The
thankful I became too cool for Face- Union changes campus culture. Even point I'm making is that elections
book so my exposure to wannabe groups that I typically disagree with, - even when they only garner a
politicians and their platitudes was such as Students Allied for Free- small sliver of student attention
left to unwarranted retweets and dom and Equality, Hillel and Young - are so pathetic they can make a
e-mails. Americans for Liberty, change cam- reasonable person want to toss out
Here's something to think about: pus culture. CSG serves as a platform an occasionally useful system.
for every year I've been at the for self-important, goal-driven kids It's inconceivable how stupid
University, student government to pretend they matter. They occa- cheating to win an election to be
elections have ended with lawsuits. sionally go speak to the University's student body president is. It's even
Let me repeat that with emphasis Board of Regents, get nods of approv- more inconceivable that a person
to make sure that we all understand alfor dressingup in a suitandtalking would sue their way into office over
how ridiculous itsounds: like a bigboy, and infractions
Student government elections then sit down as pointless
have ended with lawsuits. while grownups . as showing
Really, guys? discuss real mat- Let me give you friends how to
A glorified resume builder is ters. Sometimes s advice: e' vote or failing
worth "suing" people in student they jump on to report small
court over? Like alot of people, I was board and pass Voung and most expenses. Maybe
shocked to find out we even have a resolution (or * I'm just being
a student election commission, let don't) in support of what we do is pessimistic, but I
alone the sheer number of election of a real student i sa find it incredibly
rules. Aren't we better than this? group's goals inconsequential. petty, immature
Aren't we mature, reasonable adults while approving and selfish
who realize how insignificant CSG their funding, to go to such
elections are? Don't we realize how but the idea that they "change cam- lengths all so you can call yourself
sad it is that we need to have such pus culture" is comical. "President." There are easier ways
a cadre to fight cheating? This is a Everyyear, Iwatchthese elections to back up your self-importance, like
student government election, not the and I shake my head and laugh. I see getting a college newspaper column
U.S. Congress. The one talking point kids my own age or younger get overly and calling yourself a "journalist."
for your law school interview isn't worked up over aglorified popularity Most students probably wouldn't
worth the grief to cheat, and neither contest, taking to the pages of The be familiar with what the BSU,
are your plans for some bus system Michigan Daily in an attempt to SAFE or YAL have legitimately
that I'm sure would be enacted distinguish themselves from the accomplished - fair enough. But I
anyways. And please, stop acting like equally homogenous party they're bet even fewer could point out who
you do this because you care. You do running against. They all "believe our new President is and what his
it for the same reasons college kids do in student government," speak in position actually entails.
almost anything: ambition. the politically correct euphemisms Everyone who just got elected,
Let me give you some advice that we hear from U.S. presidential please remember that.
mymentorsinlife continuallyremind candidates, and tweet about how
me of: we're young and most of what "It was great meeting with (insert - James Brennan can be
we do is inconsequential. It's not group)! #MichiganDifference." reached at email@example.com.
Thank you, Obama
Last Thursday, BP representatives revised
their estimates for the amount spilled
to between 630 and 1,638 gallons. One
week after the spill, an assessment team
- comprised of the Coast Guard, BP and
the Environmental Protection Agency -
reported there was no more oil visible on the
shore or in the water. Phillip Willink, senior
biologist at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, said
Lake Michigan wildlife shouldn't suffer
any long-term harm. Despite the relatively
small size of the spill, the failure of existing
facilities and regulation to safeguard the
lakes is concerning.
The Great Lakes are an incredibly
important ecosystem for fish, agriculture,
various animals and even humans. Currently,
37 million people live in the Great Lakes
Basin, more than 26 million of whom rely on
the lakes for drinking water. The people in
the surrounding area rely on this important
ecosystem. About 67,000 of the 201,000
square miles in the Basin are used for
growing crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans,
barley and oats. The area surrounding Lake
Michigan contains the most farmland of all
the Great Lakes and is a leading producer of
fruits and vegetables.
With a history of oil spills, BP's conduct
merits heightened attention from both the
state and federal government. Just last
month, a ban on federal contracts with BP
was lifted. The sanction was initially put in
place in response to the disastrous Deepwater
Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This
recent spill - along with previous oil spills
in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico - raises
questions about whether BP needs to be
placed back under a federal ban. Considering
BP's questionable track record, it's imperative
that the company be transparent with the
spill and the resulting cleanup.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called
for full transparency from BP regarding
the events leading up to the spill. U.S.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk
(R-Ill.) elaborated on Emanuel's speech,
calling for a full investigation to prevent the
possibility of future oil spills in the Great
Lakes. According to The Chicago Tribune,
representatives from Michigan are also
calling on BP to tighten regulations. Given
that the Great Lakes are equally important
- if not more so - to Michigan, it's time for
Snyder and Michigan senators to voice their
concerns as well.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Barry Belmont, Edvinas Berzanskis, Rachel John, Nivedita Karki,
Jacob Karafa, Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria
Noble, Melissa Scholke, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman,
Paul Sherman, Allison Raeck, Linh Vu, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
The 12 of us were making the last leg
of our long and exhausting drive to Fort
Worth, Texas, as part of Alternative Spring
Break. We were going to spend our time at
Samaritan House, a nonprofit organization
that provides housing and care to individuals
and families living with HIV/AIDS and other
I did not save anyone. I didn't expect to.
We entered the community with anticipation
and anxiety, ready to experience a new envi-
ronment, hear new stories and do some good
old-fashioned manual labor. And we did. But I
would like to think that there is a reason why
year after year, they continue to invite students
from the University back. To be honest, yes -
our five days of physical work most likely didn't
have any grand effect on Samaritan House or
the community. To them we may have been
a passing kiss, a short, sweet presence com-
monplace in an environment that attracts so
much service and assistance from the commu-
nity. But to us, or at least me, the people at the
Samaritan House offered a window into a stig-
matized group of society who is often margin-
alized, ignored and even avoided. They're those
who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Phrasing was the first lesson. He or she is not
an "HIV-positive person" or "a person infected
by HIV." They are living with HIV/AIDS. First
and foremost, despite what society miscon-
strues, this community of people do, in fact,
have lives that are often quite fulfilling and are
comprised of employment, families and close
relationships. But even more importantly,
an individual living with HIV/AIDS doesn't
allow it to envelop or define their entire lives.
Hearing the stories of the residents of Samari-
tan House, their illness was merely one of the
many hardships faced, and like all the other
hardships, they were merely facts to live with,
not be defined by. This is becoming more and
more a reality as changes in medical technol-
ogy have transformed HIV/AIDS from a death
sentence to a manageable chronic illness.
I remember coming home and hearing one
of my friends make a seemingly "harmless"
joke regarding contracting HIV by sharing a
spoon. I went off. To be fair, my verbal back-
lash was unnecessarily mean. I know there
was no malicious intent, and it very well could
have been a joke I would have made a few
months prior. There was the second lesson:
stigma. Most don't consciously recognize the
perpetuated stigma over HIV/AIDS via non-
chalant comments or "harmless" jokes.
As it is with many stereotypes, the root
of this one is a lack of accurate information.
According to aids.gov, HIV can only be
transmitted through sexual contact,
pregnancy/childbirth, drug injection,
occupational exposure or organ transplant.
It cannot be contracted through physical
contact like hugging, a handshake or a kiss.
Neither I nor anyone else in my group ever
felt like our safety was at risk at any point.
On the contrary, we felt welcomed and very
comfortable in their community. Their homes
and communal spaces were open to us and we
truly had the opportunity to witness the very
human faces behind the illness that social
stigma unjustly distorts.
It's peculiar to think that I had to travel
1,160 miles into the heart of Texas to gain
insight into a global issue that affects us in
our very own backyard. But sometimes it
takes a new environment for people to see an
issue in a fresh, eye-opening context.
Edvinas Berzanskis is an LSA sophomore.
on't boo. Organize."
And only three words.
For all of the
and his writers
likely spend writ- '
ing, editing and
speeches, it was d
an off-the-cuff DEREK
remark that shed WOLFE
the most light
on where the
priorities of the
American people are and where they
should be. And it only strengthened
Speaking to a crowd yesterday
mixed with students, donors and
alumni who were all thrilled to be
at the musty, dimly lit Intramural
Sports Building, Obama empha-
sized the importance of raising the
national minimum wage to $10.10
from the current $7.25 - $7.40 in
Michigan. I've never seen a more
engaging speaker. And he obviously
knows his audience.
He began with a resounding "Go
He ate lunch at Zingerman's and
had something to say about it: "One
of the reasons I went was because
the sandwiches are outstanding.
The second reason, though, is
Zingerman's is a business that treats
its workers well, and rewards honest
work with honest wages ... and that's
what I'm here to talk about today."
And if you haven't heard by now, he
ordered a Reuben.
He gave a shoutout to Nik Stauskas,
Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Morgan
and Devin Gardner - specifically
saying that Stauskas shouldn't worry
because he has a contract coming up
and that Morgan was the definition
of a true student-athlete.
He definitely covered the bases,
including his obligatory shot at
Republican incompetence. Obama
claimed that the Republican's tactics
- includingan origi:
the Affordable Care
terproductive to An
The crowd agreed a
Obama can oni:
with the minimum
Smooth talking w
rolled up button-do
only go so far. He
to pass a bill, whii
seems more unlik
with midterm elect
in November. So he
roots as a communit
And that's wher
on campus, so really
the problem. Rathe
to organize. We ca
with booing. With
an obnoxious sound
breath. The statusc
directly affects our
to care. Because it m
citizens of ours arev
jobs and are still n
what you need
to do, because
they may not
hear the boos,
but they can
read a petition
and they can
It seems like
nal idea to repeal houses was rewarding, it was even
Act - are coun- more amazingto hear about how the
merica's success. local community came together and
nd expressed its began making the surrounding area
ama responded. a safer place, so people, especially
iize." children, don't have to live in fear
y do so much and can enjoy life. They wantto build
-wage initiative. a park. They want to resuscitate the
hile wearing a damaged houses and turn them into
:wn and tie can small businesses that students will
needs Congress work and learn in. Truly inspiring.
ch at this point But, of course, this all takes effort.
ely than likely Thinking is a lot easier than doing.
ions coming up That being said, I'm not calling
went back to his for a "Students for Higher Minimum
y organizer. Wage" group to start tomorrow.
e we come in. Quite frankly, I've never been a
ofstudentgroups part of a movement advocating for
organizing isn't political, economic or social change
r, it's the desire myself. And I admit that what Obama
nnot be content said today probably won't have me
out action, it's jumping out of bed tomorrow to join
I and a waste of one. I think that's also OK.
of the minimum Nonetheless, I want to start by
is an issue that asking the right questions.
futures. We have Why don't companies, big or
atters that fellow small, pay their employees more?
working multiple What would have to change to make
ot able to make that happen? Is it purely profit-
Why do some
If you truly want their employees
something, you wage?
cannot sit idly. those answers
in hand, action
can follow - or
a common sense issue. Evidently,
it's not. And actually, we don't even
have to wait for Congress - or the
government, in general - to make
Effective organization is possible.
I saw it firsthand last weekend.
As a participant ofDetroit Partner-
ship Day, my site was at Denby High
School. Directly across the street
from the school were several blocks
filled with abandoned and blighted
houses. While helping clean up these
important as well.
However, the future of the
minimum wage debate among other
things is unclear right now. And
that's why it's crucial to understand
the gravitas of Obama's remark.
"Don't boo. Organize."
If you truly want something, you
cannot sit idly. And your friends,
family and community can't either.
- Derek Wolfe can be
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Don't boo. Organize."
- U.S. President Barack Obama during his speech on raising minimum wage
at the University of Michigan on Wednesday afternoon.