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April 01, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-01

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4 - Tuesday, Aprill1, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, April 1, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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.
Enabling campus
The 'U' should provide more resources and information on disabilities
Last year, nearly 5 percent of students at the University were registered
as having a disability with the Services for Students with Disabilities.
Michigan ranks second-highest in SSD registered students among
Big Ten schools. Students and staff came together Wednesday to spread
disabilities awareness at speakABLE, an event presented by the SSD Senior
Advisory Board. The event featured testimonials from disabled students on
campus who praised the University's efforts and called for change in University
policy and atmosphere. Though the University has taken positive measures to
accommodate students with disabilities, additional resources and information
should be provided to reach equality for these students.

Weeding out oppression

On March 12, The Michigan Daily
published a column titled "Mari-
juana Misconceptions," in which the
author expressed an alarmed posi-
tion to many Americans' perceptions
of marijuana as a "benign" substance.
The article claimed that the federally
classified Schedule I drug poses signif-
icant and permanent health concerns
that should dissuade any further legal-
ization of the dangerous drug. what
the article failed to mention is that the
classification of marijuana as a drug
equivalent, in public health concern, to
heroin as Schedule I drugs occurred in
the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.
Over the past four decades, the impact
of marijuana's harsh classification
has led to a halt in health research, an
extremely costly war on drugs and the
further deepening of racial divides.
In recent years, the public attitude
toward marijuana has provided many
Americans with the hope of future
reform. with both Colorado and
washington passing referendums to
legalize marijuana throughout most
of their state boundaries, some believe
that the nation has reached a social
tipping pointof the drug's acceptance.
Despite the fact that the 1970s have
been commonly referenced for its
carefree, drug-induced attitudes -
public opinion polls in 2013 showed
that for the first time, Americans
favored marijuana legalization. With
58 percent in favor, the results exhibit
morethandoublethe supportreported
in 1977 and signify a 14-percent
increase in support just in the past two
years. These recent developments in
legislation and social attitudes, along
with a rapidly increasing marijuana
lobby group, lead to speculation that
the trend towards state legalization of
marijuana will continue.
Though there has been relatively
limited research onthe long-termcon-
sequences, marijuana has been proven
to have only mildly negative health
effects, at worst compared to other
vices such as cigarettes and alcohol.
The reason research has been limited
is largely because of the convoluted

and restricting bureaucratic approach
the government takes on marijuana.
As Dr. Sanjay Gupta mentioned last
year in a public address on the health
benefits of marijuana, progress in
marijuana studies continues to be a
challenge due to the unavailability of
the drug for research, and due to the
fact that the organization approving
marijuana research - the National
Institute on Drug Abuse - is inher-
ently focused on abuse rather than
the benefits.
Despite this, there are thousands
of individuals serving extensive sen-
tences - in some cases, life sentenc-
es - for non-violent and petty drug
convictions involving marijuana. In a
country with a racially disproportion-
ate legal system, where the African
American population in the United
States is18.4 percent,but 40 percent in
its jails and prisons, the war on drugs
has created a racially institutionalized
system of oppression. The implication
of the institutionalized targeting of
low-income areas has led to the cre-
ation of an entire population segment
of minority offenders, who are dis-
criminated against, disenfranchised
and socially isolated. This has persist-
ed for more than 40 years, decimating
multiple generations and further cre-
ating racial divides which will require
mending and reconciliation.
In a recent article, Michelle Alex-
ander, author of New York Times
bestseller "The New Jim Crow: Mass
IncarcerationintheAgeof Colorblind-
ness," emphasized the importance of a
conscience transition from incarcer-
ating millions of Black men for minor
marijuana offenses to allowing small
groups of white men to make millions
once the drug is deemed legal. Com-
paring the transition to the end of the
apartheid in South Africa, Alexander
said, "You can't just destroy a people
and then say 'It's over, we're stopping
now.' You have to be willing to deal
with the truth, deal with the history
openly and honestly." Indeed, it is not
permissible to accept the reality of the
past several decades allowing poor,

underprivileged minorities to suffer
from a disproportionately discrimina-
tory system, and then simply decide
that someone else will profit off of
their burden. For decades, it has been
proven that marijuana use has been
equal or even higher among whites
when compared to minorities, but the
privilege of living in suburbs and on
college campuses has provided a sense
of security and a double standard for
offenders of the exact same crimes.
With the recent realization of
the disparity among race and class
throughoutthe War onDrugs,it is nec-
essary for lawmakers to take advan-
tage of current public support and
eliminate crippling and unproductive
drug laws. The U.S. prison system is
overcrowded. In a country composing
only 5 percent of the world's popula-
tion, the criminal justice system hous-
es 25 percent of the world's prisoners.
Not only has the War on Drugs proven
to be costly and an issue of economic
feasibility, it has prolonged the history
of racial injustice. The mass incar-
ceration of minorities has only further
impoverished the status and social
capital of America's diversity. Histori-
ans will view the War on Drugs as the
third era of oppression, following the
Jim Crow laws of the 1870s and the
African slave system dating back to
before the conception ofthe U.S.
The decriminalization of mari-
juana - a non-lethal substance -
must be supported as a practical
solution to unnecessary persisting
problems in the U.S. legal system.
For most, marijuana will continue
to be a vice, a bad habit. For oth-
ers, it will prove to be effective
medicine. Regardless of its use, the
stakes for continuing its current
discrimination are too high and too
costly. As Michelle Alexander rea-
sonably states, "I can tell you that
I'm far more worried about my kids
needlessly going to jail and being
relegated to a permanent second-
class status than getting high."
Bogdan Belei is an LSA junior.

SpeakABLE was part of a series of events for
SSD's 40th anniversary. The event featured a
panel of students who shared personal stories
regarding disability at the University. One
student addressed the lack of clear emergency
evacuation procedures for physically disabled
students in residence halls, particularly calling
attention to "deplorable" protocols during a fire
drill. Other topics of discussion centered on
the challenge deaf students face during large
lecture events and the "otherness" of disabled
individuals in the campus community.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act,
the Universityis requiredto provide reasonable
public accommodations, and seems to work
hard to do so. However, emergency evacuation
procedures must also be updated to better
address the needs of disabled students. Clear
plans should be set for evacuating disabled
students from residence halls in the case of
an emergency. These should be included in an
updated version of the Office of Institutional
Equity's Emergency Evacuation for Persons on
Campus with Disabilities protocol.
Though SSDprovides positive aid for disabled
students, the University should increase
awareness and accessibility of this resource.
To inform all new students of its available
programming and services, and raise awareness
about disability on campus in general, the
SSD office should be included in orientation
tours. It should further increase transparency
by clarifying the registration process.

Prescheduling for accommodation at student
events, like mass meetings and speaker events,
another concern raised at the panel, should be
simplified. Further, the existence of any and all
resources should be clarified and publicized by
the Universityso students can utilize them.
To generate a comprehensive understanding
of disabilities across campus, the University
should create a disabilities studies
concentration. At the very least, the University
should offer more relevant classes pertaining
to historical treatment, political initiatives
and social power dynamics of physical and
mental ability in society and academia. While
the University offers courses on many different
groups, it lacks undergraduate academic
curricula indisabilities studies. Such aprogram
has been proposed in the past and should be
implemented to fully represent diverse groups
in University coursework. This program
would create greater acceptance of disabilities,
bridging the gap between able-bodied and
disabled individuals on campus.
While the University has created positive
resources to accommodate disabled students,
certain changes should be implemented to help
those who could benefit from them. Increased
information about SSD registration process and
resources would aid all disabled students, and
a disabilities studies program would promote
greater acceptance. Every individual at the
University should have an equal opportunity to
succeed, and disabled students are no exception.

Barry Belmont, Edvinas Berzanskis, Rachel John, Nivedita Karki,
Jacob Karafa, Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Paul Sherman,
Allison Raeck, Linh Vu, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Take peace seriously

Snyder the wimp

When Rick Snyder was running for
governor and became the lovable
"nerd" who won the votes of most
Michiganders, many saw
hope for a new breed of
Republican in him. People
and conservatism as the
perfect medicine for the
downtrodden economy,
and many believed his_
stance on social issues were
far from the Tea Party PATRICK
extremism found in the MAILLET
state legislature. During his
campaign, whenever he was
asked about social issues ranging from women's
health to LGBTQ rights, Snyder simply stated
that those issues were not on his agenda and
that fixing the economy was his main concern.
Most people believed this meant that Snyder was
going to focus on the economy and not worry
about archaic social issuesthat only the religious
right fights against.
Oh how wrong we were ...
What we have come to learn these last few
years is that Snyder is undoubtedly focused
primarily on economics, but when it comes to
social issues he has essentially let the radical
members of his party take control and pass
whatever legislation they see fit. During his
tenure as governor, Snyder has signed count-
less laws that severely limit women's right
to choose and diminished the rights of the
LGBTQ community.
As state Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said
in a phone interview last week, "Governor Sny-
der consistently avoids taking a side on social
issues.When he was first elected, we all thought
that maybe he would be a different type of
Republican. Instead, he has demonstrated that
it's not that he opposes these social topics, it's
just that he only cares about economic issues."
Irwin went on to say, "These issues:
women's rights, LGBT equality ... they're just
not on his radar screen."
Michiganders were painfully reminded of
this trend last week when U.S. District Judge
Bernard Friedman ruled Michigan's same-sex
marriage ban unconstitutional. The very next
day, more than 300 same-sex couples were
married before a federal appeals court issued
a stay, preventing more marriages until the
case is heard by a higher court. In response to
these marriages, Governor Snyder said that the
unions were "legal" and "valid," but that the
state willnot recognize themnor offer themthe
same benefits given to heterosexual couples.

Just when we thought Michigan would
be a forward-thinking state, we were
painfully reminded that our state government
is controlled by radical members of the
religious right.
the newest example of his inability to actually
take a stand on a social issue. Critics throughout
the country have criticized Snyder's 'legal, but
not thatlegal' statement, and most attorneys on
either side of the aisle are acknowledging that
Snyder is probably in the wrong. As Ken Mogill,
one of the lawyers challenging the same-sex
marriage ban, stated last week, "I would not
want to be one of the Governor's lawyers trying
to defend that position in court. It's kind of a
head-spinning position."
Irwin also commented on Snyder'sstatement,
saying, "I have to be honest, I don't understand
his position because it makes no sense."
I understand where Snyder is coming from
politically. He has to appeal to his radical
base and come out and oppose same-sex
marriage. But instead of coming out and
openly saying that he opposes this court
ruling, Snyder - like always - is trying to
have it both ways. He wants to appear against
same-sex marriage to appeal to religious
voters, yet also wants to attract independents
by claiming indifference and stating that he's
simply upholding the law.
"He's just trying to make it less obvious that
he's on the wrongside of history," Irwin said in
reaction to Snyder's remarks.
Though Snyder and Michigan Attorney
General Bill Schuette have a duty to defend
the Michigan Constitution, they have also
sworn an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.
With the Supreme Court's ruling last summer
striking down the Defense of Marriage Act
and a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll
showing that 59 percent of Americans support
same-sex marriage, one can't help but see the
writing on the wall.
Snyder loves to refer to himself as "one
tough nerd." I have no doubt that Snyder is
an intelligent man, but over these past couple
of years he has shown that he is nothing
more than a number-cruncher who doesn't
care about current social issues that leave
Michigan years behind most of the country.
The Governor has repeatedly refused to stand
up to the Tea Party radicals within the state
legislature. He may see himself as a nerd, but I
see little more than a wimp.
- Patrick Maillet can be reached
at maillet@umich.edu.

Enough of the divisive rhetoric.
Enough of the unequal coverage.
Enough of the half-truths that have
dominated the conversation. Enough
of sitting quietly on the sideline,
waiting for the facts to win the day -
that clearly is not happening.
I am a Zionist. I support the
existence of Israel. I believe in a
two-state solution, where Israel
remains a majority Jewish state.
And after millennia of persecution,
diasporas and attempted genocides,
I am not going to apologize for
the way I feel. I am not going to
forget that Israel was born in the
aftermath of the Holocaust. And
I am not going to dismiss the fact
that Israel's boundaries exist in
their current form because all of
her neighbors have tried to wipe
her off of the map, repeatedly.
The conversation on campus
these past two weeks about divesting
from companies doing business in
Israel has been hurtful, it has been
filled with inaccuracies and it has
done nothing to support peace or
reconciliation between the opposing
sides. Students Allied for Freedom
and Equality has vilified the Central
Student Government, slurred the
students that oppose its resolution,
and misrepresented its own agenda.
It's time the truth is told.
To begin, SAFE's voice was not
"silenced." SAFE has now presented
its proposal twice to CSG, and twice
our student government voted "no." I
understand a groupomay be frustrated
that its proposal did not pass. But
when a group's proposal (twice) does
not pass a democratically elected
representative student body, which
(twice) acted firmly in line with its
rules of procedure, the group has
not been silenced. It has been heard
(twice). And in this case, it has been
heard louder and clearer than most
groups ever are.
Second, the CSG was right to
vote the way it did. One of the
three requirements for divestment
is that the view must be "broadly
and consistently held on campus
over time," and reflect "a broad

campus consensus." SAFE asked
CSG to affirm that its resolution
possessed this type of support.
This is something the CSG could
not do, because this type of support
does not exist. In its resolution,
SAFE offered zero legitimate
evidence that its proposal enjoyed
a consensus. The only support it
provided were citations to three
Michigan Daily pieces - pieces
members of SAFE authored -
that showed nothing in the way
of campus consensus for its view.
In stark contrast, two weeks of a
divided campus and six and a half
hours of divided debate point in the
opposite direction.
Third, SAFE's resolution is not
about human rights. It is about
delegitimizing and weakening the
State of Israel. If SAFE cared only
about human rights, then it is beyond
suspect that it only pushed for
divestiture from companies having
dealings with Israel. If SAFE cared
only about human rights, it would
have included companies doing
business with tens, if not hundreds, of
other countries. China is an obvious
example. So is Israel's neighbor,
Syria, who has killed more than
100,000 civilians since the start of its
civil war. And so are the Palestinian
extremisits, who shoot rockets daily
at Israeli civilians. But these offenders
are notably absent from SAFE's
resolution on human rights.
I am not saying Israel has not
violated human rights laws. To the
contrary, I am sure that she has -
as is true with every nation (see:
waterboarding, United States). But
Israel is a true and functioning
democracy, the only one in a region
that is largely hostile to its right
even to exist. One does not need to
be an expert in international affairs
to know that Israel's record on
human rights is not even in the same
ballpark as many of the countries to
which the University's, as well as all
other universities', investments are
linked. Claiming that this resolution
is strictly for human rights, under
the dubious pretense that "you need
to start somewhere," is as offensive

as it is calculated.
If this resolution were for any
company operating in a country that
violates human rights, then I would
support it. But it is not. And that
omission is not innocent.
Fourth, SAFE's strategy is not
one that encourages peace or
reconciliation between the opposing
sides. Rather,it is one that has further
divided our campus, made students
on all sides feel uncomfortable
and intimidated and led to threats
aimed at members of the CSG. It is a
strategy that calls one side a villain
and ignores any of its own culpability
for the sorry state of current affairs.
If SAFE was interested in peace
and ending the occupation, a much
more prudent strategy would have
been to reach out to the opposing
side and discuss a bilateral action.
Both sides want human rights to be
respected. Both sides could make
steps towards peace. But proposing
a divisive resolution, which could
not have passed CSG no matter who
presented it, and which paints a
complex story in black and white, is
not a strategy interested in peace.
I was at the CSG meeting this past
Tuesday.I heard the speeches from
both sides. If any of the students who
spoke can be taken at their word,
this campus is ready to sit down
and discuss real solutions. I know
for a fact that pro-Israel students
are currently trying to meet with
SAFE and open a dialogue with the
goal of producing real, viable results.
If SAFE is serious about peace -
which would go a long way toward
protecting the human rights of both
sides - I would expect them to agree
to this.
But continuing to lob uneven
rhetoric and insults is not a genuine
path towards peace. And as long as
SAFE continues to push a resolution
that singles out Israel, thinly veiled
under the banner of human rights,
peace will not be achieved. Not on
this campus. And not in this conflict.
And that is the truth.
Aaron Schaer is a second
year law student.



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