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March 24, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-03-24

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4A - Monday, March 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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.
Investing in the environment
The University should consider proposal to divest from fossil fuels
Jn a presentation to the University's Board of Regents Thursday, the Law
Students for Responsible Divestment from FossilFuelsurged the regents
to reduce the amount of the University's endowment that's invested in
the fossil fuel industry. Specifically, LSRD is calling for a divestment from
"coal and oil equity and debt instruments," which it estimates represent one
percent of the University's total endowment. The organization claims that
the University's investments in the fossil fuel industry are antithetical to its
stated core value of sustainability. Since fossil fuels are one of the primary
causes climate change, the industry shouldn't be supported by the University's
investments. LSRD has campaigned for divestment from fossil fuels in the
past without action from the University. Since the group has proposed a new,
viable plan for divestment, the University should seriously consider the plan
in order to bring its endowment investments more in line with its core values.

Gr8 expectations

ollege students preen
themselves across America,
fearing their eventual
undoing by way
of reality. This
is the time when
they are most
alive, most star-
speckled and
comfortable in
their skin suits.
Skipping class SOPHIA
to smoke blunts USOW
and kiss the soft
spots behind
each other's ears, they are relaxed in
their age range, their movie theater
discounts. Its easy to be nervous
and alive when there's still time for
them to figure things out. It's easy
for them to sleep in late when they
consider the 9-to-5 sunrise-sunsets
on their horizon.
The last guy I dated was two years
older and drove away from my house
on football Saturdays with nostalgic
contempt. He broke up with me
because the trek from Ann Arbor
to outside Detroit was too costly
and made it hard for us to casually
wake up side by side and whisper
breakfast plans. He broke up with me
because he had already spent wasted
mornings under cotton comforters
complaining about fast-approaching
paper deadlines and the cons ofsweet
sugar alcohol. He broke up with
me because he had student loans
to pay and a beautiful boxer-husky
mix named Rockafeller to feed. I
understood all this and even when I
went through the five stages of grief
(denial, anger, bargaining, crying
in my friend's Elantra and binge-
watching My Strange Addiction on
TLC) I did so knowingthat if I really
cared about him I would throw him
up in the air like a wee little birdie
and let him spread his wings. You've
all seen the embroidered wall plaque:
if you love somebody, set them free.
Hopefully, then they will eventually

forget all the time
and inexplicably sw
dates and remembe
to be rememberec
at The Kroll Show,f
intact, perpetually
Seasons-quality he
"Right now, I ne
What a wonderful,
say. As unromantic
sometimes we do n
sometimes it's agoo
needs higher than t
or friends because'
losing opportunity
sense of self. Whati
Rose: listen, right no
a yard or so to the rS
er large piece of wo
the one you've got?
perature is not reall
would have been
a whole different
movie! Maybe
a little less suc-
cessful at the box
office, but who's
to say? Give Jack
a chance, for
fucks sake. He
could have been
a very successful
Us college stu-
dents are selfish in
ways every day. Th
Ann Arbor student
Is this a crosswalk?
that a moving vehic
hits me I'll buy a k
insurance money!
and so am I! We s,
fast maturity for la
hoping that the in
for ourselves and.
us like a lightningb
moment that the
kicks in or the "ch
speak, between Me
ty-something year
not locate Delawar

s you were gassy on the East Coast ... somewhere...).
veaty after dinner My ex would often say before
r you as you wish he left my house for work: I waited
d: snort-laughing too long to grow up and now I'm
eyeliner perfectly paying the consequences. As I edge
giving them Four towards the precipice of gradua-
ad scratches. tion I think about his words a lot.
eed to be selfish." They're indicative of the classic
horrible thing to college-educated millennial con-
c as it may seem, tradiction that is engrained within
seed to be selfish, so many of us: the desire to uphold
d idea to place our the child-like Disney idealism on
hose of our lovers which we were raised while we
otherwise we risk gain all the hard learned lessons
and even our own that come with becoming an adult.
if Jack had said to We have watched Peanuts without
w Ineed to be self- facing the possibility we might one
to likeswim maybe day become the parents, faceless
ght andfind anoth- legs who communicate in trom-
sod to rest on, like bone tones. We're still looking from
This water tem- the perspective of Charlie Brown,
y doing it for me. It frightened faces staring up at men-
acing 1950s-era
Sometimes we do And maybe,
in some sense,
need to be selfish, we will always
be the kid in
sometimes it's a good the yellow
idea to place our needs shirt. I wish
my ex the best
higher than others. of luck work-
ing towards his
grow-up goal,
sports broad-
a million different casting (which he will undoubtedly
ink about the way tackle with the unwavering pas-
s cross the street. sion and excitement of a sugar-high
'No? Now it is! Is Little Leaguer meeting Derek Jeter
le? Yes? Well, if it for the first time). I wish all of us
egerator with the the courage and self-awareness to
Life is beautiful be selfish and pay the consequences
ave up our stead- whenever they come, so that we may
ter down the line, move towards our grown-up goals
stinct to provide with whatever dignity our Face-
others will strike book history allows. In the interim,
bolt from Zeus the lets enjoy our last month or so as
prenatal cellulite students. Let's willfully deny what's
tord is cut," so to about to come. Let's have fun.

According to the Divest and Invest
Campaign, about $1.04 billion of the $9.16
billion University endowment was categorized
as fossil fuel investments in June 2012. LSRD's
proposal indicatesthat divesting only from coal
and oil equities wouldn't have any noticeable
effect on the endowment's volatility. The plan
provides a gradual and reasonable way for the
University to reduce its financial support of an
environmentally detrimental industry.
The University's mission statement states
that the school is dedicated to sustainability.
In accordance with this statement, University
President Mary Sue Coleman began an
initiative in September 2011 for the investment
of $14 million in environmental sustainability
projects, which has materialized in the form
of new hybrid cars, buses and solar panel
fields. The Program in the Environment major,
sustainability minor and the Planet Blue
campaign further not just the University's
commitment to sustainable practices, but
emphasizes the importance of environmental
responsibility to students as well. Continued
investment in fossil fuels is in direct conflict

with this mission statement as well as the
academic and social work that many University
students are committed to.
In the past, the University has
divested from industries deemed socially
irresponsible and in conflict with its core
values. The University divested from the
tobacco industry in 2000 and South African
firms during the country's apartheid era. The
divestment from tobacco represented less
than 0.8 percent of the endowment at the
time, according to LSRD, making the current
proposed divestment similar in scope. Just as
apartheid and tobacco meet the qualifications
for divestment consideration, today's current
issue of climate change also warrants
appropriate action by the regents. Climate
change is one of the most pressing issues of
our generation. The University has been at
the forefront of promoting environmental
responsibility in many respects, but its
endowment investments have not followed
this trend. It's time for the regents to seriously
consider the proposal put forth by LSRD and
divest from fossil fuels.

eemaw and twen-
old tot who can-
e on the map (it's

- Sophia Usow can be reached
at sophiaus@umich.edu.

Barry Belmont, 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
Divestment is not the solution

Pursuing attainable goals

Last Tuesday representatives of Central
Student Government once again decided to
wade into the murky waters of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. The issue this time? A
resolution calling for University divestment
from companies whose business activities
in Israeli-occupied territories are allegedly
violating Palestinian human rights. Much
chaos and resentment ensued - acrimonythat
was entirely avoidable, entirely unnecessary
and sadly, entirely predictable.
Why so? Let's step back, breathe a bit and
return to reality. Most glaringly - and this may
come as a surprise to some representatives'
egos, so my apologies ahead of time for any
bruising inflicted - I am quite sure that CSG
does not have jurisdiction over Jerusalem or
any other part of the Middle East. I know for
a fact they don't have jurisdiction over my
apartment three blocks off campus, because
I still own a SodaStream, despite Oxfam and
Scarlett Johannson.
#UMDivest will not solve what 65 years of
U.N. Security Council resolutions have failed
to do. It will not move the needle more than
a fraction towards peace. It certainly will
not represent the undivided viewpoint of
the student body that this is the right thing
to do - which is quite unlike the two other
instances where the University did divest: in
South Africa toward the end of apartheid and
from the tobacco industry in the early 2000s.
Which leaves me to question what, really, is
the point? I very much admire the aim of Stu-
dents Allied for Freedom and Equality, the
campaign's main sponsor, but its means - as
demonstrated in the incendiary and classless
insults I've seen its members lob at CSG reps
on Facebook, as well as the none-too-subtle
way they staged evictions #UMMockEviction
last December - leave me with little hope that
they're the sort of leaders who will grow up
to bring peace to Palestine. All heat, no light.
Still,tobe fair, it'sthe job ofgroups like SAFE
to advocate their interests and maybe stir up
some controversy. After all, it brings attention
to their issue. So I redirect this writing, and
my fire, to CSG, whose job is expressly not to
become so political.
I fear the Margaret Mead-ification of
campuses like Ann Arbor's - Save the Earth!
Heal the planet! - has burrowed too far into
students' heads. Changing the world is not
an entry-level task. It takes time, work and
resources far beyond what anyone will have in
college. That's not to say it's not possible, but in
our impatient modern lives, we seem to want to
0 ,

have that influence immediately and just skip
all the incremental steps along the way. You
know, the unsexy parts.
IfCSG had hadthe fortitudeto resistopening
Pandora's box, they'd have realized how
many of those unsexy parts are nevertheless
meaningful campus improvements that they
mightstill make this year. Here's a list I thought
of in thirty seconds: Make MWireless available
on the busses; install more bike racks (or
longboarding slots!); ensure that every student
has access to fresh, healthy food on campus;
increase student fanship at sports that aren't
basketball, football or hockey; catch up to the
rest of the Big Ten schools by putting a student
on the Board of Regents. Not socially conscious
enough for you? Then how about continuing
to address the shameful lack of minority
representation at the University, particularly
among Black males. All of these things are
possible by the direct action of CSG.
Put another way, one thing I really admire
about the outgoing administration is how
understated and focused its goals have been.
Creating the Night Owl bus service didn't
change the world and neither did makingMujo's
a 24-hour cafe, but they weren't designed to.
What they did do is improve life on campus
- which is worth something. CSG President
Michael Proppe set reasonable, accomplishable
goals and he followed through. The Student
Assembly might learn a thing from that.
Due to the fact that on Tuesday all they
wanted to do was save the world, they spent
hours debating international relations, when
instead they might have helped the student
body. Every minute they spent on the Middle
East was a minute not spent on addressing
problems they could actually solve. They
apparently forgot that their election to CSG
did not mean their election to the Knesset,
or the PNA, or the United Nations - or the
Model United Nations, for that matter. What
it did mean was their responsibility to serve
the students of the University. It meant
focusing on ways to improve campus. It
meant practicing the art of the possible and
having the wisdom to know the difference.
That wisdom seems sorely lacking these
days. There are monumental things CSG might
accomplish, if only they knew where tolook. So
to all students, as you go to vote this week for a
new round of leaders, ask of those to whom you
are entrusting this campus: Where is your focus
- Ann Arbor or somewhere else?
Alexander Lane is a 2013 University alum.

The argument against the
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
movement is simple. BDS is based
on two flawed principles: it calls
for divestment from companies
associated with Israel on the
basis of human rights violations,
and portrays Palestinians as an
oppressed minority under Israel.
Facts and history have proven these
claims false, yet BDS continues
to gain support by presenting its
mission under inaccurate premises.
First, to divest from Israel
on the basis of human rights is
unprecedented. Israel's human
rights record is incomparable
to that of other Middle Eastern
countries. In Syria, the Assad
regime has slaughtered 140,000
people; in Saudi Arabia, oppression
of women is rampant; governments
in Egypt and Iran have executed
hundreds of civilians. In contrast,
Israel maintains a standard of
human rights comparable to
Western democracies, even amid
an existential threat that few other
countries face.
Moreover, it is a misrepresentation
to portray Palestinians as
marginalized victims. In 1937, 1947,
1967, 1979, 2000 and 2008 - on six
occasions - Palestinians rejected
offers for a Palestinian state
alongside Israel. The humiliation
of 1948 and 1967 has stayed with
Palestinian leadership, and tensions
only rise when new peace offers are
As a result, Palestinian leadership
often focuses on resistance: in Gaza,
Hamas sponsors terrorism against
Israel, while West Bank leaders
condemn Israeli policies and offers. A
more effective leadership would turn
its attention to its own citizens and
and living conditions. However,
instead of pressuring its leadership to
take initiative, BDS continues to claim
victim status and blame Israel, and
neither of these approaches improves
Palestinians' situation.
So how could a flawed movement
attract such a large showing

at the recent Central Student
Government meeting? Through
misrepresentation. Under the
banner of "human and minority
rights" and "freedom," the BDS
movement attracts people in two
categories. In the first are students
who participate because they
believe the cause is humanitarian.
But how will BDS improve the lives
of Palestinians? Will it help them
build schools and hospitals, bring
them food and water or improve
their living conditions? Will it
hold their government accountable
for its failings and propel their
people toward democracy? It
won't. Moreover, BDS would be
detrimental to Palestiniansw who
benefit from certain relations
with Israel. For example, Israel
has provided medical technology
and rehabilitation to civilians,
food shipments to Gaza and
allows thousands of West Bank
Palestinians to work in Israel.
Movements that shout "Divest!"
are not solving the problems that
the Palestinian government has
prolonged, and even Israel has
reached out to Palestinians in more
effective ways.
The second, larger group of BDS
supporters are Palestinians whose
families and relatives have suffered
in the conflict. Pain and sadness
accompany their stories, and BDS
is one of their only ways to resist
the complex reality of 1948 and
1967 which resulted in lost homes
and land. However, divestment
from Israel will not provide a right
of return for their families, or
address past wrongs. This matter
was brought before CSG, not
the United Nations. Palestinian
students' raw, emotional stories
cannot be resolved by divestment
from a few companies. They are
decades-old problems with which
the international community has
grappled for years, and a vote for
the BDS resolution will not bring us
closer to solving them.
When emotion and frustration
are not used for positive

change, they drive hatred and
delegitimization. Students latch
onto this form of resistance to drive
a barrier between college campuses
and Israel. BDS may appear to be for
divestment from a few companies,
but similar efforts nationwide
have led to boycotts which hinder
academic freedom and valuable
partnerships in science, technology
and other fields. BDS reinforces
a flawed portrait of Israel,
overwriting Israel's commitment to
democracy and human rights with
false accusations.
BDS receives attention by
misrepresentation: if its supporters
were concerned with human rights,
they would discuss divestment
from Syria or Saudi Arabia, not
Israel. If they wanted lasting
improvement for Palestinians,
they could focus on improving
conditions in the territories. Obada
Shtaya, a Palestinian speaker from
the grassroots peace movement
OneVoice, explained his hope that
young, empowered Palestinians will
petition their own government for
democracy. His comments showed
young Palestinians have power
to stand up for positive change.
Similarly, I would encourage
SAFE to put its own people first by
improving Palestinian lives and
creating the potential for a lasting
solution. Until then, CSG cannot let
itself be moved by mob displays of
emotion and false accusations.
With its recent decision to table
the BDS resolution indefinitely,
CSG showed that BDS is not an
issue for the Michigan student
body to decide. I want to thank its
members for remaining impartial,
and encourage them to continue
to be firm in the face of large
crowds and emotional rhetoric.
My hope is that the discussion on
the conflict can move forward in a
productive way - something that
can only happen when hatred and
misrepresentation, fostered by
BDS, are abandoned.
Emily Camras is an LSA freshman.

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