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January 14, 2014 - Image 4

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4 - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, January14, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

4C f iigan Bat'6y
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.
T e l
Investing in the future
The state's budgetary surplus is an opportunity to invest in the future
T he state of Michigan can expect a $917 million budget surplus,
according to estimates from the Consensus Revenue Estimating
Conference on January 9th, where the representatives of the State
Treasury and the House and Senate fiscal agencies met to discuss economic
forecasts. As the state continues to recover from the national recession, the
bulk of the surplus should be spent on education funding and tax rebates for
pensioners who were unfairly targeted by recent policy changes. The state
government should also allocate funds for infrastructure, the civil service in

Michigan M(an)Hacks

Hacks, the biennial
hackathon on campus,
is an event where pro-

and engineers
collaborate on
software or
hardware proj-
ects. Although
the event
attracted more
than 1,200
students from
more than 100
schools in its


Detroit and renewable energy.
The budget for 2013 amounted to $48.2 bil-
lion, and included the $400 million budget sur-
plus from 2012. While this is the second year
in a row that the state of Michigan has seen a
surplus - 2011 saw a budget deficit that totaled
$1.5 billion - it has certainly come at a cost.
To get there, the state made significant cuts
to education spending for the second year in a
row, despite hinting that a reprieve may come
after the 2012 cuts to per-student allocation for
schools. Gov. Rick Snyder has also cut funding
fromhigher education and should restore fund-
ing to public universities. A plan to aid strug-
gling school districts is also critical, as50 school
districts ended the 2013 fiscal year with budget
deficits. Pension recipientswere also negatively
affected by Snyder's budgetary policies. Both
public and private pensioners saw increased
tax rates from 2011, significantly burdening
their limited, fixed income. These two groups
deserve a share of the budget surplus, especial-
ly as their reasons for needing the money stem
from budget cuts and taxes that were levied by
the state. However, even if education funding is
increased and pensioners receive a tax rebate as
a result of the surplus, Snyder does not deserve
to be lauded as an advocate for education or a
friend to retirees - something that would be
expedient in an election year.
Michigan should take note of other munici-
palities that are trying out innovative ways to
promote education. San Francisco has created
a program that creates a savings account for
every kindergartener, and places a seed of $50
in the account. It then partners with business
to match contributions by friends and family
into the fund. It helps students save for college
starting at a young age, and should be used to
make college more affordable for families with
financial need.
Other priorities for the surplus money
should include infrastructure, renewable

energy and Detroit's civil service to help the
city pay employees and pensions. Michigan's
roads and road clearing systems have proven
inadequate this winter. Major Michigan roads
were not cleared for up to two weeks after the
storm Jan. 4, caused by the polar vortex. Some
roads were cleared quickly, but many remained
icy and snow covered long after storm had
ended, making travel difficult for students
and faculty returning to campus after holi-
day travel. Grants to counties in need to aid in
winter cleanup could help people all over the
state get to work and school, as well as reduce
the dangers of driving on inadequately cleared
or un-cleared roads. Looking to Michigan's
future, investing in renewable energy will help
the state wean itself off of fossil fuels. Wind
energy in particular has become much more
efficient. In 2009, the cost of wind energy
was about $100 per megawatt-hour. This has
since decreased by about half. Furthermore, a
state energy commission report has concluded
that Michigan is on track to meet its require-
ment that 10 percent of electricity come from
renewable sources by 2015, and it will be eco-
nomically viable to increase that standard to 30
percent by 2035. Additional funding from the
state government could provide the necessary
push to make that happen. Finally, some of the
money should be set aside to help Detroit as
it restructures, especially to help it meet pen-
sion obligations and meet its obligations to its
current employees.
Snyder's surplus was created through sac-
rifice by specific constituencies in the state.
Michigan schools and pensioners deserve to be
repaid for their contributions in creating the
surplus in the first place. The rest of surplus
needs to be spent on Michigan's infrastructure
and investing in its future. Educated students
and a clean environment will ensure a promis-
ing future for the state.

fall 2013 edition, the participants
were almost completelymale.
Hackathons are the most awaited
and attended collegiate computer
science events, and the gender
imbalance is almost reflective of the
demographics of the tech industry
as a whole.
From a cool 37.1 percent in 1984, to
less than 12 percent in 2011, the pro-
portion of Computer Science bach-
elor's degrees awarded to women has
taken a nose dive. what shocked me
was that things aren't different here
on campus. U of M is Ranked No. 7 in
the Computer Science and Computer
Science Engineering track in Amer-
ica. Yet, word is that you can count
the number of female students in
middle-level to upper-level Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science
classes on your fingers.
Since most of the students in com-
puter science are male, male students
are able to form a tight community
of friends much faster. Outside of
the classroom, they end up spending
most of their time with each other,
and some even decide to live together
after leaving the dorms. For them,
collaboration begins early on. Inter-
actions don't stop at classrooms and
living spaces; they interact with like-
minded peers - and potential col-
leagues - at hackathons, internships
and even tech startups - all of which
are male-dominated. They're con-
stantly networking, even uninten-
tionally. Knowing the kind of people
they're going to work with makes it
easier for them to find their place in
the industry.
Why is the gender ratio dramati-
cally skewed in the tech industry?
Is it merely a matter of interest? Are
men just naturally more skilled at
coding? History suggests otherwise;
in fact, in the mid-1980s the number
of women majoring in CS and CSE
was increasing.
Those days are gone, and women
like Grace Hopper remain underap-
preciated. Now we hardly ever see
female figures in computer science.
There's the projected stereotype
of a Computer Science major being
a "gamer," "geek" or "nerd." Sadly,
mainstream media doesn't portray
any of these as females.
The more pressing issue, however,
is the lack of mentorship and role
models available to female students.
According to a 2012 report on
the Institutional Indicators of
Diversity for faculty at the Univer-

sity of Michigan - referred to as
the AY2012 report - 23 percent of
all Science, Technology, Engineer-
ing and Mathematics faculty at the
University were female. For Engi-
neering, the figure stands at 16 per-
cent. The dynamics are even more
skewed at the highest rank for full
professors in STEM, where only 17
percent were females.
Although I, too, can walk up to
professors with questions regarding
course selections, where to apply for
internships, etc., my male counter-
parts usually have more people they
can easily approach. I know that's
not a good excuse, but seeing some-
one similar to you makes them more
approachable; it's easier to have con-
versations with them. With so few
female instructors in the introduc-
tory courses, female CS majors are
deemed as different right from the
beginning of their college careers.
As a college campus with an amazing
reputation for computer science, the
University should have a more inclu-
sive and diverse faculty.
There are definitely efforts being
made by female students to make CS
and CSE more inviting for under-
graduate females. Student organiza-
tions such as Girls in EECS, Women
in Science and Engineering and Soci-
ety of Women Engineers, manage to
receive funding and regularly hold
events for students to interact with
each other, as well as with poten-
tial employers. However, for what-
ever reasons, participation remains
extremely low and their efforts
largely remain unheard of.
Male students, on the other hand,
can't comprehend what stops women
from being an active presence in the
tech community on campus. When
I attended one of the core meetings
of Michigan Hackers at the start
of fall 2013, I was the only female.
"Yeah, right now we're pretty much
a boys club. I don't understand why
can't girls just join Michigan Hack-
ers," said one of the social chairs of
the organization when I asked what
he thought of the gender dynam-
ics in the room. When I inquired if
they had made any efforts to con-
tact gEECS or WISE, he said the
team hadn't thought of that. "I just
focus on promotion of tech talks and
other events that we host." Michi-
gan Hackers, along with MPowered,
organizes MHacks.
For CSE junior Natasja Nielsen, an
active member of MPowered Entre-
preneurship, it has always been about
taking action. "Being a woman in CS
isn't easy, but eventually you've got to
ignore the sexist side of it and tough-
en up. There is no difference between
female and male hackers, and that is
why I decided not to join any gender-
specific tech student orgs. I think it is
necessary for every student to devel-
op their own support system, and
having both male and female friends
in and outside of my major has helped
me a lot."
CS sophomore Anna Rode said
it's necessary for girls in CS classes
to be able to regularly interact with

their male counterparts. "Person-
ally, it has always been easier for
me to be friends with guys, so the
gender imbalance didn't personally
bother me much. But if you want
to be able to comfortably work in
the tech industry, you have got to
find those people who will be sup-
portive and cut out those who treat
you different."
Both Neilson and Rode think that
it is extremely important for girls to
find support among male students,
since they form the majority of their
peers. However, the CS student orga-
nizations almost mirror the situa-
tion in classrooms - as if there is an
almost invisible line separating girls
from the good old boys club.
Not surprisingly, the decline
in the numbers start right from
high school According to the Col-
lege Board in 2013, a total of 5,485
girls and 24,070 boys took the AP
Computer Science exams. Colleges
need to encourage participation of
females in tech-related concentra-
tions. Ever since Carnegie Mellon
University started hosting programs
to bridge this gender gap in 1995, the
number of female CS undergradu-
ates rose from 7 percent in 1995 to
30 percent in 2004. These programs
included reaching out to high school
students and efforts towards chang-
ing the peer culture on campus.
Andrew DeOrio, a Computer
Science Engineering professor
said he wants all his students to
feel supported. "Regardless of
what social, cultural, or gender
demographic a student fits in, they
should feel supported, and I would
definitely encourage any endeavor
to make CS classrooms on campus
more diverse."
But the question remains: Who
should be taking action? Should stu-
dents take the initiative first, and
work on programs like those at Carn-
egie Mellon themselves? Or is the
administration responsible?
Right now, italmostseems as if the
administration is blatantly ignoring
this gender disparity. Even if they
were making efforts, they aren't
doing a good job of making them
known. It is essential that incom-
ing freshman females be supported;
acknowledgement by the adminis-
tration shows that they are willing to
put in work to bridge this gender gap.
I have only mentioned figures
and opinions concerning the gender
binary. Diversity as a whole in com-
puter science is a story for another
time. With the dependence on tech-
nology increasing by the hour and its
influence on culture exponentially
rising, dictation of terms in the tech
industry by a single, like-minded
majority isn't, to say the least, fair.
As MHacks looks to its winter 2014
iteration this weekend, it's time the
University administration and stu-
dent body started making efforts to
live up to their reputation in the tech
- Nivedita Karki can be reached
at nivkarki@umich.edu.

The 'Rundown' Languages Bldg.

Thirty minutes after the hour, nestled in the
basement of the Modern Languages Building,
my French class glanced from the clock to
the door, bewildered as to the whereabouts
of our professor. Like a herd of lost sheep,
we anticipated her arrival in echoing silence.
At precisely 12:35 p.m., our professor made a
grand entrance, proclaiming, "Excusez-moi,
j'etais coinced dans '616vateur!"
"Excuse me, I was trapped in the elevator."
Tosomethismayseemlike atraumatic, rare
occurrence. But to us MLB regulars, getting
stuck in the elevator is a casual rite of passage.
I remember my first time being trapped in the
MLB elevator like it was yesterday, mainly
because it was yesterday. On the way to my
professor's office hours, I was naive enough to
pass up the stairs and board the University's
very own Tower of Terror only to come to a
jerky halt somewhere between the third and
fourth floors. On my way out of the contraption,
after thanking the maintenance worker and
kissing the seemingly stable floor beneath my
feet, I came to a dramatic realization: nobody
should ever have to endure the nightmare that
is the MLB.
As if LSA's foreign language requirement
isn't inconvenient enough, the University has
its students learnthese languages in a building
reminiscent of the set of "Saved by the Bell."
Its basement, home of many failed conjugation
quizzes and a few lost hopes and dreams, sets
the foundation for a building which, contrary
to what its title may suggest, is anything
but modern. Though the University's 2011
financial report states that renovation for the
basement and second floor of the MLB started
three years ago, the basement continues to look
like something from 50 years ago. Students are
shoved into tiny classrooms with desks I have
not experienced since my elementary school's
field trip to a one-room schoolhouse. I am
still waiting for someone to explain why the
writing space of these desks is not big enough
for a piece of paper. The white, brick walls
symbolize the emptiness of the building's

soul, with abandoned lockers and blackboards
adding a nice, vintage touch. Everyone knows
that the MLB is the "Throwback Thursday"
of University buildings, paying homage to the
dismal, underfunded days of high school.
While I realize that one's ability to learn
is not fully dependent on the interior design
of his or her classroom, I have experienced
unrest in the basement's classrooms that have
inhibited my ability to focus. Snuggled elbow-
to-elbow with two of my classmates every
day, I sometimes question my life choices
when coming to class. Though my minor
case of claustrophobia has only caused me to
dramatically exit the room on one occasion,
I can't help but wonder how the MLB
basement experience is for other students at
the University. Its seating is problematic for
people who physically cannot use the wrap-
around desks, and the elevator is a necessary
risk for those relying on its accessibility.
Small desks have even been shown to cause
back pain, especially among tall students. For
the most part, most other buildings at the
University accommodate those with special
needs. Still, the MLB remains stagnant,
showing very little alterations since its
construction in 1965.
While a repair for the building's elevator
is scheduled to take place this June, the MLB
needs to see many other changes as well.
The University prides itself on being at the
pinnacle of academic excellence, supplying
its students with what they need to succeed.
But what Michigan students need isn't a
$4.4 million fishbowl redesign or a $4 billion
fundraiser. What they need is a place to learn
without getting stuck in a desk, elevator or
overcrowded hallway. A crudely graffittied
quote in one of the MLB's women's bathrooms
says it all: "I hate this f***ing place." Let's get
with the times, spend our money, responsibly
and give students a reason to come to class.
Let's renovate the MLB, already.
Allison Raeck is an LSA junior.

Kaan Avdan, Sharik Bashir, Barry Belmont, James Brennan, Rima Fadlallah,
Eric Ferguson, Nivedita Karki, Jordyn Kay, Jesse Klein, Kellie Halushka,
Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald, Victoria Noble, Michael Schramm,
Matthew Seligman, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Themir foptions

Birth. It's not a topic that many
college studentsstress over. Ifwe do,
it's probably because we're stressing
to avoid it, right? But for those of you
(I'm talking to my male peers, too)
who have thought about becom-
ing a parent, have you ever actually
considered how you, or your part-
ner would give birth? It may seem
like a ridiculous question, but why?
Most of us explored other colleges
and universities before deciding to
attend the University of Michigan.
A number of us won't choose our
major until after our expected grad-
uation date - hello, fifth year. And,
let's not get started on the countless
hours we've all wasted scouring the
Course Guide for that perfect three
credit, Tuesday/Thursday, after-
noon-but-before-4 p.m. elective.
We dedicate our valuable time to
researching options before making
even the most trivial of decisions.
So why don't we spend a comparable
amount of time exploring our birth-
ing options? You're only bringing a
kid into the world.
Take the time to think about it.
If you or your partner were to have
a child someday, what would your
child's birth look like? The experi-
ence most of us picture is an ago-

nized mother laboring on her back
in a hospital bed, too many painful
hours later a doctor decides to end
the misery with drugs and push-
ing or drugs and a C-section. An
image like this comes as no surprise
because it reflects the reality of a
typical American birth. The Center
for Disease Control and Preven-
tion reported that 98.7 percent of
all births in 2011 were delivered in
a hospital, and of this overwhelm-
ing majority, 86.1 percent were
attended by doctors. It's no wonder
we don't spend time thinking about
birth. Our overall perception of the
process is negative. There is good
news, though. Childbirth does not
have to be a feared or negative expe-
rience. This common perception
is just that, a perception. Despite
their rarity, there are other birth-
ing views and options out there that
are just as safe and definitely worth
your exploration.
If you want children someday, you
will truly be doing your future self a
favor if you take the time to research
childbirth. While a home birth with
a professional midwife and doula
might be the ideal birthing experi-
ence for one individual, a delivery
in a birthing center with a certified

nurse midwife may sound appealing
to another. A laboring mother may
choose to manage her pain with pres-
sure point massage therapy, but a dif-
ferent woman could prefer the pain
relief that a warm bath can provide.
These birth scenarios may sound for-
eign to you, but that's exactly why you
should do some research for yourself.
There are many options available to
us in order to uniquely shape our own
experiences with childbirth. In the
end, the power you will gain when
you know you've made an informed
decision will become more valuable
than the options themselves. Wheth-
er you choose to enjoy the birth of
your child in your home, in a birthing
center or at the hospital in the com-
pany of doctors, nurses, midwives
or doulas, do so with the knowledge
that you consciously chose your
experience. We often overlook a par-
ent's experience with birth in order
to ensure the safety of a new life,
but one does not have to come at the
expense of the other. Childbirth can
be a positive and empowering expe-
rience if you just take the time to
research the options that will bebest
for your or your partner.
Mackenzie Heron is an LSA senior.




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