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January 13, 2014 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-13

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4A - Monday, January 13, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4A Mnda, anary13 214 heMihign aiy -mihiandilco

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
- 1tothedaily@michigandaily.com
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.
Supporting student-athletes
Closing the graduation gap requires personalized support for athletes
recent study conducted by CNN reported "many (public
university) students in the basketball and football programs
could read only up to an eighth-grade level." Although the study
doesn't include numbers from Michigan, the University's student-athletes
have exhibited a history of poor academic performance. Graduation rates
for Michigan student-athletes have traditionally been much lower than
those of the general student body. In order to facilitate the improvement
of academic performance among athletes, the University needs to provide
more attentive and personalized support to its student-athletes.

The senior shriek

CNN reached out to 40 public universities,
asking for the SAT, ACT and reading
comprehension scores for its admitted
student- athletes. On Jan. 7, 2014, CNN
published its findings on the 21 schools that
responded, and discovered that a majority
of schools had "between 7 percent and 18
percent of revenue sport athletes who are
reading at an elementary school level."
Michigan was one of the schools that failed to
provide information on its students.
In 2013, the University's Federal Gradu-
ation Rate - which measures the gradua-
tion rate of freshmen within six years - for
football players was 57 percent. The men's
basketball team showed a FGR of 50 percent.
Michigan's six-year graduation rate for all
students - athlete or not - was 89.7 percent
in 2012, good for fourth-best in the nation.
Student-athletes are pressured into
certain degrees, whether they actually find
an interest in them or not. For example,
within the Kinesiology Department, 60 slots
are saved specifically for student-athletes.
However, more often than not, athletes find
themselves unprepared for the major and
shift into general studies. In 2004, 49 percent
of students completing general studies
majors were being pursued by athletes. This

major has no foreign language requirement,
fewer graduation requirements and lacks
concentration in one subject area, making it
a vague and bland degree to pursue. Athletes
should be given the same academic attention
as any other student at the University, and be
encouraged to pursue a major they find an
interest in, not the onethey are pressured into.
Focusing on the athlete's academic desires
will allow student-athletes to achieve their
greatest potential, both on the field and in the
classroom. The University and NCAA should
also consider relaxing the time and financial
constraints put on student-athletes through
the limitations of four-year scholarships and
other restrictive rules that push students to
graduate as quickly as possible.
However, the negative trend between ath-
letes and academics isn't something the Uni-
versity, or anycollege, can solve. Mostofthese
students enter the University unequipped for
rigorous higher education, starting at the ele-
mentary school level. The mere fact that some
athletes are barelyliterate and notgraduating
shows that the education system is failing to
teach students, and is emphasizing too much
on athleticism. Without reforms to the pres-
ent education system, athletes will continue
to be left in the dust.

may be graduating in the
spring. Or I may not be. It
becomes less and less clear as
I stare deep into
the LSA Course
Guide and try to
decipher its dry
recipes: one part,
Upper Level
Writing (didn't
I already take
that twice?),
two parts Social SOPHIA
Science and an USOW
attempt to fit in
a minor to taste.
I wish my mom were here to set up a
play date with my academic advisor.
Roll over in bed, check Instagram.
Why does everyone hate my genera-
tion again?
Georges Perec's Things: A Story
of the Sixties is a tribute to another
generation in which a hunger for
material and immaterial things
(experiences, clothes, prestige and
likes) hid the emptiness of people's
lives. Its perpetually frustrated
characters are described as being
caught in a web of their own vast
desires. As I think about my own
future, the idea of paralysis by
sheer magnitude of aspiration first
introduced to me through Perec's
work comes to mind. I want to be a
filmmaker. I want to make money.
I want to help people. I want to
move far away. I want to stay close
to home. I want everything and act
upon nothing. I envy mercilessly:
cheapening what I have by peering
over my neighbor's wall and covet-
ingtheir summer internships.
In the black silence of greed I

wallow. I take online personality
quizzes that are supposed to tell
me what careers would be a good fit
for my personal brand of incompe-
tence. Apparently I'd make a great
guidance counselor or carpenter.
Maybe I should change majors.
Iam invited to the Rhodes Schol-
ars reception. Mistakenly, I think it
is an informal information session
so I go wearing a sweat suit and
smelling like yesterday's pizza. As
the wine and cheese pageantry cli-
maxes the candidates for the vari-
ous fellowships offhandedly list
their accomplishments, I wonder
what types of time management
strategies go into winning research
awards by day and fighting crime by
night. What would these Sunday-
best baby geniuses do if I lifted my
coffee cup and poured its contents
on my head? I leave and make a
mental note to work harder to end
global warming.
They have jobs for people like me
at specialty coffee shops and white-
walled minimalist boutiques. I'll
be excellent at greeting costum-
ers with intelligent, noncommittal
banter, allowing them to peruse
their options with amused ease.
My fellow employees will love
me for my well-constructed work
time playlists and caffeine-induced
bursts of creative energy (which
will result in elaborate window
displays and behind-the-counter
tomfoolery). I might even get a new
boyfriend who plays bluesy guitar
in a band that's blowing up on the
local scene. He won't let me shoot
his music videos because he has a
friend who could do it better, but I'll

take many Vines with perfect shot
compositions. I won't have to live
in my parents' basement because
they'll let me use my old room with
its bumbling mountains of camp
photos and young adult literature.
"You're still my little girl," my mom
will say as she drops me off for
work, "Don't forget to e-mail your
resume to Dad's friend tonight."
For now I let myself love this
cocoon of a university, its Mid-
western warmth, its self-assured
machinery. Every day I walk its
campus, my flaws and strengths
become more evident; defeats scab
over with time and experience
while victories are cauterized by
reality's harsh flame. This is a place
that has made me feel incredibly
proud of myself, yet small as hell,
hellishly small, looking the wrong
way through a telescope. Michigan
is the place where I began to fathom
how much someone my own age can
accomplish. It is where I fumblingly
began to understand the concept
of self-discipline and the power of
the uncool. Maybe I will end up as
a professional coffee crafter, queen
of the pour-over brew ... but Michi-
gan keeps whispering that maybe I
will accomplish something beyond
my own vast imaginings, past Hol-
lywood and Wall Street, around the
curve of Madagascar, to the stars.
I may be graduating in the
spring. Or I may not be, For now I
dance the Mambo No. 4, the fourth
year, the senior shriek, hoping that
the future is as bright as they say.
- Sophia Usow can be reached
at sophiaus@umich.edu.

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
Dynasty disaster

The GOP vs women... again

T he new year is supposed to
bring in rejuvenation. Con-
sidering that everyone is
one year older

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family
featured in the unusual and wildly popular
TV show "Duck Dynasty," has started a
controversy across the country. On Dec.
18, the television network A&E announced
that the anti-gay statements Robertson
made to GQ magazine were disappointing
and that he would be suspended from the
show "indefinitely." The country went wild.
Supporters of the program claim he had the
constitutional right to express his religious
and personal beliefs without being kicked
off the show, while A&E supporters said the
network had every right to suspend him. In
fact, since A&E is a private enterprise and
the "Duck Dynasty" family signed a contract
with them, the network was within its legal
rights to suspend him, despite the petitions
flying around the web to boycott them.
Legal experts have confirmed that generally
when people sign contracts with TV networks
for a new show, a "morals" clause is included
in the writing. Although the specifics of the
Robertson contract aren't known, there likely
is a morals clause in his contract as a matter of
general practice. If so, this would prohibit Phil
Robertson and other members of the show from
using any language or performing any actions
that are "insulting or denigrating." While that
seems like a broad spectrum with a lot of gray
area, these definitions are basically left up to
the network to decide. In this case, A&E has
determined that Robertson's statements do not
stand for what the television program wants to
promote. Throughout the GQ article, Robertson
compared homosexuality to bestiality and
included homosexuals in a category with
"adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes,
the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the
swindlers ..." who are all denied access into
heaven according to the Christian Bible.
Former Republican vice presidential can-
didate Sarah Palin of Alaska and Republican
Gov. Bobby Jindal, of Louisiana have both
criticized A&E for being "intolerant" of Rob-
ertson's religious beliefs, which they say are
protected under the First Amendment. The
politicians are not quite accurate in their cit-
ing of the Constitution, however, because the
First Amendment only protects citizens from
encroachment by the government. It is not

likelythat Robertson could find legal recourse
due to any constitutional rights because his
contract was signed with a private TV net-
work under guidelines that he agreed to.
Others may say that A&E is discriminating
against Robertson's religious beliefs and his
ability to express them in a free country,
but this too would be hard to prove in court.
According to Eugene Volokh, a professor at
University of California, Los Angeles Law
School, "It doesn't sound like they were taking
him off the show because they don't like the
fact that his message is religious; I think they
don't like the fact that his message is anti-
gay ... I imagine if an atheist on an A&E show
said things that A&E thought disapproved
of homosexuality, they would deal with it
the same way." In other words, Robertson
would have a hard time convincing anyone in
the legal system, a judge or a jury, that A&E
was discriminating against his religion. The
problem was that the network was upset with
his anti-gay and thus offensive comments,
which he couched in a religious pretext.
Considering that Robertson's comments
were on such a hot-button political issue, this
story has sparked controversy and garnered a
fair amount of media attention. Even though
many people are invested in his comments
and the ongoing countrywide debate about
religion and homosexuality isn't likely to be
solved for a long time, this doesn't mean that
anything illegal happened. Americans are
apt to quote the First Amendment with little
knowledge of its limitations and requirements
for application. Freedom of speech does
not mean you can say whatever you want,
whenever you want with no consequences.
In this situation, Phil Robertson signed a
contract with the private, non-government
television network A&E, and when he made
comments in violation of his contract, they
were within their legal rights to suspend
him per the contract he signed. Just because
Robertson is famous doesn't mean he can say
whatever he wants. As he is still connected
with A&E, they "own" his words and have the
ability to kick him off the show if his behavior
is contrary to their morals.
Maura Levine is an SA junior.

and hopefully
wiser, the new
year should usher
in new goals,
insights and
evolved ideas.
One thing it
should not bring
in is the same old
ideas of the past.
2013 was a


rough year for
the American government. From
the NSA leaks to the government
shutdown to the continuing debacle
that is healthcare.gov, the American
people lost a lot of faith in their
government this past year. In
particular, Americans got to see just
how polarized Congress is. In 2013,
the first year of the 113th Congress,
a total of 65 laws were passed - the
fewest of any single Congressional
session on record. The House voted
to repeal the Affordable Care Act 42
times while much-needed legislation
on immigration reform, a farm bill
and an act ensuring the creation of
jobs all floundered and were unable
to get out of committee.
Instead of approaching the new
year with optimism and potential
bipartisanship, the House is sim-
ply repeating the errors of the past
year. Last week House Majority
Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) released
the congressional calendar for
2014. In an effort to maximize cam-
paign abilities for the upcoming
midterm election, the House will be
in session just 97 days prior to Elec-
tion Day, and 112 days altogether.
In 2013, the House was in session
118 days before Election Day and
135 days altogether. Just when we
thought the "do nothing Congress"
had done as little as they possibly
could, we discover that Congress
can somehow stoop even lower.
While the GOP is maintaining
its strict philosophy that "a

government that does nothing is a
good government," the party has
also renewed another one of its past
initiatives: its war on women.
Last Thursday, a subcommittee
of the House Judiciary Committee
held a hearing on H.R. 7, the "No
Taxpayer Funding for Abortion
Act." This subcommittee, consisting
solely of 12 men, reviewed a bill that
would "deny tax subsidies to women
and small businesses who purchase
health insurance plans that include
abortion coverage." This bill
would ban insurance coverage for
abortion in all of the newly created
state-level insurance marketplaces
from the ACA while also forcing
small businesses to pay additional
taxes on health benefits for their
employees if the company's insurer
offers abortion coverage. The bill's
only exceptions are for women who
are victims of rape or incest, and
for cases in which the life of the
mother is at risk. This distinction
of whether or not an abortion fits
these exceptional circumstances
will likely be decided by the IRS,
meaning that a rape victim would
potentially need to plead her case for
an abortion to an IRS auditor.
Don't let the name of the bill
fool you. Taxpayer dollars are
already banned from going toward
abortions as reinforced by the
Stupak Amendment of the ACA. The
"No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion
Act" instead works to curtail
women's rights by penalizing those
who offer such types of insurance.
But the GOP's war on women's
health doesn't stop there. Rep.
Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced last
month that he plans on attaching a
rider to the appropriations pack-
age that is likely facing a vote next
week, which would allow employ-
ers to refuse offering health insur-
ance that covers contraception for
moral reasons. As Ryan said on a
talk radio interview last month, "I'm
fighting for a conscience clause rider
on appropriations because I'm very
worried about religious freedom."

Religious freedom is certainly
something worth defending, and
it is guaranteed to us in the First
Amendment of the Constitution.
But that same document establishes
the judicial branch of government
headed by the Supreme Court. The
Court has made it clear time and
again that a woman has the right to
choose what she does with her body.
Insteadofappreciatingthe lawofthe
land set forth by the Supreme Court,
the GOP continues to do everything
in its power to strip women of their
legal rights.
This battle is particularly rele-
vant here in Michigan, as this state
has now become one of the single
most restrictive states for women's
health. Last month the Republi-
can-dominated state legislature
approved a bill that bans both pub-
lic and private insurers from cover-
ing an abortion even in the cases
of rape, incest or endangerment to
the mother's life. Now a woman in
Michigan will have to purchase an
additional rider on her insurance
policy if she wishes to proactively
prepare for getting pregnant from
rape. Unfortunately, other states
are following Michigan's lead and
working to pass similar laws.
So for those of us who are
ready to fight for women's health,
get ready for another year filled
with the same old arguments
perpetuated by the same old list
of characters. Instead of focusing
on pressing issues that should be a
goal of legislative action, the GOP
has decided to continue its war on
women in the coming year in order
to rally its conservative base for
the upcoming midterm elections.
Another year will likely be wasted
on partisanship. Although I'd love
to say that 2015 might usher in an
era when middle-aged white men
stop making decisions about what
women can do with their bodies,
I'm not too optimistic.
- Patrick Maillet can be
reached at maillet@umich.edu.

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