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September 26, 2014 - Image 4

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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.
Ev aluating our policies
The process of investigating sexual assaults lacks transparency
The University's policies for investigating sexual assault
and caring for survivors constitute an important
piece of the fight against sexual violence on college
campuses. While the University should be commended for the
resources it currently offers survivors, those resources aren't
extensive enough. Furthermore, the University's investigative
processes are far too opaque to effectively deal with this grave
issue. The University should expand the resources, such as
the SANE program, implement new emergency responses and
clarify existing investigation methods.

Let's talk about gaydar

et's talk about the term
"gaydar" and how everyone
should quit using it.
Hopefully I'm_
not the only
person who
takes issue with
bright idea was it
to conceptualize
gays and
lesbians as MICHAEL
identifiable blips SCHRAMM
on an imaginary
radar? I can only
wonder if my entrance into a room
sets off a frenzy of mental alarms.
For those of you who haven't
heard the term, "gaydar" refers
to one's ability to discern others
as gay or lesbian. People provide
a multitude of reasons for having
developed a good gaydar. Some
cite spending years in cities with
large gay populations. Others will
talk about how their intimate gay
friends have made them attuned
to identifying other homosexuals.
Some will just say it's a natural skill
they've developed over time.
I'm calling BS on all of those
explanations, because none of those
assist in labeling someone as gay or
lesbian. Sexualityis rootedinattrac-
tion, so you could only definitively
label someone as same-sex attract-
ed if you saw them taking sexual
or romantic interest in a same-sex
partner. But noting sexual attrac-
tion is rarely why someone claims
to have a "good gaydar." If this were
the only factor, we'd all have perfect
senses. We'd see Joe kissing Jeff at
a party and immediately know they
both like boys. "Gaydar" as a term

would be unnecessary.
This really only leaves one expla-
nation for why someone could iden-
tify another as same-sex attracted:
identifying them based on cultural
constructions of how homosexu-
als act (read: effeminate men and
butch lesbians).
Think about, how problematic
and socially backward that is. For
one, we're stripping homosexuals
who fulfill stereotypes of their
individuality. A gay man with pink
hair now lives in a world where
people believe his hair assists
in mirroring his sexuality. This
devalues his decision to be himself
and instead lumps his potentially
very personal choices into cliches.
Secondly, if we continue to accept
"gaydar" and general stereotyping
as correct, we're sending a message
that gay men are and should be fem-
inine. Similarly, we're implying that
lesbians are and should be mascu-
line. That's a problem. Though gay
men (like any men) can and should
be feminine if they want, effemina-
cy doesn't constitute gayness. Mas-
culine gsys and feminine lesbians
do exist, so we're essentially telling
these people they're not as homo-
sexual as their stereotypical coun-
terparts. Not only does this subtly
disconnect these members. from
their sexuality, it also typecasts
gays and lesbians. Can we please
just make sexuality about attraction
and not about stereotypes?
Third, it's just politically
backward. If you couldn't see
someone, you'd be wrong to assume
their race throughonlyhearingthem
talk about their favorite food (sushi,
fried chicken or tacos). If that's

crossing aline, why wouldn't we feel
the same disdain towards assigning
a sexuality based on masculinity
or femininity?
Fourth, "gaydar" contributes to
the gender binary between men
and women. If a man can only be
feminine if he's classified under a
specific subspecies of man, we're
not really teaching men that they
can have feminine characteristics.
The same goes for masculinity in
women. If you're a feminist seeking
social equality, you should be
fighting against "gaydar."
Fifth, we'ie stripping gays and
lesbians of their ability to address
their sexuality on their own terms.
Coming out can be a really personal
and sensitive topic. By already
deciding someone's sexuality,
you're taking something potentially
very personal from them.
If I haven't already made my
point clear, it's really imperative
that "gaydar" and its general use
are stopped. If you're gay and are
using your instincts for the purpose
of pursuing someone romantically,
I guess it's acceptable.aHowever,
in any other use, especially among
people identified as heterosexual,
it's not acceptable.
I know itcan be hard to avoid
assuming someone's sexuality.
We've been conditioned by our
environment to have the thought
cross our minds, but that's not an
excuse to allow it to continue. Fight
the urge to classify someone, and
instead let them reveal themselves
to you. It's the right thing to do.
Michael Schramm can be reached
at mschramm@umich.edu.

Taking into account the prevalence of
sexual assaults on college campuses, the
University should strive to make the health
and safety of survivors a top priority. The
University offers resources such as Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center
and Counseling and Psychological Services
to help survivors cope with sexual assault,
but there are currently few emergency
resources offered that address immediate
care. Current University and SAPAC pro-
tocol recommend that survivors of sexual
assault should go to the University Hospital
to undergo a medical exam within 96 hours
of the incident in order to preserve vital evi-
dence of sexual assault. While SAPAC offers
24-hour support and a crisis hotline through
which survivors can request an advocate to
accompany them to the emergency room,
this is the closest the University comes to an
emergency medical response. The Universi-
ty should have an emergency response team
within ,pJDiviion of Public Safety and
Security to aid survivors, especially when
the timely collection of evidence and rapid
medical treatment is vital.
After an assault, survivors often experience
trauma or feelings of intimidation, and many
may feel embarrassed to discuss the assault
with another individual. Having to travel to
the University Hospital - a remote location in
relation to the majority of the student popula-
tion - may discourage survivors from see'king
help. Although many medical practitioners are
certified to care for survivors of sexual assault,
a sexual assault nurse examiner receives spe-
cific certification and trainingto besthelp these
unique patients. Near campus, the only SANEs
available are at the University Hospital and at
St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital. Howev-
er, some universities offer a SANE program on
campus, such as Oregon State University's Stu-
dent Health Services. In order to provide more
comprehensive care to students, the University
of Michigan should consider creating a more
centralized clinic - or at least an intermediary
location for the time being - designed to spe-
cifically treat and help survivors.
Since February, the University has been
under investigation by the U.S. Department
of Education for a possible Title IX violation
in which a student claimed to be sexually
harassed and the school "failed to promptly
and equitably respond to complaints." This
investigation makes it clear that there are
questions about the efficacy of the Universi-
ty's protocol for investigating these situations
and little information has been made avail-
able to students about this investigation pro-
cess. The entirety of this process needs to be
made clearer, from where students should go
directly after an incident to the subsequent

steps the University takes in investigating.
The difficulty in proving that a sexual
assault has occurred is one potential barrier
to coming to a resolution in a potential inves-
tigation. Establishing whether or not con-
sent was given is also blurred in situations in
which alcohol is consumed by both parties.
Such inconsistencies make it difficult to come
to a decision when reconstructing the events.
The University's Student Sexual
Misconduct Policy, which is posted online,
states that the Title IX coordinator is solely
responsible for "the final decision on whether,
how and to what extent the University
will conduct an investigation." And if the
complainant requests confidentiality or that
there be no investigation, a panel consisting of
the Title IX coordinator and "staff members"
will decide possible courses of action. It is
unclear exactly who sits on this panel; the
policy states only that the interests of "the
University, law enforcement, survivors
of sexual misconduct, person ccused of
sexual misconduct and/or other offices as
deemed necessary and appropriate under
the circumstances" are to be represented on
the panel. The University should endeavor
to make public more information about the
steps of its investigative process to the extent
that it doesn't compromise the confidentiality
of the survivors of sexual assault. Only then
can the public hold both investigators and the
investigative process accountable.
Better educating the community on
investigative practices and thereby opening
these practices to scrutiny would give the
University a valuable opportunity to reassess
its strategies with regard to sexual assault. A
clear, specific and well-enforced investigative
protocol would only serve to help survivors
of sexual assault by more effectively holding
offenders accountable. Such a protocol also
has the potential to facilitate necessary
improvement of campus culture surrounding
sexual assault.
While the University can work to address
internal problems regarding sexual assault
investigation, the U.S. Department of Educa-
tion must work to consistently enforce Title
IX. The Department of Education's Office
for Civil Rights must impose real penalties
on universities for the mishandling of sexual
assault cases. Though the current conse-
quences for Title IX violations range from
rewriting policies to staffturnover, no college
or university has endured the highest penalty
of losing funding. The Department of Educa-
tion, and the federal government as a whole,
must work in conjunction with institutions of
higher education to provide a better environ-
ment for sexual assault survivors and overall
awareness of the issue of sexual assault.

Owning it


n a warm autumn Ann
Arbor morning earlier this
semester I went to the Fish-
bowl to finish a
assignment for
one of my classes.
I was wearing
a sundress and
makeup because
thewether way.
nice and, more
importantly, I JULIA
subscribe to the ZARINA
belief that look-
ing fly as hell and
writing computer code don't have to
be mutually exclusive activities.
As I sat down at a computer the
man beside me turned and said,
"Oh, these are all actually CAEN
computers in this area", referring
to the software used by the College
of Engineering that only engineer-
ing students can log on to. It was an
innocent enough statement at face
value but it represents something
that many students face every day:
I didn't look like what this person
thought an engineer should look
like, and as a result, he immediately
placed me into a category differ-
ent from himself. In engineering, as
well as in many other fields, there is
pervasive and subconscious mental-
ity that there exists a set definition
of what a "real engineer" is and if
someone doesn't fit it, they don't
inherently belong.
As a woman, I have my own expe-
riences with discrimination in engi-
neering, as do many of my fellow
students. "Iwish mysonwas as lucky
as you," one of my parent's friends
once mentioned offhandedly to me,
"it's unfair that girls take the spots
of guys like him just because schools
need to have a certain number of
female engineers."
It's an exhausting logical fal-
lacy, the underlying belief that these
positions could be taken away from
someone innately entitled to them in
the first place, and one that overlooks
many of the realities that women and
other historically underrepresented
demographics in engineering face.
The factthatthere are anumberof
successful engineers who arewomen
of color, who are gay, who are from
low socioeconomic backgrounds,
does not mean it's "easier" to be any
of those identities. In many cases,
being a woman in engineering means
that you still have to prove that you
deserve to be where you are at every
turn. To get straight A's to be con-
sidered just as smart and capable as
your male colleagues who have aver-
age GPAs. To have to be higher up in
a company than the man you gradu-
ated with in order to receive the same
paychecks as him. The lack of equal-
ity in engineering isn't just a wom-
an's problem or a Person of Color's
problem; as acommunity, we need to
examine our culture critically.
Although many engineers would

like to believe that a culture that
values technical skills would award
merit based on ability and perfor-
mance alone, the facts speak to a
much more biased truth, one that
can be quantified in part by look-
ing at the wage gap among different
demographics within engineering.
Women earna third less than their
male counterparts - a statistic that
doesn't begin taccount fr the
additional inequalities that People
of Color, both men and women, face
in the workplace. These statistics
provide just one indication that the
culture of engineering doesn't view
technical ability to be the only indi-
cation of value.
Googling the phrase "what makes
a good engineering culture?" returns
a number of results, all of which,
interestingly, have almost nothing
to do with engineers themselves.
From "push relentlessly towards
automation,". to "optimize for-itera-
tion speed," few of the suggestions
address any application of human
behavior. The nature of engineering
has changed though, as engineers
we work in a society where the social
element of our work has the poten-
tial to have as much impact as the
purely mechanical aspects in today's
global, knowledge-based economy.
Although these occupational expec-
tations have evolved, many leaders in
the STEM fields still shy away from
addressing the social injustices that
are pervasive in our community.
Luke Bruski is one of the students
in the College of Engineering who is
working to change the conventions
that lead to these types of dispari-
ties. As Executive Director of Own
It, a student organization focused
on social justice topics as they relate
to engineers, Luke explains that his
group's mission is "a challenge to
the Michigan community to be our
most authentic selves." Formed in
2013 by Nick Clift, a masters stu-
dent in the Engineering Global
Leadership honors program, Own
It has hosted a number of on-cam-
pus events, seminars, and speak-
ers focused on leading inclusion
and advocating for diversity in the
College of Engineering.
Luke emphasizes that own It
exists not to advocate for a narrow or
specific interpretation of inclusion,
but to provide a space for people of
all identities to speak forthemselves.
Their major goal is to host.a keynote
event once a semester and have it
represent a theme that they do sup-
porting events around. The group's
first keynote featured the Vice
President of Rockwell Automation,
Ed Seaburg, and one of the direc-
tors for Amazon Baby, Stephanie
Landry, who discussed their experi-
ences surrounding LGBTQ issues in
the workplace with a packed Chese-
brough Auditorium. This semester,
Own It's semester theme and key-
note event will address the topic of
gender dynamics, focusing on the

experiences of women and transgen-
der engineers.
The students of Own It are not
armchair philosophers or passive
activists, either. Perhaps the most
powerful element of these events are
the speakers and the leaders them-
selves: engineers from both within
and beyond the university who have
personally experienced the issues
they are advocating joA& are
actively invested in the belief that
engineering can be a culture that
encompasses a variety of identities
- gay, female, black, transgender and
many others - and distinguishes
them as unique and valuable contri-
butions to our profession.
For many in STEM fields, there's
an attitude that these topics are
not contenders for the'most criti-
cal issues we face in our profession,
and that addressing subjects in the
humanities is somehow a less noble
pursuit than circuit design or dif-
ferential equations. But engineering
doesn't exist in a vacuum and having
aviewpoint that fails to consider our-
selves and the people we are design-
ing for as part of the same system is
especially nearsighted. Social justice
isn't outside the scope of a valuable
engineering culture, it's an increas-
ingly integral part of-it. There iswell-
established research that shows that
diverse teams produce better results
in academia and in the workplace,
and an economic motivator for social
change such as that is often the most
powerful catalyst for the people
already in power to stop viewing
the success of others as a zero-sum
game that comes at the expense of
their own.
What I challenge our community
to do, and what groups like Own It
work to promote, is for all of us to
look well beyond that reason. That
begins with giving these topics the
space they deserve and demand in
our community and by listening to
and learning from the people who
experience them on a daily basis.
One valuable aspect of our engineer-
ing culture is that it holds in high
regard the ideal that we should be
always continue learning and strive
for improvement, for the best pos-
sible system or solution. We are not
exempt from that process. Until we
embrace these topics and address
these issues that affect so many in
our community, our profession is
inherently lacking. There is cur-
rently one dominant narrative in
engineering that is vastly unreflec-
tive of us as a whole. We're not all
white, straight, cisgender males. We
shouldn't all be expected to act like
we are, and we don't all want to be.
Our identities are not just something
to be accommodated, but something
to be embraced and seen as inherent-
ly integral and valuable to engineer-
ing asa profession.
Julia Zarina can be reached
at jumilton@mich.edu.

Barry Belmont, David Harris, 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, Meher Walia, Mary Kate Winn,
Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and
viewpoints. Letters should be fewer than 300 words while viewpoints
should be 550-850 words. Send the writer's full name and
University affiliation to tothedaily@michigandaily.com.




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