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Page 4A - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Page 4A - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com
MEGAN MCDONALD
PETER SHAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
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.
Learning to stay in the blue
UHS Health Assessment Survey reveals alcohol abuse in students
n Oct. 15, University Health Service published the
National Health Assessment Survey, a study that looks
at general health indicators of the student body. The
results of this survey provide a useful tool for identifying
positive and negative health trends of University students. The
Michigan Daily Editorial Board has isolated three main topics
for analysis: Alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, and sexual
health and relationships. This editorial focuses on alcohol and
drug abuse among the student population.

Choice will be holding its second
annual Abortion Speak Out.
The Abortion Speak Out is an
opportunity for members of our
campus communitywhohavehad an
abortion(s) to share their experience
in a safe, supportive and judgment-
free space. While we encourage all
Univesity community members to
join us in listening to the stories of

friends and peers, only individuals
who have had an abortion will have
the opportunity to speak.
It's time to come together
to end the stigma and shame
around abortion.
*We recognize that not all people
who have abortions identify as
women; transgender men and
gender-nonconforming individuals

also opt to terminate pregnancies.
However, available statistical data
only measures the prevalence of
abortion among cisgender women.
Please contact Students for
Choice (sfceboard@umich.edu) if
you have any questions.
This article was written by
members of Students for Choice.

Warning: this institution supports blindness

You can walk through this
institution and never
look back.
Never look
back at your foot-
steps being inlaid
with gold.
Never look
back at the pool
of privilege drip-
ping heavily fromC
your being.
Neverlookback MAJA
at the lives you TOSIC
step over as you
move forward.
I know, because I was one
of them.
Like the majority of students in
every entering freshman class, I
walked through these ivory doors
light as a breeze. As I opened the
front gates, I was enamored by the
vast "diversity." I was mesmerized
by the knowledge and the
intellectual bubble I had entered. I
felt welcomed. At the same time, I
had the liberty of not experiencing
many things.
I wasn't choked by the
omnipresent waves of whiteness
and elitism that infiltrated every
hall. I never entered a classroom
feeling singled out or alone. I was
never challenged to contemplate
my race or to even understand that
whiteness is a race. I was prepared
by a white and upper-middle-class
community to handle my new
Universitycommunity.My privilege
allowed me to be unaware. And my
blindness continued, because this
institution will keep you blind.
It will tighten the web of oppres-
sion, so that you can't cross racial
lines honestly and wholeheartedly.

It will tighten the blindfold on your
eyes, so that you can't see the con-
struction of privilege alongside the
construction of luxury dorms. It
will provide a ladder to the selected
many to climb and not see the real-
ity of others as they are left behind.
But unlike me, there were
some that did not have the
same experience.
For some students, their college
career started with a summer
program. While I was blissful in
ignorance and enjoyed my summer
filled with sun and travel, a small
portion of students were invited
to a summer program meant to
prepare them to their new lives
at the University. Beyond the
accelerated classes and study tips,
the core of the program is meant to
assimilate. There was no program
meant to introduce myself and my
white peers to the impact of our
identity before starting college. Yet
this program that brought many
cash-poor individuals and students
of color were to campus early in
order to learn how to live and act
in an institution that silences them
and praises wealth and whiteness.
Though such explicit words would
never be used as descriptors.
The need for such a program is
maintainedbythe suffocatingwhite
supremacy dominating these halls.
And if you do not see the domina-
tion of white privilege and power,
then the institution is success-
fully completing its mission. This
institution doesn't wish to unearth
troubling and problematic mecha-
nisms. It doesn't want conscious-
ness to spread. Otherwise it would
make an effort to do so. Instead, it's
perfectly fine with sustaining the

need for such summer programs
without tackling the source of the
problem. The institution is run by
making one "cover-your-ass" move
after another. These moves, such
as developing the summer program
and the Race and Ethnicityrequire-
ment,hosting a dinner meant to dis-
cuss ways to combat sexual assault
and renovating the Trotter Mul-
ticultural Center are all ways the
University is covering its own ass.
These actions do not solve the real
issues and do not protect the lives of
targeted students.
I broke my blindness by actively
seeking the few communities that
were willing to challenge my exis-
tence. It took effort for me to see my
identity and to contextualize it. But
I can walk away from all of it. I can
walk away from the need to chal-
lenge my awareness of race. The
bungee cord of privilege is tightly
wound around my hips. It's con-
stantly pulling me back to the high
platform of ignorance, and I must
actively resist it. But I have chosen
to run over the cliff and fall into the
pit of awareness. For many, there is
no bungee cord to pull them back to
safety. The pit is real and the cliffs
are ominous. There is no option
to forget or be blind. Every day is
a reminder.
Until this institution stops
blindly breeding privilege on top of
privilege, it will continue to run the
same course. Until then, there will
be no program to teach me and my
privileged peers of the impact of our
actions. It's upon us to unlearn and
to become aware of our identities.
- Maia Tosic can be reached
at tosimai@umich.edu.

The recently released results of the National
College Health Assessment indicate that, while
the University has met the Healthy Campus
2020 goals in various areas of health and
wellness, alcohol and substance abuse remains
a common detriment to students' overall health
and academic performance. Findings from
the study conducted by UHS suggest students
who reside off-campus are more likely to
demonstrate unhealthy drinking behaviors,
and a vast discrepancy exists between student
perceptions and the reality of alcohol and
substance use on campus. In order to improve
student health and promote healthy behaviors,
the University should modify currentprograms
and priotitize outreach efforts to students who
no longer reside on campus.
Increasing student education and awareness
would significantly alter current student
attitudes. According to the study, 96 percent
of undergraduate responders believe the
"typical" student uses alcohol one or more
days each month. However, only 70 percent of
undergrad respondents consumed alcohol at
least one day within the past month, meaning
there is a large, if unglamorized, community
of students who do abstain from drinking.
Students tend to overestimate the frequency
of usage for substances such as marijuana,
cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines. For
example, 87 percent of undergrads believe the
"typical" student uses marijuana at least once a
month, but the actual statistic suggests only 21
percent of the undergraduate population does
so. Exaggerated perceptions of alcohol and
substance use may cause students to feel social
pressure to participate in unhealthy behaviors.
While alcohol is a legal substance, the abuse of
alcohol, marijuana and other drugs poses both
health risks and legal consequences.
A high proportion of alcohol abuse occurs
within Greek Life. According to the study,
students who reside in a sorority or a fraternity
house were found to be more likely to drink
alcohol. The Interfraternity Council has
instituted new rules - such as a ban of hard
liquor at some open parties - in an attempt
to decrease alcohol abuse. However, the data
indicates more action may need to be taken.

The high alcohol usage rates may stem from
cultural pressures within the Greeksystem and
a possible lack of alcohol education. The Greek
community has institutional punitive policies
in place to protect the health ofits members,but
opaque and reactive procedures must be paired
with preventative and educational campaigns
to be effective. Regardless of the location and
host of Greek system parties, both sorority
and fraternity members exhibit unusually
high rates of alcohol usage. Therefore, it is
the responsibility of both the IFC and the
Panhellenic Association to implement a more
effective program to educate their members.
The issue of alcohol and substance abuse
is not limited to individuals within the Greek
system. Substance abuse is highly correlated
with living in a house or an apartment
located off-campus. The frequency of usage
among off-campus students as well as the
high percentage of students who reported
exceeding recommended blood alcohol
content levels during the last time they
drank suggests programs, such as Stay in
the Blue may not be effective enough. The
University can look to other schools to find
stronger initiatives to educate students,
and to curb dangerous behaviors such as
binge drinking. Frostburg State University,
for example, has been able to decrease the
number of students who partake in binge
drinking from 57 percent to 41 percent since
2006. To do so, Frostburg State implemented
more Friday morning classes and created
social media campaigns to provide students
with insightful, approachable information
regarding the prevalence of drinking
on campus.
In order to improve the health, safety and
academic success of students, the University
should seek to build upon the methods it uses
to deter students from high-risk behaviors.
While there are efforts to curtail alcohol
and substance abuse among students in
residential halls, a more comprehensive
program must be created to ensure off-
campus students possess the knowledge to
avoid unhealthy behaviors throughout the
duration of their college careers.

9

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Devin Eggert, David Harris, Rachel John, Jacob Karafa,
Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Allison Raeck, Melissa Scholke, Michael Schramm,
Matthew Seligman, Paul Sherman, Linh Vu,
Meher Walia, Mary Kate Winn, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe

0

What's to hide?

STUDENTS FOR CHOICE I
Sharing stories, ending stigma

One in three women* will have an abortion
in her lifetime.
Despite the deep political entrenchment of
the abortion debate in American politics, we
never seem to talk about the fact that abortion
is a common experience among American
women. We don't talk about abortion: We
legislate it, regulate it, define what it is and
isn't and what it should and shouldn't mean.
Abortion is a reality for one-third of
American women. Rather than existing as
an individual experience, abortion is too
often examined and dissected through a
framework of politics and cultural standards
that trap women who have had abortions in
a double bind. On one hand, when a woman
is relieved after having an abortion, she is
often vilified on a personal and societal level
as being heartless or accused of repressing
her "true feelings." On the other hand, if a
woman experiences even the slightest regret
of her abortion, anti-choice activists will use
her narrative as a tool to advance restrictive
policies that police women's access to
abortion care. In the midst of this political
trivialization and cultural classification of
a person's lived experience, individuals'
abortion stories are effectively silenced.
Stigma exists on all levels: individual, com-
munity, institutional, legal and in the media.
This stigma is pervasive, and we can identify
it at all of these levels. For example, myths of
the danger of abortion circulate (when in fact
legal abortions are actually safer than child-
birth) and women who have had abortions
experience shame, guilt, marginalizationand
are labeled either victims or promiscuous.
Likewise, abortion providers are stigmatized.
Research conducted at this very University
has linked consciousness clauses - which

permits doctors to opt out of performing
abortions - to the stigmatization of abor-
tion providers who are often stereotyped as
incompetent physicians. Providers may also
fear for their physical safety as a result of the
stigma: Since 1993, eight clinic workers have
been murdered.
As you can see, this stigma affects people's
lives. These are women in our University
community. One in three isn't just a statistic;
it's a representation of all the women in your
life who have had abortions but have not been
given the opportunity to talk about them.
Every time an anti-abortion law is proposed,
every time a group of anti-abortion activists
stands in front of a clinic entrance with signs
that shame individuals who have abortions,
we're shaming one third of our nation's women
for a choice that they made about their lives.
We're effectively telling women who have had
abortions - and women who are goingto have
abortions - that their experience is invalid,
and that the choice they made about their
pregnancy is shameful.
It's our duty as youngpeople who care about
the safety and well being of our community
to amplify the voices of individuals who have
had abortions by creating a space for them
to share their stories free of the shame and
stigma that currently surrounds abortion.
We're reclaiming our voices and telling our
stories so that women around the nation can
tell theirs too. Not only do we hope that the
sharing of personal abortion stories finally
puts an end to the stigmatization of abortion,
but we hope that it mobilizes abortion
supporters to advocate for safe, legal and
affordable abortion care.
This Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Pendleton
Room of the Michigan Union, Students for

The term "transparency" is
beyond a buzzword. It gets
tossed around way more
than it should -
transparency this,
transparency that.
The problem is ^
I've never under-
stood why people
make such a big
deal about trans-
parency. No, I'm DEREK
not an advocate of WOLFE
extreme secrecy
or anything of the
like. Rather, I don't understand why
"being transparent" should be such
a selling point for new leadership
in the public sector - for example,
President Barack Obama promising
greater government transparency
back in 2008 before he was elected.
Shouldn't it be a fundamental
element of basically every
public institution?
What got me thinking about
this again was Sunday's episode
of "Last Week Tonight," hosted by
John Oliver. Oliver ran a five-and-
a-half-minute segment on the fact
that the Supreme Court does not
allow television cameras during
oral arguments. Besides creating
an elaborate and adorable setup of
dogs dressed in judicial robes to play
over the audio of Supreme Court
proceedings, the segments brought
to mind an important point. When
it's so easyto bring in cameras and be
a little more transparent, then why
go through the hassle of explaining
whyyou don't do it? Because it seems
to me that many scandals occur or
grow larger than they should solely
because of a refusal to be transparent
and open about whatyou're doing.
Case in point, the University of
Michigan Athletic Department.

While already covered extensively
by The Michigan Daily and needs no
further explaining, the communi-
cation after the Shane Morris inci-
dent was despicable. Why on earth
would they release a statement at 1
a.m.? I don't care how many hands
it went through. It appeared that the
department was attempting to avoid
backlash by posting a release in the
middle of the night.
That being said, this all could have
been prevented, or at least slightly
alleviated, with some transparency.
If it's really taking so long to write a
statement, then consider releasing an
update earlier in the evening stating
something alongthe lines of, We're in
the process of composing a statement.
We apologize for the amount of time
this is taking and expect it to be com-
pleted within the next couple of hours.
Simply explaining where you are
in a process would go a long way.
And it appears that the Athletic
Department may be learning its
lesson, showing a minor sign of
improvement with last Thursday's
announcement of lower football
ticket prices next season. Without
even providing specific details, just
by saying the price will be lower
shines light into their operations and
comforts the consumer. Was that so
hard, Dave Brandon?
The University's Medical School
is perhaps the most transparent
organization in the University sys-
tem, specifically with their admis-
sions process. The admissions
department is constantly updat-
ing their admission statistics with
information such as how many
interviews and admissions have
been offered as well as the aver-
age GPA and average MCAT scores
of the incoming class to this point.
While I'm not applying to the Uni-

versity Medical School this cycle,
I would posit that this openness is
highly appreciated by applicants
and works to prevent any public
relations issues that could arise.
The only problem is that this
appears to be an anomaly atthe Uni-
versity, at least from an administra-
tive angle. Lack of transparency is
an institutional problem. The high
cost and time it takes to acquire
documents through the Univer-
sity's Freedom of Information Act
Office tells you all you need to know
about the University's attitude
toward transparency.
Most of all, it displays a sort
of arrogance among University
leadership that is concerning. Itsays
to the public that they're not worthy
of knowing certain information that
isn't even detrimental. It's difficult
to want to associate myself with
leaders who feel that way about the
people they work for.
Besides the ticket price
announcement, the first three
months of University President
Mark Schlissel's tenure have been
more of the same. I recognize
that some things need to be kept
under wraps, but that should be
the minority of issues. There is an
obligation to the people to educate
them about what is happening atthe
University. And the more you share,
the more of a chance you're giving
people to invest themselves in the
University. Isn't that what you want,
a bigger brand, right?
What's the big secret anyways?
Because if you're worried about us
finding out that there actually isn't
a pot of gold under the Union, we
already knew that.
- Derek Wolfe can be reached
at dewolfe@umich.edu.

41

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