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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Page 4A - Friday, October 31, 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.
Choosing the right college

Let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I
consider being gay among the greatest
ifts God has given to me.'
- Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a column for Bloomberg Businessweek,
publicly acknowledging his sexuality for the first time.
When words are not enough

6I

n a few days, college applications will be
due. In the last month, the high school
studentsItutor and afewold friendshave
bombarded me with essays
at various stages of the revi-
sion process. It's fun for the
most part, partly because'
I get to see a glimpse of my
students' lives outside the
specific academic subject t
I'm tutoring, but also partly
because it gives me a weird J
sense of nostalgia. It's this WANG
mix of panic and excitement
for what's to come. With
some of my students, I take
this chance to sit down with them and ask, "So
why do you want to go to this school?"
My first Festifall experience two years ago
was - like it might've been for the other
freshmen walking around - overwhelming.
My friend and Itoured every booth, signing our
names onto listservs before the person standing
across from us finished their spiel. When we
couldn't find a specific club we were looking for,
we asked around and got directed to the area
"right next to Dana." We ended up getting more
lost. By the end of the day, our backpacks were
filled with flyers, candy bars and pens; by the
end of the week, my inbox had become flooded
with invitations to go to mass meetings, only a
handful of which I managed to attend.
When I ask my students whythey wantto get
accepted into their top-choice schools, I usu-
ally get this recurring answer: "It's one of the
best in the nation." Or, if they've done a little
more research, "It has one of the best ____
programs in the nation." Most supplementary
essays ask the same question, and my students
usuallygivethatsame"It'satopschool"answer,
though with a bit of personal flair sprinkled in.
"Maybe," I suggest to them, "it's a good idea
to understand the student body and faculty
makeup there. Maybe look up class sizes and
teaching philosophies. Maybe explore the
campus culture and see if you are a good fit.
Visit the campus, schedule an informational
interview with an alumni, anything to get
you more acquainted." It's difficult for me to
stress to them the importance of school culture
and classroom teaching styles. Our majors

and interests might change, but who we're
surrounded by doesn't.
Things have settled a bit since the chaotic
confusion that made up my freshman year. I've
declared my major, I've narrowed downto four
clubs/organizations, I've made little social cir-
cles that I fit into, and I have a better grasp of
my post-graduate aspirations. The onlything is
it took several semesters to completely rethink
my goals (for example, should I really take this
creative writing thing seriously, or should I go
with what I came here for - STEM?), and sub-
sequently several peers and mentors to patient-
ly directme to where I really wanted to go.
I tell my students that the University of
Michigan is a big school. They'll be able to make
it however they want. The downside to that
is it's really easy to get lost among the crowd.
I tell them there are a lot of students who are
doing splendidly - grades-wise, social life-
wise, accomplishments-wise. But we don't
really hear from the students who are strug-
gling: the ones who don't know what to do with
their degrees, the ones who can't keep up with
the rigor of their major or the ones who realize
halfway through thatcthey don't want to do this
anymore. The University doesn't go out of its
way to seek out these students, so it's really up
to the individual to let the school know.
"It's hard to reach out to advisors you
might not know, or see the professor to talk
about that recent test score. Unless you feel
absolutely comfortable with them, it'll be easier
to wait another day," I say to my students. "And
before you know it, the end of the semester is
approaching."
I tell my students to stay conscientious. I
tell them to strive for their goals and passions
while also keeping an open mind. I tell them
to prioritize their learning but not at the
expense of their physical and mental wellbeing.
Sometimes, I tell them this with a sense of
hypocrisy, knowing that I've committed the
very errors I tell them to avoid. In the end,
though, my only wish is that they choose a
school where they get the most out of their
learning, and hopefully they will take a little
less time to get there than I did.
- Jenny Wang can be reached
at wjenny@umich.edu.

eff Nardone taught me the
power of words, but some-
times there are things for
which words don't
suffice. You try to
cling and grasp
at the topic with
adjectives and
allegories and .
every piece of lin-
guistic style in
your arsenal, but DAVID
inevitably fall over HARRIS
the metaphorical
cliff you're trying
to describe.
He also taught me, among all
sorts of journalism style, to never
use a name as the first word in your
lead. I break the rule here because
it fits the one exception given: when
the name is important enough to
begin the lead itself.
Within the halls of Grosse Pointe
South High School is the small room
144. It consists of a separate phone
room, 12 computers and a number of
the most dedicated students in the
school at any time between 7 a.m.
and as late as 9 p.m., committed to
the continued production of The
Tower newspaper. A weekly tradi-
tion since 1928, Jeff was the paper's
advisor, only the third in its history.
The paper was a powerhouse,
winning Best in Show awards and
Pacemaker Awards on the national
scale despite its four-day produc-
tion cycle, and Jeff was its consum-
mate advisor who always deflected
allthe attention and gloryto his stu-
dents for their work. But if it was us
students who were the engine of the
paper, Jeff was always the one mak-
ing sure our engine had the fuel and
maintenance to keep going.
It took an entire year class of
training alone to be a staff member.
Weeks spent on writing effective
leads, an overview of all law associ-
ated with student journalism, prac-
tice with interviews and mastery of
all the little things that Jeff knew

were integral to being a good writer.
And like the true teacher he was,
Jeff demanded perfection, in the
nicest way possible.
Once I joined The Tower staff,
every high school morning started
with me walking into the Tower
Room a few minutes after the bell
rang. Jeff would promptly call me a
knucklehead or some other word of
endearment, knowing I had no rea-
son for my untimeliness. And every
Monday night, our deadline night,
ended with words of "Go home, do
your homework for once." But for all
the time spent together in the Tower
Room, allthe paperbusiness and sto-
ries we discussed, the times I remem-
ber most were words of "David, how
are you?" when things were tough,
because Jeff was the best a teach-
er could be by every definition of
the word.
Last year, just before walking
into Spartan Stadium to see the
Michigan vs. Michigan State foot-
ball game, I got a call from a friend
from high school, a former editor
of our school paper. The call was
just a few simple words, that Jeff's
battle with cancer was coming to an
end other than which we had hoped
for. Jeff was a model Spartan fan,
and I had planned to talk football
with him and perhaps some words
of rivalry trash talk after watching
the Wolverines win in Spartan ter-
ritory; neither would happen.
During the game I stood in the
middle of the Michigan State stu-
dent section that I had snuck into,
rain jacket covering up all my maize
gear as my team was battered, dom-
inated and dismantled in every way
possible. The jacket partly covered
up the shame of defeat, and partly
kept me dry from the pounding rain
and sheltered from the cold tem-
peratures. Yet still my face was wet
because rain jackets do not keep you
dry from tears.
Jeff would die a few days later,
one year ago. I use the word "die"

instead of phrases liked "passed
away,"because it was what he taught
us to do. Journalism is not meant
to muffle words and euphemize.
Journalism tells stories how they
are.
The day after I sat in Bruegger's
with all the former editors of The
Tower who are now students at
Michigan. We ate a lot of bagels
as part of The Tower staff, and
probably single-handedly could've
kept our hometown Bruegger's in
business. On this day we ate a lot
of bagels too, because when you
couldn't come up with the words to
speak, stuffing your mouth with a
bagel was the onlyviable alternative.
Jeff would always say, "The best
way to kids' hearts is through their
stomachs," words that continued to
ring true.
After graduating high school, I
forgot to take writing with me. Ihad
traded words on a page for strings
in C++, editingstories for debugging
programs and page design for
formatting technical reports for my
engineering classes. Before I left
home I told Jeff I'd probably join
the paper here. Two years later,
though he wouldn't be able to see it,
I finally delivered on those words,
and walked into the newsroom of
The Michigan Daily.
I still print out and edit all my
writing like Jeff did. Sometimes
it has the entire first paragraph
circled with remarks like, "This
lead sucks," partly out of humor
and partly because such. bluntness
taughtme to expect perfection
myself. Other times it's light on the
red pen comments with a simple
"Good job" at the end.
Jeff may never have had the
chance to read anything I write
here, but a bit of him lives on in each
word here. And for that no words
could suffice.
- David Harris can be reached
at daharr@umich.edu.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION
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.
The RhythM of community

When we first arrive on campus,
we are viewed as a blank slate to
this University. We are a horde
of bright-eyed, well-rested freshmen, with
numerous pathways laid before us, providing
us with what we can and will
become. At the University,
we excel in academics and
in athletics, but a large ,
component of what makes
our student body unique
is our extracurricular
activities. The dance
groups on campus range
from beginner to expert SARA
and cross a huge breadth SHIAMASKIN
of styles, and I was able to
talk with Meredith Njus,
the co-director of RhythM Tap Ensemble.
A senior and neuroscience major, Meredith
joined RhythM her freshman year, and has
since risen to an executive position.
RhythM, established in 2000, was a group
for girls with tap dancing experience. Though
the dance community was smaller back
then, RhythM quickly rose to become "an
elite tap group," according to Njus. With the
skill set high, RhythM opened for business,
accepting girls and encouraging them to keep
dancing throughout college. The 15-person
group wanted to show the dance community
that tap could become, yet again, a popular
performance medium. Meredith told me
that tap is considered the truest American
dance form, made popular by the likes of
Fred Astaire in the 1920s. Now, RhythM
puts the traditional steps and movements to
popular tunes. "We use modern music, like
hip hop tracks, because people on campus and
audiences really respond to that a lot better
than if we use something random or offbeat,"
Njus said. Combining the old with the new
helps to grab attention, for those that see
RhythM as a saucy bunch of talented women
or as a dance group with unmatched skill.
Upon first arriving to Michigan, we are
bombarded with messages to find ourselves
and to do what makes us happy. We each want
to find a group that allows us to have great
friends, to grow within the group and to have
a lasting impact on our campus and within

ourselves. Several studies have shown that
being involved in a group on a campus, be ita
large or small school, provides many benefits
to students, both socially and academically.
In the paper "College and its Effects on
Students" presented in the Encyclopedia of
Education in 2003, several authors addressed
the link between a student's extracurricular
participation and their overall success in
school.One ofthe nine generalizations that the
authors Feldman and Newcomb said impacted
students was: "... the more incongruent a
student is with the overall environment
of his [sic] college the more likely he is to
withdraw from that college ..." By finding
something that closely fits the personality
of a student, a student will obviously want
to stay involved. Leaving college is no easy
task, but tearing away from a student group
within which you have immersed yourself is
even more difficult. Other authors show that
there is a positive association between having
relations with student peer groups, faculty
and academics and a student's learning,
educational performance and even social
self-concepts. The difficulty of feeling as if
you are one of several thousands of people is
quickly diminished once you find a group that
can make you feel like a vital team member,
that the group would be incomplete without
you present. The feeling that you matter, that
you can elicit change, make people listen is
a powerful feeling. A feeling that makes you
want to stay at a university and continuecto be a
part ofsomethingthatwill forever remindyou
of college.
But it doesn't need to just be a performance
group. It could be volunteering, juggling,
anime, archeology and so on. To the girls in
RhythM, it is the group in which they became
empowered on this campus. RhythM provides
the University of Michigan with a tap dancing
group that strives to allow the women they
take in to find their sure-footing in a metal-
tipped shoe, and to expand their repertoire
of dances while still feeling like they have the
abilitytobe outstandingin their style of dance
and on the stage.
- Sara Shamaskin can be reached
at scshamumich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Devin Eggert, David Harris, Rachel John,
Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan McDonald,
Victoria Noble, Allison Raeck, Melissa Scholke,
Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Mary Kate Winn,
Daniel Wang, Jenny Wang, Derek Wolfe
JR KELLER|I
Remember the non-partisan elections

This midterm election is impor-
tant for our state and the nation,
but it is equally important for our
local community. At the polls many
people will have the opportunity to
'vote the ticket,' casting all votes for
a particular political party. Even if
that is your modus operandi, do not
forget to consider and vote for non-
partisan candidates toward the end
of the ballot as well. Judges in par-
ticular are expected to be impartial,
hence party affiliation is impracti-
cal. This is an important year for
the judiciary in our community.
Justices in the Michigan Supreme
Court and judges in the Washtenaw
Circuit Court are up for election.
At the moment, Washtenaw
County has a very strong judiciary.
It makes sense with Michigan Law
School, a perennial top 10 in the

rankings, only blocks away from the
Washtenaw County Trial Court on
Huron Street. I worked at the court-
house as a judicial intern, and I was
impressed with the importance of
qualified judges. Most people dread
going to court, and it is an intimi-
dating arena for the uninitiated
(read: the 99.5 percent of Americans
who have not passed the bar exam).
The vacant position on the bench
is left by retiring Judge Donald
Shelton, an accomplished local fig-
ure (Judge Shelton served as mayor
of nearby Saline before becoming
Circuit Judge). An excellent candi-
date to replace Judge Shelton would
be Pat Conlin. Pat was raised in
Washtenaw County and has deep
ties to this community. He has been
a practicing attorney in Washtenaw
County for over 15 years and spe-

cializes in family law and dispute
resolution - skills that will trans-
late well if he is elected judge.
A recent poll of attorneys in the
Washtenaw County Bar Association
was taken to measure each Circuit
Court candidate's aptitude. The
WCBA is a key poll because these
advocates will most likely be
representing clients before the
future judge. Pat Conlin was the
highest-ratedcandidateasmeasured
in the categories of Interpersonal
Skills and Character Traits of a
successful judge.
When you head to the voting
booths Nov. 4, take care to vote for
the non-partisan candidates and
keep Washtenaw County's judiciary
strong with a vote for Pat Conlin.
JR Keller is an LSA senior.

DO YOU ENJOY A GOOD, FUN AND FRIENDLY
ARGUMENT IN AN OLD BUILDING????
Check out The Michigan Daily's editorial board meetings. Every Sunday *
and Wednesday at 6 p.m., the Daily's opinion staff meets to discuss
both University and national affairs and write editorials.
E-mail opinioneditors@michigandaily.com to join in the debate.

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