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November 06, 2014 - Image 4

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Page 4A - Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0I

Page 4A - Thursday, November 6, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

4C Mihigan 4 at,6J
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.
Follow the yellow brick road

om Bissell is a writer from
the Upper Peninsula. He
visited Ann Arbor last year.

In the wake of
Robin Williams'
death and the
talk of depression
in the artistic
mind, I evoke
his thoughts.
When I walked
into the Hopwood
Room to see Tom
Bissell that Thurs-
day at 2 o'clock
in the afternoon,


Fall means a few things every year: foot-
ball, changing leaves and job search-
es. Recruiting season in the Business
School officially started, and
recently I turned down my
return offer to work full time
in finance. It wasn't an easy
decision, nor a simple one.
The decision required a lot -
of self-reflection. In retro-
spect, the factors I consid-
ered are indeed important to ELI
the broader decisions of life C
in general, beyond just a first
job after graduation. There
were four main paradigms,
four main pieces of advice that went into the
decision. As a senior, I feel it my obligation to
share those thoughts, such that you may too
share some of the introspection as you think
about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.
Climb the mountain to see the world, not so the
world can see you.
There are numerous pressures on us as
students throughout our schooling: financially,
academically and socially. These pressures
generally convey to us a sense of things we
"should" do - whether grandma says you
"should" be alawyer at Chanukkah, or whether
your friend says you"should"breakup with that
girl at the tailgate. Be wary of the "should." The
essence of this nugget is in pushing you to do
things that make you feel personally validated,
not socially valorized. As a Ross student, I felt
like I should do banking, and to have people see
mylogoed-outswagwould be anice perk tothat.
Intheend,the Tshirtyouwearinthegymmeans"
very little to anyone else if it means very little
to you.
Do what you love and like, because nobody's
going to care unless you're doing brain surgery.
As a corollary, personal validation usually
runs parallel to genuine enthusiasm. While I
disagree with sotne ofwhat this quote alludes(4s;
an aspiring doctor, I love and like brain surgery
and people will care about it to boot...), the
message is valuable. Understand what you like
to do. Understand what makes you happy. Take
astepback. Youwill not lastlong, norbe good at,
a job (or a relationship, etc...) that is forced. Do
you, in all that you do. Be authentic and genuine,
inside and out. Idid not like the work I was doing,
and I did not like the person Itwas becoming.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
Now, as you do you, know that there will be

difficult choices along the way. You must take
ownership of these choices. The greatest blessing
of college is that we may choose our path - but
saying no to another. As Dorothy traveled down
the road, inevitably she faced a fork, turned left,
and kept walking. She was forced to see that
decision out to the end. Likewise, appreciate the
importance of the decisions you make - and do
not regret them, nor think twice. Just make sure
you see them all the way through. I said no to
my offer - a definitively left turn where others
might have turned right - and I take ownership
of it. Let's hope I get to Oz.
To know your limits is to realize you
have none.
Finally, the amazing thing about carving out
your own path is how many opportunities will
comeupthatyouneverexpected. Opportunities
are definitely a surprise - if you saw them
coming, they would have just been "part of the
plan." You would be shocked by how good of a
position you are in as a University of Michigan
student. So give yourself some credit, and
perhaps more importantly, some time. Patience
is not easy, but it is a virtue. Doors will swing
open, but only when you walk far enough away
from your comfort zone. And remember, you
can only walk through one door at a time, so
you'll have your pick of the litter. Embrace the
uncertainty. Let it surprise you. Open your
sails, and let the wind carry you. I certainly
hope this one may be true for me as I apply to
medical schools.
So all of this is to say, if you love banking, do
it. Just make sure you're making the decision
because it's what you want, for who and how
you want to be. You're allowed to be selfish on
this one. A career is a long time, and constitutes
a considerable part of your adult life. Work/life
balance exists for those whose work is not a part
of who they are. As such, I would encourage you
to let work be a fundamental part of your life.
Don't think of it as a balance - work on one
side and life on the other. Think of it as game
of Jenga - the entire substance of the shape,
of your being, constructed from both, each
supporting the other. But don't worry too much.
The best thing about Jenga is that, though for a
fleeting moment life may come toppling down,
you can always build yourself back up. And,
your friends will be with you as you do.
- Eli Cahan can be reached
at emcahan(@umich.edu.

I expected a red carpet laid out and
students from The Michigan Daily
swarming him with burning ques-
tions. I'd been in the room a couple
times before, and each time I felt as
if I were trespassing into a sacred
kind of writers' realm, now more
than ever.
Instead I walked into an empty
room, an old round table laden as
always with perfectly arranged
journals that were there for decor
more than for reading. I saw a man
in the far left corner sitting under a
lamp and actually reading one of the
humble writings that had been laid
on the table. Remarkable, I figured -
the first person that I'd seen reading
something from that table was
a writer.
He sat with one leg atop the other,
brows furrowed and the tips of
his fingers on his cheeks. He wore
spectacles of a scholarly sort that
complemented his scruffy speckled
facial hair. Wellbuilt, ruddy, aman of
God's Country. He wasn't surrounded
by agaggle ofnerds who had followed
his work like comic books, and there
wasn't a mike in sight. So I did what
made sense. I walked up to him,
shook hands and introduced myself,
and in a second I was pouring out all
my frustrations to him.
How I'd been struggling with
the same kind of drudge that he'd
described in his younger years -
the anxiety, depression, total lack of
productivity. I'd read in his Grand
Theft Auto article of how he didn't
write anything for years due ,to his
addiction to the video game, and
how he'd spend each night "carpet

Tom Bissell
bombing the apartment," pacing
around as he promised himself that
tomorrow would be different. I'd
been doing pretty much that since my
junior year of high school,though my
distractions were different.
I'd read his profile of one Mr. Jim
the UP who was read far and wide,
and whose literature was studied by
French schoolchildren. Mr. Harrison
lived a secluded life out in the wild
of Colorado, where the wolves could
be heard howling. He had lived
for a long time with depression
and was never really meant for
school, having left Michigan State
University after years of frustration
with the bureaucracy of the
English Department.
I saw in these writers a charac-
ter that I've always had as well -
depression, an urge to go live in the
wild (seriously) and a disdain for the
system. Tom had left teaching some
time ago. I explained to him the
slumps I'd been going through. I told
him that his writings spoke to me and
told me that far from being a freak, I
was quite a normal writer. And in the
wake of Robin Williams' death, the
matter is even more stark.
Ask CNN medical correspondent
Sanjay Gupta. We artists have always
toiled ina dark part of the mind, and
there is something universal in our
demeanor that puts people off. It is
hard to find those who genuinely
like us. It is easy to believe the world
is against us, and even easier to do
nothing about it.
"People out there just completely
impulsive, breaking the rules,".
Sanjay Gupta has said. In my time
here, I've said things that I shouldn't
have, things that to me are too true.
I've been open about my disdain
for the social justice movement, for
contemporary art, for the utter lack
of intellect involved in studying
for letter grades. But that same
depression, that same compulsion,
is also the neurological font of our
creativity - ask Gupta. Art comes
from misery, and I know that even as
it flows from my pen.
"If I can even call myself a writer,"
I told Tom Bissell.
He assured me I could.

I've always suspected a conspiracy
against talent, but Tom was
empathetic. He talked about how as
an aspiring writer he'd imagined that
the guys that get an article in reputed
journals have red carpets rolling
out for them, before laughing at his
youthful naivete and shaking his
head. I smiled.
I couldn't get enough of him. The
next dayI went to theUMMA to hear
him speak there again. In the Hop-
wood Room, he had played down the
writer's life so much that I was quite
relieved that I was keeping my pre-
med options open. Here was no dif-
ferent. He voiced some more of my
frustrations elegantly well, that art-
ists were not appreciated, that writ-
ing was alost art. That he had quit his
job at a university because he could
no longer guide writing students
into miserable lives. Depressing, but
cathartic. He spoke to me.
I spoke to him again as I was
buying one of his books, "God Lives
in St. Petersburg," one that he had
recommended to me. I told him about
my spiritual journey the night before
with the Hare Krishnas. Something
had made me turn around to their
music, probably a state inspired by
Tom in the Hopwood Room earlier. I
had ended up goingwiththemto their
temple in Ypsilanti and partaking in
all sorts of exotic rituals and chants,
offering petals and rose water and
fire to a statue of their founder. I
met people looking for God, and in
all seriousness I find that, as creepy
as the event was for a Muslim, it was
one now imprinted on my college
psyche for some time to come.
"You know why I went?" I asked
him with a smile. "I asked myself ...
'What would Tom Bissell do?"'
He looked at me, chuckled, and
told me that he would've turned the
hell around and walked away.
As he signed my book, he crossed
out his name and wrote this down for
me in ballpoint black ink, and I think
he meant it:
To Omar,
With my absolute best wishes to
you. Good luck.
- Omar Mahmood can be
reached at syedom@umich.edu.

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

A rude awakening

In my naive freshman mind, my arrival on
campus would mark the commencement
of long-awaited independence. Nine hours
away from home, I prepared
myself for living in a bustling
city away from overprotec-
tive parents and - surpris-
ingly - even more protective
brothers. I expected freedom.
I anticipated exploring every
corridor of campus and roam-
ing about Ann Arbor. I hoped MELISSA
for adventurous nights. How- SCHOLKE
ever, as a junior, I realize the
extent of my naivetd. Instead
ofcarefreeexploration, Ioften
find myself ina world fraught with more restric-
tions than I'd ever known in my past:
Don't walk homefrom the library late at night!
Stay in well-lit areas. Avoid walking alone! Don't
go running at night! Don't get too drunk! Watch
your drink at parties! Only drink the ones you've
physically opened yourself! Call somebody when
you're walking! Put your hood up! Pay attention
to your surroundings! Walk in a manly fashion!
If someone bothers you, keep walking and ignore
them! Be careful in parking garages at night!
Always carry your keys in your hand! Don't blare
your iPod in the evening when you're jogging!
Text us when you're back at your apartment!
In addition to cautionary appeals, women
soon introduced me to their personal methods
of protection. My mother continually tries to
convince me to carry pepper spray. One friend
avidly practices self-defense. Likewise, another
possesses aphone app designed to automatically
notify the police if necessary. Another friend
taught me to carry my keys between my
fingers. The freshman version of me - out of a
combination of naivete and perhaps stubborn
pride - mistakenly assumed they were over-
worrying, and I didn't need to follow their
example. Receiving a barrage of catcalls
within the last year, however, has shattered
my foolish former pride. Now, whenever I'm
alone and a random twinge of fear slithers
up my spine, my keys are wedged between
my fingers.
Catcalling, or street harassment, plagues
about 65 percent of women and roughly 25
percent of men - what mostly identified as
LGBTQ - according to a survey conductedby an
organization known as Stop Street Harassment.

Although avideo depictingawomaninNewYork
City receiving about 100 instances of catcalling
within 10 hours was recently released, street
harassment isn't restricted to metropolitan
areas. I've been catcalled both in Ann Arbor
and on the streets of my rural hometown. Every
instance of vulgar commentary has incited
extreme disgust and subsequent rants. Yet, the
most recent incident enrages me the most.
Several weeks ago, after dozing on the
couch while attempting to do some late-night
homework, my roommates insisted I go to bed. I
stumbledup the stairs in a semi-conscious stupor,
flicked on my bedroom light, placed my backpack
next to the window and proceeded towards the
bathroom. As I walked away, I heard someone
outside yell, "Hey cutie!"I looked out my window
to discern where the noise was coming from
and in the parking lot below stood a group of
guys. One in particular gestured to me to affirm
the comment was meant for me and just stood
there staring. Fuming, I shut my blinds and ran
downstairs. Street harassment was an injustice
I was beginningto stomach, but this time, I was
livid! How dare some stranger bother me in the
safety of my own apartment! Is there no longer a
place where one can feel entirely secure?
Harassment isn't confined to the streets.
Threats are invading our homes and our online
presences. Yet, those attempting to combat
these threats and bring more awareness to the
misogynistic ideologies responsible are often
threatened themselves. The woman featured
in the video capturing catcallers in New York
reportedly received death and rape threats
after her participation in the project.
While the sexism and objectification within
media can fuel the manifestation of these
ideologies in real life, women speaking out
against these societal problems are threatened,
silenced, and sometimes, feel compelled to
leave their homes. Rather than threatening
women, we need to cultivate a culture where
women can freely voice concerns about sexist
attitudes. Likewise, more men need to seriously
take these issues into account and alter their
attitudes regarding objectification and sexism.
Until this awareness is gained, some individuals
will consistently question their safety in
every space.
- Melissa Scholke can be reached
at melikaye@umich.edu.

The drop in minority enrollment
on this campus is a national scandal.
The numbers just released for 2014-
2015 show that enrollment of under-
represented minority students is the
lowest it has been since 1970; this
year's freshman class is 3.7 percent
black, 4.3 percent Latin@, and 1.4
percent Native American.
For more than 40 years, the
University has broken the promises it
made to the Black Action Movement
after the movement shut down the
campus in a three-week student
strike demanding 10 percent Black
enrollment within two years. The
percentage of Black students on this
campus today is less than in1973. This
is the new Jim Crow.
The University's admissions poli-
cies discriminate against minority
students by ignoring the reality of
segregation and inequality of our
schools, racial biases in standard-
ized tests and pretending racism
doesn't exist. These policies have led
to broader attacks on public educa-
tion, integration and equal opportu-
nity in K-12 schools, most starkly in
the immediate and rapid degradation
of education in Detroit following the
ban on affirmative action.
The struggle of the Black commu-
nity of Ferguson against racism and
police brutality is the much-needed
antidote to these worsening condi-
tions everywhere in the country.
Students on this campus, inspired by
the struggle in Ferguson are taking
matters into their own hands, and
asserting the leadership of the stu-
dent movement over and against the
inept, cynical dysfunctional leader-
ship of the administration.
We cannot afford to have any more
illusions in this administration. Since
2006, the University has used Pro-
posal 2 as an excuse for the drop in
minority enrollment. But the steady
decline began even before the ban on
affirmative action. There's no good
excuse for this drop. Prop 2 doesn't
prevent the University from adopting
admissions policies like the 10 per-
cent plan implemented in Texas fol-
lowing the ban on affirmative action
there. The plan guarantees accep-

liority enrollment

tance to the flagship campus to the
top 10 percent of every high school
in the state, eliminating the most
biased admissions criteria, stan-
dardized tests, for a large portion of
admissions. The policy has been very
popular and successful. Compared
-to the University of Texas at Austin,
this University, despite its liberal
reputation, is becoming a segregated
backwater. Students admitted under
the 10 percent plan perform as well
or better than the students admit-
ted based on their SAT scores. The
10 percent plan has also opened the
University to poor, working-class and
rural white students who had been
excluded before.
The only reason notto adopt such
a plan is to maintain the elitism,
and the University's prerogative
to do whatever they want with no
public accountability.
As the University has become
more privatized and focused on
the interests of rich donors over
the. interests of the students and
the character of education, the
administration has risen to a new
level of arrogance, hypocrisy and
utter disregard for the minority,
women, immigrant and international
students on this campus.
This administration has a well-
rehearsed routine of saying pious
words about diversity, making false
promises, creating distractions from
the real issues and co-opting and
threatening student leaders. The
recent statements by University Pres-
ident Mark Schlissel at the Board of
Regents' meeting about the Univer-
sity's diversity plan made clear that
nothing has changed on the part of
the administration.
The Daily reported that Schlissel
announced the administration had
"formed a leadership committee to
consider the changes recommended by
the provost's faculty-led committee
on diversity and inclusion ... and the
committee released a report detailing
several potential changes, including
the creation of a strategic plan for
Regarding the administration's
ongoing meetings with the Black

Student Union, Schlissel said
"These ongoing discussions are
resulting in very productive
consultations." What?!
Every year, the administration
creates another committee to
work on minority enrollment or
campus climate or sexual assault
awareness, and they are always the
same: 'Diversity Blueprints,' 'Expect
Respect,' and now'Change It Up' and
the 'Inclusive Language Campaign,'
the committee for 'student input'
regarding renovations to the Trotter
Multicultural Center and the decade-
long search for a more central
location for the building.
It's time to cut the crap. WE
MITTEES. As long as the number of
minority students continues to drop,
racism on campus will increase. As
long as the administration covers
up rape instead of punishing the
rapists, the real message will be
clear that rape goes unpunished on
this campus, and incidents of rape,
sexual assault and harassment will
continue to be rampant on this cam-
pus, no matter how many sexual
assault-training programs students
are forced to attend.
THAN WORDS. If you are tired
of the administration's worn-out
lies, broken promises and endless
failed committees; if you have been
raped or been the victim of racist
or sexist attacks or harassment on
this campus, and want to fight for
real justice, come speak out at our
public tribunal on hostile campus
climate this Friday at 7 p.m. in the
Henderson room in the Michigan
League. It's time to take matters into
our own hands, to build the power
of the student movement to win
real justice, equality and dignity
for everyone.
Katie Stenvig is an Alum. Tala
Taleb is an LSA freshman and a Defend
Affirmative Action Candidate for CSG.
Joseph Frailey is an LSA freshman.
Sienna Yoo is an LSA freshman.
Austin Hamling is an LSA junior. All
the authors are members of BAMN.


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