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November 07, 2014 - Image 4

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Page 4 - Friday, November 7, 2014

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com !'

Page 4- Friday, November 7, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom *

IT, 4 1%cigan DBatej
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 SIAHIN and DANIEL WANG KATIE BURKE
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflectrthe oficial position otthe Daily's editorialboard.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Socioeconomic stress
In prior columns, I've discussed poverty's per week, and many students financing their
general effects, butI haven't honed in on tuition work other jobs that require even more
its specific influences at the University. hours. At a school like Michigan, a required
Our campus culture fre- 10-hour-plus weekly commitment can seri-
quently creates hardships ously inhibit students from achieving their full
and pains associated with potential. For example, a University student
poverty. seriously interested in a student organization
In2011, 63 percent of Uni- on campus may not be able to meet the time
versity students came from requirements of becoming a student leader.
families earning incomes An impoverished student would find it almost
over $100,000. Given that impossible to balance an leadership position in
the median family income in a student organization, work a job and balance
the United States at the time MICHAEL classes. While I do believe that low-SES stu-
was $51,324, it's a pretty rea- SCHRAMM dents should help contribute to their school-
sonable assumption that our ing, it's not acceptable for this work to inhibit
campus is affluent. Don't let the pursuit of their passions.
this wealth lull you into brushing off socioeco- We need solutions to alleviate these
nomic issues, though, because this only sharp- problems. While the University should be
ens the pains and struggles associated with applauded for enacting policies like cover-
lower socioeconomic status at the University. ing 100 percent of in-state student's demon-
First; our student body's general affluence strated need, the system for determining need
drives the expectation that students can afford should be updated. The amount that a student
any and every small purchase. I'll be the first to is expected to contribute to tuition is deter-
attest to this. During freshman year I was sur- mined through the Federal Application for
prised at how frequently and casually people Student Aid's assessment of family income.
ordered takeout, went out to eat, purchased While financial need is correlated with family
clothes, spent money on cabs and went out income, the two are not always directly tied.
for coffee. I'm not casting judgment on these As stated on an online FAFSA reference guide,
people, butI couldn't frequently and spontane- a student coming from a one-child family
ously follow their habits. From talking to some earning and adjusted gross income of $52,500
of my other low-SES friends, I know that I'm ayear is expected to contribute $4,228 to their
not the only one that feels this pressure, and education each year. Contrarily, a family earn-
yes, these expectations did cause pressure and ing $30,000 is expected to contribute only
stress. I oftentimes had to craftily reject invi- $556. While the difference in these incomes is
tations to hang out or feel guilty about spend- about $20,000, a student comingfrom the first
ing money that I really shouldn't have spent. family is expected to contribute almost eight
While these problems aren't as burdensome as times more to their education. For instance,
starvation, homelessness and the lack of auton- while a higher family income could indicate
omy frequently associated with poverty, this more funds dedicated to college, it's also pos-
doesn't invalidate the reality that they do cause sible that the parents of the $52,500 family
stress. The culmination of thoughts and anxi- have higher expenses, like a more expensive
ety about spending money mortgage. Since the stu-
equate to a noteworthy dent has no control over
pain especially when it Socioeconomic issues parents' expenses, he or
instills a gap between you she may incur more loans
and your peers. are complex, than a $30,000 income
More issues continue to harsh and often family despite having an
divide lower- and higher- equivalent need. The situ-
socioeconomic students result in narratives ation would be slightly
- particularly off-campus different if the student's
housing. As I've written in left unheard. family earned incomes
previous columns, our off- in higher ranges, but
campus housing is unrea- incomes around $52,500
sonably expensive. Many students cannot are approximately half of the average fam-
afford the high-luxury apartment complexes ily income at the University. A student in this
like Zaragon and Landmark. Furthermore, a situation should be covered more adequately.
majority of reasonably located and average- We must also help low-SES students after
quality housing costs upwards of $600 per they've received financial aid packages and
month - prices that students oftentimes can- are searching for on-campus jobs. The Uni-
not afford to pay. Due to financial restrictions, versity currently offers 4,000 on-campus jobs
poorer students face specific and difficult deci- for University Housing, University Unions and
sions. They must either pressure their friends Recreational Sports. While these jobs can be
to limit rental options or exclude certain friend great opportunities for students, in some cir-
groups as possible roommates. And again, cumstances they can fail to provide relevant
while I agree that some people in poverty face work experiences for a desired field. Programs
worse circumstances, this doesn't diminish the and aid should be allocated to allow for more
reality that college students should have fun- options for students with established need to
damental freedoms like the option to lease rea- receive at least minimum wage at all jobs - like
sonable housing with any friend group. at student publications or required volunteer-
Lower SES also affects students academi- ing for pre-med programs. This way, low-SES
cally and professionally on this campus. Even students earn money from work that also fur-
students receiving the most financial aid from thers their career.

the University are often required to work Socioeconomic issues are complex, harsh
part-time to cover their cost of living, includ- and oftentimes result in narratives left
ing expenses outside of tuition and room and unheard. But we can make a difference by
board. While it's understandable in most spotlighting these pains and standing in
circumstances to expect students to work a support of change.
part-time job to earn money, this expecta-
tion is slightly blurred at the University. Most - Michael Schramm can be reached
work-study students work at least 10 hours at mschramm@umich.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,
Jenny Wang, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
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.

HEMA KARUNAKARAM I
Sa
Mylastname, Karunakaram,has a
beautifulhistorythatdatesbackabout
four generations. Karunakaram,
meaning "kind hands" in Sanskrit,
was a title bestowed upon my great-
great-grandfather for his generosity
and service to the local government
of the time, in the coastal region of
Andhra Pradesh, India. Although the
family had a different surname, this
ancestor decided to pass on his new
title of Karunakaram to his children,
preserving the legacy that he had
created.
But four-year-old me didn't know
this story. Four-year-old me cared
less about history and meaning, and
more about finding a way to quickly
say my Indian name in the middle of
an English sentence during school.
Somehow, this meant corrupting
the pronunciation of my last name:
in shortening the "na," stressing the
second syllable instead of the third,
and replacing the soft, malleable rs
with hard, definite ones, four-year-
old me devised a new - and incorrect
- way to say my own name.
The modification was easy enough
to navigate. At Indian gatherings
(such as parties or cultural and reli-
gious activities), I'd say my name
correctly, but in non-Indian crowds
(like in school) I'd use the modi-
fied pronunciation. Conveniently,
because I spent most of my childhood
in a very white school district, these
two sets of people rarely overlapped,
and switching back and forth felt so
natural that I soon forgot I was even
doing it.
It wasn't until my freshman year
of college that these circles began to
intersect and my cover was blown.
One of my best friends pointed out
during a 2 a.m. heart-to-heart the
hypocrisy of claiming to be a proud
Indian-American but compromising
my own name, saying that "if they
can't say your name right, it's their
problem, not yours." She urged me
to, at the very least, "just pick a
pronunciation and stick to it."
So I did. After 14 years, I chose to
use the correct pronunciation of my
name with everyone, for good.
Indian languages (among many
others) do not lend themselves eas-
ily to English adaptation. A single
Indian name could be spelled eight
different ways in English because 26
letters are not nearly enough to cap-
ture the nuances of its pronunciation
and meaning. I'd like to think it's at
least worth the effort to try and say
things properly, but sometimes it's
tiring to have to repeat my name
two, three, five times before you get
it right.
People with non-Western cultural
roots frequently find themselves
in this constant balancing act -
retaining their traditions while
trying to assimilate smoothly into

ityameva Jaya
Western expectations. Stories of
modified or abbreviated names like
mine are so common that they've
come to be expected. All too often,
this is a country where Krishna
becomes Kris and Sandhya becomes
Sandy and Rajeev becomes Raj. Even
everyone's beloved comedienne
Mindy Kaling abbreviated her last
name fromthe authentic, brimming-
with-meaning Chokalingam. The
impossiblegoalseemstobetoappear
different and yet not different all at
the same time. But is it okay to make
a name easier to say at the cost of its
meaning and history?
A prime example of this
compromise on campus is the Indian
American Student Association's
annual cultural show. Although I
was an active member of IASA for
three years and still support its
commitmentto"preserve and cherish
our culture," I have long disagreed
with some of its repeated choices.
Year after year, we see names like
"Samasti," "Zastana," and "Silesha"
plastered across campus in October
and November. And year after year,
performers and audiences alike
assume that since IASA - the oldest
and largest Indian organization on
campus - came up with these names,
they must be authentic.
Unfortunately, a quick Google
search will tell you they usually
aren't.
In most recent years, the title of
the IASA show has generally been
a three-syllable word that might be
loosely based on a Hindi or Sanskrit
word, but has been modified and
embellished to supposedly cater to
a Western audience - a process by
which the title itself ends up with no
real meaning of its own. "Kalyara,"
the title of this year's upcoming
show, is no exception: it's corrupted
and perhaps whitewashed enough
to be easily chanted and repeated
by most students, but just foreign-
sounding enough to fool audience
members into believing it's authentic
and meaningful.
It's a far cry from the IASA
shows of the 1990s, one of which
was authentically named "Satya" -
"truth" in Sanskrit. (The irony is suf-
focating.)
Moststudents across campus
- including Indian-American
students - have no idea that these
shows aren't titled meaningfully.
And that isn't really their fault. But
I believe that self-identified Indian
organizations have a responsibility
to remain faithful to certain aspects
of Indian culture. I believe that
anyone claiming to represent their
culture should make every effort to
portray itto the best oftheir abilities.
So why is it so compelling to rinse
Indian words of their meaning?
What does it mean when Indian

names are kneaded or chopped up
to be made more palatable to an
English-speaking audience? Who
should be held accountable for the
mainstream corruption of Indian
language and pronunciation in
Western settings?
And perhaps, most poignantly: is it
still called appropriationifit'sofyour
own culture?
A community cannot simultane-
ously strive to preserve its culture
while consciously erasing it. Indi-
an-Americans cannot claim to por-
tray something authentically while
replacing traditional Indian names
with disingenuous but sort-of-Indi-
an-sounding ones. We might pres-
ent the most traditional dancing or
the most traditional food or the most
traditional clothing, but our names -
the most visible, ubiquitous parts of
our identities - will betray us.
Throughout my childhood, my
parents always stressed the impor-
tance of saying Indian words cor-
rectly, of staying faithful to where
we came from no matter how
engulfed we became within main-
stream American culture. To this
day they have stayed true to their
convictions, never ever compromis-
ing a name or pronunciation for the
sake of ease or simplicity. They, like
many of my friends, have pushed
back against the forced assimilation
that is still all too prevalent in this
proclaimed melting pot of America,
retaining the fullness and richness
of the Indian names and words that
flow through their veins.
Because here's the thing about a
melting pot: although it initially con-
sists of many different ingredients,
the effect ofthe heat makes the differ-
ences ultimately indistinguishable.
Since reclaiming the true pronuncia-
tion of my own name, I have sought
to stay whole, a solid chunk floating
among the melted ones.
I may wear your clothes every
day and I may speak your language
every day. But when I am asked to
represent where I come from, where
my parents and their parents and
our traditions come from - I will
be myself. I will say the names of
my family, the names of my culture,
names that taste like sweet laddoos
in my mouth, names that color
the air with the bright orange of
saffron and sound like the music
of the veena, names and titles that
overflow with history and meaning
and are unapologetically Indian.
My names. Our names. Honest,
unabridged, and authentic.
Michigan in Color is the Daily's
opinion section designated asa space
for and by students of color at the
University of Michigan. To contribute
your voice or find out more about MiC,
e-mail michiganincolor@mich.edu.

4

0

REGAN DETWILER I
Tim Cook's equality for all

Last Thursday, the CEO of one of
the most powerful companies in the
world, Apple's Tim Cook, released an
editorial in Bloomberg Businessweek
publicly acknowledging his sexual
orientation as gay. His decision
to do this holds tremendous
weight, making him the only CEO
of a Fortune 500 company to be
openly gay, according to a video
accompanying the editorial on the
Businessweekwebsite.
In response, I'd like to address
the question of why Cook's public
acknowledgement of his sexual
orientation has to be such big news.
My answer? It doesn't.
Businessweek editor Josh
Tyrangiel said in the same video that,
"...itis news today. It is big news. But
[Cook's] hope and I think all of our
hope is that at some point, it doesn't
become news at all."
This is anexcellent point. The fight
for equality among people regardless
of sexual orientation has gone on
for too long. Cook was able to get to
where he is now, being the head of
one of the most influential companies
in the world, without ever having to
address his sexual orientation in the
professional world. When will we
finally be able to see that, ultimately,
in our day-to-day interactions with
people, sexual orientation doesn't
have to matter?
What really matters here is that a
person with international influence

is embarking on a highly public cam-
paign for equality among all groups,
not just people or varying sexual ori-
entations. Is the news that the CEO
of Apple is gay or that someone in
power is taking a personal and pro-
fessional risk inthe name of equality?
Most headlines surrounding the
essay will read something like The
Washington Post's "Apple CEO
publicly acknowledges that he's
gay," or New York Times' "Apple's
Tim Cook Says That He Is 'Proud to
Be Gay.'" But the headline from the
actual Businessweek editorial simply
reads, "Tim Cook Speaks Up," which
another Times article claimed "did
not address the news head on."
Cook's article reads that many of
hiscolleagues atAppleknowhe'sgay.
He says he's neither denied his sexual
orientation nor has never openly
acknowledged it. The fact that he's
gay isn't really news, but rather an
affirmation of something people have
supposed for a while.
The purpose of the essay seemed
to be more of a heartfelt campaign for
equality rooted in Cook's personal
experiences. He called not only
for equality regardless of sexual
orientation, but for equality for all
different groups, writing that he
"will personally continue to advocate
for equality for all people until my
toes point up." The editorial is just
as much about equality and fair
treatment of all people as it's about

equality for people of all different
sexual orientations. The news is
that someone who has the power of
international influence is speaking
up, which is exactly what the
headline reports in Businessweek. In
this way, they're doing a better job of -
addressing the news "head on" than
most other media outlets.
While Cook highlights that per-
sonal privacy is greatly important to
him, helping others trumps his own
individual wants. He wrote that "if
hearing that the CEO of Apple is
gay can help someone struggling to
come to terms with who he or she
is, or bring comfort to anyone who
feels alone or inspire people to insist
on their equality, then it's worth the
trade-off with my own privacy."
And this, I think, is the real
news. Someone in a position of
power is making a personal sacri-
fice, sharing personal information
and taking a personal and profes-
sional risk in the hopes of helping
spread equality among all groups of
people. But if there are people out
there who still insist that the most
important thing about Tim Cook's
essay is that he is "proud to be gay,"
then I'll borrow the words of Busi-
nessweek's editor and say regard-
less, that "truly, we should allbe
getting back to work."
- Justin Kim can be reached
at justckim@umich.edu.

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