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November 11, 2014 - Image 4

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Page 4 - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Page 4 - Tuesday, November 11, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

- 1w,

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 CHEF 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.

find a just and peaceful resolution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if we
cannot speak openly about it in Jew-
ish institutions? It is in Hillel - "The
Center For Jewish Life" - where
it makes the most sense for these
conversations to happen amongst
Jews. The shirking of Jewish institu-
tions from hard conversations only
entrenches the occupation. Passive
support for the status quo enables the
violation of Palestinians' human and
civil rights to continue and worsen.
And so, today we declare a cam-
paign for an Open Hillel. We are not
alone. Open Hillel is a nationwide stu-
dent-led movement to change Hillel's
policies to better reflect the Jewish
community's values of pluralism and
inclusivity.Themovementseeksto end
the "Standards of Partnership" which
arbitrarily draw red lines around stu-
dents whose political beliefs about the
occupation are unsavory to Hillel's
donor base.
Across the country, Jewish stu-
dents are saying "no more" and "not

in myname"to occupation inthe West
Bank and to the massacres in Gaza.
These growing numbers of students
should not be ostracized from the
community, but valued as Jews who
are inspired by our history of fighting
for justice. We demand that we be able
to speak openly without fear or vilifi-
cation. Open Hillels are being declared
on campuses across the country and
the University can be at the vanguard.
To the Hillel staff that say this
challenges them, we ask you to sit
with that discomfort. The discom-
fort of diaspora Jews should not
trump Palestinian human rights.
Vigorousdebate and discussion isthe
driving force of Judaism's holy texts
for a reason. Open conversation is
the basis of democracy, any healthy
community and a more just world. A
commitment to tolerance of various
political identities should be a prin-
ciple of our community. The one per-
cent of wealthy donors should not be
allowed to stifle the urgent conver-
sations that the 99 percent of young

Jews need to have.
Even without Hillel's support, the
Palestinian Solidarity Shabbat will
go on.It'sthis Friday, Nov. 14 at7 p.m.
in East Quad's Benzinger Library
(Room 1423). We welcome anyone
who wants to join in this informal
setting, where no views will be cen-
sored, restricted or stigmatized.
Come share in a meal with Jews and
people of all faiths who are against
the occupation and are inspired by
Jewish tradition to fight together for
equality and human rights. As we
light Shabbat candles together we
will kindle our ancestors' tradition of
radicalism and justice. In the words
of Hillel the Sage for whom the Hil-
lel Houses are named: "If I am not
for myself, who is for me? And if I am
only for myself, whatam I? And if not
now, when?"
Sarah Blume is an LSA junior.
Sam Molnar is an SNRE graduate
student. Talya Nakash and Alyssa
Tender are LSA seniors.

To teach or not to teach

:E

Ioverheard a conversation on the bus the
other day that didn't sit well with me. A
guy was talking to his friend about his
exam score - a 30 percent.
He told the kid that he
didn't know one thing that
was going on in his class
and spent most of his time
making intelligent guesses
on test material that should
have been checking his
retained knowledge and
skills he learned throughout DEVIN
the semester. The guy was EGGERT
thankful he got a 30 percent
though. In the world of edu-
cation, a 30 percent translates into a B.
Now, people have their own opinions on
curved exams. However, as a senior, I've taken a
diverse set of classes at the University. SoI think
that my observations of some of the teaching
methods here have bearing. I am a double
major in English and Biopsychology, Cognition,
and Neuroscience. I have a Certificate in
Entrepreneurship. I am also a student note-
taker for Students with Disabilities. I have been
assigned to classes varying from computer
science to music theory to calculus. Each
class and subject has its own thinking skills
associated with it. But overall they share some
common themes, styles and flaws.
When I stepped into my first class at the
University of Michigan (Chemistry 130), I was
extremely grateful. I came from a small town
where I had neighbors who used cardboard to
separate their walls. I did my homework by a
space heater with my sisters. I had never heard
of ACT prep. And thank God I was an obedient
student who listened to my teachers. Otherwise
I would have completely screwed myself and
not taken the ACT seriously - like half of my
friends back home. I was lucky. Hardworking,
sure. But lucky.
Unfortunately, the barrier of getting into the
University of Michigan was not the tallest in
terms of my education. Day one, thy chemistry,
professor told us that about 30 percent of our
class would drop and that we should as soon
as possible, so that way we weren't wasting our
time. Chemistry 130 is a weeder class. We've all
heard this term before. A "weeder" class refers
to an extremely challenging class put in place to
weed out the dumb students, the ones who give
up. But what exactly are these freshmen (mostly
from a lower-SES and/or underrepresented
racial/ethnic group) giving up on?
Are they giving up banging their head against
a brick wall or from climbing a set of stairs
providedby the University's education system?
The order of skills taught through each major
and class needs to be seriously reconsidered. I
shouldn't be learning how to read and write a
basic research paper in a 300-level psychology
class. That should have been extensively taught
in a lower-level class - that way, we could all
understand the many readings we are handed.
I shouldn't walk away from a Stats 250 class
feeling like I got nothing out of it except feeling
like I worked hard. Each subject teaches a skillset
that the University is not capitalizing on in terms

of the job market. These skills should be made
clear at the beginning of the term. I will never be
a famous calculus genius. But, if I can take a class
in calculus and feel like I've gained analytical
skills instead of pounding my head against a wall
- then I have been taught something. That is a
more important lesson as a freshman, facing the
adversity that I did and getting the door slammed
in my face when I already felt like I didn't belong.
There is a general theme in some classes that
it is simply survival of the fittest. My question is
what are the students actually getting outof the
class - are they getting fit?
If a curve is being set by someone who gets a
100 percent on every exam, do you really think
that the professor/that class is necessary for
them to learn the material? The professor might
as well'give everyone a book and say sayonara
for the next four months and see who survives.
If that is the principle we are operating on, that
is not a $50,000 education.
There isahugebarrierthatenteringfreshmen
coming from more disadvantaged backgrounds
face. Most of their classmates have learned the
material that is being taught in 100-level classes
through high school AP courses. This increases
the speed that most weeder courses are taught
at and warps the perception of the lessons'
effectiveness. These disadvantaged freshmen
usually lack the study skills that are primed
by family influence and a well-funded school.
Generally,they are also (like I was), dealingwith
trying to keep their confidence up and paying for
their own school bill. I can't tell you the number
of hardworking students I have worked with as
an RA who are fighting a language barrier.
I don't think that it is just the professor's
responsibility to fix everything. I think our
services need to step up. The amount of time
students put into getting help for a resource or
direction to the right office is ridiculous. There
are people, like my friends and me, who are
workingtwoor more jobson campus. Efficiency
and effectiveness should always be a goal for
this community. That being said, I don't think
programs such as the Comprehensive Studies
Program - which oversees the Bridge Program
- are the solutions to this gap. I consider those
programs Band-Aids to what is really going on
here, protecting enough kids for the University
to use on advertisements. We are playing a
losing game.
Just like the diversity ofclasses and thought at
this University, people designing the classes and
educationalsystemshouldkeepinmindthatthere
are students from different backgrounds as well.
If the University of Michigan wants to advance,
we shouldn't be mindlessly disadvantaging
our lower portion of the bell curve. By setting
aside a little time for academic strategy when
the students are young, the University can help
disadvantaged freshmen and give advanced
students more learning opportunities. We need
to be preventative and proactive instead of
reactive. If the goal is to get us to the top, stairs
are more helpful than walls. Let's get a B back to
retaining 80 percent of a lesson, please.
- Devin Eggert can be reached
at deeggert@umich.edu.

An open letter to poorly dressed men on campus

earest Bro-thren,
It has come to my
attention that this campus

has been plagued
with an ailment.
I've stood
by watching
helplessly as
this pandemic
has spread from
the frat houses
to the freshman
dorms to the
classrooms, the
very classrooms
in which I must

HAYA
ALFHARAN

study and learn. Though I've not
been personally infected with it,
I've been afflicted by nausea at the
sight of those stricken. I've seen it,
ravage the majority of the campus's
male population and turn them
into a gruesome sight - a sight so
despicable it plagues my mind and
conversations every day.
Today, I take a stand so that we
can finally recognize this epidemic
and take action before this contagion
claims every last man on campus.
The ailment I'm addressing, of
course, is the rapid increase of
sloppiness in dress among the male
population, also known as Gross
Aesthetic Syndrome.
Now, I know what you're thinking:
"Perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps
this is a movement toward a society
that places less value on appearance,
a society geared toward focusing on
what is within." No, gentlemen, I'm
afraid I must disagree. This epidemic
is threatening to the very fabric of
this University. Nay, this great nation.
I'm here to tell you that I see you.
In fact, everybody sees you.

It is with the utmost concern
that I write this letter. I only hope
that the issues I address will lead
to quick and effective action to
rectify this and you cleanse your
wardrobes of this affliction.
Stop dressing like every week is
finals week. It takes approximately
45 seconds to take off your pajama
pants and put on a pair of jeans. I
understand that you're probably
running on three hours of sleep,
but there are other ways to make'
that known. Wearing your pajamas
in public won't compensate for
the missed hours of sleep. This is
not a build-it-and-they-will-come
situation. Sleep doesn't work that
way. I know what you're thinking:
"But they have Michigan on them!"
No. Pajama pants are pajama pants,
regardless of how many block 'M's
are printed on them.
Fellas, size matters. Which is
to say, if you're going to go for the
business casual look, buy blazers
that actually fit you. Maybe you're
not ready for adulthood. Maybe
you're crippled by the very notion
and dread your future beyond
graduation. That's quite alright,
but dressing like you're a teenager
borrowing a blazer from your father
to look spiffy for a Model U.N.
conference should not be the look
you're going for. There's nothing
business or casual about it.
Of course, we can't forget our frat
brethren. Gentlemen, salmon is not
a flattering shade on anyone. I must
admit I don't know how a shade can
be so white and colorful at the same
time. I don't know how a color can
scream "bougie." I do not know the
ways of the salmon pants, but I'm

warning you against it. Enough with
the salmon-colored pants. Enough
with the salmon-colored shorts. This
is the official call for you to denounce
your salmon shackles. Can you paint
with all the colors of the wind? Yes,
you can. Except for salmon.
Basketball shorts with knee-
length socks. I'm just going to leave
that one there for you to reflect upon.
And yes, this letter extends to
male professors.WhileI respect your
degrees, dear sirs, I strongly urge
you to abandon the sad dad pants,
the academic sweater vest, and most
definitely the ever-troubling fedora.
It's OK to be hip. Try it. Maybe your
Rate My Professors rating will even
go up.
A general note to every guy
who I've sat next to in a lecture on
Monday morning: I can detect your
NYPD pizza stain from last night.
I can also detect the pungent B.O.
When faced with a decision between
grabbing a coffee before class or
taking a shower, take the shower.
Your body and living creatures that
occupy space within your general
vicinity will thank you.
I must admit, this letter may
not address the many factors that
have led us to this point. It does not
offer any solutions besides asking
you to dress more sharply and take
more showers. Gross Aesthetic
Syndrome is real, and it's sweeping
our campus. I strongly urge you to
take precautions - I'd hate to lose
more of our mento it.
Sincerely,
A concerned campus dweller
- Haya Alfharan can be
reached at hfs@umich.edu.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS
Edvinas Berzanskis, Devin Eggert, David Harris, Rachel John, Jordyn Kay, Aarica Marsh, Megan
McDonald, Victoria Noble, Michael Paul, Allison Raeck, Melissa Scholke, Michael Schramm,
Matthew Seligman, Mary Kate Winn, Jenny Wang, Daniel Wang, Derek Wolfe
Democratic disillusionment

SARAH BLUME ET AL. I
For an Open Hillel
Hillel is known as the "Center forlJewish Life" expression of Jewish identity.
on hundreds of campuses all over the world, Days after we signed up to join ShabUM we
including at the University of Michigan. In 1948, were summoned to the Hillel offices for a meet-
upon the establishment of the State of Israel, ing, under the pretense of Hillel staff members
Hillel directors across the country sought guid- wanting to learn about the "visions and goals" of
ante from the national office on if the then-anti- our dinner in order for them to know how they
Zionist American Council for Judaism should could best support us. We were asked what we
be allowed to form chapters within the Hillel planned for this Shabbat dinner, to which we
umbrella. The answer from Hillel International honestly explained the Shabbat dinner would be
was clear: "Hillel represents the total Jewish nothingmorethan lightingcandles and breaking
community on each campus which it serves, it bread amongst friends, old and new, who wish to
excludes no student activity which legitimately stand in solidarity with Palestinians. For the next
represents the interests of a group of students, so 90 minutes we had our identities disparaged and
long as they accept the principle of community were told that the words "Palestinian Solidarity"
responsibility. Just as there are Orthodox, Con- were aggressive, scary and not welcome on the
servative and Reform outlooks represented in Hillel website. The staff couldn't specify what
the Hillel program, so there can be both Zionist it was about these words that was "aggressive."
and anti-Zionist outlooks." On the contrary, we contend that there are few
As it was in 1948, so should it be in 2014. things more Jewish than standing in solidarity
At the beginning of this year Hillel staff invit- with the oppressed. What is "aggressive" is the
ed a number of anti-occupation Jewish students way in which Hillel fosters a culture of fear for
to be a part of the Shabbat Across Campus initia- Jewish students who want to speak out against
tive. The dinner form askedus to name our Shab- the occupation and stand with the nonviolent
bat around which theme brought our community grassroots movements for Palestinian rights.
together and so we chose the theme "Palestinian To be clear, this censorship was never about
Solidarity Shabbat." We chose the name for our the interests ofstudents. In fact, during the meet-
event at an informal Shabbat dinner attended ing we had to ask the director to stop bullying us
by Jews of all stripes: white Jews, Latino Jews so that we could hear what the student represen-
and Arab Jews; supporters and detractors of the tative from Hillel had to say. The student repre-
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; sentative made it clear during the meeting that
one-staters, two-staters and no-staters; Zionist, the major donors of Hillel and the "Standards of
post-Zionist, anti-Zionist, non-Zionist and just- Partnership" put forth by Hillel International are
fed-up-Zionist; undergraduates, graduate stu- the main roadblocksto the Palestinian Solidarity
dents, staff and community members. For us, as Shabbat being included among the others.
much as we disagree with one another, a central Hillel cannot censor the Jewish students on
part of our community and identity is our con- this campus any longer. Indeed it's dangerous
viction that standing in solidarity with Palestin- to stifle conversation about the occupation of
ians against occupation is a beautiful and vital Palestine. How is our generation supposed to

As the 2012 election season
was heating up, sophomoric
me urged students in Ann
Arbor to vote. This
idealistic, inexpe-
rienced and not
unintelligent per-
son expounded on
thegreatprivilege
we as Americans .
have to choose
who our repre-
sentatives are in ERIC
government - FERGUSON
blowing it more
than slightly out of
proportion in the process.
Predictably, this column didn't
achieve its goal of capturing the
zeitgeist of what felt like the most
significant election in history. But I
stand by its message: young people
traditionally lack political power in
our democratic society, and the out-
comes of general elections are one
of the primary fronts of that power.
Lawmakers and elected officials
have a broad and exclusive mandate
to make decisions that affect people's
lives. More generally, the best-qual-
ified (and sometimes the least-bad)
candidate is not guaranteed to win
unless people actually turn out - no
matter what Nate Silver predicts on
FiveThirtyEight. Therefore, students
can gain considerable power through
the vote and should capitalize on
that opportunity.
This notion was as true last week
as it was two years ago. At the same
time, the final vote count doesn't
come close to telling the full story
of a democratic election. Names on
ballots end up there through a com-
bination of political party power
and institutional phenomena that
present a hefty and arguably over-
whelming counterweight to the

democratic will.
From its utility as a means for
consolidation of personal networks
into a candidate support structure,
to its status in the public arena to
its effectiveness as an infrastruc-
ture for raising disgustingly large
sums of money, the support of the
Democratic or Republican Parties
offers candidates, a nearly peerless
electoral edge. Moreover, the depth
of prior connections to these parties
itself has a massive role in determin-
ing who will benefit from the party
apparatus. The race for Michigan's
own 12th District starkly illus-
trates this fact through the absolute
steamrolling that the Democratic
candidate and representative-elect,
Debbie Dingell, inflicted upon not
just her Republican counterpart in
the general election, but her chal-
lengers in the Democratic primary.
The party's support for Dingell's
candidacy over every other Demo-
crat in the district was not inevita-
ble. However, it would be ludicrous
to suggest her longtime integra-
tion into state Democratic circles
through prior experience in elect-
ed office and personal connection
with a successful and well-reputed
House Democrat had nothing to do
with that outcome. Very few people
have partisan connections of that
quality, and this situation likely
deterred similarly well-qualified
Democrats who might have contest-
ed her nomination. These factors
added up to a formidable electoral
edge for Dingell before a single bal-
lot had been cast in her favor.
Factoring in institutional and
positional power alongside party
power, the power of the vote
shrinks even further. Besides his
partisan affiliation as a Democrat,
outgoing U.S. Senator Carl Levin

possessed the electoral advantage
of chairing the Senate Armed Ser-
vices Committee since 2007. That
position inevitably lends a mega-
phone to the one who possesses it
- and even more importantly for
Michigan voters in 2008 and 2002,
Levin was the only person who
could offer such deep influence
over this country's armed forces as
their representative. This was the
result of years of work within the
idiosyncratic structure of the Sen-
ate, honing Levin's edge as a can-
didate with effects similar to those
benefiting Dingell.
These two general phenomena
aren't insurmountable. However,
they set the groundwork for who
can run for political office in a non-
democratic fashion. They do this
to such an extent that the vote this
year felt like merely a mechanism
for expressing general preference,
devoid of the personal and symbol-
ic importance I so proudly attrib-
uted to it two years ago. Even as the
candidates I voted for head off to
Washington, D.C. to represent me,
incumbents on the whole continue
to overwhelmingly keep their seats,
and gridlock in Congress seems
destined to graduate to a new level
of divisiveness. Topping it all off,
the Democratic nomination for
2016 has for two years looked like a
lock for Hillary Clinton - a candi-
date whose presence on the scene is
likelyto drive away the overwhelm-
ing majority of others who might
have otherwise considered seeking
that nomination.
This is, apparently, what Ameri-
can democracy looks like. It's no
longer an inspiring view.
- Eric Ferguson can be
reached at ericff@umich.edu.

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