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Page 4 - Friday, December 5, 2014

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Page 4- Friday, December 5, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

't ~c 198a&dilat
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.
The end at last

The matter of intention

D ear faculty, administration, students
and squirrels of the University of
I think about time almost
constantly. It's a strange con-
cept to me, as both ahard sci-
ence major and a human with
limited days here on Earth.
With a significant milestone
for many of us coming up
next week as winter gradu-
ation takes place, I'd like to
trick the kind and smart edi-A
tors of The Michigan Daily JULIA
into thinking this paragraph ZARINA
is the beginning of a serious
and thoughtful reflection on
some pressing political issues
we've experienced in my time at school here.
Now that they've stopped reading and/or
slipped into an irreversible coma due to bore-
dom, I'd like to use the rest of this final column
as an opportunity to reflect on and attempt to
explain a few things unique to the University.
of Michigan that defy our human understand-
ing and challenge us both as engineers and as
philosophical beings.
Without further ado, I present to you: a
freshman engineer's survival guide to the
supernatural phenomenasof North Campus.
The dark navigational sorcery of
GG Brown
Welcome to college! It is your first day of
class. You stand anxious and excited in the
middle of the North Campus Diag, backpack
strapped on tight, class schedule clasped in
hand, and notice that your first discussion of
the day - the first day of the rest of your life! -
is located in a building called GG Brown. Cool!
You casually ask a passing upperclassman for
directions to the classroom and are met with
an empty stare and the echoes of a haunting
response: "Any room in GG Brown can only be
found bythose who already know where it is."
You are entering the Bermuda Triangle of
North Campus, a building designed from some-
body's twisted fever dream of an M.C. Escher
house; a labyrinth of rooms that appear to be
numbered according to some obscure permu-
tation of a Fibonacci sequence; and wall maps
that have no building blueprint but simply say,
"follow your heart." Desperate to escape the
maze, you sprint toward a faint glimmer of
daylight, flinging open door after door in infi-
nite hallways that lead back to places you have
already been. Who knows how much time has
passed for the ones you left behind? It could be
days. Weeks. Millennia. Society as you know it
may have ceased to exist. You have gazed long
enough into the abyss for it to have gazed back
into you and you will emerge with a renewed
appreciation for the fleeting nature of mortal
Weeks later you'll real-
ize that this whole ordeal
transpired in the span of 14 But someh
seconds when you acciden- thing youi
tallywandered into auutiity i
closetinstead ofastairwell is go back t
This revelation will leave
you equally, if not more, beginnin
perplexed and terrified. -i all
The localized space-
time anomaly known as
"syllabus week"
Ah, syllabus week. The leisurely five days
revered by all college students for the inclu-
sion of stimulating class activities that include
hearing about every degree your professor has
ever received or contemplated receiving and
doing absolutely nothing else. In engineering,
it's exactly the same. Syllabus week is a joyous,
pleasant walk in the park for literally seconds
on end until it abruptly comes to a halt within
the first three minutes of the semester.
After briefly recapping some previously
learned technical material including, but not
limited to, "shapes that are not triangles" and
the song small children use to memorize the
names of the 50 states, you will be launched
directlyinto higher order differential equations
with a force that defies any law of physics you
have ever, or will ever, study in your time here.

But the ego boost you received in those 30
seconds of finally understanding everything
your professor was saying will sustain you well
into exam week.
Exam week is another unusual instance of
obvious space-time warpage on North Campus
that Neil deGrasse Tyson should really do
an investigative TV special about. Here, we
experience a completely different kind of time
warp wherein, instead of lasting a bafflingthree
and a half minutes, the aforementioned "week"
stretches from approximately the second week
of school until four, possibly five, years later
when you graduate.
The mystic inspiration of last-minute
It's the beginning of the semester and
you're on top of your shit. You're proactive!
You're doing homework well in advance of the
deadline! This is the year everything will be
different! You've even read all your textbooks,
which is no small feat considering reading is
an extremely complex process that involves
removing a book from its shrink-wrapped
cocoon and exposing the front cover directly
to light rays for the scientifically accepted
maximum exposure period of 17 secondsabefore
finding a permanent home for it on the floor of
your bedroom where you will, ideally, never
come in contact with it again.
For the most part, everything is going fine.
Until suddenly, somehow, it's three hours
before your final project deadline, the code
you've been writing for weeks is not, in any way,
working, andyoufindyourselfonthethirdfloor
of the Dude in a sleep-deprived haze, thanking
automatic doors for opening for you. You will
have no memory of who you are or how you
got there but you will be propelled by a deep,
caffeine-fueled impulse to find one, single open
CAEN computer on this campus, goddamnit.
Days later, your friends, concerned for your
emotional and physical well-being, will find you
in a whirlwind of graph paper and two-day-old
pizza crusts, hunched over the pixelated light
of a monitor, muttering in tongues and divining
lines of code like the ancient oracle receiving a
prophecy from some silicon-powered deity.
Your efforts will not have been in vain. You
will most likely emerge from said endeavors
with some kind of primitive but functional
robot device - a five-day-old banana attached
to a wheel - that looks like it was forged in the
fires of a middle school science fair volcano and
may be powered by human tears. Sixty percent
of the time, it will work every time.
The inexplicable, logic-defying desire to
do it all again
It's some period of time greater than three
but less than 12 years later and you finally did it.
You're graduating! You are 20-something years
old in human years, which is approximately
48 years old in engineer
years due to a non-
only trivial conversion factor
)w the y caused by extreme sleep
want to do deprivation and abysmal
diet. Industry-mandated
o the very engineering factors of
safety at your next job are
lg and do higher than your GPA and
you've become intimately
igain. familiar with the best and
worst crying spots in each
campus library.
Butsomehow the only thing you want to do is
go back to the very beginning and do it all again.
As a senior graduating next week, I can report
firsthand that it is a very real phenomenon that
defies logic and understanding and one that I
will have to leave to far wiser minds than mine
to explain. If you figure it out, let me know.
I'll be circling the halls of GG Brown in my
banana-mobile, looking for a wormhole to take
me back to that first, anxious, excited day of
freshman year.
So for today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good
luck. Forever (until the ultimate end of exam
"week" a.k.a. the end of time as we know it), Go
- Julia Zarina can be reached
at jumilton@umich.edu.

Imagine you arrive at your local
town hall for a meeting. In this
meetingyou will need to createvery
specific architectural and logistical
plans for building three houses in
your community. The meeting will
last exactly one hour and contain
20 three-minute-long speaker slots.
Out of the 100 people that show up
to the meeting, roughly 20 of them
are either architects or experienced
homeowners. When starting the
meeting the first question is: Given
the limited speaker times, who
should we let speak? Well, the'
answer is simple: If the meeting
is going to be successful, then
people who have experience in
home building (i.e. experts) should
talk. The experts should be given
the time to speak because their
experience and knowledge is
valuable in creating an effective
plan. This decision seems intuitive,
right? Well, then why do we deny
this logical conclusion when we talk
about race and racial experiences in
America? My fellow white people, I
think it is time we had atalk.
Oftentimes when I hear my fellow
white people talk about Black racial
injustice, I hear them take offense to
the idea that they should not speak.
I often find that white people are
angered by the idea that they should
not be part of the dominant voice
when it comes to improving the
experience of Black people in Amer-
ica. I hear white people get angry
when they are told not to instruct
Black people on how to protest,
handle their emotions, or "improve"
their situation. Well white people,
while your anger may be real, it isn't
logically justified. Why?
Well, first we must recognize that
in a world with limited resources
and social space, some people are
more qualified than others to speak.
Generally, we have to think of social
interactions and space as finite
resources. In society, we see there
are only so many voices the media,
lawmakers and people in general
can hear and process. Therefore,
we face economic decisions around
who gets to speak. When we apply
this concept to systemic racial
injustice, it becomes evident that as
a white-passing man, my emotions,
thoughts, and feelings around racial
issues are not as important as Black
voices for the same reason why the
home-building experts should be

the ones speaking at the town hall
Simply put, the people best able
to speak on the issues involved with
Black injustice are Black. Black peo-
ple face the discrimination that is
being discussed. Black people have
a common narrative and history of
oppression that is vital in under-
standing the issue of racial injus-
tice towards Black people. By living
through this oppression and these
shared experiences, by sharing this
common history, Black people have
a more dynamic and informed view
of the Black racial injustices plagu-
ing America than someone who is
not Black. Black people contribute
valuable data, perspectives and
solutions that are grounded in real-
ity. In general, we shouldn't give the
limited and valuable social space
to people who are not qualified to
speak. White people should be quiet
when talking about racial injustice
for the same reason why we silence
an inexperienced community mem-
ber when we need to discuss how to
build a house. That is, society can't
waste its limited social space on an
opinion which contributes nothing
or is based in conjecture.
But someone might say: "Isn't it
racist to silence people just because
they are white?" Well no, it isn't.
We have to think about racism
through a functional perspective
to fully understand why we have
the idea of racism in the first place.
Functionally, racism is defined as
the systematic and institutional
discrimination of a person or group
of people due to their race, when
their race holds no relevance. We
functionally use the idea of racism
to denote injustice and prejudice.
This definition recognizes racial
differences, but understands that
discrimination arbitrarily based on
those differences is wrong. It isn't
racist to tell white people to be quiet
about Black racial injustice because
white people aren't qualified to
speak about the Black experience
and the emotions associated with
living that oppression every day.
White people cannot provide
that dynamic and valuable data
and perspective that will lead to
getting a nuanced understanding
of racial issues. Someone isn't
being prejudiced or unjust when
they silence white people because
race IS relevant in deciding who

vs. impact
is most qualified to speak about
Black oppression and experiences.
You wouldn't hire a prospective
employee who has no experience
building houses to build your home.
This isn't discrimination because
their experience is relevant in
deciding if you should hire them.
To apply this argument further,
we must not only think of how qual-
ified we are to speak on issues, but
how our intentions and words actu-
ally translate into the social land-
scape. Essentially, this is amatter of
intention vs. impact. While I truly
believe that most white people don't
want to be racist, they end up being
functionally racist. Their words
combine with realities of the social
systems of our society and become
problematic. When a white person
changes #blacklivesmatter to #all-
livesmatter we can infer that their
intention is to show that all lives
are valuable regardless of race. The
intention behind this is to lessen
racism. However, when white peo-
ple say #alllivesmatter, they move
the discussion away from Black
oppression, and unintentionally uti-
lize their social capital (power) to
allocate the limited social space to a
discussion ofthe existence, morality
and ethics of racism in the context
of idealism, rather than the neces-
sary discussion of how to navigate
Black oppression and racial injus-
tice that is grounded in the context
of reality. This holds true for the
#notallmen hashtag as well.. It is
obvious that all men aren't rapists.
However, when men say #notall-
men, they unintentionally utilize
their social capital (power) to drive
the conversation away from gender
inequality and rape culture, to a dis-
cussion about the existence, moral-
ity and ethics of sexismin a way that
uses idealism to inform discussion,
rather than recognizing that sexism
and rape culture is a demonstrably
proven reality, and moving forward
to discuss concrete ways to fix it.
As white people (and agent
groups in general) it's. imperative
that we recognize the socialrealities
of our society and our qualifications
to speak if we are to ever truly rid
society of racial and oppression in
Robert Schwarthaupt is an LSA
senior and a Trotter Multicultural
Center programming board member.

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For marginaliZed students, a painful path


When I was 13 years old, I
found out a huge family secret: I
am Native.
I had always wondered why my
skin was darker than my white
friends'. But my light-skinned
grandparents kept the explanation
under wraps for years. Living dur-
ing a time when our Native heritage
would do a disservice to us, they hid
the knowledge in an attempt to pro-
tect us from stigma and shame.
My grandparents' fears were
neither unfounded nor uncommon.
The narrative of Native history in
this country is one of forced assimi-
lation - a deliberate effort to strip
us of the language, traditions and
culture that have united and sus-
tained us for generations. Decades
of systemic oppression have taught
Native families that their culture,
their customs and their beliefs have
no place in American society.
After I learned my true origins,
I paid much closer attention to
the dialogue happening - or, in
many cases, not happening -
around privilege and access to
opportunity. Even at fairly diverse
and progressive institutions like the
University, I found that many of my
well-meaning classmates had never
been exposed to the nuances of the
struggles facing Native and other
marginalized communities.
But this lack of exposure was not
unique to the University. All across
the country, few people of color are
in positions of authority and power.
This leads to startling disparities
in all sorts of rates that measure
health, wealth, happiness and
future prospects for low-income
families and people of color. To me,
some of the most alarming statistics
play out in education.
The diversityof the teachingforce

in this country does not reflect the
diversity of the students it serves.
This becomes even more problem-
atic in light of the fact that students
of color face such limited educa-
tional opportunities compared to
their white counterparts. While
great teachers come from all back-
grounds (I had many with whom I
did not share an identity), research
and reason tells us that kids benefit
when they get the chance to learn
from leaders who look like them. In
a society that tells certain groups
of children not to associate success
with the places they come from and
faces that look like theirs, working
with a role model every day who
embodies a marginalized identity is
among the best ways to give power
to our students.
It was with this in mind that I
joined Teach For America after I
graduated from the University. I
wanted to empower kids to embrace
who they are and take pride in their
heritage, regardless of what society
says they should feel when they
look in the mirror. I teach primarily
Latino students in Denver who
have been talked at and about in
conversations surrounding their
education, but have rarely been
included in the conversation.
My students need to know that
this isn't right. They have to feel
that they control their stories,
and that their lives should not be
predetermined by their zip codes
or parents' paychecks. For my
students, I know I have to make
more than surface-level changes,
like swapping out the examples
of "ice cream cones" for "tacos"in
word problems. Ihave to show them
that they have value just as they are
and that their experiences bring
much needed perspective and new

ideas to the world.
Teach For America is working
hard to increase diversity in the
teacher workforce and develop
advocates for equity, but there
is still work to be done. Being a
Teach For America corps member
of color has not been easy, and I
have faced many of the frustrations
around privilege and access that I
did as a student at the University.
The necessity of voices that point
out these issues, however, is what
keeps me in this movement. As a
corps member, I advocate to make
our professional development ses-
sions as inclusive as possible. I call
out ideas that could feel insensi-
tive to marginalized groups, even
when the speaker didn't intend
them to be. I use my own struggles
with identity to encourage others
to consider ways they can be more
inclusive and responsive to their
kids' unique needs. This work can
be uncomfortable, but the more we
talk about these realities, leverage
our own experiences and push one
another to expand our thinking, the
better off our kids will be.
Empoweringkids isthe bestway I
knowto make sure my grandparents'
shame was not in vain. This Native
Heritage Month and throughout
the year, I am fighting to make sure
other kids don't have to feel the
inner turmoil and confusion that I
did. As you reflect on how to honor
the heritage of your own ancestors
- whatever that may be - and help
create a world that is more equal
than the one they knew, I hope
the opportunity to foster the next
generation of leaders is one you'll
Sarah Barber is a 2013
University alum.

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

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