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June 20, 2005 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-20

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 20, 2005

tothedaily@michigandaily.com Editor in Chief


Editorial Page Editor

E U DENT DAT THE Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other pieces do not
SINCE 1890 necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

Joining the clause
Regents have no excuse for omitting gender
identity and expression in bylaws

Parking goes private
City may sneak parking restrictions by students

At the University Board of
Regents meeting last Thurs-
day, members of the Wol-
verine Coalition for Human Rights
turned out to demand that the phrase
"gender identity and expression" be
added to the nondiscrimination clause
in the University's bylaws. Supporters
of transgender rights have appealed
to the regents for this change since
February, but their requests have so
far been ignored. Adding this lan-
guage to the bylaws would be pri-
marily a symbolic action, but one that
is nevertheless important to show the
University's respect for and solidar-
ity with the transgender community.
Whether the regents' reluctance is due
to individual political concerns or the
belief that transgender individuals are
already protected under the Universi-
ty's bylaws, continued inaction could
tarnish the University's reputation as
a leading proponent of civil rights and
delay progress toward improving the
climate on campus for transgender
students, faculty and staff.
Since the bylaw change has strong
support and would come at no con-
ceivable cost to the University, the
regents' silence on the issue is puz-
zling - unless their concern is for
the potential cost to their political
careers. Should individual regents
later pursue higher public office
in Michigan, they may not want
their names tied to an issue that
could make some churchgoing vot-
ers squeamish. Needless to say, the
security of the University's transgen-
der community must take precedent
over personal aims and political
ambitions. The regents should vote
on the bylaw change; those who
oppose it should say so rather than
hiding behind the anonymity of
their silence.
The University has insisted that it
already protects transgender indi-
viduals under its nondiscrimina-
tion clause, citing the Smith v. City
of Salem decision made by the 6th
U.S. Circuit Court last year that said
gender identity was included under
protection against gender discrimina-
tion. Regardless of whether it would
affect the University's actual poli-
cies, however, the symbolic impor-
tance of adding the "gender identity
and expression" phrase is not dimin-
ished. Without specifically including
gender identity and expression - a
change that has wide support within
the LGBT community and was rec-
ommended by the University's own
taskforce on transgender issues - the
University fails to show its support
of transgender individuals.

Because the state of Michigan does
not include specific protection for
the transgendered in its civil rights
act and is only now in the process of
passing legislation to include LGBT
individuals under its hate crime
laws, it is up to individual business-
es and institutions to guarantee pro-
tection against discrimination. The
city of Ann Arbor passed a nondis-
crimination ordinance in 1999 that
includes gender identity, and many
universities like Ohio State Univer-
sity and the University of Iowa spe-
cifically include gender identity and
expression in their bylaws. Even if
the University's current bylaws are
technically sufficient, it is perfectly
reasonable that the transgender com-
munity wants to be assured that its
rights are explicitly protected.
An LGBT taskforce, commissioned
by outgoing University provost Paul
Courant, released a report last year
that described the general lack of
awareness about transgender issues,
calling for campus-wide education
efforts and a change in the Univer-
sity's bylaws. This change may do
little to directly improve the cam-
pus climate for transgender students,
but it would be an important step
toward promoting a close relation-
ship between the University and the
transgender community.
Although transgender issues are
becoming increasingly visible and
the number of people identifying as
transgender is growing, discrimina-
tion and stigmas still persist. During
their time at college, many students
may face a number of obstacles and
misconceptions should they come
to question or reject their previous
gender identity. Given the risk of
mistreatment, harassment and even
violence toward transgender indi-
viduals, it is increasingly important
that the University show its solidar-
ity with the transgender community.
Despite the University's promise to
prevent transgender discrimination
regardless of a change to its bylaws,
administrators and regents should rec-
ognize the symbolic value of adding
the language - and the message they
send by failing to do so. Abstaining
from this small step to ensure protec-
tion of their rights and to recognize
their unique place in the University
community is a slap in the face to
transgender students, faculty and
staff. Students must encourage the
administration and the regents to set
aside their hesitations and change the
bylaws to include protection against
discrimination based on gender iden-
tity and expression.

Tuesday marks the official start of sum-
mer: a season characterized in Ann
Arbor by hordes of orientation stu-
dents, the Art Fair and - with many students
out of town - anti-student legislation before
Ann Arbor City Council. While the ban on
outdoor couches proposed last summer has
yet to reappear on the agenda, City Council
has received petitions from the Oxbridge and
North Burns Park residential associations to
limit street parking in their neighborhoods to
those with residential permits. Though cre-
ating more residential parking districts may
appeal to homeowners seeking more spaces
on Ann Arbor's crowded streets, it will do
little to address the parking issues facing
all who live and work in Ann Arbor, and it
could benefit homeowners only by inconve-
niencing students, renters and commuters.
City Council should not create these park-
ing districts; at a minimum, it should delay
any action until the fall, when students'
voices may be fairly heard.
The petitions request the city to issue
residential permits for street parking in the
Oxbridge and North Burns Park neighbor-
hoods. Those without permits would be
restricted to two hours of parking during
daytime hours.
While homeowners in these neighborhoods
may encounter difficulty finding street park-
ing, their troubles are not unusual. Simply
put, too many people - homeowners, stu-
dents and commuters alike - are bringing
too many cars into Ann Arbor. Restricting
parking on public streets to a particular seg-
ment of the public will do nothing to remedy
this situation.
Rather, expanding parking districts will
only shift parking to other neighborhoods,
creating an incentive for those neighborhoods
to push for their own parking restrictions.
Indeed, the previous creation of a similar
parking district in the Old Fourth Ward like-

ly exacerbated the parking problems in the
neighborhoods currently seeking restrictions.
Students and commuters who use street
parking will certainly not enjoy deal-
ing with new residential parking districts.
Furthermore, both neighborhoods contain
significant numbers of renters, with rent-
ers representing a majority on some blocks,
according to census data. Even though these
renters - primarily students - are bona
fide residents of the neighborhoods, they
will likely encounter difficulty securing
residential parking permits: the city will
only accept permit applications from their
landlords, who are not exactly known for
their eagerness to aid students.
Students still in Ann Arbor should voice
their opposition to this plan. In particular,
Greek organizations with houses on Cam-
bridge Avenue, which runs through both
neighborhoods, should step up to stop a plan
that will be detrimental to their members.
And all University students, regardless of
where they reside, should note that the ger-
rymandering of wards for Ann Arbor city
elections divides the student vote and makes
it tough to elect a student voice to City Coun-
cil to oppose plans that harm students. City
Council should recognize this fact and have
the democratic decency to put off debate on
the proposed parking districts until the fall.
Regardless of whether the council eventu-
ally passes the parking restrictions, parking in
Ann Arbor will remain high in demand and
difficult to find. Ultimately, only increased
reliance on walking, biking and public trans-
portation can cut down on the onslaught of
vehicles clogging Ann Arbor's streets and
competing for parking spaces each workday.
By fostering policies that enable people to
live and work in Ann Arbor without needing
cars, City Council can perhaps spare itself
the need to determine exactly who deserves
to park on public streets.




The thumbs have it

Detroit Zoo k

After weeks of furious debate and ill-willed name-call-
ing, zookeepers renamed the zoo's new wolverine cubs.
The young cubs, Tamarack and Tilia, are sure to be made
fun of in elementary school, but at least they will be
spared the wrath of rabid Michigan fans.
The Detroit mayoral candidate proposed appointing a
population czar to work with deputy mayor candidate
Benny Napoleon to prevent future population de-
cline. The last time Napoleon and a czar got together,
more than half a million people died in what histori-
ans consider to be a disaster worse than the Kilpatrick


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