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July 30, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-07-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Monday July 30, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
GARY GRACA EMMARIE HUETTEMAN
Lessonsfrom EMU Too coo/for You(Tube)

When Laura Dickinson
was found on the floor
of her Eastern Michi-
gan University dorm room last
December,
she was Stopping
naked from violence
her waist means caring
down with .
semen on about it first.
her leg and
a pillow covering her face. The fol-
lowing day, EMU's administrators
informed students on the univer-
sity website that there was "no rea-
son to suspect foul play."
This was the extent of their
explanation until a suspect was
caught in February. No one was
told that maybe when a 22-year-old
is raped and murdered everything
isn't A-OK. No one was told that if
someone can break into a suppos-
edly secure dorm once, it's likely
that it could happen again, espe-
cially if the killer is emboldened by
the three days it took for the body
to be found.
Just across the border from Ypsi-
lanti, though, there is a different
story in Ann Arbor.
Although it's easy to forget, Ann
Arbor isn't a hippie-filled utopia
where violence is no longer a prob-
lem. Believe it or not, rape, mur-
der and theft all happen here, too.
Even in the last couple of weeks,
the city has been plagued with an
unusual increase in knife violence
with three people being stabbed in
well-developed and well-populated
areas of town.
But when these things happen in
Ann Arbor, there is a backlash from
the community like a parent rep-
rimanding a child. Immediately,
Department of Public Safety crime
alerts are plastered on the walls
of University buildings. Suspect
profiles line the storefronts. Most
importantly, there is a two-way
conversation between the com-
munity and public officials, as the
former demands an explanation
instead of waiting for one.
And for the most part, people feel
safe in Ann Arbor, even at night,
while Ypsilanti is considered a far
more dangerous place.
Sure, Dickinson's death at EMU
is a troubling example of an admin-
istration that was determined to
hide the truth about the incident
from the community. This is why
EMU President John Fallon, Vice
President for Student Affairs Jim

Vick and Public Safety Director
Cindy Hall are jobless now. This
is also why EMU could be facing
tough federal punishment under
the Clery Act, which requires uni-
versities to inform their students
about safety concerns.
But this is also a troubling exam-
ple of a community that didn't ask
any of the hard questions. What-
ever the administration told the
students was accepted as fact, even
though there was ample evidence
to contradict the university's non-
chalant approach. Not the least of
this evidence was an investigation
by the Michigan State Police that
concluded Dickinson might have
been murdered and an examina-
tion by the county medical exam-
iner, who concluded that the death
was suspicious.
While there are many things that
we already know will help prevent
violence, like strict enforcement
of gun control laws and working
against poverty and drug abuse to
improve the lives of those who turn
to violence, the one thing that is
still missing is a sense of social and
individual responsibility.
Being responsible doesn't mean
that you blame yourself when vio-
lence occurs like many people did
after the massacre at Virginia Tech
earlier this year. It also doesn't
mean that the only time you read
or care about violence is when 32
people die on a college campus.
There are numerous other acts
of violence, like the 34 schoolchil-
dren in Chicago who have been
killed in various acts of violence
since last school year, that deserve
our attention, too. But aside from
a few thousand words by New
York Times columnist Bob Her-
bert and a slight recognition of the
problem by Sen. Barack Obama
(D-Ill.) in a campaign speech this
hasn't grabbed any national atten-
tion. And unfortunately, the same
is true of the rampant violence
in Detroit and most of America's
major cities.
Before we ever come close to
solving the problem of violence in
our country and our own commu-
nities, there is still one boundary
yet to be crossed: People need to
start caring about it and demand-
ing explanations and action
Gary Graca is the summer
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at gmgraca oumich.edu.

T he Republicans think
they're too cool for You-
Tube.
Last Monday, eight Democratic
presidential hopefuls participated
in CNN's first YouTube debate,
widely heralded as a victory for
technol-
ogy and the populism
common jis so
man alike. ,
The candi- passe.
dates spent
two hours answering directly to
the people - represented here
by two stereotypical hillbillies, a
snowman puppet and a man with
an unsettling fondness for his gun,
among others.
Faced with similar prospects for
their opportunity in September,
the Republicans seem more excit-
ed about Bush's colonoscopy than
this debate. Rudy Giuliani's cam-
paign discreetly cited a scheduling
conflict when excusing the former
mayor from the event, while Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.), who pre-
viously said he would participate,
questioned the debate's serious-
ness and may remove himself as
well. Former Massachusetts Gov.
Mitt Romney (R) chose the least
tactful path, telling C-SPAN that
the format was not "respectful"
enough for a presidential candi-
date - despite his admission that
he did not actually watch the first
debate.
Seven years after conservatives
sold George W. Bush to the nation
as "the man everyone wants to
have a beer with," they've decided
that populism is out.
MORE ONLINE
at michigandaily.com
LETTERS
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to submit letters to the
editor. Please include
V the writer's name, col-
lege and class standing
or other University
attiliation, Send letters
to tothedoilyiumich.edu.
BLOGS
Read more up-to-date
opinion at michigandoily.
com/thepodium

But does America agree? With
last Monday's YouTube debate
came the opportunity for ordi-
nary voters to ask their questions
with slightly more frankness than
the mainstream mediawould dare
let slip.
A young man questioned for-
mer Sen. Mike Gravel's state-
ment in a previous debate, which
asserted that those who fought
in the Vietnam War had died in
vain, and asked whether he would
stand by his controversial words
or "flip-flop." A woman asked
why she could buy the same Star-
bucks beverage in every state but
they couldn't standardize voting
practices. And a man, who dis-
played the flags from the coffins
of his father, grandfather and
oldest son, asked how soon they
could withdraw troops from Iraq
and how many family members
each candidate had serving in
uniform.
If anything, it should be the
Republicans answering these
questions. For the past two terms,
Bush has gotten away with his
"good ol' boy" bit while using
simple language ("evil-doers")
and posing for photo ops on his
ranch. But now that the Republi-
cans have watched his approval
ratings plummet and America
tire of his act, they're over-com-
pensating with candidates who
are acting, well, borderline elit-
ist. They're too serious to interact
with voters who may pose their
questions through puppets or raps
- or maybe they're too afraid of
the questions themselves.

While the Democrats fell short
of inspiring, they had one thing
on the Republicans even before
they watched the first video: They
showed up. And since early on in
this still-young campaign, that's
what they've been doing. Rather
than ignorantly criticizing the
29,000 sex offenders on You-
Tube like Romney did (he meant
MySpace, by the way), Hillary
Clinton and Barack Obama cre-
ated their own Facebook profiles.
The Democrats are starting to
figure out that appealing to the
people means knowing your audi-
ence. And if the Republicans had
figured that out this time around,
they would know that turning up
their noses to the YouTube debate
only makes them look out of touch
with technology and the Ameri-
cans who use it.
In order for the Republicans
to win back America's favor, they
need to prove that they're not just
going to have a beer with the vot-
ers and then stick them with the
bill, as the current administration
has done. In the end, the winner
will be the one who finds a new
way to show Americans that he
or she is actually paying atten-
tion, and that way is ultimately
through policy rather than public
relations.
But, for now, it's time for the
candidates to rediscover the popu-
lism buried beneath their elitism.
Emmarie Huetteman is the
summer associate editorial
page editor. She can be reached
at huetteme@umich.edu.

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