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June 30, 2008 - Image 24

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

(The iidigan 0aiM,
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.
Setti ngfor less
Minor stadium victory after failures
Better late than never. That's about the best
that can be said about the University's set-
tlement with the Michigan Paralyzed Vet-
erans of America Monday. This settlement hardly
negates the University's 11 months of unconscio-
nable resistance to making the stadium wheelchair
accessible. At least this ineptitude has resulted in
one good thing: raising awareness about disabil-
ity issues. The University must capitalize on this
newfound consciousness.

Neutralizing a problem
'U' should adopt gender-neutral housing, not fall behind


Beginning this year, sev-
eral of the nation's top
schools have started
offering gender-neutral hous-
ing options. But while schools
like Dartmouth College and
Stanford University are leading
the way, the University of Mich-
igan has remained passive on
this issue so far, attributing its
inactivity to a lack of demand.
But the University must be pro-
active in creating a welcoming,
progressive environment for
transgender students.
The main goal of instituting
gender-neutral housing poli-
cies has been to foster a more
comfortable environment for
students who do not strongly
identify with any gender. In
traditional residence hall set-
tings, situations many of us
take for granted like choosing
which bathroom to use become
difficult. The University cur-
rently has options in place upon
request for transgender stu-
dents, demonstrating its initial

commitment to the cause. But
nine schools across the coun-
try have decided that being
welcoming requires more than
minimal accommodations and
are now offering gender-neutral
The University's justification
for holding out is that thereis
not enough student demand for
gender-neutral housingto merit
a change in its policies. But it
is likely that incoming fresh-
men are not even aware that
there could be such an option,
and older students often opt to
move out of the dorms instead
of trying to change the system.
To break out of this cycle, the
University must actively pro-
mote gender-neutral housing to
give incoming students more -
and better - options. The Uni-
versity already gives students
options with learning commu-
nities like the Lloyd Hall Schol-
ars Program, and this would be
a change in that spirit.
The potential benefits extend

to the rest of the studentbody as
well. In addition to giving fresh-
men the same housing freedom
afforded to upperclassmen out-
side the dorms, gender-neutral
housing is a valuable learning
experience for students.
Gender-neutral housing may
concern some people who worry
about allowing unmarried stu-
dents of opposite genders to
cohabitate, threatening tradi-
tional sexual morality. But the
University has no obligation to
enforce antiquated norms and
shouldn't be afraid to challenge
an already changing social tra-
The University should be one
of the first universities to offer
gender-neutral housing. Hold-
ing back on facilitating a more
progressive, hospitable envi-
ronment for its students until
it's pushed to do otherwise is
not the University of Michigan
way. And it's not a good example
to set.
-April14, 2008



After MCRJ
Proposal 2 passes, but debate not over

In April 2007, the Michigan
Paralyzed Veterans of America
sued the University for failing
to meet the r6quirements of the
Americans with Disabilities Act
of 1990 in their plans for the
upcoming construction on the
stadium bowl. That could have
forced the University to make 1
percent of the more than 100,000
seats in the stadium wheelchair
While the University didn't
_mit any wrongdoing, the
tvo-,ides reached a settlement
Monday. The deal requires the
University to have 329 wheel-
chair-accessible seats by 2010,
as well as improve accessibility
to bathrooms, concession stands
and ticket offices. Adding the
seats will cause the Big House to
relinquish its title as the largest
stadium in the country for at least
two years - and maybe forever.
If the University had been
forthcoming about the com-
plaints from the Department of
Education's office of Civil Rights
when construction plans were
being considered, this prolonged

negative attention could -have
been avoided.
Still, some good may yet come
of this fiasco. The University's
failures have brought critical
attention to disability issues. It's
time to capitalize on this atten-
tion, educating students about
the needs of people with disabili-
ties and creating a campus cul-
ture that demands that everyone
be treated with respect. Students
should become proactive too and
share the responsibility for fos-
tering an better-educated and
accommodating culture as well.
It's embarrassing to hear that
some on campus blame the Micli-
igan Paralyzed Veterans of Amer-
ica for causing the Big House
to lose its spot atop the utterly
meaningless list of the country's
largest stadiums. If they want
to direct their frustration some-
where, they should aim upward
- above the crowd, above the
press box - to the seating area
for the University's leaders who
thought the Michigan Athletic
Department was above the law.
-=Mar.12, 2008

few hopeful souls may
be waiting for a deus
ex machina to uncover
the missing half-million ballots
opposing Proposal 2, but with
94 percent of precincts report-
ing at press time, it's clear that
the Michigan Civil Rights Initia-
tive has passed. Despite years of
effort, first to keep the proposal
off the ballot and later to educate
voters about what the proposal
actually means, Michigan resi-
dents have spoken - and come
out overwhelmingly against
affirmative action.
There's always more that
opponents could have done,
but with the proposal passing
in all but a handful of counties,
it's unlikely a few more flyers
and radio ads would have made
much difference. But the battle
isn't over. Some changes are cer-
tain: The University will revamp
its admissions process, tweak
some programs and probably
eliminate others. But Proposal 2
hasn't put an end to the affirma-

tive action debate - it's begun a
chain of court battles to sort out
what "preferential treatment"
actually means. If the deluge of
lawsuits filed in California after a
similar initiative passed in 1996 is
any indication, the debate in the
courts could go on for years.
Bothsupporters and opponents
of Proposal 2 can agree that the
status quo was unacceptable. For
being born to the wrong family,
thousands ofchildrenreceived an
inferior education from the first
day of kindergarten. For being
born the wrong gender, women
across the state face the legacy of
male privilege that persists today
in employment and contracting.
The passage of Proposal 2 has
done nothing to remedy these
inequalities that demand our
immediate attention.
The University now has a lot of
decisions to make. But the Uni-
versity also stands in a unique
position. It remains committed to
maintaining diversity on campus
despite yet another obstacle. And

it has the influence to allay the
negative effects Proposal 2 will
surely bring. So far, the admin-
istration has been unwilling or
unable to disclose much about its
strategy to respond to Proposal 2.
As last night's results made clear,
that will have to change. It likely
will, beginning with University
President Mary Sue Coleman's
speech at noon today on the
The morning after is hard, but
the real challenge lies in the com-
ing months and years. The Uni-
versity has fought battles in the
U.S. Supreme Court to defend its
it doesn't abandon that commit-
ment now. Some may be willing
to accept Proposal 2's passage as
the end of affirmative action, but
we have a feeling the University
won't give up that easily. If there
is one university that can find a
way to achieve diversity after a
setback as dire as this one,-it's the
University of Michigan.
--Nov. 8,2006


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