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August 01, 2011 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-08-01

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

Bye bye, Borders
Jack's Hardware, located on e-reader, it isn't the sole slayer of
Packard Street, always has inter- the noble animal that was Bor-
esting signs. After receiving a ders. Jeff T. Wattrick, a writer on
shipment of soil at the turn of the blog MLive, criticized Albom
the season: for not mentioning the decline
"Yep that is of libraries. As Wattrick points
dirt, not rock out, both the Troy and Highland
salt." After Park libraries closed their doors
the closing of this year. Josie Parker, director of
Borders: "Buy the Ann Arbor District Library,
Local or Bye reveals on her blog that millages
Local." are being redirected, taking tax-
Mitch payers' dollars through a loophole
Albom wrote VANESSA and out the door.
a pretty nos- RYCHLINSKI So as the "big-box" bookstores
talgic piece close their doors and companies
about the begin liquidating, I wonder if
loss of the Michigan bookseller. I people will notice, or care. Mitch
agree with Albom that today's cult Albom criticizes our generation
of instant gratification ensures for failing to "snap up the latest
that reading books is simply not great read - unless there's a cer-
high onthe prioritylistthese days, tain vampire or wizard attached."
with wide varieties of entertain- An Associated Press article also
ment found on the television and points a finger "to a new gen-
computer - Netflix for the former, eration of readers who'd rather
Facebook for the latter. Borders browse on an electronic book or
has been done in by online book- tablet computer than turn the
sellers and products like e-read- page of a paperback." Ouch.
ers. A co-worker recently hawked
its benefits: "But it's so easy to
hold! And so is turning the pages, Se ti
and they actually even look like Sent entality
the ones in abook!"
I'm sorry, but are we so lazy wont save the
that we can't physically hold onto w ritten word.
and turn the pages of a book? Call
me Arnold, but leafing through
actual pages doesn't especially try
my strength. Granted, e-readers I protest the dewy-eyed remi-
do seem to be convenient in some niscingthatblames myagegroup -
ways, and I'll admit I've briefly if anything, the blame ought to go
imagined myself owning such a to adult customers who switched
gadget. As my coworker says - allegiances. The demographic
"You can take it anywhere!" with the money to buy a product
But then again, I'm pretty sure is the elder one. I also protest the
you can take a real book pretty assertion that Wattrick makes -
much anywhere too. Hey, maybe that the bookseller's bankruptcy is
even more places (i.e. the bathtub). not "a blow to literature."
The only reason e-readers are This situation requires more
popular at all is because they're than a lament about the loss of
another useless gadget that people "magic" and deserves more than
didn't think they needed. Elec- a cynical blow-off. Sentimentality
tronic readers attempt to create a will not save the printed word, and
niche and then fill it - they want the symptoms caused by instant
you to suddenly notice the "incon- gratification should not be brushed
venience" and "hassle" of books. aside. Enough people need to pos-
It reminds me of those infomer- sess the correct civic priorities - I
cials for making perfect pancakes, mean, really owning them. It's
or doughnuts, or what have you not enough to have one's heart in
- the e-reader is essentially the the right place - people need to
critical kitchen item that will fix put their dollars and ballots in the
the cooking problems you never right place as well. This means
knew you had. I won't even go into takingthe time to go to abookstore
all the nasty complications that instead oforderingon Amazon and
come from ownership of e-books. spending money on actual books
One fun fact: as the technology instead of electrons.
develops, file formats can and will
become inaccessible over time. Vanessa can be reached
Though I certainly hate the at vanrych@umich.edu.

Monday, August 1, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

5

Affirmative action revisited

Affirmative action has been
controversial for years, especially
at the University of Michigan. Phi-
losophers here such as Elizabeth
Anderson and
Carl Cohen,
along with
sociologist
Patricia Gurin,
have written
books arguing
for and against
it, consider- ANNA
ing whether CLEMENTS
its dangers
outweigh its
benefits, and investigating what
those pros and cons really are.
Now that it's being considered to
no longer be prohibited, we can
explore its risks and advantages.
Will affirmative action, as Carl
Cohen indicates, simply manifest
as sheer racial preference? Or will
it function in a way that enhances
the potential of society, as Eliza-
beth Anderson and Patricia Gurin
prophesy, by using integration
to break down barriers blocking
blacks and other minorities from
opportunities?
An education at the University
can be viewed as a scarce resource,
as Cohen alludes to in his essay
in The Civil Liberties Review
titled "Honorable Ends, Unsavory
Means." He states that "when a
resource is in short supply (such as
seats in a university), and some by
virtue of their race are given more
of it, others by virtue of their race
get less." Viewing education inthis
way may be helpful in deciphering
the social costs and benefits that
exist due to the exclusive nature of
university admissions in general.
However, claiming that "systems
of preferential admissions do not
integrate, they disintegrate" might
not be supported by premises that
point to the scarcity of education.
Furthermore, it doesn't support
the conclusion that affirmative
action is inadvisable.
Anderson examines the com-
pensatory and integrative effects
of affirmative action and argues
for it based on the latter of the two
rationales. Both in the courses she
teaches and in her written work,

she depicts the ways in which pref-
erential admissions policies decon-
struct current barriers to minority
advancement, thereby efficaciously
promoting a fairer, more demo-
cratic society. Segregation is a bar-
rier to democracy; it isolates the
various interests of certain groups
so that the broader public fails to
incorporate them when making
decisions. Thus, policies favoring
the admission of a wider variety
of students into an institution also
function to support democracy by
diminishing the aforementioned
isolation of interests.
The proposal that banned affir-
mative action for the past five years
has been declared unconstitutional
by a federal court of appeals; it
might well go on to the Supreme
Court and be reinstituted there.
Therefore, it is crucial that we at the
University and among the general
public, continue to discuss policies
of affirmative action, and critically
examine the rhetoric supporting
and opposing it. Is it a form of dis-
crimination, condemnable under
laws and values that reject using
personal characteristics such as
race and gender in making hiring
and admissions decisions?
In "Defending Diversity: Affir-
mative Action at the University
of Michigan," Professor Gurin
examines the effects that diver-
sity in the student body has on
individual students' learning
experiences. She includes a selec-
tion of testimonies written by Uni-
versity students on how diversity
has affected their learning expe-
riences. Based on those accounts
as well as on her own specula-
tion, she concludes that "students'
experiences with racial and ethnic
diversity have far-reaching and
significant educational benefits
for both learning and democracy
outcomes, and that these benefits
extend to ... non-minorities and
minorities alike." Thus, by treat-
ing educational diversity as a pub-
lic good, she demonstrates how
affirmative action policies do not
just redistribute resources to the
disadvantaged, or save certain
groups from the segregation that
has been imposed upon them due

to centuries of racism; but rather,
affirmative action has the poten-
tial to help every student become
a more capable citizen.
Gurin cites University politi-
cal scientist Profesor Arlene Sax-
onhouse, who discusses debates
that took place in ancient history
over diversity's impact on democ-
racy in her book Fear ofDiversity.
According to Saxonhouse, Plato
argued that a homogenous soci-
ety is the most beneficial system
for an effective democracy to take
place within, whereas Aristotle
advocates for equal relationships
It's crucial that
we continue
to discuss it.
among people of diverse back-
grounds as a way to let democracy
thrive. In the United States, how-
ever, almost nobody would dare
assert that diversity is a drawback
to an institution. It's one of this
country's central tenets. How else
would capitalism have thrived
here for so long if we did not value
multiplicity or diversity? In order
to have true, functional competi-
tion, differences are critical.
I am not writing this in order
to out professors' political persua-
sions. But it's important, while in
an institution such as this one, to
be aware not only of the content
that is being taught in courses,
but of the backdrop over which
the ideas interact. If affirma-
tive action is put into place, what
changes will we observe? Is educa-
tion the resource over which to be
fought, as Cohen assumes, or is it
a public good, strengthening both
communities and the democratic
process? Determining how we
are to view diversity is crucial in
deciding whether and how to insti-
tute affirmative action policies.
Anna can be reached at
asiobhan@umich.edu.

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