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December 08, 2017 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily

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elected to Congress in 1964,
co-founded the Congressional
Black Caucus and sponsored
legislation to make Martin
Luther King Jr. Day a federal
holiday. Conyers also served
as ranking Democrat on the
House Judiciary Committee
for many years and has been a
principal supporter of single-
payer health care legislation.
He has built a robust legacy
as a champion of civil rights.
The day before his retirement
announcement, a rally in Detroit
attended by local politicians,
faith leaders and activists was
held in support of Conyers and
his status as an icon of the civil
rights movement.

Despite his achievements,

Conyers still abused his power
as a government official and
employer — actions we cannot

actions have come to light, he
can no longer be trusted to
uphold important standards
of conduct that we expect of
any politician. Furthermore,
in 2015, Conyers used $27,000
of taxpayer money to settle a
wrongful dismissal suit against
a former employee who alleged
she had been fired for resisting
his sexual advances. While the

use of taxpayer money for the
settlement was entirely legal,
we find this deeply unsettling.


increasingly polarized political
climate, party politics should
not make a difference when
addressing sexual harassment
on Capitol Hill. We understand
that seats in Congress can make
or break important legislative
initiatives, like we saw with the
Republicans’ multiple failed
attempts to reform health care.
This issue, however, should not
pose concern in Conyers’s case.
Michigan’s 13th Congressional
District, which he represented
prior to his retirement, has
historically voted democratic.

sexual misconduct in Congress
is not one of politics, but of
ethics. If the Democratic Party
wishes to be the party that

they must condemn sexual
misconduct within their ranks
— even with elected positions
with tighter races.

This expectation goes beyond

Conyers and includes Sen. Al
Franken, D-Minn., who has been
accused of sexual misconduct
by eight women. There has been
valid criticism concerning a dual
standard shown by democratic

Franken over Conyers. We would
expect the same zero-tolerance


comes to Alabama senatorial
candidate Roy Moore. Implicitly
or explicitly supporting certain

misconduct while condemning
others must stop.

With these allegations and

his abrupt retirement, Conyers
will now have a complex
legacy. We must recognize and
accept that people and their
legacies can be complex. By
looking past this complexity,
we lose the accountability we
need within our institutions. G


told that we can be
anything. We’re taught

to dream and imagine; we’re
told that optimism beats realism
every single time. Then we get
older, and we start to lose sight
of this idea. When we’re kids,
we dream of being president.
Yet when we inch closer to
graduating from college and
entering true adulthood, our

just that some company, any
company, will hire us.


holding fast to dreams; it is
more about how growing up,
unfortunately, means realism and
practicality overtake imagination
and hopefulness. It’s not all bad,
because I think most of us still
hold a sense of optimism — it’s
just less unbridled.



seem to extinguish in adults
the childhood idea that if you
believe in yourself, you can do
almost anything, and if enough
people believe in something, it
can be done.

I don’t plan to preach the

benefits of dreaming big and
never giving up. This isn’t
a “hope-y, change-y” call to
action. But it’s interesting that
realism grows stronger as we
grow up, because it is apparent
that so many of the important
things in the world function
not because of anything real.

Let’s look at an example that

we all know and love: money.
Money in the United States is
green paper. Again, it is paper.
Paper that is colored green. So
are the physical properties of
this green paper what make

it so valuable? Not at all. If I
took a green colored pencil to a
piece of loose leaf and handed
it to you, you wouldn’t care.

Why? Money is valuable

because everyone says it is.

believes it is. It has no intrinsic

physical structure.

So belief drives money, yet

society tends to push people
to be realistic, and, while not
rejecting the benefits of belief,
to focus more on action and
pragmatism as life gets more
complicated. My thinking is
that we shouldn’t allow our
kids to relinquish that youthful
sense of belief.

Money and a variety of other

things — the Federal Reserve,
the U.S. government, human
rights — are fictive constructs,
not material truths. Of course

Bank buildings made of brick
and mortar, and money is
real paper that you can hold.
These things do exist in the

forms. But their inherent value
subsists only in our collective

consciousness. Isn’t this naive
and child-like?

So let’s not act like adults

are so mature and perfectly
realistic: They trade green slips
of paper that they all agreed
should have value. Then they
use some of this paper to pay
the government, because, well,
everyone seems to think that’s
how it should be. Some of them
go to church every Sunday and
worship things they have no
idea actually exist. And nearly
all of them, at least in the United
States, preach that everyone
has human rights, even though
no doctor has ever performed
surgery in which he cut open
his patient and found the heart,
blood vessels, large intestine,
liver and … human rights.

It’s about time we regain

a little bit of that childhood
naivety — the kind that pushes
you first to imagine, then to
believe in yourself and in the
notion that common beliefs are
all we really need. Again, this
isn’t all that much of a call to
action. It is simply a plea to
realize our hypocrisy: There is
no reason we shouldn’t dream
big and use our imaginations
like children, throughout life.
After all, we do it with money,
government, religion and the

So let’s try to always remember

the power of collective beliefs.
Let’s never encourage anyone to
“grow up,” if all growing up means
is relinquishing dreams because
adulthood “realism” says they’re
too imaginative and ambitious.

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
4 — Friday, December 8, 2017


Managing Editor

420 Maynard St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan since 1890.


Editor in Chief



Editorial Page Editors

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 case for being a believer


Carolyn Ayaub
Megan Burns

Samantha Goldstein

Emily Huhman
Jeremy Kaplan

Sarah Khan

Max Lubell

Lucas Maiman

Madeline Nowicki
Anna Polumbo-Levy

Jason Rowland

Anu Roy-Chaudhury

Ali Safawi

Sarah Salman
Kevin Sweitzer

Rebecca Tarnopol

Stephanie Trierweiler

Ashley Zhang

Billy Stampfl can be reached at



Hold harassers accountable

ver the past few weeks, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich,
has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple former
employees. On Tuesday, Conyers sent a letter to Speaker of

the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,
D-Calif., and Gov. Rick Snyder announcing his retirement effective
immediately. He made the same announcement in a radio interview
while also denying the accusations against him. His retirement
came after multiple politicians on both sides of the aisle called for
him to step down. The Michigan Daily Editorial Board believes our
government officials must be held accountable for their actions
regardless of the standing of their character and career.

I will fight for you


Editor’s note: The author’s name
was omitted to protect their

t happened on a Thursday.

Halloween. I was dressed

as the devil. I remember walking
outside and feeling the cold air on
my face. I remember walking into
the house. I remember him on top
of me. Everything else is black.
Those three memories are seared
into my brain, permanently I think.
No matter how hard I try to forget,
I don’t know if I ever will.

In the years since it happened,

when I find myself gripped with
panic and unable to catch my
breath, I calm down by reasoning
with myself. Mine wasn’t that bad
because, thank God, I can’t even
remember most of it. Some women
have more violent memories. I’m
one of the lucky ones, really. But
how could I ever forget the part I
did remember? It flashes into my
mind at random times, and always
before I go to sleep.

It’s been three years since I was

raped. Those three years have been
some of the longest of my life. It
took me a year to admit to myself
that what happened that night was
actually rape. It took even longer
for me to tell my parents. I can
count on one hand the number of
my friends I have told. To this day,
I keep it to myself out of shame and
fear of how I will be perceived.

We all know how people react

when a woman seeks justice, or
even solace, following a rape. What
was she wearing? She has no proof.
Why would she want to ruin a
man’s life like that? Questions like
these had me convinced for a long
time that what happened to me was
my fault. I did go to his house, after
all. I was even wearing a dress. So,
I allowed the shame I felt to take
hold of my body. It gripped me
so tightly it made it impossible to
speak, even when I wanted to tell
people what happened to me.

Everyone who knows me


feminist — I’m never afraid to
address the injustices that exist
in our society. I have supported
many of my friends who have
experienced the same injustice
as I have. I assure them that
what happened to them was
not a result of their actions or
words; the horrific denial of
their autonomy and disregard
for their humanity was not
their fault. And I believe that

wholeheartedly. I would fight
for any victim. So why couldn’t
I fight for myself?

Over the past month or so, I have

read hundreds of posts associated
with the #MeToo campaign. I’m
encouraged by survivors who
speak out about what was done
to them. I admire their bravery.
Reading other women recount
their stories and their recoveries
gives me hope that I, too, will be
able to recover one day.

However, campaigns like these,

which are designed to increase
awareness, feel empty at best
and insulting at worst. I was not
surprised by any of the posts I
read or even the sheer number
of my friends alone who have
experienced sexual assault. This is
common knowledge to me and to
every woman I know.

What surprised me was how

men reacted: I had no idea sexual
assault was this widespread! What
can we, as men, do to stop this?!
Women of the world, help us be
better! As if women don’t have
enough to deal with already, now
we must fix the problem of sexual
assault, too? To me, “the problem
of sexual assault” is really “the
problem of men who do not know
women deserve respect and dignity
just like everybody else.” It’s “the
problem of toxic masculinity and
the patriarchy” or, more simply,
“the problem of power.”

I realized this long before I

was raped, and my understanding
certainly didn’t require having
a daughter or a wife first. Like
many women I know, I’m tired of
facilitating the conversation on
sexual assault. But, for the sake of
change, I will. Men reading this,
listen up.

I implore you to understand

that even if you have not sexually

complicit in sexual assault in
your silence. You are complicit
in the rape jokes you make with
your friends. You are complicit
when you willingly participate in
organizations where sexual assault
rates are highest, like fraternities.
Please understand how destructive
your behavior is to women, to men,
to yourself and to society.

If you are offended by my claims,

all you need to do is tune into the
conversation women have been
having for decades. For too long,
the blame and responsibility have
been placed on women. It is not our
job to stop what is being done to
us. We do not need to be less naive,
more careful or more accepting of
the “reality” of our world. Men, you

need to step up. This is not on me.
This is on you.


never happens again, men can
help fix “the problem of sexual
assault” by addressing the role
they play in its perpetuation.
Chris Brown, abuser, has a
new documentary on Netflix.
Kodak Black, rapist, continues
to be a widely streamed artist.
Woody Allen, pedophile and
rapist, decorates the walls of
our “progressive” town of Ann
Arbor. Donald Trump, alleged
rapist, is the president of the
United States. The list goes
on. Stop celebrating, glorifying
and rewarding these men and,
instead, hold them accountable.

You can also help by being

supportive of the people in your
life who have been raped. When I
told my dad what happened to me,
he listened to me. He allowed me
to share my experience without
interrupting or interjecting his
own thoughts. Most importantly,
he did not doubt me for a second.
The positive impact of having a
man like my dad in my life during
my recovery process has been
immeasurable. I encourage you to
be that man for someone. Listen,
actually listen, to the women, and
men, in your life who want to share
their experiences.

For a long time after I was raped,

I felt helpless. I still have days when
I feel things will never change.
But my helplessness no longer
consumes me. I’m inspired and
comforted by the resilient, brave
women in my life. To the women
in my classes who excel despite
their trauma, to my friends and
family who carry on despite what
was done to them, to survivors
everywhere: I see you, I believe you
and I believe in you.

Women are strong as hell. But

we shouldn’t have to be. No, the
solution to “the problem of sexual
assault” is not women becoming
stronger and less sensitive. The
solution is for men to stop. Stop.
Raping. Us. Though I’m tired
of being held responsible, I will
continue to fight for justice until
men no longer feel they possess the
right to my body. I will fight for me.
I will fight for you.


The author is an LSA senior.

This is the eighth piece in the
Survivors Speak series, which

seeks to share the varied,

first-person experiences of survivors

of sexual assault.


The Michigan Daily Opinion Section is currently accepting applications

to join our team. We are currently hiring columnists, cartoonists,
and editors for the winter semester. Applications can be found at



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Letters should be fewer than 300 words while op-eds should be 550
to 850 words. Send the writer’s full name and University affiliation to


Money is valuable
because everyone

says it is. More


everyone believes

it is

Despite his legacy,

Conyers still

abused his power
as a government


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