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February 05, 2019 - Image 4

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Opinion
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
4 — Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Emma Chang
Joel Danilewitz

Samantha Goldstein

Elena Hubbell
Emily Huhman
Tara Jayaram

Jeremy Kaplan

Sarah Khan

Lucas Maiman

Magdalena Mihaylova

Ellery Rosenzweig

Jason Rowland

Anu Roy-Chaudhury

Alex Satola
Ali Safawi

Ashley Zhang
Sam Weinberger

FINNTAN STORER

Managing Editor

Stanford Lipsey Student Publications Building

420 Maynard St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109

tothedaily@michigandaily.com

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

MAYA GOLDMAN

Editor in Chief
MAGDALENA MIHAYLOVA

AND JOEL DANILEWITZ

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.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS

D

espite
attempts
to

remain out of the
public spotlight and

dodge
partisan

judgment
best

reserved for elected
officials, the U.S.
Supreme Court has
cultivated
quite

a prominent (and
romantic)
image

in
the
American

imagination.
Perhaps
it
is

because
of
the

countless
TV

shows and classic films such
as “My Cousin Vinny,” in
which the law is a backdrop
for drama and the judge’s
gavel
an
instrument
of

climax. Or perhaps we owe it
to emotive portrayals of the
high court as a force for good,
as “The People vs. Larry
Flynt” evokes. For whatever
reason, the allure of a body
so apolitical and professional
in its composition, yet so
absolute in its authority, has
become inescapable.

The
latest
Second

Amendment case to land on
the Supreme Court’s docket,
New York State Rifle and
Pistol Association v. City
of New York, exemplifies
this phenomenon. The New
York State Rifle and Pistol
Association
represents

the latest battle between
New York City gun owners,
represented by the plaintiffs,
and
the
city’s
stringent

controls over where they may
keep their constitutionally-
protected
handguns.
At

stake,
however,
may
be

much more than the travel
considerations
of
armed

New Yorkers. Many predict
a
broader
expansion
of

gun rights by the Supreme
Court, in part because the
court has not often heard
cases concerning the Second
Amendment.

However,
such

speculation largely obscures
more relevant gun issues
that do not require a writ of
certiorari to debate, namely
the continuing plague of gun
violence across the country.
Supreme
Court
decisions,

to be sure, impact people’s
lives in big ways. Second
Amendment
decisions
are

no less impactful. But truly
addressing gun violence can
only come through policy and
policy from legislatures. The
NYSRPA case, by directing
our attention to the Supreme
Court
and
its
judgment,

counterproductively
downplays these policies and
their consequences.

Still,
panic
and

excitement over the case
are abound. It would be one
thing if the case was in any
way predictable. Yet, while
the Supreme Court did break
ground in its last two Second
Amendment
decisions
by

expanding
“the
right
to

keep and bear arms” to the

individual and their home, in
District of Columbia v. Heller
and McDonald v. Chicago,

it also left alone
“longstanding
prohibitions”
on

the
ownership,

sales and carrying
of
firearms.
The

opposite
case

also
remains.

While
the
gun

control
measures

challenged in the
NYSRPA
case

are
uniquely

restrictive, even for New
York’s
standards,
a
less

expansive ruling could still
drastically bolster the gun
lobby’s
latest
crusade
to

weaken municipal and state
concealed-carry restrictions.

Those still inclined to

prognosticate generally view
Justice Brett Kavanaugh as

the case’s deciding factor.
Indeed,
they
are
right

to
characterize
the
new

addition
to
the
Supreme

Court as a staunch Second
Amendment defender, more
inclined than former Justice
Anthony Kennedy to take
aim at basic firearm sale
and registration laws. Those
same pundits would do well
to consider, however, that the
conservative majority of the
Supreme Court that enhanced
Second
Amendment

protections in 2008 and 2010
still needs Chief Justice John
G. Roberts Jr. to realize any
of
Kavanaugh’s
pro-gun

aspirations. Roberts — who
as chief justice acts not only
as a judge but also as the
high court’s “custodian” —
may well avoid co-signing
any controversial opinions
on such an issue as sensitive
as the Second Amendment.
Roberts’ cautious tendency
could hold especially true at a
time when the Supreme Court
— steadily losing confidence
among the American people
— has already been roped into
President Donald Trump’s
nakedly
partisan
remarks

and likely stands to be drawn
into the contentious border
wall issue as well.

Surely, it is anyone’s guess

as to the implications of the
NYSRPA case. This is all
the more reason to redirect
undue attention away from
gun
rights
and
toward

gun policy. No liberties —
even
those
protected
as

fundamental rights — are

immune from the realities
of the people to whom they
are gifted, and guns are no
exception. Rates of per capita
firearm homicides, as well as
those of per capita suicides,
are on the rise. When bad
things continue to happen,
we
as
Americans
should

expect policy changes from
our lawmakers. Guns should
differ
from
other
policy

issues only in the degree
of scrutiny to which their
restrictions are subjected,
not in the legality (or lack
thereof )
of
restrictions

wholesale.

Nor should guns be held

up as some sort of permanent
American fixture immune
to Constitutional reform. If
our goal as Americans is to
reduce the incidence of these
tragedies (which affect both
Republican and Democratic
regions
of
the
country),

then there are plenty of gun
control measures that are
proven to possibly work. If the
Constitution continues to be
interpreted as a veto to these
measures, then the American
people should be encouraged
to consider whether that
same
constitution
ought

to be amended. To decry
this
process
as
somehow

“unpatriotic” would neglect
the Constitution’s deliberate
adaptability (and one of its
current amendments).

Of course, gun control

measures short of repealing
the Second Amendment still
infringe
to
a
significant

degree upon the state of
freedom in which gun owners
choose, use and interact with
their firearms. As with any
policy, these are the costs of
attaining a greater good, and
will have to be incurred by
someone, somewhere. Those
“someones,” Americans to
whom gun rights are not
mere
policy
obstructions

but deeply cherished parts
of life, must therefore be
included
in
these
future

debates.

Regardless
of
where

these discussions may lead
us policy-wise, we should
be having them. For now,
there
remain
many
gun

control
policies
within

Constitutional
reach
of

our legislatures, where we
can
engage
one
another

instead of idly waiting for
opinions to be handed down
to us. Until the Supreme
Court rules otherwise, we
should continue to debate
the efficacy of gun policies
within
the
Constitutional

confines last set by Heller
and McDonald. Let us find
recourse in the halls of
Congress, not in the gavels
of justices — even if the
latter provides for better
entertainment.

Ethan Kessler can be reached at

ethankes@umich.edu.

REED ROSENBACHER | COLUMN

Rethinking the engineering humanities requirement

A

lmost every student in a

major of the humanities

has
experienced
the

same dreaded moment. It’s

during the first few weeks

of class when everybody is

introducing themselves, when

the
classroom
environment

is still setting in, that the

realization
sets:
The
class

is
filled
with
engineering

students desperate to fulfill

their
300-level
humanities

requirement at the University

of Michigan.

When I experienced my

first real run-in with this

phenomenon, my mind swelled

with
optimism,
hoping
the

students
from
different

academic
backgrounds

could
offer
distinct
and

valuable contributions to the

conversation. As the course

progressed, however, I was met

with a harsh reality: My “fellow

classmates” in the engineering

school, most likely students

who never had an affinity

for seminar discussion, were

filling discussion with hollow

comments in hopes of earning

participation credit.

Engineering students who

have gone through years of

curriculum
structured
by

endless lecture halls, harsh

curves and impersonal learning

environments should not be

expected to equally contribute

to a 300-level humanities class.

The
upper-level
humanities

curriculum is designed with

two things in mind: that the

students
have
taken
other

courses in the humanities and

that they have a genuine interest

in the course material. As a

result, students are expected

to have developed their skills

in reading, class participation

and writing. Students whose

skills and interests are still

maturing should pursue lower-

level courses.

Engineering students who

have spent their years watching

online lectures and completing

auto-grader
homework

assignments tend not to have

the experience it takes to

contribute
to
humanities

courses in a way that elevates

the conversation. In some ways,

the requirement as it stands

feels like a form of disrespect

to the humanities — no one

expects a philosophy student

like myself to survive in a

random 300-level engineering

class (I really wouldn’t). Why

should we expect the opposite?

I want to make clear that my

point is not that engineering

students are in some way less

smart or incapable of valuably

contributing to a 300-level

humanities class. In fact, there

have been some engineering

students who did have a lot of

excellent contributions to the

class, but that tends to be the

exception, not the rule. Rather,

engineering students are not

given the tools or experience to

help elevate class discussion.

The
idea
behind
the

requirement is one I fully

support. Taking engineering

students out of their comfort

zones and putting them in

contact
with
more
critical

and personal disciplines is a

wonderful idea. I even think

that having the requirement

be an upper-level class with

in-depth seminar discussions

is a good idea. I simply question

whether the current approach

is
effective.
From
here,
I

will weigh a few potential

proposals as a starting point for

rethinking this issue.

Proposal
1:
Offer

humanities
classes
designed

for
engineering
students.

The School of Art & Design,

for example, offers classes to

non-majors. The idea behind

this curriculum is that non-

art students should have a way

of pursuing the arts without

having to do so in the confines

of a classroom filled with

aspiring artists. This proposal

would solve the issue of filling

LSA humanities classes with

engineering students who take

away from class discussion

due to their lack of experience,

disinterest or some combination

thereof. The problem with this

proposal, however, is that the

“humanities classes for non-

humanities
majors”
would

become an echo chamber that

wouldn’t provide engineering

students
with
the
“outside

perspective” the requirement

is built to give. I also fear

these classes may run the risk

of
becoming
“joke
classes”

or
classes
they
don’t
find

challenging.

Proposal 2: Create a cap

on the number of engineering

students who can enroll in a

specific humanities class. In all

honesty, much of my irritation

stems from my experience in a

300-level philosophy class that

was dominated by engineering

students.
The
engineering

students took the class because

it hit three birds with one

stone: It fulfilled the race

and
ethnicity
requirement,

the
300-level
humanities

requirement and was rumored

to be “easy.” If there were only

a few engineering students

in any given class, then the

class discussion would not be

hampered and the engineering

students could really engage

in
productive
seminar

discussion. On the other hand,

this proposal would prevent

some
engineering
students

who do have real interests in

the humanities from getting

into the classes they want and

would make them feel even

more like they are being forced

to do something. Additionally,

this just seems like a cruel

idea to implement from an

institutional level.

Proposal
3:
Require

engineering students to take

more
humanities
classes!

Maybe,
instead
of
creating

odd concoctions that account

for
engineering
students’

lack
of
experience
in
the

humanities,
engineering

students could just receive a

more holistic education. Some

kinks regarding fitting it in

the schedule would obviously

have to be worked out, but the

requirement could be expanded

to something along the lines

of 12 humanities credits with

a minimum of two upper-level

humanities classes.

All three of these proposals

have benefits and flaws to

them. None of them should be

viewed as a perfect solution,

but they all do serve as starting

points for fixing this issue.

The sad truth is that many

students in the humanities

have experienced signing up

for a class to pursue a genuine

interest, only to find a classroom

filled
with
inexperienced

engineering students looking to

fill requirements. On the other

hand engineering students do

seek out “easy” humanities

classes to fill their requirement

instead of truly expanding their

academic horizons. Something

needs to be done to create a

learning environment that is

more satisfying to everyone’s

academic needs.

Reed Rosenbacher can be reached

at rrosenb@umich.edu.

JOIN OUR EDITORIAL BOARD

Our open Editorial Board meets Wednesdays 7:00-8:30 PM at our
newsroom at 420 Maynard St. All are welcome to come discuss

national, state and campus affairs.

ETHAN KESSLER | COLUMN

CONTRIBUTE TO THE CONVERSATION

Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor and op-eds.
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

tothedaily@michigandaily.com.

CHANDLER COUZENS | CONTACT CARTOONIST AT COUZCHA@UMICH.EDU

ETHAN
KESSLER

But truly addressing

gun violence can
only come through
policy and policy
from legislatures

Look to the lawmakers, not the courts

Students whose

skills and interests
are still maturing

should pursue lower-

level courses

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