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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Ann Arbor, Michigan


Michigan 42 Iowa 3 Wolverines capture elusive Big Ten Championship in win over Iowa DANIEL DASH

Daily Sports Editor INDIANAPOLIS — Nobody took Jim Harbaugh and Aidan Hutchinson back in July. Yet there they were, behind a podium at Oil Stadium during Ten Media Days, the Michigan team was take

seriously sitting Lucas Big insisting football ready to the next step. Asked about beating Ohio State and reaching the Big Ten Championship Game, Harbaugh said the Wolverines would “get there or die trying.” Hutchinson, too, affirmed his willingness to die for it. Given Michigan’s dismal 2-4 season in 2020, it was easy to scoff at claims of culture change and national contention. But on Saturday night, their July words came to life. The second-ranked Wolverines (12-1 overall, 9-1 Big Ten) defeated No. 13 Iowa (10-3, 7-3), 42-3, capturing the program’s first Big Ten title since 2004. When the clock ticked down to doublezeros, maize and blue confetti rained down on the same field where everyone wrote off Harbaugh and Hutchinson in July. “We defied all expectations,” Hutchinson said. “Nobody thought we could do this. Nobody thought we could ever do this, especially not this season. And, man, we did it. And we did it in a very dominant fashion.” Standing outside the postgame locker room, shouts of “6-6” and “two percent” reverberated through the tunnel — references to the Wolverines’ projected 6-6 record and the 2% chance ESPN’s preseason algorithm gave Michigan to win the Big Ten East. ESPN’s calculations also estimated the Wolverines had a 0.7% chance to win the Big Ten Championship and a 0.0% chance to make the College Football Playoff. “There’s always that little external motivation,” sixth-year offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis said. “… Sometimes, just some of the stuff that’s out there, you just take it and ride with it and (add) fuel to the fire. So that’s where that was from.” That fuel was apparent on Saturday night.

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From an identity standpoint, Michigan and the Hawkeyes appeared to be mirror images entering this week. Both programs pride themselves on physical, run-first football. When they stepped foot on the field, however, it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case. Iowa hadn’t allowed a run of 30-plus yards all season, but it didn’t take long for Blake Corum to change that. The sophomore running back took an inside handoff 67 yards for a touchdown on the Wolverines’ second possession. On their next offensive play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Cade McNamara threw a lateral to running back Donovan Edwards in the flat. But instead of turning the corner, the freshman reared off his back foot and threw a deep ball to junior receiver Roman Wilson, who ran streaking behind the defense all alone. The double-pass went for a 75-yard touchdown, giving Michigan a quick two-score lead. “(That play) has been ready for prime time about seven weeks,” Harbaugh said. “… We had it planned early. As soon as we got into the left hash after the fourth play, we were going to run that. And (Edwards) has never missed on that throw. Sometimes he throws it off his left, his right foot. He’s always on the move running when he throws it. And every time, it’s a dime.” On the other side of the ball, that was more than the they needed. After allowing a field goal late in the first quarter, Michigan’s defense gave up just 160 more yards. The Wolverines held Iowa to a 5-for-18 mark on third down and didn’t surrender a single point following the first frame. Hutchinson recorded four tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries en route to Big Ten Championship Game MVP honors. He’s the first defensive player to ever win the award, but his teammates believe he belongs in the conversation for a bigger one. “It’s pretty self-explanatory. He deserves to be the Heisman Trophy winner,” Vastardis said. “He showed out every week, been a game-changer.” Senior running back Hassan Haskins padded the Wolverines’ lead with a pair of second-half rushing touchdowns, becoming the first player in program history to tally 20 in a single-season. Michigan’s 42 points were the most the Hawkeyes’ vaunted defense hadallowedsincethe2015RoseBowl,sealingtheirworstpostseason losing margin in program history. Saturday’s victory cements the Wolverines’ first-ever College Football Playoff berth, helping Harbaugh restore his alma mater’s place in the upper echelon of college football. Prior to 2021, Michigan’s seventh-year coach had yet to beat Ohio State, claim a conference title or lead his team to the College Football Playoff. The fact that he checked all three of those boxes during the past week solidifies this season as an inflection point for the program. Most players on the Wolverines’ roster hadn’t even started elementary school the last time Michigan won a Big Ten title. Now, that drought is over. And it ended in the very stadium where nobody thought it was possible in July. That is, except for Harbaugh, Hutchinson and the rest of the Wolverines.

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UMich removes two questions related to job applicants’ criminal history Questions will still be asked during background check after accepting offer CHRISTIAN JULIANO Daily Staff Reporter

In early November, the University of Michigan announced they would remove two questions related to job applicants’ criminal history and background. These two questions previously asked if applicants have “been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, including alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses” and if there are any felony charges currently pending against them. The University will still ask these questions during a background check after the job applicant has accepted the position, according to the University Record. The decision follows calls from criminal justice activists and student

organizations to “ban the box,” which refers to employers that ask applicants to check a box indicating whether they have any criminal charges. In Aug. 2020, the University removed questions asking applicants about misdemeanor charges in applications for admission to the University. University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen told The Michigan Daily in an email that the decision was made to encourage job seekers by not initially disclosing their background to the University. “The point of it is to conduct job interviews first and select candidates that are well qualified before conducting a background check and considering whether any convictions are job-related,” Broekhuizen said. “The process helps protect job candidates from disqualification based on a non-job-related conviction, and

it helps job seekers simply feel more confident about applying without upfront disclosures that might cause good candidates to never apply.” Broekhuizen also said the University studied other employers that removed this question from their application process, which ultimately encouraged them to do the same. Broekhuizen wrote in her email that the University’s decision to remove the two questions was not a result of campus activism. “This change resulted from the desire to assess and recognize the impact on equity and inclusion in the University’s employment process. Although there is activist activity locally and nationally in support of banning the box, the University’s decision wasn’t related to campus activism or organizations,” Broekhuizen said.

Matthew Lassiter, history professor and co-director of the Carceral State Project, has been advocating for this change since 2019 when he helped draft an open letter EditSign criticizing the University for implementing a new felony disclosure policy. The policy, known as SPG 601.38, took effect in Feb. 2019 and requires all community members to report any felony convictions or charges to the University within a week or face penalties. Lassiter said the decision to remove the two questions is a step in the right direction, but said he was disappointed by how long it took to make the change and worries that it may not do enough to make a significant improvement.

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Ever wondered why University building lights stay on at night? Here’s why.

Despite energy use, safety protocols require campus spaces to remain lit ARJUN THAKKAR Daily Staff Reporter In light of the University of Michigan’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality for both on-campus and purchased-power emissions by 2040, community members are considering how the University can introduce more energy-efficient lighting procedures. Multiple buildings and common areas across campus close each night and remain inaccessible to students, staff and faculty, but continue to be lit with the same light intensity as during business hours, according to Kevin Morgan, manager of the Energy Management Program at the Office of Campus Sustainability. Individual students or staff cannot turn these lights off — they are generally managed by facilities staff in each building. Electricity generated to illuminate these interiors on campus falls under Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. This means that emissions associated with lighting are produced by electricity from both the University’s own power plant and purchases from other energy utilities. Why does the University leave these lights on? And are there ways the campus could be lit in a more efficient way? Safety, campus environment and architecture It’s unclear exactly how much lighting accounts for electricity usage and carbon emissions from buildings on campus. The U.S. Energy Information Administration cited data from a survey indicating lighting accounts for 17% of the electricity consumed in U.S. commercial buildings, but the survey does not break down how much of that demand comes from lights left on beyond business hours. In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said the amount of electricity used for lighting varies across buildings,

making it difficult to quantify the impact overnight lights have on energy consumption. “Energy use from lighting can vary based on a building’s design, age, lighting code at the time of construction or renovation, and lighting system updates,” Broekhuizen said. Morgan said the primary reason lights are left on in buildings is for safety purposes. He said even if a building is closed to the public, these “uncontrollable lights” need to remain on so maintenance facilities staff can safely enter or exit the buildings if they need to address emergency electrical issues. “By code, we need to assume someone is in there, and we need to make sure they can get out safely,” Morgan said. Morgan referred to the Michigan Building Code, which requires common spaces to provide a minimum amount of “emergency lighting” for individuals to traverse through spaces such as hallways and stairs. These rules apply to recently constructed buildings but are not necessarily required of older buildings on campus. The code also mandates that lights remain active 24/7, meaning a minimum amount of light is required in on-campus common areas even when the building is closed to the public. Unless a building is being decommissioned, such as being set for a renovation or demolition, Morgan said the University legally cannot deactivate lighting systems for common spaces, even if nobody is inhabiting them. Broekhuizen said the University is open to energy conservation suggestions from the community. “We appreciate the U-M community helping us to identify ways to reduce our energy use, and in the case of lighting, noting when lights should be turned off if not necessary for safety or wayfinding,” Broekhuizen said. CSG Vice President Carla Voigt,

an Engineering senior, told The Daily in a message that the University could do more to turn these lights off. “I think as many lights as possible should be turned off to reduce light pollution and energy waste,” Voigt said. “The safety of our students is incredibly important. However, there are many places on campus with lights on that aren’t necessary for safety, such as inside empty buildings or other non-populated areas.” Voigt was previously a campaign manager for the CSG party Represent Michigan, which proposed turning off the lights at the Michigan Stadium as a sustainability measure. The stadium’s lights remain on overnight, and athletics officials have previously stated the lights need to stay on for “safety and security purposes.” While building codes mandate many spaces remain illuminated, Morgan noted some lights may be deliberately left on as a choice of the building designer to highlight architectural features. He suggested that lights might be left on at Ross to emphasize the glass box design features. In an email to The Daily, Grant Faber, a U-M alum who contributed to the Student Advisory Panel of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality and has worked in sustainability and carbon capture research, said lights may often be left on to create the feeling of a living campus environment to community members. There are multiple energy conservation measures that increase energy efficiency, such as installing LED lights to replace fluorescent lights, which consume more electricity. Morgan said fluorescent lights are currently the most common type of light used on campus. Morgan said the University generally requires new construction projects to utilize LED lighting, and multiple University units have been updating their lighting fixtures in recent years. For the lights that are

required to be left on, Morgan said these efficiency improvements could be valuable in reducing energy consumption. “We know that that light needs to be delivered to that space, so we’ll do our best to make it as efficient as possible,” Morgan said. “That’s the best we can do.” Adam Simon, professor of earth and environmental sciences, said another option to reduce unnecessary lighting is to install sensors that turn lights off when there’s no movement in the room. Many classrooms and offices already contain sensors that perform this function. Simon said sensors help the University “circumvent human behavior” when individuals forget to turn off lights. “What you’re doing there is you’re bypassing having students do it,” Simon said. “You don’t need humans to make that decision. It’s just done by the silent hand behind the scenes.” To pay for these kinds of upgrades, the University proposed a revolving energy fund as part of its carbon neutrality announcement. The fund would allow the University to finance investments in energy conservation, such as LED lighting and motion sensors, and regain the funds through the cost savings generated by these investments. Simon said using this approach was “low-hanging fruit” that could also create funds to go toward spending for students, including scholarships. He noted that Harvard University had implemented a similar energy fund years ago. “The revolving energy fund certainly is something that myself and many colleagues on campus really advocated for, because other universities have quantified cost savings … (and have) reduced annual energy costs,” Simon said. “That allows you to have more discretionary revenue for other things that benefit students, and you reduce emissions.”

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Multiracial group of local actvists develop plan for unarmed public safety response

Organization supports “care-based” approach to non-violent emergencies CAROLINE WANG Daily News Reporter

The Coalition for Re-envisioning Our Safety, a multiracial group of faith leaders, social workers, health care workers, researchers and activists who support building a “care-based” community, are currently working to develop a plan for an unarmed public safety response program in Ann Arbor that was approved in an April City Council meeting. In April, The Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution calling for an unarmed public safety response program to send public health experts to non-violent emergency calls in place of the police. This program aims to help individuals who do not feel comfortable calling the police for help or need professional help with issues such as mental health. The program aims to expand the work of public health providers by having a comprehensive program that directs resources to those in need, according to the resolution. Ann Arbor City Councilmember Kathy Griswold, D-Ward 2, said she supports this program because there needs to be a more proactive approach on providing care for marginalized communities. “There has been talk about this for a few years in many communities, and the general approach rather than being punitive (is) to be more proactive so that we can reduce actions with police officers,” Griswold said. Lee Roosevelt, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, is a member of CROS. She said the coalition is about people coming together to help the community. “In April, when the city put together this resolution, we all got together and decided to combine

forces and really organize to make sure that this is a comprehensive program now that we have the city backing for it,” Roosevelt said. CROS’ core values include ensuring non-police professionals are responding to non-violent emergencies under this program. They believe that the police can cause significant harm in the community and cannot be re-trained to take care of sensitive cases. Part of the group’s goals includes ensuring these public health professionals are separated from the criminal legal system. They must also be trained on a variety of issues such as mental health, homelessness and emotional abuse. Washtenaw County has seen multiple instances of police brutality in recent years, including the death of Aura Rosser, a Black woman killed by Ann Arbor police officers in 2014. Last year, amid heightened awareness around police brutality and racial injustice, millions of Americans protested for Black Lives Matter across the country, including in Ann Arbor. Roosevelt said the police are not always trained for emergencies such as mental health in ways that other professionals are, and therefore should not be the ones responding to people who need help with those issues. “The police are not social workers, and we are asking them to behave as social workers instead of doing what they are trained to do,” Roosevelt said. Roosevelt said the program needs to be run by an independent nonprofit organization in order to ensure separation from other city departments. “The big thing is that it has to have city (administration) support and be funded by the city, but it needs to not be embedded in the police department of the city, it

needs to be really separate,” Roosevelt said. Roosevelt also said this program could be beneficial to individuals who do not feel comfortable asking the police for help. “We have a large portion of the community that has very challenging and problematic interactions with the police, and just won’t call 911,” Roosevelt said. “Part of the police department is not going to be utilized by the portions of our community that are asking for something that is separate and different.” LSA senior Josephine Graham is leading a lawsuit that aims to change the way the University handles sexual assault cases. This class action lawsuit was filed in May 2021 on behalf of hundreds of survivors of former athletic doctor Robert Anderson. Graham volunteers at Youth Arts Alliance and Telling It, a “trauma-informed” after-school program for children in the community,and works at Groundcover News, a local nonprofit street newspaper publishing stories related to homelessness and poverty. Graham said that based on her experience working with marginalized communities and learning about the criminal justice system, she believes there is a strong distrust between marginalized communities and the police. “You just look at all the data and hear all the stories, and most importantly see first hand by working with communities most impacted,” Graham said. “You see that they all have a very strong distrust in the police because, as I believe, the system has been broken from the start.” The resolution also requests a separate call number different from 911. Roosevelt said the reasoning for the separate number is to avoid confusion for the

emergency dispatch if the caller is requesting an unnamed response. CROS’ proposal was inspired by other unarmed public safety response programs that have been successful. Some of those examples are located in Eugene, Ore.; Denver, Colo.; Olympia, Wash.; San Francisco, Calif. and Austin, Texas, among other cities. The City Council resolution aims to complete developing the plan this month. The program will have a budget of $3 million, given by the city administration to the unarmed response organization. “When you compare it to the $30 million fund the police department gets, it’s actually a very low budget,” Roosevelt said. Griswold said the pilot for testing the program would start within two years, which is the minimum funding period for the program. “If we can get the pilot started mid-2022, I would be very satisfied,” Griswold said. “We do have models already in other communities, so we can modify them to meet Ann Arbor’s needs.” Regarding how the program would be received by the community, Graham said building trust with the community would require hard work and time. In order for the program to be effective, the organization needs to have a community-based approach that listens to the people’s voices, Graham said. “This is an ongoing process because trust doesn’t come in unity,” Graham said. “It requires us to be intentional in the ways we engage most directly with people impacted by these issues … They are great ideas, but they are not implemented in a way that is focused on the community.” Daily Staff Reporter Caroline Wang can be reached at wanca@ umich.edu.


ALLISON ENGKVIST/Daily Students gathered on the Diag on Dec. 2 to grieve the victims of the Nov. 30 shooting at Oxford High School.

Vigil on Diag mourns victims of Oxford shooting

Sophomore opened fire on Nov. 30, killing four students and injuring seven others CHRISTIAN JULIANO Daily Staff Reporter

The University of Michigan Diag was illuminated by a string of tealight candles the evening of Dec. 2 as community members gathered to mourn and commemorate the four lives lost in the Oxford High School shooting on Nov. 30, where a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire in what would become the deadliest K-12 school shooting since 2018. Three students spoke at the event: Public Policy junior Alyssa Donovan, LSA junior Mckenzie Miller and LSA junior Josh Winslow. Donovan and Miller are graduates of Oxford High School. Prior to the speeches, organizers and other supporters walked around and lit small handheld candles for attendees to hold. The speakers stood on the steps in front of the Hatcher Graduate Library and attendees gathered around to listen to them through a megaphone. During her speech, Donovan expressed her and other organizers’

support for the members of the Oxford community. “The reasons for our gathering, our shared experiences of trauma and loss to gun violence, are devastating,” Donovan said. “We are here today to relay our support for the community of Oxford, for my community and the community of so many here gathered today.” Donovan continued, telling the Oxford community that the U-M community stands with them in their time of grief. “We’re here to show the community of Oxford that the University of Michigan, the state and the country share our pain, our sorrow, our devastation and our loss,” Donovan said. “We’re here to support us through it. We are here to offer our thoughts and our prayers. We’re here to reach out to others being brought together in our shared grief.” Miller pointed out the tight-knit nature of Oxford and explained the shock she felt when she learned that her hometown was the location of the attack. “Oxford’s a small town,” Miller

said. “It’s the kind of place where you go to Meijer with your friends on a Saturday night. McDonald’s before every football game. It’s a place where people grow up and they come back to raise families. Oxford’s been changed forever.” In an interview with The Daily, Miller said she initially found out about the shooting from a friend. Miller said she then received a text message from her sister, who is a sophomore at Oxford High School, telling Miller that she loved her. “I actually got a text from her … to me and my other sister, and it just said ‘I love you guys,’” Miller said. “I was, at that point, trying to figure out what was going on and I was panicked. ‘What do you mean? What’s going on?’ And then she just said ‘There’s a shooter in the school. I love you guys so much.’ And then I didn’t hear from her for another 30 minutes.” During her speech, Miller went into more detail about how she’s been feeling all week following the shooting. “I can’t explain what it feels like to receive those ‘I love you’ texts.

What it was like to see your small hometown high school trending on Twitter,” Miller said. “I don’t know how to explain how any of this feels, and I truly hope no one else will ever have to understand. I’m not okay, but it breaks my heart to know that what I’m feeling is only a small fraction of all the students and staff that were in that school.” Miller said that, right now, her focus is on mourning the lives lost and respecting those affected. “I know that many of us, myself included, are feeling a range of emotions these past few days,” Miller said. “Anger, confusion, resentment, denial, just sadness. And there will be time for all of those emotions to run their course and make these necessary talks and actions. But right now, it is time to grieve. Feel pain and sadness for all those affected. To give support and prayers for Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling and Tate Myre. Four students, four kids, who will always be remembered.”

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Jonathan Vaughn talks campaign for Board of Regents

Anderson survivor has been camping outside of President’s House since Oct. 8 ELISSA WELLE

Daily Staff Reporter

Jonathan Vaughn wears many hats. He is a former collegiate athlete, a survivor of the late University of Michigan athletic doctor Robert Anderson and a business owner. Vaughn has been camping outside University President Mark Schlissel’s house for more than 50 days in protest of the University’s handling of the hundreds of sexual assault allegations against Anderson. Now, he is also a self-announced candidate for the 2022 election for the U-M Board of Regents. He announced his run at the Nov. 13 “Survivors Speak Up” forum. Vaughn said his reason for running for the Board of Regents is simple: the current regents have failed at their stated mission of “developing leaders and citizens.” In an interview with The Daily, Vaughn said the University’s handling of past and current sexual assault cases and the administration’s marginalization of students of color are all examples of the failing of the Board of Regents. Since his announcement on day 36 of his planned 100-day protest, Vaughn has continued his protest outside of Schlissel’s house. On day 41, The Daily sat down with Vaughn about what he wants to accomplish as regent and why he is running. Vaughn said his experience as a football player at the University in the late 1980s and his return to campus in 2020 as a vocal advocate for sexual assault survivors show that he has the commitment necessary to represent the campus community on the Board of Regents. “I’ll put my love for this University up against any other regents,” Vaughn said. “All the sacrifices I’ve made for this University during my time here, I never question that I am a Michigan Man through and through.” Vaughn’s goals as regent would be to engage with the people of the University and to prioritize campus safety. Through his protests on South University Avenue, Vaughn said he has had extraordinary access to U-M students. Vaughn estimated he has talked to 4000 or 5000 people and said the general disappointment in the University regents and administration is a common talking point. “There’s an overwhelming unfavorable opinion or response from the students and the faculty in the office of the president and administration and the Board of Regents,” Vaughn said. “There is a loss of hope that the current leadership will protect, inspire and empower.” This is particularly true in the era of the Anderson case, which may be the largest sexual abuse scandal by a single person in the documented history of the United States with thousands of complaints filed. Other U-M staff and faculty have been recently accused of sexual misconduct, including former violin professor Stephen Shipps, former computer science professors Walter Lasecki and Peter Chen, computer science professor Jason Mars, former American Culture professor Bruce Conforth and former Provost Martin Philbert, among others. Vaughn said the regents haven’t taken responsibility for the actions of the University in dismissing and covering up the Anderson abuse complaints. While Schlissel and the regents have heard from survivors at Board of Regents meetings, Schlissel has not directly spoken to the protesters outside of his home. Mike Cox, Vaughn’s attorney in the Anderson litigation and former Michigan attorney general, said that Vaughn would succeed as regent. “He not only loves the University as an institution and for its traditions, and more importantly, he is focused on what is best for its current and future students,” Cox said. “By that I mean he knows the University is organic and to grow it must focus on its students. Further, he is smart, a hard worker and a critical thinker — all good things for a regent.” The current Board of Regents is primarily focused on money and endowment growth, Vaughn said. As regent, Vaughn said he would not be concerned about money, stating that he “will not be bought.” Instead, Vaughn said he would direct the Board toward greater transparency and more frequent auditing of the services provided to the students. “Universities can’t be the Titanic in today’s age because the Titanic is not agile,” Vaughn said. “We must become

more agile in (our) thinking, more creative in (our) thinking. We must be able to take a top-down and a bottomup view of everything. And so not only thinking about the long term financial welfare of the University, but the services that you provide here.” Vaughn said that part of his goal in running for regent is to educate the public on the role of the board and their election process. He said that most students he speaks with do not know that the regents are a public office elected in statewide elections. History professor Terrence McDonald, director of the Bentley Historical Library, said the Board of Regents effectively functions as a board of directors at a large corporation with the president acting as CEO. The selection of the University president is one of the main roles of the regents. Historically, the most frequent occupation for regent is lawyer, McDonald said. This holds true today: six of the eight current regents are lawyers and the other two have degrees in business. Vaughn says he is undaunted by his different professional background, saying that it will give him an advantage in representing the community. After attending the University, Vaughn spent a decade playing football professionally for the National Football League. For the last 18 years, Vaughn has been co-CEO of a Florida-based hospitality company with his brother, Britt Vaughn. “I know people,” Vaughn said. “I have critical thinking skills and thrive under pressure and understand what true team play is. And at some point in time, your moral compass has to be greater than your legal compass in the way that you think and the way that you handle things because we’re talking about people’s lives.” Vaughn has not yet announced what political party he will run with. Typically, the state political parties nominate their candidates for regent at the state convention prior to elections. McDonald said no one has ever won a seat on the Board of Regents with a political party other than the traditional Republican or Democrat. “One could imagine an independent campaign,” McDonald said. “It’s certainly possible, but you would have to figure out how you would somehow get your name out. You wouldn’t get anybody’s publicity. And independent candidacy is hard.” Vaughn would need to obtain 12,000-24,000 votes if he does not run with a traditional party affiliation and would need to file before July 21, 2022 to get a place on the statewide ballot. A case, Graveline v. Benson, is currently pending before the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals to reduce the number of signatures to 12,000 given that “no independent candidate for statewide office ha(d) ever satisfied Michigan’s current statutory scheme to qualify for the ballot over the preceding 30 years.” “Whatever party I choose, or independent, I will not be bought,” Vaughn said. “I cannot be bought off of someone else’s agenda. I’m not asking for a handout to be a regent. I see issues that I think I can directly help solve. And the people who support me love this University (and want) to get back to being leaders and best.” The University’s chapter of College Democrats issued their support for Vaughn’s decision to run for Board of Regents in a statement to The Daily. “We support Jon Vaughn’s decision to run for a position on the University’s Board of Regents because of his dedication to making this campus a better and safer place for all,” the statement reads. “We also would like to emphasize our support for the work he and other survivors of sexual assault have been doing to keep our campus safe and advocate for the needs of the student body.” Ryan Fisher, the spokesperson for the University’s chapter of College Republicans and LSA senior, said the Republican businesswoman Lauren Hantz is the only candidate for regent that they currently support. “Vaughn has been a proponent of the University of Michigan community for a long time,” Fisher said. “With that said, we are going to hold off until he announces more of his platform and policy goals. (We) would love to see an emphasis on financial restraint, quelling the ongoing tuition increases, and protecting free speech for all on campus.”

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4 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021


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Ann Arbor Public Schools Parent files FOIA lawsuit against closed Dec. 3 due to threats of Ann Arbor Public Schools Public records would show evidence of discrimination, suit claims HANNAH MACKAY & PAIGE HODDER Daily News Editor & Daily Staff Reporter

In early November, the University of Pioneer High School parent Charmelle Kelsey filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Ann Arbor Public Schools on Nov. 30, in the latest of several attempts to make AAPS acknowledge racial disparities in their school system. The suit claims AAPS withheld public documents Kelsey believed would provide evidence of racial discrimination at Pioneer High School, according to a press release from the University of Michigan Civil Rights Litigation Initiative. In August 2020, the CRLI sent a letter to AAPS on behalf of Charmelle and her daughter, then-Pioneer High School student Makayla Kelsey. The letter claims that a pattern of institutional racism exists at Pioneer High School, based on interviews conducted with the Kelseys and other students of color. Earlier this year, Charmelle Kelsey and Makayla Kelsey filed a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and another complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights against AAPS. The FERPA investigation concluded earlier this year when AAPS admitted that Pioneer High School teacher Michele Macke violated federal law by displaying students’ grades on a public SmartBoard. The Department of Education closed its investigation after AAPS acknowledged fault and it was

ensured Ms. Macke underwent additional FERPA training. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights investigation is still ongoing. There are currently two petitions circulating calling for the removal of Ms. Macke from Pioneer High School. The petitions cite Ms. Macke’s history of racial antagonism and claim she has created a hostile environment for students. Combined, the petitions have amassed more than 1,000 signatures. Charmelle Kelsey filed the most recent lawsuit after the Ann Arbor School District did not provide documents in response to FOIA requests she submitted on August 30, 2021, in a timely manner. Kelsey submitted the FOIA requests to determine if photographs of the Black Student Union’s senior members were excluded from the 2020 yearbook, why the Black Student Union was excluded from the 2020 yearbook, if there are discrepancies between disciplinary actions taken against white students and students of color and to obtain the terms of engagement between AAPS and the Dykema Gossett law firm hired to investigate racial hostilities in the AAPS system. Charmelle Kelsey also hoped the documents requested under the FOIA would provide information on why Ms. Macke, the teacher found guilty of violating the FERPA, was the only faculty member to greet and shake hands with seniors at Pioneer High School’s graduation ceremony. “We’re tired of Pioneer High School whitewashing over the race discrimination that our children must deal with,” Charmelle Kelsey

said in the press release. “The school doesn’t want to give us the information we’re asking for because it would show everyone how bad things have been for Makayla and the other Black students and how little the school has done to stop it.” Under FOIA, government agencies, upon receiving a request, must provide public documents within a reasonable time and a reasonable estimate by which the documents will be fulfilled. According to the lawsuit, AAPS did not provide the required estimate. Charmelle Kelsey’s attorneys inquired into when they could expect AAPS to produce the documents on October 26, 2021, and AAPS did not respond to that inquiry, the lawsuit alleges. Since the FOIA request was submitted, AAPS has provided only one allegedly incomplete document in response to Charmelle Kelsey’s 23 requests, according to the Kelseys’ attorneys. Ben Mordechai-Stongin, a student attorney with the Civil Rights Initiative at the University of Michigan Law School, which is representing Charmelle Kelsey in her suit, said in the press release this is a part of AAPS’s history of avoiding issues related to alleged racial hostility within its schools. “The District’s failure to comply with state law and provide these documents is consistent with a pattern of hiding racial problems at the school,” Mordechai-Strongin said in the press release. Daily News Editor Hannah Mackay and Staff Reporter Paige Hodder can be reached at mackayh@ umich.edu and phodder@umich.edu.

violence on social media

Multiple metro Detroit school districts announce closures following deadly Oxford High School shooting KRISTINA ZHENG, SHANNON STOCKING & KATE WEILAND Daily News Editor & Daily Staff Reporters

Ann Arbor Public Schools will close Friday, Dec. 3 due to threats of violence made against the district on social media, A APS Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced in an email to families the night of Dec. 2. A copy of this email was obtained by The Michigan Daily. Swift wrote that the district received notice of numerous social media posts threatening potential violence and chose to close all schools “out of an abundance of caution.” “While these posts have not been determined to be credible at this time, the volume is quite high,” Swift wrote in her Dec. 2 email. “Closing schools will allow school administrators and law enforcement an opportunity to investigate all reported concerns.” Schools around southeast Michigan have been on highalert on Dec. 2 following the deadly shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. on Nov. 30. Four Oxford High School students were killed after a 15-year old sophomore student opened fire the morning of Nov. 30, injuring

six other students and one teacher. The suspect, Ethan Crumbley, currently faces terrorism and first degree murder charges. Following the shooting, over a dozen schools in the metro Detroit area closed on Dec. 2 in response to possible threats on social media. A APS remained open on Dec. 2 but expressed support for students and families who have decided to stay home due to concerns over threats to schools in the district over social media, according to emails from Swift and Huron High School Principal Ché Carter obtained by The Daily. Approximately half of students reportedly stayed home from Pioneer High School, according to the student news site The Pioneer Optimist. Students at Dexter High School and Huron High School participated in walkouts on Dec. 2 to advocate against gun violence. Other schools, including Pioneer High School, organized a “blue and gold day” to show support for the Oxford community. Swift told the A APS community in a Dec. 2 morning email that the district would increase police presence in schools Dec. 2. In the afternoon, Swift sent another email to families, saying the district is working with the Ann

Arbor Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff, the University of Michigan Division of Public Safety and Security, Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to monitor social media threats and ensure the safety of students and staff. “We understand the very real pressure and fear that many students are feeling and know that our parents and staff are equally concerned,” Swift wrote in the Dec. 2 afternoon email. “We also understand the priority of attending school every day when we can safely do so; we want our students learning in our A APS classrooms. We remain committed to our relationship with local law enforcement, who take every report or rumor seriously and investigate immediately, so that we can safely convene school.” The district has faced backlash from Ann Arbor community members in recent months due to increased school closures due to staffing shortages and COVID-19 concerns. Daily News Editor Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu. Daily Staff Reporters Kate Weiland and Shannon Stocking can be reached at kmwblue@umich. edu and sstockin@umich.edu.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — 5

Uzma Jalaluddin and representation: the legacy of ‘Hana Khan’ SABRIYA IMAMI Film Beat Editor

I’m the kind of person who looks for herself when she reads. I want so badly to find bits of myself in characters that I love. From Hermione Granger to Lizzy Bennet, I crave a connection to beloved characters, so much so that I force similarities. I try to become the characters instead of finding a natural connection, instead of finding something real. And then I read Uzma Jalaluddin’s

“Hana Khan Carries On.” I’ve seen attempts at Muslim representation in art in the past and have almost always been wholeheartedly disappointed. Seeing the trope of “Muslim girls gone wild,” taking their hijabs off and straying from the religious morals, troubles me. In other cases, the characters face a great, dramatic internal conflict, where they agonize over whether or not they can be both a desi Muslim and an American student — something along those lines. I’ve never felt this pressure about maintaining both aspects of

my identity. There are probably desi Muslim girls who do face these issues or who are in these situations; it’s just not how I’ve grown up. It’s not who I am. So where’s the representation for the kind of Muslim I am? I’m a 21st century PakistaniAmerican girl who was born and raised in Michigan. I have a connection to my culture, but it feels strained at times, feeling more surface-level than anything else because of the Americanization I’ve been accustomed to all my life. I’m lucky enough to hold a stronger connection to my religion:

Design by Sam Turner

Finding ammonites MEERA S. KUMAR Daily Arts Writer

Oh, to be an octopus, slowly slithering my way through the dark, only to stumble on vestigial remains of an ancestor’s home. Aki Inomata’s movingimage piece “Think Evolution #1: Kikuishi (Ammonite)” describes what a good piece of art feels like: stumbling on a piece of home that you separated from lifetimes ago. Inomata was inspired by the instinct that octopuses had to huddle inside shell-like objects despite having evolved out of their shells millions of years ago. Thus, she decided to create a resin model based on the shells found of distant ancestors — ammonites. And so, in the moving image, the octopus slowly feels around the new shell it has fallen into — something it wasn’t necessarily looking for, but that seems to understand the octopus and its constitution. Some people would argue that is the point of consuming art: to see forms of humanity that vaguely mirror our own. We love finding our shells and holding them close. But sometimes, the shells don’t want us inside. I read books, a decent amount of them old. I can see myself in the good ones. But for a while, I didn’t read stories that wanted to see anyone who wasn’t white. I grew up reading “classics” like “Little House on the Prairie” and “Tintin” — looking back, it’s pretty easy to find racist undertones in these works. Consuming and internalizing these classics as a child is not an uncommon experience. To convince me that only these works are the “classics” or the pinnacle of literature is to do a disservice both to myself and those around me. To believe that only certain white artists are capable of highbrow expression and that only certain white characters are allowed to have humanity ultimately perpetuates white supremacy, and while these beliefs are easy to deny at face value, they are often still held subconsciously. As I’ve grown, I’ve stopped expecting authors to capture the world that I see. With all of the different experiences in the world, how could someone possibly articulate in print the out-of-place feelings that I find hard to admit to myself? At the beginning of 2019, I picked up a book from my school library with a gorgeously golden cover, and a West Side Story lyric in the title — “A Place for Us”, by Fatima Farheen Mirza. In the book, an Indian-American Muslim family’s past unravels as Amar, the youngest sibling, comes back to California for his eldest sister’s wedding. I think I’ll always be chasing the feeling I got from reading that book, from seeing Amar’s devastating choices and the family’s quiet love for each other (there’s a good chance my tear stains are still visible on the copy’s last chapter). Until that point, I had never seen a dynamic, intimate portrait of a family that felt like it was pulled from real life — from my life. Since, I have made it a point to seek out Asian American literature. It’s not difficult to find people who roll their eyes at the mention of representation. Due to the commodification of identity politics, widespread representation often focuses

on the visibility of a few specific traits. They’re often used as tokens to make art “appealing” to as many people as possible, rather than representing members of these communities as complex human beings that exist within the intersections of their identity but are not solely defined by them. Representation is often dismissed as an agenda that is permeating the culture — altering the sanctity of what art “was” (which, by the way, is an incorrectly singular perception of the artistic zeitgeist of the “good old days”). This aforementioned viewpoint lacks empathy. “Forced” representation, while frustrating, is an important stepping stone. And honestly, there is victory in just seeing someone who looks like you exist and be considered as worthy of a story. Maybe the novelty might wear off, but for now, I am happy when I see South Asian people being their truest, complex selves in art. What does good representation entail? This is a difficult question to answer. If I knew exactly what I wanted out of art, then maybe I would react to art differently. But connecting with people who have lived through relatable experiences is a reason why we love art. Now I know what that octopus felt, swiping around in the dark, when it landed on a home — something that seemed to know the octopus better than it knew itself, something that is a testament to something big. A collective experience intertwined with evolution and history and being alive on this planet. I know that feeling when I read “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki, a hilarious writer who has changed the way I think about what a life is and what a novel should be. I snuggle up in bed with Tahereh Mafi’s “A Very Large Expanse of Sea” and “Counting Down With You,” by Tashie Bhuiyan when I’m down, because they are beautiful, comforting stories that understand what it feels like to be a secondgeneration teenager, to be othered in a sea of whiteness. And when I read Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown” in a day — I don’t think I’ll ever read a more genius marriage of form and function, or a portrait of what it means to live with stereotypes. And this summer, when I went into the Strand Bookstore before meeting a friend; after wandering around, I picked up “Good Talk” by Mira Jacob. Before I knew it, the quietly hilarious 349-page graphic memoir was done, my feet were hurting, and I had a few missed calls from my friend, who eventually decided to wander around the bookstore and read a few titles herself. And “Gold Diggers,” don’t get me started on “Gold Diggers” by Sanjena Sathian — it’s everything I’ve never known I wanted out of a book. Cathy Park Hong’s work changed the way I think about myself. Upasna Barath’s podcast and writing for Rookie speak to me like no one else can. Ocean Vuong’s poetry. Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s “World of Wonders.” Arthur Sze’s “Residence on Earth.” Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s “This One Summer.” Fatimah Asghar’s “My Love for Nature.” There are too many to name, these artists who have made me. Me and my shells.

Islam is a constant in my life. There are aspects of being a Muslim girl that are hard, I’ll be the first to admit. Being the only kid in school wearing long sleeves and pants instead of tank tops and shorts was rough — it can get really hot, really fast. I would fast in Ramadan, feeling my mouth water when I saw my friends snacking. But all of these things feel remarkably small in the grand scheme of things. So what if my life was a little different than my friends? I was lucky enough to have friends that accepted me and loved me the way that I was, regardless of cultural and religious differences. I have a family that loves and supports me. I work hard. I do well. I do good. And yet, I still craved something. Understanding, maybe. It’s taken 20 years, but I’ve found it. “Hana Khan Carries On” is a retelling of the 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail,” following the IndianCanadian hijabi Hana Khan as she works to accurately represent herself and her culture and her religion. She has a podcast — which is where the anonymous, online romance comes in — and she uses her platform to talk about herself and her life in a very unfiltered way. Similarly, she works to create a radio show that depicts people like her truthfully, without mindlessly subscribing to stereotypes. There’s a love story in the book too, of course, and while I did thoroughly enjoy the halal romcom feel of it all, Hana’s strength as a Muslim woman facing microaggressions in the workplace, working to understand her

background and ultimately finding her voice mattered more to me than the admittedly very sweet romance. (I’m sorry, Aydin.) I actually saw myself in Hana. Sure, she’s Indian-Canadian, and I’m Pakistani-American. She’s a hijabi, and I’m not. The details don’t matter. Her cultural and familial traditions are the same as mine. She has the same respect for her religion that I do. Her perspective on identity mirrors mine. Not to mention she’s a Swiftie, and so am I — and so is author Uzma Jalaluddin. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Jalaluddin explained that she wanted to write for people like herself. Muslim girls deserve to see themselves in books too. Just because we don’t date in the traditional sense or because our attire is more modest than others doesn’t mean that we should be excluded from the romcom genre altogether. And just because we have a different perspective on life, a different identity, doesn’t mean that we don’t want to be understood. “I didn’t grow up with that (kind of representation),” Jalaluddin said. There were hardly any books about South Asians, when she was growing up in Toronto, and even fewer about Muslims. “The ones that were there were rife with really toxic stereotypes; most of the time they were written by white authors … peering into the experience of what it’s like to be a nonwhite person. I would read … them and get really angry.” And she’s right. There exists

this need to try to push all Muslim characters into this box of “bad” or “evil.” Even some of the stories that I love most do this. The film “Iron Man” comes to mind, where vaguely Muslim characters are the bad guys, torturing and tormenting the hero. And if the characters aren’t evil, they’re not represented as being “really Muslim,” like when those aforementioned hijabis decide to pursue relationships that aren’t exactly halal. “What happens with this sort of ‘girls gone wild, let me whip off my hijab when the first white boy smiles at me’ type of narrative, what you’re seeing is what other people think about Muslim women versus what happens when you write about an experience that is your own,” Jalaluddin said. “I don’t think about my hijab; I just wear it. I’ve worn it for years. It’s part of my identity.” That’s why her books, both “Ayesha at Last” and “Hana Khan”, have meant so much to me, why they’ve made me feel seen. She’s a member of the community that she’s writing about. She’s writing about people like her, people like me. She represents us truthfully. “I think I just really wanted to write a funny, entertaining book about Muslims, because it always pissed me off that we got the sad stories, the victim stories, the arranged marriage, forced marriage, extremists running off to do violence somewhere else stories … Those aren’t the books I like to read. I love romance. I want to read romance books.”

Negligence in the name of feminism, I know it ‘All Too Well’ KAITLYN FOX Music Beat Editor

When Taylor Swift announced that she would be releasing a 10-minute version of her 2012 breakup ballad “All Too Well” on her re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version), fans everywhere erupted into excitement. The original cut, already over five minutes long, was never released as a single, despite being one of Swift’s favorite songs off Red. Once the album was released in 2012, however, fans quickly gravitated to the song on their own and have been obsessed with its tragic story of a head-over-heels romance gone wrong. On a Thursday night, curled up in bed waiting for her new album to drop, I was in shambles when midnight arrived, immersing myself in an extended version of one of Swift’s most beloved songs. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” has only been out for a couple of weeks, but is already smashing records. Overtaking Don McLean’s “American Pie” as the longest song to top Billboard’s Hot 100, the song provides more context to the original recording, supposedly recounting the break-up between Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal. In the days following the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), I obsessively expressed my love for the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” to just about every person I know. While raving about the song to a friend, he asked me, “What makes this song so great?” Like many Swifties who also love the song, my immediate answer was, “it’s relatable,” but that wasn’t enough to convince him. What’s relatable about a breakup between two celebrities? Why are people obsessing over a song that’s far too long? Perhaps the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” dropped right when I needed it most, which makes it all the more impactful. As a newly-single college student, the song hits close to home when I think about my own failed relationships. Throughout

the song Swift dives into the gritty details of her failing relationship, weaponizing specific details in the face of gaslighting. In one of the song’s newly released verses, Swift describes a scene in which her then-boyfriend makes claims to feminism as he makes her drive his car: “You were tossing me the car keys / ‘Fuck the patriarchy’ / Keychain on the ground / We were always skipping town.” In these lines, Swift paints a heartbreaking picture of an arrogant boyfriend tossing the car keys to his naïve girlfriend, not even bothering to hand them to her as he makes his way to the passenger seat. Although some may consider this a small inconvenience, this scene alone confronts a subtle evil many women face in relationships. For me, this verse reminded me of all the times guys have imposed negligence in the name of feminism — whether that be making me take a cab in an unfamiliar city when they could’ve picked me up from the airport or pushing the check across the table for me to pay, claiming that it’s because they believe in “gender equality.” By addressing these subtle moments that often go unnoticed, Swift is validating the disappointment and anger so many women feel when they’re forced into uncomfortable situations under the false pretext of feminism. At the bridge’s close, Swift, despite being surrounded by friends and family for her 21st birthday, describes the loneliness and disappointment she felt while waiting for her significant other to arrive. Swift perfectly depicts the bitter irony of spending what should be one of life’s most exciting milestones mourning the absence of a careless boyfriend, but what I find even more heartbreaking about the scene is the way Swift recalls how her father “watched me watch the front door all night, willin’ you to come / And he said, ‘It’s supposed to be fun turning 21.’” Last year I spent my 21st birthday in the wake of a breakup and a global pandemic, so Swift’s retelling of her own tragic 21st celebration felt particularly

personal. Young love is notorious for being an allconsuming experience, and I too can relate to the overwhelming feeling of falling in love and allowing my emotions toward a single person to overpower my own sense of self and better judgment. The lesson here, which many 20-somethings have come to understand, is that it’s difficult for the people who love us — parents, siblings, friends — to watch us drown in our emotions, especially when they know that we’d be much better off without the person causing us harm. Here, Swift acknowledges that sometimes the people in our lives know us better than we know ourselves. This bridge took me right back to the time when my mom confronted me about the way my then-boyfriend was talking down to me, or the summer before my junior year of college when I cried to my parents, admitting that my relationship was falling apart and I needed to end things, to which my parents glanced at each other and sympathetically nodded their heads as if to say, “We’ve known this for months now.” Some fans believe that the final two minutes of the song, where Swift repeats the line, “It was rare / I was there,” is a way for her to legitimize the gaslighting she’s experienced — in a world that’s so quick to tell women that they’re being dramatic, remembering the gritty details is often the only way to affirm that the pains we’ve experienced actually happened. Swift claims a significant amount of time and space to retell her experiences in “All Too Well,” which is a bold feat; most female songwriters are only allowed two or three minutes to unpack the emotional baggage of a painful breakup. While Swift bravely confronts the small ways women have been slighted by their male partners, the song is more of a retrospective narrative than a pointed assertion pinning men as the sole perpetrators of unsuccessful relationships. I don’t think Swift’s intention was to blame men.

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My college experience: ‘Again, But Better’ HANNAH CARAPELLOTTI Daily Arts Writer

“I’m leaving the country because I have no friends.” This is the opening line to one of my favorite books, “Again, But Better” by Christine Riccio. The second I read that line, I knew that this story was going to change my life (as cheesy as that may sound). I first read it shortly after graduating high school. Riccio has a big following on YouTube and documented her writing process in video diaries. One of my best friends was a huge fan, and when the book finally came out, she would not stop talking about it. She even drove down to Chicago to meet Riccio and have her sign her copy of the book. This same friend was gracious enough to let me borrow such a prized possession, and immediately after finishing it, I drove to three different Target locations to get my own copy. “Again, But Better” follows Shane, a 20-something student who impulsively signs up for a study abroad program in London after realizing that she has “done college all wrong.” The move is completely out of her comfort zone, but she meets new friends (and a very attractive housemate), travels all around Europe and gets a fancy internship. The only problem is, the semester is part of a creative writing program, and Shane’s parents want her to go into the medical field instead. Throw in a bit of magic and Taylor Swift references, and you have my ideal story (and my entire personality) summed up in less than 400 pages. Since I bought my own copy, I’ve reread the

book several times. While some of the smaller details have gradually become cheesier as I’ve grown older, the overall story has been a source of personal comfort. The romance has me grinning like an idiot every time, and the travel scenes reminded me of my own trip to Paris after graduation — if I ever study abroad, it will be solely because of this book. My most recent reread was this past May, and this time around something just clicked. I see myself in Shane in many different ways. For one, we share similar interests and dreams. We are also both naturally anxious people. Up until the start of the novel, Shane spent all her time reading alone in her dorm room and went home for the weekend every chance she got; I have to admit my freshman year experience was a little too similar. But just like Shane took matters into her own hands and traveled abroad, I transferred colleges. This year, I enrolled at the University of Michigan, the place I wanted to be all along. After a year of physical isolation — and two years of feeling left behind for not having the typical “college experience” — I began to feel like I was doing something right. I was also finally honest with myself about wanting to be an author. It’s no known secret that careers in the arts make it hard to support yourself financially. Despite how much I loved to write, the idea of subjecting myself to such a high, constant level of stress scared me more. But no other potential career excites me nearly as much. Shane’s love for writing was a source of family conflict in “Again But Better.” Her parents disapproved of the idea, for many of the same reasons that I couldn’t fully commit to it. My

parents have always been supportive of me in any path I would choose to take, so I didn’t have to resort to fabricating an entire pre-med program in order to go to London for a semester. Instead, the source of conflict lies within myself. But once I was able to admit out loud that I was at least willing to give it a try, it was suddenly worth it. Since starting at the University, I’ve switched my major and joined The Daily, where I am surrounded by people who love to write as much as I do. If anyone reading this article relates to feeling lost and afraid like I was, I have two pieces of advice that I hope do not come off as too cliché. The first is to go after your passion. It may be difficult at first, but it has the potential to pay off in the long run — either in success, or in the experiences and friends you gain along the way. You won’t know unless you try. The second, of course, is to read this book (though I would recommend it in any circumstance). Riccio captures everything I felt in her author’s note, before the book even begins: “I so badly wanted to read a coming-of-age story about someone who was 20 — someone who was still finding themselves and struggling with becoming an adult even after they hit the double-decade mark. I needed to know there was at least one other 20-plus person out there feeling as alone and lost as I was. This is for all the teens/young adults/adults who feel like they’ve been left behind. You’re not behind. You have time to find yourself and love and adventure. It’s all out there, and when you’re ready to push yourself out of your comfort zone and look for it, you’ll find it.” I think I’m finally finding it.


6 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

An Ode to Ten Years of Superwholock MADDIE AGNE Daily Arts Writer

“I’m writing a piece about Superwholock.” My roommate’s eyes fill with maternal disappointment after I tell her my weekend plans. “That is,” she struggles for the words, “that is the last thing I wanted to hear.” I see a glint of hope in her eye — hope that I’m joking, that this all a nightmare, but I only nod with a feeble attempt to fight back a smile. “Maddie.” My roommate is desperate now, pleading, but not even she cannot stop the oncoming storm. My hubris is immeasurable and my work indispensable — I must memorialize Superwholock. Even if I must burn bridges in the process. I’ll concede, my roommate and I were only ten years old when Superwholock invaded Tumblr in 2011, but we’ve both been haunted by it for the last ten years. Superwholock, for those who are blissfully unaware of this pop culture phenomenon, is the name of the fictional alternate universe in which the characters and plots of the television shows “Supernatural,” “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” inhabit the same universe. If you had really never heard of this before I fed you from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, your follow-up question might be, “How did this happen?” “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” shared production teams under the BBC and had similar mainstream appeal in the U.K. The crossing over truly began in the U.S. as “‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Supernatural’ fans filled similar roles — as small but enthusiastic fan bases made up of young people with an interest in science fiction and fantasy.” The “Doctor Who” reboot began the same year that “Supernatural” premiered — 2005 — but these fandoms didn’t experience much interaction in the States, so “Sherlock” had to act as the proverbial bridge between the two. “Sherlock” was already inherently tied to “Doctor Who,” but the show’s ability to employ a fantastical grittiness was what drew “Supernatural” fans into the triad. These common threads helped all three shows enjoy simultaneous and meteoric rises to pop culture stardom in the early 2010s. Each show spawned avid fandoms that eventually joined together to create a conglomerate fandom, dubbing themselves as “Superwholock-

ians.” The Superwholock universe is wide and complex; the main characters from all three shows coexist and go on any number of adventures together — sometimes Sherlock and the Doctor are lovers, and other times “Sherlock and the Doctor occasionally switch trenchcoats and imitate each other just to mess with Sam and Dean.” It’s difficult to trace the exact origins of Superwholock, as some believe it first appeared in January of 2012 while other sources claim the trend started as early as 2010. But, it is generally believed that Superwholock originated in 2011 since the first-ever, now deleted, post under the Superwholock tag on Tumblr dates back to August of 2011. For the next three years, Superwholock continued to explode in popularity, and this rampant proliferation of the fandom was due to a number of elements. In the “Doctor Who” universe, fan-favorite David Tennant had bowed out of the role of the Doctor in 2009 and was replaced by new fan-favorite Matt Smith in 2010. The BBC’s “Sherlock” had finished its first season in the winter of 2010 and was between seasons, and “Supernatural” had wrapped up its sixth season only a few months prior and was still coming down from its Apocalypse storyline. Tumblr had “emerged as one of the fastest-growing consumer-oriented Internet sites … with its audience surging from 4.2 million visitors in July 2010 to 13.4 million visitors in July 2011,” while popular fanfiction website Wattpad reached a milestone of 1,000,000 users in the same year. Fans were left with their three favorite shows in states of limbo and newly popularized social media sites made for creating and sharing original content, so it’s no wonder that Superwholock exploded onto the digital scene in 2011. The peak of Superwholock’s popularity lasted for approximately four years, but its aftershocks are still felt a decade later in the way my roommate groans when I say the phrase within ten feet of her. “It was the most ambitious crossover event in history,” she relented after I convinced her that this article was a good idea. “It was a cultural reset.” She’s right — it’s difficult to emphasize the impact Superwholock had on online fandoms, and its ability to exist solely on the internet was what made it so unique. All three fan groups involved had survived offline; “Doctor Who” premiered 30 years before the internet was made available to the public, so the crossover was exclusive to the web and, more specifical-

ly, Tumblr. For one of the most popular social media sites of my time, Tumblr is as disorganized as they come — it is built to largely promote single paragraph blog posts, small collections of images, stream-of-consciousness content and does not allow for blogs to combine into larger groups. I opened my nowdefunct Tumblr account to test just how disorderly my dashboard could possibly be and, I was right. I could feel a headache forming after approximately two minutes of scrolling. With this in mind, it seems to me that the miracle of Superwholock is that it was ever organized in the first place. The mega-fandom was based almost entirely in online interaction on one of the messiest social media platforms we use, and yet it formed and grew at a dazzling pace. Suddenly, you couldn’t spend more than a few minutes on Tumblr without being bombarded by “Supernatural” GIFs or seeing absolutely outlandish usernames like tardisin-the-impala-at-221B. Currently, on Wattpad, searching Superwholock yields 43,700 results. 43,700 fanfictions, one shots and AUs written over the last decade dedicated to one mega-fandom. Superwholock even marked the advent of similar conglomerate fandoms like Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons or Bee Shrek Test in the House. If Superwholock proved nothing beyond its sheer size and power, it proved that fandoms, whether mega or micro, could organize and move in less than ideal circumstances, and all online. Superwholock was one of the first fan-made and controlled crossovers of its size, and it did it without traditional media, further evidencing that these groups could and would learn how to exist online if measly barriers, like the cannon of the individual shows involved, stood in the way. With internet fandom culture still fresh in the early 2010s, this completely changed how fandoms operated because, once fan groups learned to organize and manipulate social media to their will, there was nothing they couldn’t do and nothing they needed permission for. Fans connected across borders of any kind to bond over this behemoth that they created and nurtured. Superwholock meant so much to its fans because it was a fandom of their own creation, and they broke molds by showing the world how they could create trends, memes and art all their own, without ever meeting or engaging in more traditional forms of fandom. Strangely, it was in-person interaction that

Design by Michelle Kim

seemingly killed Superwholock in 2014. DashCon, a fan convention organized by Tumblr users and aimed largely at fandoms like Superwholock, occurred in the summer of 2014. Plagued by shady funding, poor organizing and mistreatment of panel guests, DashCon was Tumblr’s Fyre Festival. After the convention’s failure, Superwholock utterly disappeared, perhaps from the embarrassment Tumblr fandom culture sustained in the aftermath of DashCon. When assembled in real life, Superwholock crumbled and cemented that the organization of its fans, like other fandom crossovers after it, could only be sustained online where it was born and raised. And it was sustained. When I recently checked the Superwholock tag on Tumblr, I spent about 20 minutes scrolling through posts and still only made it to March of this year. Superwholock has carried on for a decade despite its failures, and I see no evidence of the original mega-fandom truly dying any time soon. Superwholock was, for lack of a better word, a god of its time, and in calling it as such, I also admit that I feel like a minor prophet writing this article — a mortal hearing the word of the divine and putting it down for the masses to receive. This feels like a call back to a time when I was most deeply entrenched in the Superwholock fandom, but I could never look back on that period of my life with a spirit of animosity. Rather I see myself, aged 13 or 14, sitting in front of a school-administered iPad happily devouring any fanfiction or GIF sets that interlocked my three favorite universes.

I respect this as a time of real growth for me. Superwholock gave me and thousands of others a chance to grow into an admittedly very nerdy side of ourselves that would not have been fostered as safely in any environment other than online fan communities — because if you think I didn’t refer to myself as a “high functioning sociopath” and didn’t get bullied for it at least once in middle school, then I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong. Ultimately, though, I often feel a deep-rooted nostalgia for those years that cannot be replicated. The fact that today, as a junior in college, I can make Superwholock jokes with my roommate and even pitch this article should prove the longevity of Superwholock not only in my life but in the life of the internet as well. Superwholock’s popularity may have peaked long ago, but we all know nothing can ever really be deleted online; it is still worth praising how the fandom has persisted all these years. The shows at the foundation of this trend have weathered immense changes — “Supernatural” has ended, “Doctor Who” has cycled through two more Doctors and “Sherlock” has not released any new content since 2017. The fandom has changed too, as its members age and enter new phases of life, but that is to be expected when they created this universe a decade ago. The sheer gravity of a decade, ten years, is in itself an ode to the passion of fandoms that really love what they create. Superwholock was a god. Today it is a house of memories built with love and care, its doors open to generations to come for several more decades.

What the University should do about Bobby Kotick’s dirty money


puzzle by sudokusnydictation.com


Release Date: Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Digital Culture Beat Editor

Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis ACROSS 1 Midday tide-meover 6 Landlocked African land 10 Acrimony 14 Common wrist measurement 15 Tatting fabric 16 Geometry calculation 17 Execs who only look the part 19 Pics for docs 20 Stephen Colbert’s network 21 Jury makeup 22 Beyond heavy 23 Burden 24 Screwdriver, e.g. 25 Ostentatiously nice sort 31 MLB gameending accomplishments 32 Tomatoes used to make paste 33 Guest beyond a velvet rope 35 Pac-12 squad 36 Shrink in fear 37 Spreadsheet input 38 Debussy’s sea 39 Expert 40 More delicate 41 Pompous types 44 High-flying mil. group 45 __ museum 46 Land divisions 48 Hard stuff 51 Pollution watchdog org. 54 Designated money 55 Pretentiously elegant one 57 Help in a bad way 58 Puckish 59 Type of coffee or whiskey 60 Start from scratch 61 Simple tops 62 Tot’s tea party guest DOWN 1 Project detail 2 Without feeling 3 European range 4 Wisconsin winter hrs. 5 Security system components

6 Game with rooms 7 Rapunzel’s “ladder” 8 Play divisions 9 __ Moines 10 Panda’s diet 11 Of no consequence 12 Parts of Hawaiian greetings 13 Get (into) carefully 18 Attention-getting, in a way 22 Reactions to fireworks 23 Little piggies 24 Winter Palace monarch 25 Starting spots for some races 26 26 Reversed Director ofon many appeal 27 Treasure __ 28 27 Blew Whataway people who 29 Dark clouds, maybe 30 Internet destinations 31 What a capital sigma symbolizes, in 35 math Tyler of “Archer”

34 Course standard 36 Informal London eatery 37 Gossip 39 Degs. for choreographers 40 Campsite staple 42 Familiar with 43 Unclear 46 Off in the distance 47 Rubik creation

48 Reveal 49 Almost never 50 Protest singer Phil 51 Children’s author Blyton 52 Returning GI’s diagnosis 53 Pallid 55 Considerable, as a bonus 56 “Where __ you now?”


12/01/21 12/08/21

By Ed Beckert ©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC


WHISPER WHISPER “I’m going to survive the finals.”

“Counting down to Christmas.”

On April 20, 2021, the Detroit Free Press broke the news that CEO of Activision Blizzard — one of America’s premier AAA game companies, publisher of juggernaut franchises like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” — Bobby Kotick gifted $4 million to the University of Michigan to establish an esports minor. Kotick, who studied Art History at the University, dropped out in the ’80s, supposedly based on the advice of Steve Jobs. According to the Free Press, the minor was created in an effort to “help students get ready for a career in the esports industry.” The courses funded by Kotick are being jointly developed by the Schools of Kinesiology, Engineering and Information, with the first offerings expected by 2022. However, on July 20, 2021, Bloomberg announced that the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing was suing Activision Blizzard. A two-year investigation found that the company had rampant workplace discrimination against female employees and consistently failed to combat discrimination, address harassment or prevent retaliation. Company president J. Allen Brack was named in the suit; Brack subsequently stepped down at the beginning of August to be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. After only three months in the role, Oneal resigned at the beginning of November, leaving Activision Blizzard to “create better support, resources, and guidance to women in the gaming industry.” The culture of the company was likened to a frat; a malefocused culture of excessive drinking, harassment toward female employees and crude jokes permeated the workplace. This culture allegedly degraded female employees, as the men cited concerns about workplace efficiency due to prospects of pregnancy and familial obligations. Female workers also noted being constantly delegated work before being hit on by fellow male workers and supervisors, who would make vulgar jokes about rape and talk about desired sexual actions. The lawsuit mentions one worker taking her own life after her private,

sexually explicit pictures circulated around the company without her consent. Some men stepped forward as victims as well. Although Activision Blizzard is not new to scandals (2019’s Blitzchung controversy being a prime example), the lawsuit broke a dam, causing massive walkouts and complex debates within fan communities. People questioned their comfort playing games developed or published by Activision Blizzard and how to best support the developers while denouncing the company itself. Lines were drawn, both in real life and on Twitter. If you bought the upcoming “Diablo II: Resurrected” or “Call of Duty: Vanguard” or even continued to play “World of Warcraft,” you weren’t an ally. Matters were made worse when a second lawsuit was filed, this time by investors who claimed the company purposefully failed to disclose its ongoing problems in regards to the sexual harassment and discrimination, leading to artificially inflated stock. The investors argue that if they had been aware of the internal issues, they would not have invested. Kotick was personally named in the lawsuit as someone who was “instrumental in the spreading of false information.” The initial lawsuit was then expanded, the state of California adding temporary workers under the suit’s purview and stating Activision Blizzard has obfuscated investigations through NDAs. Around the same time, the company was also accused of shredding evidence. The Securities and Exchange Commission started their own investigation in September, subpoenaing Kotick along with other senior executives. Things continued to get worse. According to a recent report published on Nov. 16 from the Wall Street Journal, Kotick was aware of the sexual misconduct allegations for years. He purportedly hid information about incidents from board members, and personally had accusations of general misconduct that had been settled out of court. One terrifying account of Kotick’s behavior states that “In 2006, one of his assistants complained that he had harassed her, including by threatening in a voicemail to have her killed, according to people familiar with the matter.”

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

Michigan in Color

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UJIMA: Collective work and responsibility at the University of Michigan NEIL NAKKASH MiC Columnist

“Ujima,” meaning collective work and responsibility in Kiswahili, is a concept that defines the importance of unified action to create change. The term often materializes by way of strikes, sit-ins and other forms of protest. Integral to Black activism at the University of Michigan, Ujima has inspired visible change, including the formation of alliances between student groups, the establishment of an academic department for Black students and uplifting spaces for minority students on campus. To capture the practice and impact of the concept, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies‘ Program Manager Elizabeth James, LSA senior Solomon Lucy and U-M alums Kai Dotson and Justin Williams from the Black Student Union curated an exhibit using its name — “UJIMA: Collective activism at the University of Michigan.” Located at the south end of Haven Hall, the exhibit includes descriptions, posters and photographs from as early as 1853 and as recent as 2017. It presents multiple campaigns and activist groups that aimed to address discrimination against Black students through community organization and coalition-building. Those unable to visit UJIMA in person can still engage with the exhibit by visiting the virtual gallery, which provides just as illuminating of an experience. Administrative Coordinator at DAAS Arielle Chen, who managed the creation of the virtual gallery, noted that she and her colleagues aimed to make the gallery accessible to a wide array of people, including neurodivergent individuals and people with visual and auditory impairments. When speaking about her motives behind creating the virtual

gallery, Chen stated that “art tends to be for the elite,” but by making the exhibit public and accessible, students and other members of the Ann Arbor community could actually benefit from it. With access, viewers can learn about the several Black student-led movements that have shaped the University for the better. Among these student-led movements was a sit-in following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., held on the day of his burial, April 9, 1968. On the same day, members of the then-newly established BSU locked themselves inside the Administration Building and demanded an increase in funding and Black representation amongst faculty. The sit-in pressured the University to establish the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies — now called DAAS — which serves as an academic department devoted to Black studies. However, the number of Black faculty had barely increased by 1970, sparking a wave of protests known as the first Black Action Movement. This time around, not only did the BSU play a critical role, but other Black student organizations — such as the Black Law Student Alliance, Black Medical Students, Association of Black Social Work Students, Black Psychologist Organization and Black Educational Caucus — did as well. And, in 1970, after administrators disregarded demonstrations for months, then-University President Robben Fleming agreed to meet with the aforementioned groups. Collectively, the organizations issued a list of demands to the University: 1. 10% Black enrollment by fall 1973. 2. 900 new Black students by fall 1971 – 450 freshmen, 150 transfers, 300 graduate students. 3. An adequate supportive services program, including financial aid to finance Black students’ education.

4. Graduate and undergraduate recruiters (9) to recruit Black students. 5. A referendum to the March Student Government Council ballot to have students vote on assessing themselves $3.00 for one year for the Martin Luther King Scholarship Fund. 6. Tuition waivers for minority group students who are also residents of the state of Michigan. 7. The establishment of a communitylocated Black Student Center. 8. All work of a permanent nature on the Black studies program is to be halted until an effective input is fully developed by a community-university forum. 9. The creation of a university-wide appeal board to rule on the adequacy of financial aid grants to students. 10. A revamping of the Parent’s Confidential Statement. 11. There should be one recruit for Chicano students to ensure 50 Chicano students are admitted by fall 1970. 12. Black students are to be referred to as Black, not Negro or anything else. More than half a century since the protests erupted, the University has not satisfied these demands. Despite the University’s inaction, BAM demonstrated the strength of collective action, successfully advocating for the establishment of the first minority institutions on campus. Black students demanded the establishment of a community-located Black Student Center, which led to the foundation of the Trotter House and Ambatana Lounge — the first spaces dedicated to minority students on campus. Today, a newly-renovated Trotter Multicultural Center exists in these buildings’ places after Black students campaigned for a more accessible institution in early 2014.

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The Catch-22 of Black TV UDOKA NWANSI MiC Columnist

While in quarantine during the summer of 2020, I turned to binge-watching as my central form of escapism. Many mornings began with laying on my couch and watching at least a few hours of television. I indulged in all of my favorite sitcoms, from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to “Everybody Hates Chris.” The humor of these shows was a perfect distraction from the uncertain realities of a peak-pandemic world. My absolute favorite sitcom to watch is “Living Single,” which depicts the lives of six friends exploring their 20s in Brooklyn, N.Y. What I really love about this show is how multi-faceted each character is. While they’re all pursuing their own careers in the professional world, none of the characters fall into the “token Black character” trope as they still have their own faults and areas for growth and there are no central white characters in the show that their narratives

revolve around, making them very fleshedout characters. For a 30-minute sitcom, each of the central characters had a fully rounded-out story arc and the show had plenty of drama, making it the perfect series to binge all through my summer. While watching these shows, I couldn’t help but wonder as to why current Black TV lacked the same sort of effortless authenticity as some of my favorite shows from the late 90s and early 2000s. There seems to be a disconnect between older and more recent depictions of the Black American lifestyle; Many of the more recently produced Black TV shows, specifically ones created in the past several years, seem to be more directed towards white audiences. In considering contemporary Black TV shows with questionable levels of authenticity, shows like “BlackAF” or “Black-ish” come to mind. While I do enjoy shows like “Black-ish” to an extent, many of these shows seem to be greatly catered towards white audiences, as they take time to explain aspects of the Black American experience that would otherwise be implied in a show

that was simply just for Black people in America. Most episodes of “Black-ish” begin with the main character and patriarch of the Johnson family, Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson), explaining some aspect of the “typical” Black American lifestyle. The audience for these monologues is seemingly nonBlack, and more specifically white, viewers. This speaks to the larger commercial success that is seen when Black narratives are watered down to be made palatable to white audiences. However, this comes at the cost of sacrificing more elaborate depictions of Blackness. Wider audiences outside of the Black community may not understand the implied facets of Black American lifestyle and its niche cultural references, so these typically have to be spelled out for the sake of more widespread comprehension. While these may seem like insignificant sacrifices to make, this ultimately diminishes a piece of the tasteful charm of Black TV and somewhat reduces the standards to which Black stories can be told on television.

Read more at MichiganDaily.com


Scan this QR code to see your full horoscope!

by A n d y N a k a m u r a

When Mercury enters fiery Sagittarius and your eighth house of rebirth, your passions may become reignited. If you’ve been wanting to start a new project, now is a great time. Be realistic with your expectations; otherwise, you may be too discouraged to continue if your plans don’t blossom into fruition.

This week’s celestial events perfectly align to favor academic success for your sign with the end of the semester quickly approaching. Now is a great time to dedicate your relentless drive to your studies so you can learn all that you can.

Since Mercury rules over intellectual pursuits, this is a good opportunity to ask your instructors any final questions and form a study group before finals. When Mercury enters Capricorn and your fourth house of home and family, you should talk with your family and reach out to childhood friends.

With Mercury in Capricorn and your seventh house of partnerships, you may feel more willing to form new connections, especially in regard to work relationships. Now is a great time to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level.

Mars shifts into fellow fire sign Sagittarius and your ruling house, the house of creativity. Now is the time to pursue your wildest ideas. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination sway you into new directions with your artistic process; you may unexpectedly create something extraordinary.

When Mars enters Sagittarius and your second house of love and finances, you may develop more confidence in speaking candidly to others about both romantic and monetary matters. Scorpios can often be very guarded, but now is the time to let down your walls and express your honest thoughts.

When Mars enters Sagittarius and your twelfth house of the subconscious, you may enter a state of great optimism. This is a wonderful time to work on creative projects. And not to bring down your mood, but you should also be sure to manage your expectations since it is easy to be too optimistic and somewhat careless at this time. This is a great time to connect with new people or deepen your existing bonds.

With Mars moving into Sagittarius and your seventh house of partnerships, now is a great time to socialize, which is one of your favorite activities anyway. The seventh house rules over all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones. Even if you’re not searching for love, you can still gain a lot from a new platonic or work relationship, and you may develop a bond with someone you hadn’t expected to get along with.

Mars enters Sagittarius and your ruling house, the eleventh house of group dynamics. This could bring a sudden surge of energy in your social life, as well as ease any possible anxieties you may have when talking to people. Now is a great time to confidently introduce yourself to new people.

Mars enters Sagittarius and your fourth house of home and family, spurring you to turn your attention to your home. Now is a good time to initiate a renovation plan or reach out to a family member. Now is also a great opportunity to start working on projects you’ve been planning for a long time.

This week, Mars enters your sign and your first house of the self. At this time, you may feel more invigorated to pursue anything you’re passionate about. Especially with a new semester starting soon, if you’ve been wanting to take a class outside of your major or join a new organization, this is a great opportunity to do so. When Mars enters Sagittarius and your tenth house of career ambitions, you’re potentially taking a new course of action to achieve your career goals. Pursuing a field of study or extracurricular activity unrelated to your career goals may provide you with an important transferable skill you may otherwise not have developed.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — 7

The boobs : balls ratio SAFURA SYED MiC Columnist

There are several tests to quantify how well a narrative treats characters who are women. The most famous is probably the Bechdel test for women’s representation — two women must have a conversation about a topic other than a man in the film for it to pass. When Alison Bechdel first created the test in 1985, most films were not able to pass, but, in recent years, over 50% do. Obviously, the Bechdel test only scratches the surface when it comes to a woman’s role in a story. Other tests have since been created. The sexy lamp test, for example, tries to determine how important a woman is in the story — if you can replace her character with a sexy lamp without the story falling apart, then it isn’t good representation. These tests are flawed in many ways, but they are designed to get us thinking about what we’re seeing on screen when it comes to representation. In high school, as I started to watch more TV from around the world, I started to think about the discrepancies between the ways women and men are portrayed onscreen, especially when it comes to nudity. Seeing naked women on screen is fairly standard in film and television, but male nudity isn’t as common. One 2018 analysis of over 1,000 popular films found that around 25% of women in these films had nude scenes, compared to 9% of men. I started noticing this disparity after watching the first season of “Babylon Berlin,” which featured the first televised male nude scene that I had ever seen. Male bodies were presented in sex scenes and in nonsexual settings, like skinny dipping and nude body searches. It made me realize that the only bodies I had ever seen naked onscreen were of cis women, whose bodies are almost always displayed gratuitously. After finishing “Babylon Berlin,” I started to become aware of the boobs-to-balls ratio in the shows and movies that I watched. My experience as a viewer aligns with the analysis’s findings: Most media that features nudity skews towards showing naked women. Few shows have one-to-one ratios and none that I’ve seen solely show men naked. One reason for this might be because of who is behind the camera. Women are subjected to being viewed through a patriarchal lens that focuses extensively on how attractive they are to heterosexual men, a phenomenon known as the male gaze. Their characters don’t inherently need to be nude to be interesting, well-rounded people, but society’s obsession with women’s sexuality devalues them if they are not catering to a patriarchal sex fantasy. A recent analysis by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media found that women movie leads were four times more likely to be shown naked than their male counterparts. Powerful women in film and television are often characterized by their naked bodies in ways that men are not. And the sexy, powerful woman trope can be seen everywhere — from TV to video games and even to the way women leaders in history, like Cleopatra, are seen as sex symbols. Topless women are featured in a few of Netflix’s episodes of “The Witcher,” and lead actress Anya Chalhotra, who plays Yennefer, appears naked twice. Her nakedness is tied to her access to power — she undresses in these scenes to perform rituals that would make her a more powerful sorceress; there is also a disturbing and misogynistic undertone to these scenes. It seems that a woman’s power is directly tied to her body and her sex appeal. Henry Cavill, the male lead who plays the titular character, does not appear naked in the same capacity that Chalhotra does. Cavill is shown naked in a bathtub, but only his torso is visible. It makes sense that he doesn’t wear clothes while bathing, but Chalhotra doesn’t necessarily need to be shown naked to perform a spell and establish that she is powerful. The expectation for women to appear nude onscreen can also have detrimental effects on actors. Emilia Clarke, who played Daenerys on “Game of Thrones,” revealed that the early nude scenes “terrified” her. As a new actress, she did not have the knowledge or power to argue with showrunners who asked her to appear completely naked in front of the cast and crew. In later seasons, when Clarke refused to be naked on screen, showrunners guilted her for disappointing “Game of Thrones” fans, as if they were only watching her for her naked body — a dismissive view of both Clarke’s boundaries and her performance. Strikingly, there are few depictions of fullfrontal male nudity on “Game of Thrones,” compared to the many instances of women’s nudity. When male nudity is presented, it is rarely presented sexually. Instead, they are presented in regular contexts, such as pulling out a penis to pee. Thankfully, in the years since Clarke’s first nude scene in “Game of Thrones,” there have been movements in the film and television industry to change the exploitative nature of intimate scenes. Many shows now hire intimacy coordinators, who work to make sex scenes more comfortable for actors while making sure that everything occurring on screen is consented to by everyone involved. The necessity to hire intimacy coordinators is especially evident after the #MeToo movement, but it can’t repair the implicit attitudes of sexualization that exist in the media’s presentation of women’s bodies. Even movies that center around sex shy away from depicting full-frontal male nudity. “Fifty Shades of Grey” has plenty of nude scenes of Dakota Johnson, who plays the female lead, but does not have a single comparable shot of

Jamie Dornan’s penis. It’s strange that a movie targeted towards heterosexual women chooses to solely display the heroine naked. Similarly, “Call Me By Your Name,” another popular film with plenty of sex scenes, doesn’t feature any male full-frontal but does curiously include boob shots — a confounding decision in a movie about gay men’s intimacy. Women’s bodies are often shown in both sexual and casual settings, like when they’re lounging at home, but when men are put in similar positions, the camera shies away. Filmmakers are only comfortable placing women in these vulnerable positions. Women are typically represented as more delicate and therefore more defenseless than men, and nudity may be a literal way to characterize femininity. It is unfortunate, though, that femininity is defined by men in film through a naked and conventionally attractive cis-gendered body as if that is all women have to offer to the screen. There is an inherent sense of dehumanization because women’s bodies are represented as the most important part of their being. Recently, there have been efforts to close the gap and make the boobs-to-balls ratio more even. HBO’s “Euphoria” shows 71 penises in its eight episodes, with one scene alone having almost 30. Although there are still scenes of naked women on the show, the sheer amount of male nudity is shocking because viewers aren’t accustomed to seeing it. In “Euphoria,” male nudity is presented in a way that’s similar to the historical ways naked women are shown on screen. While the nude reversal of gender that “Euphoria” employs is interesting, it does call into question how necessary these scenes are, especially given that the characters depicted in them are mostly minors. Movies are also selective in the type of bodies that are shown on screen. The naked women we usually see on screen are conventionally attractive (skinny and white), as most of the women in the film industry are. Transgender characters are rarely seen in films from major studios. Bodies that exist outside of the gender binary also deserve to be well-represented but are unfortunately dismissed from most mainstream media. Actors have also recognized the boobs-toballs disparity and have called on each other to close it. In 2015, Kevin Bacon noted the gender disparities of nudity and started #FreetheBacon, wherein he encourages male actors to free “your weiner, your balls and your butt.” Mark Duplass, who appeared nude on HBO’s “Togetherness,” said that he believes in what he calls balls equality, and the need to show naked men on TV not as sex symbols but just as regular people. “If boobs or a vagina come out, a penis or a set of testicles should go along with it,” Duplass said in a 2016 interview. “It should be 50/50 in this country.” While Duplass championing for balls equality is commendable in closing the gap, it won’t change the gratuitous and harmful always in which nude women are represented. It might be impossible to divorce the framing of these nude scenes from patriarchal gazes — “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the mainstream erotica that doesn’t have a single penis in it, was directed by a woman. Even a female director portrays women characters as objects of desire and sexuality for men, further complicating ideas about representation. These issues of objectification are deeply entrenched in social norms and the film industry in general, and more conversations must be held for progress to be made. Nudity in film and television is a complicated topic that needs to be understood from multiple angles — from how gratuitous it is to how much power an actor has in the scene. And persisting media trends — who is shown naked, how much and when — often point towards objectification of women’s characters. Evening the ratio isn’t just about showing men naked, it’s about reducing the gratuitous depictions of nude women, too. Women, though, are more than just their bodies. When filmmakers decide to highlight only women in vulnerable or sexual positions, they reinforce gendered stereotypes of what women can be. And even if the boobs-to-balls ratio approaches a perfect one-to-one, we must still contend with how women are written and how much agency they have in the stories we’re watching. The only piece of media that I have seen with a one-to-one boobs-to-balls ratio is the third season of Netflix’s “Castlevania,” which also features well-written women. In the show, nudity is presented sexually and non-sexually but fits well within the narrative. In one scene, a prisoner is shown naked and the camera shows his entire shivering body, including his genitals. And while seeing a flaccid penis in a cartoon is a little unsettling, it adds dimension to his condition and highlights how depressing his imprisonment is. What “Castlevania” doesn’t include is gratuitous depictions of naked women. Boob shots only appear in sex scenes alongside bodies of naked men. What makes season three of “Castlevania” so compelling isn’t just its even ratio, it is also the depth of the women characters, including lesbians and women of color, who all have distinct personalities and aren’t relegated to simply being sexy. There are plenty of shows with amazing women characters, including “The Witcher” and “Game of Thrones,” but the misogynistic ways in which these shows portray women by hyper-focusing on their bodies prevent them from being truly great examples of representation. “Castlevania’s” director even refused to show one of the most powerful women in the show topless, moving away from the ever-present sexy powerful lady trope.

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8 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Michigan in Color

What the mess means YASMINE SLIMANI MiC Columnist

I’m startled awake as my 30th alarm drones monotonously in my ear. I’m drenched in a cold sweat, cursing as I realize it’s 12:50 and my class starts at 1:00 p.m. I swing my legs over the edge of my bed and scurry through my room, grasping for my final clean pair of jeans and a sweater that’s been worn three other times this week. I can’t see the floor of my room, but I’ve learned to navigate the war zone, memorized the clearings that I can step on without tripping over landmines of laundry or discarded Amazon boxes or takeout containers. I sprint down the stairs and clamber into my car, equally as messy, and speed down to class; I make it at 12:59 on the dot. All of this to say, I’m the messiest person I know. It’s an unexpected idiosyncrasy of mine, and I’m shocked when people tell me that I seem sooo put together. When they tell me this, I manage a strangled laugh, because I’m about as composed as a four-car collision or an oil spill or a blazing forest being put out by water guns. But I’ve become well-trained in the art of deception, and I revel in my expert ability to keep the uncontrolled chaos just below the surface.

When the messiness seeps through the cracks, begging to be seen and heard and felt, I do not panic; instead, I turn it into a punchline. I wear it shamelessly on my sleeve, roll my eyes and say, “I know, I’m such a mess!” I internalize it, trying to make it an endearing personality trait, like when a doe-eyed child talks too much or when a clumsy pet scampers into a wall onetoo-many times. I think if I brandish it like a comedic weapon, take this ghastly flaw and furiously shine it, the carefully curated lacquer will make it sparkle, make it lovable somehow. But my ownership of the mess doesn’t make it any more sexy or captivating. Up close, it is grotesque and all-encompassing, permeating every corner of my life. My speech is messy, punctuated by stammers and sloppily-strungtogether tangents. My writing is messy, wrought with technical errors and screamingred truths that border on unprovoked oversharing. My room is messy, as is my car and closet and mind. If it’s possible to be a hot mess, then I am on fire, always half-heartedly snuffing out the flames but never really putting out the blaze. Living like this demands a bizarre form of introspection, and lately, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decipher what the mess means. I tell you without really saying it, because I lack the courage, and I think the mess likes to speak for me anyway. When I say, “I’m sorry about my room,” what I mean is that I’m tired.

That the days bleed into weeks and months and a task as simple as laundry would drain every iota of my energy. That my living space has become a battleground and I’ve settled for a truce. That I’ve opted for subordinate forms of self-punishment, that I don’t deserve a clean room or a safe space, that it’d be just another thing for me to inevitably destroy. That I’m fraught with failures: I forgot to eat today, I forgot to text you back, I forgot how to put out the million little fires, how to be anything other than this. Maybe I don’t tell you any of this because sorry is easier, anyway. It fits like a well-loved sweater, a default word rolling off of my tongue with miraculous ease as if it’s not leaving bruises in the back of my throat. All the sorries buzz around like gnats, trapped behind heavy, chapped lips. They scream, “I’m sorry I’m such a mess and I’m sorry that all I have to show for it is this bloody, mangled sorry I’m biting down on.” I’m sorry that sorry doesn’t clean up messes. When I set aside the time to clean up my room, or my car, or my inbox, I hate myself for it, wondering when I let it get like this. I sift through the clothes on my floor, aging them with principles of superposition like deeply embedded fossils. I become an accidental archaeologist, realizing the shirt at the bottom of the pile is stained with September’s sadness and the jeans draped over the back of my desk

chair are perfumed with the exhaustion of exams. The coffee cup marks on my desk culminate like rings in a tree trunk, and I realize this mess is old. I realize it might’ve been here before me, roots planted too stubbornly in the ground for me to ever move. I give myself cheap cop-outs, blaming it on school or stress or grief. Because what is grief if not a mess you can never quite quell? A coffee cup cemented to your nightstand, a pile of laundry slowly towering on the floor despite you never adding to it, something you can’t bring yourself to confront or clean up. In those moments, I decide the easiest thing to do is let the mess win and lay in it instead, let it swallow me whole because it’s earned its rightful place there and has grown too prideful to ever go away. Most nights, I do. Other nights, I clean up. It takes two cups of coffee, three loads of laundry, four garbage bags and countless breaks strewn in between. I curl up atop half-folded clothes and let the ache wash over me, cruel and demanding, and it takes everything in me to continue. But I do. I laboriously chip away at the mess until it disappears entirely until the bed gets made and the room smells of Febreze and fresh starts. I resent myself the entire time, like a beguiled mother cleaning up after a reckless toddler. I pretend it isn’t my mess, that the girl who let it spiral is just a lazy liability I’m forced to take

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care of. But the satisfaction of it all is tinged with shame, because I remember that I am her and that means the mess hasn’t gone away, not really. Maybe it never will, and maybe it’s less about the mess and more about the resolve required to clean it up. These days, I’ve been trying to redefine the relationship I have with cleaning. I mold it into something that’s more meditative than miserable, something I do for myself rather than to spite myself. I do it because I love the girl who let it get this bad. I was there on the sleepless nights, felt the dull ache in her chest that persisted for weeks on end, and I understand why a mess was easier to maintain. She deserves compassion, too, even on her worst days. Even when she can’t muster the will to see the world through anything other than jaded, glassy eyes, even when she destroys everything she touches. Even then, she deserves to rest her debilitated bones on warm linens, to have a space that is rid of the reminders of her failures. When I say I’m cleaning my room tonight, what I mean is, I’m extending her the same tenderness she’s always extended me. I’m thanking her for trying. In the same breath, I thank my friends for being brave enough to love the mess.

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The lack of diversity in public schools: A reflection of my time with Black Men Read KAYLA THOMAS MiC Columnist

When I take the time to reflect on my childhood, I cannot help but appreciate the parts of my upbringing that nurtured a love for who I am and the cultural community that I come from. Growing up in a Black household in a largely Black area, I obtained ample exposure to my culture, especially through literature and the arts. As a young child, the sound of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” or Chaka Khan’s “One for All Time” would be the first thing that I would hear on weekend mornings, invigorating me as I started my day. When I woke up to this music, I instantly knew that someone in my household was downstairs cleaning. Sure enough, I would walk downstairs to find one of my parents scrubbing the counters in the kitchen, one of the many rooms in our home whose walls were covered with the work of Black artists. Whether it be a depiction of a man playing the blues on his saxophone for a live audience or a painting that simply shows a family praying over their meal, it was important to my parents that my siblings and I were constantly surrounded by positive and meaningful visual depictions of people who looked like us. The commitment that my family embraced to showcasing our culture extended outside the four walls of our home. When driving us to school, my mom often played a CD that my dad made for her with all her favorite songs, which quickly became some of our favorites too. In fact, I often refused to get out of the car until I could finish belting the last note of Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You.” When I eventually did leave my mother’s car, I entered classrooms that similarly incorporated aspects of African-American culture into our education. Throughout my secondary education, it was normal for me to have English curricula that were mostly, if not completely, centered around the works of Black authors and the actions of Black revolutionaries. Whether it was writing papers about the Harlem Renaissance and watching “A Raisin in the Sun” in my seventh grade English class or reading Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” in my AP Literature class, I could always count on being able to see myself and my people in many of my English classes’ curricula. Not only did I feel represented in the curriculum, but also felt seen by those who were teaching it to me. A majority of my teachers during K–12 were Black, and not only did they make it a point to teach us our culture and history, but to affirm our ability to succeed in this world as Black people. I was also able to see Black people in positions of power, with my principals and administrators as leading examples. This benefit also extended to outside the school grounds. I was also fortunate enough in that I lived in a community filled with Black people who had gone far in their respective careers. All of these actions made by my family and school district were done with the intention of cultivating a sense of pride in our racial identity. I can say for myself that it worked. As beneficial as this environment was for me, I soon realized that it created a blind spot

in me. I thought that embedding positive Black representations into a child’s experience was how communities typically operated, because that was how my community operated. I did not know anything beyond my community until I had the opportunity to have conversations with Black peers in different places. It was through these conversations that I realized we didn’t all have a common experience. Many of them told stories of feeling disconnected from our culture and ignorant to our history, a direct consequence of curricula that did not serve them or honor their culture and history. I was saddened to hear about their experiences living in predominantly non-Black spaces without role models who looked like them beyond the walls of their household. Hearing these stories created a feeling of discontentment inside of me. When I think about the pride that I take in where I came from and the passion I have for advocating for my community, it all stems from my culturally-affirming upbringing. I can also say that my love for reading came from being able to read books that I felt represented me. Knowing that others weren’t privy to these benefits didn’t sit right with me. Originally, I thought this was a phenomenon that I would be forced to accept. Fortunately, I was wrong. An opportunity to fuel my discontentment into meaningful change came when I was selected for a fellowship through the Ginsberg Center. For the 2020-21 school year, I got chosen to be a Community Leadership Fellow through the Edward Ginsberg Center at the University of Michigan. Through this opportunity, I was paired with a community organization in the southeastern Michigan area and was paid to act as their intern for the year. Based on the interest form that I filled out, I was paired with Black Men Read. An organization based in Ypsilanti, their mission is to “uplift Black men, all children, and all communities through stories of the African diaspora.” I instantly felt connected to the organization’s initiatives because of how they aligned with the cultural exposure and pride that was interwoven into my childhood experience. Turns out, creating environments similar to the one I was privy to as a child was the inspiration for the organization’s creation. During my first weekly meeting with my supervisor, Tamara Tucker-Ibarisha, she told me the story of how Black Men came to be. In 2016, her daughter went to school with the son of Yodit Mesfin-Johnson, who would go on to cocreate Black Men Read with her. One thing that was undeniable about the school’s atmosphere was the lack of Black male teachers — there were none. The absence of Black male influences in this academic environment became so apparent to one of the school’s teachers that she took the time to ask Mesfin-Johnson if she knew of any Black men who would be willing to come to the school to read to their students. After approaching Tucker-Ibarisha with the proposition, the two decided to invite some of the Black men from their communities to the school to read a story to the children, specifically a story that centers a Black child. This initiative was well received by the students, resulting in these storytimes becoming a somewhat regular occasion

at the school. Seeing the success of this initiative and realizing that so few students in the Washtenaw County area get to experience having a Black male teacher, they decided to start inviting Black men to read at Blackstone Bookstore in order to reach a larger audience. Similar to the storytimes they hosted at their children’s school, the events at Blackstone consisted of the kids enjoying a story being read by a Black man. However, since Blackstone acted as a less formal space compared to a classroom, the kids were also able to interact freely with each other. The atmosphere of these events was so relaxed that the storytimes at the bookstore were affectionately referred to as “book parties,” bringing an air of joy and celebration to the idea of reading.

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The book parties became just as much of a success as the classroom storytimes, with parents commenting on how these events have cultivated a love of confidence in reading in their children. As a result, the parents requested for more parties to be hosted. Mesfin-Johnson and Tucker-Ibarisha, happily obliged and started making events at Blackstone an occurrence that happened at least once a month. The willingness of these two women to fulfill this need expressed by the community is how Black Men Read was officially created. Before the start of the pandemic, in-person storytimes and book parties comprised the foundation of the offerings that Black Men Read provided the Washtenaw County community. Unfortunately, as the first few months of 2020 saw the increasing spread and severity of the coronavirus, gathering children in one small space became less and less feasible. The progressing state of COVID-19 and the way it was altering the nation’s social landscape meant that Black Men Read needed an alternative strategy for connecting with children in the community. This is where I came in. Since my internship started just six months after the virus put a pause on the organization’s in-person events, it was my job to help them replicate the sense of community they had created in public spaces and transfer it to digital platforms. This meant that I spent a lot of my time helping to develop their visual programming, mainly their YouTube channel, which would consist of videos of Black men reading children’s books, asking comprehension questions and answering questions about their lives in order to create a connection with the audience. To be more specific, my role was to pick out the books and create a script for each video, which includes transcribing the words of the book, writing the comprehension questions and coming up with personal questions for the

men to answer. As I started choosing books to be read, I began to realize how much intention goes into crafting a curriculum that centers Black culture while also telling the stories of Black people. Each book that I chose reflected the specific theme that Tucker-Ibarisha, who served as my supervisor, chose for the given season. The theme for fall was confidence, which led to us choosing “I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes to be read. With the winter season encompassing Black History Month, the story “Wind Flyers” by Angela Johnson, which tells the story of a Tuskegee Airman, was a perfect choice. Lastly, we chose “Over and Under the Pond” by Kate Messner in order to celebrate the coming of spring and the desire that comes with it. The different themes, along with the very different stories that were told in each one, were nothing short of a result of a calculated strategy. My supervisor and I chose the themes and the resulting books as a way to provide a holistic depiction of Black life. With these three books, we highlighted milestone achievements in the Black community while also showcasing Black people enjoying the everyday wonders of life. We aimed to convey the message that yes, Black people are exceptional, but we don’t have to be doing something monumental in order to be worthy of being seen. After we chose the books, I shifted gears to creating the script. Not only did the scripts include the words of the book that would be read and the comprehension questions that would be asked, but they also detailed instructions for how words would be presented on the screen. Because Black Men Read aimed to improve literacy through these videos, it was essential that the words were presented in a way that was conducive to kids’ understanding and retention of basic vocabulary and phonetic skills. With the help of Nuola Akinde, Black Men Read’s Director of Culture and Curriculum and the founder of Kekere Freedom School, I developed techniques to ensure that our literacy-improving goal would be met. The main strategy I utilized was highlighting dolch words, which are frequently-used English vocabulary words that are often used to teach kids to read. Dolch words include basic words such as “the” and “for.” For every book that we were recording a reading of, I wrote down the words of the book and highlighted all the Dolch words in them, as a way to signal to the design team that those words needed to be emphasized on the screen. Once the Dolch words were highlighted, I moved onto the comprehension questions. In creating the questions, I was tasked with ensuring the questions required the children to practice their critical thinking skills in a way that challenged them without being too difficult which was tedious. Yet, from performing these two tasks, I gained an appreciation for both the organization I was working for and the teachers in my childhood that worked hard to provide the same benefits to me and my peers. Whenever I finished creating a script for the YouTube videos based on a given book, it was then time for me to correspond with the volunteers who committed to being the ones to

actually star in the video. While instructing me on how to communicate with the readers, my supervisor casually mentioned that their decision to center the organization around Black men was about more than just filling the void of Black male figures in secondary education. The creation of Black Men Read also stemmed from a desire to dispel the stereotype that Black men are not involved in their communities, a stereotype that Tucker-Ibarisha says — and I can confirm — is very untrue. Because the organization was serving as a form of corrective representation for Black men, she told me that she was intentional about choosing men who she knew were active in their communities and who were passionate about leaving a lasting impact on the lives of children. After spending time emailing instructions back-and-forth between myself and the readers, I finally obtained the video footage that would be used to create the YouTube videos. When I pressed play, I was met with the enthusiastic tone of a man reading the book “I Am Every Good Thing” in a way that made the story come to life. Once he finished reading the book and asking the comprehension question, he went on to talk about his life. Here, he included a description of his career and expressed how much he enjoyed being a husband and father. Reviewing this video made it clear why he — and all the other men who would read — were chosen to represent the mission of Black Men Read. The passion that these men had for connecting with children and improving their literacy reminded me of the dedication exhibited by the men in my own community, who were always very hands-on. The ideas that these videos, and the men, would contribute to Black children being able to see themselves in educational spaces warmed my heart. While providing uplifting representations to Black kids is an integral part of the organization’s purpose, their mission statement explicitly states that their overall goal is to empower “all children.” My supervisor would sometimes reiterate this during our Monday afternoon meetings. One day, I asked her if there was any intention behind aiming to serve all children instead of tailoring the program to Black children. Her answer surprised me. She told me that, oftentimes, when a police officer shoots an unarmed Black man, they defend themselves by saying they felt threatened. Her view was that, in some cases, the officer is telling the truth when they say that line, because whether the subject is actually presenting a threat or not, the social narrative of Black men is that they are to be feared. Because of this, she wanted to make the Black Men Read’s initiative available to all children in order to prevent and combat the development and progression of these irrational fears of Black men. This was in no way said as a justification for police brutality — in fact, it’s the exact opposite. She explained that there not being enough positive representations of Black people in the media and in academic settings causes people to develop damaging biases against Black people that continuously go unchallenged.

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Concerns about inflation can be legitimate, Democrats should pay attention

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Comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust is abhorrent: All antisemitism must be condemned ISABELLE SCHINDLER Opinion Columnist


cross the United States, antivaccine protestors are using antisemitic imagery and Holocaust comparisons in an offensive attempt to compare vaccine mandates to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. Recently, Rob Astorino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate from New York, made headlines for hosting an anti-vaccine event featuring signs with swastikas. The use of a swastika was especially egregious because the protest was being held outside of the office of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is Jewish. The protest centered around a bill Assemblyman Dinowitz introduced that would require the COVID-19 vaccinations for school children. This specific protest hit particularly close to home for me as it occurred in a community close to where I am from. The section of the Bronx where the protest was held is an area I know well, having worked in that neighborhood at my congressman’s office. The

area has a large and vibrant Jewish community. The fact that protestors came to this specific area with their antisemitic imagery and protested outside the office of a Jewish lawmaker is egregious but not surprising. The trend of invoking the Holocaust to protest COVID-19 restrictions and mandates extends far beyond this one event. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been many outrageous comparisons made between COVID19 protocols and the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. With the rollout of the vaccine and the implantation of vaccine mandates, there have been many inaccurate comparisons between the Holocaust and the vaccine mandates. In Maine, a Republican lawmaker compared the Democratic governor’s health care workers’ vaccine mandate to the medical experiments performed by Dr. Josef Mengele and the Nazis during World War II. This incendiary claim tries to compare forms of torture and human experiments in the Holocaust with a safe vaccine that has gone through strenuous peer-reviewed clinical trials and has oversight from multiple medical bodies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — 9

The chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party compared companies requiring vaccines to Jews being forced to wear yellow Stars of David to identify them as Jews in Nazi Germany. Many anti-vaccine protests across the US have seen protestors wearing yellow Stars of David on their clothes, a direct reference to the stars that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. This comparison is unbelievably disrespectful and demonstrates how anti-vaccine advocates are trying to co-opt one of the most painful parts of Jewish history and twist it to fit their anti-vaccine rhetoric. The use of swastikas, Stars of David, and other symbols at vaccine protests is truly reprehensible and serves to minimize the severity of the Holocaust. This is clear: There are no possible comparisons that can be made between what Jews endured during the Holocaust and any kind of COVID-19 restrictions. The Holocaust was one of the worst periods in our world’s history. Millions of Jews were stripped of their rights, their freedom and their lives.

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nflation has once again gripped the nation. The consumer price index for October indicated that prices rose 6.2% from the year prior. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Survey’s preliminary findings for November were the lowest in a decade. According to the survey, consumers believe inflation is here to stay, and that President Joe Biden and the Democrat-led Congress have not effectively responded to it. Here in Michigan, the effects of inflation are slightly more palpable than in other parts of the country. According to a Detroit Free Press article, prices in the Midwest are up 6.6% compared with the 5.4% increase seen in the Northeast. This is a serious problem for Democrats. Conservative media outlets were quick to coin the term “Bidenflation.” Republicans in Congress latched onto the rising prices to attack Biden’s ambitious spending plans, affectionately re-naming his “Build Back Better” framework “Build Back Broke.” Given the flood of post-Virginia gubernatorial election commentary suggesting that Democrats should be worried about big losses in the midterms next year, beating the Republican’s challenge is vitally important. So far, Biden’s response to inflation has been faltering at best. While he did acknowledge that “inflation hurts (Americans’) pocketbooks,” he also misappropriated a letter from 17 Nobel Laureates that stated his social spending would “ease longer-term inflationary pressures” by conveniently leaving out “longerterm” in his speeches. Assuaging the public’s fears about inflation is notorious for sending former presidents to their political grave. Both Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter likely lost re-election because of their attempts to convince the country to curtail spending in order to reduce inflation.

In a Politico article, former Republican aide Bill Hoagland was quoted saying, “I feel a little bit sorry for the president. A lot of this is out of control.” Economist Daniel McFadden, one of the signatories on the Nobel laureate letter, argued that inflation is the result of both constrained supply chains and “pent-up demand” from consumers emerging from the pandemic. Wrangling global supply chains and an entire country of people is an impossible task for any person, even a president, to accomplish. Nonetheless, Biden needs to take Americans’ concerns about inflation more seriously. Economists and officials at the Federal Reserve are paid to diagnose the causes of inflation and whether it will be transient or not. Biden’s job is to listen to and engage with the concerns raised by his constituents. When Biden visited General Motor’s Detroit plant, Factory ZERO, recently, he delivered a lengthy speech to celebrate the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and emphasize the benefits it would bestow upon Michiganders. He highlighted the money going towards fixing Michigan’s infamously poor roads, the tax credits for consumers purchasing union-made electric vehicles, the money for eliminating PFAS and made a shout out to all the Michigan Democrats in Congress who helped pass the bill. He did mention inflation, but only to bring up that a few Wall Street rating agencies echoed the Nobel Laureates and expressed they believed the social spending plan would “not add to inflation pressures.” Roads, cars and unions all seem to hit the speaking points for the older Michigan electorate. And yet, I would bet that inflation probably matters just as much to most Michiganders. Bringing up the statements of a few Wall Street rating agencies or even a body of well-respected economists to dismiss concerns about inflation with the wave of a hand does not lead the public to believe that you understand their concerns. It is not unreasonable to suggest that Biden has nothing to gain from

switching his strategy. Greg Ip of the Wall Street Journal points out that sinceformerPresidentBarackObama’s time in office, voters’ opinions on the economy have been driven largely by partisan identification rather than actual economic indicators. Further acknowledgement of the Republican outcry might just energize GOP campaigns come the 2022 midterms. But at the same time, it intuitively feels like ignoring inflation, or at least shakily trying to prop up “Build Back Better” as an easy fix for the problem, is not the best plan. On an episode of the New York Times’podcast“TheDaily,”economics reporter Ben Casselman emphasized the importance of remembering that even if the economy looks good in the aggregate, the economy is not experienced by individuals that way. According to Casselman, lowerincome workers might have seen dramatic increases in their wages due to the labor shortage, but they also face more demanding and stressful work environments because of that same labor shortage. And even if inflation has not increased the cost of living for most Americans, that certainly does not mean everybody escaped the negative effects of inflation. Biden needs to come down to the same level as the average American. Instead of allowing the discussion over inflation to center around policymakers’ high-brow economic theories, he should make a concerted effort to publicly acknowledge that many voters are more concerned about inflation and the impact it might have on their lives than the fate of the social spending plan in the Senate. Taking the time to engage with his constituents that are concerned about inflation, or addressing the nation on the subject, would help make good on Biden’s promise to serve as a president for all Americans, not just his supporters. Elections are determined by what voters think and feel. If voters feel that their leaders have neglected them, then the massive benefits of a spending bill like “Build Back Better” appear very little.

The Democrats’ struggle could be a prize come midterms SAM SCHMITZ Opinion Columnist


e are fast approaching a year of a Democratic-controlled government that has been plagued by ups and downs of many varieties. These include the woes of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, a debt-ceiling crisis and the legislative leviathan of passing an infrastructure bill and spending bill. President Joe Biden’s popularity is at an all-time low, despite the passage of his infrastructure bill after months of party in-fighting. If only one word could be used to describe the government of this year, it would be factionalism. Factionalism has defined the fight in the debt crisis, allowing Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., to wield an intense amount of power while being the smallest faction, as well as delaying some of the biggest items Joe Biden and the Democrats ran on. Manchin has tempered Democratic ambitions time and

time again. In the fight over the infrastructure bill, progressives butted heads against the party establishment. In October, Democrats found an unlikely ally in Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after Sinema and Manchin vowed to support the filibuster that created the debt-ceiling crisis. Factionalism has hobbled the Democrats for nearly a year now, but the issues that have hampered their party in the House and the Senate may save some prospects of power after the midterms. It may provide them with strength if, and when, they lose the House and Senate, as long as they can pull it together under minority leadership. The writing is on the wall: In the 2022 midterm elections, the Democrats will lose seats. Numerous House members are retiring out of fear of the outcome of the 2022 election. Empirically, this is supported, as members of government retire when the outlook for them and their party is bleak. We can also quantitatively support

the already popular belief that the president’s party loses seats in midterm elections, barring any extraordinary turnout at the polls. Yet some light can be shed on the future of a divided government: The ailments of the Democrats also pollute an incredibly fractured Republican Party. The GOP has recently displayed intense factionalism that could come to boil over in the upcoming midterms and even after. The Republicans have long faced in-fighting, even during Trump’s presidency, as those loyal to Trump above all else grew in number and rank. The bitter dispute continued after the election and saw some Trump critics, namely U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., lose their leadership positions and even be stripped of recognition by their state Republican parties. Yet the factional disputes are evergrowing and changing. The New York Times reports that there are now five factions within the Republican base. These include two Trump-focused factions, two factions that oppose the former president and a final faction

comprised of individuals who often subscribe to outlandish conspiracy theories and associate themselves with QAnon. In Congress, these factions are most evident in the House where Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has found his hands full. McCarthy has had to try to defend some of the more extreme members of his party, as well as reel other ones in. U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Lauren Boebert, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., have all come under fire for their controversial and sometimes violent remarks towards Progressive Caucus members. With McCarthy attempting to mitigate damage, the aforementioned representatives continued to heat things up. The factional war escalated with the passage of the infrastructure bill being supported by 13 Republicans in the House. Greene and other members of the Freedom Caucus began an all-out attack on the perceived traitors. This is not the first time Greene has

come into conflict with Republican leadership, as she lost her committee assignments earlier this year. Appearing recently on U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.’s, podcast, Greene made a list of demands that McCarthy would need to fulfill to earn support from her and other members of the Freedom Caucus in the pursuit of Speaker of the House after the expected Republican victory in the midterm elections. The factions of the Republican Party are putting an immense amount of pressure on Republican leadership to bend to their whims. Leadership must tread carefully to maintain support and keep their positions, as the Freedom Caucus has ousted a speaker six years ago. McCarthy has to tread this fine line or else upset either moderates or the more extreme members, with both groups proving to be pivotal more often than not. McCarthy’s main goal, whether Greene and Gaetz and others recognize it or not, is and always will be party unity. He recognizes the importance of a unified party that

is able to effectively mobilize when it needs to. He also recognizes the necessity of it for his own leadership ambitions. The worst-case scenario for McCarthy is if the Freedom Caucus leads a revolt and splinters the party apart, destroying unity and jeopardizing the advantage Republicans can gain in the midterms. There has been a lackluster showing from a Democrat-controlled House, Senate, and presidency, hindered by factionalism and overshadowed by an expected catastrophic defeat in a year’s time. However, there is yet light at the end of the dark tunnel, and there is yet a way to see this glass as halffull. The Democrats have something to look forward to in the increased factionalism of the House and Senate. Soon the Republicans will be vying for the House majority, and they have some major issues to contend with prior to the 2022 midterm elections. While factionalism has slowed the Democrats down substantially, it could cause the Republican Party to come undone in due time.

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10 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021

When education is on the ballot, Democrats are the best choice QUIN ZAPOLI

Opinion Columnist


arlier this month, Democrats lost unified control of Virginia state government to Glenn Youngkin, a mild-mannered, sweater vest-wearing Republican who loves to talk about schools. Leading up to the election, education was consistently ranked as one of the most important issues to Virginia voters. The Youngkin campaign addressed education by constantly denouncing critical race theory, which some, including Terry McAuliffe, called a “racist dog whistle.” Critical race theory, though, is not being taught in Virginia. Or in any other public school. And in other policy areas related to education and children, McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats have specific plans and superior records.

Maddie Fox/DAILY

Take a look at Glenn Youngkin’s education platform. Prior to his victory, his campaign website offered a page titled “Restore Excellence in Education” — it has since been removed. The section had seven sentences. One of them reiterated Youngkin’s desire to ban critical race theory, which — again — is not being taught in Virginia schools. The others included keeping schools open five days a week as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, getting students ready for college, expanding charter schools and increasing funding for special education and teachers. Virginia schools are legally obligated to offer in-person education, per a law passed by the Democratic state government last summer. Preparing students for college is an admittedly noble goal (if vague), and it is facilitated by the easy access to community college provided by the “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” program passed by the Democratic-controlled state government last year. This program makes community college free for middle-income students looking to work jobs in high demand. And, of course, there is increasing school funding, something McAuliffe also supports and actually did when he was governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. Youngkin’s education plans, when not devoid of detail, address issues McAuliffe and Virginia

Democrats have been working on for years. Youngkin’s more expansive plan, found in a press release that has since been removed from his website, was slightly less vague. It included another bullet point about critical race theory, along with more vague goals, like “equip our students to be the top-performing students in the country.” Notably, neither his press release nor his campaign website say how he intends to accomplish any of these goals. Youngkin’s most specific points pertain to school accreditation standards, something McAuliffe adjusted as governor to deemphasize standardized testing. McAuliffe’s actions were bipartisan and stemmed from opposition to high-stakes standardized testing by teacher and parent groups. Youngkin’s plan also includes a promise to “ensure schools are never again closed unnecessarily for extended periods of time,” likely a reference to school closures last year, which were necessary to combat COVID-19. Beyond once again offering vague goals, Youngkin’s full education platform solely focuses on critiquing McAuliffe and incumbent Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s records, even when their records consist of bipartisan action or life-saving pandemic responses. McAuliffe’s education platform, found in a six-page document linked to his campaign website, emphasizes not only his past work on education and issues in need of a solution, but actual solutions. McAuliffe planned to address teacher shortages, something plaguing Ann Arbor as well as Virginia, by raising teacher salaries above the national average. He planned to include 3-year-olds in Virginia’s subsidized pre-K program. He planned to expand existing workforce training programs to allow Virginia students to immediately enter the workforce upon graduating high school. In addressing race, McAuliffe argued in favor not of teaching critical race theory, but of better integrating schools and addressing gaps in funding correlated with majority-minority schools. McAuliffe identifies real problems and proposes reasonable ways to address them. Crucially, McAuliffe is not unique in his support for effective education plans. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $17.1 billion education budget plan last summer. It contained provisions to close funding gaps between Michigan schools, along with an expansion of state preschool programs. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $123.9 billion education package, looking to increase school presence in commwunities and bolster special education programs, along with expanding access to preschool.

Read more at MichiganDaily.com

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

What can “Home Alone 2” teach us about 2024? A lot, apparently. MIGUEL CALLE Opinion Columnist


t’s the most wonderful time of the year: the holiday season is upon us. Streets are adorned with gleaming lights, stores play Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé nonstop and your home is likely glittering with decorations. I don’t know what your holiday tradition(s) may be, but for me, it’s watching almost every Christmas movie before Dec. 25. Each year, a few stand out — I can’t resist Macaulay Culkin beating up Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in the “Home Alone” movies. If you haven’t seen “Home Alone,” I won’t spoil it. Go watch it right now. Here’s a brief synopsis: a little boy played by Macaulay Culkin is left alone in his suburban Chicago house when his family goes on vacation and learns that two robbers, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, plan to break in. All hell breaks loose as he tries to protect his home. It’s hilarious, Christmassy and delightful. The entire cast shines. However, this article is not a “Home Alone” review. It’s about politics. Because, these days, what isn’t? What does a brilliant holiday movie have to do with politics? In this case, there is a clear link between the original film’s sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” which is almost as magnificent as the first, and the nightmare looming larger with the passing of every year — the 2024 presidential election. The connection is that in both “Home Alone 2” and 2024, history repeats itself. “Home Alone 2” features Kevin McCallister, the protagonist, replicating the same mistakes from the first film. The family forgets about him once again, there is no way to reach him and Kevin’s mom, played by Catherine O’Hara, is worried sick for most of the movie. Except this time, Kevin ends up in New York somehow, living like a king while staying at The Plaza Hotel. The two robbers, Harry and Marv, are back too, aiming to steal the Christmas Eve earnings of a famed toy store. McCallister learns of their plan and aims to stop them anew. The 2024 election will, similarly, be a repetition of 2020’s election, except the plot will be much, much worse. No one wants to redo 2020. Literally no one. Democrats want to win the election without having to respond to claims of fraud, moderate Republicans don’t want

to deal with those claims either and the Trump wing of the Republican Party wants to actually emerge victorious this time. Nevertheless, the most likely scenario is that we will see a facsimile of 2020, or something more horrible. It is unlikely that either candidate will win with a significant majority of the popular or electoral college vote. Republicans just showed they have an impressive hand heading into 2022. Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe in the race for the governor’s mansion in Virginia. Jack Ciattarelli outperformed nearly everyone’s expectations in New Jersey, narrowly losing against Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who won a second term. Other, less nationally recognized elections illustrated the GOP’s current electoral strength. If the circumstances don’t change — for example, if President Biden doesn’t manage to stop the country’s inflationary trends — next year could be a bloodbath for Democrats. And even if Biden does, Republicans are still poised to win back the House and Senate, just by a smaller margin. But 2022 is not 2024. Trump will not just make a short appearance as he does in “Home Alone 2” — he is a fantastic tool to make Republicans go out and vote for the candidates he endorses (except in Georgia), yet Democrats get energized when he’s the one on the ballot. And there is no doubt in my mind that he will run again and will become the nominee. 2024, regardless of where the country is politically — with Biden at a 30% or 60% approval rating, we don’t know — will be a close race. Closer than 2020. With that in mind, think of this: the “Home Alone 2” scenario in three years is Trump declaring that he won, even though Biden has been reelected by the skin of his teeth. Trump supporters blare out statements about election fraud. Republican legislative majorities in battleground states seek to overturn the results. This time, no one’s there to protect democracy. Democrats are entrenched. Republicans are entrenched. It’s a stretch to say that “Civil War” could begin, but violence would ensue. So how can this be avoided? For the time being, Biden needs to get moving. He has to become an LBJ-type figure who controls the Senate, and he needs to do so now. Implement the infrastructure bill. Continue working with moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine; they’re the answer.

Extol the bill’s bipartisan merits until November 2024. Curb inflation by hiking interest rates — a necessary evil — while publicizing the sinking unemployment levels. Support the police by following the Eric Adams model. Doing so means focusing on taming crime, which can be done by expanding the police force and training them adequately. Stop talking about taxing corporations and the rich. It may not be socialism, but it certainly sounds like it — and politics is all about communication and marketing. Instead, talk about tax cuts for the middle and lower classes. Laud the progress this administration has made on vaccines. Communicate openly about issues regarding immigrants and the southern border and don’t let situations like the whipping of a Haitian migrant occur. Finally, avoid blunders like the FranceAustralia debacle. In the long run — stop weakening democracy. That goes for both parties. Let’s not forget that Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018, never conceded when she lost against Brian Kemp. Did she have valid reasons to speak out on election fraud? Maybe. Still, she should have conceded. Imagine how different the narrative would be — how different Jan. 6 would have been — if Trump had said that he believed some “sketchy” stuff happened (it didn’t), yet conceded anyway. Democracy wouldn’t have suffered as much. Neither happened, because neither party is currently willing to accept that they lost. Democrats spent four years throwing impeachments at the wall — even if only two formally reached the House — attempting to make one stick. It’s hypocritical for Democrats to assert that they’re the only party defending democracy when they’re also assaulting its processes. Trump was an awful president; he was not illegitimate. So let’s learn from “Home Alone 2.” Let’s not echo the errors made so far and replicate the 2020 incubus. We don’t need to be Kevin McCallister in New York. 2024 does not need to be a 2020 redux. And if you’re thinking that it’s too soon to be talking about this, as Christmas begins, it’s not. A year has already gone by; the situation hasn’t changed. Talk to your family this holiday season — especially those you never agree with — and find common ground. If you can, maybe the country can too.




The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 — 11

Michigan looks forward to Georgia despite not receiving No. 1 ranking LANE KIZZIAH

Managing Sports Editor

On Sunday, the No. 2 Michigan football team learned its postseason fate: A trip to Miami to face No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl. While the Bulldogs’ recent loss to Alabama toppled them from their long-held No. 1 spot, it’s hard to picture a National Championship game without them in it. But, as the Wolverines have said all season, they aren’t flinching. “We’re gonna be looking forward to it,” junior quarterback Cade McNamara said Sunday. “We know that it’ll be a challenge for us, and they have a good defense, but I think we’ve got a solid team ourselves. So I know that we’ll be confident, and I know we’re gonna be looking forward to it.”

While the team will take a short break to regroup before resuming practice, McNamara — known for his meticulous preparation — said he would start watching tapes later that afternoon. For much of the season, it looked like Georgia was in a league of its own. The Bulldogs have averaged close to 200 yards on the ground and 250 yards through the air en route to a 12-1 record. They have a defense that’s held four teams to a touchdown or less and three more absolutely scoreless, giving up an average of 9.53 points per game. They opened the season by holding then-No. 3 Clemson to just a field goal and followed it up just under a month later with a 37-0 thrashing of then No. 8 Arkansas, performances that were good enough to snatch the No. 1 spot early in the season and hold it tight up until the

conference championship week. But after Georgia’s blowout loss on Saturday, many in the Wolverines’ camp were hoping the dominant win against Iowa would be enough to propel Michigan to the top. “I thought we should have been No. 1,” senior edge Aidan Hutchinson said. “I mean, we just beat the number two team in the country and the number 13, but it is what it is. I mean, we’re in it. And we’re all so excited to play in Miami.” While the seeming nonchalance could be hiding a greater sense of disappointment, it might just be genuine gratitude for how far the Wolverines have come. They started the season with mediocre expectations, many outside the facility anticipating a 7-5 ceiling for their season. Now, they’re the only team in history to make the College Football

Playoff after starting the season unranked. Still, when asked whether there was any point in the season where they realized a Playoff berth could really be in their future, each player gave a similar response: “I never actually gave up on this team,” sophomore receiver Roman Wilson said. “I thought we could be one of the best teams in the nation. Even when I committed here, I still believed that. And I want to say I’m not surprised but really happy with what this team has done.” Added graduate defensive back Brad Hawkins: “After the Michigan State loss, we all had a player-led meeting. We didn’t let that game define us. We continued to push. We continued to move on as a unit. The leadership in this building is amazing. We just kept hammering at it, kept grinding at it. We didn’t get satisfied. We continue to


Sophomore running back Blake Corum rushed for a 67 yard touchdown in the Big Ten Championship Game.

just grind it out. We knew that to come to this point we’d have to win out and we did that. We just continued to believe in each other, we stayed together. “And we got it done.” Now, the Wolverines have a national semi-final clash with Georgia to show for it.

In Saturday’s championship game, SportsMonday: Don’t doubt Michigan anymore Tate Myre became a part of history KENT SCHWARTZ

Managing Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — A Big Ten Championship, a 17-year title drought and a chance at the College Football Playoff lay on the line Saturday. There was absolutely no need for extra motivation. And yet, the shoulder of every Michigan football player, coach and staff member bore a patch: a block ‘O,’ with the initials ‘TM’ and the number 42. It was to honor Tate Myre, a 16 year old high school student who played football and wrestled. A student that passed away in the shooting in his high school on Tuesday in Oxford, Mich. After the tragedy, this game found far more meaning than championship hopes. It was about being there for a family in its time of need, and this team — like it has on the football field nearly every time this season — rose to the occasion during its title-clinching victory over No. 13 Iowa. “You know, it’s a community that needs all of our prayers, every one of them,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “And we just, we wanted to offer that up. We wanted to offer our prayers. They’re a community that desperately needs it and offer them up to the one who conquered death and also honor Tate Myre and his bravery, his courage.”

Besides just wearing the patch, the Myre family was also in Indianapolis and joined the team for the coin toss. So, with the biggest game of its season coming up, Michigan had its eyes focused on something else: the Myre family. And, as always, the Wolverines’ leader stepped into the foreground. Senior edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, less than a week after making a Heisman Trophy statement game, thought the team


The Michigan football team scored 42 points on Saturday, the jersey number Oxford student Tate Myre wore.

needed to honor Tate. So he went to Harbaugh. “And so, you know, when the players — when Aidan came to me — and wanted to dedicate this game to Tate Myre, (I said), ‘You know, yes, let’s do that,’ ” Harbaugh said. “Let’s do that. That was, that was huge.” These Wolverines have never needed anyone to motivate them externally, but, as their repeated exclamations of ‘2%’ and ‘6-6’ came

bursting out of the locker room on Saturday night showed, a little outside motivation couldn’t hurt. To play for a community in Michigan, in a team made up of leaders from Michigan, that dedication pushed the Wolverines to play as best they could. “We talked about it last night,” Harbaugh said. “What more, how much more can we pile into one game, the importance of one game.” Graduate student center Andrew Vastardis added: “And on top of it, we wanted to play for 42, all those that tragically lost their lives in that community and everything.” After beating Ohio State, Saturday’s game became about tempering emotions: Following such a high where Michigan finally threw the monster off its back, how would they respond and focus on the next game? Then, the tragedy in Oxford added even more to that emotional turbulence. So, when Donovan Edwards dove over the top of a pile to score the Wolverines’ sixth touchdown of the game and Jake Moody hit his sixth extra-point down the middle of the uprights to make the score a 42-3 statement, it meant more. “Goosebumps,” Hutchinson said. “Chills,” Vastardis said. Now, instead of 42 just on the shoulders of Michigan to honor Tate Myre and Oxford, that number will be written into the history books.

On Dec. 31st, Michigan will play for everything. In a season that began full of doubt and low expectations, it beat Ohio State. It beat Wisconsin and Iowa. It’s overcome every obstacle and trial sent its way so far, including rebounding after its late game collapse against Michigan State. On New Year’s KENT Eve, in the College SCHWARTZ Football Playoff, the Wolverines will play Georgia. Alabama or Cincinnati await, should they win. And, after the past two weeks, Michigan could very well be the best team in the country. It’s certainly shown its weaknesses: Cade McNamara won’t blow your socks off, and its defense lets up yards to talented offenses. But the rest of those teams have weaknesses, too. In its biggest test of the year, Georgia allowed 536 yards of offense, with 421 through the air. Its previously unflappable defense showed glaring holes. Stetson Bennett IV can manage and lead the team to victory, but he struggled coming from behind. “General impressions are rugged,” Jim Harbaugh said of Georgia on Sunday. “It’s a rugged, tough, tough squad that plays extremely well on all sides of the ball and special teams. Gonna be really excited to dig into it and study them. But yeah, that’s the word that came to my mind.” Alabama struggled against Auburn and at Texas A&M with a young Bryce

Young looking overwhelmed and the offense looking stagnant. Perhaps after walloping Georgia, the Crimson Tide has found itself. Perhaps not. Then there’s Cincinnati, which possesses the nation’s longest unbeaten streak. They’ve squashed nearly every team they’ve faced this season, including No. 5 Notre Dame, but the same questions have persisted throughout their season: What happens when they play an opponent like Alabama that’s incredibly talented? Through the last 14 weeks, Michigan has established itself as the No. 2 team in the country, and there are few who would argue it. It’s outperformed every expectation that those outside the program have had for it, and on New Year’s Eve, the expectation is a loss. Georgia opened as a one-touchdown favorite, and very few outside the program would expect the Wolverines to win. But Michigan knows how good of a team it is. “I think when we beat (Ohio State), we knew we can — we’re a really good football team — and we got a really good chance to win (the semifinal), because Ohio State was a really talented team,” senior defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson said. Michigan has the best rushing game of the remaining four teams, gaining 30 more yards on the ground than the next best team in the playoff — the Bulldogs. It has the second-best 3rd-down conversion percentage, with 45.1%, and the second-best 3rd-down defense, with 32.3%, both behind the Crimson Tide. This year, where talent and coaching are even, it seems that what matters

most is an identity and dedication. The Wolverines have mastered both over the course of the season. “Toughness is something that we take to heart and that we have made our identity,” Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara said. “And I really — I just love the identity that we’ve created, no matter what the style of football is at this day and age.”

BECCA MAHON/Daily Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh won his first Big Ten Championship a year after going 2-4.

The last two games, in its toughest stretch of the season, that identity has worn down opponents and led to second-half explosions. McNamara has been clinical, hitting his targets and making the plays he needs to. But above that, there’s the element that is perhaps most surprising: Michigan’s big plays. Saturday’s double pass for 75 yards and Blake Corum’s run for 67 yards, are just the beginning of an offense that repeatedly gains large chunks of yards. The Wolverines totaled eight plays of 15-plus yards in the Big Ten Championship Game, breaking open a defense that is one of the best in the country. Michigan has been doubted week after week, including by me, but with just two weeks left, no one should doubt the Wolverines. Because they may just win the National Championship.

Gattis, Harbaugh realize their vision Josh Gattis made a mad dash for the elevator. For the second straight week, the Michigan football team had done something that, a few months prior, seemed unthinkable. Even before the confetti fell from the rafters following the Wolverines’ 42-3 throttling of Iowa, Gattis and his analysts had BRENDAN begun their descent, ROOSE anxious to join the celebration of the program’s first Big Ten Championship since 2004. For Gattis individually, though, the win meant even more. His offense’s performance — a complete, 42-point dismantling of one of the nation’s top defenses statistically — represented the full realization of a vision that, in prior years, had failed to materialize. It was abundantly clear: The efforts of Gattis, Jim Harbaugh and the entire offense had fully borne fruit. “I think (it’s) just the commitment from both sources — coach Gattis and then us believing in him,” sophomore running back Blake Corum said. That commitment has taken time. The program Gattis joined in 2019 — one that was entering its fifth season with Jim Harbaugh at the helm — ran an archaic, uninspiring offense that had visibly reached its ceiling. Gattis had the potential to fix that; he brought promises of modern schemes and a catchy “speed in space” slogan, a refreshing message for an offense that, up to that point, looked anything but modern. In Gattis’ first two years, though, the offense lacked an identity. At times, it made little sense, featuring gimmicky twoquarterback systems and wildcat packages that only helped it get in its own way. Soon, it became a question whether the same fate that doomed promising Michigan offenses of old — the “innovations” of Rich Rodriguez, of Pep Hamilton, of offensive coordinators dating back to the Wolverines’ last conference title — would come to meet Josh Gattis. It didn’t. Where other coaches in Michigan’s past had doubled down on their failures, Gattis adapted. Instead of forcing his offense into a pass-first system with personnel not suited to it, he looked at the talent in his running backs room and on his

offensive line and worked with Harbaugh to accentuate it. “He committed to the run game early,” Corum said. “In the interview (prior to the season), he said last year he didn’t really focus on the run game. He’s been a tremendous play caller.” Harbaugh, too, learned from Gattis. The head coach’s fingerprints are all over the Wolverines’ offense — they’re most visible in the old-fashioned power runs that have opened up space for the backs all season. But he’s also allowed Gattis’ own creativity to flourish. On Saturday, that was evident in Michigan’s multiple big plays, in the double pass for a touchdown from freshman running back Donovan Edwards, in the flea flicker that’s called basically every week and in the endless jet sweeps and end arounds that — yes — put speed in space. The results are easy to see. The Wolverines have gone from tallying 381.3 yards per game last year to 451.9 this year. In both of their biggest two games of the season — against Ohio State last week and the Hawkeyes on Saturday — they’ve put up 42 points and over 450 yards. From the eye-test standpoint, the offense is playing with as much confidence as any team in the country and having fun while doing it. “Toughness is something that we take to heart and that we have made our identity,” junior quarterback Cade McNamara said. “I just love the identity that we’ve created, no matter what the style of football is at this day and age.” Truthfully, the offense that Gattis and Harbaugh have crafted together has been a long time coming. When Gattis first arrived on campus, he struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon him to shape a championship-caliber system. Now, with a Big Ten Championship under his belt and as a finalist for the Broyles Award — given to the nation’s top assistant coach every year — Gattis has proven that he belongs at Michigan. Through the speed bumps the program has hit along the way, both he and Harbaugh have managed to adapt and help build a true contender. “We’ve really had the mentality of ‘Michigan versus everybody,’ ” McNamara said. “I just don’t know much to say other than I love these dudes. Like, really.” That mentality has lifted the Wolverines to new heights. Soon, we’ll see if they hit a ceiling.


Becca Mahon/Daily, Miles Macklin/Daily | Page Design by Sophie Grand

PUMP it up ‘I love this team’: Michigan relishing legacy as champions JARED GREENSPAN Daily Sports Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — There was a moment in Saturday’s game, deep in the fourth quarter once Michigan’s lead had swelled to 35-3, when Jim Harbaugh and Aidan Hutchinson flashed across the Lucas Oil Stadium big screen. The seventh-year Michigan coach and senior defensive end locked eyes. They screamed in each other’s face and whacked one another across the chest. And the crowd — delirious, jubilant and rollicking — roared in appreciation. Later in the night, with remnants of maize streamers and blue confetti still draped to their clothes, the pair convened again. They sat side-by-side and smile-by-smile as newlyminted Big Ten champions. “For guys to live on, really, in Schembechler Hall forever, I mean, this picture is going to be up there on the AllAmerican wall,” Harbaugh said, grappling with the magnitude of the victory. “Every guy on the team in the team picture is going to be up there as part of a Big Ten champion. We’ve got a banner in Glick Fieldhouse that’s

going to say Big Ten Champion.” Last week’s stunning performance against Ohio State thrust this iteration of Wolverines into the history books. But, as has been a common thread throughout this magical season, neither the players nor the coaches were satisfied. They wanted more. Now, after a 42-3 shellacking of Iowa, they have it. “We fully believed that at some point or another during our legacy something would happen, something would put Michigan back on top,” sixth-year center Andrew Vastardis said. “And I think every guy that’s come in here after I got here has just bought into that and done everything they can to make it happen.” Did Harbaugh ever think that this moment would come? “Nobody’s owed anything,” he said. “Nobody’s entitled to anything.” And Hutchinson? “That was obviously one of the goals going into the season, but there’s no guarantees in life, no guarantees that you’re going to win anything.” Harbaugh is well-versed in that lesson by now. He returned to his alma mater seven years but a lifetime ago, hailed as the savior

destined to rescue a tradition-rich program from the abyss. He re-entered the college football sphere with flair, charisma and a brash confidence. Those blissful images were distant memories this time last year, when it seemed as if Harbaugh’s tenure was careening towards a rather unfulfilling end. The Wolverines were dysfunctional — at 2-4 and in the throes of a COVID-19 outbreak, they seemed direction-less. It was certainly a far cry from any restoration of glory days. Just look at the difference 12 months can make. As the seconds on the clock melted away Saturday night, a trio of Michigan coaches rumbled through the pressbox in search of the elevator; they fled the upstairs coaches’ box to join the pending celebration on the field. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis hugged safeties coach Ron Bellamy; Bellamy returned the favor to graduate assistant Grant Newsome. They acted like a group of eager, wide-eyed kids, impatiently murmuring about the elevator’s status and debating whether the stairs would be faster. After the game, the scene unfolded similarly. Redshirt sophomore edge rusher

David Ojabo stood at the entrance of the tunnel and took an endless stream of videos with fans. Those same fans informed junior quarterback Cade McNamara that they love him. And Athletic Director Warde Manuel — the man who offered Harbaugh a contract extension last January, entrusting the embattled coach with the program’s future — pumped his fist and offered a “Go Blue” while he exchanged a hug with sophomore safety R.J. Moten. Meanwhile, in the Michigan locker room, talk of “2%” and “6-6” abounded, both references to the meager odds that sportsbooks and pundits pegged for these Wolverines entering the season. “Sometimes, just some of the stuff that’s out there, you just take it and ride with it,” sixth-year center Andrew Vastardis smirked. “Fuel to the fire.” Twelve games and a Big Ten Championship later, Michigan certainly has. “We’ve gone under some scrutiny, we know that,” McNamara said. “And we’ve battled through. We’re just such a great group of guys who just care about each other. We’ve really had that mentality of ‘Michigan versus everybody.’ ”

This is a group that Harbaugh refers to as the “mighty men and women of Michigan football.” He recites the reasons for that moniker ad nauseum — their work ethic, their day-to-day approach, their affable personality, their togetherness. “I love this team,” Harbaugh gushed. “There’s no team I love more than this team.” That’s high praise coming from a noted football-lifer like Harbaugh. It’s also a sentiment that goes both ways. “One of the first things I thought of after we won was Coach Harbaugh,” McNamara, his eyes washed red from tears, said. “… After last season, it was so tough and not just for us players but for coach Harbaugh as well. “And we know that there’s not one person who cares about Michigan more than Coach Harbaugh. This team, we came together. We want to win for Coach Harbaugh, too. We’re just so happy that we were able to give him that joy because he deserves it.” Moments later, McNamara left the podium and ducked into the locker room, trophy in tow. Vastardis followed him, along with sophomore running back Blake Corum. Out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. Harbaugh and his Wolverines, immortalized together.

Statement Sex Edition

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 // The Statement — 2

Illustration by Katherine Lee Page Design by Sarah Chung & Brittany Bowman

Let’s unpack that: How and why we talk about sex in college BY


MANAGING SPORTS EDITOR & STATEMENT CORRESPONDENT If you walk into my house after 11 p.m., know that you will be talked about when you leave. Every morning after a night out, my roommates and I follow the same sacred ritual: the debrief. All 12 of us — and any male guests who have dared to stay past 9 a.m. — squeeze together on the couch to recap the night before. Over cups of coffee and pieces of dry toast, we rehash everything from who was talking to who at Rick’s to who got too drunk and had to go home early to which guys were being stand-offish. No one is spared. Each person in the circle goes around and has their own 15 minutes of fame to tell their version of the night, frequently ending in who they went home with, what they chatted about, how the sex was and whether they’d do it again. Everything is dramatized to the fullest extent. My house actually bought a karaoke machine to add to the fanfare. An informal Q&A follows with questions ranging from “Was there cuddling after?” to “Did you come?” We laugh at mishaps and awkward moments, talk about positions and scrutinize potential red flags. I rarely venture stories of my own, probably due to the fact that I have a boyfriend more than anything else. So, instead, I throw out questions and give unsolicited advice, half jealous of their random hookup stories and half grateful that I’m not in their position. Inevitably, someone’s story will outshine the others, like the time, not one, but two of my roommates brought boys home just to make them watch the entirety of “Lemonade Mouth” and then quickly sent them packing. Of course, we have much more serious conversations about sex at other times of day — conversations

about hookup culture and consent and safety — but there’s something so enthralling and even empowering about talking about sex in a way that’s entirely carefree, light-hearted and non-judgmental. The morning recap is hardly a universal experience, but many female survey respondents and people who I interviewed (who will be referred to by fake names to protect their privacy) recounted similar experiences. “We all kind of wake up and slowly migrate into the living room one at a time, but eventually we all just kind of talk about how everyone’s night was,” LSA senior Sarah said. “Not just sex-related but like, ‘I lost you here, where did you go? What did you do?’ ” The first time my boyfriend sat in on the debrief, he was surprised how formal it was, like a “morning support group” he said. I’ve always assumed that’s because the morning recap is a gendered phenomenon, and to some extent, it is. When asked on The Daily’s 2021 Sex Survey, about 65% of male respondents said they either agree or strongly agree with the statement “I feel comfortable talking to my friends about sex.” In comparison, almost 80% of women said they agree or strongly agree with the same statement. Even if men are comfortable talking about sex, they do it at much lower rates than women. Eightyfive percent of females said that they discuss sex with their friends “often” or “sometimes,” whereas the majority of men — 75% — said they discuss sex with their friends “sometimes,” “rarely” or “never.” There’s also a huge gap in terms of what we share. Over half of women said they share everything or almost everything about their sexual encounters with their closest friends. Another third said it depends on the circumstances (which friends they’re talking to and who they had sex with) and only 15% said they rarely, if ever, share details with friends. On the other hand, two-thirds of men said they

share little to no information with their friends. Many responded to the question saying “I don’t kiss and tell.” The other third either said they share a lot of details or are open to sharing details when asked by friends. Sarah shares virtually everything about her sex life with her friends. Still, our sexual experiences seem to be very similar. Men and women gave comparable descriptions of their typical one night stand: meet someone at a bar, go home with them, have mediocre sex and never see each other again. They also cited similar reasons for having sex, the top answers being pleasure, love and to feel wanted. So, if our experiences are so similar, why do we talk about sex so differently? There’s the biological answer, that women are more socialized to communicate verbally than men. While men bond through activity, women tend to bond through sharing — a phenomenon particularly pertinent within heterosexual relationships. “Men are socialized to use language to assert a hierarchy and their place in a hierarchy,” Cynthia Gabriel, Women’s and Gender Studies professor, said. “So they have less practice using talk to establish intimacy and rapport, and so it makes sense that they would talk to their friends less often about it.” LSA senior Lauren feels comfortable sharing virtually everything about her sex life with her friends because she says they have nothing to hide from each other. She sees their morning recaps as a fun, comfortable space that may even bring them closer. But maybe it’s also a function of hookup culture. Some social circles (I’m looking at you, Greek life) set very different sexual expectations for men and women. While men are free, even encouraged, to sleep around, the same behavior for women is looked down upon. Obviously, this leads to very different sexual behavior.

As Marcus, a recent Michigan graduate, said, men spend their first few years of college “racking up as many bodies” as possible, while women rarely do the same. Marcus felt like his friends talked about sex less frequency as college went on, a facet he thinks of the diminishing novelty of sex for men. Most of his male friends came into college relatively sexually inexperienced, so when they started rushing a fraternity, were exposed to an entirely new culture. He remembers late-night recaps from his freshman year that bear a striking resemblance to my morning debriefs. But, once the novelty of sex was lost, the experiences became a bit more routine, and he found there wasn’t much to discuss. It wasn’t that sex got boring or was any less enjoyable, but sex was just sex. “One thing that I noticed is that guys like gossip just as much as girls,” Marcus said. “I think it’s just that (sex) as a point of gossip is just not really as disclosed. I don’t really know. It’s definitely true that details are gone over, particularly when things are new, when you’re a freshman, and the whole hookup culture and sex scene is just new. You’re just getting with all different types of girls and things like that. So you’re addressing, you know, ‘This girl was like this, that girl was like that.’ But, then when you get older, people don’t want to hear the same old, same old.” But, for women, there really is no “same old, same old.” Regardless of hookup culture, the physical act of sex for heterosexual women is more nuanced than it is for men, particularly because the vast majority of heterosexual encounters end when the man finishes. The orgasm gap, the idea that heterosexual men reach orgasm 40% more frequently than their heterosexual female partners, creates more variety in the female sexual experience. Read more at MichiganDaily.com

Illustration by Katherine Lee Page Design by Sarah Chung & Brittany Bowman

3 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021 // The Statement

Hookup Culture: A case study with expert testimony BY I like to bring up my mom when talking to friends about sex. No, it isn’t a product of some subscription to one of Freud’s incestual talking points — my tendency to mention her is actually empirically grounded: she is a professor who has taught about the history of sex for over 20 years. And my personal bias aside, I’d confidently say she is an expert in the field. Telling people what she does usually garners the same cautious, yet intrigued reactions. People question, “Is that a thing?”, to which I usually answer yes and make a half-hearted joke about take-yourkid-to-work day. Others wonder if it’s like “Sex Education” on Netflix, and the answer is a little, but the absence of British accents makes a bigger difference than one would suspect. By far though, the response I get most often is some variation of: “You must have had an interesting childhood!” Without pause, I will always reply, “to say the least.” Despite being Jewish, my mom loved to decorate our Christmas tree — but only with her beloved felt vaginaments (vagina ornaments). And this type of demonstration was no seasonal project; exposing her children to elements of the body and sex was my mom’s year-round, 24/7 hobby. One of my fondest memories of her avocation in action comes from a car ride to my fourth-grade field trip. The destination was to a nearby retried mission to explore the church-like structure originally established to expand Christianity to the Native peoples of California. Naturally, my mom objected to the trip alone for socio-political reasons. But, in an effort to be supportive of my excitement to go, she decided to enlighten me on the puritanical origins of the sex position Missionary and its anti-Indigenous roots. Not to mention the one time I asked her who Thomas Jefferson was. She felt the most important thing to know about him was not his presidency but that he was a rapist; specifically, that he serially abused enslaved woman Sally


Hemings. She was adamant to explain how the prevailing narrative of them having a beautiful relationship is a historical inaccuracy. From there, she derived an impromptu lecture about the nature of consent and our culture trying to rename abuse as love. I was 10. These were not isolated incidents. By nature of her work on sex, rape, power and race, she was constantly uncovering the disgraceful histories behind many current day, seemingly innocuous social functions. I was 15 when her latest book, “Colonial Complexions,” was published. The book is dedicated to me and my brother and is focused on characterizations of the body. It reads “For Casey, For Ripley, May you each continue to embrace the amazing bodies that house you.” Because I had been taking my mom’s courses since I could speak, there was no way my unsophisticated, still rapidly developing brain could take on the weight of such hefty subjects. So, I resorted to adopting an emotionless perspective in order to manage the overwhelming feelings that held hands with this devastating reality of sex. I felt it was only feasible to anesthetize myself in order to process the intimidating facts I newly became aware of. I sustained this perspective throughout my very PG high school career. So, when I arrived at college with this intellectualization approach, I found the University of Michigan’s rampant hookup culture to be one of the strangest, most grotesque social phenomenons I had ever witnessed. From what I could tell from my, admittedly subjective, cis, heterosexual advantage point, it seemed that most women in similar standings to mine were losing out in hookup culture, yet still choosing to participate. I watched as my friends compromised their boundaries, safety, health and sanity. They explained that their pursuits were mostly motivated by a need for validation and human touch, which is completely understandable. But rarely did it seem like the extent of those benefits could ever master the sacrifices required for them to occur. The women I knew became jaded beings just weeks after agreeing to participate in this culture. And those

were the lucky ones — not everyone made it out whole. I would seethe with anger thinking about the things that have been done to the women I love. I still cry for them. I had painfully related to their sentiments of wanting to be cared for and was saddened by the means they felt necessary to achieve that. And the worst part of it all? No amount of cautionary tales could satisfy my own morbid curiosity.

I am my mother’s daughter. Her love for intellectual inquiry is hereditary, and we are at a toptier research institution, after all. I couldn’t help but do my own experiment to see if I could stay above water in hookup culture, regardless of knowing the success rate of my peers. So, I embarked on a self-directed case study to investigate and critically assess loosely promised benefits within hookup culture. The most classic experiment to run is of course a college situationship. Put in less than academic terms, this title exists to represent the grey area of a relationship where both participants operate under the assumption that sex will be the primary focus of the arrangement with no promise of exclusivity. In theory, this is not problematic — casual sex is not inherently destructive or wrong. But as I observed through others’ participation, respect can vary with the lending of bodies and it can be difficult to reject the feelings that arrive with physical intimacy. Methods for my field study go as follows: My standards for the selection of a male participant: way too low. The set up: a man invested for sex and a woman, me, invested for emotional fulfillment. The variable that seemed to stay constant: abysmal communication. The first thing I gained in my preliminary research rang true: these dynamics are not sustainable because sex cannot be the currency of a relationship. Emotional and physical intimacy run on completely different metrics and bodies cannot be traded and borrowed without any emotional toll. One time, following my co-participant’s and I’s usual exchange, I wanted to see how far I could push this anthropological research. We sat in his dorm room and I asked him if he respected me. He replied with honesty: “Probably not as much as you would like me to.” When I asked why, he responded: “It is hard to respect someone who doesn’t respect themselves.” His twin-XL mattress became my very own pyre as he finished his sentence. He hugged me as I started to dissipate, my head hung over his shoulder, facing away — he did not have to bear witness to the casualties of his words. It was a poetic injustice that he never saw the hollowness my face assumed, a disposition wiped and vacant of all intellectual capacity. He deduced that my mere participation in the situationship phenomenon was permission to mistreat me. My poor coping skills and desperate need for validation were a green light for him to borrow my body. In that moment, because of my emotional vulnerability and a little internalized misogyny, I had taken his conclusions as academic fact — man had cracked the code once again. My maltreatment was my own fault. Empirically speaking though, I suspect that experts in the field, specifically and especially my own mom, would disagree with his theory. Walking home from his place, just like a little girl, I needed my mom’s wisdom. I returned to the dedication she wrote in hopes it would wake me from my comatose state.

May you continue to embrace the amazing bodies that house you. I speculated what message she would have for when I do not embrace the amazing body that houses me. When I deprive it. When I pinch and appraise it in front of a full-body mirror. When I forgo all intellectual thought, forcing it to accompany me in subservience. It has housed me as I have tormented it for the majority of my 18 years of life. What is someone to make of such a manhandled body? I hypothesize that she would argue it is okay to imperfectly reside in a home. She would say my body still holds value and should be regarded with inalienable respect. She would tell me I deserve to be handled with care. And she would adamantly note that neglecting your own body is never permission for others to abuse it in tandem. But why would I speculate? Why not just ask? Mother knows best, and experts know even better. Yet I chose not to tell her what happened that day. I did not tell my mom about any of this, actually. Honestly, I would have rather relayed every grueling detail to a Sweetwaters barista before even mentioning to my mom the surface of my escapades. And my apprehension about telling her was not from fear of punishment. As I’m sure you can infer, she is very sex-positive. Besides, I’m a legal adult, and she never really bought into discipline anyway. Instead, I refused to share what happened because I knew, academically speaking, what was wrong. I could confidently synthesize with very little margin of error what my mother’s professional opinion would be. I know how she would correct him and console me. I could hear her scream all the way from California how ludicrous his logic was if you consider bodily autonomy and the logical fallacies of misogyny. But these were not intellectual endeavors, so they could not be governed by intellectual answers. I could have known every philosophical, sociological, historically informed argument academia had to offer, and I still would have returned to his dorm again that night like I did, even in the wake of his dehumanizing comments. I arrived to him as a lost puppy who realized a locked kennel is warmer than the streets. I missed my owner and domesticated animals do not bother themselves with the trivialities of critical thought. After returning from my second visit, I decided to tell my friends what was happening. That way, at least the case study would be peerreviewed. As we debriefed the night’s detriment, it became evident that my experience was relatable to too many of them. We attempted to reach for an empirical cure — all to assuage our fear that this might be a universal experience for women. We tried to find big words to assign to our feelings and organize our thoughts to make sense of the mess. We could have written dissertations on these topics. And we do. Read more at MichiganDaily.com

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 // The Statement — 4

The female ORGASM on Prozac BY TAYLOR


e are chronically misinformed when it comes to female pleasure — where it happens, why it happens and how. At times, even the scientific and research communities are stumped on the evolutionary purpose behind the female orgasm: while some studies point at a procreating advantage prior to ovulating periods for women who orgasm, no firm claim can yet be made. Female orgasms, especially in contrast to male orgasms, are so often mystified that it becomes a rarity, or a surprise, when they do happen. As Linda Geddes wrote in a 2015 BBC article “The Mystery of the Female Orgasm,” “Pressed or caressed the right way, a woman can be transported to such ecstasy, that for a few seconds, the rest of the world ceases to exist. But get it wrong and pain, frustration, or dull nothingness can ensue. It’s a stark contrast to a man’s experience; so long as they can get an erection, a few minutes of vigorous stimulation generally results in ejaculation.” Let’s break it down even further. Merriam Webster offers it plainly — the female orgasm is “the rapid pleasurable release of neuromuscular tensions at the height of sexual arousal that is usually accompanied by the ejaculation of semen in the male and by vaginal contractions in the female”. But do we require this for sexual satisfaction? I wish Merriam Webster could also answer this. There is research that hints at more relational ideas behind women’s orgasms and their purpose in 21st-century relationships. American psychologist Diana Fleischman stated in her 2016 report “An Evolutionary Behaviorist Perspective on Orgasm” that, “We (humans) have evolved to use orgasm and sexual arousal to shape one another’s behavior, and orgasm serves as a signal to another person of devotion, vulnerability, and malleability, which is, in itself, reinforcing.” Devotion? Archetypal college sex is anything but devoted. But Fleischmann is onto something when she describes orgasm as an enforcer of “adaptive behavioral ends.”We are, after all, encouraged to bookend hookups with orgasm. But is that really the point? Is it actually enjoyable? Who’s to say? *** n any given campus, sexual experimentation runs rampant — it’s part of the college brand, à la “Animal House,” “Superbad” or “Neighbors”: outof-control parties, drunk destruction, sloppy sex. As a freshman, this was something you had to experience in order to feel like you were “doing it right.” My freshman year at the University of Michigan, I took a seminar called Sociology of the Family. We covered everything from dating to divorce, parenthood to unpaid labor, gender roles to domestic work. One of our assigned readings was Lisa Wade’s “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus.” The book dives into a history of sexuality, higher education and the risks and rewards of hookup


Illustration by Megan Young Page Design by Sarah Chung & Brittany Bowman


culture — offering pointed insights as to where we’re headed. I’ll admit that I had initially figured this book to be another out-of-touch, flimsy report on how heartlessly our generation has come to regard sex and relationships. But it was surprisingly exact.Because Wade recruited actual college students to give detailed and relatively anonymous reports of their sex lives, the book thrums with truth. Of the scarily accurate descriptions Wade offers, she elaborates on the party experience most precisely. Chapter 1 begins with a lurid description of two women getting ready in their dorm room: “The goal is to look ‘fuckable,’ Miranda said, her voice buzzing with excitement. She and her roommate Ruby were tearing through their tiny closets, collecting a pile of ‘provocative’ items to consider wearing to that night’s party. The theme was ‘burlesque,’ so they were going for a classy stripper vibe ... Miranda plumped her breasts and contemplated her outfit, a black crop top and a cherry red skirt with a zipper running down the front. She unzipped it a bit from the bottom and, then, a bit more.” Throughout the rest of the book, Wade covers everything from the history of hookups to fraternity culture to attractiveness hierarchies to sexual assault to relationship woes to female and male orgasms. Wade noted of orgasms, “In masturbation, orgasms come easily and quickly to both sexes; on average, each requires just four efficient minutes to reach climax. Even women who never have orgasms with male partners often do regularly when they’re alone.” She continued, “If hookup culture has an orgasm gap—and it does—then the question isn’t what might be wrong with women’s bodies, but the extent to which the female orgasm is made a priority.” It is through hookup culture that sex becomes relatively lawless — and by lawless, I mean socially lawless. Gone are the rules that require a least a few dates first, gone are the rules that you even have to know them before you step into the club, the bar, the party. Sex is read-

ily available and easily acces-

sible to most. For those who seek convenience, it is distinctly possible to download any number of apps in the morning, and by nighttime, have sex. Sex has, in this way, become cheap. I’m not moralizing here, or at least not intentionally — but as I type this, Steve Lacy’s “N Side” seeps from my speakers and I’m wondering what the point of sex is. Is it to prove we are wanted, even if briefly? Is it, as Charles Bukowski might put it, “flesh searching for more than flesh?” Is it love? I don’t know, and I doubt I ever will. And I should probably stop reading Charles Bukowksi. *** dd on Prozac, or Zoloft, or Xanax, or Lexapro or any of the other hundreds of drugs prescribed each year to American women aimed at combating depression and anxiety, and the female orgasm becomes that much trickier to untangle. Among the primary side effects of antidepressants is its impact on sexual function — one Harvard Health Publishing article summarized that these aforementioned drugs can “make it difficult to become aroused, sustain arousal, and reach orgasm.” It is these articles and their statistics that swim around my head when I make the trek to CVS to pick up my Prozac refill. At the counter, I give my name, birthdate, repeat my last name and its spelling, sign my name, shake my head no when asked if I have any questions about the medication, marvel at the sheer length of the pharmacist’s nails as she hammers this information into the keyboard. I pay the $4 copay, she staples the standard-issue, five-page leaflet of warnings and potential side effects to my little brown bag, and I’m off. The literature of these advisory leaflets has always been absurdly entertaining: Remember that this drug has been prescribed to you because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Curiously enough, all that is mentioned of side effects involving sex is: sexual problems. I suppose it’s all-encompassing! There’s an article in The Cut titled “Treating My Anxiety Made My Sex Life Worse”. In it, author Rae Nudson explained that of the reactions of her Lexapro prescription, “’sexual side effects’ can refer to a wide variety of issues.


It can mean low libido, or it can mean problems with erections and lubrication, experiencing less pleasure, or taking longer to orgasm than it used to. Sometimes it

means that you still have the desire to have sex, but you don’t have the ability to orgasm at all.” So then, how does sex change for women (and men) who can’t climax on their respective medication? What is sex without climax? What is climax? Merriam-Webster saves me yet again: English Language Learners Definition of climax (Entry 1 of 2) : “the most intense point of sexual pleasure: ORGASM.” The most intense point of sexual pleasure. So maybe orgasm doesn’t have to translate exactly to a “rapid pleasurable release of neuromuscular tensions at the height of sexual arousal that is usually accompanied by the ejaculation of semen in the male and by vaginal contractions in the female. Perhaps orgasm can be restructured to mean the very moment you are kissed, or the very moment you are kissed at that very place. The perfect position. I don’t know if I actually believe this, or if it’s just another thought experiment told to play — but that’s why I employ the word perhaps. Restructuring our idea of sex so that there is less pressure put on climaxing can make sex more enjoyable, and for everyone. Enjoyable sex, most often, is sex with someone you are comfortable with, someone you care for. Hooking up, by contrast, is enjoyable in the way that a roller coaster ride is enjoyable — however thrilling, you will probably never go on that ride again, and you will also probably never again feel the exact thrill of riding it the first time. And it’s usually over in less than a few minutes. Enjoyable sex is sex that understands that needs differ. Enjoyable sex is, to put it tritely, electrifying. Your nerves fray. You feel that you can look into their eyes. There is, surely, pleasure. And pleasure, well pleasure is a good deal easier to achieve by virtue of its ambiguity. Pleasure can last for more than 30, or 40, seconds. Pleasure can live in you as long as you can remember it. Pleasure is tracing your fingers on the soft outline of somebody’s lips, especially if they are red from the cold of walking over to your house. Pleasure is meeting somebody’s line of sight and having the rare confidence to hold it. Pleasure is touching your pool-pruned hands to somebody’s shoulders or raking through their brown-when-wet hair in the shower. Pleasure is kissing somebody’s ear because you know they love it when you do that. Pleasure is kissing somebody’s ear because you love to do that. Pleasure is bottles and tubes clanging over on the bathroom countertop because they were in the way. Pleasure is not finishing the movie. Pleasure is lifting up a pale violet dress, but just above the hips and just after everyone has gone to bed. Pleasure is the reliably warm nape of your neck, that perfect blue shirt. Pleasure is touch but it is also what comes before touch. Pleasure is patient. If you are a woman, or someone on antidepressants, and you find it difficult to enjoy what we are so often told we should be enjoying — I encourage you to think less about climaxing and more about pleasure.