ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINE YEARS OF EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Ann Arbor, Michigan
CSG Vice President announces resignation
Blanchard to step down next week, new VP to be selected by Assembly ANGELINA LITTLE
KELSEY PEASE/Daily Susan Shirk, research professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California - San Diego, presents her lecture “Overreach and Overreaction: The Crisis in US-China relations in Weiser Hall Tuesday.
UC-SD professor discusses crisis in US-China relations at lecture series
Susan Shirk analyzes consequences of overreaching intentions internationally GABRIEL BOUDAGH For The Daily
The Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan hosted Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center and research professor at the University of California, San Diego, for a discussion of the current tensions between the United States and China Tuesday at Weiser Hall.
About 50 people attended the discussion of the overreach and overreactions of both Chinese and American foreign policy. Shirk said in the last two decades the Chinese and American governments have had strained relations similar to the relationship between the United States and the U.S.S.R. “It’s very, very different,” Shirk said. “But it has a lot of the same intense, mutual suspicion and hostility that
we had during the Cold War, as well as this ideological dimension and the clash of systems.” Shirk also discussed the reaction of both the Chinese and American governments to the tension between the two countries. “I do believe that the United States is overreacting to the perceived threat from China, and in the process, it’s harming itself,” Shirk said. “In
particular, it’s the openness and vibrancy of our own economy and society, which are the ultimate sources of American strength and competitiveness.” She said China’s overreaching has heightened fears of the “China threat” in America, sparking backlash that went beyond President Donald Trump’s administration. See RELATIONS, Page 3A
Daily Staff Reporter
At Central Student Government’s weekly assembly, CSG vice president Isabelle Blanchard, an LSA senior, announced she will resign from her position on CSG on the last day of the semester. “This decision has not been an easy one, and I have struggled with feelings of guilt during this time, as I do not want to let anyone down,” Blanchard said. “However, it has become increasingly clear that the time commitment and demands of the role are placing an undue amount of pressure on myself, negatively impacting my mental health. With the current state of my well-being, it would be unfair to the student body to continue in this role.” Blanchard added she
University Whitmer calls for end to campus fundraises sexual assault at EMU conference for Giving Governor announces texting option for survivors to receive counseling support Blueday CAMPUS LIFE
Community raises over $4 million for causes across all three campuses CLAIRE HAO
Daily Staff Reporter
Tuesday’s sixth annual Giving Blueday, a 24-hour fundraising campaign for the University of Michigan coinciding with the global philanthropic movement Giving Tuesday, raised $4,242,531 from 15,887 gifts, according to a University press release. The donations will go toward supporting hundreds of different causes such as colleges, programs, scholarships, research and organizations — including more than 150 student organizations — across the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses. To encourage engagement throughout the day, the Giving Blueday campaign featured a variety of challenges and donationmatching initiatives. For example, students who donated $25 or more to any program or cause received a match of $25, up to a maximum of $50,000 total cap, distributed on a first-come first-serve basis. More than a dozen causes, including the Program on Intergroup Relations and Department of Urology Prostate Cancer Research Fund, received donation matches thanks to contributions by individual sponsors.
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Daily Staff Reporter & For The Daily
About 200 community members and students attended the Let’s End Sexual Assault Summit on Tuesday at Eastern Michigan University which featured a keynote speech by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In its second year, the event included a full day of discussions, panels and break-out sessions on how to address sexual assault. During her speech, Whitmer ref lected on
her dedication to moving sexual assault prevention legislation onto the state Senate f loor, as well as sharing her personal connection with the movement. Whitmer shared she was sexually assaulted as a college freshman and now, as a survivor, she plans to make sure the same doesn’t happen to any other young people on college campuses. She noted how one in five women, one in 16 men and one in four transgender or non-binary students will be sexually assaulted while in college. Whitmer
added the statistic does not communicate the pain felt by survivors, and it can often take years to share one’s story of sexual assault. “I’ve been outspoken about my sexual assault for years now, but it took me a long time to get there: over two decades to find the courage to tell my story,” Whitmer said. Whitmer described her first public address of her sexual assault on the Senate f loor in 2013 during the discussion of a proposed rape insurance bill which would discontinue the eligibility of coverage for
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any rape-related health concerns, no matter the circumstance. Whitmer hoped that by telling her narrative, senators would be able to see just how many people this proposed bill would affect. “(The bill) even applied to rape survivors who’d been impregnated by their attacker. It told women in Michigan, you have to plan ahead for the unplannable,” Whitmer said. “And they wouldn’t even let women or doctors testify during the debate of the bill.” See CRISIS, Page 3A
felt it was important to be transparent about her decision to prioritize her mental health. “I wanted to be genuine with you all about the impact of this work on my well-being, because I believe that, as student leaders, you expect honesty from me, and that we should model caring for our physical and mental health and well-being,” Blanchard said. Ben Gerstein, CSG President and Public Policy senior, released a statement regarding Blanchard’s resignation. “The task of leading a 48,000+ student body is one of great intensity that demands significant personal sacrifice,” the statement said. “I, and all of CSG, are incredibly proud of the work Isabelle has done. Her contributions to the University of Michigan have not gone unnoticed. See RESIGNATION, Page 3A
‘U’ faculty criticized for use of own books
Students question ethics of instructors assigning self- authored textbooks ALEX HARRING Daily Staff Reporter
For Astronomy 104, LSA sophomore Katie Charlic had to purchase “Alien Skies: A Travelog ue of the Universe.” The book, which retails on Barnes & Noble’s website for upwards of $130, was written by astronomy professor Mario Mateo, who teaches the course. Charlic stopped reading the book part way through the course because she found the lectures provided identical information to what was presented in the book. She only referenced the book when homework questions required students to look at a specific chart or photo inside. In her eyes, she paid $200 for a few homework questions. “You’re having to pay hundreds of dollars on top of the tuition price, which is really hard for a lot of people, especially those that are taking out loans or on a scholarship,” Charlic said. “It feels like you’re just putting money in their pocket, which you’re already doing by paying tuition here.”
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Vol. CXXIX, No. 40 ©2019 The Michigan Daily
NEWS.........................2 OPINION.....................4 CLASSIFIEDS................6
See BOOKS, Page 3A
SUDOKU.....................2 ARTS...................5 SPORTS.................7
2A — Wednesday, December 4, 2019
MONDAY: Looking at the Numbers
TUESDAY: By Design
WEDNESDAY: This Week in History
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THURSDAY: Twitter Talk
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‘U’ offers response against lawsuit that Gratz and Hamacher may not have proper legal standing because they waived their right to be placed on the extended waitlist. “The question here is, did the two plaintiffs exhaust all of the possibilities to be admitted to the University?” Harrison said. “In our response, we are pointing out that they each received these letters and they chose not to do that.” While Hamacher admitted to not responding to the offer to join the extended waitlist, he said he received notice of the waitlist option too late in the summer to change his plans. “We got the letter in April or
Dec. 4, 1997 University officials claimed the lawsuit challenging the admissions policies of the College of Literature, Science & Arts is invalid and requested a dismissal of the case yesterday. In its official answer to the complaint, the University said that while plaintiffs Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher received rejection letters, they were offered a place on the extended waitlist. Neither Gratz nor Hamacher responded to the offer and therefore were not placed on the waitlist and were not considered lher for admission. Vice President for University Relations Walter Harrison said
May,” Hamacher said. “It was too late to do anything. I didn’t feel that it was a good idea to wait until July or August to find out. “I received a letter that said very few people on the extended waitlist receive admittance and it said to make other plans for the fall,’ he said. In its answer, the University states that “the defendants pray for a judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice and awarding them the costs and disbursements of this action.” The statement examines items in the complaint and either admits, qualifies or denies each allegation. The University says in its
answer that the LSA Office of Undergraduate Admissions uses race as one of many factors in its undergraduate selection. “Defendants admit that the University of Michigan has a current intention to continue to use race as a factor in admissions, as part of a broad array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element,” the answer states. Harrison said the judges hearing the case should consider the fact that the plaintiffs did not accept the extended waitlist offer. “This particular response asks questions about (the plaintiffs’)
standing to sue,” Harrison said. “That is an important question the court should look at.” The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, argue that the University’s motion to dismiss the case is moot. “It’s legally irrelevant to the claims we are making,”said Terry Pell, senior legal counsel for the Center for Individual Rights, the firm that brought the suit against the University on Oct. 14 in Federal District Court in Detroit. “It doesn’t change the fact that they were discriminated against earlier in the process.” Pell said that regardless of the waitlist offer, the University racially discriminated in its
admissions practices. “This is a very weak argument,’ Pell said. “The admissions process is permeated with racism. If there was not racial discrimination, they would have been admitted earlier in the year.” The University has a rolling admissions policy, which means students are admitted continuously from September through the summer based on their qualifications and the number of spots available at the time of application.
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Editorial Staff JULIA SCHACHINGER/Daily Shipwreck novels are displayed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe in Hatcher Graduate Library Tuesday.
Councilmembers discuss recyclable disposal, new housing construction Representatives pass bill to begin development on tallest building in Ann Arbor since 1960s BEN ROSENFELD Daily Staff Reporter
Ann Arbor City Council representatives discussed a potential decision to transport the city’s recyclables to Lansing as opposed to redeveloping the city’s materials recovery facility at their meeting Monday night. Ann Arbor hasn’t had an operational MRF since 2016, when the facility was shut down due to safety concerns that emerged from overuse. In the interim, the city has been sending local recyclables 250 miles away to be processed in a plant in Cincinnati. Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4, supported the redeveloping the city’s MRF, explaining that when it was in full use, it provided benefits Sudoku Generator not only for Ann Arbor but
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time again, we want to do this viable investment in the future. “We have an opportunity to work here. We continue to hear that. I have heard that loud take our community and the and clear on the environmental city government’s vast and collective resources to nurture commission.” The move to transport and rekindle the local MRF,” he recyclables to Lansing was said. Ultimately, the council also controversial as it would contradict the city’s October voted 9-2 to begin negotiations decision to declare a climate with Recycle Ann Arbor, with emergency. Councilmember Ali councilmembers Lumm and Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, explained Hayner opposing. RAA has that he has received concerns proposed either reopening the from the public about the city’s plant or transporting detriments transporting waste recyclables to a plant in Southfield MI. across the state may have. The next major topics of “It’s been made clear to me by the community, by the discussion were two proposed numerous emails that we’ve developments, one on 212 S. been receiving throughout our State Street and one on 616 community, that this is more E. Washington Street. The than just trying to find the best structure on Washington was controversial, cost, you know, it’s not like, particularly getting on Amazon and looking as the proposal would be the for the lowest price,” Ramlawi tallest building proposed in http://sudokugenerator.com/sudoku/generator/print/ said. “There are other things decades, and would be located that we’re looking for only a block away from the with having RAA stay our city’s historic State Street district. community partner.” The 19-story building would In addition to the discussion among be located behind the Michigan councilmembers, several Theater and would be the EASY community activists gave tallest building constructed their input during the in Ann Arbor since the 1960s. public comment portion of While the building would exceed the city’s rules on the meeting. Chris Vandenberg, a downtown building height mechanical engineer and a limits, developers would be lifelong Ann Arbor resident, permitted to go forward with was particularly concerned construction due to the fact with the environmental that 19 of the building’s 240 consequences of units would be set aside for housing. Solar transporting recyclables to affordable panels to be installed on the Lansing. “The current alternative, new buildings will also increase namely to transport the city’s solar production by 19 recyclables to Lansing, has percent. Councilmember Zachary serious consequences of transportation emissions, Ackerman, D-Ward 3, was in increased contamination support of the Washington St. resulting in poor recovery development, framing it as a and the burning of some benefit both to students and materials,” Vandenberg community members. said. Vandenberg added that Read more at redeveloping the MRF © sudokugenerator.com. For personal use only. puzzle by sudokusyndication.com MichiganDaily.com would be a boon to the city’s economy and would be a
for the surrounding region, as well. “Our MRF in the past has had bigger capacity than the city of Ann Arbor itself,” Eaton said. “And we took in materials from other (towns). So, having a MRF in our region allows other communities to use that facility.” Councilmember Chip Smith, D-Ward 5, also expressed that the MRF’s reopening is the only viable long-term solution and that the greater community would prefer disposal of waste within the city, rather than its transportation to plants in Lansing or Cincinnati. “We were once a leader in this field… we made significant investments in our MRF,” Smith said. “We passed an environment bond in the early 90s. All of this has been the community telling us time and
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RELATIONS From Page 1A When a sked whet her it wa s t he actions of t he Tr ump administ ration or t he actions of prev ious administ rations t hat had more impact on t he current relationship, Shirk sa id t hat t he administ rations of former Presidents Ba rack Oba ma , Bill Clinton a nd George Bush have caused current tensions bet ween China a nd t he United States. Shirk f ur t hered her a rg ument, say ing she believes prev ious administ rations had t ried to stabilize tensions bet ween t he t wo count ries a nd, at t he sa me time, protect A merica n interests. Public Policy g raduate
BOOKS From Page 1A In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Dana Elger wrote there is no University-wide policy on the practice of faculty teaching and requiring students to purchase works they have played a role in creating. The role of regulating textbooks and determining policies related to textbooks falls on specific units instead. The Faculty Handbook, however, does note teaching staff should not have “direct dealings with students in the sale of books, instruments, lectures, notes, or similar materials.” Elger pointed to LSA and College of Engineering policies, which require faculty who plan to teach their own books in class to disclose this information to a chair or director for review. The decision on whether to allow faculty to teach books they have edited and authored has played out on college campuses across the country. Proponents find the practice allows lecturers to teach work they know intimately and is sometimes considered the best literature on a particular subject, whereas critics assert it allows faculty to take advantage of students and raises ethical concerns. At the University of Kentucky, a journalism professor was placed on leave in 2016 after administrators found out he required his students to purchase his book without “special administrative permission” from the school, violating its policy. He had received approximately $6,000 in royalties at the time of his dismissal. In 2004, the American Association of University Professors weighed in on the subject, writing in a statement the practice of faculty selecting their own works as course materials is protected through academic freedom and, alone, is not cause for concern. The Association noted there is a possibility faculty could purposefully choose a text from which they would gain financial benefits and policies at different schools could fail to address this issue. Nationally, the validity of the practice has been debated for years, though it still occurs on college campuses regularly. A poll from Insider and Barnes & Noble College Insights released in October found two-thirds of students surveyed at colleges across the country reported having to purchase a book written by their professor. Tailoring content to the class When Mateo began teaching Astronomy 104, the norm was to begin the semester with physics
st udent Mat hew R igdon told The Da ily af ter t he event he enjoyed listening to Shirk’s a na lysis of t he geopolitica l sit uation bet ween t he United States a nd China . “It wa s interesting to hea r her ta ke on bot h t he Chinese a nd A merica n overreactions, or t y pes of opinions we ca n hold about each ot her ’s count ries t hat a re not exact ly accurate, especia lly f rom t he A merica n side,” R igdon sa id. He sa id he felt Shirk wa s optimistic about Chinese expa nsive economic power in rega rd to t heir territoria l interests. LSA f reshma n Justin Scot t told The Da ily he didn’t know much about t he current relationship bet ween t he t wo count ries
prior to at tending t he lect ure. “So persona lly, I didn’t come to t he event w it h a ver y st rong understa nding of U. SChina relations, but now I’ve rea lized it ’s more tense t ha n I prev iously t hought. It might end up get ting worse,” Scot t sa id. Ultimately, Shirk urged people concerned w it h t he tensions bet ween t he United States a nd China to ta ke a level-headed approach to t he sit uation. “Ca lm dow n a nd t hink rationa lly about how to compete w it h China in a way t hat builds upon t he adva ntages of our system,” Shirk sa id.
then transition to the broad, introductory look at astronomy. However, he developed what he sees as a better way to teach the class: having the physics aspect of the course within the different units as they become relevant, as opposed to it being a separate unit. For a while, Mateo used other books and relied heavily on his detailed notes to teach the class in the way he felt was most effective. He then decided to create a book ref lecting his vision, which was “Alien Skies.” The textbook, according to Mateo, takes readers to different places in space and describes what’s there and the context needed to understand it. He said this is a far different approach than other textbooks available, which are all similar in structure but different than his vision for the course. “Honestly, I could cut a page randomly out of ever y book ( publ ished i n t he a rea si nce t he 1960 s), put it tog et her, a nd you wou ld n’t even not ice t hat t hey ’re d if ferent ,” Mateo sa id . “ They ’re a l l t he sa me. Ever y si ng le tex tbook t hat ’s been done si nce t hat t i me i s exac t ly t he sa me. I decided I don’t l i ke t h i s approach . I don’t t h i n k t hat ’s a g ood approach , so t hat ’s why I developed t he tex tbook.” Mateo noted when he taught the class without the book, he would jump around in a different textbook and add additional notes in class. He said having his tailor-made book provides more cohesion within the course, but also noted what is taught in lecture goes beyond the contents of the book even if there is some overlap. When working with the publisher, Mateo said he requested the book be reasonably priced to not place an undue burden on students. He said his book is not any more costly than a comparable textbook, and students are able to purchase it from other students rather than directly from the publisher. Some staff members reject the notion faculty teach their own textbooks as a medium for increasing revenue, which has been a central argument against the practice in the past. Professor of History Victor Lieberman, who teaches a textbook he edited and wrote an introduction for in History 244: The History of the ArabIsraeli Conf lict, wrote in an email to The Daily he does not receive monetary compensation when the book is purchased. “I have never taken a cent in royalties on that book, which itself constitutes a fraction of
assigned readings for the course,” Lieberman wrote. Mateo echoed Lieberman’s sentiment, noting he has not made enough from the royalties to balance out the work he put into creating it. Instead, Mateo said the value lies in having the book out there, in hopes professors elsewhere want to use it. While Mateo said he understands concerns on this issue, he is against having a University-wide policy, as he feels it may discourage faculty from publishing. He said most faculty members who write textbooks do so to put their notes into a structured document for student use. “These are not bestselling books,” Mateo said. “The reason you do it is because it probably ref lects the vision that you want to have for the for the course you’re teaching, and what’s wrong with that?” Student perspective Charlic noted the issue is difficult to solve, as there is no one-size-fitsall solution. “It’s not necessarily something you can apply to every situation,” Charlic said. “If a professor wants to use their own textbook, it needs to be approved individually.” LSA sophomore Ben Dieffenbacher was required to purchase a course pack from Ulrich’s for a Political Science class that included a collection of chapters the professor of the class wrote for the course, according to the syllabus. Like Charlic, Dieffenbacher said he would feel comfortable with the practice if there was a University-wide approval system. He felt the collection of chapters he purchased contained information all covered in lectures and said he recommends students planning to take the course not purchase it if they attend class. “Looking back on it, it does seem a little bit questionable,” Diffenbacher said. “Why would you assign your own ( book)?” Diffenbacher said it’s important for the University to oversee this to ensure students do not have to purchase unnecessary books. He said this is especially an issue for students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Diffenbacher also noted he has no issue with instructors using their own content when it is provided for free, but it becomes a gray area when there is a cost associated. “When they brought it for free, not a problem. If you’re providing it for cost, I think it gets problematic in our current system,” Diffenbacher said.
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REPRESENTATION From Page 1A
After sharing her story, Whitmer received countless emails, calls and written letters from Michigan residents thanking her for voicing a story so many of them shared but hadn’t told anyone about. She acknowledged that at the time when her assault occurred, she was completely unaware of any resources that were available to her in college, so she hopes to create pathways of conversation and change in society and college campuses. Following the keynote speech, the summit featured a four-person panel on sexual assault’s representation in the media and on college campuses, and how that affects survivors. One of the panelists, ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne, said although schools are taking action on sexual assault cases, measuring change made in each institution should be based on its effect on other survivors. “The better way to measure that is to measure it based on the effect it has on other survivors,” Lavigne said. “Did writing about this, did sharing this woman’s story, did exposing this institution’s failures, did that encourage at least one other survivor to come forward? And I think if you look at that as a measure — did it have an effect? Did it affect change? I think in that sense you can say, ‘absolutely yes.’” Lavigne then explained how the popularity of the story affects the probability of survivors coming forward and also provides more sexual assault awareness. “Obviously, there is more pressure, there is more
RESIGNATION From Page 1A From engaging with students on North Campus in advocacy for resource improvements, to hydrating the student body each game-day, Isabelle has been a dedicated and self less leader in her role.” CSG is in the process of selecting a new vice president, who will be approved by the Executive Nominations Committee before being subjected to a vote of confirmation by the Assembly. Gerstein’s statement guaranteed CSG will select a candidate qualified to take on the role of vice president. “As your President, I want to assure the student body that our commitment always resides in creating an environment where students can be successful and pursue continued betterment of our campus,” Gerstein’s statement continues. “I have no doubt that the candidate selected will do just that.” The Assembly also approved Law student Henry Zurn as chief justice of the Central Student Judiciary, the judicial branch of CSG, and Engineering freshman Braden Crimmins as associate chief justice. Zurn spoke regarding the importance of working toward greater continuity in the elections of CSJ members. “The Central Student Judiciary has had some problems in the past with turnover and continuity, so it’s particularly important that in this last round of confirmations, we had a good diversity both within academic degree granting units and within age of students or time left here at the University,” Zurn said. “It’ll be my priority and the priority of the associate chief nominee to keep everything running smoothly, and to facilitate that, it’s particularly important that we have clear lines of authority and clear
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 — 3A
awareness when it is a big story,” she said. “… But it’s hard, because it’s very case by case. It depends on who the audience is, what kind of support you’re getting from people hearing your message, and in the willingness of the institution or the company or whatever it is to take that next step and to make that change.” Venkayla Haynes, a panelist and survivor of sexual assault, said she believes when the media covers sexual assault, it tends to lack in its representation of minority groups. “I can’t actually say that the media is doing everything really well,” Haynes said. “I need to remember that this movement is for me and that the media is not the movement. The grassroot organizing the missions that develop on the ground is the real movement. And I think when we talk about the media, and we talk about sexual violence, we don’t see the voices of Black women. We don’t see the voices of non-binary folks, trans folks, queer folks.” Another panelist, Brenda Tracy, also a survivor of sexual assault, went on to say the media representation of her sexual assault case only had a negative effect on her situation and her mental health. “The media coverage of my story at that time didn’t do anything to counteract the victim blaming and the backlash against me,” Tracy said. “There was a lot of ‘what was she doing there? What was she wearing?’ That kind of thing … I just remember my community really turning against me viciously.” Tracey said the media not only hurt her relationships with people close to her but also ruined her mental health. “The media was part of a machine that pushed me into
lines of continuity within the student judiciary.” The Assembly discussed and approved a resolution regarding CSG’s financial procedures. The resolution provides clear fiscal semesters, ensures a budget determines what funds are allocated, and eliminates some budgetary limits considered unnecessary. The resolution passed by unanimous consent. The Assembly next discussed a resolution to run a pilot program in the winter semester for a CSG-funded test preparation program. The proposed program would employ students who have succeeded on graduate school entrance exams such as the LSAT, MCAT or GRE, to tutor undergraduates at a cost lower than typical test preparation courses. The end goal of the program is to be presented to the University and eventually become a service provided by the University. The resolution is similar to testing preparation services previously provided by the University Career Center. According to LSA sophomore Sam Braden, the sponsor of the resolution, one reason the program ended came from a desire to maintain a positive relationship with outside preparation services after the University was accused of violating copyright laws in their tutoring services. Braden said the University Career Center recommended CSG approach existing sources, such as Kaplan or the Princeton Review, and subsidize access to their services for students. Braden said he did not want to support the high prices, ranging between roughly $1,500 and $2,500, such sources charge for test preparation courses. “We didn’t like the thought of subsidizing a cost that, in and of itself, should not be this high,” Braden said. “It’s obvious that they don’t need to be charging this much — Kaplan and
a place of darkness,” Tracey said. “Depression. PTSD. I really think that if I did not have children, I would not be here today. I would have killed myself, absolutely.” Tracy ended her discussion on the media by discussing its importance and how it must be used properly to spread the most awareness possible for survivors and their stories. “The media matters. I’ve seen how much of a difference it’s made in my life,” Tracy said. “And my heart aches for survivors who are not treated well by the media, and when we don’t do well coverage of this issue because it really changes the conversation, and it can push it into a really good place or it can push it into a really bad place.” Tracy said she believes there is not much change happening within college campus culture, even with all the recent coverage of survivors and increased sexual assault awareness in the community. “We haven’t really made that much progress on our campuses,” Tracy said. “So, until we start hearing from survivors that ‘my school treated me well,’ I just am not willing to pat everybody on the back … there’s a lot of work to do.” Haynes agreed with Tracy that college institutions are not doing their best to help their students who have been sexually assaulted and instead become defensive when charged with such allegations. “We’re not at a point where anyone wants to be held accountable for their actions,” she said. “. … It’s very, very hard to eradicate sexual violence when you don’t even acknowledge that it even happens. So, I think we’re still at this point where we’re trying to protect this institutional image before protecting our st udents.”
Princeton make immense profits off of these.” Some Assembly members questioned the proposed program’s ability to provide tutoring services as high quality as more reputable testing preparation providers. Others also expressed concerns about the possibilities of bringing lawsuits against CSG or future tutors from such providers who could argue tutors who had once studied their materials could use the knowledge they acquired from their companies to tutor others. Jack Wroldsen, student general counsel, said he had brought the case to a certified bar attorney, who felt a lawsuit was plausible. “He does think because of the intellectual property and copyright law, Kaplan or Princeton Review or whoever would have a strong case for it,” Wroldsen said. “He also said, regardless if there is or there isn’t, and I have to agree with him, why would we want to put ourselves in any sort of position to have to deal with a lawsuit at all?” Braden maintained that because the program would not use textbooks registered with any testing agency, and because he believes any lawsuit would be unfounded, the resolution should proceed for the benefit of students who do not have the opportunity to pay for expensive testing services. As a result, the resolution was referred to the Resolutions and Rules Committees for further consideration. The Assembly next approved another procedural resolution, which passed with unanimous consent, and a resolution to award financial aid to socioeconomically disadvantaged CSG members for their time. The resolution passed with 12 in favor, six abstentions, and zero against.
4A — Wednesday, December 4, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
EVAN STERN | COLUMN
Why forgiving student loan debt is a bad idea
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KAYLA CHINITZ | OP-ED
Credit classism at U-M
e’ve all been there. Watching the number of available seats drop for a course you desperately want to take crushes your soul a little. But for some students this stress eases as they advance in class rank; for others, it is ongoing. Currently, the University of Michigan’s policy on assigning enrollment appointment gives students from better-resourced high schools preferential treatment at an institutional level. U-M assigns enrollment appointments based on Credits Toward Program. The more credits you have, the earlier you can secure your spot in a course. Therefore, students who come to college having already received Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate scores set by U-M will enroll first among their class throughout their college career, while those at the back of the line will continue to be pushed out of their desired courses. The repercussions of this issue impact computer science students particularly strongly, where lower registration priority means ending up on long waitlists for courses they want to take or even need to complete their degrees. If every high school student had equal access to AP and IB courses, then perhaps a system of credit-based enrollment times would grant equality of opportunity to all U-M students. In U.S. public schools, however, that is not the case; resource inequality manifests along racial, economic and geographic lines. Let’s back up. AP courses cost money — a lot of money. The College Board estimates it costs schools between $1,900 and $11,650 to start one new AP course. On top of these expenses, running a new class means paying another teacher. In cities like Detroit, where money is in “short supply in city schools that have spent much of the recent decades fending off one crisis after another,” such cumulative costs frequently diminish the feasibility of offering AP and IB courses. Since the amount of money a school receives depends substantially on property taxes from its district,
wealthy schools in wealthy neighborhoods often have more money to spend on AP and IB courses. Accordingly, students from higher-income communities are more likely to take AP courses than students from lower-income communities. These disparities are also prominent along racial lines. According to a ProPublica report, white students are 1.8 times more likely to take AP classes than Black students nationwide. In Michigan specifically, that number jumps to 2.6 percent. U.S. Department of Education research backs up trends demonstrated by this data. In 2014, Black and Latino students made up 37 percent of high school students, but only 18 percent of students who pass AP exams with a qualif ying score of 3 or above. There is also geographic inequity in AP test completion. A 2017 report explains rural schools also face challenges of overcrowding and limited resources, and these resource constraints are ref lected in accessibility of AP courses nationwide. In 2015, 73 percent of seniors in rural
Students from higher-income communities are more likely to take AP courses high schools had access to at least one AP course, compared to 95 percent of seniors in suburban high schools. Rural schools are often overlooked because they are more isolated than urban and suburban schools, but one-fifth of public school students in the U.S. attend a rural school. That’s a sizable accessibility issue. While access to higher-level courses in rural schools has increased over recent years, that 22-percent gap is still very real and very wide. In putting forth these stats, I do not intend to paint over any community with a wide brush — each community has
its own complexities that inf luence how its schools operate. But I do want to draw attention to inequalities that reverberate in our enrollment time assignments. I want to highlight those connections because, through its CTPbased system of enrollment appointment assignment, U-M is perpetuating socioeconomic inequities in the education system. A system that privileges students with access to AP and IB courses is a system that privileges students from aff luent schools. For a universit y t hat invests heav ily in Diversit y, Equit y a nd Inclusion initiatives a nd seems determined to por t ray itself a s equitable, it is shocking t hat t his st r uct ura l bia s aga inst st udents f rom lower-income a nd r ura l communities is built into its system of course reg ist ration. In renew ing pat terns of priv ilege, U-M is sending a message about which st udents it va lues. But let’s be clear, it’s not just U-M. If you research the reg istration time systems of large universities, you’ll f ind that many of them have similar structures. So if our system is inherently unfair, what’s a better alternative? Let’s look at Boston Universit y. Each semester, BU randomizes a list of numbers 0 through 9, and reg istration start times are assig ned (within each class year) based where the last dig it of a student’s ID number falls on that list. The key idea here is that BU’s system of enrollment time assig nment is randomized. It isn’t systematically biased toward any one student over another. If a student gets an early enrollment slot t wo semesters in a row, it’s by chance. A P and IB courses provide fruitf ul, valuable learning experiences for high school students; however, we should not be basing our system of course enrollment on a system that is inherently unequal, classist and continuously puts students from aff luent communities at the front of the line. Kayla Chinitz is a junior in LSA and the School of Education.
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e all know attending effectively cancel much (or all) of college in this country the debt that borrowers are still has gotten expensive. working to pay back. And with the In the last three decades, taking 2020 presidential election now less inflation into account, the average than a year away, many of the more cost of attending a four-year liberal members of the Democratic institution in this country has field, especially Sen. Bernie doubled, while data indicates the Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth price tag of earning a college degree Warren, D-Mass., have gotten on board with this plan in an rose eight times faster effort to give some relief than wages in that to graduates and make same timespan. college less costly as a The result is a whole. staggering student While Warren says she loan crisis that has would aim to cancel or burdened millions significantly reduce the of college graduates debt owed by households who regularly find with income under themselves trapped $250,000, according by tens of thousands EVAN to her “Affordable of dollars in debt. The STERN Higher Education average American household with student loan debt for All” proposal, Sanders says owes almost $50,000, according he would ambitiously work to to figures published by personal forgive the entire $1.6 trillion finance website NerdWallet, and a owed by Americans, as his public total of $1.6 trillion of debt still has education plan states. In order to to be paid back by approximately 43 gather enough money to pay for student loan debt cancellation, million borrowers. With the growth of tuition both would take revenue from consistently outpacing that of their controversial “Wealth Tax” paychecks, Americans are finding proposals. On the surface, forgiving student it increasingly difficult to recover and purchase a home, start a family loan debt may sound attractive. and even appreciate the benefits As marketed by Warren, Sanders of a college degree. And given the and others, it appears at first as popularity of higher education, a compassionate policy move, a this crisis will affect more and proposal that would assist pained more Americans if a solution is not graduates who are burdened by debt. But on the whole, blanket quickly found. Here at the University of student loan forgiveness would Michigan, we are fortunate to precipitate a cascade of problems have great programs that allow in our economic and educational lower income-earners to receive a systems. One of the largest issues with world-class education, regardless of socioeconomic status. With the Go blanket debt cancellation is the Blue Guarantee, in-state students staggering cost. Like some of admitted to the Ann Arbor campus Warren and Sanders’ other plans, with a family income of $65,000 or such as “Medicare-for-All,” which less can receive free tuition, while they have expressed unwavering families with an income of up to support for, this proposal carries $180,000 receive some kind of a disturbing price tag that will have a profound effect on all of financial support. But sadly, many students are not us. According to a report sent as fortunate. Across the nation, a to her campaign, Warren’s loan great number of students are forced forgiveness plan would cost well to take out risky loans in order over $600 billion dollars. While these candidates and other to graduate from college. Even here in Ann Arbor, many students politicians promise that only the who don’t qualify for the Go Blue wealthy will be taxed, it is inevitable Guarantee encounter difficulties. this cost will spread through After college, graduates are faced society and impact everybody in with the challenging task of paying some way. One of the most notable ways a debt forgiveness program back this debt. In order to address this crippling could leave its mark on society problem, many people have could be by widening the wealth pointed to blanket student-loan gap, especially between white debt forgiveness, which would and black households. “While
eliminating student debt for all households regardless of income increases median net worth for young white and Black households, white families see a greater benefit likely due to a higher likelihood of completing college and graduate degree programs,” according to research released by Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy in 2015. Since people who have taken out student loans are likely already better off financially and likely have a college degree and good-paying job, student loan forgiveness could actually make them even better off relative to those who never attended college. Yet another issue with student loan debt forgiveness is the possibility that it could erode the high quality of college education that is so common in American institutions. According to Forbes in June, debt cancellation would ensure that “nobody (would be) on the hook for the growing costs of higher education. …” Why would a college care as much about maintaining the level of its programs in a responsible manner if it knew many of its students were essentially coming there for free? Blanket loan forgiveness creates a broad accountability problem in the end. Finally, setting everything else aside, debt cancellation truly sets a strikingly bad precedent. If all graduates with student loans can suddenly wake up one day with all of their debt completely gone, what kind of model does that set for the future? In a nation with blanket student loan forgiveness, we may soon see others who are burdened by debt from different sources trying to convince the government to forgive their loans as well. Ultimately, a student loan forgiveness program would systematically undermine the unparalleled nature of our respected educational system while directly harming our economy. It is simple common sense to realize that instead of working to mitigate the problems stemming from our broken student loan system, we must truly work to revamp this failing system itself. In the end, that will revolutionize our system of higher education here in the United States much more than blanket debt forgiveness ever could. Evan Stern can be reached at email@example.com.
ISABELLE SCHINDLER | COLUMN
Let’s find a better way
t’s time to change how we nominate our presidential candidates. The path to becoming a presidential nominee of a major party is long and convoluted. The main events of this process are the individual primaries and caucuses held by each state. The most well-known are the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, which always come first and second, respectively. This gives these states an outsized share in choosing who will be the nominee. Is it fair for them to have this power? Should different, more diverse states take their place? Or should we change the whole system? Though the answers to these questions are not clear, this is an important conversation we should be having. Julián Castro, Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, contributed to the public conversation around changing the nominating system this week when he called for a reshuffling of the order of the Democratic primaries. Castro singled out Iowa and New Hampshire, saying they should no longer be the first two states to vote since they are not representative of Democratic voters nationwide. Castro indirectly pointed to the fact that both of these states are overwhelmingly white, Iowa being 91 percent white and New Hampshire 94 percent white. The diversity in these states falls far behind the U.S. as a whole, which is estimated to be only about 60 percent white. Castro argued that this lack of diversity devalues the voices that are integral to the success of the Democratic Party. Critics of Castro point to the fact that South Carolina and
Nevada, whose primaries come after Iowa and New Hampshire, are much more diverse. South Carolina has a large AfricanAmerican population and Nevada a large Latino population. However, Castro argued Iowa and New Hampshire are bellwether states; campaigns that do not do well in either will not be able to make it to South Carolina or Nevada. He is not wrong in this regard as the only time a Democratic nominee won neither Iowa nor New Hampshire was 1976. For Castro, these comments are largely political. His campaign has been struggling, as he has had to cut back on staff and did not qualify for the November debate. However, his comments have merit. The system that we use to nominate a presidential candidate is extremely complicated and not very democratic. The question: How can we fix it? The fact that Iowa and New Hampshire have so much power is unfair. As Castro pointed out, if a candidate does not do well in those states, they will usually have to close up shop. That means states that come later in the primary schedule do not have as many options or as big of a say in choosing who represents the Democrats. However, all Castro is calling for is having a more diverse state go first the primaries. This will not address the problem of certain states having more power than others, since it will simply substitute one inequality for another. One of the most obvious answers would be to have every state vote on the same day in a national primary. Like any system, this has its own set of pros and cons. A national primary could significantly reduce the duration of the election and
would equally distribute voting power among the states. However, this process would come with its own drawbacks. State by state primaries allow politicians with little money or name recognition to gain voter support through intensive, on-the-ground campaigning, such as town halls, canvassing and other grassroots actions. This was true in 2008 when Barack Obama was able to beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, despite her greater name recognition. If there were a national primary, it is likely that people with the most name recognition would win or that a large number of candidates would split the field, allowing a candidate lacking broad popular support to win. There are a few other solutions that could be implemented. One possible option would be to divide the country up into five sets of ten states and do a rotating primary schedule so that every U.S. state could be part of the first block at least once every 20 years. However, this would be complicated to implement and still runs into the issue of discriminating against small campaigns that may be unable to compete in 10 states at once. Such a process might also be confusing to voters. Democracy is often messy, and the nominee selection process is no exception. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I’m not sure anyone else does either. However, this is a conversation we should be having. Maybe, from those conversations, we can come up with a better way to pick our presidential nominees. Isabelle Schindler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 — 5
‘Man’ is confusing, but giving What do you tech-know? a show its due ending is hard RYAN COX
Daily Arts Writer
JUSTIN POLLACK Daily Arts Writer
The world that the final season of “The Man in the High Castle” is being released into is a very different place than when first commissioned by Amazon Prime Studios back in 2015. Now, in 2019, the show has lost some of its early praise and is no longer Amazon’s most-watched original series. Most simply put, the series Season 4 Finale is based on Amazon Prime Philip K. Dick’s Video 1962 novel by the same name, Streaming Now set in a parallel universe where the Axis powers have won World War II. Western North America is a part of the Japanese Pacific States while the Germans rule the East Coast, both separated by a neutral zone in the Rocky Mountains. Complexly, this show is as much about the Axis powers winning as it is about the Allies. For in this dark, Axisruled world, there is an American resistance that suspect the Allies won the war. These characters come into contact with newsreels and home movies belonging to a figure known as “The Man in the High Castle” that show Germany and Japan losing the war. How could this be possible? In this story about alternate history, there lies another alternate history where the Allies did in fact defeat the Axis powers. Every film has been brought over to the show’s primary world by people who are able to travel between them. Much of the third and fourth seasons explored a portal that the Nazis built so they could travel to alternate universes, with the ambitious goal of taking over the entire multiverse.
The Man in the High Castle
On the surface, how could this depiction of alternate history not get attention? The appeal was always the science fiction of it, which was also a constant source of criticism. The up-anddown reception over the remaining three seasons culminated in a final scene that was over four years in the making, and it kind of felt like the creative figures behind the series didn’t quite know the purpose of the story they were telling. Concluding a show is difficult. Concluding a show that plays with the idea that there are an infinite number of parallel realities is an even more difficult one. In this final episode, the Japanese have abandoned North America, the East Coast is being run by a guy who wants the Nazis gone and high-ranking Nazi official, John Smith (Rufus Sewell, “Victoria”) is dead. These were all necessary to tie up loose ends. The show could have ended there. However, inexplicably, there was one more scene that takes us to the Nazi multi-verse portal. The American resistance has taken the facility where the portal is located from the Nazis and the portal fires up itself. Once it stabilizes, people start strolling through into the room, not acknowledging the people who are already present in the room. This was clearly meant to be a “moving” scene in which people were coming from literally everywhere but there was absolutely no setup for this turn of events, making it meaningless. It feels like a victory, but what that victory was is unclear. The final scene poses many more questions than it answers. As the show progressed, the show became less about the characters and more about the theory of the multi-verse. Regardless of how the series ending is perceived, the show will always be remembered for establishing Amazon as a premiere streaming service.
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Four years ago, when I thought about the town of Ann Arbor, I mostly thought about the University of Michigan. I really didn’t think much of the place besides the fact that it housed this massive school and all of its students. As someone that came from a different state, I didn’t even know how close Ann Arbor was to Detroit, or how the two cities interacted. Since moving here a few years ago, however, I’ve started to get the lay of the land and realize that Ann Arbor is more than just an address for students. I started to do some more research and found out that artists like Iggy Pop and Bob Seger used to call this place home while it served as a countercultural meca in the ’60s. Institutions like The Ark and the Ann Arbor Folk Festival cultivated a growing folk scene that attracted names like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to the town, all while a growing punk scene thrived amongst college students. However, as time went by another genre of music started growing in Ann Arbor’s underground music scene, right next to its birthplace: techno. When I think of music from Detroit, I usually think of Motown soul music. And while this genre is most certainly what the city is predominantly known for, Detroit has one of the most well-known techno scenes in the world, and Ann Arbor is like Detroit’s younger sibling when it comes to the genre. Having just started to explore the style over the past few years, I had heard of some of the bigger names from Detroit like Robert Hood and Mike Huckaby, but I never really understood where Ann Arbor fit into the mix. That is, until this past week when I watched a documentary called Impulse Ann Arbor, produced by the Michigan Electronic Music Collective’s co-president, Jordan Stanton. The documentary talks about the unique story of Ann Arbor’s underground electronic music scene through interviews from both students and prominent artists alike. I was captivated by how passionate each person was about this music, and how important it was to this city. How had I not known about all of this? Ann Arbor had played an important role in this genre, that
much was clear. I had been to parties and events put on by MEMCO, but I was ignorant to how significant organizations like MEMCO and WCBN FM were in growing this genre. But it makes sense. Being so close to this monster of culture and music, it would have been impossible for Ann Arbor to ignore techno. People would travel for miles to Ann Arbor to see huge names like Jeff Mills frequently DJ the Nectarine Ballroom, known today as Necto. Programs like Crush Collision on WCBN have broadcasted upcoming and established techno artists to hundreds of radios around the area. The more I learned about the genre, the more I realized that the culture it fostered was just as DIY as most basement shows that I would usually associate with the term, if not more so. Along with the fact that most of these events are run by the artists and fans, free from a corporate influence (which is what I consider modern DIY to be), I think techno embodies the more traditional spirit of DIY from the ’70s and ’80s through its commitment to social justice and providing a safe space for everyone, especially in the Detroit and Ann Arbor communities. In the documentary, Brendan Gillen, legendary DJ and founder of the label Interdimensional Transmissions, describes the music as “a purely intellectual black music form that was a catharsis for people under great opresion.” MEMCO throws an annual Black History Month event where a portion of the proceeds go to a different Black-owned non-profits, as well as hosting a variety of events that feature female, POC and queer DJs, attempting to avoid the all-too-common lineup consiting of strictly straight white men and create an inclusive, welcoming environment. As my last semester here as an undergrad approaches, I feel like I’ve sort of missed an opportunity with MEMCO and the scene it fosters. I love the idea of DIY, and I love the way in which Ann Arbor’s techno community embodies it. It really does focus on the community itself instead of the individual. The more and more I learn about this town, the more I realize how special it is. I really liked a quote from Gillen later on in the documentary that continues to grow more truthful the more I think about it: “In Ann Arbor, it can’t be about you or it’s going to fail.”
Detroit has one of the most well-known techno scenes in the world, and Ann Arbor is like Detroit’s younger sibling when it comes to the genre.
Restlessness and reason in the work of Leslie Jamison EMILY YANG
Daily Arts Writer
“The Empathy Exams” The usual premise of an essay collection isn’t simply the reproduction of a collection of magazine articles: There’s a reason why all of this is in the same place. One expects from a good essayist that a pattern will start to emerge, affiliations and positions slowly revealed via the author’s readings of literature, culture, society, politics. One writer who is particularly good at this — one whose essay collections feel like a single, slightly inscrutable object is being examined from many different angles — is Leslie Jamison. Her themes have remained rather consistent since 2014’s “The Empathy Exams,” and her new collection “Make It Scream, Make It Burn” is a continued fleshing out of Jamison’s longtime interests. The title essay of “The Empathy Exams” begins with a firsthand account of Jamison’s experience as a medical actor, someone who gets paid to act out symptoms for medical students to “diagnose.” The medical students are graded, among other things, on their ability to “voice empathy” for their patients. This experience — as well as Jamison’s experiences with other medical practitioners and a romantic relationship — provides a field for Jamison to ask some questions about empathy in general. What is empathy, exactly? Is it always good? She recounts the attempts of the medical students to “empathize” with her that end up just coming across as patronizing — “‘I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing an excruciating pain in your abdomen,’ one says. ‘It must be uncomfortable.’” Such botched attempts at compassion end up insulting the person they are directed at more than a simply impersonal statement might have, and elsewhere in the essay Jamison recalls a doctor’s calm impartiality as comforting. “Instead of identifying with my panic — inhabiting my horror at the prospect of a pacemaker — he was
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helping me understand that even this, the barnacle of a false heart, would be okay.” In the final account, Jamison sees empathy as an ethical stance that requires work. “Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing.” This could be read as a statement about writing, too. The various techniques of representation through writing are, like empathy, dependent on understanding the subject, prone to projections and distortions. It’s possible only through careful attention, and the stakes are high. It makes sense, then, that “The Empathy Exams” is as much a record of Jamison’s own doubt about her ability to truly understand her subjects as much as it is a book about mysterious diseases, ultramarathon running and travels in Central and South America. Passages of straightforward documentary prose sometimes dovetail into self-doubt, which then becomes a reflexive resentment about the insufficiency of this same doubt, often in the space of a paragraph or two. She is unusually clear-headed with her own thought process, tortuous though it can be. The most striking essay in “The Empathy Exams” is “Devil’s Bait,” a dispatch from a conference on Morgellons disease. This “condition” emerged in the early aughts, has vague, variable symptoms and is not recognized by medical science — but the 12,000 or so people who claim to have it insist that their suffering is real. Jamison, in talking to sufferers of this disease, is faced with a problem: How does one go about expressing compassion for someone while simultaneously disbelieving in the cause of their suffering? Does compassion, in this case, actually make suffering worse? “When does empathy actually reinforce the pain it wants to console? Does giving people a space to talk about their disease — probe it, gaze at it, share it — help them move through it, or simply deepen its hold?” She ends the essay without a solution, in a state of dejection. “I wanted to be a different kind of listener than the kind these patients had known … But wanting to be different doesn’t make you so. Paul told me his crazy-ass symptoms and I didn’t believe him. Or at least, I didn’t believe him the way he wanted to be believed.” She finally questions what, exactly, she is accomplishing by writing the essay: “I was typical. In writing this essay, how am I doing something he wouldn’t understand as betrayal?” She’s unable to see what she’s doing as anything other than a failure of empathy — or a limit case of it, which also becomes the limit case of the form of the essay. You can never create writing that is really true to someone’s feelings in cases like this — Jamison offers instead her own conflicted thought process. This is writing that, instead of making claims to objectivity, lets readers into the problems underneath the surface of the essayist’s craft. “Make It Scream” The title essay of “Make It Scream” is, on the surface, concerned with many of the same things that Jamison was working out in “The Empathy Exams.” The essay is a long exegesis of James Agee’s 1941 book “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” that doubles as a critical examination of journalistic veracity. It helps that Agee’s book is not at all a conventional work of narrative journalism — Agee, tasked by Fortune to write an article about sharecroppers in Depression-
era Alabama, ended up writing, instead, a 400-page book that documents “everything Agee felt and thought and questioned as he tried to tell the story of these Alabama families.” The work is deeply reflexive in a way that presaged the New Journalism. Agee ruminates about his own inability to tell the story effectively in a way that nearly undermines his own authority, and that’s not even counting the bizarre and categorically inappropriate statements he makes — like wanting to have sex with the daughter of one of the families he’s supposed to report on. Jamison’s interest in the book is in Agee’s honesty about his own limitations as a reporter — she writes that “part of the claustrophobia of Praise is its suggestion that every strategy of representation is somehow flawed or wrong” and that he was “ looking for “a language for skepticism.” The clincher is not Jamison’s valorization of Agee’s anxious Leslie Jamison style, but that she finds in his writing “a sincerity that lay on Little, Brown and the far side of self-interrogation.” Company Sincerity becomes possible through interrogation — it’s Sept. 24, 2019 a logical continuation of the argument she posed in the title essay of “The Empathy Exams,” of carefully applied attention and emotional intelligence. This applies to her subjects, too. In an essay about contemporary belief in reincarnation, she writes “The more compelling question for me had never been, is reincarnation real? It had always been, What vision of the self does reincarnation ask us to believe in? I found something appealing about the vision of selfhood it suggested: porous and unoriginal.” This is the embrace of projection as its own kind of truth — something that indicates a feeling instead of indexing a fact. In another essay, “52 Blue,” Jamison writes about a famously lonely whale that has inspired an odd culture of devotees. After cataloguing the various tributes people have paid — an album or two, a tattoo, thousands of online posts — Jamison broadens her scope: “52 Blue suggests not just one single whale as metaphor for loneliness, but metaphor itself as salve for loneliness … Loneliness seeks out metaphors not just for definition but for the companionship of resonance, the promise of kinship in comparison.” Her topic gracefully slides away from the messy specificity of projection to the generalities of longing. It’s an incredibly sympathetic move. You could say Jamison’s topic has moved from suffering to longing, or is simply following the mandate she set out in 2014: “empathy requires knowing you know nothing.”
Make It Scream, Make It Burn
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6A — Wednesday, December 4, 2019
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‘Knives Out’ isn’t traditional, but isn’t disappointing SABRIYA IMAMI Daily Arts Writer
People have been writing murder mysteries for years. One of the most common murder mystery tropes is to limit the possible suspects to a small group of people in a small, enclosed location. It happened with “Clue,” with “Murder on the Orient Express” and now it’s happening again, with Rian Johnson’s (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) “Knives Out.” Only this time, the pool of suspects is made even more interesting because it’s limited to the victim’s money-hungry family. In the film, Harlon Thrombey (Christopher Plummer, “Sound of Music”) is the family patriarch found dead, presumably killed by one of his many shady and suspicious family members, most of whom stand to gain from his death. There’s his daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis, “Halloween”), who wants her father’s mansion, his son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson, “Django Unchained”), who’s having an affair, Joni (Toni
Colette, “Little Miss Sunshine”), his widowed daughter-in-law well. There wasn’t a scene with him where I doubted his portrayal who tries to leech off of him and his college-aged granddaughter of the character. He clearly cared about his family and felt genuine Meg (Katherine Langford, compassion towards his nurse, “13 Reasons Why”), to name a Marta. Chris Evans, despite only really appearing halfway few. All stereotypical suspects for a somewhat stereotypical through the film, was one of mystery idea. Daniel Craig my favorite performances. (“Casino Royale”) plays Benoit In an incredibly un-Captain Michigan Theater America-like role, he plays the Blanc, the odd, SouthernLionsgate Films initially jerky, spoiled grandson accented detective trying to find the killer. of Thrombey. He provides The idea behind “Knives sorely needed comic relief and quickly becomes a fun, Out” was foolproof — from the favorite character. De Armas, trailers and pictures, it seems that the whole film is supposed to be about in a dramatic opposite to Evans, plays a genuinely compassionate finding out who killed Harlon Thrombey. But and doting nurse to Thrombey. The movie primarily follows her in the problem is that what the movie claims to her attempt to help Blanc discover the truth behind Thrombey’s be is different from what it actually is. It’s death. I enjoyed watching this film, but I wouldn’t say it was what marketed as a “whodunnit,” but it isn’t quite that. I expected by any means. I expected a traditional, enclosed Frankly, the best parts of the movie were murder mystery with some unexpected twist. Instead, I got an three of the most important characters in it: untraditional half-mystery with an unconventional “twist” that Harlon Thrombey, Ransom Drysdale (Chris I somehow both wasn’t expecting and saw coming a mile away. Evans, “Captain America: The First Avenger”) It was still fun, just not the kind of fun I thought I’d be getting. and Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas, “Blade Runner 2049”). Plummer “Knives Out” isn’t what it claims to be, so don’t be disappointed captures the role of quirky, slightly senile billionaire incredibly when it’s different from what you expected.
It’s marketed as a “whodunnit,” but it isn’t quite that.
Modern rap storytelling: What it is and what it takes JIM WILSON
Daily Arts Writer
Back in the day, one of the benchmarks for being a great rapper was the ability to tell a story well. The ability to paint a vivid picture of life made some rappers into either mainstream icons or underground legends that inspired the icons. It could’ve been a story about anything. On “Da Art of Storytellin (Pt. 1),” Big Boi and Andre 3000 recount their individual experiences in the pursuit of women. Raekwon and Ghostface Killa’s “Heaven and Hell” tells the story of the duo’s experiences on the block in Staten Island. Organized Konfusion’s “Stray Bullet” follows the harrowing journey of a stray bullet after it leaves the barrel of a gun. On “Morals and Standards,” Mac Dre recounts a story of betrayal and vengeance between former friends. Big L’s “Casualties of a Dice Game” details just that — the casualties of a corner game of dice. These songs are just a handful of visceral and vivid examples of the power of storytelling in rap; the list could go on forever. Despite a rich history of storytelling across rap’s many regions and subgenres, somewhere along the way the art of storytelling was lost. Rappers are still telling stories, but storytelling is no longer the main measure of a rapper’s skill. However, every so often, the art of storytelling re-emerges, and this is usually a good thing. In the past 10 years, there have been several attempts to bring back storytelling from figures like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, and the end product has been good. The series of songs from Meek Mill and Speaker Knockerz are examples of what and what not to do to properly execute the art of storytelling. Meek Mill’s “Tony Story” series (part one released in 2011, two in 2013 and three in 2016) and Speaker Knockerz’s “Rico Story” series (all three installments released in 2013) both recount similar stories. Speaker Knockerz, over a series of icy trap beats similar to those of his hits like “Dap You Up” and “Lonely,” tells the story of a man down on his luck named Rico who, after attempting to rob a bank with his girlfriend, is sent to jail and
meets a man named Pedro who introduces him to the dope game. there’s no vividity. There’s very little variety. Speaker Knockerz Things quickly spiral out of control, Rico kills his girlfriend tells a story, but he is not storytelling. Meek Mill, on the other hand, is a storyteller. The Philadelphia who turned out to be an undercover cop, Pedro shoots Rico in the head, the two reconcile and eventually succumb to their rapper isn’t always known for being the most poignant or fast lifestyles. Similarly, Meek Mill, aided by a set of cinematic insightful rapper, often falling prey to classic hip hop tropes, and hard-hitting instrumentals, but the “Tony Story” series is different. Not an anomaly, but not tells the story of two friends, Tony commonplace either. He tells us every little thing about Tony, and Ty, who eventually turn on Ty and Paulie. Each song in the “Tony Story” series perfectly each other, resulting in the deaths describes every scenario and situation. It’s like listening to an of Ty at the hands of Tony and of audiobook — that’s how much detail there is in these songs. “Tony Tony at the hands of Ty’s cousin Story 2” is especially vivid as Meek explains, through his words Paulie. The “Tony Story” continues and his robust delivery, the paranoia induced in Paulie due to his as it follows the rise and fall of lifestyle and choices, rapping, “And Paulie he ain’t slipping, yeah Paulie, ending as Paulie is shot he got that thang on / You know what he did to Tony, he won’t get and arrested by the police after the same song so / When he hit the crib he spin the block before shooting his pregnant girlfriend he park it / Paulie ain’t bitch he just cautious / But little did he who alerted the police of Paulie’s know n***** in the streets talking / And out his rearview its like crimes. Both stories are deeply he seen a reaper walking.” Meek’s rhymes aren’t otherworldly, sad and urgent accounts that delve but they’re still complex, using end rhymes and internals as he deeper into the problems within carefully explains Paulie’s every move. He still has the modern the system of America. Importance rap prerequisite slick talk, but it doesn’t hurt the songs. Instead, aside, the “Tony Story” is often considered one of the best it adds to them, perfectly accenting the more substance-heavy lines. Meek is so specific with his modern examples of storytelling imagery and emotional with his while the “Rico Story” is nothing delivery, it’s almost like listeners more than a few deep cuts from a are watching every event unfold in promising young artist who died real-time through the entire series way too soon. is. It’s masterful. This raises one question: How The difference between Meek are two series with similar stories Mill and Speaker Knockerz is regarded so differently? Both clear. Each song from the “Rico series tell heart-wrenching stories Story” series feels like reading the that continue to be written in cities newspaper, matter-of-fact and to across America, yet one stands the point. With each song from the full-bodied and the other falls flat. “Tony Story” series, though, Meek It comes down to storytelling. paints a full picture, mincing no Speaker Knockerz tells his words in the process, and that’s story point-blank, using only what storytelling is supposed the occasional adlib to provide to do. That’s the difference variation. He seldom attempts to between simply telling a story rhyme more than the last word ATLANTIC RECORDS / YOUTUBE and storytelling. There’s emotion, of each line, and there is little wordplay. Outside of the heavy, drowning autotune and the imagery and insight when someone is storytelling; none of that occasional “Damn” and “Oh my God,” the Columbia, South is there when someone just tells a story. On the outro of “Tony Carolina rapper shows little emotion. He tells a heartbreaking Story 3,” Meek exclaims that “Tony Story 4” is going to be a story, but instead it sounds like he’s slick-talking. Simply put, movie. As if the previous three installments were not.
Despite a rich history of storytelling across rap’s many regions and subgenres, somewhere along the way the art of storytelling was lost.
COMMUNITY CULTURE NOTEBOOK
Release Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS 1 Retina 5K computer 5 Pet collar clip-on 10 Theme park with a geodesic dome 15 Bite 16 Bête __ 17 Place to get clean 18 Medication unit 19 Crooner who co-wrote the “Chestnuts roasting ... ” song 20 Swim events 21 Holiday song whose first line ends, “come sailing in” 24 Pooh’s dour friend 25 Leader with a dot-edu address 26 Brief “If only I could unhear that ... ” 29 2018 US Open winner Osaka 32 Inductee 34 Personal 37 Marathoner’s woes 40 One for the road? 41 Holiday song first recorded by Gene Autry 45 “The Nutcracker” skirt 46 Like some owls 47 Cottonelle layer 48 Jumps in 51 Apply to 53 Nonprofit aid gp. 54 Opera set in Egypt 57 Curtains 61 Holiday song based on a traditional German folk song 65 Storybook pachyderm 67 Pens 68 __ Kong 69 “Home Alone” actress Catherine 70 Line dance 71 French friend 72 Area component 73 Ready to pour
74 What 21-, 41- or 61-Across is ... and, phonetically, a curiously apt common feature of those answers
DOWN 1 Many a lowbudget flick 2 Reindeer cousin 3 Analyze 4 Ponder 5 On paper 6 Spot for a wreath 7 Hankook product 8 Like bodyguards 9 “Six __ a-laying ... ” 10 Valuable fur 11 Sound often not allowed? 12 Celebratory gesture 13 Granola kernel 14 MLB playoffs broadcaster 22 Stretch of land 23 Holiday roast 27 Heavy __ 28 Wry twist 30 “Do the __!” 31 Texting qualifier 33 Gaping hole 34 Quite a lot 35 Squeezed (out)
36 Decently 38 Where the Amazon begins 39 Nine-digit IDs 42 Mystery writer Grafton 43 Rush job phrase 44 Fragrances 49 Really spirited 50 Title for Patrick Stewart 52 Eponymous hot dog guy Handwerker
55 Summer songs? 56 __ Martin: British car 58 Ad 59 Choice start 60 Jason of “The Muppets” 62 E-commerce icon 63 Color variant 64 Huge opening? 65 Present prettifier 66 Sashimi choice
ANSWER TO PREVIOUS PUZZLE:
By Jeff Eddings ©2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
Love and loss in the age of forgetting NATALIE KASTNER Daily Arts Writer
Christopher Street in Manhattan’s West Village was covered in romantic mood lighting. A long time ago, I saw a man, Ben, sitting there looking sickly and unable to move. Now, he sat in his rocking chair looking out the window of his first floor apartment. My highschool friend, Taco, and I clung to the outside window ledge just as I had when I was young. The string lights made a beautiful archway from Hudson Street to Bleeker. He has had the same first floor apartment at Christopher and Bedford for almost 50 years, from the afterglow of Stonewall to the AIDS epidemic. Ben lived through existing as a gay man in the South, being shunned by his parents, then moving to New York City alone, and living there from 1970 until he died. He had two or three partners. None of them I knew. I’ve spent summers living with Uncle Ben since I was 10 years old, while I was working with American Ballet Theater. He would take me to five dollar massages after class and draw baths for me with epsom salt. I always loved how his bathroom window stood about 20 feet away from the backstage of the Off-Broadway Lucille Lortel Theater. I was surprised by many naked introductions with actors performing there. Taco, Ben and I skipped up Christopher Street. He danced through the twinkling lights like a puppet and seemed to barely stay tethered to the ground. Taco and I held a blueish, heavy orb in our hands. It was going to cure Ben’s cancer. We smiled as a horse carriage trotted down from Central Park and stopped right in front of us. It was almost evening, everyone just leaving their nine-to-five jobs. They waved and smiled at him as his puppet body jumped into the carriage overflowing with a bed of roses. All the restaurants that had closed down opened again. The Peruvian place, Hudson Deli, the Lucille Lortel Theater was overflowing with patrons. Diane Keaton was there. He called it his sleepy little village. The streets were full. Uncle Ben laughed and wiggled his frail, puppet body. So happy was this man who had survived so much. It was almost like a concert. People danced through the streets while they went on their way, no doubt to find their own families. Maybe that’s why Ben was so happy, knowing he was not alone. We gave Ben the orb. The heavy nature of it weighed him down. His puppet arms hung low from his shoulders. He smiled at us, but he
was confused. Because he had seen so much death, he didn’t think it would ever happen to him. “You’re my last roommate,” Ben said to me. One year before, I walked out on him because he was mad I left my t-shirt on the TV box. He had a peculiar and sad look on his face. After one long last look around, he let the orb roll back down the roses, out of the carriage and into a gutter. Taco and I scrambled to catch it. By the time I turned back around, the carriage was gone. The lights and the roses were gone, the patrons were replaced by people wearing felt hipster hats. It was all gone. Taco was even gone. His real name was Zachary. Night replaced twilight. I looked at my phone, expecting to see notes of condolences, but he had no one. His community was swept away in the ocean of AIDS. His existence was an afterthought of tragedy. When I was small, he bought me a bubble blower. I’d send the bubbles out onto Christopher Street late at night from his first floor window. People would gather below. I’d laugh with delight as all walks of life poked at the bubbles. Uncle Ben sat in the corner, drinking Two-Buck Chuck, laughing with me. When Uncle Ben was dying, he said to be by my grandmother, his big sister. He said there’s something I can’t understand, the death of a sibling. When Ben and my grandmother were younger, their little brother died — run over by a drunk driver. Their little brother was six. I have one brother. Siblings are the closest thing to you that you will ever get. I didn’t know what to say to “There is something you can’t understand.” I’m 20. He’s 70. I’m sure there are loads of things he understands that I won’t for a very long time.
People danced through the streets while they went on their way, no doubt to find their own families. Maybe that’s why Ben was so happy, knowing he was not alone.
statement T H E M I C H I G A N DA I LY | D E C E M B E R 4 , 2 0 1 9
THE BENTLEY HISTORICAL LIBRARY, CAMERON HUNT, DANYEL THARAKAN
2B Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement
statement T H E M I CH I GA N DAI LY | D ECE M B E R 4 , 2019
Managing Statement Editor Andrea Pérez Balderrama Deputy Editors Matthew Harmon Shannon Ors Associate Editor Eli Rallo
Designers Liz Bigham Kate Glad Copy Editors Silas Lee Emily Stillman
Photo Editor Danyel Tharakan Editor in Chief Maya Goldman Managing Editor Finntan Storer
Copy that: An autopsy of my two years in pre-med BY STEPHANIE GRAU, PRIMARY COPY EDITOR
n a Thursday afternoon, I sit in the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room overlooking Main Street with nothing but my laptop. I sip an herbal blend as I think about the days I used to spend in the Chem Building atrium glued to textbooks and coursepacks, chugging Peace Teas for sustenance. I, like many here at Michigan, started off pre-med. Actually, I set on the track in middle school. In my naivety, I equivalated wanting a career where I can help people exclusively with pursuing medicine. It was easy to be pre-med in high school, when it was all talk at family holidays, but when college rolled around and I actually had to take premed courses, being pre-med conflicted with my other passion: English. I loved all things in the world of prose: editing people’s work, reading liberally and, of course, writing. I spent hours chasing the euphoria of crafting a sentence precisely how I envisioned it in my head, the perfect amalgam of words, contractions, modifiers and phrases in the most felicitous sequence. My first semester in college, I decided I would double major in biomolecular science and English. Unknowingly, joining copy at The Michigan Daily was my first act of rebellion. I knew it was a deviation from the premed track, but at the time, I rationalized the choice within my pre-med mindset. It was a manageable amount of time to spend on an extracurricular — a three hour commitment per week — and I could tie it back to being advantageous for a pre-med skillset I would eventually discuss at med school interviews. I would explain our fact checking as an extension of research outside the academic world; that being in a section of The Daily founded on style and grammar rules and the implementation of them demonstrates my commitment to compliance and integrity. Copy was supposed to be a way to feed the other English-loving side of me, to fend off hunger while focusing on STEM pursuits. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would enjoy it. Copy was a space to focus on what I loved: the written language. At The Daily, I spend hours fixating on style decisions, demolishing all Oxford commas and allowing my inner grammar geek to shine. Quickly, I was reminded of why I fell in love with the English language in the first place. The em dashes, the lofty ellipses, the profound ability of twenty six symbols to prescribe a world of actions, things, emotions — there was so much to love! But once I left the doors of The Daily, I was chained to the coursepack or the lab notebook pages or the lecture slides I still didn’t understand. Suddenly, I was divided in every way between my two interests: I was taking orgo and genetics — with Cultural Rhetorics and the Art of the Essay. I was writing freelance for an online magazine, whilst on the board for the American Medical Women’s Association. I watched others manage pre-med with humanities or social sciences majors and thought I could do it too, but often found myself out of bal-
ance, pre-med consuming too much bandwidth. I couldn’t keep up anymore: I was being split in half. I had to choose. I wish I could say leaving pre-med was a black and white decision. There were parts of being pre-med that I loved — working through challenging orgo mechanisms, studying gene mapping and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and working in my research lab at Michigan Medicine — that made it reasonable for me to imagine sustaining the path. I was doing fine academically — I just wasn’t happy. It was easy to excuse current misery for the future hope of having a white coat, to offer up personal happiness to the pagan gods of medical school admissions. But there was something more: every late night I would spend in the Ugli studying for my STEM classes reminded me of how much I wanted to be spending my time doing other things (and well, not be at the Ugli at 2 a.m.). I missed feeling my hands zip across a keyboard, trying to snag every tendril of inspiration before it escaped my mind. I missed reading for leisure, soaking in glorious language of someone else’s mastery over their craft. It took a long time for me to realize that I wasn’t pre-med — I just had premed coursework clogging my schedule. Whatever excuses I came up with for not changing — parental pressure, being too far along or just being afraid of not knowing what I would do without the comfort of the predetermined ten year medical track — it always boiled down to the same common denominator: the only thing standing between leaving this path and going down another was myself. It’s a senior year cliche, but of course, I can’t help but look back and wonder if I would do anything differently. Of course I would. I spent two years trying to get excited about something I wasn’t completely passionate about. I was so fixated on being this version of myself I had created when I was in middle school, when I was too young to even understand who I was, much less who I would end up being. If I had listened to what my present feelings were telling me, I would have realized my childhood dream of being a M.D. was my current nightmare and was only holding me back from accomplishing all I wanted to do at this University. I wish I spent less time worrying about rerouting, instead of just doing it, even if I didn’t know where it was going. The truth is, I don’t know what I want to do after undergrad any more now than I did when I first stepped foot
on this campus. But I’m okay with that. We often forget we are here to cultivate a toolbox of skills and to collect experiences rather than figure out what we are going to do with our lives. We spend too much time trying to pin down our path rather than validating our curiosities, too much time ignoring what gets us truly excited, because it isn’t what we first set out to do. Being pre-med gave me one of the most important lessons I’ve taken out of undergrad so far: you may not know what you want to do, but you’ll know when it’s something you don’t. And now, I am so happy that the path I’m on allows me to wander to the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and peruse the book covers, to edit articles at the copy desk, and of course, to write. Ironically, my senior year of high school, I had come to similar conclusions without realizing it. For my high school newspaper, The Bagpiper, I wrote a piece on choosing a career for my last article at the paper. The last words I wrote right before heading to college seem aptly appropriate for here: “All in all, it boils down to this: you only have one life. And in that life, you are going to spend about 35-45 years working. That equates to 1,715-2,205 work weeks, and 69,60088,200 hours of work in your lifetime. Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually enjoy it?”
ILLUSTRATION BY MAGGIE WIEBE
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement 3B 3B
Love Letters to Ann Arbor: On houseplants and November
BY MEGHANN NORDEN-BRIGHT, STATEMENT COLUMNIST
n September of this semester, I made one of, if not houseplant. Owning a plant, a real plant that’s not a the most, significant purchases of my 21 years to minimal maintenance succulent, felt huge. Assuming sole responsibility for a living, growing thing was a task date: a houseplant. But this purchase wasn’t just your standard, run-of- that I was ready and able, excited even, to take on. And it wasn’t all giving, either — my new fern friend the-mill desktop succulent (though don’t get me wrong, I have one of those too). This was a glorious fern, with contributed just as much to my life as I exchanged in slender green branches overflowing from her pot and the currency of water and the opening of blinds. A room smelling of earth and living things; carefully selected with a living, green entity feels drastically different than from her almost-but-not-quite as equally formidable a room without. My personal space was alive, revitalized, reflecting the buoyant late September energy I was peers at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Late September in Ann Arbor is an unequivocally feeling toward school and life and things to come. But somehow September has a way of ending, and wonderful time of year. The city becomes the setting of those homey-feeling movies I watched as a child, the October also has a way of stumbling by, and before kind of films where kids run through crunchy leaves to anyone seems to have time to consciously process it, it catch the school bus and the perfectly-coiffed mother becomes November in Ann Arbor. And November in Ann Arbor is fundamentally, has a plate of fresh baked cookies on the counter every monumentally different from September in Ann Arbor. afternoon. Late September in Ann Arbor is when color-coding class notes is exciting, not PHOTO BY MEGHANN NORDEN-BRIGHT draining; when every fleeting moment of eye contact from the boy who sits by the door in class feels like a budding new love affair; when I’m suddenly grasped by the all-consuming desire to buy a houseplant for my room. A fern is not a freshman year of college purchase — where would it have fit in my South Quad dorm? Would it live between the mini-fridge stuffed with bags of Franzia and the piles of undone laundry? A fern is also not a sophomore year of college purchase — the year seven friends and I crowded under the roof of a shoddily-maintained house with squirrels living in the walls and a dishwasher overgrown with mold; when we huddled together in the living room in winter to try and stay warm while the windows rattled from lack of insulation. Junior year, perhaps, but the one semester I spent in Ann Arbor during this era was too largely spent anticipating the next semester abroad to even contemplate committing to something as serious as a houseplant. So here I was, late September in Ann Arbor, a senior with a Kerrytown apartment finally nice — or rather, November in Ann Arbor is when the sun starts to set at clean — enough to justify buying a fern. I was feeling in love with life in the way that I always am during this time 5 p.m., when you walk out of class and it’s already night of year, thrilled to be back in my own college town after and the tips of your ears are somehow always freezing. November in Ann Arbor is skipping class to try and catch a semester abroad, ready to set down roots for a while. up for another class and falling deeper into a hole of being And so my new fern friend entered my life. Said purchased fern took her rightful place on my behind — the constant pressure of impending deadlines mantel. Yes, my room this year has a MANTEL — building up until the only task that feels doable is curling seems fake to me too. In her new home, my fern nestled up under comforters in bed. November in Ann Arbor between stacks of books and other colorful knick knacks is when the shadow of job and internship applications I crowded around her. An old doll swiped years ago from becomes unavoidable, hovering ominously over the my grandma’s extensive collection, a $2 ceramic jar from collective college consciousness and making its presence Salvation Army, an old perfume bottle, all came together known at every possible opportunity. Friends sit across to create the perfect bohemian scene — framed against a from each other at tables in Espresso Royale or the Ugli, backdrop of an old map of Paris, lest anyone forget that I so wrapped up in their own anxieties and thoughts that conversation feels stifled, fake and forced. November in went abroad. For a week at least, I wouldn’t shut up about my new Ann Arbor, in a word, is bleak.
Four years later, this bleakness still catches me by surprise. I was raised in an eternal summer — in the valleys of Southern California where the sun washed out and blurred together months. November was but an abstract concept. Growing up, I’d pictured the joy of September; an image pieced together through books and back-to-school displays in Target that sung the praises of orange and red trees and apple cider. Christmas movies and Budweiser commercials had given me a romanticized view of December with fresh, beautiful, clean white snow and carols and falling in love at skating rinks. What lay in between, however, was an entirely new animal. Nobody makes movies about November. And November is somehow even worse this year — because I can see the physical manifestation of the month in my fern, the friend that I purchased in that wave of late September optimism and sunshine. She’s a little brown around the edges these days — I’ve watched as the leaves at the tips of her branches crisp up and flutter down. The promise my fern exuded during those early autumnal days feels a bit diminished, dried up, passé. Which of course makes me feel enormously guilty. I probably haven’t been watering her enough, or maybe too much? I definitely don’t always remember to open the blinds before I leave for class in the morning. As November has worn me down, it’s also worn down my capacity to look after living beings — whether that be my fern, my friends, or myself. November tends to feel like an excuse to draw into myself and listen to Bon Iver for a month, without investing myself in the opportunities and people and going-ons around me — a hibernation more acceptable in previous years when I didn’t have a living, green entity dependent upon me for her very existence. But I think my fern is going to pull through. On closer examination the other day, it’s really only the tips of a few branches that have gone entirely brown, and there’s even a few sprigs of fresh growth poking out from the pot. She’s definitely struggling a bit more than she was in late September, but also most certainly still alive and fighting. My fern and I are still helping each other out. I’ve been trying to water her more regularly, and she’s still putting out some nice green living energy into my personal space during a time of year when everything else can feel gray. And — most importantly — November is almost over. Which, I think, can be agreed upon as being a very good thing. And as much as I believe that November is just a universally bad time for the houseplants of the world, I also simultaneously have a feeling my fern is going to love December in Ann Arbor.
4B Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement
he University of Michigan had a total enrollment of 48,090 students in fall 2019, but apart from people flooding Ingalls Mall during Festifall or joining the crowd walking toward the Big House on game day, there has seldom been a moment I’ve felt the weight of how huge the University actually is. People are constantly bustling through the Diag, earbuds in, laughing with friends or climbing up the steps to Hatcher. However, I’ve never seen such concentrated effort and clear community support as on March 15 and Sept. 20 for the Washtenaw County Climate Strikes. University students and community members alike showed up en masse to speak out against Ann Arbor’s and the University of Michigan’s complacency in the climate crisis and the need for immediate, direct action. While activism and protests on campus have occurred around me for all five of my semesters, the climate movement has made itself visible and loud — despite the University’s unwillingness to listen. The University has a well-documented history of student activism that ranges from widespread participation in the civil rights movement in the 1960s to strong anti-war efforts during the Vietnam War. Students at the University have historically invoked their freedom of assembly as a response to social and political change off campus and to promote institutional accountability and awareness in Ann Arbor. Today, students continue this legacy by organizing protests, teach-ins, social media campaigns and strikes. They do so with the goal of addressing injustices the University has seen in recent years — acts of racism on campus, controversial sexual misconduct policies and the obvious lack of climate action efforts. While the scope of these movements can vary student activists have been deliberate in using grassroots organizing to make their causes accessible while making clear demands for local action. Past student activism — particularly the anti-apartheid movement — reflects the obstacles institutions create for activists who are fighting to have their needs met. The antiapartheid movement was prominent on campus from the mid1970s to the late 1980s, and was fueled by nationwide protests at universities with investments in corporations linked to apartheid in South Africa. These conversations were part of great political, economic and ethical discourse, not only in Ann Arbor, but across the entire U.S. On March 16, 1978, the Daily published a near-full page spread headlined “How nation views S. African holdings,” with two separate subsections titled “Congress frowns on investments” and “Business, unions join debate …” The piece includes an editor’s note commenting that this article preceded the University’s Board of Regents monthly meeting where the board was expected to discuss what to do — if anything — about University investment in South African companies. The piece outlines the arguments for and against divestment following a report to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, where it was determined “the net effect of American investment has been to strengthen the economic and military self-sufficiency of South Africa’s apartheid regime.” This led to three different recommendations by Congress, which included cutting U.S. credit to South Africa, denying tax credit to U.S. corporations paying taxes to the South African government or withholding the official endorsement of private groups that defend South African investment. While none of these recommendations were direct divestment, the subcommittee commented on the potential need for stronger action, should the recommendations prove ineffective. The prominent national conversations regarding investments were focused on by students and The Michigan Daily. As The Daily reported on March 18, 1978, then-editors requested the Board of Student Publications to “withdraw the paper’s assets from University investment pool” in protest of the Regents’ inaction on divestment from South African companies. The request was denied.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement 5B
The Daily then reported more in-depth on the board’s decisions in its March 19, 1978 edition. It was explained that the board “adopted Regent Thomas Roach’s resolution, which calls on the University to vote at shareholders’ meetings in favor of reforming the apartheid governmental and social structure in South Africa.” This resolution also called for the University to write to other corporations to encourage the adoption of the antidiscriminatory Sullivan principles, which are two corporate codes of conduct that promote corporate social responsibility. To contextualize anti-apartheid sentiment on campus, South African graduate student Leonard Suransky commented to The Daily for the March 19, 1978 article: “The name University of Michigan goes before you and echoes around the world. … Always the term education is linked to morality … we are not going to change South African policy by politicking with our stocks.” The inaction of the board caused a continual push for change, with activists making their concerns and voices known and causing significant strife between the board and the Washtenaw County Coalition Against Apartheid. This led to mass demonstrations in and outside board meetings, with events like the March 15-16, 1979 Board of Regents meeting where WCCAA organized a protest with over 200 students, demanding a review of South African investment and its immediate divestment. This prompted the board to issue a temporary restraining order against WCCAA — and the arrest of two students. University President Allan Smith, in a letter to the public, emphasized that the Regents’ agreement to review investments was strong enough, and the need for “action now”, which the students were calling for, was inappropriate. Small wins came alongside more student protests, and demonstrations regarding both divestment and the administration’s silencing of student activism became routine. On April 19, 1979, the Regents meeting was protested by WCCAA participants wearing gags, who had stated through a press release that “we are gagged today because; a) the Regents have used the courts to stifle the spirit of the Open Meetings Act; b) for two years the Board of Regents have avoided open discussion of divestment; c) in South Africa, to call for divestment is a violation of the Terrorism Act of 1967, which is punishable by a minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum sentence of death.” These protests continued alongside the board’s votes against divestment, until May 1979, when “the University divested $227,647 from Black and Decker Manufacturing Company.” With help from the Michigan legislature — led by state Rep. Perry Bullard, D-Ann Arbor — legally-driven
divestment became possible. Student protests continued to draw attention to the anti-apartheid movement at the University, and the protests continued well into the late 1980s as the University fought legal battles against state bills, particularly Bullard’s House Bill 4553, which was eventually signed into law on Dec. 31, 1982 and became Public Act 512. This act forced the divestment of Michigan public colleges and universities from South African companies, and the University had until April 1, 1984, to completely divest these stocks. While the University fought in court against the law, largely over semantics regarding the “unconstitutional intrusion upon the powers and the authority of the Regents to direct expenditures of the University’s funds,” they did come to the “90% Solution,” which divested the University from all American corporations that operated in South Africa, excluding those with significant impact in the state of Michigan. In the same way that longstanding, public protests against apartheid led to campus awareness and support, environmental activism has been extremely visible following the mass participation of locals and University students in the March 15, 2019 Washtenaw County Climate Strike. This strike was part of the Global Climate Strike and Fridays for Future movement created by environmentalist Greta Thunberg in August 2018. The demands of the Washtenaw County Climate Strike, an initiative put together by a number of Ann Arbor climate activism groups, including but not limited to the
University’s Climate Action Movement, included a subsection titled “Stay Committed in Good Faith: Create Ambitious Climate Goals and Accountable Decision-Making Processes,” which was echoed by a sit-in staged in the University’s Fleming Administration Building following the rally. At this March sit-in, protesters had one demand before they would agree to leave: President Mark Schlissel commit to having a minimum one-hour public meeting moderated by a student of the organizers’ choice. Ten protesters were then arrested. And despite Schlissel’s letter to the Climate Action Movement six days later, following the arrests, in which he agreed to meet this single demand with a public session that was subsequently planned for and held April 9, the charges against the climate protesters continued and are still continuing. Calls for the administration to drop these charges has become a central push of climate activists, with the Climate Action Movement circulating a petition that currently has more than 700 signatures. The Climate Action Movement is “a coalition of University stakeholders … that are driving the President, Regents and Deans to enact sustainability policy and ethics that reflect the values of the broader U of M community with a focus on the commitment to, and attainment of, carbon neutrality.” U.S. News & World Report published a piece headlined “10 Universities With the Biggest Endowments” in which the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, was ranked eighth with an $11,733,013,000 end of fiscal year 2018 endowment. The
article defines university endowments as “the value of their investments based on donated money and financial assets, which can total billions of dollars,” and contextualizes the use of these funds across university expenses. A National Association of College and University Business Officers study from earlier this year, examining 802 U.S. colleges and universities, found that an average of 49 percent of endowment funds are dedicated to student scholarships and financial aid programs, while others are funelled into university projects, like the construction of residence halls. With this understanding of the endowment in mind, the topic of divestment has been contentious between climate activists and the University administration, with Schlissel publicly stating in his April 9 public session that “Essentially, we don’t divest. It’s not this cause, it’s essentially all causes. … We get more payout from our endowment here than we get money from the state of Michigan, so it’s really critical for us as a robust university. … If we begin the process of narrowing what the endowment can invest in, based on very valid arguments and concerns from sincere people, the ability to invest shrinks, the value of the endowment goes down and the institution suffers. We’re just not going to divest.” Despite the endowment’s vast economic complexity and the administration’s dedication to maintaining a robust and open business strategy, the Climate Action Movement stands behind the push to divest the $1.12 billion the University has invested in natural resources according to the 2018 Report of Investments. Natural resources are defined in the report as “investments in companies located primarily in the U.S. that produce oil and natural gas, and companies that service those industries, as well as non-energy related investments in minerals, mining, and wetland restoration.” Despite Schlissel’s statements concerning the lack of will of the University to divest regardless of the cause, members of the Climate Action Movement have a clear basis to point back to the historical precedent of the anti-apartheid movement. There are reasons for the economic separation between the University and ethically problematic industries. When discussing the call for divestment and the response of the administration, Sasha Bishop, a member of the Climate Action Movement and Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology, stated “one of the arguments that we’ve heard a lot from the University is that the endowment is not political, right, but they have actually in the past taken the stance that it is, given the instances where they divested from apartheid and tobacco.” Contextualizing the Climate Action Movement with pushes against morally abhorrent investment from the past gives clarity to the extent to which student activism must go in order to receive credible attention from influential institutions like the University. In the case of apartheid, it took years of student
Climate Inaction: Historical activism and the University’s irresponsible response to the climate movement
protests to prompt the involvement of the state legislature, which led to the University’s eventual push toward the blatantly clear and ethical choice of divestment. With the 20/20 vision that historical hindsight gives, the University’s eventual, 90-percent divestment from South Africa can be seen as a stand against the wrongdoing of an oppressive government and something to proudly stand behind — despite the University’s shameful years-long fight against moral political activism. Dim Mang, LSA senior and Climate Action Movement member, cited two of the Climate Action Movement’s biggest demands — divestment from fossil fuels and carbon neutrality by 2030 — and commented on the importance of care when working with a coalition. She stated that “Working in coalition with whether it’s undocumented rights or affordable housing … we are trying to be as supportive as possible. But our main goals have really been the divestment from fossil fuel initiatives, and then carbon neutrality.” Mang then went on to comment on the University’s response to the activism she’s been involved with on campus. According to Mang, “They have the same response to all student activism, which is that they’ll give you just a little bit so that they can kind of keep you at bay, but they won’t give you what you actually need to be able to sustain and do the work you want to do.” Climate activists have echoed Mang’s frustration over the University’s cosmetic responses to the activism happening, with solutions that only work to placate the movement. This is evident in contradictory actions like Schlissel’s April 9 public session, despite the University’s choice to continue prosecuting the climate activists who were arrested on March 15 to have this meeting. Or the creation of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality which is intended to “(develop) recommendations for how to achieve carbon neutrality for U-M, as well as develop scalable and transferable strategies that can be used by other institutions and larger communities to achieve the same goal.” However, the University does not allow the commission to discuss either divestment or the expansion of the Central Power Plant, an institution that continues and will continue to tie us to fossil fuels. As a touted research institution, with an entire school dedicated to sustainability and the environment, the University is aware of the dangers of climate change. Climate change is upon us. It was stated at a U.N. General Assembly this March that there are only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. But for many communities of color, low-income communities, indigenous communities, members of the LGBTQ community and other marginalized peoples, the time is already up and the effects are already real. Climate action must come now, and the University must listen to the voices of its students and faculty who refuse to accept complacency. Climate action is ethical social justice, and it must be prioritized. The University continues to respond to climate activism with a mixture of appeasement and suppression, but student activism must go on and pressure the University to take the proper stand against the climate crisis. It is laborious work, but necessary in making student voices heard. Bishop ended our interview by commenting on the importance of student activism on the University campus. After citing the University’s mission statement “to serve the people of Michigan and the world” she stated “And so in that sense, from my perspective, at least, (the University is) beholden to actually listen to students when they are saying that something is wrong. The University is not actually serving the people of Michigan, and the people of the world in the way that it should be. … And when it comes to climate change, we really are talking about the subject of the entire planet.” Erin White is a Senior Opinion Editor and can be reached at email@example.com.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement
No decorations, no coffee: My favorite used book store sells knowledge
like pristine things. Here’s my ironclad logic: If it’s new, it’s going to be more durable. The pristine condition seems like a guarantee of quality. The moment when I peel off the screen protector of my brandnew phone is a defining point when I can start calling myself the owner of a quality product. A shiny new, unused object speaks to me, “I’m yours now!” I’m protective of new things, especially new books. I would turn each page slowly to not leave a crease on the paper. Sometimes, because I have the habit of reading while eating, I would accidentally drop a drip of salad dressing on the page. I would stare at the spot blankly and curse at my carelessness. It’s almost as if I defiled the chastity of the book. I forgave myself, however, when I left a drop of vinaigrette dressing on a used book. Many people cringe at used books, even if they are in very good condition. They say, “How do you know the book hasn’t gone through some funny business in the hands of the previous owner? What if they pick their nose while reading the book? What if there is some pathogen hiding between the pages?” But most of these people lick their fingers when they finish a bag of chips, even after eating without previously washing their hands. Their attitude becomes ironic. Maybe they are right. I seem to have too much confidence in book owners. But I also have faith in my immune system, so I’m willing to take the risk. Used books do annoy me sometimes. Like when the previous owner does too much marking in the book. I can relate to them; I’m also the type of reader who enjoys underlining, scribbling, drawing smiley faces, and writing “LOL” on the side. But the markings of other people distract me most of the time, and they lead me to focus on the wrong lines. My solution is to erase all the pencil marks carefully. The process takes a few minutes because I have to do so gently, making sure that I don’t wrinkle the paper. However, this method fails when the marks are written in ink. I would need to use an entire bottle of white-out to mask those. While those little notes written between the margins can be annoying, they are also my favorite things to look for. One time, as I was about to fall asleep reading Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”, I found the word “sapiosexual,” written in smooth, beautiful handwriting. I had to use Merriam-Webster to look the word up, and when I found its meaning I understood that whoever wrote the word was expressing the admiration for Kant’s legendary mind. Maybe they went too far by saying that they are attracted to a philosopher from the 18th century, but I get the gist. Intelligent people are sexy, and we have a
BY IVY CAI, STATEMENT COLUNMIST
PHOTO BY DANYEL THARAKAN
word for it. Another rare find in used books is personal inscription. Most of the readers are too lazy (myself included) to leave such a thing. I own a copy of Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. On the first page, someone writes: “To expand your already comprehensive knowledge.” The note is signed off with an “x”. My knowledge is for sure not comprehensive, so I almost blushed a little reading this short line. Whenever I was too lazy to turn the pages, this little note leaped into my head and yelled: “Live up to that standard!” So I read on, and finished the book at an unprecedented speed. Fortunately, I have easy access to used books. Within walking distance, there is a used bookstore called Dawn Treader. When I step inside, it’s almost as if I’m in a hoarder’s house — a hoarder who only cares about books. It’s a sea of books. I can place my eyes at any spot in the store and see books. There is that distinct old book smell, which I also call “the smell of time.” I can never stop myself from taking a huge breath when I walk in, or open a book that has remained unopened for years. I would then, inhale a large number of dust particles. There were times that I started sneezing immediately, but I didn’t blame the books. I simply feel relaxed in the space. I can freely sit on the stool and flip through the pages. The
bookstore offers great prices for anything one finds in there. It’s the only place where I have the confidence to walk up to the register without even looking at the price. A boutique bookstore is just down the street. Beautifully decorated, every genre of books carefully laid out, newest books always on display with hand-written staff reviews. There is a lovely café upstairs. They are also the only place that sells authentic Japanese stationery. Everything is pristine here. Almost every book they sell is in the hardback edition. This means that I can guarantee a price tag above $20 when I flip to the back of the books. Somehow, the place doesn’t seem genuine. I feel confined, and almost guilty if I read a book without buying it. Under the delicate, sophisticated appearance, they set up an obstacle between the books and their customers. Knowledge becomes a luxury at places like these. So I spent a lot of time wandering around Dawn Treader, and have bought countless books there. They have set up the perfect image of a bookstore: a place that carries knowledge and nothing else. No fancy decorations, no coffee, only knowledge. One day I will leave this city, and all my books will go to Dawn Treader. Here’s my goal: for the benefit of their next owners, I shall minimize the scribbling I leave in my books, so the lineage of knowledge can carry on.
7B Wednesday, 2019////The The Statement 7B Wednesday, December January 16,4,2019 Statement
The price of a free market BY MARTINA VILLALOBOS, STATEMENT COLUMNIST
iolence in Chile is an idea that I tie closely to my parent’s generation. Sept. 11, 1973 — a day that echoes in the history of Chile. Sept. 11 was the date of the military coup that would redefine Chilean politics, economics, and by extension, society. The coup brought on a complete overhaul of the health care system (loosely based on the American system), failing schools, poor pensions and even the systematic privatization of water. It marked the beginning of two decades of violence. It was on this day when the CIA-backed military took the country away from the people and with the mantra of national reconstruction, completely altered the fabric of Chile. Those decades would be marked by systematic political repression and the persecution, torture and murder of dissidents. The consequences of Sep. 11 are not just a traumatic memory for Chileans: The day’s legacy lives on in the country. But now I am seeing violence play out during my lifetime. Violence lives on in response to the protests that broke out in Chile about a month ago.
In Chile, the 1960s and ’70s represented an era of social hope. Chile was one of the first countries to freely elect a socialist president, and with the election of Salvador Allende in 1970 lay the promise of a prosperous Chile. But this social hope was a threat to the American ideological project. In one fell swoop, everything changed. What took place in the country instead was the fast transformation of a neoliberal dreamland. At its core, this resulted in deregulation and privatization of several facets of government as well as the development of a state that guaranteed the rights to promote private COURTESY OF ORIZON VILLALOBOS entrepreneurship. As a result of the history of Onlookers are in shock as the oftenlauded capitalist success story is going American intervention, Chile is now up in f lames. But to really understand witnessing the growing inequality of what is happening in Chile, we first its people. The imposed political transformations have left in their wake the have to understand its history. rom abroad, Latin America displacement and destruction of entire is a region plagued by eco- communities and a country unable to nomic and political instabil- reconcile its political divide under a ity. Uncertainty is a word that thrives crumbling neoliberal banner. in Latin America, and it takes hold of he idealized image of Chile’s every political party — left or right. success story is now fracSystemic corruption runs in Chile and turing as a result of recent the rest of Latin America. protests. What originally began as But it wasn’t always like that. unrest because of an increase in subWe need to think about the history way tariffs has transformed into a of Latin America with an understand- countrywide movement of Chileans ing of the broader geopolitical context. demanding economic reform and the From the late ’40s to the early ’90s, the expulsion of its President Sebastián United States fought to contain com- Piñera. Chileans are crying out in munism during the Cold War. Dur- favor of better access to health care ing this time, the U.S. government, and education, pension system reform, through its use of the military and nationalization of natural resources, a the CIA, enacted policies to expand crackdown on government corruption, American dominion beyond its geo- recognition of indigenous rights and a graphic boundaries. Through econom- new constitution that replaces the one ic engagement, both by private means written during the dictatorship. and government treaties, military But the president has responded intervention or regime changes, Amer- to the surge of protests with hostile ica imposed its free-market ideolog y words and actions. He first declared a on to the rest of the world, including state of emergency, a right of the state Latin America. that has not been invoked since the
dictatorship (1973-1990). Along with an enforced curfew, the state of emergency was intended to ensure private order by restricting people’s civil liberties, movement and right to assembly. Piñera has even gone so far as to claim that Chile is at war with people he deems are “enemies of the state.” He has sent about 10,000 armed military personnel to Santiago and other areas to contain the growing unrest. Though he has since taken the military off the streets of Santiago, promised higher pensions, better health coverage, higher taxes and even supports a referendum to write a new constitution, these promises are not enough to get people off the streets. The people do not believe his words. And how could they trust their government? Official reports of human rights violations are circulating, but the government does not take responsibility, and social media is f looded with accusations of biased reporting. There are videos of police snorting cocaine to remain more vigilant circulating on social media. There are videos of people being taken from their homes on Facebook. It was recently reported that a destroyed subway stop, Estación Baquedano, was being used as a torture room. Women have claimed to be sexually abused after getting arrested. Countless photos are circulating of people getting shot in the eye and losing their vision. These drastic measures are reopening the wound of the dictatorship. It is invoking the memory of a violent past into a turbulent present. These protests may have been started by students, but they are now fighting hand in hand with older generations who survived the dictatorship. The timeline of Chile’s history is blurred on the streets of Santiago and beyond. The cries of the past are echoed in the cries of today. Piñera is wrong. Chile isn’t at war with enemies of the state, Chile is still fighting the oppressive legacy of the dictatorship. It was never about the 30 pesos tariff increase. It is about 30 years of political repression and a people whose desire for an equal and worthy life has endured. What lies at stake is the opportunity for a rebirth of the country, one that can finally lay to rest the bones of the dictatorship.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 // The Statement
VISUAL STATEMENT: CONCEALED HEALING BY JULIA SCHACHINGER
I MET WITH DIFFERENT WOMEN AND DISCUSSED THE HARDSHIPS THAT THEY HIDE FROM THE WORLD, AND PHYSICALLY EMULATED THEIR EXPERIENCES AND HEALING PROCESSES, SYMBOLIZED THROUGH ELEMENTS IN NATURE. I PHYSICALLY MANIPULATED THEIR PORTRAITS BY EMBROIDERING ONTO PRINTS OF THEIR PORTRAITS, AND THROUGH THE STITCHING PROCESS, I FELT AS IF I WAS HEALING ALONG WITH THEM.