The Journal of Campus Affairs at the University of Michigan www.michiganreview.com
March 18, 2008
MI House Bills Would Relax Rules on Guns in Schools By Michael O’Brien, ‘08
n the heels of highprofile shootings at Northern Illinois University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, two bills before the Michigan House of Representatives could dramatically reshape gun laws on the University of Michigan campus. Two bills introduced last year—House Bill 4759 and House Bill 5162—sponsored by Representatives Daniel Acciavatti (R-Chesterfield Twp.) and David Agema (R-Grandville), respectively, could significantly impact issues of safety in educational institutions throughout Michigan, potentially even at UM. H.B. 4759, introduced by Acciavatti last May, would repeal “gun free” zones in the state of Michigan, allowing licensed individuals to carry concealed weapons freely throughout the state. Current law designates school property, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, houses of worship, entertainment venues, hospitals, college dorms, and casinos as such areas. Agema’s narrower piece of legislation, H.B. 5162, would allow a teacher, administrator, or other school employee to carry a concealed weapon on school property, if authorized by the chief execu-
The Maligned Minority By Cherri Buijk, ‘10
rin Nelson sits beside two other members of the Ypsilanti ward of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and laughs warmly. “The question I get asked the most is how many moms I have,” she says. Nelson is a freshman at the University of Michigan’s School of Music and a Mormon from Provo, Utah, a city populated
almost exclusively by others of her faith. She says she’d “never even met a Catholic” before coming to Ann Arbor, and even now she spends a great deal of time involved with her church: a similar story told by several members of the Ypsilanti ward. This would seem the expected portrait of a member of a faith community considered widely to be small, obscure, and conservative. Yet Nelson and the members of the
Austyn Foster/The Michigan Review
Ypsilanti LDS ward are the perfect example of the uniqueness of the Mormon community here in Ann Arbor that rivals, even challenges, many of the University’s own most prized self-conceptions within its student population: its values of diversity, intellectual creativity, community and even global awareness. That uniqueness begins with the way in which the Church of Latter Day Saints is structured: geographi-
Arts & Culture
U-M Explains Reasoning Behind Publications Policy Withdrawal
Shingwani Expected to Take MSA Elections
CMU Student Faces Expulsion for Challenging Professor
Ever Heard of This ‘Dolly Lama’ Dude?
By Adam Paul ‘08
By Michael O’Brien, ‘08
By Jonathan Slemrod, ‘10
By Eddie J. Perry, ‘09
ast week, the University withdrew a draft policy on distribution of student publications. The policy had hoped to reduce litter and to eliminate the distribution of publications not affiliated with the University. E-mail documents obtained by the Review show that consideration of the policy began last spring and that several draft copies had been developed since then. Since the policy was covered by stories in The Michigan Review and Michigan Daily in January, the Student Publications Board initially planned to meet with editors at The Michigan Daily to discuss the policy.
lections March 19 and 20 for the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) presidency will be virtually uncontested, with LSA Junior and MSA Treasurer Sabrina Shingwani facing only token opposition from Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Kate Stenvig. Shingwani, a sociology major from New York, has been with MSA since her freshman year. Shingwani and Sohoni have assembled a platform that echoes the same policies articulated.
t is not always easy being a conservative on campus, but 23-year old Central Michigan University (CMU) junior Dennis Lennox has a particularly difficult time. Lennox, a conservative activist known for his involvement with both Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and Campus Conservatives is embroiled in controversy with the Central administration over Gary Peters, a political science professor that is running for Congress.
he Dalai Lama is the magistrate of Tibetan Buddhism. A common lineage that has been intact since 1391 exists and Tenzin Gyatso is the most recent Buddhist monk to inherit this. He is a member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is serving as the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is coming to Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan on April 20, 2008 to give a free lecture.
THE MICHIGAN REVIEW www.michiganreview.com
Michael O’Brien Editor-in-Chief Adam Paul Executive Editor Brian Biglin Managing Editor Rebecca Christy Senior Editor
page two. the michigan review
■ Serpent’s Tooth New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned recently after the New York Times revealed that he had spent close to $80,000 on a high-priced prostitute. This is how the Clinton campaign rewards its superdelegates. After hearing the news, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has
Jane Coaston Lindsey Dodge Jonathan Slemrod Assistant Editors Business Staff: Karen Boore Publisher
announced he will hire the hooker, Ashley Alexandra Dupre, as his new chief of staff.
Danny Harris Anna Malecke Associate Publishers
In recent news, convicted felon and euthanasia enthusiast Jack Kevorkian has thrown his hat in the race against Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg. Kevorkian announced his campaign platform of promising to involuntarily euthanize most members of Congress. Asked for comment, Kevorkian said, “What, you mean Robert Byrd isn’t dead already?”
Nick Cheolas Editor Emeritus Staff Writers: Steven Bengal, Cherri Buijk, Samm Etters, Austyn Foster, Erika Gonzalez, Josh Handell, Kris Hermanson, Alyse Hudson, Christine Hwang, Erika Lee, Eun Lee, Megan Lytle, Evgeny Magidenko, Julianne Nowicki, Adam Pascarella, Shanda Shooter, Andrea Sofian, Nathan Stano, Christina Zajicek,
Letters and Viewpoints: The Michigan Review accepts and encourages letters to the editor and viewpoints. Letters to the editor should be under 300 words. Viewpoints can be arranged by contacting the editorial board. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and length. Send all correspondence to email@example.com.
About Us: The Michigan Review provides a broad range of in-depth coverage of campus affairs and serves as the literary voice of conservatism and libertarianism at the University of Michigan. The Review is published bi-weekly September thru April.
Donate/Subscribe: The Michigan Review accepts no financial support from the University. Therefore, your support is critical and greatly appreciated. Donations above $40 are eligible for a 1-year (12 issues) subscription. Donations can be made on our website at www.michiganreview.com, or mailed to:
911 N. University, Suite One Ann Arbor, MI 48109 The Michigan Review is the independent, student-run journal of conservative and libertarian opinion at the University of Michigan. We neither solicit nor accept monetary donations from the University. Contributions to The Michigan Review are tax-deductible under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. The Michigan Review is not affiliated with any political party or any university political group. Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the editorial board. Ergo, they are unequivocally correct and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons represent the opinions of the author, and not necessarily those of The Review. The Serpent’s Tooth shall represent the opinion of individual, anonymous contributors to The Review, and should not necessarily be taken as representative of The Review’s editorial stance. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the advertisers or the University of Michigan. Copyright © 2007, The Michigan Review, Inc. All rights reserved. The Michigan Review is a member of the Collegiate Network.
This year’s official feast day of St. Patrick fell on a Saturday, leaving campus, coupled with the year’s first stretch of warmer weather, feeling like a weekend in September, rather than March. Other elements reminding us of September include drunken freshmen girls in miniskirts crowding into frat parties. Which is just as well, because GHB is disguised more easily in green beer.
AEPi held a St. Patrick’s Day party this past weekend, featuring green beer, the Sklar Brothers, and a mechanical bull. Yep, nothing says Irish pride like a bunch of Jews, a redneck pastime, and b-list actors.
a ban on text messages while driving. Kwame Kilpatrick is expected to veto the piece of legislation.
In recent news, a woman in Kansas had to be removed by paramedics from her bathroom, where she had spent two straight years on the toilet. Wow, that must have been one hell of a Big Ten Burrito.
Unapologetic ShoutOut of the Week:
The Michigan Basketball team finished its season in the Big Ten Tournament, losing to ranked opponent Wisconsin. Disappointed in progress by first year coach John Beilein, football trainer Mike Barwis and Women’s Basketball Coach Kevin Borseth beat Beilein to death, and then fought each other to see who would get to consume the raw flesh. A recent article in the Ann Arbor News “exposed” that Michigan athletes were steered to easier courses in the University. The article indicated that students seem to like taking easier courses, as opposed to difficult ones. Asked for comment, the entire student body said, “Effing duh.” The Michigan Daily reported that an Ann Arbor ordinance, if enforced, would forbid hot dog vendors from conducting their business near campus. No word on whether Ann Arbor will begin work on that ordinance removing the bums that tend to locate within a ten yard radius of each hot dog stand.
“Stuff White People Like”
This blog lampoons the ever-long list of cultural preferences of “white” people (i.e., yuppy liberals). It’s a hilarious blog, and we dare our white readers to not find something they identify with.
The City of Detroit recently enacted
■ Letter from the Editor
he Ann Arbor Police Department’s vice squad is probably going to come after the Review one of these days. After issues this year exploring sex on campus, the market from drugs, and all sorts of other illicit and tawdry activities college students often indulge, this issue comes back with a heavy, heaping dose of more—and, just in time for St. Patrick’s day! There is, for instance, plenty of content this issue on firearms. Our off-lede story talks about several bills that could significantly deregulate the “gun free” zones in Michigan, potentially even those that govern the University of Michigan campus (page 1). I believe this issue captures a flashpoint of debate on campus. For instance, Megan Lytle reports on a recent YAF event, which brought in NRA representatives arguing for greater gun rights (page 8). And, indeed, our opinion pages capture the breadth of debate on the issue. Our editorial board believes that the current state of gun regulation on campus is adequate and should remain unchanged (page 4). Jonathan Slemrod, on the opposite page, files his dissent, arguing that the greater the scope of gun rights, the greater freedom we all enjoy (page 5). Also, as always seems to be the case on our midMarch issues, drinking is a constant theme. On page three, we have a great package of articles exploring the latest legal and practical stories when it comes to drinking in college. Lindsey Dodge looks at the different ways different groups with different interests measure what “binge” drinking is. Andrea Sofian examines the case of one Minnesota girl’s family, who, after their daughter died of alcohol poisoning on the
girl’s birthday, sued her friends and the bar that served her. Also, Alyse Hudson explores an emerging—and troubling—trend on campus of students, young women in particular, being “drunk-arexic”—that is, eating less before going out to maximize alcohol’s impact, and minimize caloric intake. And, of course, we had to revive the St. Patrick’s Day diary. Lindsey Dodge tells us about her escapades (including a suspiciously long blackout period in the middle of the afternoon) in our Arts and Culture Column (page 10). Beyond that, we’re covering a number of great stories going on through the state. On our back page, Jonathan Slemrod sheds light on the case of Central Michigan University student Dennis Lennox, who has been hounding a CMU professor, Gary Peters, who is running as a Democrat for Congress. Lennox objects to Peters’ serving concurrently as a professor, on the state’s payroll, while running for Congress. But in trying to question Peters, he’s been the brunt of CMU’s wrath, making national headlines. That and so many more good stories are in this issue. As we near the end of the school year, with only one more issue to go, I don’t think we’ve run out of steam. Rather, we’re sprinting toward the finish line. Best, Michael P. O’Brien Editor-in-Chief
the michigan review
Students in Minnesota Held Liable for Friend’s Drinking Death By Andrea Sofian, ‘08
any of us have either turned 21 or have witnessed friends turning 21. This is an exciting part of a person’s life—being able to legally drink, buy alcohol, and participate in a whole new world of social interactions. Unfortunately, this legal right can be abused, causing accidents or, even worse, untimely deaths. Amanda Jax, a Minnesota State University– Mankato student, died after consuming too much alcohol on her 21st birthday in October 2006. Now, almost half a year later, Jax’s parents are trying to sue the bar that served her the night of her death as well as Jax’s friends who took part in giving her drinks. They argue that since Jax’s friends helped serve her alcohol, they should be at least partially responsible for her death in the eyes of the law. Taking care of a friend when he or she has had too much to drink is something that most college students have dealt with, or will in the future. To some students, going out for a few drinks is a way for them to get away from all the stress and deadlines that school places on them. Senior Kevin Tucker said he often takes care of friends after they have had a hard night of drinking. “I let them act like an idiot for a bit, have a few laughs, and make sure at the end of the night they are safe in their bed,” he said. “Most times, you know when a good friend is going to end up that drunk, so I guess I stay sober enough to keep an eye
on them.” In response to the same question, Engineering senior Brian Wolak said, “Depending on their state, I would place them on their side, monitor their breathing, get an ambulance or take them to the hospital to get their stomach pumped. It really depends whether they came back and just fell over, passed out, or if I was drinking with them the whole night and they just got tired and went home.” According to these student interviews, it is a rare occasion that friends are intentionally trying to harm each other when they go out drinking. In general, the intent is just to have a good time. After an over-intoxicated friend is tucked into bed, though, there is not much anyone can do for this person if the amount of drinking before caretaking was too irresponsible. Mark Solheim, defense attorney for Hannah Becker, one of Jax’s friends, told the Twin Cities’ FOX affiliate, “The bottom line is that a drinking companion has no legal duty to protect another.” Amanda Jax took her birthday festivities too far. This scenario could happen to anyone; it could happen to you at the University of Michigan. Drink socially, have fun, but be responsible about the amount of alcohol you are consuming. If it is obvious that a friend has drunk too much, get help. MR
Different Metrics Leave Definition of “Binge” Drinking Unclear By Lindsey Dodge, ‘10
here is a humorous bumper sticker occasionally seen around campus that says: “Enjoy yourself—after college it’s called alcoholism.” People may be surprised by just how true the average night at U-M fits this bill. The concept of a binge drinker may commonly be accepted around campus as Bluto from “Animal House,” but the term “binge drinker” is a controversial one. “It’s really hard because addressing alcohol on a college campus is complicated. Sometimes [binge drinking] is not a very helpful term because it is not specific enough,” said Mary Jo Desprez, the Alcohol Policy and Community Initiative Program Administrator at U-M. According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is defined as “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings BAC to about .08 or above.” This is further specified to mean about 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women in about 2 hours. This is the generally accepted term, although of course there are people with higher and lower tolerances, and difficulties arise from cross-studies that are not specific enough in their definition of “one sitting” or “at one point.” U-M conducted a Student Life Survey in 2007 that recorded U-M specific statistics concerning oncampus drinking patterns. In a confidential, random email invitation from the registrar, students were asked about their drinking experiences in the past two weeks. forty-eight percent of respondents claimed that they did not binge-drink at all. Thirty percent admitted to occasional bingeing (one or two times in the past two weeks), and twenty-two percent fell in the “frequent” bingers category. Junior and President of the sorority Pi Beta Phi, Sharon Steig, said that she definitely observes this irresponsible drinking on campus. “People don’t know how much they’ve been drinking, and they think that a cup of jungle juice counts as one drink,” said Steig. “It’s a problem for
people who don’t know how much they can handle…but maybe the aim is to be belligerent.” The problem is often viewed as more of a social issue than a health one. Steig comments, “If these binge-drinkers don’t have a problem with people making judgments on how they portray themselves, then I guess it’s fine. I don’t make judgments based on how much people drink, but it definitely happens.” In a culture where most people feel that they should be able to drink legally, despite the majority of students being under-age, the issue of irresponsible drinking is a complicated one. The government has taken some individual approaches towards the issue of binge drinking among college students. Ever since the original government “Task Force report,” a number of new studies have examined measures to reduce drinking among “mandated” students, who are defined as “students who have been identified as having a problem with alcohol and who have been mandated to receive intervention and/or treatment for their problems.” Unfortunately, studies have also shown that not only are these students least likely to participate, but they are also most likely to experience or create alcohol-related problems on campus. There has been some evidence, provided by national studies from NIAAA, that web-driven or technological programs are easier to administer to college students. All the sororities and fraternities on U-M’s campus are required to participate in an alcohol education program before initiation into their respective organizations, indicating that at least the Greek system has an organized approach to responsible drinking on campuses. UHS, compelled by the controversy over the definition of “binge-drinking,” has begun to discuss creating a system to monitor the number of alcoholrelated health visits to UHS that occur every year. MR
College Students Increasingly “Drunk-arexic” When Going Out By Alyse Hudson, ‘11
t is common around campus for people to skip dinner to make up for the numerous calories they are planning on consuming in alcohol that night. No big deal, right? Wrong. This ordinary practice is actually a specified form of anorexia referred to as drunk-orexia. Drunk-orexia feeds on the pressure to stay in physically good shape while still being able to party and have a good time. Body images can easily be skewed. According to the University Health Service (UHS), body images may be impacted by occurrences college students everywhere encounter: “physical and emotional separation from family, requirements for high academic performance, transitions between living arrangements, beginning or ending a significant relationship, and graduation.” There is a thin line between restricted eating and dieting. Erica Dodde, a health educator for UHS and a coordinator for CARE (Coalition for Action Regarding Eating and Body Image Issues) and PULSE, does not recommend either. She says, “Many people who suffer from an eating disorder started with an innocent diet. Diets are not an effective way to lose weight,” she said. “In fact, ninety-five percent of diets fail. Eating when you are hungry and what your body truly craves is the best way to regulate weight. However, this is difficult because most people are out of touch with what their body needs with regard to food and movement.” “If thoughts are focused on calories all the time, there is a problem,” she added. For students to understand how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, CARE is sponsoring ten to twelve students to attend “The Hunger Within” workshop, which focuses on emotional eating by nationally recognized author Marilyn Migliore. The workshop is for one hour on Wednesday evenings starting on April 16th and running until June 18th. Although drunk-orexia is not officially recognized as an eating disorder by UHS, Erica Dodde still says, “Whenever someone starves himself or herself through the day and then binges on anything, it can be considered disordered eating or an eating disorder.” Skipping meals is not only unhealthy, but combining that with massive amounts of alcohol creates a dangerous combination. “Alcohol is an irritant and without food to protect the stomach lining, it irritates the stomach lining and increases the likelihood for blackouts,” said Mary Jo Desprez, University of Michigan Alcohol Policy and Community Initiatives Program Administrator. Desprez also explains, “Alcohol is a diarrhetic and is full of empty calories. When people swap the caloric intake from meals for that of alcohol, they lose the nutritional value.” Drunk-orexia is especially prevalent in women. It is suggested that this is the case due to media pressure by society to look perfect as well as collegiate pressures to drink competitively with men. In addition, alcohol takes it’s effect on women’s bodies faster for several reasons. Women usually have a smaller body size and a different body composition than men, but women’s bodies also contain more body fat, which has less water to dilute the alcohol in the body. Hormonal changes also alter the affect of alcohol on the body. A woman’s reaction to alcohol is more severe when she is about to start her period or if she is taking birth control. “Women do not have as much of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase as men do. It is this enzyme that breaks down the alcohol, and therefore, women have a higher blood alcohol level,” said Desprez. If someone feels he or she has a problem with alcohol, the University provides a program called BASICS. According to UHS, “BASICS is a two-session alcohol assessment and education program offered free to all University of Michigan students who want to explore their alcohol use.” MR
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he Michigan Review is the independent, student-run journal of conservative and libertarian opinion at the University of Michigan. Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Editorial Board. Ergo, they are unequivocally correct and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons represent the opinions of the author, and not necessarily those of the Review.
More Guns Not the Answer to Campus Violence
n the past year, college students have seen their immediate horizons riddled with the news of campus shootings. From last year’s Virginia Tech massacre to the more recent shooting at Northern Illinois University, and the tragic murder of North Carolina’s student body president, Eve Carson, the issue of gun violence has become relevant to college students in ways it never should have. Different people have different instinctual reactions to these crimes, but one thing is certain—we all want to blame someone or something. Solutions are bandied about, from different interest groups and ideologues, but, not so strangely, few of them satiate an appetite for a kind of comprehensive reform that would make students, on balance, safer. But in the absence of real leadership, piecemeal and patchwork solutions have been proposed. One of those solutions is to allow college students to carry concealed weapons on campus. As the law currently stands, educational institutions are “gun free” zones, where firearms are not allowed. Under current law (at least in Michigan), similar zones include bars and churches, among other places. It leaves a situation on campus where only officials from the Department of Public Safety are (legally) allowed to carry guns. Pro-gun advocates maintain a familiar argument: in areas where guns are outlawed, only the criminals carry guns. Fair enough. But we still remain unconvinced that opening up the U-M campus—or any other campus, for that matter—to concealed carry yields a net positive for the Michigan community. We do not discount the very plausible arguments about guns’ potential ability to take down a campus gunman. And we acknowledge the basic point that the Second Amendment protects, to some degree, individuals’ rights to own guns, and use them in self-defense. But we believe that by opening the door to the introduction of firearms on campus, on balance, the impact would be negative. The deterrent effect is minimal. Campus gunmen, it should be noted, are not the most reasonable fellows. Their mission is most often suicidal; the thought that a student in one of their classes might also be carrying a weapon does not seem as though it would be a terribly effective deterrent. There is also the serious issue of how allowing concealed carry on campus would affect the ability of law enforcement officials to do their job effectively. The gunman at Northern Illinois University, Steven Kazmierczak, having no record of mental disturbance or a prior criminal record, would have easily been able to contain a concealed carry permit for his weapons (which he purchased legally). The gambit for Kazmierczak is that, on a campus where concealed carry is allowed, even if a public safety official had noticed the maniac had a weapon, he would have had no power to stop him. A campus environment that clearly distinguishes who is and who is not allowed to have guns is a campus more prepared to hinder the rampages of the deranged. Lastly, we would regret to see the introduction of guns onto campus in the name of “security,” when, in reality, we are confident that a number of University of Michigan students would feel anything but secure. Our challenge to University administrators and lawmakers alike—in not just this context, but others around the country—is to come up with solutions to campus gun violence that are more compelling than letting college students (Admittedly, we can be an irresponsible bunch.) carry around guns if they wish. Campus violence is a serious matter. Allowing students conceled carry is not a serious solution. MR
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University of Michigan: The Phantom Menace
he University of Michigan has withdrawn its proposal on student publications that would have significantly curtailed free speech rights on campus. For that, we are glad. But like many other things at this University, the administrators have not explained the decision in any meaningful way. In an interview with University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham in a story for this issue, she claimed that the policy was withdrawn simply because the University came to the apparently uninfluenced decision that the problems the regulations had sought to address—eliminating commercial publications and reducing litter—were not actually problems, after all. We think the University is lying. The idea that U-M would have likely come to the same conclusions about this policy absent the negative publicity brought by The Review and The Daily’s stories is laughable. Like its preordained decisions on commencement and other issues, U-M was burned by their own poor foresight when those decisions were made public. The University has had to backtrack on so many decisions in the past two years that we have to wonder if anyone on campus is truly in control. Indeed, it may be the case that the University is not even sure who is in control. When Cunningham was asked about which administrators would have the power to enact the publications policy, how the decision to withdraw the policy was made, and who ultimately made the decision to withdraw it, Cunningham did not know. She essentially said that there was no nexus of power in deciding to withdraw the policy, which is either troubling, or obfuscation of the truth. “It’s a very decentralized University,” Cunningham told us. For an office called “media relations,” the shop run by Ms. Cunningham, et al., has done a poor job managing its relationship with the media on this story. We like and respect that office, but cannot help but think that the office is trying to snow over The Review, The Daily, and other publications on campus when trying to explain its reasoning in withdrawing the policy. We like Cunningham and her office. We think they generally do good work trying to scrimp together facts on an otherwise nebulous campus. But we cannot help but feel that, in this case, they have been charged with having to bury this story. And that is unfortunate. It represents another way in which the University is trying to serve its own interests while throwing the First Amendment values, which they often glowingly praise, under the bus. If the University intends to hold up its supposed commitment to the First Amendment, it needs to be more forthcoming about the nature of the internal processes that led to the withdrawal of the policy. This is important for reasons of accountability and transparency. The University must be held accountable for its decisions. A free press on campus helps speak truth to the power that is U-M. When the administration tries to stifle the flow of information to the student press, it is manipulating the students it is supposed to serve. In terms of transparency, this is always important for any public institution, and the University of Michigan is no exception. The administration should be more open to investigations by ourselves and other campus publications. But, as things stand, the University has closed itself off to public inquiry. And for that, we are a lesser school. MR
MSA Elections Lack Any and All Impact
ast month, the Russians held an election that was all but predetermined. This week MSA will hold similarly pointless elections. Yet while the Russians flocked to the polls, almost no students will make the effort to cast, easy-to-access online ballots. In the lead-up to the elections this Wednesday and Thursday, anyone who is a Facebook friend with a candidate or happens to be on a large U-M e-mail list will surely get a flurry of e-mails telling them to vote for students with pointless platforms and little substance. Michigan Action Party itself is a loose coalition more determined to chalk the recently unfrozen Diag than to create any unified policy proposals. While we are glad to see that MAP rejects the openly political posturing that resulted in the over hyped election in the fall of 2006, the current decision to avoid controversy fails to improve the assembly. Even when presented with fiercely ideological parties, students (with nearly a quarter of students voting) chose the vanilla Students for Michigan Party (S4M). Since most of S4M’s members transferred over to MAP, MSA has had a one-party rule for at least the past four years. When MSA has managed to attract student interest it has often been for its missteps. MSA’s “Ludacris” decisions to confront issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that it has little jurisdiction over make almost no sense. Even MSA’s attempt to revive homecoming failed to engage students. Given this track record and the lack of choices available to students in this election, either MAP or the Defend Affirmative Action Party, we find the student apathy surrounding this election far from surprising. In fact it may be preferable. Students have given a clear signal that MSA just does not matter to their lives. Even when former MSA President Zack Yost resigned, following disparaging comments about another assembly member with Asperger’s syndrome, few students seemed to care. Sure, MSA has a budget exceeding half a million dollars and has access to the administration. Yet the best way to prevent MSA from taking action that has little impact on students is not to fight individual policies of the assembly. Many of the more tangential resolutions, such as one against the War in Iraq, are introduced at the whim of a few assembly members, often on short notice, and are unlikely to disappear unless a high level of student scrutiny comes into vogue; that’s an unlikely outcome. Rather, the current apathy benefits students by removing most of MSA’s authority. The Assembly can, and will, continue to propose needless resolutions that do more to pad resumes than benefit students. Yet when the administration, and external organizations, realize the paltry number of students who vote, they are unlikely to take the insular concerns of MSA seriously. So, feel free to continue whatever plans you had for this week and let MSA elections just happen. Those who so desperately want to get elected are going to end up in office if a few extra students vote or not. Not voting would hardly be a shirking of one’s responsibility; the fact of the matter is that the “duty” to vote does not apply when there are no options on which to vote. MR
■ The Model Minority
istorical memoirs are meant to be just that—historical. They establish a link for the reader to the past, be it distant or recent. And they are intended to be factual depictions illustrated with emotional details and personal anecdotes. But the publishing world has been rocked in recent weeks by the uncovering of not one, but two fraudulently written Jane memoirs. Coaston One, written by a woman who claimed to be half-Native American and to have witnessed countless gang shootings in the ghettoes of South Central Los Angeles, was unmasked as a fake by a review
in The New York Times. Its “humane and deeply affecting” aspects that “focus[ed] on the bonds of love and loyalty that can bind relatives and gang members together,” according to the review, turned out to be the result of the imagination of a single white mother from a wealthy background. The other incident is, in my opinion, more egregious—for the topic and the length of time historians and literary critics considered its story a pinnacle of truth. “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years,” written by Misha Defonseca, was the “true” story of a girl who survived terrible odds alone during the Holocaust. She lived with a family of wolves and stabbed a Nazi officer who attempted to rape her. Despite the far-fetched nature of the story, Defonesca gained national acclaim as the source of a new perspective on the horrors of the Holocaust. The memoir was published in 1997, though she had been telling her story for decades prior.
It was even made into a moderately successful French film. But the story unraveled when simple detective work proved that Defonesca was actually Monique De Wael, the child of two Catholics murdered as part of the Belgian Resistance. De Wael claimed that Mischa’s story was “not actual reality, but was my reality, my way of surviving.” Perhaps more disturbing than both women’s lies is the claim by some literary critics that the validity of these memoirs, or lack thereof, does not matter. Like the famous example of Rigoberta Menchu who held that her story was true for someone, some are saying that just because the stories these two women told aren’t entirely factual doesn’t mean they couldn’t be. But they weren’t. They didn’t happen. As a student of history, I rely on historical narratives and memoirs. I can’t be at the location of famous events, but through the words and thoughts of
those that were there, I can understand what it was like to be in that place. But if historical narratives are based on their literary value rather than fact, historians are the losers. And if we cannot rely on the words of someone who claims to be relaying fact, so are we. Had these two women written their stories as works of fiction, their works could have been respected solely for their literary value and appreciated accordingly. The stories they told could have brought attention to their causes. But instead, they became just two more cautionary tales of the dangers of falsifying historical narratives. What they wrote no longer matters; it’s how they wrote it that does. Historical narratives are not the place for, in Stephen Colbert’s words, “truthiness.” They should not be “like” the truth or a “reflection” of the truth, if they are truly to be considered in the category of history. They should be the truth, plain and simple. MR
■ Free to Choose
The Fear of Freedom
don’t usually find myself disagreeing with The Michigan Review editorial position. Generally, the Review comes down on the side of conservatism in the spirit of William F. Buckley or Ronald Reagan, promoting less government and individual liberty as its guiding principles. The Review routinely fills the void left by the Daily —criticizing the University and politicians when they are clearly in the wrong. And more often than not, it has taken a “hands off” approach—hands off of my wallet, hands off my schools, and hands off of my rights. In this issue, nothing could be further from the truth. At hand are two bills in Jonathan front of the Michigan legislaSlemrod ture that would abolish the current policy of “gun free” zones. These establish the precedent that law enforcement officers should be the sole entity allowed to carry firearms on educational grounds. Students would be able to obtain a concealed carry permit (CCW) and carry a firearm responsibly,
after submitting to mandatory safety training. In a heated discussion in our office, several Review staffers noted that they “do not feel safe” knowing that students could bring a gun to a class and start shooting if they get a bad grade on a test, for example. I for one do not feel safe knowing that my fellow staffers (who would generally like to regard themselves as conservatives) feel safe giving more power to the government and denying students the fundamental, Constitutionally-derived right to bear arms. Contrary to the Review’s defining of CCW advocates as “pro-gun advocates,” I am not pro-gun. My family has never owned a gun, nor have I, and I do not plan on owning one at any point in my life. I am simply in favor of Constitutional rights, and I refuse to abandon my principles because there is a small chance that a student with a gun would “snap” and start killing people. Why hasn’t the Review editorialized against gun rights entirely? After all, current concealed carry permits allow people to bring guns into densely-populated areas such as shopping malls and movie theaters. Surely, they must feel “unsafe” knowing that a deranged moviegoer could stand up and wipe out an entire crowd when they find out that Harry Potter will not be returning for another sequel.
The Review wants the administration to come up with “solutions,” but, of course, does not offer any themselves. Trusting the University to solve the problem of school shootings is to completely disregard the fact that any “solutions” we have seen in recent months haven’t been solutions at all. Indeed, their solution to Proposal 2, which banned affirmative action by an overwhelming margin, was to find every possible way to skirt the law. Their solution to their own perceived funding shortfalls was to advocate strapping Michigan residents with more taxes even though we remain in a single-state recession. I am confident that the Review agrees with me on these points, as they have in the past. But in this case, they have no problem giving the University more power to regulate. Fear alone is not a legitimate justification for more government control and less freedom, even in the realm of gun rights. My fellow Review staffers should take a cue from their newfangled hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who eloquently stated that the only thing to fear is fear itself. MR
Causes for Current Credit-Cruch Should be Lessons for Students By Nathan Stano, ‘11
here is no doubt that every student, from Wall Street Journal reading B-schoolers to RC Theater students, has heard of the recent economic troubles, but what can the average college student learn from the fall of investment banks? It may not be a surprise that the credit spending of our generation, which Staff we learned from our Opinion parents, has fueled the rise of these banks. As young people spend beyond their means, investment banks buy up our debt as “securities.” While you can spend like this for a while, eventually
you must, as they say, “pay the piper.” As more people defaulted on loans, banks’ asset columns went from black to red. Now, as the Federal Reserve is desperately trying to bail out the banks, which is akin to Ben Bernanke trying to bail out the Titanic with a children’s sand pail, they’re lowering interest rates in an attempt to spur spending. This brings us full circle, to ask: wasn’t it our spending that got us in trouble in the first place? My argument here is twofold. First, we must realize that this government intervention in the economy doesn’t help any of us in the long run. If we have a system where a bad investment pays the same as a good one, what’s the point of trying to find a good investment? As long as the Fed is unwilling
to let banks lose obscene amounts of money, they will continue to make bad investments, and we will simply find ourselves in this position again. As your hard earned tax dollars are spent to protect investors’ bottom lines on Wall Street, the government continues to debase our currency to pay for what they can’t pull from our pockets. Read the classical economists and they could tell you more about how that works. Second, as we graduate and move into the “real world,” we have to rein in our spending. You get a paycheck at the end of the month or every couple of weeks, and every dollar over that paycheck you spend contributes to the problems we’re having right now. If we cannot learn to live within our means, we can look forward to a future of eco-
nomic ruin. The lesson to the student is thus, while the Fed might be willing to bail out the big investment banks, there isn’t any Fed to bail you out, and no, your parents don’t count. In the end, we must learn to be responsible with our money, especially now that most students carry hefty loans. If we fail to heed the lessons, we will end up as the banks did—flat broke. MR
the michigan review
‘U’ Withdraws Student Publications Proposal By Adam Paul, ‘08
ast week, the University withdrew a draft policy on distribution of student publications. The policy had hoped to reduce litter and to eliminate the distribution of publications not af-
been involved since the beginning and that consultation with counsel did not lead to the change in course. When the Review first ran a story about the proposal in late January, University officials did not indicate any desire to alter the policy.
“It was a joint conversation amongst people who were concerned with the issue,” said Cunningham in response to the process that led to the proposal’s withdrawal. filiated with the University. E-mail documents obtained by the Review show that consideration of the policy began last spring and that several draft copies had been developed since then. Since the policy was covered by stories in The Michigan Review and Michigan Daily in January, the Student Publications Board initially planned to meet with editors at The Michigan Daily to discuss the policy. The director of LSA Facilities and Operations announced the meeting would be delayed, allowing more student groups to provide input. No public meeting took place. The decision to withdraw the policy was announced in an e-mail to The Michigan Daily and The Michigan Review by University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham. Cunningham said the policy had never been finalized and the decision was based upon continuing conversations about its direction. No new draft versions of the policy had been created since January. “It was always a draft policy, so it was always a working document After further review it was decided that it was not needed at this time and that things are working fairly smoothly at this time,” said Cunningham. While the Office of General Counsel—the University’s legal division—was consulted about the policy before its withdrawal, Cunningham stated that this office had
“I don’t have any knowledge of intent to change the policy,” said Assistant General Counsel Maya Kobersy at the time. Cunningham did not comment on how common it is for a policy to be removed from consideration. She explained that all policies take a unique direction. When asked who was involved in the final decision about the policy, Cunningham explained that there was no single issue that led to the decision. “It was a joint conversation amongst people who were concerned with the issue,” said Cunningham. “We are just saying that things are working very smoothly right now,” said Cunningham. Concerns about the policy itself did not come into play rather there was a reassessment of the problem made the policy seem unnecessary. The policy would have ended the current distribution system whereby student publications provide their own distribution stands. Under the proposal the University would have provided “nodes” similar to the cubies currently available at the Ugli and Pierpont Commons. According to Cunningham, no alternative policies dealing with student publication distribution are being considered at this time. MR
“Mormons” From Page 1 cally, designed to cater to changing population needs. According to Ypsilanti ward member Daniel Magleby, a third year Political Science graduate student at the University, Mormon wards are capped at about three hundred members, and those wards are further grouped into larger geographic areas called stakes. The Ypsilanti ward is meant for single persons, a typical feature of areas with large student populations, and it is just one part of a much larger geographic area that also encompasses Ann Arbor, Saline, Howell, Adrian, and Chelsea, which—according to Betsy Christensen, head of public relations for the area—has a membership of about 4,000 people. This means several things for a University of Michigan student who is a member of such a congregation. It means they will be traveling from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti at least once a week for church services and events at the ward, according to Ypsilanti ward member and second year School of Music student Erica Shirts. “It really takes you into seeing what else is going on in [the state of] Michigan,” Magleby said of the experience. “Ann Arbor becomes a bubble.” Indeed, Shirts, Nelson, and Magleby had traveled
Unchallenged MSA Elections Will Swing Shingwani to Power Shingwani refuses to rule out stances on political issues By Michael O’Brien, ‘08
lections March 19 and 20 for the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) presidency will be virtually uncontested, with LSA Junior and MSA Treasurer Sabrina Shingwani facing only token opposition from Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Kate Stenvig. Shingwani, a sociology major from New York, has been with MSA since her freshman year. After serving as a representative, a member of the Budget Priorities Committee, and as Treasurer, she has decided to run for the student body presidency, partnering with Business school junior Arvind Sohoni. Shingwani and Sohoni have assembled a platform that echoes the same policies articulated, though never accomplished, by their successors. Shingwani said that during her term MSA would continue to focus on better off-campus lighting, better alumni resources in the career center, and, in this election year, increasing student voter turnout for next fall’s presidential race. “Arvind and I have a large stake in some of the same projects Zack [Yost] and Mohammed [Dar] had in their platform,” said Shingwani. After a school year marked by then-President Zack Yost’s resignation over controversial comments made about a MSA representative with Asperger’s Syndrome, Shingwani said a goal of hers would be to make the MSA presidency more “public.” Noting that she thought Yost was correct to resign over the remarks, Shingwani said that she and Sohoni seek to increase the accountability and transparency of the
“Honestly, we can do better,” Shingwani said. “It’s hard to say, ‘Just trust us.’” student government. Nonetheless, MSA elections in recent years have been plagued by low turnout, with less than ten percent of eligible voters casting a vote for representation of the student government, which oversees an annual budget of over half a million dollars. “Honestly, we can do better,” said Shingwani. “It’s hard to say, ‘Just trust us.’” But Shingwani indicated that student participation is a two-way street. “The students aren’t as aware of MSA as we should hope they would be,” she said. Referencing the contested, and politicized, three-way MSA race several years ago after a controversy over losing money in financing a concert featuring rap artist Ludacris, Shingwani said it the battle to win votes is frustrating. “It’s unfortunate that the election in recent years with highest voter turnout was controversial,” she said. Shingwani argued that Michigan Action Party’s get-out-the-vote efforts may
See “MSA” Page 7
to and are as familiar with Southeast Michigan locations as only a few of even their Michigan-born-andbred peers could boast, due to their participation in social and religious events at other wards in places like Bloomfield Hills, and to the nature of their own ward, which intermixes students from other local colleges like Eastern Michigan University. Membership in the Ypsilanti ward also means that both Michigan undergraduate and graduate students will be brought into close contact with each other, sharing their time and experiences: something that happens largely, in the course of a typical Michigan student’s education, almost exclusively through student-instructor relations in a classroom setting. As for on-campus life, several Mormon students interviewed showed a pattern of creating diverse relationships with other Michigan students for reasons connected to the strong influence of their faith in everyday life. Michigan alumnae Andrea Richards, a LDS member and Utah native, attended graduate school at Michigan for History. During her time at Michigan, she made many friendships with Muslim students. “One of the greatest differences I noticed in coming here was how hard it was to make friends and socialize with other students and even faculty without going to bars,” said Richards, whose beliefs as a Mormon for-
bids the consumption of alcohol, and who was made uncomfortable in bars. “My Muslim friends understood that perfectly,” she said. John McElderry, a Mormon graduate student working on his PhD in analytical chemistry at Michigan, has had similar experiences in making friends with Jewish students. And Nelson is currently observing Lent after learning about it from friends of different dominations on campus, finding the concept of Jesus Christ’s fortyday fast inspiring. Their strong ties to their church have also taken Mormon students across the globe, as both McElderry and Magleby have gone on missions to Brazil to converse about the gospel from door to door. For them, then, it is precisely the nature of and the strength of their faith that seems to take them places, to stimulate them personally and as community members in ways that match or even go beyond what is typical at Michigan, where Ann Arbor can, indeed, become a “bubble.” MR
the michigan review
Scholarship Athletes Face Challenges in Maintaining Eligibility By Jane Coaston, ‘09
cholarship athletes appear to have it all. Because of their skills on the field, in the pool, or in the arena, many college athletes are offered scholarships that pay for their tuition, room, and board. But the expectations for athletes at high-level universities are proportionately higher as well. A lack of production, an injury, or a change in circumstance can cause a loss of a scholarship that may be the only way a student can afford school. The state of college athletics and scholarship athletes in particular has been a recent topic for numerous news organizations. Problematically, athletes for smaller market sports receive much smaller financial disbursements. According to statistics released by the New York Times, athletes in sports such as water polo and baseball receive as little as $5,806 on average while being expected to participate fully in the rigors of Division 1 athletics. At the University, graduation rates for scholarship athletes are examined carefully but scholarships much less so. Scholarship athletes themselves are often the best source for understanding how scholarships work at Michigan.
“MSA” From Page 6 cause the vote total to exceed last year’s. Even accounting for expected low turnout and a lack of a major opponent, Shingwani will inherit a student government that has been lower-profile during the second semester tenure of MSA President Mohammed Dar. The extent to which that might change remains unclear, however. When asked about points of controversy in MSA in recent years—such as resolutions passed condemning the War in Iraq and the MCRI, and a much-debated resolution on divestment from Israel that never received a vote—Shingwani refused to speculate as to whether or not her administration would engage such issues. “I think the role of MSA is to speak to issues that directly affect students,” said Shingwani. However, when asked whether or not issues like divestment from Israel or the War in Iraq directly affect students, Shingwani said she would have to study the issues further. Also, she declined to criticize political touchstones on MSA—such as the Environmental Issues Committee and the Peace and Justice Committee—who are perceived to primarily further progressive political interests. The Peace and Justice Committee, for instance, partnered with Students Organizing for Labor Equality and “Mexican Solidarity” this year to organize events. Shingwani says all funding requests for events are taken on a case-by-case basis. And as for the committees, “It’s a student demand on campus to have an Environmental Issues Committee,” she said. MR
Chris McLaurin is a member of the Michigan football team. A tight end and member of the special teams unit who has been placed on medical scholarship, McLaurin was the twenty-seventh ranked weak side defender in the nation in high school. His scholarship provides everything he expected: “It provides room and board, food, books and tuition, and sometimes even gas expenses.” But he recognized the difficulty that would be posed by participating in one of the most visible programs in the country. “I expected for it not to be easy, and that I wasn’t going to get anything for free. All of the time and energy that we spent down at the football building studying plays, working out, and practicing was the price of a free college experience,” said McLaurin. When asked if athletes from smallmarket sports should receive full scholarships, he answered that it depended on the player’s involvement. “I do think this question depends on how much time the sport that they are playing is taking up. I think that for a lot of sports they do deserve to be given scholarships, but some of the less demanding and competitive sports do not deserve the same. Playing college athletics at a high competitive level is very demanding and like a job. I
don’t think this has to do with how profitable a sport is, but more on the basis of how demanding the commitment is.” Katie Dierdorf is a senior on the Michigan Wolverine’s women’s basketball team. A forward from Saint Louis, she was Missouri’s Miss Basketball in 2004. At the University, she has received three varsity letters and been an important participant throughout her career. Recruited by the University of Colorado, the University of Missouri, and Michigan, she decided to attend the University based on several factors. “The main factors in my decision were the coaches, current players, and academics. I wanted a school that had a good mixture between athletics and academics, and Michigan fit that perfectly. I was offered a full scholarship everywhere I was looking, so it really had no effect on my decision.” She is also the daughter of Dan Dierdorf, a Michigan football player and an NFL player and television analyst. “My dad went to Michigan, so my whole life I wanted to go to school here. We also have a lot of family friends that live in Ann Arbor, so that greatly influenced my decision to come to school here.” As a basketball player and thus one of the more visible female athletes
on campus, her scholarship provides everything she needs. “My scholarship provides pretty much everything I would want it to: tuition, books, room and board, and enough money left over to pay for my rent each month.” When asked if scholarship athletes for smallermarket sports should also receive full scholarships, she agreed enthusiastically. “I definitely do think that athletes who play any varsity sport should be eligible for full scholarships. I know that there is a money problem because sports that do not bring in any money have no way of funding their scholarships. But, at a school like Michigan that has a large and well-funded athletic department, I think something could be done to give more scholarships to all athletes.” Scholarships for athletes are a controversial issue, particularly when competing for limited funds from departments stretched to the financial limit. For some athletes at the University, scholarships provide everything they need; for others, it’s difficult to make ends meet. MR
Coming Out Week Bends Gender Barriers Author Bornstein creates new pronoun, “ze” By Christine Hwang, ‘10
wenty-two years ago, Kate Bornstein, formerly Albert, underwent a male-to-female sex change operation. Ze (“ze,” as in not “he” or “she”) described the processes at zer talk “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us,” last week. The event was the keynote address of LBGT’s Pride Week. A mix of older generations and students attended the talk to listen to what Kate Bornstein, an outspoken fifty-nineyear-old transsexual author, who was dressed in a multi-patterned, multicolored tank top. “I know that I am not a man…and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not a woman either…the problem is that we’re living in a world that insists we be one or the other,” said Bornsetin. Ze told of grappling with the issue when writing “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.” The performance was one of a transsexual who had been an Orthodox Jew, a hippie, a scientologist, a daughter, a son, a father, a mother, a heterosexual man, a lesbian, a man, a woman, and ultimately a “neither” in zer lifetime. After all, as Bornstein would note later in zer performance, the body’s cells regenerate every seven years. “Seven years ago I had my girl skin. Then, seven years before, I had my lesbian skin. Then seven years before, I had my man skin. Then, seven years before, I had my boy skin.” Enacting zer story, “Hoowahyou?,” published in The New York Times in 1998 as “Her Son/Daughter,” Borstein told the audience the experience of going to zer mother’s funeral. “Hoowahyou?” is what an old Jewish woman, one of zer mother’s friends, asked Bornstein at
the funeral, to which ze replied, “I am Mildred’s daughter.” Bornstein went on to describe the surprise of her mother’s friends, the gossip that ze pictured among old ladies at the next game night, the pride of zer mother in the men in her life: her father, her husband, and her two sons, who are now one son and one lesbian. Zer mother, after all, had only told a small circle of close friends about “my son, the lesbian.” Bornstein’s story flashbacked to an episode in which ze,
Bornstein has been a hippie, scientologist, daughter, son, mother, father, lesbian, man, woman, and “neither” in her lifetime. at the time a Brown University hippie with “beard, beads, and suede kneehigh moccasins with fringe hanging down past my calves,” disrupted zer hometown rabbi’s sermon, an episode that ended with the rabbi asking, “Hoowahyoo? You’ve got the beard, so now you’re Jesus Christ?” Bornstein ended the story about zer mother, reading zer writing, on a touching note: “My mother only once asked me, ‘Who are you?’ It was about a week before she died. ‘Hoowahyoo, Albert?’
she asked anxiously, mixing up names and pronouns in the huge dose of morphine, ‘Who are you?’ I told her the truth: I was her baby, I always would be. I told her I was her little boy, and the daughter she never had. I told her I loved her.” “‘Ha!’ she’d exclaimed, satisfied with my proffered selection of who’s, ‘That’s good. I didn’t want to lose any of you, ever.’” “Oh, oh, oh…I’ve done my time as an evangelist,” Bornstein continued with zer story, “Twelve years in the Church of Scientology…” At this moment, a member of the audience shouted, “OH!” in dismay, with a pause that followed, and a concluding laugh. “Believe me, it’s much easier to tell people that I’m a transsexual,” said Bornstein. The fact that ze has never really spoken to zer 35-year-old daughter, born, raised, and still in the Church of Scientology, a church, which Bornstein says not only condemns transsexuals, but encourages the physical harm of them—Bornstein wants to die knowing zer daughter thinks of zer as more than a one-dimensional “thing.” Bornstein wants to reconcile the fact that ze was a devout follower of the Church of Scientology zerself for twelve years. The lesson of the night was not one of equality or LGBT pride, but rather one of living life: “Whatever you believe it takes to make your life worth living, just do it. It may be immoral, illegal…some of it might get you in trouble with God…but if that happens, I’ll just serve your time in Hell for you. I’m a masochist, I’ll enjoy Hell.” “Just one rule,” said Bornstein, “Never be mean.” MR
the michigan review
“Concealed Carry” From Page 1
Joint NRA-YAF Event Takes Aim at Safety
tive officer of that school. “The University of Michigan believes these bills primarily affect K-12 institutions,” said Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety at U-M. She added, though, that the University is studying the implications for UM if these bills were to become law. The two bills come at a time when some state lawmakers, faced with the specter of increased gun violence on college campuses, have turned to relaxing gun regulations as a solution. The New York Times recently reported on the efforts of Arizona State Senator Karen Johnson, a Republican, to allow concealed firearms for students at Arizona’s public colleges and universities. Five other states are considering various changes in their laws to allow guns in schools, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Giving guns to college students would be a dangerous idea, and likely lead to more deaths and injuries that occur now,” said Brian Siebel, a senior attorney for the Brady Campaign. “We think the idea of arming college students is grossly irresponsible.” Acciavatti, a gun rights advocate, takes a different tact. “The more law abiding citizens who could potentially be armed, the better off the public will be in overcoming a clear criminal who is not obeying the law,” he said. Acciavatti, an alumnus of the University of Michigan’s School of Engineering, said that if a situation like those at Virginia Tech or Northern Illinois were to occur at U-M, the campus would rely on public safety officers to neutralize the threat, a response he described as potentially inadequate. “If I was a CCW holder, and it was inconvenient knowing that if I were to drive through a campus, I would not be able to carry my weapon through that area,” he said. Agema said it is not a matter of if—but when—a school in Michigan would encounter a school shooting. Agema, a military veteran and retired airline pilot, drew on his experiences when arguing that allowing guns in schools is a good idea. “It’s a deterrent,” Agema said. “It doesn’t mandate—but it allows—a school to have these.” Agema suggested that a school could even maintain a secure gun locker in the case of an emergency, instead of having school officials carrying their weapon. Both Acciavatti and Agema acknowledge, though, that there is little chance their bills will become law, especially in a House of Representatives and Governor’s Mansion controlled by Democrats. “It’s not going to find any traction until somebody gets killed in Michigan,” Agema said. Two University of Michigan regulations stipulate that guns are not allowed on campus. U-M’s Standard Practice Guide bars University employees from possessing a firearm on any University property. Additionally, University Regents’ Ordinances prohibit anyone but public safety officers from possessing firearms on any University property. “We would not support a change in law that would allow weapons on campus other than for police officers,” said Brown. “The fear isn’t that if you arm college students, you’re going to increase the massacres,” said the Brady Center’s Siebel. “These events are—fortunately—extremely rare. The problem is that if you arm college students you’re going to get a lot of accidental shootings, suicides, and otherwise kinds of harm.” The Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing a case this month revisiting the scope of the Second Amendment’s protection of gun rights for the first time since 1939. The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, challenges the constitutionality of Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns. MR
By Megan Lytle, ‘10
n Thursday, March 6, three representatives from the National Rifle Association (NRA) gave a presentation called “Refuse to be a Campus Victim.” Young Americans for Freedom and College Libertarians sponsored the event. In light of the recent increase in violence on college campuses, these groups feel that discussion of safety and self-defense is extremely important. The representatives—Al Schreur, Liz Schreur, and Al Herman—are Master Training Counselors with the National Rifle Association. They are involved with several NRA educational programs, including the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program targeted at K-3 grades and various firearm use and safety classes. The presentation opened with the viewing of a video concerning the Second Amendment. It featured actor and former NRA director Charlton Heston giving a speech about the importance of gun ownership rights by individuals, as he sees it. “The firearm is the most fundamental symbol of our freedom,” said Heston in the video. He stated that “freedom-hating politicians” were working on gun control legislation and that other nations want the U.S. to “lower our standard of freedom to their standard of freedom” via gun control laws. After the video, the instructors shared their views on the topic. “Because of the Second Amendment, you’re able to have the First, the Third, the Fourth, and the rest of them,” said Al Herman. He then said that he used to carry his hunting rifle with him to school, but that American society today is overly fearful of firearms and that gun ownership rights are constantly at risk. “You can’t even draw a firearm in school nowadays,” said Herman. After this, the focus shifted. As Mrs. Schrew said, “Refuse to Be a Campus Victim is the least political portion” of the NRA’s educational programs. The presentation was not to be about politics, they said, but about self-defense against violent crime, concentrating preventative measures like risk awareness and safe behavior. Next, pointing to a silver case that had been brought with them, Al Schreur pointed out that it could well have contained a firearm and that none of the attendees had paid this any attention. “You trusted us, and I trusted
Austyn Foster/The Michigan review
you,” he said. “You’ve got to get out of that mode.” They emphasized that one cannot always tell who is a criminal and it is necessary to be constantly on the lookout for potential danger and for ways to get out of that danger. They then shared some crime statistics from the city of Ann Arbor over the past year, including one homicide, five armed and five unarmed robberies, one attempted murder, one case of criminal sexual conduct, one home invasions, and one breaking-and-entering. Various defensive techniques were discussed—from preventative measures like awareness of surroundings to the use of personal alarms, mace or pepper spray in a violent situation—but very few of these involved the use of firearms. The focus was mainly on preventative methods and home security. The only mention of gun use for self defense came at the end, and at that point, it was made very clear that guns are only to be used as a last resort, and that, as in other situations, one can be held legally responsible for their actions, even those taken in self-defense. Sarah Ledford, the Chair of Young Americans for Freedom, thought the event was very successful in sharing awareness of safety issues. “The information provided was not only applicable to gun-owners, but to all people on campus who want to take a proactive approach in stopping campus violence,” Ledford said. MR
New Yorker’s Mankoff Sketches Life in Comedy By Adam Paul, ‘08
omedy may be all about timing, but last week the U-M’s Knight-Wallace Fellows attempted to slow down the process to explain what exactly humor is and how it works. The event, “The Serious Stuff about Humor-What is it? Why is it?” brought together working comedians and academics who study comedy to discuss the issue. “I think we are going to laugh today but you should know that there could be side-effects. You could have nausea, sweating, even become incontinent,” said keynote speaker Bob Mankoff. Mankoff, the cartoon editor for The New Yorker magazine, has now taught several courses on comedy at the University, including one this semester. Mankoff, speeding through an abridged version of his course, explained the process of how he selects cartoons for the magazine. “Everyone, even with a perfectly good job, wants to be a cartoonist for The New Yorker,” quipped Mankoff. Mannkoff usually responds to such requests with comedy. “Cardiologist finds out I’m the cartoon editor for the The New Yorker, says ‘Hey, I got an idea for a cartoon’, I say “Great, I got an idea for a bypass.” Kevin Bleyer, a writer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and previously a writer for “Politically Incorrect” and Dennis Miller, said that explaining comedy is difficult. He noted that writing for an on-air comedian, even one who makes political commentary, is often driven by deadlines and finding the voice of the speaker. “A surprising fact about daily political commentary is that, more often than people would like to believe, we are writing not from a partisan belief from the non-partisan need to have something written by 11pm,” said Bleyer, explaining the role of a comedy writer. Tim Carvell, a fellow “Daily Show” writer, agreed that the show is
often less overtly political than many believe. “People overstate us as a liberal show when it is just that power for the last eight years has been in the hands of conservatives,” said Carvell. Carvell further stated that people in power are more humorous targets for jokes. Carvell advised that comedy only works when people are made fun of for volitional traits rather than things essential to their identity. Panelists Jerry Craft and Signe Wilkinson added perspective on print comedy. Craft, a syndicated African-American cartoonist and author of “Mama’s Boyz,” said that cartoons by black artists can be marginalized. “Newspapers have a Highlander syndrome with black artists, ‘There can be only one,’” said Craft. Craft stated that racial comedy plays on insecurities about our identities to make viewers laugh. He also commented that papers dislike controversial jokes, noting a comic he wrote about teen pregnancy that got his strip dropped for some time. “Papers avoid controversial comics all the time but they create the greatest debate,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson, a political cartoonist for the Philadelphia Daily News, explained that some of her cartoons, such as one about a “radical Islamist beauty pageant” have elicited protest from activists. At the same time, she said that such cartoons generate a flurry of letters to the editor on many sides of an issue. “We could transfer the center of humor studies to Ann Arbor this very afternoon,” said Charles Eisendrath speaking on the credentials of the panelists. Eisendrath, a Professor of Communications and the Director of the Knight-Wallace program, called the event one of the few “systematic studies of humor.” The Knight-Wallace program provides grants to mid-career journalists to study academically on issues of interest such as media evolution or coverage of the War in Iraq. MR
the michigan review
Prominent Academics Call for Normal Relationship with Israel By Brian Biglin, ‘08
lthough the Natural Science Building auditorium seemed primed for a heated evening full of disruptions, noted political science professors and foreign relations experts John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were able to speak without interruption about their controversial research and writing on the so-called Israel lobby in America last Friday. Mearsheimer, of the University of Chicago, and Walt, of Harvard’s Kennedy School, are both in the realist school of world politics study, and are considered conventional centrists by most of their peers, including Professor Ronald Stockton, a UM-Dearborn political science professor who introduced the speakers sponsored by Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE). Stockton said that controversy surrounding their academic work is rare, and that the sensitivity over the topic of Israel has caused this unique controversy. In their respective speeches, Walt and Mearsheimer’s central point was that the United States should have a normal relationship with Israel, rather what they see as the current “special relationship,” with so much unconditional support. They identify a strong and well-financed lobby in America that has pushed American policy (especially through Congress) into maintaining this special relationship, despite the fact that it has hurt the United States, Israel, and the Middle East in general.
This lobby has the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as the centerpiece of an otherwise loose coalition that includes conventional Zionists, Christian Zionists, and print outlets like The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, Walt said. Neither professor mentioned neoconservatives. Walt said that this lobby is hardly synonymous with Jewish-Americans, since so many American Jews sit on the sidelines in this debate, and because so many Christians and religiously-indifferent people are in the lobby. Walt was quick to dispel the idea that they have composed a conspiracy theory, and he vehemently denied having any anti-Semitic material in his writings or beliefs. He said that he believes in Israel and its right to exist and be defended by the United States, and that calling for normalized relations and trying to identify the people that sway foreign policy (just as the gun lobby influences gun policy) should not be confused with animus towards any type of person. Anti-Semitism has readily been used as a smear tactic, Walt said, to marginalize people who share views similar to his. Even The Wall Street Journal mentioned anti-Semitism in their critique of their book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” “They do this because the case for unconditional US support is so weak,” said Walt. Therefore, “there is little serious debate about our level of support.” Mearsheimer discussed the most controversial claim in their paper: that the influence of the lobby has
Speaker Calls for More Democracy in Islamic World By Nathan Stano, ‘11
ast Monday, Dr. M Zuhdi Jasser, the Muslim founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, was brought to campus by Stand with Us Michigan, a national pro-Israel group to speak about the state of affairs within the Islamic world today. Jasser spoke about the need for Muslims to pursue, “the separation between spiritual Islam and political Islam.” He stated that fighting terrorism is not enough for the United States, but that we must fight what he called “Islamism,” and empower Muslims who agree with us to the same. “There is no way to stop terrorism without Muslims standing up and denouncing Islamism as well as terrorism,” Jasser said of his inspiration to found his organization. The Forum is a voice for Muslims who are concerned about civil liberties and spreading freedom to Muslims abroad. The bulk of Jasser’s speech centered on what he sees as the problem of Islamism or political Islam and his ideas on what ought to be done about it. “[The problems are a] two-headed snake in the Middle East, one using religion, the other using totalitarianism,” he said. According to Jasser, the only solution is democratization. He spoke briefly of the war in Iraq, though he tried not to focus on it, due to its political contentiousness. “[Iraq] is going to take generations,” he remarked briefly. He also thought that we ought to do more to encourage interfaith dialogue and to support, to a greater extent, the creation of nongovernmental, pro-democracy institutions in Iraq.
“Our faith has been hijacked, but we’re on that airplane…only Muslims can fix it,” he said of the Islamists, and he called his work toward democratization a “reverse jihad.” He stated that the ideas of the terrorists must be attacked, not with bombs, but with words and ideals like freedom and equality. He compared contemporary Islamist movements as being like the fascist movements of the early 20th century, especially in their push to collectivize groups. Jasser thought that the difficulty of collectivizing Muslims in the Middle East, given their overwhelming majority, would be incredible. This would perhaps give reform in the Middle East a greater chance of success. He spoke on how average Muslims needed to stand up and speak out against terrorists, and the groups that support them, as well as the ideology they preach. “Terrorism is a new philosophy, in the last hundred years, tied to the rise of Islamism,” he also spoke about how he, as an internist, was appalled at the doctors who perpetrated the Glasgow bombings, comparing them to Josef Mengele to demonstrate the corruptive influence of the Islamist ideology. Ultimately, he made sure to show that his goal was freedom. “I never want a special faith provision for me,” he also denounced the attitude of entitlement and victimhood prevalent in the Muslim community. “The Muslim community should build institutions like Cato,” he remarked at the close, calling for more “Jeffersonian Muslims.” MR
yielded negative results. He said that US foreign policy has been pushed in the wrong direction on Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and on the issue of Israel’s increasing occupation of the West Bank. Israel’s “colonizing” policies are not in the U.S. interest, shown by the fact that every president since 1966 has opposed West Bank settlement, but the Israel lobby has overcome this, as the US clearly has not told Israel to stop, Mearsheimer said. Furthermore, the policies supported by the lobby are one cause of terrorism against the United States, Mearsheimer said. The 9/11 Commission concluded that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the architect of 9/11, was inspired mainly by U.S. support for Israel, for example. Speaking of Israel’s future, Mearsheimer was not hopeful. He said that the only realistic hope for lasting peace involves Israel leaving the West Bank and the formation of a lasting two-state regime. A bi-national state would abandon the fundamental purpose of the Jewish state, and a continuation of the current direction would lead to South African-style apartheid. He repeated that Washington must become an evenhanded broker, treating Israel normally and opposing it when it does something wrong. “They [those in favor of a special relationship] are wrong, and history with judge us harshly,” said Mearsheimer. MR
Health Insurance 101: Scientist Hopes to Inform Students on Campaign Issues By Rebecca Christy, ‘08
ecently, the Healthcare and Life Sciences Club sponsored an event titled “The Economics of Health Care Reform,” featuring Dr. Helen Levy, an assistant research scientist in the Department of Health Management and Policy at UM. Her talk, which was introduced by Mitchell Zoerhoff on behalf of the fledging club, discussed the economic theory of insurance as well as the fundamental components of healthcare reforms proposed by the current 2008 presidential candidates. In her section of Economics of Insurance 101, she described the basis by which insurance works, boiling it down to the fact that people do not like financial insecurity. She then introduced the concept of moral hazard, which is defined as a change in behavior due to insurance coverage. An example would be if a person felt more comfortable about speeding and driving dangerously because of the fact that they had generous car insurance. She discussed the RAND Health Insurance Experiment which was conducted from 1974 to 1982. RAND is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute headquartered in California. Levy said that the RAND experiment showed that individuals who were required to pay ninety-five percent of their coverage spent $518 on average for their treatment, while those who had no payments consumed $749 of healthcare on average. This shows how the demand curve for medical care shifts outward, and thus quantity demanded increases for patients who are covered by increasing amounts of insurance. At the same time, it was also determined by the experiment that there was almost no difference in the health of the individuals regardless of their payment plan. Levy also described the concept of adverse selection, which describes the way that an individual knows more about their likelihood of having to spend money on medical care than an insurance company does. This results in an insurance company having a
hard time pricing correctly when private individuals come to them for their services. As a result, ninety percent of Americans who are insured receive their health insurance through an employer because under these umbrella plans the problem of adverse selection is mitigated. Another reason a majority of those with health insurance chose to go through an employer is because there is a relatively large tax subsidy that is not available to those in the individual market. Thus, the coverage of one’s health insurance policy is exempt from income tax when it comes through the employer. An example provided by Levy was if an individual makes $90,000 a year in salary and has a $10,000 health insurance plan through his or her employer, their hypothetical twenty-five percent tax payment is only applied to the $90,000 salary and the individual pays no taxes on the value of the health insurance. This subsidy is currently unlimited and is more valuable to those in the higher tax bracket and, as a result, economists consider this subsidy regressive. Barack Obama’s proposed health insurance reform includes the potential for providing a subsidy to those who are uninsured and or possibly capping the currently unlimited tax exemption. Obama also believes that it is unnecessary to require a mandate on those who seek medical attention without insurance. He would however require that all children be insured based on the belief that children do not have the option to act on their own behalf. In contrast, Hillary Clinton would require a mandate for anyone who is uninsured, but has failed to mention specifically what the mandate would include. Levy estimated that both plans would cost around 100 billion dollars year to implement, and that McCain’s proposed plan which includes a $2,500 voucher for individuals or $5,000 family vouchers would be a less expensive option. MR
arts & culture. the michigan review
St. Patrick’s Day, a Student Timeline By Lindsey Dodge, ‘10
:30 – Rustlings outside. Either Football Saturdays have magically returned, or someone’s trying to break into the sorority next door again. Pull covers over head. 8:45 – Drunken roommate returns with equally drunk girlfriend trailing behind. She’s wearing a headband with metallic shamrock springs popular with 2nd graders the world over. He’s wearing a green shirt that reads, “I’m lucky you’re drunk.” 8:53 – Drunk girlfriend of drunk girlfriend enters. She claims to be going to the library for the rest of the day, because “My major is soooo hard. It’s, like, harder than everyone else’s.’ I have to go, no I totally have to.” She trips while sitting down. 9:00 – Whatever. I’ll just start drinking. Let me grab my leprechaun socks. 9:45 – Friend’s house is surprisingly subdued. People seem grouped into two categories: those who are confused as to whether it’s really St. Patrick’s Day, and those who could not care less. And then there’s the big guy with a shillelagh-shaped beer bong who doesn’t even know that there’s a holiday going on. 9:47 – I’m definitely in the second group. 9:49 – What does ‘subdued’ even mean??? 4:30 – I think some stuff happened. Grass is pretty comfy, anyways. I raise myself up and notice that my friend’s house, normally pretty well-kept, now resembles a bomb-shelter. 5:30 – After consuming some leftover pizza from the open boxes littering the kitchen, I munch thoughtfully. Although the holiday is pretty arbitrary, people seem to be enjoying themselves all the same. There are droves of greenclad people wandering around campus, even a couple aware enough of Irish culture to be whistling “O Danny Boy.” Maybe it’s just because collegiate drinking is so arbitrary to begin with that inserting another day dedicated nationally to alcohol abuse fits in well with college culture. That being said, I’m getting a little behind the group, as my friend just wandered in and started poking me (hard) with the shillelagh-bong. 9:45 – The crowd and I managed to get a table at Skeeps. Between the green beer pitchers and the mini Long Island pitchers, we’re set for awhile. However, people keep assuming that since our tabletop is relatively dry, that entitles them to drop their Irish junk all over it. Let’s see what’s in the Louis Vuitton purse… 10:00 – Wow. I didn’t even know that Wet n’ Wild had a St. Patrick’s Day special. 11:00 – Dancing is fun. I don’t know this person, but they seem to like dancing as much as I do. Let’s hug. 6:20 (tomorrow morning) – Woke up next to an actual leprechaun. Red, bulbous nose, very short and wearing “Detroit hearts you” green suspenders. Another national holiday celebrated in the true college tradition. MR
Who the Heck is the “Dolly Llama”? By Eddie J. Perry, ‘09
he Dalai Lama is the magistrate of Tibetan Buddhism. A common lineage that has been intact since 1391 exists and Tenzin Gyatso is the most recent Buddhist monk to inherit this. He is a member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is serving as the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is coming to Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan on April 20, 2008 to give a free lecture. Tickets went out to students and faculty on March 4, and the wait in line for some students exceeded two hours. Ironically, it was pointed out to The Michigan Review that although the student turnout will likely be high for this event, there are a great deal of students going to the lecture without exactly knowing who “His Holiness” is. Is it the buzz around the event that draws so many students to wait for tickets or is it just the overlap with “Earth Day?” Either way, there is only one way to find out if U-M students actually know who the Dalai Lama is. Enter Man-inthe-Street. Instead of avoiding the Diag as usual on my way to class, I planted myself on the stairs of the Graduate Library for about ten minutes, hoping to be enlightened by passer-bys. My first victim was Steve, a sophomore in chemical engineering. Steve informed me that U-M students should “totally get all their friends to see the Dalai Lama” because “how many times do you get the chance to see and hear one of the
most influential religious speakers of our time?” Very good, Steve. Upon approaching Marie, a junior who was fashionably toting a surplus of Greek letters, I introduced myself and inquired as to whether or not she would be willing to answer a few questions. She agreed. “Marie, have you heard that the Dalai Lama is coming to Michigan in April?” I asked. “Yeah I remember hearing something about that at one point…,” she replied. “Do you know who the Dalai Lama is?” I then probed. “I have no idea what his name is, if that’s what you’re asking,” she answered. I clarified myself, “No, I mean who he is, as in what religion he represents?” Before I could finish my question, she started walking in the opposite direction. The third student I ran into was a freshman B-School hopeful, Karl. I cut right to the chase after what had happened with Marie. I asked, “Karl, do you know who the Dalai Lama is?” He responded with a slight smile, “Honestly, I’ve heard the name but I have no idea who he is. I’m Catholic and I have to go to class now.” I asked the same question to Monique, a graduate student in the School of Public Health. “He’s the leader of Buddhists and he’s really into environmental and world health issues,” she responded. I asked her whether or not she was planning to attend and she stopped dead in her tracks. “You mean he’s coming to Michigan?!” MR
Monique, a graduate student in Public Health, correctly identified the Dalai Lama. When asked if she’d attend his speech, she asked, “You mean he’s coming to Michigan?!”
“Life Is for The Living” Film Review By Julianne K. Nowicki, ‘11
roduced by LSA junior Michael Rubyan and Deborah Orley, “Life Is for The Living” is a documentary supporting the practice and federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, which premiered at Michigan Theatre on March 12. “Life Is for The Living” promotes medical research using embryonic stem cells, specifically in states such as Michigan where laws prohibit government funding for such research. Specifically, the documentary taps into the controversy of using discarded embryos from fertility clinics for such research to cure debilitating diseases. Currently, Michigan laws ban research which destroys embryos for non-therapeutic purposes and the use of the Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer. Among the organizations which funded the documentary were the University of Michigan University Activities Center and the U-M Center for Stem Cell Biology. In this documentary, five families provide a glimpse into the ways they deal with Juvenile Diabetes, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injury. These five families display their suffering, along with the strength, hope, and sacrifices they must make in living with such conditions. Their stories are rooted in the hope that embryonic stem cell research will someday be able to cure or provide relief for painful sufferings. Moments when these stories evoke immense compassion are in the quiet details, often through camera work. In one scene, a young girl from the Clark family is shown pricking her finger eight times so that she can test her blood sugar levels from a small blood sample. She is five years old, and has juvenile diabetes. Scenes like this, which reflect the painful realities of these families, make the idea of pursuing embryonic stem cell research understandable for its said potential to relieve suffering. Many people may argue, however, that well-intentioned compassion is something that must be explored in depth before pursuing research with serious moral ramifications. The film interviews five different families, prominent political figures such as Janet Reno, who has Parkinson’s, and Jennifer Granholm, along with research scientists from U-M and Harvard, and organizations in support of embryonic stem cell research. However, opposing views
are in short supply. Showing her support for such research and referring to people this research could benefit, Granholm is shown saying, “Why wouldn’t we give them that hope, and why wouldn’t we give them that reality? Give them a chance at life.” In the film, Sean Tiptin, President of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, also says, “They shouldn’t have the right to stop people who need the benefits that might come from embryonic stem cell research because it doesn’t fit within their moral structure.” Also, the film does not discuss how much federal funding is needed for embryonic stem cell research. Concrete examples of embryonic stem cell research relieving disease in other states or countries are not cited. For a controversial issue which will probably be put on the Michigan ballot in 2008, voters need critical information in order to make an informed decision. Tedious logistics such as these are not at the heart of this film, but for a complex issue that borders a fine moral line for many people, they need to be included to a greater extent. While these families share heartbreaking stories, stories which are portrayed beautifully and display immense courage and strength, “Life for The Living” does not reach in depth into the reasoned arguments which exist in opposition to embryonic stem cell research. For such a controversial issue, there seems to be the need for a documentary on campus which depicts the balanced arguments of all parties this research affects. MR
arts & culture. the michigan review
The Miracle in Room 6
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in our December 12, 2004 issue. Mr. Sowisolo’s article has become something of a legend among graduates in the Class of 2005. After a conversation in the legendary White Horse Tavern, the Review decided to reprint this bit of MR lore.
By Karl Sowisolo, ‘05
O YOU BELIEVE in miracles? We do, because our housemates have smelled one with their own olfactory canals. The Miracle in Room 6 is a story of faith. It all occurred one cool evening in early October. The flora had yet to turn a beautiful crimson and brown, but magic was in the air, regardless. Pulchritudinous debutantes gathered at our house, where the beer flowed like wine, sweet sounds poured from the stereo, and it did not smell offensive…yet. We perused the party for any apt temptress [ed. Harlot] that found us suitable suitors. After a few hours of polite dialogue and beverages, some of the guests were becoming anxious. A few partygoers sought a secluded area to imbibe, discuss their passions, and get to know one another on a more carnal level; that locale was Room 6. Our housemate, who resided in Room 6, found one such mingler who was interested in becoming conversant with him in his bedroom. It was a convenient transition, as his room had a front vicinity for hobnobbing, and a back room where he and his roommate laid their heads. What occurred in that room is between the room dweller, his female guest, and God, but suffice to say, we wish it were videotaped. After a short resting period, the owner of room 6 received a startling phone call from an unidentified female friend. Despite the fact that the young man had another female guest, the caller would not capitulate - she had to have him. Luckily for our friend, his original guest had fallen into a deep slumber – one from which she could not awake. He locked his door, let in the wanting lass, found a satisfying couch downstairs with strong springs, and satisfied her yearnings by engaging in a rhythmic ritual. The interlude lasted no more than a half hour, and he let her on her way. After boasting about his conquest to these writers, the narcissist unlocked the door to his room, and stepped inside. He was startled, something was amiss. Upon first inspection, everything seemed to be in order: our friend’s roommate was asleep in the bed across the room and our friend’s female guest was asleep in his bed. Something smelled fishy, though…but not like fish. He took a gander at the floor and his suspicions were confirmed. The odious odor came from a pile of poop, a bit cretaceous in texture, and exuding an olfactory nightmare born in the depths of hell. After informing his roommate of the gift laid at the foot of his bed, the young chap sterilized his residence and slept in the front room. The next morning our friend walked the female guest out and told the rest of his housemates what had occurred. Immediately a committee was formed to investigate the ordeal. Much like the Warren Commission, the results have been debated and multiple theories have been formed regarding the perpetrator and motive. The actual explanation is both astonishing and inspiring, and is reminiscent of a simpler time when we put our collective faith in supernatural beings. Children believe in mythical figures such as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but adults typically lose faith in such farfetched characters. Children are truly the smart ones however, as our friend’s discovery has inspired renewed belief in these writers, both of us formerly being typical adult naysayers. Our friend’s roommate would obviously not poop on his own floor. The young lady who was comatose in the bed was in no shape to even get up, let alone drop a deuce. Since the door to the bedroom was locked and the only means of entrance was a 20+ foot window left ajar, and because Louis Pasteur proved that spontaneous generation cannot occur, the only thing that could enter was a class-5, free floating, full torso vapor apparition, or – as we have come to know her – the Poop Fairy. Tooth Fairy’s bastard sister, the lesser celebrated and far underrated Poop Fairy, presents gifts to men who successfully mate with two women in one evening. Evidence has mounted implicating the suspected pixie. For example, the roommate who slept through the massacre thought he dreamed of waking up momentarily to a terrible stench as an ethereal figure exited through the window leaving a misty residue in her wake. Additionally, although nuggets were found packed closely around scene of the crime, some fecal matter was noticed on the window sill. This holiday season, if your little cousin says Santa doesn’t exist, you just tell him the story of the Poop Fairy and The Miracle in Room 6. MR
The Michigan Review is now in your ear. Check out our latest podcasts with fun and influential figures. This week: CMU Student Dennis Lennox
Podcasts can be found at:
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CMU Conservative: Mount Pleasant, or Washington? By Jonathan Slemrod, ‘10
t is not always easy being a conservative on campus, but twenty-three-year old Central Michigan University (CMU) junior Dennis Lennox has a particularly difficult time. Lennox, a conservative activist known for his involvement with both Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) and Campus Conservatives is embroiled in controversy with the Central administration over Gary Peters, a political science professor that is running for Congress as a Democrat in Michigan’s 9th district. In November, Peters will face Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg in what is gearing up to be one of the most hotly-contested races in the nation. Lennox is the spokesperson for Students Against Gary Peters, a group formed last year to object to Peters’ Congressional race, which Lennox maintains is a betrayal taxpayers who fund his university salary. “It is a little bit difficult in my mind and in the minds of our one hundred and fifty members to be a full time professor through May of 2010 and somehow find the time to run for Congress this fall,” said Lennox. If Peters were to win Lennox said that he would be contractually obligated to serve both in Congress and in Mount Pleasant. “That’s just a little fishy,” he said. The controversy began last October when Lennox was accused by CMU administrators of breaking a student code pertaining to the distribution of printed materials by handing out literature which Lennox says were “slightly critical” of Peters. CMU maintains that Lennox, when approached, provided false information to university faculty. Lennox has been persistent in his fight, demanding scores of documents pertaining to Peters through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, videotaping Peters, and even testifying in front of the Michigan Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education about the situation in late February. One video, which catapulted Lennox to the national level, shows Assistant Dean Pamela Gates hitting his camera as he requests a FOIA response. CMU subsequently banned the use of video cameras on campus without permission, claming in a letter to Lennox that “videotaping others around campus and/or videotaping them as they go about their normal activities is not expressive activity.” The decision was harshly criticized by many, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Higher Education (FIRE) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “While some may find Mr. Lennox’s method of videotaping and posting recordings on the internet objectionable, it is a protected means of engaging in political expression,” said Michael J. Steinberg, the Legal Director for the Michigan chapter of the ACLU, in a press release. CMU administrators had initially threatened to expel Lennox over what he sees as “bogus student charges,” meeting in a closed-door session over spring break which Lennox derides as a “Stalinist” tactic. “I’m in the process of appealing those charges, and we’ll have to see what comes out of that process.” Lennox has succeeded in turning an otherwise minor issue into a major PR campaign. He appeared on campus with Saul Anuzis, the head of the Michigan Republican Party, next to a giant milk carton that read “Where is Gary Peters?” referring to Peters’ time spent on the campaign trail and away from his students. Recently, he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on a panel entitled “Conservative Victories Across the Nation.” State and national blogs have closely followed the issue.
Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis (left) and CMU student Dennis Lennox (right) wonder where Gary Peters has gone.
And although Lennox has garnered a reputation for being a staunch conservative, he maintains that the goals of Students Against Gary Peters are not political. “It’s not about partisan politics. We haven’t attacked, questioned, or criticized any political stances that Gary Peters has taken. We recognize the fact that
everybody has a right to run for public office. But not everybody has a right to be a professor.” Be sure to check out the Review’s podcast with Dennis Lennox available now at www.michiganreivew.com/podcasts and on iTunes. MR