Issuu on Google+

SLUT! S L U T ! N A G I LUTTH!E MICH

S

8 IS S U E1 / VO LU M E 1 1 0 2 , 2 ER N OV EM B

SLUT!

SLUT!

SLUT!

LUT! ! t u l s

SLUT!

T U SL

SLUT! SLU ! T U L S ANN ARBOR S L U T! SLUT! sluSLUTWALK: t! slut!

S ! L t slut! sluSLUT! UT! A reaction against campus sexual assaults, SlutWalk

hopes to continue community dialogue

page 8

LEADERS AND THE WORST

Taking a look at the Republican presidential candidates and their startling positions on the issues.

page 4

INTERSECTIONS + ASTERISKS*

Reflections from a member of the LGBTQ People of Color community at the University of Michigan. page 6

THE NEXT CHAPTER

Looking at Ann Arbor’s independent bookstores in the aftermath of Borders.

page 11

TAKING JUSTICE TO THE STREETS

Taking a look at Ann Arbor’s new homeless court system. page 14


THE MICHIGAN

{ MISSION } The Michigan Independent exists to engage the community in constructive debate and to inspire activism for positive social change. { FIND US } @MichIndependent the-michigan-independent.com { STAFF } Editor-in-Chief / Nina Bhattacharya Managing Editors / Lauren Coffman, Emily Knoll Staff Writers / Lydia Austin, Phoebe Barghouty, Alexandra Brill, Lauren Coffman, Eileen Divringi, Paige Lester, Cameron Summers, Gia Tammone Layout / Nina Bhattacharya, Lauren Coffman, Lydia Austin Guest Writers / Zesheng Chen, Devin Parsons, The F-Word { EDITORIAL POLICY } The Michigan Independent is a nonpartisan publication. Nothing published within these pages necessarily reflects the beliefs of our editorial board or any of its individual members. All content is decided by the editorial board. We reserve the right to edit all submissions and to hold them for future use. To the best of our knowledge, all printed submissions are original pieces and not previously published. The Michigan Independent does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. { FREELANCE POLICY } The Michigan Independent welcomes freelance submissions. If you are interested in contributing and would like to learn more, please contact the Editor-in-Chief at independenteditors@umich.edu. { CORRECTIONS? } independenteditors@umich.edu

EDITOR’S NOTE:

C

ivil rights rallies. Anti-war protests. Sit-ins. The legacy of student activism at the University of Michigan is an important part of our campus history. Students, discussing policy and organizing collectively, dared to challenge the status quo during a tense political climate. As a result, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – the iconic student movement of the sixties – was conceived in Ann Arbor. In 1965, the University held the first teach-in in the country. More than 3,000 individuals participated in the event to create further discussion of the Vietnam War. During the mid-nineties, Michigan students founded the Ann Arbor Tenants Union (AATU), an organization that mobilized renters in the city to have their voice heard. At the time, a majority of Ann Arbor private rental housing had failed to satisfy basic housing codes. AATU’s citywide rent strike lasted two years, winning vast maintenance improvements for Ann Arbor housing. One of the former leaders of AATU, Jeff Irwin, now represents Ann Arbor in the Michigan House of Representatives. In 2007, student protesters were arrested after holding a sit-in in President Mary Sue Coleman’s office, demanding that the University toughen its labor standards for suppliers

producing University apparel. Yousef Rabhi – elected to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners his senior year – was one of the students arrested. And although our generation is frequently cast as apathetic, student activism at the University of Michigan is far from dead. Like the young adults who attended this great institution in the sixties, we are living in a politically exciting moment. Responding to conservative obstructionism in Washington, young people across the country are mobilizing to protest rising tuition, defend civil rights, and fight for our future. From Occupy to SlutWalk, all the movements that are happening nationally are happening here too. In this edition, we look at a couple movements happening on campus. We sincerely hope this issue will encourage you to get involved in activism during your time at Michigan. Happy reading. Independently yours,

like what you see?

JOIN OUR STAFF!

NINA BHATTACHARYA EDITOR-IN-CHIEF THE MICHIGAN INDEPENDENT IS SPONSORED BY:

WRITERS, BLOGGERS, DESIGNERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS

contact

Published with the help of Proudly printed by Grand Blanc Printing, a union printer In loving memory of Kavya Vaidyanathan

2

THE MICHIGAN W W W. C A M P U S P RO G R E S S . O R G

independenteditors@umich.edu

EDITOR’S NOTE

young? progressive? get involved!


}

FOOD: MARK’S CARTS

WORDS

BY: LYDIA AUSTIN & NINA BHATTACHARYA

“I never sexually harrassed anyone, let’s say that. Secondly, I have never sexually harrassed anyone.” HERMAN CAIN responding to allegations of sexual assault on Fox News.

ABOVE / ROASTED PORK SANDWICH AND MACARONI FROM “HUMBLE HOGS.”

lectable, and the chocolate cookie, with its subtle zing of peppers, tied the meal together. In addition to serving food, Mark’s Carts hosts events such as the Halloween-themed Friday Night Live held late last month. With live music, marshmallow roasting around the atmosphere, and great food, it was an amazing and lively family event. With winter fast approaching, many of the carts will be closing by November 12. If you miss your chance to hit up Mark’s Carts, don’t worry! Some of the carts – like The Lunch Room – will be popping around town during the off-season to serve up some delicious, local treats. We recommend keeping an eye on their Facebook pages for more details about future events. 211 W. Washington Ann Arbor, MI 48104 (p) 734-662-8122 (w) www.markscartsannarbor.com (tw) @MarksCartsA2

THE MICHIGAN

“I love @KimKardashian, but as a gay man in America who is treated las a second class citizen when it comes to civil marriage, I am offended!” PEREZ HILTON in a tweet, shortly after Kardashian filed for divorce 72 days after her wedding.

“There’s a lot of people still out there, and they want to work. And they need jobs. And this is a great start.” ANNETTE HERRERA of Romulus, MI -- one of the workers building the advanced batteries needed for electric and hybrid funded by a successful Department of Energy program.

“Have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? The first part of the movie is in black and white and all of the sudden it’s in technicolor. That’s how it seemed when I came to Jesus Christ.” REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN) speaking at an Iowa church service.

}

A staple in most urban areas, food carts are making waves in Ann Arbor’s burgeoning food scene. At the corner of Washington and Ashley streets lies a small, previously vacant lot that now houses one of the best lunch atmospheres in town. Made up of 6 small food carts gathered around an open fire pit, Mark’s Carts offers an eclectic mix of food choices, varying from Asian street food to Spanish-style tapas. During my visit, I sampled “Humble Hogs,” a heritage bistro exploring “classic savory and sweet flavors.” My roasted pork sandwich was delicious and dripping with savory juices – which I was all too happy to mop up. The side of macaroni and cheese was an absolute necessary to complete the meal. Both were perfect takes on classic recipes. According to my companion, the food from “The Lunch Room” was equally flavorful. The Lunch Room’s vegan pad thai was also de-

ABOVE / “THE LUNCH ROOM,” A POPULAR VEGAN FOOD CART

3


The Leaders and The WORST A guide to where the current Republican candidates for President fall in the polls and their startling positions on the issues.

25%

Many of the Muslims, they are not totally dedicated to this country. They are not dedicated to our Constitution.

Herman ‘999’ Cain

21%

Corporations are people, my friend.

Mitt ‘Skinny Jeans’ Romney

10%

Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.

Newt ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ Gingrich

8%

An education is not a right, medical care is not a right.

Ron ‘Gold Standard’ Paul

4

BREAK IT DOWN


6%

Obama is a president, who I think is anti-jobs.

Rick ‘Yosemite Sam’ Perry

2%

There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.

1%

We have made the decision that the best way to raise a family is with a man and a woman.

Michele ‘Cover Girl’ Bachmann

Rick ‘Google It’ Santorum

1%

*(His colleagues are so far right of him that he’s normal enough not to win.)

Jon ‘Believes in Science’ Huntsman

THUMBS

UP

THUMBS

DOWN BY LAUREN COFFMAN

PRESIDENT OBAMA The president declared Fort Monroe, a Civil War military base that protected escaped slaves, a national monument.

TV AUDIENCES Brian Williams’ new show, Rock Center, received fewer viewers than the recently cancelled Playboy Club. Really, guys? Have you not see BriWi slow jam the news? THE MICHIGAN

BY LAUREN COFFMAN

UM HOSPITALS The $475 million upgrade to the new Mott’s Children Hospital and Voigtlander Women’s Hospital doubles the hospitals’ existing space.

ON PATROL This new partnership between the Detroit Police Department and local citizens has significantly lowered crime rates in Detroit Public Schools.

DAVID WILLIAMS

GOOGLE READER REDESIGN The social media features have been eliminated, forcing users to opt into Google+ if they want to share content. Okay, we love G+, but we’re still a little bit salty.

Kentucky gubernatorial candidate, David Williams (R), attacked current Gov. Steve Beshear (D) for participating in a Hindu ceremony at a small business opening. Someone looks desperate!

5


* s k s i r e t s a + s n o i t c e s r inte LGBTQ MEMBER OF THE REFLECTIONS OF A UNITY OF COLOR AT THE COMM HIGAN UNIVERSITY OF MIC

ZESHENG CHEN

guest writer

M

ost conceptions of Communities of Color are about beef? their Heterosexual members. Likewise, most ideas In predominantly White Gay social spaces, LGBTQPOC about the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans friends and I would be isolated from conversations and and Queer) community are based off its White memberactivities, however unintentionally. Many claim that soship. These of course are oversimplifications, but I use cial disconnection is due to “personality differences,” but such points to illustrate that many people are not condithat belief masks the fact that there are dominant cultioned to consider intersections of identities. This pattural processes of sociality that create distance between tern of socialization renders LGBTQ Whites and POC. Topics of interest, People of Color (POC) marginalized personal presentation, conversation on multiple fronts. flow and who gets attention and From personal experience, I speaking rights are all informed that I need to contend not to interact with a large by these cultural patterns. Thus, number of Heterosexual Asian or stantly evaluate what “there are just fewer of them” or Asian-American students because of have self-hate” does not fully my privileges are, “they both perceived and real heterosexexplain low LGBTQPOC visibility in ism, the belief that heterosexuality and what they mean. White LGBTQ spaces. is superior to all other sexualities. In general, Gay men who are I was drawn to the LGBTQ (but not White, middle class or higher, mostly G and also White) crowd when I first came to the cis-gendered, Out and proud, and masculine with a “fit” University because I thought I would be more accepted and able body are not taken as seriously as those who are. in that group. To a certain extent, I was right. However, it My Asian identity, for example, is apparently a big liability soon became apparent that for the White Gay men with when it comes to dating and matchmaking (“Oh, I don’t whom I was socializing, I was mostly a social amusement. think he’s really into Asians”). As a somewhat effeminate Gay Chinese male from a Observing the implications of many -isms within the middle-to-upper-middle class background, I was comple- visible Gay community and how they map onto social and mented for being “fierce”, “fabulous”, and “diva”, but such sexual “preferences” was fascinating and disheartening at praise did not signify deeper social connections. I was the same time. I began to doubt the progressivity of some served the side salad sans dressing, but where was the of the people that claimed to be all about it.

“I AM REMINDED

6

REFLECTION


Despite the issues I face in them, I still feel more comfortable in White LGBTQ circles than in heterosexual POC ones. I would be much more likely to speak about LGBTQPOC issues at an LGBTQ-based event than at a Community of Color-based event. This is quite telling, but just because heterosexism is often more explicit in heterosexual POC communities does not mean that I cannot or should not discern the echoes of racism in White LGBTQ spaces. I am not placing blame on people for being heterosexual or White, or saying that these people don’t have problems and only cause them for others; I am just asking for some critical thinking and development. All the –isms are intrinsically linked to one another, and if our generation really wants to move past prejudice, we should challenge ourselves to go from sympathizers to actively growing Allies for all identities. To be clear, I am not just shouting from my soapbox about my oppression. I know that many of my privileged identities have shaped my personal development in such a way that I had the agency and connections to start rXs. It is noteworthy that a co-founder for a group that con-

nects the highly segmented LGBTQPOC population is a male, cis-gendered, (upper?) middle class, and able-bodied domestic student. My presence at the University is not very questioned. I have for the most part been able to be Out and not fear that I may be ambulanced to the hospital. I have been actively socialized to “take charge” and “do something”, and this has doubtlessly influenced by my agent identities. With every interaction that I have with rXs members who have very different experiences as LGBTQPOC, I am reminded that I need to constantly evaluate what my privileges are, and what they mean. My hope is that people don’t accept uncritically everything that I say, but that they too question that which they assume themselves. Are you honestly open minded and accepting? Do you intentionally seek to create inclusive spaces for all? How many asterisks do you need to denote the limits of your acceptance? Zesheng Chen is a 4th Year LSA student studying Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Science with a Pre-Dental focus. He is a co-founder and co-facilitator of rXs (The Intersection of Race and Sexuality). rXs can be reached at rxscoreteam@umich. edu.

KEY TERMS // LGBTQ / lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer / term used to emphasize the diversity of sexuality and gender-based identities POC / person of color / describes people who are not white and often stresses common experiences of racism

PRIVILEGE / unearned access to resources and social power only available to certain people because of their group membership

new to social justice? here are a couple definitions for some words used in the article!

HETEROSEXISM / the system of bias, discrimincation, and attitude in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships / frequently presumes all individuals are heterosexual and that this is the norm

INCLUSIVE SPACES / accessible, open spaces that belong to everybody to accomodate many individual needs, promote a sense of safety for all its users, and encourage users to feel comfortable.

THE MICHIGAN

ALLY / a person who confronts privilege in themselves and others out of self-interest and a concern for the well being of marginalized individuals (e.g., LGBTQ people). CISGENDER / a gender identity or performance in gender role that society deems to match a person’s assigned sex at birth.

OPPRESSION / when one social group, knowingly or unknowingly, exploits another social group for its benefit.

7


: K L A R W T O RB LU

S

RD E F-WO BY TH ICH.EDU UM ORD@ HEF-W

T

A N AN

“Yes means yes, no means no, however we dress, wherever we go!” Hearing the chant, onlookers could not help but stop and stare at the group of protesters. Despite the chilly weather, more than a handful of people wore short skirts, leather, and low-cut tops while bearing signs with sayings such as “Keep your hands to yourself!” and “I’m not sure means NO.”

O

ver a hundred people gathered for Ann Arbor’s SlutWalk, joining the international movement to raise awareness about sexual and domestic violence. Since its inception last spring in Toronto, Ontario, SlutWalks have challenged victim blaming, a devaluing act where victims are held responsible for the crime that happened to them. “This is what I was wearing, don’t tell me I was asking for it!” declared one sign at the October 22nd protest. Chanting and marching through the streets, students and community mem-

8

bers elicited both calls of encouragement and puzzled looks. Confused onlookers may have wondered why women would call themselves “sluts” and proudly rally for the word. Answering this requires examining the root of the problem itself – namely, what does “slut” mean?

WHAT IS A SLUT? Most people are familiar with the prevailing connotations associated with the word “slut.” If a girl enjoys having a lot of sex, she’s a slut. If she has casual sex too frequently, she’s a slut. If she dresses provocatively, she’s a slut, and – even worse – she’s “asking for it.” Men use it to put themselves in a position of power over women, and women use it to degrade other women. Furthermore, “slut” is a distinctly gendered word that reflects the unequal standards of sexuality. Society rarely calls men “sluts” if they sleep with several people. In fact, various spheres of American society – from media to campus culture – laud very sexually active men. In contrast, when women exercise their sexuality, they are frequently labeled with a term that has predominantly negative connotations. It is more troubling, however, that

ACTIVISM

when a woman wants to have sex, it is sometimes also perceived that she must also want to be raped. These victims of sexual violence are seen as “asking for it” because of the way they act or the outfits they wear. Women are then placed in a bind, where they are restricted from expressing their individuality and suffer the consequences if they do. Many people would quickly dismiss blaming any person for being raped, regardless of how they act or dress. There are a considerable number of people, however, who believe that “sluts” are causing their own assaults to take place. SlutWalk began in Toronto, where a police officer reportedly gave a group of women the advice that if they didn’t want to be the victims of sexual assault, they should, “Avoid dressing like sluts.” In the backlash that followed, women began calling themselves sluts, either in celebration of their sexuality or to ironically point out the fact that the term is hard to define. Women who have a lot of sex may fall under the label of “slut,” but if they don’t dress scantily, many people might not put them into the “slut” category at first glance. Likewise, women who dress provocatively may hate having sex. So when the police officer advised the women of Toronto “to avoid dressing like sluts” once again the term was questioned, dissected, and discovered to not


really have a clear meaning. Regardless of whether its exact definition was clear, people knew one thing for sure—it was not meant positively.

SLUTWALK MAKES STRIDES After the police officer had his say, the people of Toronto decided to have theirs. Citizens took to the streets dressed up in both skimpy and conservative outfits. 3,000 marchers organized for the SlutWalk, walking to give light to the issue of victim blaming and to call people to action. The movement quickly spread worldwide with marches in India, Argentina, and the United States. One woman in Indonesia even caught her rapist on the street during the event. Katie Diekman, a freshman, said that she thinks the movement has spread worldwide because many people find that “the fact that many people understand that our society believes victim blaming in terms of rape and sexual assault is acceptable” is troubling and “they wish to change this.” The movement emerged as one that positively enforced women’s sexuality and personal choices. Women were coming together, voices were being heard, and pre-conceived notions were being reevaluated. That is, until a few feminists called attention to one of the main flaws of the SlutWalk movement – it wasn’t as inclusive as it seemed. STUMBLES As women in the SlutWalk movement try to reclaim the word “slut,” other groups have had to wrestle with the word’s negative connotations from a completely different perspective. Women of color, in particular, have had to grapple with the term’s historical and racial implications and to negotiate their place within – or outside – the SlutWalk movement. Women of color’s place in the movement received more attention after one New York City marcher held a sign reading, “Woman is the N***** of the World.” By this time, many women and feminists of color had already felt left out because of the controversial nature of calling themselves “sluts” – a

term that has historically been manipulated to marginalize these communities. While white women may feel a bit uneasy themselves about using the word “slut,” and they don’t have a history of being hyper-sexualized in the many ways women of color have. The Crunk Feminist Collective, a feminist blog for men and women of color, described it succinctly: “When I think of the daily assaults I hear in the form of copious incantations of ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ in Hip Hop music directed at Black women, it’s hard to not feel a bit incensed at … the SlutWalk protests, which feel very much like the protests of privileged white

“Women were coming together, voices were being heard, and preconceived notions were being reevaluated.”

girl.” Although SlutWalk may be making strides, it has not been without controversy from feminists themselves. Acknowledging the national movement’s imperfections, Ann Arbor’s SlutWalk sought to bring together individuals from all communities in response to troubling amounts of sexual violence on campus. BRINGING IT HOME Following the slew of serial sexual assaults on campus over the summer, students could not help by think about how to prevent future occurrences. While there was no victim blaming involved in the University’s response, the administration’s advice strictly emphasized how potential victims should protect themselves. Concerned about the campus assaults and moved by the SlutWalk movement, undergraduates Nicole Corrigan and Megan Pfeiffer started planning Ann Arbor’s SlutWalk in September. “I hated that I was supposed to worry about going out at night,” said Corrigan, commenting on the university’s advice. Planning the SlutWalk required camTHE MICHIGAN

pus collaboration. Corrigan and Pfeiffer specifically sought support from Beta Theta Pi, a recently reinstated fraternity with the mission to cultivate “men of principle.” The fraternity did not hesitate to offer their house as the endpoint of the march and following discussion on sexual violence. “We agreed that ending at a fraternity house would be a great way to challenge the Greek stereotype of fraternities and demonstrate to everyone that women can find allies in men,” said Chris Dietzel, one of the fraternity’s founders. As members of Beta Theta Pi, we want to make sure the ladies in our community feel safe and respected.” The group marched through all of Ann Arbor’s main streets, attracting attention with their enthusiastic chants and signs. More than its visibility, however, the SlutWalk was a safe space for women in the Ann Arbor community to express their own individual relationship to sexual and domestic violence. Julianne Potter, a member of feminist organization, The F-Word, wore a short skirt and held a sign reading, “Fat does not mean grateful for anything.” According to her, the movement has allowed her to make a “very personal statement.” “I have been propositioned because some men think that fat means desperate for any kind of attention- even the unwanted kind,” said Potter. Another member of The F-Word, Emma DuRoss, said, “As a woman, I was proud to walk in the SlutWalk because it was a good stand for feminism. Women should be able to dress however they like and not be afraid to.” WRAPPING IT UP Whether “slut” will be transformed into a positive word remains to be seen. What is positive about SlutWalk is that people are uniting over an issue that should be considered and discussed. In Ann Arbor, there is hope that SlutWalk has sparked much-needed conversations about sexual violence on campus as well as victim blaming and the need for putting more responsibility on the perpetrator.

9


PROGRESSIVE GUIDE TO W

GOOD FOR Y

INDEPENDENT BOO

Common Language www.lgbtbooks.com

Common Language

Common Language carries a wonderful collection of LBGTand feminist-centric books. Genres include fiction, biography, cultural criticism, and even children’s books. You can also find a selection of amusing greeting cards and postcards. Head there to deepen your understanding of gender and sexuality, or to pick up a progressiveminded gift for a young relative.

Crazy Wisdom www.crazywisdom.net

Crazy Wisdom specializes in spirituality, healing, and psychology, but they also carry books on a wide range of topics such as gender and sustainability. You can find plenty of fun things like incense and writing quills, too. Bonus: the tea room upstairs carries an impressive variety of delicious teas. A great place to explore your latest topic of interest or enjoy a great pot of chai.

10

Huron

Washington

Crazy Wisdom

THE SPOTLIGHT

E. Liberty


YOU

OKSTORES

n

}

WHAT’S

Still need to get your fix for great books now that Borders is closer? The Independent put together a small sample of stores we love from Ann Arbor’s vibrant bookstore scene. Not only will your purchases support local Ann Arbor businesses, but it’s also a great opportunity to check out another part of campus! BY GIA TAMMONE DESIGN BY NINA BHATTACHARYA

Kaleidoscope Books and Collectibles

Kaleidoscope Books and Collectibles

Kaleidoscope’s collection is undeniably fun. In addition to used westerns, sci-fi, and mystery novels, they also carry vintage board games and magazines. Their selection of old pulpfiction novels are also worth checking out if you enjoy stories with titles like Date With Darkness or The Edge of Doom. Kaleidoscope is the perfect place to pick up something unique for yourself or a friend.

Aunt Agatha’s www.auntagathas.com

Aunt Agatha’s is the place to be if you enjoy mystery and crime novels. Their selection includes both new and used books, so you can be sure to find what you’re looking for, whether it be the latest thriller or that Nancy Drew mystery you loved in middle school. Be sure to look for the staff recommendations throughout the store to direct you to new and interesting reads.

THE MICHIGAN

Aunt Agatha’s

11


THE NEXT CHAPTER ann arbor’s bookstores in the aftermath of borders

GIA TAMMONE

A

staff writer

nn Arbor has long been known as a haven for book lovers. But recently, it seems that our vibrant book store scene may be slipping away. A chain restaurant now sells hamburgers where the independent book store Shaman Drum once catered to devotees of the written word. The building that used to house Borders’ flagship store now stands empty, a sad reminder of what our community has lost. Neither independent nor chain bookstores seem safe. In light of this,

12

it’s logical to wonder what’s happened in the local reading community. Has Ann Arbor abandoned its booksellers? Many local booksellers don’t seem to think so. Jamie Agnew, owner of Aunt Agatha’s Mystery Book Store says that Ann Arbor is “definitely” still supportive of book stores, and believes that the Borders flagship “could still be in business” were it not for the troubles of the company as a whole. Keith Orr, owner of Common Language, agrees. To him, the

COMMUNITY

troubles faced by Shaman Drum and Borders stemmed just as much from location as a drop in sales: “they were in a very expensive block. When you have to pay the same rent per square foot as a restaurant, it’s hard for retail stores to reach that level.” Nicola Rooney of Nicola’s Books also believes that Ann Arbor residents still support their local book stores because “they’re big readers.” However, she notes that the recent struggles of the Ann Arbor Book Festival could be a sign of dwindling


yet to go the way of Borders, it has not turned a profit in the last several years—a disappointing and surprising turn of events for a town of book lovers. Aside from the occasional doubts about the Ann Arbor reading community, there may a silver lining for the book stores that remain after the unfortunate closings of Borders and Shaman Drum. Agnew, Orr, and Rooney all report that they have seen a slight but noticeable increase in their business since Borders and Shaman Drum went under. But more importantly, the loss of these stores may have served as a wake-up call to the public. As Agnew put it, “Borders closing has made people aware that bookstores could go out of business and that they need to support them.” No matter how much support the community gives, can brick-andmortar stores survive in the changing book business? With the rise of online sellers and e-books, the book market has transformed dramatically. When a giant like Borders can’t compete, it seems like no book store is secure. Nicola Rooney admits that online book sellers are a threat to independent businesses, calling online retailer Amazon a “parasite” that “sucks the lifeblood out of local communities.” Keith Orr of Common

Language agrees that digital ordering is a “problem.” As a result of the possible digital threat, book stores have begun making adjustments. Nicola’s Books now has Google eBooks available through their website, and Keith Orr says that Common Language is “looking into electronic media, and how we can be involved in that.” A more prominent response seems to be efforts

stores is another important asset. Book store employees serve an invaluable function for the public as a source of information on books, periodicals, and other resources. It’s all these community-building aspects of book stores—events, book clubs, helpful sales people, et cetera-- that are, in Orr’s words, “the added value that makes it worth it to pay that extra 5%” over internet prices. And it’s that “added value” that makes the continued presence of book stores such an asset to our city. Hope is not lost for book the loss of these stores may have lovers in Ann Arbor. Despite the served as a wake-up call to the public. closing of a few stores and a rapidly changing market, there are still many successful, local book stores to cater to readers’ needs. But even as we feel relieved that to counter the impersonal nature of the future of books in our city may the internet with experiences only not be as bleak as we thought, it is available in person. Author events essential that we do not forget the and book clubs create a sense of com- lesson taught by these store closings. munity that Amazon simply cannot Local book stores will continue match. to provide “added value” for our city, Jamie Agnew of Aunt Agatha’s but, in the words of Nicola Rooney, believes that providing these types of “it’s a two way street.” Ann Arbor experiences are important for book readers must continue to shop local stores in the internet age: “It’s like in order for our book community to music is now. People aren’t making thrive. money off of CDs, they’re making money off of live performances.” Gia Tammone is presently a sophoThe book store experience, of more in the College of Literature, Scicourse, also includes more than just ence, & the Arts, studying Political Science and Communications. events and formal gatherings. The knowledgeable sales staff at book

“ BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY

THE MICHIGAN

13


PHOTO / flickr.com/photos/hdport

FYI: ANN ARBOR

TAKING JUSTICE

TO THE STREETS

Homeless people face enough obstacles in their everyday lives. The court shouldn’t be one of them.

EILEEN DIVRINGI

F

staff writer

or an average American, the occasional ticket is little more than a minor nuisance, something that might force you to cut back on entertainment spending for a week or two. But when an individual at risk of homelessness (or already homeless) receives a ticket, their outcome is much different. Homelessness makes these individuals prone to minor civil infractions and misdemeanors– ranging from urinating in public to illegal lodging. But with few resources to muster in their defense, they are often incapable of paying the accompanying fines. Aware of the stigma associated with their outward appearances, many are reluctant to present themselves in court. They may find the courthouse excessively intimidating, given the presence of police officers who can arrest individuals who fail to pay their fines. As a result, homeless individuals can easily accumulate tickets and build records of minor infractions that are never addressed. If continually avoided, many of the outstanding fees become warrants for their arrest, further compounding their fear of engaging with the legal system. In Michigan, even citizens with permanent residences

14

can easily fall into this trap due to the state’s harsh driver’s responsibility laws and their expensive associated fines. Failure to pay these fines results in suspension of an individual’s license, but it does not, of course, suspend the need to take one’s kids to school or get to work on time. Often, low-income families can neither afford to pay the fines nor miss a day of work. Consequently, many opt to continue driving without a valid license at the risk of incurring further fees and potential warrants for their arrest. These warrants present a major obstacle for those attempting to end the cycles of poverty and homelessness. They inhibit access to much-needed services such as drug rehabilitation or mental health care, impede entry in to job training and placement programs, and eliminate any opportunity to apply for affordable housing opportunities– all because the individual has been saddled with a fine that they have no legitimate ability to pay. These tickets are continually processed and re-processed by the courts each time someone fails to show up for a hearing. The resulting backlog of cases amounts to a substantial burden on the

THE FYI


legal system, particularly in cities like Detroit where court resources are already scarce. In response to these issues, cities across the country have established avenues for alternative sentencing called “homeless” or “street outreach” courts. Though the nature of these courts varies widely in the types of offenses they consider and the definition of the populations they serve, there are a few defining

DID YOU KNOW...

drug rehabilitation, job placement and community service. This relationship with community partners is a vital enabling factor for the court, since it is these partners’ responsibility to determine whether their client is ready for societal reintegration and to provide any necessary support. Ultimately, it is up to their discretion to sponsor their client’s participation in the homeless court. According to the American Bar

MOST

homeless people have some form of temporary housing

1/3 of all Washtenaw County homeless are children

}

}

BUT the average cost for Washtenaw County renters is $793

}

=

/

$15

hr

GET INVOLVED Students for Detroit Action Commonwealth organizes poor and homeless persons and families, provide opportunities to help them improve their lives, advocate for better and more humane services, and mobilize around issues of social and economic justice

On average, between 2000-3000 people in Washtenaw County are homeless each year

similarities. First, these court sessions are typically held in neutral locations such as shelters, service agencies and soup kitchens, in order to maximize their accessibility to the target community. Second, a “no custody” guarantee is made, assuring participants that they will not be arrested upon presenting themselves at the session. Finally, in a process that combines plea bargaining and alternative sentencing structures, defendants are able to resolve outstanding warrants and fines in exchange for “action plans” that detail the steps they intend to take to improve their situations. These action plans, which are typically executed within 90 days of the session, are made in consultation with the participant’s social worker or equivalent community partner. They are generally comprised of a mix of

version handles rough 25 cases per session, with a total of six sessions per year. The court deals primarily with civil infractions and non-violent misdemeanors, relying heavily on the recommendations of community partner agencies. With the model’s rapid proliferation over the past 22 years, the benefits of establishing a homeless court in Detroit have not gone unnoticed. The Detroit Rescue Mission reports that

stats via umich.edu/~uhero/info.html

Association, whose Commission on Homelessness and Poverty has been a major proponent for the implementation of homeless courts, the first homeless court session was held in a San Diego homeless shelter in 1989. Prompted by a survey that showed one in five homeless veterans had difficulty navigating the criminal justice system, a special Superior Court session was held to help homeless defendants resolve outstanding misdemeanors. Today, the San Diego Homeless Court handles more than 2,000 cases per year, and the model has spread to more than a dozen cities in California and across the country. To find an example of a fully operational homeless court, one need not look any further than our own Ann Arbor community. Referred to as the Street Outreach Court, Ann Arbor’s THE MICHIGAN

EMAIL / studentsfortheDAC@umich.edu

there are around 18,000 homeless individuals in need of shelter in the city each night. About 30% of these individuals are chronically homeless, and therefore especially prone to committing so-called “survivalcrimes”– including public urination, sleeping outdoors and failure to pay transit fare. The Detroit Action Commonwealth (DAC), an community group that advocates on behalf of homeless and indigent residents of Detroit’s east side, is currently in negotiations with the city to establish its own homeless court to operate within Wayne County. The DAC hopes to host the first session of the Detroit homeless court in the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, where the group holds its weekly meetings. Eileen Divringi is a senior majoring in Political Science & Program in the Environment.

15


“THE FUTURE WILL NOT BELONG TO THOSE WHO SIT ON THE SIDELINES. THE FUTURE WILL NOT BELONG TO CYNICS. THE FUTURE WILL BELONG TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE BEAUTY OF THEIR DREAMS.” - SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE 1944-2002

CAMPUS CAMP WELLSTONE DEVIN PARSONS

The University of Michigan boasts a long tradition of student activism that has effected change on local, national, and global levels. From the launch of Students for a Democratic Society to John F. Kennedy’s spontaneous speech on the steps of Union that created the thriving Peace Corps program, students from this school share a history of coming together to fight for progressive issues. These passions are alive and well today. You’d be hard pressed to encounter a peer whose time is dedicated solely to attending class and completing homework assignments. Our generation stands at the forefront of a complex and rapidly changing world, and the students on this campus stand at the forefront of our generation. Every day, new movements grow out the visions of young leaders who understand that the future is in our hands. Yet while the extent and wide variety of interests represented on our campus create an unparalleled climate of civic and community engagement, they also pose a unique set of challenges. We have, on average, only four years with which to learn about, work in, and lead the organizations that gain our commitment. Not only does this limited time frame make it difficult to carry out our goals, but it also causes less of an opportunity for members of different organizations to come together and improve ourselves as an entire activist community. This is where Campus Camp Wellstone comes in. The newly formed Student Coalition for Advocacy Training, which represents groups on campus interested in pursuing WHEN | Saturday, November 12 – Sunday, November 13 WHERE | Ford School of Public Policy REGISTRATION | bit.ly/CampusCampWellstone

16

guest writer

this cause, applied and has been selected for the opportunity to a nationally acclaimed activism training program called Campus Camp Wellstone. Founded in the memory of late Senator Paul Wellstone, a champion of progressive advocacy, this two-day conference is open to all students interested in strengthening their movement-building skills. Campus Camp Wellstone will consist of a two-day conference that will run from about 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM on Saturday, November 12 and Sunday, November 13. Organizers from Wellstone Action will be flying in to lead us in seminars and break-out sessions that not only teach us activism skills but also will allow us to practice and implement them into the causes about which we are passionate. Specifically, the trainers will cover grassroots organizing and lobbying, leadership and membership development, understanding power, relationship building, effective messaging, and strategic planning. Any member of the campus community will be welcome to participate and will receive free breakfast and lunch, free training books, and free T-shirts. We hope to continue the legacy of Paul Wellstone as well as the many inspirational Michigan Wolverines who have come before us. For those of you who understand that the value of our higher education experience comes as much from outside the classroom as within, then we encourage you to register for an event that many previous participants have dubbed a “life-changing” weekend.

CONTACT | scat.organizers@umich.edu SPONSORS | HRTE / Ford School UC / College Democrats / MSA / Growing Allies / The F-Word / GEO / LEO

CAMPUS OPPORTUNITY


IN PHOTOS / OCTOBER 31

STUDENTS, ANN ARBOR COMMUNITY PROTEST ERIC CANTOR WHILE ERIC CANTOR PREPARED TO GIVE A HALLOWEEN NIGHT SPEECH ON CAMPUS, 100 STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS DEMONSTRATED OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL WHILE DOZENS OF PROTESTERS SILENTLY PROTESTED THE SPEECH INSIDE THE LECTURE HALL. THE GROUP OF STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS PASSED OUT SIGNS AND HALLOWEEN COSTUMES TO PARTICIPANTS.THE EVENT CAME JUST MORE THAN A WEEK AFTER CANTOR SKIPPED OUT ON A SPEECH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA WHEN PROTEST PLANS EMERGED.

FRAMED AS A “FUNERAL FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS,” ONE PROTEST BEGAN WITH A DECIDEDLY SPOOKY TONE. A STUDENT DRESSED LIKE ERIC CANTOR READ THE EULOGY AND THEN HAMMERED A NAIL INTO A COFFIN LABELED “THE MIDDLE CLASS.” SEVERAL STUDENTS -- DRESSED LIKE ZOMBIES -- CARRIED THE COFFIN AWAY. OTHER PROTESTERS BRANDISHED TOMBSTONE SIGNS READING, “RIP LIVING WAGE” AND “RIP EQUAL RIGHTS.” photos by Nina Bhattacharya / INDEPENDENT

THE MICHIGAN

17


} NUMBERS 1,500

The number of teachers that will be laid off by 2015 in the Detroit Public School system under a new plan.

$15,000

The amount paid at a recent auction for a pair of Queen Victoria’s silk bloomers.

7 billion

The world population as of October 31st.

$2.4 million

Amount in taxes that the Chinese government is trying to charge Ai Weiwei, the internationally renowned artist detained by authorities for 3 months last spring.

1,800%

Percentage data traffic is expected to increase over the next four years. Problem? We’re running out of space in the air to fill with data.

$150,000

Amount paid by Michigan’s Macomb County to a man who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 12 years.

}

18

UNITING FOR UNIONS why standing together is more important than ever CAMERON SUMMERS

I

staff writer

n the midst of economic and social instability, it is more crucial than ever that labor have a strong foundation to participate in policy discourse. Unionization is positively associated with lower employee turnover, higher productivity, and better-trained workers. Unions are a powerful voice for workers in the greater economic and political spheres. Unionized workers often have more open channels of communication with management, which results in improved worker conditions and lower employee turnover. Collective bargaining by unions has raised compensation of American unionized workers by over 28% . Moreover, unions hold weight as a cohesive entity and can pressure employers more than if they were not unionized, especially for more comprehensive benefits. Unionized workers are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and pension plans. Often, too, these benefits extend somewhat to the non-unionized population. Unionization and better training, too, are positively correlated. Whether this is a result of more accessible formal training or better standards negotiations with employers, higher trained, unionized employees are typically better communicators and harder workers. Motivation is the key to retaining productive employees in a welcoming work environment. Oftentimes when employers offer formal training it motivates workers and improves morale in the workplace. Over the years, unions have been essential in passing legislation to benefit workers. In 2007, the federal minimum wage was increased as a result of the Fair Minimum Wage Act. Many unions fight to make equal wages, and when this legislation came into ques-

OPINION

tion, unions took the opportunity to make their voices heard. Protesting with the Nurses Union at the University of Michigan in September, I saw firsthand the drive and passion of union workers. The union recently made headlines while fighting for their benefits and a contract they had been without for months. Picketing with the nurses and their supporters was an empowering experience that received much positive response. More importantly, the protests demonstrated the critical role these workers play in the Ann Arbor community. While one lone nurse might have trouble being heard by the many, our combined effort had the citizens of Ann Arbor turning heads. It was crucial that the Nurses Union receive support from students like me to show that those who attend the University care about the men and women that care for them. With this in mind, it is important to promote all labor unions in America in order to help fight both economic problems and social conflicts, such as the one the nurses recently combatted.. While the Nurses Union was fortunate enough reach a tentative contract agreement with the University of Michigan at the end of October, other unions are still under fire in other states. Through organizing in our own communities, we must ensure that unions across the nation are not demonized in public discourse and their concerns are recognized. There is no doubt that these are politically uncertain times. Nonetheless, uncertainty deems it necessary to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. The best way to do so is to look at the great strides labor unions have made in the past and continue to empower American workers well into the future.


LIKE A PHOENIX F ROM THE ASHES LYDIA AUSTIN

H

alf a millennium ago, Detroit was famous for being the automotive capital of the world – and for being a vibrant social and cultural center. Today, the former glory of the 11th largest city by landmass can be glimpsed in the neighborhoods of Boston/Edison and Indian Village, where once-great mansions stand in need of repair. This is iconic of the city as a whole – the industrial powerhouse turned desolate ghost town. Perceptions of Detroit follow this same tack: many believe the city is crimeridden and unsafe in all areas, and my sister once told me not to go there, “because there are lots of gangsters.” But I know better. Although Detroit still has a crime problem, its perception problem is even greater. Detroit is ranked 18th in crime, not 1st, as many people believe. Under the surface of misconceptions, Detroit has a lot to offer: the newlyrenovated Riverfront is magnificent, and Corktown is packed with small, delicious restaurants that play on the

Detroit is rising from decades of economic stagnation, thanks to passionate and dedicated people, who believe the best is yet to come.

staff writer

locality of the region. Detroit is coming back. It’s not hard to see why. The architecture of downtown has remained beautiful and stately through the ages, and twentysomethings are flocking to live in a historic apartment for dirt-cheap prices. On a good day, Detroit residents and fans can enjoy seeing the Tigers, the Red Wings, and recently even the Lions pound their competitors downtown, then stop by one of the many microbreweries post game to enjoy a locally-concocted beverage. On the weekends, Detroit neighborhoods square off in soccer matches that are played on beautiful Belle Isle; and once a year Detroiters are proud to host the North American International Auto Show. Revitalization efforts are popping up all around Detroit; from community gardens to economic development strategies, Michiganders are working to make their former-auto capital something to be proud of. Seeds of progress are being sown all across

the 138 square-mile city, sometimes quite literally – as guerrilla gardeners throw seed grenades at abandoned lots in an effort to beautify more run-down areas. And people interested in making a real difference are flocking to Detroit, because of the ample opportunities to put a personal stamp on this resurging community. Efforts such as the international bridge project and mixed-used zoning laws should be encouraged, as they will allow city officials and residents to get the most out of Detroit, as well as more

efficiently and effectively work toward building a competitive city. The wheels of change are turning in Detroit, but it’s not too late to hop on the train and make a difference There is still a lot of work to be done – ideas include highspeed rail connecting Detroit to other parts of Michigan, as well as managing the city’s enormous size without compromising services for residents, all in the time of economic shortfalls. The moral of this saga seems to be: from the rubble of industrialization sprouts new hope.

WANT TO GET INVOLVED? CHECK OUT THESE GREAT ORGANIZATIONS:

The Detroit Partnership | thedp.org Greening of Detroit | greeningofdetroit.com Summer in the City | summerinthecity.com Reading Works | readingworksdetroit.org Coalition on Temporary Shelter | cotsdetroit.org Capuchin Soup Kitchen | cskdetroit.org Earthworks Urban Farm | cskdetroit.org/EWG

THE MICHIGAN

19


NEED: MAKE:

VERY VEGAN

+ 1 package frozen cauliflower florets + 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces + 1 onion, diced + 2 cloves garlic + 6 cups water + 2 veggie broth bullion cubes (optional) First, preheat your oven to 400 °F. Place cauliflower onto ungreased sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven and roast until golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool, then use an immersion blender to even out the texture (or a potato masher, or just leave it). Stir in cauliflower. Add a little chili powder if you’re feelin’ it.

BY EILEEN DIVRINGI, RECIPE ADAPTED FROM MANIFEST VEGAN

SWEET POTATO CAULIFLOWER SOUP M

NOVEMBER

S

W

Tu

MONTHLY GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE EVENTS ON CAMPUS

While cauliflower is roasting, bring sweet potato, onion, garlic and water and bullion to a boil in large stockpot. Salt (abt 3/4 tsp) and stir. Reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.

Th

7:30pm Safety Classes with Take Back the Night Michigan League

F 3

4

9

10

7pm Satkala: The many facets of Indian fine arts Stamps Auditorium

15

16

17

9:30pm “Found vs. Found” with Found Magazine Michigan Theatre

22

23

24

2

1

N CTIO E L E ! DAY 6 2pm Tour: Zingerman’s Creamery Zingerman’s Creamery

13

7

8 8am - 5pm Feminist Poster Exhibit Lane Hall

14

Sa

11

18

7pm Covers: an art and writing benefit for 826michigan Vault Ultralounge

5

12 7:30pm “Trumpets & Raspberries” (UM Musical Theatre) Mendelssohn Theatre 19

8pm UM Jazz Combos McIntosh Theatre

20 5pm Birthday: Bill Nye the Science Guy

27

21

28

29

25

26

5pm Ann Arbor Scrabblers Arbor Brewing Company

THE MICHIGAN

30

20


The Michigan Independent - Vol. 8, Issue 1