In the wake of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s successful season last year, the news of both Mitch McGary’s failed drug test and subsequent decision to leave for the NBA was startling. Failing the NCAA-administered drug test left McGary with a one-year suspension from play, and reportedly forced his hand in his decision to begin preparing for a career in the NBA. The University Athletic Department attempted to appeal the decision in early April, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Lauren McCarthy

A cornerstone of the Michigan basketball team, prominent leader and enormous personality was leaving campus — and the students responded. Many defended McGary, claiming that the punishment did not fit the crime. It was argued that McGary had only smoked “just this once,” and countless students and fans maintained that, nonetheless, McGary would forever in their eyes be considered a “Michigan Man”.

The definition of a “Michigan Man” is generally understood to be an upstanding, loyal and passionate individual; someone who is not only dedicated to the values of the University but who also embodies those virtues in his everyday actions. Bo Schembechler, the legendary Michigan football coach of 21 remarkable seasons, is universally regarded as a “Michigan Man” and remembered for his superior ethics. However, there are more “Michigan Men” out there who do not coach a sports team, and (sorry Bo) they hail from all over the country and planet.

Too often is this term used to describe or commemorate the obvious candidates: the athletes who herald championships or the select few campus leaders who run Central Student Government. The University of Michigan has nearly 30,000 undergraduate students, more than 15,000 graduate students, and yet for years on end those who often lead the discussion about who deserves to be categorized as a “Michigan Man” select from only a small pool of students when crowning whom they believe deserve to be categorized as “Michigan Men”.

I can’t comfortably justify Mitch McGary as the epitome of a “Michigan Man”, not when there are countless other students, alumni and faculty who are far more dedicated to the embodiment of true Michigan values. This campus is littered with unsung heroes and passionate leaders who deserve the recognition of the student body as well as student publications. They may not be lead scorers or team captains, and nonetheless the contributions they make to the University are oftentimes significantly more pertinent than almost winning a national championship.

With a trend of personality journalism on the rise, many writers, publishers and producers are all too concerned with their own public image — trolling their social media sites and shamelessly promoting their articles or on-air appearances via their personal, online platforms. This industry is sliding into a worrisome environment of ownership, neglecting to focus on their subjects and their stories and too often inserting themselves into the discourse.

In a community as expansively rich as this campus, I view it as wildly irresponsible not to invest the time and energy into seeking out the “Michigan Men”(and women) who I have heard of time and time again: the friend of a friend who has impacted many through his or her unfailing kindness and grace, the boyfriend of a sorority sister who started a revolutionary new student organization or the quiet classmate who subtly mentions their involvement in and utter devotion to social justice on campus.

A “Michigan Man” (or woman) is an individual who is rooted in tradition, yet seeks innovation and strives for constant progress. He works within the rules, while also making the rules work for him. A “Michigan Man” takes full advantage of the opportunities provided by the Michigan community, while also lending a hand to those who may be less advantaged. A “Michigan Man” is intent on being a successful, well-educated and fair citizen who invests his time back into the betterment of the University. He takes pride in the institution as a whole, as well as his own personal accomplishments. A “Michigan Man” is a loyal, steadfast and true leader, who rises to the occasion and inspires others to do the same.

Please assist me in finding these Michigan men and women on campus (students and faculty alike), and please e-mail me at laurmc@umich.edu with suggestions.

Lauren McCarthy can be reached at laurmc@umich.edu.

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