Michigan House Cooperative is a great place to live

To the Daily:

I am an avid reader of The Michigan Daily and I am compelled to write in response to Ari Paul’s column Hypocrisy’s top five, (11/21/02) which I believe exhibits both weak editorial writing and fallacious logical reasoning and is far below the caliber of journalistic integrity that I expect from a nationally respected student newspaper.

In his column, Ari Paul criticizes others for the simplification of political issues, but in the process makes the same mistakes himself. I am appalled by his attempt to marginalize debate over several of the most pressing issues of our time through stereotyping and simplified forms of analysis. As a member of the Michigan Co-operative House, I take particular issue with his statements about our house and the co-op movement in general. In the editorial, he refers to a poster that we have displayed in our kitchen that states “Co-ops Fight Poverty,” (as opposed to the misquoted “Co-ops Cure Poverty”). He proceeds to assert that people in our house “think that by sharing tofu and rice and drinking microbrews they’re going to alleviate the world of socio-economic inequality.”

While I certainly do not speak for everyone who lives or boards at the house, my personal view of our co-operative living arrangement is that we are providing an affordable housing alternative to students rather than paying exorbitant rental fees to absentee Ann Arbor landlords.

Unlike most student tenants, we own our house, and because we cooperatively share in household amenities, expenses, and work, we are able to live more affordably. While living in a self-sufficient, primarily student-run co-operative house may only be a small step towards alleviating global economic disparities, I think it is a step in the right direction.

Another issue I have with the column is the unabashed use of stereotyping and over-exaggeration. In the same article in which he labels someone as “openly racist” for posting a “white supremacist website” link to a discussion board to “prove her point”, he also criticizes our co-op house because it contains “the whitest kids on the block.” In contrast to the assertions made in the column, our house does contain members of various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, but this fact is irrelevant to the issue of whether co-operative houses as an institution actually help to fight poverty.

In the future, I hope that Ari Paul and The Michigan Daily staff as a whole, will take more time in actually investigating the positions of those whom they are criticizing and researching the issues rather than making uninformed, overly broad, and sweeping generalizations. If the Daily wishes to critique the positions of student organizations on campus, may I suggest that they consider actually interviewing students involved in these groups, reading their mission statements, using real quotations, and reporting actual events rather than trivializing political discourse and fabricating reality to fit their whims.

Christopher Brian Hubbell

Graduate Student Taubman College of Architecture

and Urban Planning

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