To the Daily:
Stadium must accommodate all fans
Reflecting upon his tenure as head football coach at the University of Michigan, Lloyd Carr concluded his recent farewell press conference with the observations that you “win with integrity” and “the character of this institution will be defined by the way this program is run.”
Sadly, the University is losing the present contest over the number of handicap seats available in Michigan Stadium – losing in terms of negative public relations and losing in terms of character and integrity. As an alumnus, I have been privileged to attend many home games in the past four years with two family members who require handicap-accessible seating: my mother, Helen Douglass Cooper, who graduated from the University in 1938 and was an editor at The Michigan Daily, and James Kent Cooper, who graduated from the University in 1968 and is the father of two recent University graduates. Through their eyes, I have seen the joy and excitement of feeling valued and included as “part of the largest crowd watching football anywhere in America.”
However, with only 90 of 107,000-plus seats available to those with wheelchairs, the Big House is woefully lacking in accommodations for fans in wheelchairs. The moral imperative is to at least meet the minimum one percent requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. One percent translates to a few more than 1,000 seats, and the University is currently offering a few hundred less than that. It is my sincere hope that the University will expand its accessible seating so that many more families with disabled members will feel welcome at Michigan Stadium and other public venues throughout the country.
Homophobia, sexism abound among fans
I am writing to express my disgust and dismay at the behavior of some fans at the Michigan-Ohio State game last Saturday. While the game represents a great sporting event and the annual zenith of school spirit, it is also perhaps the most prejudiced and hate-filled event I have experienced in my four years at the University.
When the game began, two large inflatable penises began bouncing around the student section. One penis read, “Tressel loves penises.” On the popular Michigan sports blog, MGoBlog.com, one student’s comments indicated that Tressel would be willing to perform homosexual acts with Michigan fans. The implication is that being called gay is the worst insult Michigan students could use to disparage the OSU coach.
Referring to players and coaches as homosexual was not the only insult deployed by students. Being feminine or a female is also seen as something to avoid. The woman behind me at the game repeatedly shouted “OSU is a cunt!” And, of course, there are the ubiquitous “Buck the Fuckeyes” T-shirts, reinforcing the notion that sexual domination is the appropriate corollary to achievement on the field.
This homophobia and misogyny is sadly not unique to this particular sporting event. Often, athletes who are seen as not performing to their full potential are labeled “sissies.” Opposing teams and fans are routinely maligned as “cunts,” “fags” and “gays.” But this particular instance, given its special significance for Michigan athletics, is especially disappointing to me. I think and hope that as a university community we can do better.
Daily fails to do its part for awareness
Transgender Day of Remembrance was Nov. 20. A huge portion of the student body had no idea. I was hoping that this year’s Day of Remembrance could be more visible on campus, with all the Awareness Week events that were planned leading up to it, sponsored by organizations like the University’s Office of LGBT Affairs and Theta Nu Xi.
The lack of coverage sends a clear message: The group’s struggles are just not important enough. This all might seem a little harsh, but on a campus supposedly dedicated to diversity, I expected that the Daily would at least run a short article about the Awareness Week events or the significance of the day.
As a member of a group on campus that is nearly entirely silenced, I find the lack of coverage and awareness pretty disheartening. Everyone sees bias against the transgender community in the media. But this isn’t a case of bias: This is a case of choosing to ignore the problem. Many members of our campus community, even some of those very dedicated to social justice, don’t know much about the transgender identity.
Transgender Day of Remembrance has come and passed for another year. We have mourned our dead, and now it is time to start looking forward. For me, the first step is to ask as many people as possible why they weren’t aware.