To the Daily:

Simply ousting Yost fails to address larger problem

I am frustrated with the discourse that has transpired from the recent events regarding the University’s student leaders. Based on the articles in The Michigan Daily and a letter by an associate dean (MSA leaders fail to live up to University values, 11/29/2007), one would think the best solution to the leadership problem is to publicly shame the Michigan Student Assembly and its president, Zack Yost, and then fire him. The more important question here is: How can we engage in strategic action that uses this as an opportunity for all affected parties, including the University, to learn to prevent future reprehensible?

The calls for Yost’s resignation do not solve the problem of student leaders holding views antithetical to the mission of the University. If we just forced one person out of office, other representatives holding similar views – several of whom still occupy our student leadership – would simply take it as a lesson to not to write them down and get caught again.

Of course this would do nothing to address the underlying problems with leadership on student government. I think MSA can come out from this a better assembly, but it will take more than the outing of one person.

I challenge MSA and those on the body that are under fire to complete a year-long community service project that engages the insulted communities on campus. A complete solution to this endemic problem will not come from me, but from the university community’s discourse. In the coming days, will we take the opportunity to grow and learn from this incident, or will we squander it?

Stuart Wagner

The letter writer is an alum and a former member of MSA and LSA-SG.

Transgender rights issue must not be stifled

Ted Byrne’s letter last week (Transgender people must make themselves heard, 11/30/2007) written in response to another letter from Cayden Mak regarding the recent Transgender Day of Awareness (Daily fails to do its part for awareness, 11/26/2007) was appalling. Byrne’s letter is a blatant personal attack and should not have been printed. Mak was discussing issues surrounding a group that already faces immense odds. He should be commended for his efforts to bring forward these issues.

Byrne’s statements that Mak should have taken to the Diag to raise awareness are no less than absurd: Mak was not trying to raise funds, invite students to attend an event or have a bake sale, as is the goal of most Diag-related events. Rather he was commenting on a social issue that he feels very strongly about and that is largely ignored.

I fail to see how standing out on the Diag would have changed the fact that the transgender community is up against extreme odds, as is devastatingly obvious in the need to have a national day of remembrance to commemorate those who took their own lives. The lack of attention the nationals day of remembrance was given only points to the need for more attention to be paid to the transgender community so that more lives do not meet such a tragic end. This is a problem stemming from our own society. I congratulate Mak on his bravery for raising this issue in such a public forum and sincerely hope that many others will follow his example.

Stephanie Lennon

LSA senior

Coleman ignores legitimate needs of disabled fans

What is it about disabled people that turns students and faculty members into hateful and discriminatory monsters? While University President Mary Sue Coleman preaches sustaining and developing diversity and fostering a campus climate that values everyone in the community, she doesn’t include those of us who are disabled in her philosophy.

As a disabled person, there are more than 15 buildings on Central Campus that I cannot take classes in because they have no elevators and I cannot use the stairs. And I have never been to a football game because I can’t get a seat. Coleman has said that building more handicap-accessible seats at the stadium would be a waste of resources because “it doesn’t make sense to reserve hundreds of additional seats for disabled fans when the University” has never had more than 95 requests for wheelchair-accessible seats at a single football game (Coleman: ‘U’ Can’t Comply with ADA, 11/28/2007).

Of course we don’t request seats. The first three times I requested one I was told that it was impossible to get one. So I gave up. And by the way, not all people who are disabled are wheelchair-bound. Coleman uses semantics, substituting “repairs” for “renovations” to get away with discriminatory practices and ignoring federal law. So while we are thinking about ousting Michigan Student Assembly President Zack Yost, I would suggest ousting Coleman.

Ruth Barken

LSA senior

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