To the Daily:
Valuing inclusiveness more than numbers on benches
In response to Chris Vessels’s letter to the editor Wednesday arguing that fans with disabilities should have to compensate for Michigan Stadium’s loss of its title as largest football stadium in the country yesterday (Blame fans in wheelchairs for lower stadium capacity, 03/12/2008):
How about I put you in a wheelchair, paint your ass maize, your face blue and your new seating group can slap the two together every time the Wolverines get a first down?
I find it hard to believe that you have spent four years at a high quality, diverse and progressive school like the University and still be so na’ve about things like the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. It’s our duty as members of this community to do all we can to include everybody, especially in something like Michigan football.
In the end, whether the Big House holds 107,500 or 106,200 people doesn’t matter if it holds the title of “The biggest college football stadium in America for healthy non-disabled fans.” Besides, the last time I checked, a seat amounts to a number painted on a bench that nobody sits down in anyway.
Get a clue, Vessels.
Criticism of student groups should be left to students
I was disappointed to read Zachary Foster’s viewpoint Wednesday questioning the impact of student groups on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict (A new student group status quo, 03/12/2008). The Michigan Daily is written, managed and read by students. Alumni do not have the right to criticize students’ daily lives in the paper. Since Foster is not currently a student at the University, he cannot understand or accurately critique Israel activism on our campus.
In responding to Foster’s specific criticisms of Israeli advocacy student groups, there are many possible responses. I could argue that if the American Movement for Israel wants to use hummus and music as a way of engaging students to have initial conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can do that and is intelligent for doing it. I could recount how four years ago, the chairs of AMI and the Students Allied for Freedom and Equality could not even sit in the same room much less have a conversation. Yet, they participated together in a dialogue on religion Wednesday night. I could explain how, when I was the chair of AMI, I learned that changing campus culture does not happen overnight. I can say with confidence that the Israeli-Palestinian debate is currently making huge strides forward.
However, Foster is not the one who needs to or even cares about hearing these answers. People often forget that the University is not a perfect place. You cannot close your eyes and reopen them to find a changed world. It takes a lot of hard work that only fellow student leaders can understand. I hope that the leaders of AMI, Israel IDEA and anyone else invested in the Israeli-Palestinian debate continue to find creative ways to bring information to students and inspire them to care about the situation in Middle East. I have confidence that it will be students, not onlookers, who will begin to make a difference in campus activism.