Page 1

The Michigan Review the michigan review

Page

The Campus Affairs Journal at the University of Michigan

April 4, 2006

Volume XXIV, Number 11

MR April 4, 2006

Moving On:

The Senior Issue 2006 The Right to Bear Arms... Responsibly

Interview: Dr. Kenneth Burnley

End-of-Year Columns

Libertarians Give Away Sekou Benson sits down Cheolas, Dickson, O’Brien, Handgun to Student with the former Detroit and Teske close out the Public Schools CEO school year See top of Page 5 See Page 11 Pages 5 through 7

www.michiganreview.com


Page 2 Granholm has a Plan to Move Michigan Forward

R

ecently, Michael O’Brien wrote critically of Governor Granholm’s plan for moving our state forward. (See The Michigan Review, Volume XXIV, Issue 8, “Granholm States Her Priorities in the Year Ahead.” ) It is clear from Mr. O’Brien’s strident words that he knows little about the efforts Jennifer Granholm has made to help Michigan’s economy transition as the world’s economy changes. Additionally, it is clear that Mr. O’Brien knows little of the comprehensive plan that the Governor has put in place to diversify our economy, protect our manufacturing tradition and prepare our students for the high-tech jobs of the future. In her fourth State of the State Address, Governor Granholm detailed the next steps in this comprehensive plan. The Governor’s plan: (1) invests in our 21st Century economy; (2) invests in the health of our citizens; (3) invests in education and the quality of our schools; and (4) invests in the safety and security of our families. This plan addresses directly the changes we need to make and challenges we face in order to compete in this global economy. Our plan helps both in the short-term and is guaranteed to provide dividends long into the future. Thanks to Jennifer Granholm’s leadership, Michigan is investing in our 21st Century economy. The 21st Century Jobs Fund will invest more than $2 billion in diversifying our economy. In the first round of applications nearly 800 researchers and entrepreneurs stepped forward with new ideas and projects. Her Jobs Today program is accelerating critical infrastructure projects, creating jobs and generating more than $3 billion in investment. Last December, the Governor signed a tax cut worth $600 million to the state’s manufacturers that included incentives for companies to locate and consolidate in Michigan. As part of her “go anywhere, do anything” motto, the Governor is continuing to court companies around the globe in the areas of life sciences, technology, homeland security. She is selling Michigan as the place where our global leaders should look to expand and grow their businesses. That’s why Michigan ranked 4th nationally in 2005 for new corporate facilities and expansions (Site Selection Magazine) and why companies like Advanced Photonix are choosing to bring their headquarters to Ann Arbor instead of California. Additionally, the Governor is working to give business a fiscally-re-

the michigan review Letter to the Editor

sponsible partner. She has resolved more than $4 billion in budget deficits without a general tax increase and has cut more from state government than any governor before her. We are investing in the health of our citizens. Mr. O’Brien correctly points out that economic forecasts point to healthcare as a dominant sector of our economy going forward. This is why the Governor has called on the Legislature to remove the limits on stem cell research. Stem cell research holds the promise for finding cures and improving the lives of thousands of people. We are investing in education and the quality of our schools. Governor Granholm is strongly committed to providing all of Michigan’s children with an opportunity for quality education, access to higher education, and ensuring that Michigan has the best-educated workforce in the nation. Since the Cherry Commission issued its report in late 2004, great work is underway to achieve the goal of doubling the number of citizens in our state with a credential of value. In the first year alone much has been accomplished and we are committed to the efforts underway to see full implementation of the report recommendations. We are investing in the safety and security of our families. Governor Granholm has called for and is working on a series of actions to protect our families’ financial and personal security. Whether offering a 401k to employees who do not have a pension plan through their employers; or, ensuring that our men and women serving in the military are protected when returning from duty – we have a plan and the details to put it into place ensuring all families are protected and have the means for a high quality of life. The Governor and I recognize and acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do but we have a comprehensive plan to ensure Michigan is at the top of the global economy. The Governor’s plan was developed and is working to reduce the cost of healthcare, ease the burden on our businesses, and ensure that Michigan has the best-trained workforce in the country. John D. Cherry, Jr. The writer is the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan.

Michael O’Brien responds:

W

April 4, 2006 The Michigan Review

hile I am flattered and The Campus Affairs Journal of the University of Michigan humbled by the Lieutenant Governor taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to James David Dickson my piece, I believe he still views his and Governor Editor in Chief Granholm’s record over the past four years in the rosiest of rose-colored glasses. Paul Teske While the administration’s efforts to Publisher “invest” in Michigan’s infrastructure and economy are well-taken, Lieutenant Governor Cherry Sekou Benson glosses over the less-encouraging portions of Gov. Managing Editor Granholm’s State of the State, which was the topic of my initial article. A substantial part of that speech was devoted to the preservation of the Nick Cheolas automotive industry through pouring money into Content Editor multifarious branches of automotive research and token economic incentives. Lt. Gov. Cherry still Michael O’Brien holds this to be the best policy, and while it may Campus Affairs Editor be a good start, it does very little to abate the effects of our deteriorating automobile industry; an Assistant Editors: industry that is not suffering a temporary downChris Stieber turn, but whose problems—at least as far as the Big Three are concerned—are more structural Staff: and long-term than the administration’s plan takes into account or could possibly be able to Michael Balkin, Brian Biglin, Karen Boore, correct. Rebecca Christy, Tom Church, Jane Coas As for health care, if the Lieutenant ton, Stephen Crabtree, Blake Emerson, Governor sees the removal of barriers on stem Kole Kurti, Jeremy Linden, Matt MacKcell research (a move as economically dubious as innon, Brian McNally, Natalie Newton, it is ethically) as the key to Michigan’s capitalAmanda Nichols, Adam Paul, Danielle ization on a growing health care industry, then Putnam, Yevgeny Shrago voters have good reason to worry about his and the Governor’s stewardship this fall. Editor Emeritus: Michael J. Phillips It is regrettable that the Lieutenant The Michigan Review is the independent, student-run Governor’s letter contained so little analysis of journal of conservative and libertarian opinion at the specific policy proposals rather than campaign University of Michigan. We neither solicit nor accept donations from the University. Contriburhetoric. The unfortunate reality is that the monetary tions to The Michigan Review are tax-deductible unsunny-day proposals outlined in Lt. Governor der section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue SerCherry’s letter involve more government man- vice Code. The Michigan Review is not affiliated with agement of health care, pensions, and economic any political party or any university political group. growth. The State of Michigan can scarcely af- Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the ford that kind of bureaucracy as an additional editorial board. Ergo, they are unequivocally cordead weight on its growth at this crucial junc- rect and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons represent the opinions of the author, and not necture. those of The Review. The Serpent’s Tooth While Governor Granholm and essarily shall represent the opinion of individual, anonyLieutenant Governor Cherry are right to recog- mous contributors to The Review, and should not nize the vast changes that must take place, they necessarily be taken as representative of The Review’s have neglected to put the best policies in place to editorial stance. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily those of the advertisaddress our problems. ers, or of the University of Michigan. We welcome Addendum: In staff writer Brian Biglin’s article on UM’s ties to Detroit in the last issue, it was incorrect to say that the University’s physical presence in Detroit is limited to the new UM Detroit Center facility at Woodward and Mack; there is in fact an additional facility in the New Center District of Detroit from which UM recruits students in the city, and aids them in college preparation and admissions, Detroit Board of Education member Tyrone Winfrey said. Not reporting on this was a factual omission. The operation of this facility certainly adds to the overall level of involvement by the university in Detroit.

letters, articles, and comments about the journal. Please address all advertising, subscription inquiries, and donations to “Publisher,” c/o The Michigan Review: Editorial and Business Offices: The Michigan Review 911 N. University Avenue, Suite One Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1265 mrev @ umich.edu www.michiganreview.com

Copyright © 2006, The Michigan Review, Inc. All rights reserved. The Michigan Review is a member of the Collegiate Network.

mrev@umich.edu


the michigan review

Page 3

A

fter one of the most hotly debated Michigan Student Assembly elections in recent history, and voter participation at 21 percent (its highest level in 5 years), the Students 4 Michigan party dominated the election results. Nicole Stallings won the presidency, defeating Rese Fox of the Michigan Progressive Party, Ryan Fantuzzi of the Student Conservative Party, and Monica Smith of the Defend Affirmative Action Party. The election was made more interesting by the number of challengers to Students 4 Michigan. Inaugurated after the Ludacris debacle of last year, the Michigan Progressive Party had a platform of easing textbook prices and drop/add deadlines, improving campus busing, and emphasizing fiscal responsibility. But during the election, the party added another, more applicable platform: ending election spam that is sent to thousands of student e-mail addresses. Ironically, the party used spam to advertise this platform and urge voters to choose MPP. The Student Conservative Party ran on a platform of limiting MSA waste and using the money saved to help student organizations, limiting MSA political voice, and bringing Coke back to campus. This final stand became their most well known. The party handed out thousands of cans of Coca-Cola products on the Diag marked with stickers urging voters to choose SCP in order to bring back Coke. Presidential candidate Fantuzzi participated in seve! ral debates and focused on the University removal of Coke products, often with a Coke bottle at the ready. This led some observers to question the party; one was overheard saying that the Student

C

April 4, 2006

Conservative Party had become the “Student Coke Party.” The Defend Affirmative Action continued to be the most obvious in its single-issue emphasis, although its website stated that its platform also included opposing the war in Iraq and supporting GEO and LEO in their negotiations with the University regarding insurance and pay. In an e-mail to the author, Stallings said that, as president, she wants to “deal with internal issues [such as] making sure every rep has a clear, attainable goal for a project [and] planning an information campaign for welcome week to introduce [and reintroduce] students to MSA and its resources.” Opponents have stated that her ideas are vague and lack direction; she was also the subject of the infamous “Career Barbie” presidential profile in the Daily. Students 4 Michigan has stood by their candidate despite controversy. Bad blood from the election lingers several weeks later. The Michigan Progressive Party and the Student Conservative Party have both filed complaints against Students 4 Michigan with the Central Student Judiciary, the judicial arm of the Michigan Student Assembly. In an e-mail written to the author, vice-presidential candidate for the Student Conservative Party Tomiyo Turner said that grievances were made against Students 4 Michigan regarding the election and that “these complaints were significant enough that the entire party could have been kicked out of the election.” Students 4 Michigan, according to Turner, made agreements regarding the complaints but did not comply with these agreements. CSJ has agreed to review the evidence to

determine whether the agreements were indeed violated. If so, the election results could be overturned, though Turner conceded this “is a bit of a long shot.” But she continued by saying, “I am almost cert! ain that S4M would not have won the election without using illegal tactics, and I hope some justice is served.” The allegations included S4M attempting to crash the Michigan Progressive Party website (for which S4M took responsibility) and S4M using University computers to spam students, a violation of policy. The Student Conservative Party also objected to S4M members “coercing voters by campaigning within 50 feet of an election site,” according to the Michigan Daily. But when asked about the complaints, Nicole Stallings responded by saying that her party has kept her away from the politics surrounding the election, so she had no comment regarding the opposition parties “other than the fact that [she] hope[s] they stay involved with MSA in a positive way.” But Students 4 Michigan, Michigan Progressive Party, and Student Conservative Party representatives and candidates attended a hearing on March 23rd regarding the e! lection. CSJ will make its determination about the complaints on March 31st. The election was tight, with only 287 votes separating Nicole Stallings from second-place finisher Rese Fox of the Michigan Progressive Party. Students 4 Michigan took 11 MSA representative seats, with MPP, Defend Affirmative Action Party, and independent parties each taking 3. This election proved that for better or worse, campus politics is back. Yet it remains to be seen what changes the winners will enact. MR

MSA Post-Mortem

By Jane Coaston, ‘08

By Rebecca Christy, ‘08

Campus Affairs

Emergency Contraception and the ‘U’

ongratulations are in order. Congratulations for having the opportunity to be partially prepared. While walking on the Diag last Tuesday women were given a flyer urging them to take advantage of an advanced prescription of the Emergency Contraceptive pill. The flyer included statistics about Emergency Contraception (EC) with the following headlines of “Back up your birth control with EC,” and “Get the prescription written now. Fill it if you need it.” Both of these statements seem to imply a sense of responsibility in the use of Emergency Contraceptives. Under certain circumstances such as the University’s Health Services tag line “Things Don’t Always Go as Planned,” the responsible step in preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex or failed methods of birth control is the use of an Emergency Contraceptive. But, really, who are the more responsible individuals? The person who has prepared themselves with an advanced prescription of Emergency Contraception; or the individual who has chosen a consistently reliable form of birth control? The emergency contraceptive pill can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. The effectiveness of the pill is higher the sooner the first pill is taken, and a second dose is needed 12 hours after. When properly administered, the pills are up to 85% successful in thwarting pregnancy. There are two main types of emergency contraceptives, one containing estrogen and progestin, and a second which lacks estrogen. Both types contain a high dosage of progestin that can inhibit ovulation or disrupt the fertilization and transportation of an egg to the embryo and the uterus. If a woman is already pregnant, the emergency contraceptive pill will not cause an abortion to occur. Like other

forms of oral contraceptive, the pills cannot prevent sexually transmitted infections. But should Emergency Contraceptives be used just as extra insurance to “back up your birth control”? The UHS website displays boldly, “EC should not be used as a regular means of birth control.” Common side effects of these pills are nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. More importantly, if a typical woman used Emergency Contraception as an ongoing method of birth control for a year, her chances of pregnancy would exceed 35%. It is apparent that Emergency Contraception has not been advocated as a regular form of birth control, but the debate over whether easy access to the medication increases the sexual risks people take rages on. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration overruled their advisory committee by rejecting an application to make the sales of Plan B, a brand of Emergency Contraception more easily available. The proposal would have allowed Plan B to be purchased over the counter. Following the decision, Barr Laboratories, which distributes Plan B, is working with the FDA to create restrictions on access by setting a minimum age to buy the drug and keeping it behind the counter for the monitoring of sales. Since 1998, Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, have passed laws allowing the sale of Plan B over-the-counter. At the University one may obtain Plan B from UHS three different ways. Walk in appointments, prescription during a regular gynecological exam, and finally, an after-hours number is available on the weekends to receive the prescription. There’s a responsibility which comes along with actions that have potentially large consequences. Sex is one of them. Advanced prescriptions of EC are

commonly offered to women during gynecological exams when they are already receiving prescriptions for consistent birth control. Why should we expect women who consent in unprotected sex to have an advanced prescription of EC when they are already making themselves susceptible to other consequences beyond pregnancy? The fact remains that there are multiple opportunities to be responsible before resorting to the use of Emergency Contraception. Sexual responsibility education may be the most important in building this people. In a 2005 study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, Michigan scored in the “Worst” category under sexual education policies. Regular contraceptive forms of birth control range from 92 to 99.7 % in effectiveness, while condoms prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. If one has the right to their own body, then it is the individual’s responsibility to take the necessary precautions to prevent pregnancy before resorting to ex post facto measures, which can cause painful side effects in the short-term. March 21st was Back Up Your Birth Control Day, as a reminder to be responsible during Spring Break by having Emergency Contraception readily available for use. But isn’t Plan B exactly what its name states, a second resort? Plan A begins by taking responsibility for one’s own choices from sex under substance influence, and ends with using more regular forms of birth control. With the advancement of medicine and technology, it becomes easier for the individual to lack risk management. As a society, we have come to expect a “quick fix” to our mistakes; thus they may not have the same consequences they used to. A pill may provide the instant gratification of a sense of responsibility, but in the end there’s only so much a pill can do. MR


the michigan review

Page 4

The Michigan Review

The Michigan Review is the independent, student-run journal of conservative and libertarian opinion at the University of Michigan. Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Editorial Board. Ergo, they are unequivocally correct and just. Signed articles, letters, and cartoons represent the opinions of the author, and not necessarily those of the Review. You can contact the Editorial Board at: mrev@umich.edu

■ From Suite One:

D

April 4, 2006

Editorial

Visit us online this summer:

www.michiganreview.com or email us:

mrev@umich.edu

The Year in Review Looking back; moving ahead

uring its 24th year on campus, the Michigan Review has not encoun- anti-corporate SOLE rhetoric. The argument that “straight, white males” cannot untered as much criticism as in years past. Rather than needlessly act as a lightning derstand or comment on racism does not suffice as debate. Most of the “activism” rod for the angst of the campus Left, we have sought to engage it, and to confront it on this campus would not pass as any sort of logical debate. But all of this can only with the facts and the logic which have made the Review the “intellectual capital of fester and spread on such a “diverse” campus with an appalling degree of ideological conservatism” on campus. uniformity. But we have a long way to go. The Michigan Review is an institution with consistent, coherent principles upon The 2005-2006 academic year has been interesting in several aspects from which we attempt to expound for ourselves, and in helping discern ideas in the larger the alleged hate crime urination incident to the minority-only “Vagina Monologues” campus scene, and beyond. We will never shirk from what we believe is our responsiplay, to the administration’s cutting of the Coca Cola contract over alleged human bility, and in some ways, our pact with the community that supports us. We will never rights concerns in Colombia and India and, finally, to the campus’s jumbled response avoid the hard ideological, intellectual fights that need fighting. We will consistently to the findings of the Asian urination incident. In all of these, we see common under- provide a voice to those whose opinions are immediately excluded from debate bepinnings; threads which tie together widespread problems into a widespread paradigm cause they do not engage in the self-congratulatory group think many in this cominto which the campus has been drawn this year. munity adulate. We believe it is our responsibility to not shrink away from the tough Groups and individuals on this campus have become far too comfortable. fights and debates we must encounter; we mustn’t take refuge in the corners of our Many feel as if they can avail themselves to the same, tired support for their causes that office, assuring each other we’re all right. When we see the proliferation of ideas that they have used, unchallenged, for years now. This has been are repugnant to values we hold dear—whether in the manifest throughout the year, in major controversies and classroom, fellow publications, popular conceptions, and events, which we have tried to zealously pursue and cast “When we see the proliferation of otherwise—we will never hesitate to represent what we alternative lights upon this year. The tired, domineering is right and wrong, and explain why. We don’t see ideas that are repugnant to values think liberalism here only persists due to the stunningly blithe this as an aggressive option we have chosen to exercise. apathy of the majority. To a degree, it is disconcerting to we hold dear—whether in the class- It is instead our obligation, and because of it, we have see that this (ironically) unthinking thought still persists in for a quarter-century now, consistently advoroom, fellow publications, popular persisted a student body as reputed for its enlightened thought as cating a brash, appealing kind of conservatism and liberours. But at the same time, it is worth taking stock in the conceptions, and otherwise—we tarianism where it might have otherwise withered on the fact that the issues that proved major controversies during will never hesitate to represent what vine. the past year might have only been minor nuisances com Heading into our 25th year on campus, Michigan pared to the defining events they were this year. Where we think is right and wrong, and ex- Review continues proudly in its tradition of challenging this year’s campus outrages might have been met with the rhetoric, the beliefs, and the factual basis behind the plain why.” only token opposition from some in few, select corners needlessly inflammatory rhetoric of the campus left. We of the campus (including this editorial page) in years past, also enter our 25th year facing a battle over the Univerthe debate has now spread to the campus at large. Arguments against the progressive sity’s Biblical doctrine of affirmative action – arguably the most divisive issue on this orthodoxy here on campus are more prevalent, well-developed, and widespread than campus. Many at this university strive daily to racialize the non-racial. One can only ever. imagine the reaction to an issue that truly has racial implications. But there is still so much left to do. The challenge for the next twenty-five Affirmative Action--our hallmark issue, and that which pushed the Review years lies in bringing in the disaffected individuals. We have begun to bring our ideas into national headlines in 2003 will be back again this fall. Perhaps the same issue into the campus mainstream. There is much value in showing people alienated by the which has endowed us our with reputation as a “misogynist, homophobic, racist” pubstale political climate on campus that there are causes worth taking up; ideas worth lication who advocates “open fascism” (as a few of our more “enlightened” Graduate engaging; fights worth fighting. The first step is making sure that the consistently aw- Student Instructors opined last year). Regardless, we will treat this issue as we have ful arguments from many on this campus supporting the same persistent, tired ideas any other – attempting to logically and reasonably detail our position; challenging the do not ever receive the benefit of the doubt, due to lack of opposition. We have been usual arguments that our ideology is simply indicative of bigotry and hate. the loyal opposition for the past twenty-three years. In this past year alone, it has been It’s far too easy to surrender, and simply believe all that you’re told at this shown that this needn’t always be the case. University. It’s easy to believe that racism is everywhere because somebody said so. What has been rather disappointing, although certainly not surprising, is the It’s easy to believe that multinational corporations are the spawn of Satan. It’s easy to tendency of the campus left to shy away from our views, as well as our publication. feel guilty for acts you never condoned. While this is no shock on a campus where the “educators” of the student body them- But it only gets easier if nobody ever stands up for an alternative point of selves have claimed they were “scared to open the Michigan Review,” we hope to see view, or for logic, reason, or truth. And at the end of the day, we believe that all these individuals who fight for “tolerance” to tolerate the views of mainstream America – at still matter – even if only here in Suite One. MR least enough to engage them in reasoned debate. And such has been our goal all year – to foster a reasoned debate which has been so sorely lacking on campus in recent years. This debate is not the incoherent “Jim Crow” gibberish of 10-year-old BAMN activists on the diag, nor the inherently


Page 5

the michigan review

April 4, 2006

the group attempts to raise its campus profile. When University of Michigan School of Education alumni Neva Li graduated in 1998, she was battling an abusive marriage in addition to completing her degree in biology. A casual discussion with a friend led to a debate on the Second Amendment, and now, six years later, Li serves as a board member and secretary of the Shooters’ Alliance for Firearm Rights, and spoke at the event. Li’s initial interest in Second Amendment rights led to her now passionate defense of personal protection rights, especially where women are concerned. In addition to working as a science teacher and serving with SAFR, Li is also a licensed instructor for the National Rifle Association, and is involved with a women’s self-defense group, Refuse to be a Victim. An self-declared gun enthusiast, Li admitted, “ I just love getting out there and shooting with friends.” Li works with SAFR influencing legislation affecting gun control and personal protection, but hardly considers herself more than a concerned and passionate citizen. “I pay attention to every law—until I change them,” she said. Li directly confronted the arguments for gun control, citing common dismissals of the rights outlined in the Second Amendment as “old-fashioned” or based on the now unnecessary presence of a United States militia. “We’re the militia,” Li responded, saying she felt proud to live in a nation “founded by minutemen,” and that she could “look to the words of the founders,” in her defense of personal protection rights. Her speech concluded with a call to young peo-

ple to literally take up arms and become more involved in the fight for personal protection rights, referencing the proverbial ‘bad guy’ she feels currently threatens said rights. “It’s not about taking a life—it’s about saving mine,” Li concluded. The second speaker for the evening’s event was Mike Thiede, President of the Michigan Gun Owners, a non-profit grass roots group supporting personal protection rights. Theide joked that he felt as though he were walking through Ann Arbor with a target on his back, as he proudly displayed the Michigan Gun Owners logo on the back of his jacket. The focus of Thiede’s speech was the role of Michigan Gun Owners and its cooperation with SAFR to encourage gun safety and awareness, citing such programs as Safe Storage, gun lock giveaways, and the annual Family Firearms Day, aimed at educating gun owners and their children about gun safety and handling. “Safe handling is not the responsibility of the legislature…[it’s] the responsibility of the individual,” Thiedes said. In addition, Thiedes spoke of the importance of individual contributions to the defense of Second Amendment rights vis-a-vis through voter education and turnout. The event was met with a certain level of criticism from liberal student groups who claimed the College Libertarians were focusing too tightly on one particularly controversial issue in order to gain attendance, though Linden defended their action: “It’s not about concealed carrying…[or] about hunting. It’s about ownership.” MR

The Right to Bear Arms...Responsibly

By Natalie Newton, ‘09

W

ant to take a real bite out of crime? According to the College Libertarians, the best way to do that is through personal protection with the use of firearms, a point they made clear in sponsoring a personal protection speech and gun giveaway April 3rd in the Michigan Union. The random selection of University of Michigan student Laura Dodd, one of only five female attendees, was especially significant for an event that primarily focused on the role of women in the fight for personal protection. The event was kicked off with a speech from College Libertarians head, and former Michigan Review staff Jeremy Linden. While admitting that the Libertarian party is focused on “liberty in general,” Linden continued by explaining the importance of gun control and its ties to the Second Amendment, a fundamental principle of the Libertarian Party. This is the first gun giveaway sponsored by the University of Michigan chapter of College Libertarians, but the group was influenced by similar events held at other colleges. While gun control is only one of many personal liberty-focused issues central to Libertarian principles, Linden admitted that its controversial nature made it a good draw to non-Libertarians and could potentially contribute to a spike in interest and membership for the organization. In addition to supporting a “100% end to gun control,” College Libertarians also sponsor Hash Bash events in support of drug legalization an! d have previously invited speakers for events on MCRI and economic globalization, as

■ The Angry Greek

T

Campus Affairs

Final Thoughts on Racism, Hate, and Whitey

his column is my last as Content Editor for the Michigan Review. The next will be my first as Editorin-Chief. As such, this column is both a farewell and an introduction. While Campus Affairs Editor Mike O’Brien has usurped many of my ideas, words, and even my hate mail for his column, his column sums up beautifully what this year has been. The Ludacris concert; the MSA melee; the “Asian urination” incident, the BAMN rally, Killer Coke- these are just a few of the issues which have graced our campus this year. No doubt, there shall be more to come. It is our intent, as it has always been here at the Review, to cover events from a “different” angle, and in greater detail. Sometimes, this results in a “conservative” stance. Sometimes, we’ll subscribe to a “libertarian” view. And often times, simply providing a “rational” response will suffice to differentiate our opinion from the campus at large. Rarely will you ever find our viewpoint supported by the vague notions of “social justice,” or other subjective terms used to support a vast array of “progressive” causes. Instead, we strive to let facts and logic serve as our guide. I attempted to do this recently, in regard to a topic I have

written about frequently and extensively over the past month. In September, two white students were accused of urinating on, and hurling racial “slurs,” at two Asian passers-by. This incident served as a catalyst for one of the more vociferous campus outcries in recent years. I don’t enjoy beating this incident into the ground; however, I do think that this “hate crime,” and its aftermath, is inNick dicative of a major, Cheolas perhaps “the” major, problem on this campus. In response to my report, and my viewpoint in the Daily, I received multiple e-mails that determined that, because I was a straight, white male, I could not understand racism, hatred, bigotry, or discrimination. This contention, in and of itself one of the more racist statements I have ever encountered, is absurd on its face. Following this logic, we had better not see any anti-Iraq war protests on this campus, seeing as very few in Ann Arbor have been to Iraq, and thus, cannot possibly understand the situation there. Our outgoing Editor-in-Chief James Dickson sums up the these indi-

viduals beautifully: “Using a disturbing, and actually quite racist, brand of determinism, they say that white males are incapable of understanding racism, what it’s like to be a minority on campus, or whatever. Not only that, but they need to be re-educated; we need to purge the racism that’s surely inside of them. Not only that, but these same racial determinists, irony of ironies, believe that they should be the ones to educate you.” In short, one who reviewed the evidence associated with this farce could see that the “victims” were not giving us the entire story. Many believed my report to be a debate over “whether or not urine was involved when two students were harassed with racial slurs.” My report and subsequent viewpoint were far from that. First, even the staunchest supporters of these “victims” should now admit that urine was not involved. Second, it is my opinion, after conducting my investigation and speaking to sources close to the investigation, that the “suspect” who pleaded guilty to “tossing a beer” indeed never “tossed a beer.” In fact, nobody ever accused him of tossing a beer, so how could he plead guilty to such a crime? Third, the only “slurs” cited by the victims in the case include a reference to a “green card,” (a statement

the victims and their supporting witnesses can’t even agree on) and a reference to “learning to speak English.” The suspects argue that they never made a reference to a green card, and say that they told the Asian students “you need to speak English” only after the victim and his friends began to speak in a foreign language. But none of this matters. I’m a straight, white male and therefore am incapable of commentary on racial issues. Furthermore, I cannot believe that I am not racist, as my particular race is inherently racist (except for women), and thus, I need to be educated by these “enlightened” students, who will show me the “correct” way to think about race – their way. A “harsh” racial climate on campus justifies these goals, and legitimizes any means necessary to achieve them. Thus, we have an almost self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the interests of those who want to combat a “harsh” campus climate actually benefit from the hate crimes on campus. Without racism to combat, what role do these groups play? After growing up in a home where race, sex, gender, ethnicity, or religion had no bearing on my perception of an individual, these factors now guide nearly every interaction on this campus. And that’s the way people want it. MR


the michigan review

Page 6

■ The Deep End

D

April 4, 2006

Columns

Home at the University of Michigan

uring this past year, at The Michigan Review, I have more-or-less filled the capacity of Campus Affairs Editor, and have tried, in my pieces, to offer some insight into what it means to be a college student at the University of Michigan in 2006. At the beginning of the year, the outlook for major events and controversy seemed tepid. The editors of the Review often talked about how discourse had become more civil, and times had changed from the days of old, when conservatives were an embattled minority on college campuses nationwide, let alone our own. In some ways, yes, things have changed. There are more developed and vocal bastions of right-leaning thought on this campus, and students don’t have to worry about scary, leftist professors shouting them down the moment they open their mouths. In many ways, The Michigan Review, as it approaches its twenty-fifth year, has been a part of this. In the past year alone, our words have appeared in the Michigan Independent and Michigan Daily, and we’ve been featured in prominent conservative journals like National Review Online. This issue, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan responded to an article we published earlier this year. I don’t mean to be self-congratulatory, or overemphasize the Review to the point of arrogance. But after twenty-five years on campus, this paper—this institution—has helped expand the boundaries of respectable debate on campus to restore intelligent, intellectual conservative and libertarian thought to the equal footing it deserves on college campuses. But if this has been a benchmark year, there have also been ugly reminders from around this campus

about how much the antiquated, politically correct, and ultimately stifling liberal ideology still remains dominant, especially in a community like the University of Michigan. This is a campus where the Michigan Student Assembly and the University Activities Council can lose a total forty thousand dollars of student money -- our money -- on a concert featuring rap star Ludacris (“U of M girls give me U of M head”), and justify it using the golden shibboleth of “diversity.” Only at Michigan does a forty thousand dollar loss amount Michael to an “unqualified success.” is a campus where inO’Brien dividuals’Thisreputations can be slandered by student groups, other publications, and the University administration for doing something that never happened. As the Review and my colleague Nick Cheolas have written about extensively this year, there is good evidence that the now-infamous “hate crime” from this fall, where several students of Asian descent claimed to have been urinated upon in an act of ethnic intimidation, indeed never happened. The campus erupted in righteous outrage at the beginning of the year, and has used it as a symbol by which to organize this entire year. But the campus never bothered to see whether or not it was true. And when Cheolas had the temerity to cast another view on the matter, one student wrote, saying, “[This] confirms my observation that most straight white males are ignorant about social

issues…Why? Because they are the majority, and don’t have a history of being oppressed.” We live on a campus where those who fight to undermine students’ choice in soft drinks, athletic apparel, and even the coffee in the cafeteria are hailed as untouchable crusaders for morality. And we also live on a campus where a student who might dare suggest that abortion is wrong, or that the University should not be given a free hand in using embryonic stem cells in research, are met with zealous indignation from the “prochoice” community. This is maybe the only campus where Al Sharpton could rally the BAMN troops by calling white students “crackers,” on the center of the Diag. If a white student had stood on the Diag hurling epithets at minority students, we wouldn’t hear the end of it for years. Our campus gives more access and credentials to student activists with vested interests than students with well-reasoned and well-researched viewpoints. This is the campus where the Hash Bash can thrive openly, where anti-war rallies draw out thousands of scruffy Ann Arbor residents, and where the College Libertarians have to resort to giving away a gun in lieu of debate on the Second Amendment. I would like to think that my tenure as Campus Affairs editor has helped drive the line forward in advancing campus conservatism here at the University, but there are reminders that there’s still much more to do. But alas, we’re home at the University of Michigan, for better or for worse. And I love it. MR

By Chris Stieber, ‘07

Islam (“the religion of peace”) demanding total obedience to sharia law. While American Muslim groups such as CAIR demanded the release of Rahman, the majority of Middle Eastern clerics supported Rahman’s execution. While we should not question the desire for peace from American Muslims. We should question, however, any claim that would suggest they are representative of global Islam. The evidence continues to pile up that the large majority of Muslims, even those who are allies in the Global War on Terror, refuse to consider non-Muslims as equal citizens with equal rights. 2. While it has not been the sole rationale behind our efforts in the Middle East, democratization and culture change have undoubtedly been a large part of the Bush Administration’s rhetoric. In his second inauguration speech, Bush reached the height of his Wilsonianism with lines like, “There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment . . . that is the force of human freedom.” What does the trial of Rahman say for the effectiveness of freedom as a panacea? We’ve invested billions of dollars and thousands of lives into the region, and we have still not managed to break the stranglehold fundamental Islam has on the Middle East. Clearly, we can’t exit the region, but perhaps a revision of our goals is in order. 3. A positive note, however, that came out of this crisis is the near unanimity from Western governments in favor of religious pluralism. An incomplete list includes: Canada, Germany, Austria, Vatican City, European Union, Italy and Australia, all rising to the defense of Abdul Rahman. After the rather shameful response to the Danish cartoon controversy, where ev-

eryone backpedaled to defend multiculturalism, a voice for religious freedom is well appreciated. The international voices pressured the courts to exonerate Rahman, but even the court’s decision was not enough to guarantee safety from an Afghan lynch mob. On March 26, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy announced that Rahman would be accepted into Italy for protection. Again, it is comforting to see European countries, who typically kowtow to the fundamentalist Muslim crowd (see France), stand up for a courageous man of faith. It does make you wonder, however, just how often will the West have to rescue the Middle East from itself. The entire West is eager to see the region move into the 21st century. All of the “Bush Lied!” claims to the contrary, the current administration, and a majority of America, have placed U.S. blood and U.S. treasure at risk to ameliorate the life of the average Iraqi and Afghan. Every time an Abdul Rahman is persecuted for his faith, however, the American resolve erodes a little bit more. How this will end, no one can hope to guess. But it is without a doubt that public support of our Middle East strategy will fade quickly if Afghanistan, our “shining success,” refuses to support minority rights. I had hoped to end this article with a suggestion for a solution to the problems revealed in the Abdul Rahman case, but I’m not sure if there is one. In the years of the Taliban, clerics blew up Buddhist statues, much to the dismay of the West. Frankly, I can’t see much difference between the theocrats of the Taliban and the today’s fundamentalist Muslim courts. MR

T

Christianity and Afghanistan

his past week, a middle-aged Christian from the Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan has become a flashpoint of controversy, an icon for all the struggles and disappointments in the War on Terror. Rahman, who converted to Christianity in 1990 and fled to Germany in 1993, assumed that, since the United States had helped institute the new Afghan government, he would be able to peacefully live and practice his religion in his home country in the same way American citizens do every day. Big mistake. Apparently, although we have made great leaps in bringing democracy to the Middle East, the Middle East hasn’t returned serve by providing basic religious freedoms to all of its citizens. To the average American, the story of the Rahman trial has been quite a shock. Afghanistan was, up until the trial, the consistent success story for the War on Terror. Elections have had strong turnout, schools for women are opening, and the general safety of citizens has been demonstrably better than in Iraq. The persecution of this Christian, however, frustrates everything we have worked for. What exactly did heroes such as Pat Tillman die for if not for the freedoms of all Afghans, not just the fundamentalist Muslims who were already in power? While there have been reasons for celebration, a trial like Abdul Rahman’s reminds Americans of just how little has really changed. The entire saga raises a few questions, and very few ready-made answers. 1. This is yet another example of followers of


Page 7

the michigan review Senior Columns

Parting Words of Wisdom

By Paul Teske, Publisher, Class of 2006

W

hen I stepped on campus four years ago, I could have never predicted the opportunities the University of Michigan would present to me and the lessons it would teach me. In reflecting on my four years over the past few weeks, I have created five pieces of advice for all individuals fortunate enough to return to Ann Arbor next year. Challenge your comfort zone As we all know, Michigan is a school renowned for its excellence in academics and its pride in diversity. Some of us may have even chosen Michigan specifically because of its large and diverse student body, composed of students from all different backgrounds. Unfortunately, often we fail to take advantage of our fellow students. Every year, freshmen converge upon the University in August, and for a short two weeks, spend their time trying to meet as many people as possible. In these weeks, the University dorms are a melting pot of personal histories, marked by a genuine openness amongst students. Then something strange happens. Around the third week of school, I would estimate 98% of the freshmen body begin to close their social doors, only to be re-opened second semester senior year. We all come to the University with the best intentions of meeting all kinds of different people, but as is human nature, many people join groups and make friends with people whom they feel most comfortable. We are all guilty of this in some way. This isn’t what college is about. You should actively seek to meet people of different political, religious, sexual, and racial backgrounds. Most of your learning (surprise!) comes outside of the classroom. Take advantage of the 24,000 people from ages 17 to 23

that you come in contact with everyday. They all have something interesting to say and something to teach you. Study abroad Going hand in hand with challenging your comfort zone is the junior year, second semester tradition of studying abroad. Unfortunately, I was never able to take a full fall or winter semester off to study abroad. Most people use this as an excuse to stay at the U for four years, citing the short time in Ann Arbor as reason enough never to leave, forgetting about spring and summer opportunities. I studied abroad after freshman year in Florence, Italy and last summer at the London School of Economics. These proved to be some of my most rewarding experiences as a student at the University of Michigan. The best time to experience the world is at a young age-you have no commitments and you are more willing to eat and sleep cheaply.

Take real classes I was at a luncheon with economics Professor Alan Deardorff last year, and upon hearing that a student was double majoring, he was baffled as to why someone would waste all of their academic flexibility on a second major, instead of taking classes in a multitude of disciplines. I think most of the student body has become far too calculating with their course decisions, choosing classes strategically for GPA reasons than for pure academic curiosity. There are plenty of “easy A” classes that teach you absolutely nothing of academic value. Quite frankly, you came to school to learn, so why not challenge yourself academically? Take a physics or chemistry class from our renowned faculty, sample as many four-hundred level classes as you can, apply for a

few graduate level classes and push yourself. So what if you get a C? College is about challenging yourself.

Party In my four years, this is something I have probably taken advantage of too much. However, knowing how to communicate is an important skill in life that can be cultivated by a healthy social life. Do not spend your time chained to your desk. Hang out with your friends as much as possible. Actively seek to meet new people in social settings. In a world where networking is central to promotion in all fields, it is imperative to develop social skills in college as much as it is to develop analytical skills. There is no other university in America that couples a social scene with academic excellence like the University of Michigan--take advantage of this. Join a student organization Finally, be active in Michigan’s student community. I have met some of the most amazing people I will ever know through my involvement in the Review, The Detroit Project, and the U Party. I encourage you to join a service based student group, run for an MSA election, get politically active, play intramural sports, join a theater or acapella group, or do anything else that the University’s over 350 student organizations have to offer. If you cannot find one that suits your interests, start your own. These organizations provide an excellent opportunity to develop your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. It is hard for me to fathom that in four weeks I will have the title of “University of Michigan Alumnus”. It is a title I will be proud to bear and I thank my mother and father for making it possible. Go Blue! MR

“And Now, it’s All Over” By James David Dickson, Editor in Chief

I

t’s one of life’s cruel ironies that the moment you get settled in a job, you have to step down. Such has been the story of my tenure as editor of The Michigan Review. And now, at the end of my four years at the Review, it’s time for a change. Since arriving at Michigan in fall 2002, I had always been disappointed, to say the very least, with our student body and the level of debate on campus. My extended family had a few Michigan alums who warned me that I’d better have the facts to back my conservative ideology when I arrived in Ann Arbor. Learn the facts I did, as I spent that summer ding spent the summer reading everything politics-related I could find. Like a good boy scout, I came prepared. Only to be thoroughly unchallenged by my peers. I got here as Bush was making his case to the both the world community and the American people regarding the Iraq War. Any nation should have a healthy skepticism of leaders who seek to embark upon a non-defensive war. And skepticism abounded in Ann Arbor. “No blood for oil,” protestors screamed. “No war to defend Israel,” others insisted. Naturally, I went on the defensive. In the midst of all the rampant misinformation, The Michigan Review stood up for reason. I penned a 1500-word article debunking the “blood-for-oil” myth As the war continued on and casualties increased and, I took another look at what I had written in

the lead-up to the war. I was shocked by what I found. Not once did I, or any other Michigan Review staffer, write anything expressly “pro-war.” We didn’t have the chance. As I read through article after article which attacked the persistent myths anti-war protestors espoused loudly, I was disappointed. Not only in the kinds of charges we had to beat back – today’s gas prices shatter the myth that the Iraq war was fought “for oil” – but that the Review was purely reactionary in its defense of the war. We weren’t advancing anything, we were simply responding to others. I knew we could do better. Conservatism is much more vibrant, compelling, and even visionary than one would’ve thought by reading our pre-war coverage. Conservatives had something to say, which our audience needed to hear, yet we found ourselves doing little more than giving poor ideas far more exposure than they deserved by devoting such space to deconstructing poorlymade arguments. But this letter isn’t just a reflection on the poor quality of debate on campus, or the need for conservatives to advance an alternate view of the world if our ideology is to flourish; it is also my resignation letter. And as I step down and welcome my good friend and extremely able colleague Nick Cheolas into the fire, I would like to believe that The Michigan Review and conservatism more generally are in a better place than I found them when I arrived here. Today, Michigan Review writers contribute to

April 4, 2006

debates with both the Michigan Daily and the Michigan Independent, giving the paper a level of exposure and an opportunity to influence belief systems on this campus at a level unprecedented and unthinkable just a few short years ago. None of this would have been possible but for my predecessors, from whom I learned so much on what to do (and what not) and how to lead as editor. It’s tough to be the editor of a small, contrarian paper like The Michigan Review. We don’t have 200 years of history to fall back upon, just the examples of previous editors and, if we’re lucky, a staff which takes pride in is work, and content editors who support, critique, and help implement the editor’s vision. This year, I’ve been lucky. None of this would’ve been possible, either, without my staff, who worked so hard to produce twelve quality issues. It’s not been an easy road, but we’ve traveled it as a group, and I must say I’m pleased with the end result. As anyone in attendance for the first few meetings can attest, I had to grow into the role of editor, and there were growing pains. I applaud my staff for its patience, and my editors for having my back throughout. Together we learned how to put together great issues. Together we decided to change the tone and focus of this paper, and together we’ve fought the war of ideas. And now, it’s all over. MR


the michigan review

Page 8

Commentary

April 4, 2006

The MCRI: A Battle Ahead, Part II

I

In this piece, Campus Affairs Editor Michael O’Brien examines the battle ahead over the Michigan Civil Rights Initative. This is the second piece in a series of two. This is the concluding piece.

n my first piece, I examined the history of affirmative action in general and at our University and the effects of the over-racialized climate at the University of Michigan. In addition, I re-examined the traditional arguments supporting affirmative action. In this piece ahead, I look to preview the campaign ahead, and conclude some points about the importance of passing the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative this fall. The Campaign Ahead As a bitter campaign through this fall looms on the horizon for this November, many anti-MCRI elements are already trying to organize against even having holding a vote on the Initiative. BAMN, a radical, pro-affirmative action group on campus has been active in profligating accusations of voter fraud and trickery in minority communities on behalf of MCRI canvassers. BAMN hosted a rally this past fall in the center of campus featuring the Reverend Al Sharpton, for which they bused in hundreds of students (including many elementary-aged), from Detroit. These students marched angrily, and often spewed profanity against opponents, labeling them as racists, and much worse things. But for as much popular support as BAMN claims for its cause, it remains preoccupied with trying to impede a statewide vote on the issues. They occupied several meetings of the Board of Elections, trying to prevent the majorityDemocrat board from putting the issue on the ballot. The Board was forced to eventually by court order, after balking

Sekou Benson will graduate this summer with a bachelor’s degree in General Studies. After graduation, Sekou plans to live with his parents until he finds a job as a garbage collector. He’s had a fun three years at the Review. He wishes the Ed Board good luck next fall for their 25th anniversary.

the first time, and when they did, BAMN members nearly rioted at the meeting, overturning tables and throwing chairs as members of the Board scurried from the meeting. Currently, the Defend Affirmative Action Party (DAAP), a student elections group loosely affiliated with BAMN, is circulating a petition to Governor Jennifer Granholm, imploring her to personally remove the MCRI from the ballot. Whether such a thing is possible, or even legal, is of great doubt. But despite a winnowing gap of support between those in favor of the MCRI and those against it, the tactic of anti-MCRI groups revolves around decreasing suffrage and eschewing debate, otherwise having to be forced to engage the ideas of their opponents. Furthermore, acting as if the campaign to keep affirmative action is akin to the Civil Rights movement or the campaign against Jim Crow—which were efforts against such blatantly prejudicial laws—is borne more out of the self-assured hubris of anti-MCRI crusaders than any reality in American life today. Affirmative action is hardly the critical component in bridging race relations or the equality gap. To treat it as such shows not only reckless disregard for the Constitution, but also short-sighted ideology prevailing over sensibility. *

*

*

*

*

*

A coherent narrative as to why affirmative action must be the cornerstone for the advancement of society and minorities has yet to appear. The shibboleth of “diversity,” for many in Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan at large, supersedes

having to make any credible arguments about the constitutionality or efficacy of affirmative action. This has become manifest in the efforts of anti-MCRI forces, who have allied not as a group of concerned voters hoping to defeat the measure, but rather as a group that seeks to disenfranchise hundred of thousands of prospective voters. The prospect of a post-MCRI State of Michigan is alluring, but poses tougher hurdles in the long-run. For the University of Michigan, it means the lifting of a dense fog that has permeated the campus atmosphere for more than a decade. A university that has become slowly obsessed with race might finally be able to step back and reevaluate how to best serve its students, and yet still make itself more available in constructive ways to minority communities. Those in government in a post-MCRI era might finally be forced to address the dark underbelly of the State of Michigan’s economy and race-related issues. This should mean the restructuring of education at the K12 level, with a greater emphasis on the needs of the students, instead of allowing the dominance of teachers’ unions. It must also mean a restructuring of the state economy that provides enough incentive for graduates to stay in Michigan and re-invest their human capital into the state economy. If nothing else, the MCRI passing would be good in forcing those in state government to address the tough issues they’ve ignored for almost a halfcentury; forcing them to go far beyond token support for affirmative action in stump speeches. The political battle is sure to

Paul Teske will be moving to New York in June and beginning his career as an investment banking analyst with Deutsche Bank. Before his job starts, he plans to spend the remiander of his time in Ann Arbor, hanging with his friends, and will be going to Hawaii with his family on vacation. Paul wishes the Review best of luck next year in their endeavors, and might donate some money if they bring back the ‘Delay.’

grow to close margins, and heat up with intensity. Part of the responsibility of the Republican Party in Michigan is running effective races against Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow, both Democratic incumbents facing reelection. Motivating the GOP base to turn out and vote against Granholm and Stabenow may well put the MCRI over the top by residual effect. But at this point, many main Republican candidates for these statewide offices have allied themselves against the MCRI during the primary season. A good showing by these candidates will still likely help the MCRI, but campaigns that focus on Republican opposition to the MCRI might contribute to the death of an effort that might have otherwise succeeded. Uncertainty abounds about the coming months, and political dynamics, along with support for the MCRI, will likely teeter back-and-forth as Election Day draws ever-close. What is certain, though, is that the debate will not exist, and these issues won’t be fleshed out in any kind of public forum, unless the MCRI hits the ballot this fall, and the choice ultimately falls to the voters. A ‘progressive’ solution to affirmative action, in the sense of a policy that actually facilitates progress, is one that moves beyond patronizing solutions to America’s racial problems, and actually allows the affairs of society to organically correct themselves, absent of the tacit social engineering of affirmative action, as well as correct the large-scale problems the proponents of affirmative action have failed to remedy in the first place. MR


the michigan review

Page 9

Campus Affairs

April 4, 2006

sensibilities to demonstrate that changing practices can garner greater profits. He has attempted to work with “leading firms” such as McDonald’s and FedEx on their “key products” to achieve transparent “public results.” By affecting the policies of leaders in a particular sector he asserts that “other companies will follow” the models set by other corporations that will result in more favorable CSR results. He identified health, oceans, habitats, and climate as the four issues that he believes should comprise a corporation’s social obligations. Mr. Walsh’s approach was explained in a panel discussion on corporate perspectives by Dr. Karl Palmas of Sweden’s Goteborg University. From his experience conducting research with Volvo he concludes that corporate social responsibility is an expanding profession. He explained that new reporting systems that utilize the “Triple Bottom Line” are affecting public perceptions. The Triple Bottom Line is a form of year-end reporting that provides indices for “financial, social, and environmental returns produced by the company.” Palmas said that corporations are expanding their CSR-related job offerings because media disasters, such as when Shell was attacked for attempting to legally decommission an oil rig by sinking it to the bottom of the ocean, are becoming more frequent and damaging. Dr. Palmas also argued that young people entering the job market want jobs that provide “not just wages but value to their lifestyles” and are demanding to work in jobs that allow them to impact social obligations. Dr. Palmas’ analysis suggests a compromise where corporations accept greater CSR roles but internalize these responsibilities to set their own CSR agendas rather than be dictated to by advocacy groups.

In the same panel discussion David Berdish, the Senior Manager of Sustainability and Organizational Change for Ford Motor Company, argued for even greater integration of social responsibility. He explained that he wished Ford would eliminate his division and distribute its responsibilities among established department such as Purchasing and Manufacturing. Surprisingly, the strongest case for increased CSR came not from speakers on the community organizations panel but from closing keynote speaker Dr. Norbert Otten. Dr. Otten works as the Director of Policy Issues, External Affairs, and Public Policy for DiamlerChrylser. Dr. Otten called for Friedman’s theories to be put “to rest.” He argued that the world is increasing in complexity and that “national governments can no longer cope with world problems on their own.” He called for corporations to take seriously the “market for social values” as part of any successful business plan. The Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility succeeded in bringing together corporate, advocacy, and community leaders to discuss the role of corporations. Li’er Wong, the chair of the student organizing committee, stated that the idea for the conference came from personal experience. She took a business school course (an analogue of which is still offered as LHC 531) and then traveled abroad to work on issues of CSR. She designed the conference to “explore issues of CSR and let students decide for themselves” what role corporations should play in society. The conference indicates that many corporations no longer begrudgingly take on greater social roles but have managers who want to volunteer to increase their own obligations. MR

Conference Debates Corporate Responsibility

By Adam Paul, ‘07 ue to films like The Corporation and the myriad of campaigns against corporations, most students realize that corporations control large amounts of money and resources. This week the Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility attempted to compel students to think about what the role of corporations should be in our lives. The conference, which was hosted by the Business School and University’s Erb Institute, began with an introduction into the two prominent theories on corporate social responsibility (CSR). Economist Milton Friedman argues for a stockholder approach, where the sole responsibility of a corporation is to “increase its profits.” The opposing stakeholder view, espoused by economist Edward Freeman, maintains that corporations have to consider stakeholders like consumers, nongovernmental organizations and community members in their decision making. All the conference participants accepted that corporations should “give back” to the community, but while some provided moral justifications, other argued that businesses actually increase profits by creating a positive public image. Thus the conference centered less on the Friedman-Freeman debate, social role and focused on discussing proper mechanisms for corporate social responsibility. The opening keynote speaker, Scott Walsh of Environmental Defense, described how his organization has used consulting techniques to encourage corporations to practice CSR. While some environmentalists have spurned corporate partnerships, he has found it “useful to work with businesses.” He explained that advocacy groups need to appeal to corporations’ financial

D

The Worst Generation? By Brian Biglin, ‘08

M

ore often than not entrance to the middle class requires a large sacrifice in terms of debt. The Village Voice, a New York alternative paper, has featured a series of reports since the start of 2005 called “Generation Debt,” looking at different aspects of the unprecedented challenges facing American youths, especially those pursuing college and professional training. Freelance journalist Anya Kamenetz is the lead reporter for this series, and also authored a recently released book by the same name; she will be speaking at Borders in Ann Arbor Monday, April 10th at 7pm. The topics covered in the “Generation Debt” series range from student loans, and real estate, and taxes, to ways that ambitious young people can supplement (or simply preserve) limited income. Rather than sticking to basic economic precepts and issues such necessity of building credit and saving, Kamenetz generally pursues stories which expose government inefficiencies and budget cuts or tell of the issues facing poorer students trying to use their education to enter the middle class. With the high cost of education and housing, as well as the overall decline of government-support programs for students, it becomes very pertinent to talk in general about the aforementioned subjects in a broad, general way; to some extent, reform is needed in the business of financing higher education. The series began with an article outlining the idea that a college degree does not solve everything; no longer can one start making steady income at 22 and be

living comfortably by 30 with the cost of living. Thus, the long-held idea that even an expensive college degree will easily pay itself off in the long run is called into question. Without a doubt “Generation Debt” is geared towards younger readers, and written from a fairly young person’s standpoint. A headline from February of last year read: “Borrow More Now! Pay More Later! Bush’s big plan for sticking it to us again.” This same article made some valuable points. “The Greatest Generation had the G.I. Bill to pay for college. Baby Boomers got the Pell Grant program in the 1970s, and back then it paid for an average of 50 percent of a public university education [among those receiving it], compared to 25 percent today. Students these days are supposed to be grateful that Bush’s new budget will allow them to borrow even more,” says Kamenetz. Data suggests that college graduates average about $23,000 in debt, with plenty, especially professional school students, having far more than that. A current debate concerns whether or not interest rates for consolidated federal student loans should be fixed or floating. This would take away the predictable nature of monthly payments. Plus, those who use these consolidated loans are normally lower-income students who will graduate to work in fields that will not pay immediately, such as nursing or teaching. The “Generation Debt” series tells plenty of stories about young people using alternative means to finance their endeavors, from food stamps to real es-

tate. One New York student spent his life savings on a real estate investment to create an income stream from rent payments. There is also a fortune to be made in the tutoring business, especially the test-prep sector where parents prod stressed out kids to do well on SATs, MCATs, and LSATs. One of Kamenetz’s pieces delved into this topic. The pieces which conveyed interesting ideas for making money make the “Generation Debt” series worth reading. Other pieces appearing in the Village Voice have reported on the federal government’s decisions concerning student loans and other programs that financially assist qualified lower and middle class college students. Overall, the series has been very critical of the Bush administration. Generally skeptical in its outlook and liberal overall in its stances for wide-use of federal students loans, for example (and by the fact that it does not harp on the concept of savings as a bedrock for affording school), the “Generation Debt” series does not fall short when it comes to providing evidence and good realworld anecdotes. Being a student is hard and the financial challenges can be daunting; however, it is hard to believe that a well-chosen degree will fail to pay off in the long run, or that fiscal commonsense won’t be enough to keep debt from becoming too overwhelming. Hopefully these will be topics of discussion when Kamenetz visits this high-cost school full of stressed-out young people. MR


the michigan review

Page 10

National Issues

April 4, 2006

tor Ted Kennedy and Republican Senator John McCain, has passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. While calling for a greater number of border patrol agents and the building of a fence, it would also create Bush’s guest worker program and allow for illegal immigrants to enter a process of legalization. The bill has split the Republican Party into those like McCain that see it as a fair way to deal with the situation and those like Frist that see it as an unwelcome amnesty for illegal immigrants that rewards breaking the law and only encourages more illegal immigration into the country. The provisions of the bill, however, hardly give a free pass to illegal immigrants: only after working for six years, paying $2,000 in fines and any back taxes, undergoing a background test, and learning English would they be able to apply for permanent residency. The bill provides a reasonable middle ground between outright amnesty and the frighteningly strict and narrow legislation that Frist introduced, yet it is sure to face great obstacles when it comes before the Senate. All the Democrats in the committee voted for the bill, only 4 of the 10 Republicans approved it. No matter what comes of the recent events in Congress, it is reassuring to know that the issue of immigration has finally begun to be discussed after years of sidestepping by almost all politicians. After the tragedy of 9/11, the Bush administration set about to make the country more secure, yet it did nothing about the border and it did not reform the incredibly inept offices of Immigration and Naturalization Services (the very organization that sent 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta his visa

approval six months after he slammed a plane into the World Trade Center). The Bush administration is lucky that terrorists have not crossed the border from Mexico into America, but that luck will most likely run out if nothing is done to increase security. It is a border that is crossed by women with young children every year and it would be highly naïve to think that a terrorist could not make the same trip. We already know that drug dealers and other criminals cross the border every day, so why has an administration that prides itself in national security failed to secure the border? A true resolution to the immigration problem, however, involves not only improving national security but also treating the current illegal immigrants in this country fairly. The reality is that, like it or not, 12 million illegal immigrants are currently living here, and legislation such as that of Frist, which calls for all illegal immigrants to leave immediately, is both improbable and cruel. A plan that deals with the fact that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are here to stay, like McCain’s bill, is much more realistic and fair, though any bill on immigration is bound to have a hard time passing in the current environment. Republicans are split and many seem hesitant to support Bush’s guest worker program. Yet even if they disagree with the provisions of McCain’s bill, Republicans would do well to think of the Latino vote. Bush would not have won Florida in 2000 without the increased support of Republicans by Latinos, and no Republican candidate for president will win the election in 2008 with a plan like Frist’s. MR

Migrating Towards a Sensible Position By Kole Kurti, ‘09

T

he massive demonstrations that recently occurred in Los Angeles and other cities over the immigration debate have brought much needed attention to an often-overlooked problem. The immigration debate has rarely been as heated as it is now. Perhaps fearing alienating potential voters, the president as well as members of Congress have been willing to grapple with this sensitive and emotional issue for quite some time. With the Republican Party divided on what to do and with opposing legislation making its way to Congress, the scene has been set for a heated showdown. The House of Representatives has already approved a bill by Republican Senator Bill Frist. The bill calls for greater security at the border and for the construction of a fence between America and Mexico. However, the bill would also make illegal immigration a felony and would prohibit churches and charitable organizations from providing the assistance they currently provide to illegal immigrants. The bill does not include the guest worker program President Bush has asked for and it fails to address the reality of the 12 million illegal immigrants that are in this country. According to the bill, the only road left for the millions of illegal immigrants would be to leave the country. Not surprisingly, thousands of protestors gathered at the Capitol in Washington to protest the alarmingly harsh terms of the legislation. Members of the clergy even wore chains to represent the criminalization of their aid programs. Another bill, supported by Democratic Sena-

UM Professors Cast Doubt on Intelligent Design Several Professors Sign Document Expressing Skepticism Towards Darwinism By Brian McNally, ‘08

A

single innocuous statement sums up “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” a petition that was released in 2001 and has since garnered over 500 signatures of experts, reading, “I am skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” Three engineering professors from the University of Michigan have added their signatures to the list which includes nine professors from MIT, as well as others from UC Berkeley, the Center for Disease Control, and the US National Academy of the Sciences. On Wednesday, March 29, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, one of the signers of this document, gave a presentation on the questions that quantum mechanics has raised regarding the beginning of the universe, as well as personal belief that the Bible holds many clues as to the nature of God’s interaction with the world. Schroeder’s credentials are very impressive, ranging from a former position on the US Atomic Energy Commission, where he personally witnessed six atomic bomb explosions, to his current

position as a physicist at MIT and prolific author on the reconciliation of God and Science, or, as he talked about in his lecture, the laws of the physical and the metaphysical. In addition to this, he is a Jew who believes in the tenants of intelligent design, that God has acted either directly or indirectly to influence the creation of this universe and all of the life which inhabits it. “If we are the only universe, we are a designer universe,” said Schroeder, “[The Scientific Laws] were meant to nurture life.” Instead of the usual debates on evolution, which tend to revolve around the biological and genetic aspects of early life, Schroeder’s focus was instead on the universe following the Big Bang, as well as the philosophical questions accompanying the mystery of “light beams learning to love.” What Schroeder meant by this is that the “Big Bang produced energy. Nothing more. Nothing less.” This means that matter was not present in the early stages of the universe’s development. Instead, it would take billions of years for the energy to form the basic building blocks of atoms, then the basic atoms, and then stars, which would provide a nuclear reactor for creating the heavy elements that form the planets.

The way that this is possible is through Albert Einstein’s famous equation of E = mc2, which shows a relationship between energy, mass (a characteristic of matter), and the speed of light. Once the earth was created, Schroeder pointed out that the probability of simple life appearing and, more critically, being able to reproduce indefinitely is so small as to be nonexistent. In fact, the only experiment that has come close to creating life was able to create amino acids, using an atmospheric composition that could not possibly have existed when the first life formed. Instead, there had to be an outside influence, a designer who would have tipped the first domino on the path of evolution. Once the metaphysical had started the chain reaction, the physical laws already in place would be largely sufficient to perpetuate it, spawning the magnificence that we see today. Dr. Schroeder is only one of many intellectuals that are part of the rising tide questioning the science of evolution being taught in text books, where political agendas often create an environment stifling dissension and serious debate. While Dr. Schroeder believes in a higher power of creation, he mentioned

that there are others who are finding problems with current theories who are not religious. As evidenced in the “Scientific Dissent,” many scientists are not looking for the teaching of Intelligent Design or the Creation Story in science class, but they are looking for an end to the taboo that has been placed on disagreeing with Darwin and the early pioneers of evolutionary thought. In some respects, the current evolution debate has taken the form of the flat earth arguments of the 15th century, or the geocentric/heliocentric debate which lasted for over a millennium. On both sides were the best scientists and philosophers of the day, and both had different interpretations of the same evidence. Only time and advances in technology were able to prove one side empirically correct. Yet, at this time, we do not have the ability to go back in time and observe the genesis of the universe. Instead we must content ourselves with theories. However, these theories can only be improved by avoiding the dogma surrounding them, comparing the evidence of the present with the theories of the past, and adjusting them accordingly. MR


Page 11

D

the michigan review Interview

April 4, 2006

Interview: Dr. Kenneth Burnley

Sekou Benson sits down with the former CEO of Detroit Public Schools.

r. Kenneth Burnley has certainly made a mark in Detroit Public School (DPS) history. He served as the CEO of the Detroit Public school system under the state takeover from 2000 to 2005. Currently, he is a senior resident fellow in the University of Michigan School of Education. Dr. Burnley sat down with the Review to discuss some of the more pertinent issues surrounding urban education and his tenure as CEO of DPS. Michigan Review (MR): I was reading the Detroit Free Press and they had an article reviewing Jay P Greene’s book, Education Myths : What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn’t So, and one of the arguments was that lower class sizes meant the hiring of more unqualified teachers. Do you agree with the argument? Does class size matter? Kenneth Burnley (KB): I think any number of things including class size are and should be an issue not only in urban districts but in every district. Teachers will tell you if they feel a class is beyond 30-35 it’s hard for them to certainly do much on an individual basis, but it gives them that much more work to do. And when the classroom is very diverse in terms of skill sets of students class sizes means a lot to them ... When class sizes have had to increase (in urban districts) because funding is not equitable in order to keep other services going it’s definitely difficult for the district when making those cuts in class size or other areas, because you are funded on a per pupil basis. So, yes, it’s important. MR: Do you think programs, such as Teach for America, which allow for high achieving undergrads without an educational background is an effective way to remedy the qualified teacher shortage? KB: Well the qualified teacher issue is in the law No Child left Behind. The date has been moved backed a year where all the teachers have to be “highly qualified.” Detroit Public schools are doing pretty well in that direction. I think we were doing 95%- 96% at one point in time, but then you have continued retirements and people leaving the district… And then you have to continue to move toward this 100% target. The Teach for America program, we had that program when we were there. We did not have as many slots as they would have had liked us to have because we had teachers that were part of the district that we needed to make sure were in positions first, that were part of

the union. We did have a program and it did help in some cases to fill some needs when we had them. As resources became tighter we had to phase the program out in order to keep the resources moving towards the teachers in the union and certification, and there were lots ! of other issues.

to shop and to transport their students to other options. I really think you have to focus on improving the neighborhood schools and the schools within the organizations and use the money for that.

MR: In a Detroit Free Press article you were reported as saying that charter schools helped improve the public schools in Detroit, because of competition. How do you feel about school vouchers as another way to induce competition for public schools?

KB: I have always been a supporter of affirmative action. I might not be where I am if not for [affirmative action]. This notion of we all ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” is nonsense. I mean none of us are on island to ourselves we are all part of a continent. We are all part of the main, which means somebody has helped all of us. Some of us have been in more advantageous situations to be helped by others in our home schooling community than some others have particularly African Americans, Hispanics so that the playing field has never been leveled. The arguments that I have seen as to why we ought to get rid of affirmative action to me don’t hold a whole lot of water. I listen carefully to [the arguments] to see the wisdom in them… Nor is there a big advantage. And nor has affirmative action wiped out all of the discriminatory issues that many of us face who are African Americans or not of European descent. I certainly hope the state does th! e right thing when this issue comes up in November.

KB: Well a couple of things. Let’s go back to the charter school issue. I have always been one well before my time in Detroit that said to my colleagues ‘look there are people who say they can do this job better than we can.’ I think we know differently, because it’s tough to be a very good teacher and to care. So years ago when charter school movements came, I worked with a teacher union and said, ‘how come you don’t start a charter school’ and the teachers run it. We had a Madison charter school come in. The research as indicated at least certainly the research in Michigan said in the aggregate the public schools in Detroit have outperformed the charters outside Detroit. The charters that we had that were part of the Detroit district outperformed everybody. And that in the aggregate public schools in Michigan outperformed charter schools in the aggregate, which says there are some good charter schools but they are not doin! g as well as we are doing by and large. As for the vouchers I have never really supported the voucher notion. I think the charter school [concept] has many aspects about it that don’t create a level playing field so that the public schools have far more requirements in some cases than the charter schools. And often you can start a charter school if you are a for profit organization and pay $5,800 to operate the elementary school, if you choose to have an elementary school. Whereas in public schools we get $5,800 for [Elementary school], $7,800 for middle school and $9,100 for high school, because it costs more for labs and things of that nature. When you start an elementary charter school and get the full $7,100 that we get and don’t have to spread it around you make a profit. I don’t think that’s right…It’s hard to asses [Charter schools] because the playing field is not level. Vouchers, I have never supported that as a notion. And oft! en the people students and parents who might need the programs the most have the least ability

MR: Are you a strong supporter of affirmative action?

MR: Do you think affirmative action programs should focus more on poor African Americans than the African American middle class? KB: Well I don’t necessarily agree with the statement at all that it has necessarily been directed one way or the other. Perhaps those who have been a beneficiary of [affirmative action] were maybe in a better position to take advantage of it, because of some things that occurred in their background. But it has helped people on all ends of the spectrum, particularly if they were ready to take advantage of it or had people that encouraged them to take advantage of opportunities that when I was in school did not exist around here at all. This is a different time for you, but I came through here 196064. It’s a very different place today than it was back then. There has been lots of improvements, lots of opportunities, but there should be much more and we should continue to make progress not just for African Americans but for others. MR: Do you think the Proposal A ballot measure dealing with school funding re-

form, where funding shifted from a property taxes to sales taxes, should be viewed as a success? KB: Well, I think proposal A did a lot of things that it was intended to do primarily for the taxpayers of the state, but there are a lot of unintended consequences. And one of them has been there has been a lot less money available for the schools throughout Michigan. It was passed at a time when the economy was doing very well. The economy being solely dependent on the sales tax when the economy is not doing well we see the evidence of that. The base for the public schools we had planned and intended to have a stable base obviously has not been able to be realized so we lowered the taxes down but some of these unintended consequences have been unforeseen perhaps. In terms of leveling the playing field that did not happen because the districts who had levied more money that were willing to pay for more money for their children got to keep that money while we established the floor so the inequities were maintained. MR: Do you think having principals who have more a management background instead of an educational background would be beneficial for schools? KB: By and large you need an educational background. That’s the mission of the schools, that’s the mission of the school districts is to improve student achievement and performance. All the other things are ancillary. They are all important, but that’s the bottom line. So you need educators certainly well- trained educators who understand what it takes to do that, who have been through it, who have been a teacher, who have been a supervisor or coordinator, and worked in various disciplines from mathematics and science. I think they bring a rich background. Now, people are looking for alternative ways of certification. We have people who are retired say,’I would like to come back and give something back to my community and I like to teach. I am willing to take methods classes. I am willing to have you pair me with a mentor.’ I think you want to create those opportunities. And there will probably be some times when a principal or two will come out of that! , but I don’t think that should be the main focus of what the principal’s training skills and background is. We have created a principal’s academy and we know what their skills and abilities are. And the principle is primarily an instructional leader. MR


Page 12

the michigan review

Michigan Review vs. Michigan Daily

April 4, 2006

MSA Elections: What’s Ahead?

In the wake of the recent controversial MSA elections, Review Campus Affairs Editor Michael O’Brien and Daily Editorial Page Editor conduct an MSA election postmortem, and look to the year ahead with the new Students 4 Michigan assembly.

MR

A

Michael O’Brien, Campus Affairs Editor, The Michigan Review

ll things that involve exertions of power, especially in the appropriation of money, are inherently political. After this regression to Political Science 101, it’s important to keep in mind that despite three-quarters of students didn’t vote in the most recent election, and despite the questionable importance and relevance of the Michigan Student Assembly, it is still a fundamentally political body. Witness this in the most recent election. When the incumbent Students 4 Michigan faced credible opposition for the first time in years from the two new parties, the Michigan Progressive Party and the Student Conservative Party, turnout skyrocketed from abysmal levels to proportions almost respectable, by standards of most student government elections. The threat to power endowed to Students 4 Michigan gave students a new stake in student government, and the turn-out evinced that. A post-mortem of the election reveals a bit more complexity about the most recent elections, and raises serious questions about the role MSA should take oncampus. Students 4 Michigan is essentially apolitical; it encompasses students with a number of political backgrounds under a single platform focusing on student interests. It is interesting that in this past election both parties posing a challenge fit along a dichotomy more associated with national politics than campus politics. And it’s even more interesting that they lost. The Michigan Progressive Party was promising in its inception precisely because it seemed to desire to eschew the kind of politics that its name would imply. But it quickly devolved into something else, with focus on issues such as housing (with very vague solutions) and more fiscal responsibility on MSA (whilst they proposed spending $20,000 on starting a PIRGIM chapter). The Student Conservative Party was identifiably, well, conservative. Their platform railed against the suspension of the University’s contract with Coca-Cola, and called for “less political BS” on MSA, but the Fantuzzi-Turner ticket never developed any comprehensive agenda within their conservative ideology as to how they would govern. If they did have such a plan, they should have shared the secret with the rest of campus. Perhaps it is not coincidental that the moments when the Students 4 Michigan dominated assembly attracted the most scorn and controversy have come when they have embarked beyond their correct sphere of influence. Efforts to vote on a resolution encouraging divestment from companies with money in Israel attracted the most attention and controversy from the campus, until then-president Jason Mironov stepped in to avert a final vote. Similarly, ill-conceived efforts to sponsor a lobbyist on behalf of students (one barely interested in student concerns, at that) via PIRGIM attracted concern and scorn from some quarters, including our own editorial page, for moving ever-further from the interests and the actual purview of MSA. Of course, this fall’s now-infamous Ludacris concert was the major catalyst for these recent contested elections. The concert, which lost $40,000 was emblematic of everything wrong with student government: wasteful spending under the misused justification of “promoting diversity” that extended beyond the fundamental province of MSA. When SCP candidates promised “less political BS” on campus, they might have been onto something. But unfortunately, much like MPP, their traditionally dichotomized politics might have largely been the cause of their downfall. These parties may have presented sexier, politicized platforms that turned heads, but they still couldn’t attract as many votes as S4M, a party whose candidates’ politics were as hard to decipher as the platform they represented. If any of these parties were anywhere near intelligent, they would take a lesson away from this election that might seem obvious: you don’t win a campus election by going national. Of course, now that S4M has retained its strong majority, one hopes they will be loath to overstep their bounds again. This election should have taught them at least that lesson, and if not, the minority parties might well help keep S4M in check. Our campus elections may be political, yes, but only to the extent that politics are relevant to the distribution of power and money on campus. MSA should be humble in the year to come. There is no need for controversial headlines, or major spending initiatives. All the students should demand is that student representatives quietly do their job and go home. Keep student government small and simple, and it will be the best administration we’ve had in years. MR

S

Chris Zbrozek, Editorial Page Editor, The Michigan Daily

tudents need an advocate in this town. From a city council that bows to homeowners’ associations to a University administration that often puts the wishes of alumni donors and prominent faculty before students, it’s clear that our interests aren’t exactly at the top of the agenda. The Michigan Student Assembly could be the advocate that students need, but I fail to see how it can fill that role effectively without drawing on political ideology. The Students 4 Michigan/Students First dynasty of nonideological umbrella parties, which has dominated the assembly for most of my time at the University, arguably hasn’t accomplished much. One reason for this is that it’s difficult to articulate what students’ interests actually are without reference to a political framework. Instead of real debate over the values that should guide MSA’s advocacy of student interests, candidates for MSA too often focus on any zany idea that seems sure to win votes: Make Entrée Plus the only valid currency in Ann Arbor, put three Taco Bells in the Union or maybe bring Ludacris to campus to spark a dialogue about diversity. With goals like these, it’s no surprise that voter turnout in MSA elections has been in the single digits at times. Turnout doubled in the last election, however, with the debut of the Michigan Progressive Party and the Student Conservative Party. These parties offer students something that S4M/S1 has never had — a coherent platform centered on a political concept of what student government should do. I might not have agreed with much of what SCP presidential candidate Ryan Fantuzzi had to say, but he had the right approach when he characterized his opponents as a party with radical ideas, a party with bad ideas, and a party with no ideas. Elections should focus on who has the right combination of ideas and experience to lead — not on whether a party has enough friends in enough student groups to ensure its victory. Having a range of political ideologies to choose from increases the competitiveness of MSA elections, providing a check on the corruption inherent to a one-party machine and hopefully weeding out those only interested in student government to bolster their law school application. An underlying set of ideals can both help the ruling party order its priorities as well as guide individual members of a particular party to act in concert toward common goals. An ideology also gives students a clearer view how candidates would react to a situation not already covered in a list of talking points hastily posted on a party’s website. Because MSA should act as an advocate for students, it will need to express students’ concerns to other powerful figures, whether in the Fleming Administration Building or in Lansing. MSA is often ridiculed for passing resolutions on issues beyond its immediate control. These resolutions, however, often serve an important purpose in defending students’ interests. A piece of S4M propaganda during the last election, for instance, criticized MPP for a “symbolic resolution attacking Congressman Joe Schwartz.” Besides misspelling the name of Rep. Joe Schwarz (R–MI), S4M ignored the fact that Schwarz, despite being the chair of the University’s Alumni Association, supported changes that made it more difficult to get student aid. Sure, MSA doesn’t control Congress, but how is access to student aid not a student issue? I have little sympathy for the argument that low voter turnout renders MSA unable to speak for the student body. I know of no other election where one can vote from a dorm computer in one’s underwear anytime during a two-day period. Besides, student concerns don’t go away just because MSA lacks a strong mandate. Admittedly, the last election devolved in its last few days from a high-minded debate of political ideals. A storm of S4M spam e-mails sought to divide the student body along every conceivable line to drum up support for the ideologically bankrupt political machine. Scandals ranging from the insignificant (an MPP member taking down a poster off a dorm-room door with the residents’ permission) to the illegal (S4M’s denial of service attack on MPP’s website) marred the results. Still, the election also presented the most complete debate in recent years — and political ideology had something to do with that. Zbrozek is a Senior and a Daily Editorial Page Editor.

vol_24_no_11  

vol_24_no_11

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you