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March 25, 1997 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-25

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4 -The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 25, 1997

Ue Bit man3tj &IU

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, M1 48109
Edited and managed by
students at the
University of Michigan

JOSH WHITE
Editor in Chief
ERIN MARSH
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's editorial board. All
other articles, letters and cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.
FROM THE DAILY

nPlans h
Nagrant and Savic
hen the unofficial results of the
Michigan Student Assembly elec-
tions were tallied and announced last Friday,
the Students' Party broke the Michigan
Party's five-year, near-death grip on the
:MSA elections. Undoubtedly, one of the rea-
sons that the Students' Party was victorious
- in both the top executive positions and
teneral representative seats - can be cred-
ited to the strength of its platform.
The Students' Party platform included
several concrete plans for cutting student
costs and trimming MSA fat. As the power
passes from one administration to the next,
the new leaders will certainly face new
responsibilities and challenges, including
planning the budget for student-group allo-
cations, which should remain MSA's prima-
ry purpose.
However, MSA president and vice-pres-
ident elects Michael Nagrant and Olga
Savic must not lose sight of the platform on
which students elected them; likewise, the
rest of the assembly must be willing to work
toward common goals. MSA, like most stu-
dent governments, cannot accomplish any-
thing on its own - its most significant
actions must be ratified by the University
Board of Regents. The Students' Party's
well-thought-out plans could help change
MSA's reputation of inaction. But change
can only come by building with the regents
and administration a relationship that firm-
ly represents the student voice.
One of the Students' Party's best plans is
to cut $2,000 from the MSA's internal oper-

to action
must tackle platform
ations budget. By recent MSA actions, it
has become evident that operations budgets
include sufficient funds for questionable
purchases. If the budget is large enough to
allow for expensive perks for officers, a
new budget should certainly divert funds to
student groups. Nagrant's itemized budget
for operations budget fat-trimming displays
frugality, a concern for students and good
sense. The Students' Party demonstrates a
desire to be financially responsible - a pit-
fall of some past MSA administrations.
Creating a student-run coursepack store
is an original idea that the new officers
should devote time and effort to developing.
Most students face semesterly textbook
costs that creep into the hundreds; coursep-
acks often add to the bill, without the com-
mon textbook option of purchasing used
copies at a discount. The Students' Party
goal to create a student-run coursepack
store - with plans to include coursepack
swaps and used coursepack sales - is an
innovative idea that could save students
money in an important place.
Despite the strength of ideas, even the
best officers can accomplish little if assem-
bly representatives bicker amongst them-
selves. The new assembly will be strikingly
different than before, with a composition
now evenly dispersed between the Michigan
Party and the Students' Party. Nagrant and
Savic should be especially careful to foster
healthy assembly relations so that needless
squabbling will not hinder the goals that stu-
dents mandated with their votes.

"NOTABLE QUOTABLE,
'If we are going to meet the needs of our city,
we have an obligation to ask the community
what It thinks and even greater obligation
to listen to what people have to say.'
-Ann Arbor Police Chief Carl Ent
YUK KUNYYUUKKROU DERO
AcADEMY AwA s I WO
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Aid on the 'Net
Electronic FAFSA can save students time

Students seeking financial aid opportu-
nities could have the results of their
request sooner than ever before. The Free
Application for Student Aid is now avail-
able to students over the Internet. In addi-
tion to this new development, students at
the University wishing to submit a Request
for Funds renewal will be able to do so
through Wolverine Access. These Internet
developments will eventually speed up
request processing as well as considerably
reduce paperwork. Students should take
advantage of the opportunity to submit
forms over the Internet for faster results.
FAFSA - the starting point for federal
-student loans, grants and work study pro-
grams - can take months to process when
students submit the traditional paper
forms. Many students determine which
school they will attend by the amount of
federal financial aid they receive. Students
cannot afford to wait months to notify the
schools of their choice. However, if stu-
-dents choose to forgo paper and electroni-
cally submit their applications, the length
of their wait will decrease. The optimal
turnaround rate for an electronically filed
Student Aid Report is three to-six days.
Once the form is processed, colleges that
the student lists will receive the results
}within 72 hours.
Constantly rising tuition costs force stu-
dents to look to avenues other than their
parents to help fund their educations. With
faster results, students can figure out the
difference between federal aid packages
gand the expected family contribution, and
have much more time to determine their
financial situation before they head off to
school in the fall. More time allows stu-
OW TO CONTACT TI

dents to better plan their summer job situa-
tion and fall course load to allow for a part-
time job if one is necessary.
Internet security becomes an issue when
personal and detailed financial information
- required by FAFSA or the RFF - is
transmitted electronically. The U.S.
Department of Education, which provides
the software to submit FAFSA, and the
University's Office of Financial Aid, which
collects University students' RFF forms,
must insure privacy of students' financial
information. Without the proper security
measures, personal information will have a
better chance of running into Internet traf-
fic and being accessed by outside parties.
Students who do not feel that their informa-
tion is secure may hesitate to submit their
forms electronically.
Another potential system problem is
server overload, which may impede form
delivery. There are certain times of day
when the server is busier than others. It is
also common for servers to break down
completely, halting all service and delivery.
The U.S. Department of Education should
practice good maintenance to avoid system
crashes.
The new electronic filing system for
financial aid promises to speed up the
process for students requesting funds.
Using the form requires Windows 3.1 or
better; the FAFSA is found at:
www.ed.govloffices//OPE/express.html.
Easy instructions on how to download and
submit the form accompany FAFSA soft-
ware. The difficult, long and bureaucratic
process of collecting financial aid should
now be more efficient and allow students to
breathe a little easier.

Michigan
Party remains
optimistic
TO THE DAILY:
We would like to thank
everyone who supported us
the past few weeks. The out-
pouring of support from the
student body has been grati-
fying. Our campaign was
about ideas and their imple-
mentation, and in defeat we
are still optimistic about the
potential of student govern-
ment.
We leave executive office
with a sunny disposition.
The future holds much
promise if we base it on the
achievements of the past. If
we changed the life of only
one student, then we have
succeeded in our motivation
for student government.
Consider the accomplish-
ments that the Michigan
Party has achieved in the past
few years. We are glad stu-
dents passed our three ballot
jinitiatives: ex-officio mem-
bership, community service
and an opposition to the LSA
10-term rule. We are com-
fortable in the knowledge
that they will change student
government for the better.
We believe we set MSA
on the right track. But MSA
has not reached its potential
yet. We leave an MSA that is
more efficient and student-
friendly - and this is just the
beginning. We hope to see
MSA take its next steps in
the same direction. We will
continue to work on what we
will feel directly affects stu-
dents' lives: a student ward in
Ann Arbor, preventing a 1-
percent tax from being laid
on students and reducing the
costs of education through
initiatives like the online text-
book reporting system.
An author whose name
we forget once said: " Two
roads diverged into the
woods, and I took my
weedwacker and made my
own path" We followed those
words through the forest, and
now face another fork in our
paths.
We congratulate our
opponents on the their victo-
ry and hope to work with
them to form a unified stu-
dent voice and we will con-
tinue the improvements we
have made in reforming stu-
dent government. Let us roll
up our sleeves and get start-
ed.
PROBIR MEHTA
LSA JUNIOR,
MSA VICE PRESIDENT
DAN SEROTA
LSA JUNIOR,
MSA GENERAL COUNCIL
YEJIDE PETERS
LSA SOPHOMORE,
CHAIR, ACADEMIC AFFAIRS

tells more about yourself then
it does about the candidates
you list.
Making assumptions is
extremely dangerous and she
makes many in her letter.
For instance, she states that
the 34 other candidates did
not respond because it is "an
election issue.' What right
does she have to say we did
not respond because it was an
election issue? Did we ever
give her any indication that
we did not respond because
of that? Does she even know
us? Has she ever talked to
us?
Also, she should never
state that we are unresponsive
to constituent inquiry. Just
because we did not respond
to her equivocal letter does
not mean that we are unre-
sponsive. She bases her alle-
gations not on fact but rather
on complete speculation.
She only sent one single e-
mail two days before the
election to ask us if we would
support her cause. Has she
ever heard of the phone? We
are all listed in the campus
directory. We had a question
about an ambiguous part of
her letter that could easily
have been answered over the
phone.
Despite that, if she had
sent the e-mail a week earlier
we would have had time to
inquire about our question.
She did not; therefore, how
does she expect us to fit time
into our schedule during the
three or four busiest days of
our year when we are work-
ing 19 hours a day?
Her irresponsibility in this
matter is disappointing and
we recommend that before
she accuses 34 people in
front of more than 50,000
people she sends out more
than just an e-mail. We hope
that shesruns her organization
more effectively then the way
she conducted her research.
JASON KORB
LSA SOPHOMORE
VAMSI BONTHALA
LSA FIRST-YEAR STUDENT
NEEL CHOKSHI
ENGINEERING SOPHOMORE
Mandatory
spending cap
would level
the field
TO THE DAIY:
I am writing in response
to the editorial regarding the
proposed mandatory cam-
paign spending cap for future
MSA candidates ("Spending
for seats," 3/24/97). 1 am glad
to see that the Daily agrees
that MSA campaign spending
is out of hand and needs to
be controlled. I would also
aeree that vour solution of a

input from even more. It is
truly a cooperative effort, and
thus is well thought-out and
practical. A similar spending
limit is in place in many
other schools around the
country, and it works.
Further, this legislation
allows improved enforcement
of other elections rules.
Under the current code, can-
didates may be "fined" by
the Elections Court for cam-
paign rules violations (such
as postering illegally or
improperly labeling cam-
paign materials), but - short
of legal action - there is no
way for the Elections Court
to get thismoney. Is it worth
it to bring suits against peo-
ple for $5 here and $10
there? Currently, there really
is no enforcement of cam-
paign rules short of disquali-
fying a candidate. The pro-
posed code changes turn
these fines into deductions
off a candidate's allowed bud-
get. This effectively encour-
ages candidates to obey cam-
paign rules -- since the more
rules they break, the less they
may spend.
Many people object to
spending limits on the
grounds that it violates First
Amendment rights. Without
getting into the details of the
debate, suffice it to say that a
spending cap only limits
quantity, not quality or con-
tent. If a candidate wanted to
make $500 worth of posters,
and each said something dif-
ferent, we might have a First
Amendment problem. But we
all know that candidates
instead make hundreds or
thousands of identical posters
and plaster the campus with
them. Spending limits would
simply serve to limit the
amount of times candidates
can say the same thing. In
addition, spending limits
most certainly do not apply
to other aspects of campaign-
ing that are free, such as
putting materials on the
"inform" web-site or just
plain old going out there and
meeting people. Spending
limits do not give anyone the
advantage because not only is
everyone allowed to spend
the same amount of money,
but let's face it, $500 (the
proposed limit) is an awful
lot of money to spend any-
way. Does anyone really need
to spend more than this?
Further, the proposed
code changes include an
option for candidates that
would make them immune to
the spending limit if they
agree to run as a write-in ...
thus no one can argue they
are being denied their "right"
to spend ludicrous amounts
of money.
Campaign finance reform
is an issue on many people's
minds these days. If this leg-
islation passes tonight, it will
be a good example of that

'Indie' book 9
publishers fight
for survival
Fact of life in American culture: Big
companies - be it a movie studio,
record company or publisher - dictate
what the vast majority of consumers
watch, listen to and read. This is fine
and even if it were not fine it is 4
unchangeable truism. That said, small
independent artists
and artistic compa-
nies have an,
importantvrole in
our culture: To pro-
mote artistic diver-
sity, to give non-
mainstream artists
a chance to reach a
wider audience
and to promote the
arts in general.
Today - with the SAMUEL
growing popularity GOODSTEIN
of indie-rock and GRAND
independent films ILUSION
- independent art
is arguably stronger than ever.
Unfortunately, small independent pub-
lishers have not fared as well as their
indie brethren in the music and fa9
industries; small presses are fighting for
their lives. The outcome of this fight
will have important implications for
American writers, readers and support-
ers of artistic diversity.
Thanks to an insightful article in The
Village Voice, I have learned that this is
Small Press Week. I have also learned a
few other things that are worth sharing.
Three trends are dramatically chang-
ing the American book industry a
creating a situation wherein behemW
bookstores and publishing houses
thrive, while small presses go the way
of the Beta-Max. First, of course, is the
exploding popularity of superstores
such as Borders. These superstores are
not bad. In fact, these stores bring
books to smaller markets - such as my
hometown, Flint - that previously
were unavailable; furthermore, what
better way to spend one's time th
browsing in Borders? However,
maintain their store size and high num-
ber of stores, the Behemoths must
make best-sellers their top priority. Of
course they stock Nietzche, but they
exist to sell John Grisham. Because the
publishing business is exploding, and
best-sellers are best-selling like never
before, marketing has become almost
as important in the book world as it is in
other entertainment genres. The
inevitable result: Publishers must spe*
big bucks to promote their books so
that they can pay million-dollar
advances to authors and reap profits.
One interesting wrinkle in the new
Book Economics is that most book-
stores now charge publishers to place
their books on display in the store;
meaning, those books tbat you see
spread out on display at most book-
stores are there because the publish
paid "rent" to put it there. If you wa
your book to sell, you had better pay
the rent or else it will be relegated to
the shelves, stuck somewhere between
Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolfe. The
result: Small publishers cannot afford
to pay the rent, let alone pay for big
marketing campaigns, and their books
are usually relegated to the shelves -
where sales are considerably lower.
Another wrinkle is the fact that
bookstores return un-sold books to t
publisher, and recover part of the pu -
chasing cost - the Behemoths are
increasing efficiency by turning books
over at a faster rate, a fact that hurts

slow-selling independent books.
Because small publishers cannot pay to
market books, cannot rent high profile
spots in big stores and have many of
their books returned (some are experi-
encing return rates as high as 60. per-
cent) they are being swamped. TO
result: A small group of large publish-
ing companies are becoming even larg-
er, at the expense of the little ones.
The second trend is that funding
sources for small presses are drying up.
This is because private foundations are
pulling out and because the NEA -
under Republican assault - has elimi-
nated its literature division and is being
forced to cut funding for small presses
from $1 million to zero. Furthermor
libraries -which were long a source
revenue for small presses - have not
escaped the Republican blitz and are
cutting backon purchases. Between
Behemoth stores and less support for
non-profit publishers, the little fish are
drowning in the big ocean.
The final trend is that independent
bookstores - long a key market for
independent publishers in part because
they often gave small presses cheap
free display spaces -are going out
business. This only deepens the crisis.
To the credit of the large bookstores,
they often try to promote small press-
es - Borders here in Ann Arbor is a
great, and welcome, example.
Unfortunatelv this is usually not

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