The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - 7
Continued from page 1
ford University (Apple and Pixar co-founder
Some schools with less prominent reputa-
tions boast speakers who are household names,
including High Point University in North Caroli-
na (former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani)
and Hillsdale College in Michigan (former U.S.
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr).
Coleman chooses the speaker from a list of
honorary degree recipients compiled by the
Committee For Honorary Degrees. The com-
mittee is also in charge of gauging whether pos-
sible honorary degree recipients have an interest
"Not everyone agrees to come," said Gary
Krenz, a committee member and special counsel
to the president. "Believe it or not, not everyone
Committee chair Steve Kunkel said that no one
declined to speak this year to his knowledge.
Paul Edick, the committee's undergraduate
student representative, said that this year some
possible speakers did decline to appear but that
he could not release the names because of pri-
vacy issues. Edick added that possible speakers
often defer because of scheduling conflicts. In
the case of a conflict, the speaker is usually put
Continued from page 1
aware," LSA sophomore Lisa Glass said.
Marsha Benz, Alcohol and Other Drug Edu-
cator at the University Health Service, helped
launch a social norms campaign last semester
to combat the binge-drinking problem at the
University. Their findings from a survey of ran-
domly selected University students, conducted
in winter 2003, showed that 61 percent of stu-
dents have 0-4 drinks when they party.
the michigan daiN
on the list for the next year.
Kunkel said the prominence of a speaker is
not the committee's priority.
"We'd love to have big-name people, but that's
not our only criterion for selection," Krenz said.
Krenz said criteria include how an individual
conducts himself and his ability as a speaker.
"I think fame is in the eye of the beholder,"
Kunkel said. "We're not so much into the flash
of the big name."
Ultimately, the University Board of Regents
must approve Coleman's suggestion for com-
Last year, the spring commencement speak-
er was David Davis Jr., founder of Automobile
magazine. Students who expected a speaker
as prominent as Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who
spoke two years ago, or U.S. Sen. Hilary Clin-
ton (D-NY), the speaker in 1993, criticized the
University's selection. But after Davis spoke,
most students and their families were satisfied,
"Afterward, we got more positive correspon-
dence about him than anyone I can remember,"
As at other universities, the University does
not pay speakers, but covers travel and accom-
modation expenses if necessary.
The selection process is the same for the win-
ter speaker. Last semester's speaker was Robert
Moses, president of a national mathematics liter-
acy effort aimed at low-income students - par-
ticularly those who are black and Latino.
University alum Stacy Baker, who gradu-
ated in December, said she could not remember
Moses's name, despite hearing his speech.
"He was a good speaker, but I just forgot," she
said. "When you look at other schools attract-
ing governors, celebrities, presidents and other
high-profile speakers, it's kind of significant that
I can't even remember his name."
LSA senior Melodee Babcock disagreed that
having a big name is the key ingredient to a suc-
"Someone famous could be boring, and some-
one with a lesser-known name could be exciting
and inspirational," she said.
Babcock said she has attended the last three
speeches because she has had friends graduat-
ing. Moses stands out as her favorite, she said.
"I don't really think it's the name of the per-
son that matters, it's what they have to say,"
But Sagherian said that after the thousands in
tuition fees students pay, they deserve a higher-
"Who are they going to get next year, some-
one from Home Depot? Some professor?" he
said. "My sister's graduating next year and I just
want her to have someone memorable."
Continued from page 1
women in state politics has negative effects on the
state, in which women make up about 52 percent of
Byrnes said the low number of women in poli-
tics affects the legislation. She said women tend to
give family issues, such as education, day care and
obesity in children, more attention than male repre-
Smith said the women in the House have brought
about a more focused conversation on education.
"We started to change the curriculum. It's an incred-
ibly different conversation that takes place when
women are at the table," she said.
Other issues tackled by the female representatives
include the wage disparity between the genders in
the state. A recent study published by the national
Institute for Women's Policy Research gave Michi-
gan a ranking of 49th in the country for women's
There may also be differences in the ways in
which men and women negotiate with other legis-
lators. Political Science Prof. Ann Lin said women
tend to be able to work well with others. She said a
great deal of research on women in the state Legis-
lature has shown that women tend to be able to build
"We now have a Democratic governor and a
Republican Legislature - having more women may
help us to build bridges, especially during a time of a
bad budget," Lin said.
April Shaw, senior policy analyst at IWPR, said
the low number of women in politics is not unique to
Michigan. "There are not enough women in elected
office anywhere in this country," she said. In fact,
Michigan was ranked the second best state in the
country for women's political participation. To come
up with this high rating, the study looked at female
politicians, such as the governor and the secretary of
state, as well as high voter registration and turnout
among women in the state.
"Women are still far from equal to men, but in
terms of the rest of the country, Michigan is doing
pretty well," Shaw said.
But she added that there is always room for
improvement. "There need to be policies in place
that make sure the media is giving fair and equal
coverage to all candidates," she said.
Shaw also recommended campaign finance
reform to help women who tend to not have as much
access to economic resources. "It helps level the
playing field when you don't need a ton of money to
get elected," she said.
Angerer said the good examples of women in
politics should inspire other women to run for public
office. She said Gov. Jennifer Granholm presents a
good example of a woman who is both a mother and
on top of her career in what is stereotypically known
as a man's world. "She functions well, her being a
woman isn't the first thing we see - we see a great
leader," she said.
Lin said that as more women are elected into
political positions, they can have varied political
careers and not simply represent women. "Whenev-
er a group is not a token presence in the Legislature,
the more effective they can be," she said.
The social norm campaigns are a new strat-
egy introduced by the Educational Develop-
ment Center. Their researchers have argued
that many students overestimate how much
their peers drink.
The campaigns are organized in hopes of
reducing alcohol consumption by showing
the popularity of binge drinking as a mis-
"Students tend to find no fault in binge drink-
ing because they accept this behavior as normal
or even expected in a particular social context,"
The Social Norms Marketing Research
Project is a national research study to evalu-
ate the effectiveness of social norms mar-
keting to reduce high-risk drinking among
This project is located within the Health and
Human Development division of EDC. The
University and 31 other institutions of higher
education are involved in this experiment, and
the findings will advance alcohol prevention
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