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September 07, 2005 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-07

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Election 2004
* coverage
The Daily's endorsement of John'
Kerry and the Republican take-
over are highlighted.C
Fall 2005


take over
Sam Singer was terrorized by
a group of Ann Arbor's noto-
rious, overfed squirrels.

__ s.:,_

, a. '

Join the
fih tfor
e ucation

F or a good number
of students - and
I'm including
myself - this place wasn't
a first choice. Instead,
it was a safety school
- one where grades and
test scores could safely
guarantee me admission.
It was the vaunted halls of
the Ivy League - the his-
toried colleges of Harvard, Yale and Princeton
- of which I dreamed. Who can blame me?
Year after year, attention is lavished on the Ivy
League because, as the U.S. News and World
Report rankings assert, that's where the best
students study and the leading research is per-
formed. To drive this point home, a colleague of
mine once pointed out that in a selected month,
The New York Times mentioned Harvard
University more times than the entire state of
Michigan. (Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, Zac
Peskowitz) Indeed, if public perceptions were
indicative of reality, schools outside the elite
Ivy League circle would be of minor relative
Yet, for all practical purposes, the elite Ivy
League is of far less societal significance than
schools such as this university. Academically,
our professors are of the same caliber; our
political science department, for example, is
the best in the country. The fundamental dif-
ference between Harvard (or any elite private
school) and Michigan (or any top-quality
public school), however, is output: far more
future leaders are educated at public schools
than private schools. Expand that analysis to
encompass all schools, public and private, and
it becomes abundantly clear: while private uni-
versities such as Harvard steal the spotlight, the
majority of college-educated adults come from
public universities operating in the shadows.
In 1789, the Northwest Ordinance was passed
to guide westward expansion. Buried within the
document, and now emblazoned above the pil-
lars of Angell Hall, was Article III: "Religion,
morality, and knowledge, being necessary to
good government and the happiness of man-
kind, schools and the means of education shall
forever be encouraged."In 1879, over a century
after the ordinance was passed, a large percent-
age of Americans were still illiterate and higher
education remained the province of the privi-
leged. Nonetheless, University President James
Angell gave an address titled "The Higher Edu-
cation: A Plea for Making it Accessible to All."
He made the case that any and all qualified indi-
viduals should have the option to attend college
and earn a degree. A visionary with ideas years
ahead of their time, Angell laid the foundation
for the University as we know it: a publicly-sup-
ported world-class research and educational
institution which recruits only highly-qualified
faculty members; in Angell's own words, "an
uncommon education for the common man."
Today, the University is the crown jewel of
a state which is rapidly running of out jewels
- and more importantly, jobs. As a contributor
to the Times pointed out, Michigan was once
regarded as a prosperous state: wages, medical
benefits and retirement pensions were secured by
generous union contracts, while jobs were guar-
anteed by a voracious appetite for domestically-
produced cars. Over the last 30 years, as robots
have replaced assembly line workers and Toyotas
have replaced Fords, automobile manufacturing
has failed the state. The traditional formula for
success in Michigan has proven untenable, and
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been seen reading
Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat," which
argues that human capital, created by rigorous
higher education, is the fuel which will drive
tomorrow's economy. The direct conclusion of
that assertion? This university, easily the best in
the state, will undoubtedly play a significant role
in any economic renaissance.
Unfortunately, while the state is relying on
public colleges to produce a new generation of
competitive workers, its leaders have chosen to
abandon their commitment to higher education.
Since the economic downturn of 2000, state
funding for public universities has slowly begun
to dry, and each of the state's 15 public institu-
tions has had to absorb millions in cuts. A major
budget deal, brokered in 2004, was supposed to
limit the rate of tuition hikes to approximately
the rate of inflation if the state restored $20 mil-

lion in University funding. Instead of restoring
that money, Granholm's 2005 state budget has
found new ways to cut an additional $5.6 mil-
lion from this university - a total of $30 mil-
lion from all the state's institutions.
At a time when the state's economic future
depends on the ability of public universities to
churn out graduates qualified to work in the
flattened and globalized marketplace, it can-
not afford to abandon its commitments. As

young journalist for The Michigan
Daily, reporting from the 1960 Dem-
ratic National Convention in Los
Angeles wrote, "There is no escaping the
fact that the movement does exist, that it is
developing potency and momentum, and that
it has the ability to sometimes change a social
situation." The young man, Tom Hayden,
would later become this paper's editor in
chief as well-as an icon for progressive advo-
cacy and the movement - then 500 students
who wanted the Democratic Party to adopt a
stronger civil rights plank - would become
the largest and most influential mass-move-
ment in our nation's history.
It was a mere four years after Hayden's
piece ran when President Lyndon B. John-
son signed into law the Civil Rights Act of
1964 - the single most sweeping piece of
civil rights legislation in U.S. history. With-
out the unyielding dedication of millions of
young civil rights activists in Ann Arbor and

What we stand for
Daily a champion of students for 114 years

across the nation, such a bill may never have
In the 1960s, the University was a pro-
gressive hotbed - students organized sit-
ins first to protest racial discrimination and
later to oppose the rapidly expanding U.S.
military presence in Southeast Asia. It was
in this tumultuous and rebellious atmosphere
that the ideological tenets of this paper were
forged. An unbending commitment to free
expression, a firm belief in the equality of
all individuals and an unrelenting desire to
achieve lasting social justice - these val-
ues guided the Daily's editorial page then,
and they continue to guide it now. Day by
day, year after year - from administrative

threats to campus-wide boycotts - this page
has stood firm against pressures to compro-
mise and equivocate. We are now charged
with ensuring the Daily stands resolved and
hereby pledge not to falter.
For decades, in accordance with its deepest
convictions, the steadfast and watchful eye
of the editorial page has commanded notice
from all echelons of government - be it from
a Michigan Student Assembly representative
or a concerned congressman. With passion,
persuasion and often - painstaking reitera-
tion, this page has fought fiercely for students'
rights and administrative accountability.
But advocacy and dialogue is a two-way
street, and this page is worth far more than

what we deem fit for this gray box. Essen-
tial to the functioning of our University, the
operations of our government and advance-
ment of our society is lively, passionate and
informed debate. In our 114 years, the Daily
has served not only as a steady champion of
students' rights, but also as an open forum for
those who wish to be heard. As we pledge
to continue the Daily's editorial tradition, we
encourage you to contribute to the spirited
debate hosted on this page.
With the help of an active and engaged
readership, this. page can become more
than the Daily's editorial mouthpiece, it can
retain its status as the printed pulse of the
student body - a force that if harnessed
properly, is vigorous in spirit and boundless
in influence.
Suhael Momin
Sam Singer
Editorial Page Editors

Three reasons not to despise GEO

n Thursday after-
noon, I tried to
explain to some
y , of my roommates why they
shouldn't cross the picket
lines that graduate student
instructors had formed out-
side University buildings.
The reasons to stay away
from class that day seemed so
obvious to me that I had trouble even articulating
them: Crossing a picket line is something that is just
not done. I think I began learning that lesson around
the time my mother was pushing me in a stroller
along a teachers' union picket line.
I tried to explain to my friends that respecting a
picket line means respecting the unions that created
the middle class and stood up to corporate America
on behalf of the common man. I told them that if
they saw unions as corrupt rackets, meddling in the
free market and exploiting their benevolent employ-
ers, it was only because the people who run this
country have promoted that image.
And then my opponents pulled out their
trump card.

All well and good, my roommates said, but GSIs
are still a bunch of whiny slackers who have their
entire education paid for and still complain about
not making enough in salary and benefits.
It's hard to defend against that kind of argument.
The Graduate Employees' Organization just doesn't
have a platform that's easy to rally behind.
While some students take out enormous loans
and work a full-time job to make ends meet while
attending graduate school, a typical GSI has he full
tuition bill paid and also earns about $20 an hour.
He receives health and dental benefits for himself
and his dependents, along with a stipend to cover
some day care costs.
The people who awkwardly lead our discussion
sections and write illegible comments on our papers
are not the proletariat. And when they make a big
ruckus every three years at contract time about their
plight, threatening to bring the University to a halt if
they don't get their way, it can alienate some under-
graduates who question their dubious complaints.
So I'd like to focus on the positive aspects of
GEO, and some reasons to support the union -
even if you question its scare tactics and its claims
of being oppressed. Here are three things to con-

sider about GSIs:
"Whatever you did not do for one of the least
of these, you did not do for me."
Apologies for quoting Jesus in defense of GEO.
But the union has consistently looked out for the
least of its members. It has made the most marginal
groups, which would be easiest to cast aside, the
centerpiece of its campaigns.
The union stood behind parents in 2002, per-
suading the administration to nearly double child
care subsidies and investigate the availability of
child care on campus.
This year, it is looking out for its transgender
members. GEO has already persuaded the Univer-
sity to add anti-discrimination clauses concerning
"gender identity." And while I'm skeptical about
GEO's demand for health care benefits that cover
sex-change operations, it does reflect a deep concern
by the union for the rights of the minority.
A win-win situation for couples
Another GEO demand that may end up being
too impractical and expensive to gain any traction is
the "designated beneficiary." But if the administra-
tion does agree to some version of this plan, it could
have positive repercussions beyond the University. It

could go a long way toward making a compromise
in the culture wars.
GEO understandably doubts that same-sex ben-
efits will survive the legal fight over the meaning
of Proposal 2, which banned gay unions in Michi-
gan. So the GSIs want to expand benefits. Under
the GEO plan, one adult chooses another adult to
share his benefits. That's it. No requirement that
the two people be married or meet any qualifica-
tions as partners.
Advocates of gay rights can cheer this plan
because it puts same-sex and opposite-sex relation-
ships on the same level. And conservatives will
note that the plan removes their biggest complaint
about same-sex benefits: that they give "special
treatment" to gay couples, discriminating against
unmarried heterosexual partners. If this innovative
solution spreads, it could end all rational objections
to same-sex benefits.
A culture of respect
In its 30-year history, GEO has forced the Uni-
versity to take GSIs seriously and consider what
would happen if these instructors, the foundation of
undergraduate education, stopped working. More
See SCHRADER page 2B

A falling star

wo years ago,
things were
very differ-
ent for Jennifer Gra-
nholm. The young
attorney general was
manhandling Lt. Gov.
Dick Posthumus in the

... on November 6, Granholm will instant-
ly become a figure of national importance
- not just because Michigan is such a crit-
ical state on the electoral map but because
her combination of intelligence, charisma,
and centrist politics make her an ideal
spokesperson for Democratic politics in
the early twenty-first century." He went on

Republican secretary of state and attorney
general. She also happens to be governor
during difficult economic times, when the
trickle of revenue into the state's budget
ties her hand. And Granholm barely con-
trols her own party, split between economi-
cally liberal labor Democrats and the rest
of the party.

1 , .


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