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October 13, 2005 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-13

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requirement change, which included
looking into the curricula of other
schools, was done more than eight
years ago.
"You're dealing with the dif-
ficulty of students not being here
long enough to see their projects be
fulfilled," Wagner said. "That's dis-
couraging from our end and that's
even more discouraging to the con-
stituency because they see a broken
Another problem of turnover is
the hardship in forging relationships
with the administration. The easiest
way to wade through the bureau-
cracy is, as consensus of those
interviewed suggests, to foster com-
munication with the University's
higher-ups. "Relationships with the
administrators is, I would argue, the
most important part of speeding up
the process," Wagner said.
"There are a lot of hoops you
need to jump through," Wagner said.
"There's a lot of bureaucracy here."
Not necessarily a fan of the former
Blue Party, Wagner still points to it
as an impressive example of using
connections for getting things done.
"I didn't like the idea of the Blue
Party at all," he said, "but in the end
of the day, they got fall break."
But connections alone don't lead
to effectiveness. A singular voice
for students throughout the years
is also helpful. Lasting parties that
maintain similar goals as officers
enter and exit MSA's revolving door
would assist in the process, but Nolan
believes continuity also lies in the
individual initiative of officers.
"Way too little time is spent going
back reading Daily archives, under-
standing previous administrations,"
he said.
Start Small
here was a time, not
too long ago, that
MSA was in the habit
of passing resolutions
along the lines of tell-
ing President Bush not
go to war in Iraq. These
resolutions, invariably, go nowhere
and take away time that could be

going toward projects where change
can realistically be made.
Following the footsteps of more
recent presidents, Levine has focused
on more local work, both with the
city and with the University, and has
yielded some results.
Historically, the most notable
changes are ones accomplished on
the local level. Nolan, the leader of
the Blue Party that helped imple-
ment the first fall break, attributes
the party's success to its ability to
hone in on where practical changes
could be made.
This, for all intents and purposes,
is working closely with University,
like Nolan did, or at city council, as
Levine has worked toward. Levine's
push for representation in the city's
decisions is one important step, but
also being attuned to and ready to
fix the little annoyances of everyday
student life.
Once things start getting done,
even on a small scale, MSA will
be able to cure the "perception that
student government doesn't do a lot
of stuff that affects people," as Lee
puts it.
Don't forget grad

we could do here for an immediate
increase in voting?
Mark Kresowik, the UISG presi-
dent, attributes the jump to a cam-
paign aimed at the school's graduate
students. According to Kresowik, his
platform was not especially graduate
student-centric, but he was one of
the few candidates in the past years
to take the simple step of going out
and talking to non-undergrads.
If Kresowik's experience is any
indication, there is great untapped
potential living in the Northwood
apartments and far off-campus. In
terms of MSA, -there are several
vacancies in representative posi-
tions, notably two in Rackham.
Levine even admits that participa-
tion from the graduate programs
hasn't been maximized.-
But stepping up the campaigning
isn't enough. Student government
shouldn't just talk to grad students, but
actually think about ways to accom-
modate their needs. Several years ago,
Levine said, MSA made strides in pro-
viding child care for students and has
been working to increase legal ser-
vices for international students - the
majority of whom are studying at the
graduate level.
Whether its keeping tabs on the
Graduate Employees' Organiza-
tion or just lending an open ear to
Rackham students, engaging grad
stduents can only help MSA's per-
n the end, there is no golden num-
ber or percentage that election
committees should strive to. If
student government is supposed to
"engage the campus community,"
as Levine describes it, but can't
get a significant number of the
student body to sit at their computer for
five minutes to vote, then the engage-
ment hasn't gone far enough.
MSA does an acceptable job at dol-
ing out funds to student groups, but few
students vote for a candidate based on
his ability to pass out money. MSA has
taken the first steps to more visibility
and, eventually, broader relevance. By
looking at the bigger picture, MSA can
eventually establish itself as a force of
long-term, consistent change.

® The Grea
Courtesy of F
"The Great Reporters" tells the stories of 13 of the world's most famous newspaper journalists. The book focuses on Americans such as Emie Pyle and Meyer
Brits such as Hugh Mcllvanney -journalists who took chances to better inform the public. This particular excerpt looks at the life of Edna Buchanan, a Pulitze
ning Miami Herald crime reporter whose workhorse attitude and shrewd writing helped her achieve the recognition she has today. - Doug Wemert

nee upon a 1940s time in New
Jersey, there lived a little girl who
loved stories. Not stories about
princesses, and fairies, but ones about
the kind of people who don't make for
very happy endings. People like "Mad
Bomber" George Metesky, mobster
"Lucky" Luciano and bank robber Wil-
lie "The Actor" Sutton. These were, she
later wrote, the dark princes of her child-
hood, and it was just as well she found
in their tales some glamour because
there was not too much of that in her
own young life. Her father had run away
when she was seven, she was awkward-
looking, too tall for her age and she
wore hand-me-down clothes. Neither
was she any good at adding up. "You'll
never amount to anything," an elemen-
tary school math teacher once told her
on front of the whole class, "Not even a
good housewife." Fortunately there was
another teacher. Her name was Edna
Mae Tunis, and she taught English to
the girl who loved stories. And one day,
when she was 11, the girl wrote a story of
her own. Mrs. Tunis liked it so much she
made Edna Buchanan promise that she
would one day dedicate a book to her.
Well, the girl grew up, and it began
to look as if the math teacher had been
right. Dead-end job followed dead-end
job, and, as time passed, she was, as pre-
dicted, amounting to absolutely nothing.
But then, in her twenties, she moved to
Miami and joined a writing course. On it
too was an editor on a small paper called

the Miami Beach Daily Sun. Impressed
either by her writing, her persistence,
or her blonde looks, he suggested she
apply for the vacant job of society page
reporter. She did so, they gave her a press
release about a church social, she turned
it into usable copy, and was hired.
The kind of paper that would hire
an untrained former clerk as a reporter
was not liable to be the big time, and
the Sun was certainly not that. It had a
circulation of just 10,000, paid below
any union minimum, and regarded
overtime as something that only hap-
pened in sports fixtures. Neither was
there any fancy specialization at the
Sun. You wrote, copy edited, made up
pages, wrote headlines, and, if neces-
sary, tipped greyhounds and composed
letters to the editor as well. In other
words, for someone like Buchanan who
knew nothing but was prepared to work
like crazy, it was perfect. For one eight-
month period she was the entire report-
ing staff of the paper.
In 1970 she moved to the Miami Her-
ald and in her second year, she started
covering court, interviewing - among
others - a lesbian Satanist who had
stabbed her sugar-daddy 57 times. Jobs
like this made Buchanan realize that the
paper, lacking a full-time crime reporter,
was only getting the legal conclusion of
such stories, not their often tantalizing
beginnings. So, in 1973, she suggested
to the city desk that someone should
make daily calls on police departments,

check the reports, drop in on the morgue
and catch up with the latest arrivals.
"Sounds good," said city editor Steve
Rogers, hardly looking up, "why don't
you do it?" Thus did Buchanan became
the crime reporter in a city that was, in
the next few years, to become an ongo-
ing, 24-hour-a-day festival of serious
Her first murder was of Edward
Beecher, a retired dealer in religious
books whose vacation from New Jer-
sey was crudely and terminally inter-
rupted when he was battered to death
on the sidewalk as he left his parked
car. The violence was to get a lot more
senseless than that. There was the rape
victim who, running in distress down
the street, came across another rape
victim running in the other direction;
the mother who framed her own two-'
year-old for the murder of his play-
mate; and Jacinto Roas, who murdered
a man only to find that an iron security
door had slammed shut and trapped
him with the corpse. By 1981, Dade
County's murder rate, which only
four years before been 211, had risen
to 621. Within a year, things reached
the stage where, as Buchanan reported
in a story that ran around the world,
Dade County's morgue was so stuffed
full of corpses that officials had to hire
a refrigeration truck from Burger King
to cope with the overflow.
Edna Buchanan's by-line on a story
in the Miami Herald, especially if it was

front-paged in the more leisurely Su
day paper, was soon a sign to reade
that they could pour themselves a cc
fee, settle in a chair, and enter a wor
where jealousy, lust, or greed invariab
led to a trail of mayhem and bodie
For Florida's armchair thrill-seekei
Buchanan made sure the lip-smackii
pleasures kicked in right at the top: "Ba
things happen to the husbands of Wido
Elkin." began a 1985 story; "A 12-yea
old schoolboy who had everything in tI
world executed his nine-year-old brotl
er, then ambushed and shot to death h
socially prominent mother ..." (1983
"They called it Operation Snow Whi
because the drug was cocaine and tI
suspects included seven Miami polio
officers" (1982); "There was a gold, di,
mond-studded Rolex watch on her wris
and a bullet in her head." (1984); an
most famously in March 1985, on th
ex-con shot by a security guard befo:
he could order at a fast food joint: "Gai
Robinson died hungry."
Although the beat reporting jc
Buchanan did was recognizably th
same as that done by old-time repor
ers with press cards tucked in their ha
bands, she operated very differentl
For one thing, if Buchanan got hold <
the beans, she spilled them, whether
was revealing the case of a trooper w:
had molested an 1l-year-old girl in h
squad car and got only probation an
no criminal record in the hushed-u
aftermath (her story, much criticize

Former MSA representative Stuart Wagner believes that MSA struggles
because of the inherent turnover of graduating student leaders.


ne new and immedi-
ate focus that MSA
can take is to redis-
cover and engage the
least-involved seg-
ments of the Univer-
sity community.


It sets us apart.
School of Information master's students
are change agents. They help the public
understand the principle of access to
information while protecting privacy. SI
students do not master technology for its
own sake, either. They apply their skills for
the benefit of all, but especially for those
who have traditionally been under-served.
Be part of it. Connect with SI.

At the University of Iowa, voter
participation jumped up 11 per-
centage points for its student gov-
ernment's presidential election last
year to 24.9 percent. Iowa's student
government system runs remarkably
similarly to MSA's, UISG distrib-
utes a similar amount of money to
student groups - $800,000 to our
$700,000 - to a similarly sized
student body. Even the election pro-
cess is near-identical - two days of
online voting deciding the president
and vice president on a single-party
ticket. So what did Iowa do that


BA, History
At SI:
Library and
After SI:
Science Reference
University of Oregon


Our master's program students hold degrees
from more than 70 academic majors.
Pick up your SI application CD for both the master's and doctoral programs in 403B
West Hall or request one online at si.umich.edu/info. Earn your Master of Science
in Information in Archives and Records Management; Human-Computer Interaction;
Information Economics, Management and Policy; Library and Information Services;
and Tailored. Our Ph.D. program prepares you for research and teaching.

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Morris Lawrence Bldg. RM 101
October 13, 2005 6:00- 8:00 pm

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