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November 30, 2005 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-30

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 30, 2005


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Editor in Chief

Editorial Page Editors

Managing Editor


We are not
going to cut and
- President Bush, vowing yesterday
that American-troops will not leave Iraq
until a stable, democratic government
emerges, as reported by CNN.com.

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More than a facelift

f you're not quite
sure where it dis-
appeared to, the
LSA academic advis-
ing office is now
located on East Liber-
ty Street in downtown
Ann Arbor - its tem-
porary home while
the Angell Hall office
undergoes a bit of
remodeling. And if you've ever interacted
with LSA's academic advising, you under-
stand how it's in dire need of improvement.
Though it is only my second year at the Uni-
versity, one thing has become increasingly
clear: If you can navigate the University,
you can navigate the world. The University's
reputation as one of the nation's most pres-
tigious universities is well deserved, and
many of us were drawn in by its offers of
endless opportunity and readily achievable
anonymity. But during another maddening
round of class registration in which Wolver-
ine Access becomes a virtual battleground,
the failures of LSA's academic advising
office leave little room for romanticism.
As we fight for a prized spot in popular
classes, spend hours glued to the computer
screen and stalk academic advisors to make
sure we enroll in courses that can some-
day translate into a degree, we sometimes
find ourselves wondering if a smaller, more
intimate school might have made our lives
Students find the University's incredible
resources largely inaccessible because LSA's
academic advising program has failed. A
sprawling maze of confusion and red tape,
it has left students to fend for themselves in
one of the largest research universities in
the world.
Navigating the University can be a source
of pride for undergraduates, who are likely
some of the most independent and self-suf-
ficient college students in the nation, given
the sheer size of the school they have chosen

to attend. But with thousands of classes to
choose from, numerous majors to explore
and a substantial number of distribution
requirements to conquer, the University's
academic advising program should be a
source of support, not stress, for its stu-
The student who decides to study abroad,
for example, will make more than one trip to
the Office of International Programs. Those
who choose to embark on a non-University
study abroad program, however, will find
that OIP is of no help to them at all. I asked
the OIP if they could answer a few questions
for me about how to transfer credit from
my non-University study abroad program
of choice and was told point-blank, "We
don't do that here." When I asked if some-
one could refer me to an office that does do
that, they could not. Instead, they gave me a
single sheet of paper published by the Uni-
versity with a checklist of more offices to
visit, people to see and still more red tape to
unravel before I could study abroad.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. There
are seniors who suddenly realize they are on
the five-year plan, second-semester juniors
without majors and freshmen without a clue.
While being proactive and learning to self-
advocate are skills as important at the Uni-
versity as they are in life, the University has
the ability and the responsibility to give stu-
dents the tools they need to take advantage
of the resources it has to offer. LSA's aca-
demic advising system leaves the enormous
potential of our school untapped and largely
inaccessible to the student body.
There are tangible things that can be
done, beginning with a new attitude toward
academic advising at the University. It is
precisely because of the University's large
size that LSA's advising program must be
taken far more seriously and held up for
Advising should be a student-friendly,
transparent process that gives every stu-
dent the opportunity to have a friendly and

productive relationship with his advisor.
Although it is the quantity of time with advi-
sors that is in question, and not necessarily
the quality, advisors must be more knowl-
edgeable about the complicated and bureau-
cratic workings of the system of which they
are a part. Advising departments need to
become more centralized and establish bet-
ter communication between various offices;
there should be a single office, for example,
that helps all University students make the
necessary arrangements to study abroad.
Like College of Engineering students,
LSA students should be required to meet
with an academic advisor before registering
for classes. If you know to ask, any advisor
can pull up a "progress-to-degree" report
that reveals which and how many classes
you need to earn a degree or complete a
concentration. This report should be acces-
sible through Wolverine Access so students
can track their own progress whenever they
so desire.
Students at the University are already at
a disadvantage when it comes to obtaining
recommendations and credit for internships
and independent studies because large class
sizes severely limit their contact with pro-
fessors. Academic advisors should be more
involved here as well. Students can current-
ly request to see a specific advisor, but they
often find it difficult to develop a relation-
ship or even a rapport with a single advi-
sor - not that surprising considering how
many different types of advisors can be nec-
essary throughout a student's undergraduate
It's not sexy, but it sure is scandalous.
The extensive resources, opportunities and
classes offered at the University are ren-
dered useless if the vast majority of students
are unable to take advantage of them. The
time has come for LSA's academic advising
to get more than a facelift.


Gay can be reached
at maracl@umich.edu.

Think locally, act locally


When provoked, students can be just as
engaged and just as powerful as any other
group. In the 2004 election, displaying
our anger at the current administration (or
discontent with John Kerry as any sort of
attractive alternative), we voted in record
numbers. When the Ann Arbor City Council
tried to ban couch porches during the sum-
mer of 2004, we rose up and prevented it.
And when the Michigan Student Assembly
was voting on a resolution to divest from
Israel, we packed the Michigan Union ball-
room. The potential is there, and the time is
now to become active yet again.
We face another important election next
November, but this time because of local
issues. City Council will most likely be
voting on Mayor John Hieftje's lease-sign-
ing ordinance, the couch ban will likely be
debated once again and another student will
attempt to win a Council seat. However, with
our current level of participation, it would
be foolhardy to expect pro-student decisions
from our local government.
The lease-signing ordinance, if passed,
would prohibit any landlord to show any
housing units until one-quarter of the cur-
rent lease has passed. This will give students

a longer grace period to decide where and
with whom to live. The students I have spo-
ken with have been overwhelmingly in favor
of this ordinance; both students who are
future renters and students currently renting
who are faced with the choice of renewing
their leases in late September or being sub-
jected to large groups of students trampling
through their homes. A very similar ordi-
nance was passed in Madison, Wisc. and has
been a success.
Unfortunately, we have shown that when
only local issues are at stake, we do not show
up. This year's elections received the lowest
student turnout in recent memory. Therefore,
we should not be surprised that the Council
makes critical decisions that aversely affect
students, such as new parking regulations,
without consulting us. The new joint stu-
dent-City Council committee is a great start,
but without voter participation, I fear it will
lack significance.
We cannot wait until it's too late to start
following local news and become politi-
cally engaged. What we do next semester
will be crucial, because we do not have the
luxury to sit back and remain indifferent
until something really angers us again. Tra-
ditionally ,local issues do not get as much
as attention as national ones, but it is in

the local ones that we can make the most
impact. I am tired of seeing student houses
burn down because of bad wiring and care-
less inspections. I am tired of new parking
regulations that force young women to take
long walks home late at night. I am tired of
living in a city in which a large number of
its workers cannot afford to live within its
boundaries. But most of all I am tired of
voting in East Quad in the afternoon and
seeing that only about 80 of my fellow stu-
dents have bothered to vote.
Now is the time for action, and it does
not take much to make a difference. It could
be as easy as changing your registration
from your hometown to Ann Arbor, or as
involved as forming a new student group
to focus on city issues. It is about time we
stop complaining about the state, city or
even our own student government and start
doing something about it. We control our
own destiny, but if we do not stand up right
now and be heard we will not only be com-
promising ourselves, but the fate of future
University students.
Forster is an LSA senior and former chair
of MSA's External Relations Committee. He
currently serves on the joint student-Ann
Arbor City Council committee.



Editorial Board Members: Amy Anspach, Reggie Brown, Gabrielle D'Angelo, John Davis,
Whitney Dibo, Milly Dick, Sara Eber, Jesse Forester, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Ashwin
hwannathan. Theresa Kennellv. Mark Kuehn. Will Kerridge, Frank Manley, Kirsty McNa-

Cartoonist oversimpliftes role
of affirmative action, misses
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course, he has family members who attend-
ed the University, decides to go into nurs-
ing, has a rich father who donated a large
sum of monev comes from a rural county.

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