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Ann Arbor, Michigan
Vol. CXVI, No. 40
02005 The Michigan Daily
Ann Arbor fire official says City Council
should ban porch couches; students say
couches are not a major safety concern
By Jeremy Davidson
Daily Staff Reporter
After a one-year leave of absence from Ann Arbor politics, discus-
sion about banning couches on porches has resurfaced, but Council-
member Leigh Greden (D-Ward 3) says it's not likely a proposal will
come before Council in the next year.
The topic emerged again after assistant fire chief Chris Brenner said
recently that couches on porches are a fire hazard and that City Coun-
cil should ban them before someone is killed, The Ann Arbor News
The department has pinned the cause of two recent Ann Arbor fires
on porch couches, reasons it sees as compelling enough to ban them
from porches. Greden said the Fire Department is unanimously in
agreement about a proposal to ban them.
But despite strong opinions from the Fire Department, Greden said
he does not expect a couch ban proposal this academic year.
Ed Comeau, director of the Center for Campus Fire Safety, a nation-
al nonprofit organization concerned with fire-safety education, said
that he would support legislation that banned couches from porches,
because they pose a greater fire hazard than a couch inside.
He added that 81 fire deaths have occurred since 2000 in student
housing across the country, an average of 16.2 deaths per year.
"There have been a number of fires across the country over the past
few years that have been attributed to furniture on front porches. The
problem is that the fire starts on the exterior where there's no detec-
tion and can build up on the outside and move toward the inside of the
building," Comeau said.
But some members of the joint student-City Council committee, a
group of student and City Council representatives that aims to improve
relations between the two groups, saw things differently.
"It should be our choice to have couches out there," said LSA senior
Mike Forster, a member of the committee. "I think that most of the
time the fire doesn't start with the couches - it might exacerbate the
problem, but I don't think that they are the cause."
Michigan Student Assembly president and committee member
Jesse Levine said the risk of having a couch outside is similar to that
of having one inside.
"Students deal with a certain amount of risks every day of (their)
lives," he said.
Levine added that porch couches are not an issue the city govern-
See COUCH, Page 7A
LSA junior Walter Nowinski is starting a new Michigan Student Assemibly party called the Michigan Progressive Party.
Emerging MSA parties crop up
0 Students frustrated
with dominant Students
4 Michigan Party plan to
offer new competition
By Ashlea Surles
Daily Staff Reporter
Voter turnout for this fall's Michigan
Student Assembly elections was the low-
est it has been in years, the assembly spent
$20;000 on a concert and many students
seem completely indifferent, say a couple
students trying to turn things around.
In an effort to revitalize student govern-
ment and increase student interest, LSA
junior Walter Nowinski and LSA sopho-
more Travis Radina are each forming
new parties to contend with the currently
dominant Students 4 Michigan Party and
the Defend Affirmative Action Party in
April's MSA presidential elections.
Nowinski, a former member of MSA's
Budget Priorities Committee, is forming
the Michigan Progressive Party and plan-
ning to run on a platform based on "better
housing and better classes." The "better
housing" end of the platform entails the
maintenance of better MSA relations with
the city in order to have an influence on
housing issues, including lease dates and
"MSA has a tremendous amount of lob-
bying power to change these things," he
The "better classes" part of the platform
will include an effort to improve MSA's
Advice Online system. These changes
would allow students to learn the caliber of
courses as determined through data collect-
ed from student surveys, Nowinski said.
With its entire executive committee
already assembled and its platform almost
entirely formulated, MPP is well on its
way to developing a full slate for the April
2006 MSA elections.
Radina, a member of the College Dem-
ocrats, is forming the Michigan Students
for Progress Party. The party is still in
the works, with only a handful of students
involved in its development, but Radina
plans to field candidates for every position
in this April's elections.
Radina and Nowinski have spoken with
one another, and they said there is a pos-
sibility that the two parties will combine
for the April elections.
Radina said he supports the University's
use of affirmative action in admissions but
would also like to explore the possibil-
ity of "economically, rather than racially
See MSA, Page 7A
ACLU fights law denying
drug convicts college aid
SAME OLD DRILL
T-.. t m
Group will sue federal government
to provide financial aid to students who
nave been convicted of drug offenses
By Anne VanderMey
Daily Staff Reporter
fPotheads, beware - marijuana is not only bad for your lungs
and your pocketbook, it can also take away your financial aid if
But the American Civil Liberties Union in conjunction with var-
rous civil rights and student rights groups has announced that it will
file suit against the federal government based on its denial of finan-
cial aid to students who have been convicted of a drug offense.
A section of the Higher Education Act, up for renewal this
month, has rendered an estimated 175,000 students ineligible for
ajd, according to a recent study released by the U.S. Government
Accountability Office. The provision denies aid to anyone who
tas been convicted of even a minor drug offense.
Dan Berger, a spokesman for the ACLU, said it resorted to
legal action because its previous attempts at lobbying had been
1 rgely fruitless.
"It's hard (for Congress) to do anything that's not completely
draconian on drug policy because there's so much fear of seem-
ing soft on drugs," Berger said. He added that because the courts
doesn't face that political pressure, the ACLU may have better
luck with the suit than it had with lobbying.
Adam Wolf, an attorney for the ACLU, said the lawsuit has
good chances in court because it makes strong claims against
denying education to drug offenders. He said the suit will allege
the act violates at least three provisions of the U.S. Constitution,
including the Equal Protection Clause, the due process clause and
the double jeopardy clause.
The lawsuit comes at a time when Congress is already looking
at revising the Higher Education Act to cater to criticisms that it
does not serve as a deterrent to drug use because it is retroactive
in its application.
Currently, a college student can be stripped of his financial aid even
if he was convicted of a drug offense in high school and not in college.
"It's unfair that it doesn't give notice to people of what the exact
penalties for a crime are. ... Only later does Congress say, 'Oh,
we're going to tack on additional penalties now,"' Wolf said.
Alexa Marrero, spokeswoman for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio),
chair of the House Education Committee, said she agrees that the
provision is being incorrectly applied because it considered past
offenses when taking away financial aid.
See ACLU, Page 7A
Second-year dental student Deepika Aggarwal prepares a tooth for a crown on a mannequin head In
the newly renovated Dr. Roy H. Roberts Preclinical Laboratory in the School of Dentistry yesterday.
Lecturers to hold short protests during class time
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