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November 28, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-11-28

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4 - Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890
413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104




Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Raising the grade
'U' must become more accessible to low-income students
T he University received a report card last week. It didn't
come in the mail, but in a study of flagship public uni-
versities by The Education Trust - and the University's
marks show definite room for improvement. The grade that stuck
out was the glaring "F" the University received for providing (or
rather, not providing) adequate access to low-income students.

The worst debate on campus


hile the study's techniques were in 1992, the
perhaps not the most precise and Dearb
imaginable, the failing mark the have less a
University received shows that it is strug- Ann Arbor
gling to maintain any semblance of a repu- campusesv
tation as an affordable public institution. appearance
With the continual increase in the cost of income stu
higher education in this state and around Despite t
the country, the University needs to edu- need to be t
cate students about financial aid options University
and implement measures to lessen the anx- dents and
iety many prospective students have about choose to a
paying for their education. this institu
The study looked at each state's top pub- There ar
lic university, and the findings have been can take to
hard to swallow for many administrators dents. Bett
around the country. Most schools received options cot
failing grades in at least one of the study's stand that
three key categories: minority student be much lox
access, minority student success and low- need. As tl
income student access. While these low out, many s
grades should serve as a wake-up call to of financial
public colleges and universities, the organi- gesting tha
zation's grading scale may not reflect real- dents know
ity completely accurately. It is clear that the available to
nonpartisan organization, whose slogan is appear far 1
"closing the achievement gap," has good Without
intentions with its report. The methods it long trend
used, though, are less than perfect. state gover
For starters, the study's method for this institut
determining accessibility to low-income accessibilit
students was comparing the number of Pell Proposal 2,
grants distributed to students at a specific versity to r
school to the number distributed through- ties, will m
out the entire state where the school is The Univer
located. This method provides at best a lim- ways to gi'
ited perspective on students' financial situ- money - R
ation. Another problem with the study that of requirin
hurt the University of Michigan's grade designate a
is the technique used for comparing data cial aid wo
from 1992 and 2004 to assess long-term marketing
trends. In assessing the number of students about the a
at the University who received Pell grants a place in th
ally in the M
Hamas is an obstacle to We must r
the situation
peace in the Middle East inmisleadi
Michigan D
TO THE DAILY: experts like
Yesterday's viewpoint (A flawed democra- situation. O
cy, 11/27/2006) follows the trend of the hate- community
ful and baseless divestment movement that um B to shas
unfairly singles out and demonizes Israel by
misrepresenting the current situation in the Nate Fink
Middle East. We simply do not have the word The letter wr
allotment to address all of the fallacies that MSA represe
have become disturbingly familiar on this David Kur
campus. The letter wr
First and foremost, Hamas - the democrat- member of Is
ically elected government of the Palestinians
- is an internationally recognized terrorist
organization supported by the authoritarian T
regimes of Syria and Iran. Hamas is sworn to 1
the destruction of the state of Israel and the
ethnic cleansing of its Jewish population.
Infact,just weeks after Israel's August2005 All readers
disengagement from Gaza - a painful conces- the Daily. I
sion for peace - Hamas responded with Qas- name, colle
sam rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns. versity affili
Continuing this trend, this past weekend Pal-
estinian terrorists violated a cease-fire with
rocket attacks shortly after an agreement was Letters sho
reached. What is Israel to do? Michigan D
Most recently, Hamas has adopted a tactic length, clar
made famous by Hezbollah over the summer: become the
brainwashing civilians to act as human shields
encircling terrorist homes targeted by Israel.
This tactic is far from peaceful resistance; it is Letters will
a human rights abuse. Israel must protect its received an
citizens and do what the Palestinian govern-
ment has failed to do: dismantle the terrorist
infrastructure, a universally recognized pre- Letters sho
requisite for peace. edu. Editors
The University should be proud to invest in umich.edu.
Israel, America's only time-tested democratic

organization included the Flint
orn campuses, both of which
effluent student bodies than the
campus. In 2004, those two
were left out, giving the false
of a drastic drop-off in low-
hese failings, the study doesn't
erribly refined to tell us that the
is not accessible to many stu-
that many Michigan residents
ttend other schools because of
tion's sticker price.
e obvious steps the University
be more accessible to all stu-
er advertising of financial aid
uld help more students under-
the cost of the University could
wer depending on their financial
he administration has pointed
tudents underestimate amount
I aid available to them - sug-
t making sure prospective stu-
about the several sources of aid
them could make the price tag
ess overwhelming.
a drastic reversal of a decades-
of decreased support from the
rnment for public universities,
ion will continue to grapple with
y for a long time. The passage of
by making it harder for the Uni-
each out to minority communi-
ake its challenges all the greater.
'sity must continue to look for
ve out more need-based grant
egent Kathy White's suggestion
g donors for building projects to
portion of their gifts for finan-
uld be a good start. But clever
strategies to provide assurance
ctual cost of education also have
ie fight for accessibility.
Middle East.
recognize that true education about
n in the Middle East is not found
ng viewpoints on the pages of The
Daily. Instead, we should turn to
Brigitte Gabriel for insight on the
n Monday at 8 p.m., the University
is invited to Angell Hall Auditori-
re in Gabriel's knowledge.
iter is an LSA junior and an
iter is a LSA junior and a
trae IDEA.

f there's any university in this
country where you'd expect to find
students engaged in a productive
discussion about the Arab-Israeli con-
flict, it would be here. Our university
has a large Jewish student population,
a heritage dating back to the days when
Jews barred from of Ivy League insti-
tutions by discriminatory quotas chose
to come to Michigan instead. Ann
Arbor's prox-
imity to metro
Detroit's Arab-I
the largest in
the nation,
ensures that
a sizable con-
tingent of-
students will CHRISTOPHER
be concerned
with advanc- ZBROZEK
ing Palestin-
ian causes.
Yet listening to what passes for dia-
logue about Israel and Palestine on
campus over the past few years, I've
grown cynical about the prospect of
any rational discourse on the issue.
Here, the attacks, accusations, indict-
ments and defamations that typically
characterize the debate mirror a simi-
larly depressing cycle of violence in
the Middle East. One suspects there's
a continuous chain of retaliation for
the response for the reaction for the
reprisal for the retribution ... and so on,
quite literally ad nauseam, going back
at least until 1948.
My first experiences on campus
with discussion of the conflict were
uniformly negative. A Palestinian
Solidarity Movement conference in
the fall of 2002 advocating divestment
from Israel brought to campus speak-
ers who many Jewish students saw as
anti-Semitic, including one who had
probably provided support to terror-
ists. Advertisements purchased in this
newspaper to publicize a pro-Israel
website tried to propagate the dubious
belief that all Israelis are upstanding
moral citizens deeply committed to
the tenets of liberal democracy, while
all Palestinians are would-be suicide
bombers whose thirst for Jewish blood
could never be quenched, no blood
libel pun intended.
Those extreme instances could
perhaps be blamed on agitators - the
conference organizers and those who
bought the ads - from outside the Uni-
versity community. Watching years of
animosity between students on both
sides of the issue, though, has left me
with little doubt that these students
generally view their ideological coun-

terparts with disdain, distrust and
The gap in understanding is perhaps
most striking in the viewpoint pieces
pro-Israel or pro-Palestine groups
seek to have published in The Michi-
gan Daily. Regardless of which side a
viewpoint promotes, it takes one of two
approaches. Many viewpoint authors
simply argue that the other side's
immoral actions are entirely to blame
for the conflict, neglecting to consider
their own side's failures and atrocities.
Others take amore nuanced approach,
arguing deceptively for the importance
of dialogue. The general argument in
those viewpoints can be summarized
as follows: "We must have dialogue.
Both sides should move past unproduc-
tive rhetoric. The other side is a bunch
of genocidal maniacs hell-bent on the
destruction of my people. We ought to
sit down and talk responsibly."
As an editor whose duties include
choosing and editing viewpoints, I'm
routinely told by both sides that I'm
biased. Itso happens that I don't really
have a favorite between the two sides.
I have no religious or ethnic ties to
either side of the conflict. I'm appalled
at the oppression and violence Israel
inflicts on innocent Palestinians, and
I'm disgusted at terrorist attacks that
kill innocent Israeli civilians. I would
like to see people there stop killing
each other, but just about everyone
professes to believe that.
Nevertheless, it seems there are stu-
dent leaders on both sides of the issue
who are convinced that the Daily is out
to advance one agenda and suppress
the other. If I believed everything in
my e-mail inbox, I'd come to the con-
clusion that I must be both a Zionist
and an anti-Semite.
These accusations of bias smack of a
dangerous contemporary definition of
"media bias" as "anything with which
you do not agree." There might be an
argument, however, that I am indeed
biased - against both sides. Having
read countless pages of the unproduc-
tive, unhelpful things students on both
sides of the issue routinely say, I'm
inclined not to talk about the conflict
at all. Let the Daily discuss issues more
directly relevant to campus - Proposal
2, the Michigan Student Assembly,
heck, even University President Mary
Sue Coleman's wardrobe - just let's
not deal with Israel and Palestine. That
whole Enlightenmentidealofarational
discourse between open-minded par-
ties sincerely searching for the truth
breaks down when one adds in the ulti-
mately irrational factors of blood, reli-
gion and revenge.
But if more interested participants

in the discussion have their irratio-
nal flaws, I too have mine. I believe,
against much of my experience in nine
semesters at the University, that there
are moderate students on both sides
who genuinely want to improve dia-
logue and understanding. I suspect,
however, that these moderates are too
busy defending themselves against
criticism from more extreme mem-
bers of their communities to make
much progress.
A colleague of mine tried last week
in her column (Tongue tied on the
Middle East, 11/22/2006) to argue
that students here obsess over the
particular words used to describe the
Arab-Israeli conflict at the expense
of any meaningful conversation. She's
Jewish, and that alone was enough for
some students to criticize her other-
wise neutral plea for dialogue. Mean-
while, a Jewish student e-mailed her
There's no rational
discourse about
Israel and Palestine.
to lament that she described herself as
"pro-Israel" instead of "Zionist," prov-
ing her point about semantics displac-
ing substance. The online responses
on the Daily's website to nearly any
article that touches on Palestine or
Israel frequently devolve into crude
attacks, though I'd hope some of the
more offensive comments come from
bigoted bozos with no University
ties. Yesterday's viewpoint (A flawed
democracy, 11/27/2006) and today's
letter to the editor are one more round
in this same endless and endlessly
unproductive debate.
The animosity we see here, mind
you, is at a university thousands of
miles removed from the Middle East,
where there are no language barriers
between the two sides, where violence
is not a daily threat. As an American
without a horse in this race, I at least
have the luxury, if I choose, to decide
a rational discourse on this issue is
impossible and to ignore the whole
mess as I go about my life. Those who
live in Israel or Palestine, and those
with close ties to the region, can't do
that. Their choices, essentially, are a
productive dialogue or an endless vio-
lent conflict. I pray that they don't find
the discussion as useless as I have.
Christopher Zbrozek is a Daily
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at zbro@umich.edu.



Letters Policy

A blessing and an opportunity


are encouraged to submit letters to
Letters should include the writer's
ge and class standing or other Uni-
uld be no longer than 300 words. The
aily reserves the right to edit for
ity and accuracy. Submitted letters
property of The Michigan Daily.
be run according to timeliness, order
d the amount of space available.
uld be sent to tothedaily@umich.
can be reached at editpage.editors@


E verywhere but Michigan,
where the passage of Proposal
2 put a silver lining on an oth-
erwise dark
Day 2006 was
somber for
While it had
the author-
ity to govern
for eight years r
the House for JAMES
12), the Grand
Old Party and DICKSON
its legislative-
agenda didn't exactly set the world on
fire. Between an unpopular, expen-
sive and (some say) unnecessary war
in Iraq, excessive tax cuts during that
war and ethics scandals too numer-
ous to mention, Republicans have all
but lost the faith of the American peo-
ple. If the Republicans were a football
team, they would have fumbled on the
goal line in every game since 2002.
Enter the Democrats. In their mis-
sion to be everything the Republi-
can Party isn't, they fielded a slate
of fresh-faced candidates who were
everything the GOP is - pro-mili-
tary and anti-tax. It can hardly be
said that Democratic electoral gains
were a mandate - or even a quali-
fied endorsement - for liberalism.
No, it's more likely that 2006 was a
protest vote - against Bush, against
the "party of scandals," against any-
thing representing the status quo.
When you combine the abject failure
of the Republican Party to lead effec-

tively with the type of candidates the
Democrats used to fill their national
slate, all we really know from break-
ing down the results of Election 2006
is that Americans were unhappy
with the nation's direction, and they
blamed the GOP.
Put simply, the "Revolution of '06"
this was not, which places Democrats
in a dubious position looking forward
to the 2008 presidential election. The
Democratic Party can no longer claim
to suffer from a stifled legislative
agenda and a harsh political climate.
With Democratic majorities in both
houses, President Bush has no choice
but to play ball.
The question is whether the Demo-
cratic Party has an original agenda
and vision for the country or whether
it continue to be a bunch of outside-
looking-in minoritarians, even from
a seat of power. Will we see Hillary
Clinton (D-N.Y.) or Barack Obama
(D-Ill.) risk all-too-important poll
numbers to further the ends of their
political base this close to a presiden-
tial year? Will the Democrats' bark-
ing for change manifest itself with a
bite of social programs and universal
health care?
I don't know, and you probably
don't either. Of all the things we know
from Election 2006, it's unclear - and
probably untrue - that Americans are
in any meaningful sense more liberal
(or less conservative) than they were
two years ago. And the reason we
don't know is because the Democratic
Party has never made us choose. Lib-
eral ideas aren't even on the table, and
they won't be in the next two years.

To anyone naive enough to believe
that Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) becom-
ing Speaker of the House means the
dawn of liberal rule, I ask: What's
the Democratic position on Iraq? Gay
marriage? North Korea? The econo-
my? On all of these issues, Democrats
have had the chance to carve out and
defend liberal positions, and they
have declined to do so with any flare
or conviction. Simply being "the other
party" may have worked this election
cycle, but it cost John Kerry dearly in
2004. And it'll kill in 2008, because
Democrats will no longer be able to
claim they were denied the opportu-
nity to lead.
The Democratic Party won big in
2006 because Americans preferred
to trust the devils they didn't know
instead of the ones they did. But if
the Democrats can't figure out what
they believe, and quick - all while
handling the task of governance with
grace and, yes, compassion - then
America may be prepared to make
that same gamble again in 2008.
In this space, I've written about
Election2006 as awatershed moment.
I'll now go a step further by saying
that, for the Republicans, November
2006 will be looked upon asa blessing
in disguise. Not only are the Republi-
can Party and conservative ideas out
of the spotlight for the time being -
thank God - but Democrats will now
have their time in the sun. I know bet-
ter than to assume they'll do anything
but fry in it.
James Dickson can be reached
at davidjam@umich.edu.


Editorial Board Members: Reggie Brown, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda
Burns, Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Devika Daga, Milly Dick, James David
Dickson, Jesse Forester, Gary Graca, Jared Goldberg, Jessi Holler, Rafi
Martina, Toby Mitchell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Katherine
SeidElizabeth Stanley, John Stiglich, Neil Tambe, Rachel Wagner.

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