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December 05, 2006 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-05

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4 - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

LJbe 1i*idiigan &at
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.
-- '
The editorial below, which is being print- tured and renamed the Board for Student
ed in college newspapers across the coun- Publications. Today it serves primarily to
try today, has particular relevance to The oversee the finances of the Daily, the Michi-
Michigan Daily. On at least three occasions ganensian and the Gargoyle. Daily staff
in this newspaper's past, the board in Con- members select the Daily's editors without
trol of Student Publications interfered with interference from the board or University
the Daily's independence by refusing to administrators.
accept the staff's recommendations for edi- While we certainly won't root for USC in
tor positions - a situation strikingly simi- the Rose Bowl, we wish the staff of the Daily
lar to that which occurred recently at the Trojan the best of luck in its conflict with
University of Southern California. their university's administration and the
In 1969, the Daily's board was restruc- USC Media Board.
Defending the collegiate press
USC wrong to block editor elected by newspaper's staff

A few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and
other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse."
- U.N. Secretary General KOFI ANNAN, responding to a question about civil war in Iraq
in his last interview with the British Broadcasting Company as reported yesterday by
BBC.com. Annan will step down from his position on Dec. 31.


To naming Ann
Arbor's new high
school after Bo
Schembechler. That's
certainly a better idea
than the two sugges-
tions an official naming committee
brought before the school board,
Northridge and Skyline. One of those
is the name of a 1994 earthquake in
California, and the other, well, just
sounds silly.
To the Bowl Cham-
pionship Series
system, for fairly
obvious reasons
involving Glendale
and Gators. We're
too busy being bitter to come up with
some witty and sarcastic joke about
Jim Tressel's sweater vest to print

E t
S R ! fi


ne week ago, an administrator atcthe
University of Southern California
blocked the re-election of Zach Fox
to the postof editor in chief ofthe Daily Tro-
jan, the campus's student daily newspaper.
As college journalists, we are deeply trou-
bled by this decision. Practicing journalism
with strings attached isn't really practicing
journalism at all, and to that end, we seek
to preserve the tradition of a functionally
- and whenever possible, formally - inde-
pendent collegiate press. If campus news-
papers are to succeed in informing readers
and training reporters, they must be more
than public relations arms of universities,
and they cannot operate under the yoke of
administrators' censorship.
Fox was re-elected by the staff of the
Daily Trojan behind a vision that called
for more financial transparency and a
reorganization of the paper's senior edi-
tor positions. Yet his election required the
approval of USC's Media Board, a body of
students, faculty members and adminis-
trators that oversees the school's student-
run media operations. USC Vice President
of Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson, a
member of this board, decided not even to
present Fox to the board, describing Fox's
vision as irreconcilable with the Media
Board's outline for the role. Fox, who
had been serving as the editor this fall,
resigned from his post in protest of the
decision and threw his support behind the
Daily Trojan's editorial director, Jeremy
Beecher, who handily won a subsequent
vote on Friday and was approved by the
Media Board on Monday.
Earlier this semester, Fox repeatedly
approached the board requesting informa-
tion about the budget and finances of the
paper. Given that access to financial infor-
mation is a standard operating procedure
for nearly all our nation's college papers
- independent or not - this move denies
USC's student journalists a holistic view
of an industry that is facing major chang-
es. Although the administration has com-
missioned a task force to investigate Fox's
proposals, its reticence toward financial
transparency creates an appearance of
impropriety and leaves open questions

as to whether Fox was denied his post in
retaliation for his probing questions.
Although the Daily Trojan is not totally
fiscally independent, its daily production
historically has been student-run. Regard-
less of the formal level of independence
of the paper, a meddling administration
undermines the educational value of stu-
dent journalism. Interventions like this
one assault the core values of student
newspapers: objectivity and comprehen-
sive coverage. They compromise journal-
istic integrity and tarnish the development
of the next generation of journalists.
Our society relies on its newspapers to
check powerful individuals and institu-
tions. An administration-controlled stu-
dent paper poses the same threat to an
academic community that a state-con-
trolled press would to a nation; oversight
limits the press' ability to act as a watch-
dog and prevent misuse of authority. The
USC administration's interference with
the student press creates a chilling effect,
forcing student journalists to weigh the
risk of losing their jobs against the duty
of writinga story about or questioning the
administration. Such considerations ham-
per a paper's ability to do its job. If USC
intends to imbue any journalistic values in
its students, it must allow its students to
be journalists without fear of administra-
tive reproach.
USC's action diminishes the role of stu-
dent journalists across the nation by dem-
onstrating a lack of trust in students to
decide the structure and daily operation
of their paper. But more important, it vio-
lates the fundamental value of the press.
The university administration does a dis-
service to the whole of the USC communi-
ty, not just the Daily Trojan editors whose
decisions they rendered inconsequential.
The integrity of the collegiate press is
important to the greater integrity of the
academy, where students and professors
as well as journalists question and inves-
tigate and learn from the world around
them. Those are values that motivate us as
journalists, and we hope they are values
that the USC administration also chooses
to stand behind.

Virtual morality

y Calc IIIprofessor once told
me that mathematics would
one day solve all humanity's
problems. "Scientific or social, clean
energy to drug addiction - one day
their equations will be found and they
will be solved."
He was serious. Although seldom
stated so bluntly, this attitude under-
lies the think-
ing of many r
scientists and ;
alike. And
while it's ,
tempting to
dismiss this
notion as sci-
entific impe-
rialism, it has_
profound and TOBY
dangerous MITCHELL
results in the
real world.
When Iran terrifies the world with
its nuclear program, it's benefiting from
a Cold War-era weapons policy that
would've made my calculus professor
proud. Iran's chief ally in the United
Nations is Russia - they have lots of
nuclear material they want to sell. And
Russia, like the United States, has this
nuclear material partly because of the
Prisoner's Dilemma.
Duringthe Cold War,agroup of scien-
tists at a defense firm called the RAND
corporation devised a mathematical
game called the Prisoner's Dilemma.
In the game, if one prisoner informs on
the other, his sentence is reduced to one
year and the other's is increased to five.
If neither informs, their sentences both
stay at two years. If they both inform,
their sentences are increased to three
years apiece. Neither can know what
the other will do in advance.
Now say the two "prisoners" are the
United States and Russia, and the "in-
creased sentence" they can inflict on
each other is an atomic holocaust. The
mathematically ideal solution to the
Prisoner's Dilemma is for both prison-

ers to rat on each other. In Cold War
parlance, this was called Mutually As-
sured Destruction: Make sure the Unit-
ed States has enough nukes to annihi-
late the entire planet, Russia will do the
same, and then they're both screwed if
they attack.
In military circles of the time, this
"minimax solution" was taken to dem-
onstrate that the constant threat of
thermonuclear armageddon was pref-
erable to peaceful disarmament. Un-
fortunately for our generation, a few
important variables were left out. The
Prisoner's Dilemma assumes both pris-
oners are rational agents out for their
own self-preservation. It doesn't cover
fanatics who believe they glorify God by
killingtheir enemies and go to Paradise
if they themselves die. For the religious
nihilists of Iran, Israel and American
Christendom, the Apocalypse is actu-
ally an incentive.
That massive permanent arms in-
dustry that made the bombs? It's a
mathematical necessity. While the pol-
icy of "massive retaliation" was already
in place before the work at RAND, it's
probably safe to say the military-indus-
trial complex built to serve this policy
felt reassured by the idea that there
was a scientific basis for their liveli-
hoods. Public opinion in the 1960s, un-
educated as it was, tended not to regard
the atomic extermination of the entire
human race asa legitimate strategic op-
Such rationalized insanity is the ex-
act sort of nightmare we can expect in
a world of quantities divorced from val-
ues. This is the same System the 1960s
fought and the Machine the postmod-
ern 1990s raged against. Such a "virtual
morality" barely disguises its darker
underlying drives of power and arro-
In Eliot's brilliant phrase, to the ex-
tent we consider science an appropri-
ate substitute for ethics, we're guilty
of believing in "systems so perfect that
no one will have to be good." Like my
calculus professor, we may still hold

out hope for technological salvation
- a literal deus ex machina - but the
Second Law of Thermodynamics still
makes a pretty poor substitute for the
Golden Rule.
At the University, such lopsided logic
is particularly influential within two
professional schools: Engineering and
Business. Although mainstream stu-
dent organizations and professionalism
courses pay lip service to ethics, stu-
dents are generally encouraged to be-
lieve technological and economic prog-
ress work just fine, ifnot better,without
such mushy feel-good concerns. There
are excellent student organizations
like Net Impact or BLUElab that stu-
Thought divorced
from ethics can't
solve our problems.
dents can use to apply their education
to world problems, but they must fight
against the prevailing winds in their
The promise of scientific progress is
one of the true gifts from Western civi-
lization to the world. Hunger, renew-
able energy, AIDS - all of these can be
mitigated by reason, research and in-
telligence. But science itself will never
solve these problems without the will
that morality alone can provide.
Albert Einstein was more eloquent
than I: "The ancients knew something
we seem to have forgotten. All means
prove but a blunt instrument if they
have not behind them a living spirit.
But if the longing for the achievement
of the goal is powerfully alive within
us, then we shall not lack the strength
to find the means for reaching the goal
and for translating it into deeds.'
Toby Mitchell can be reached
at tojami@umich.edu.


The following student newspapers also have endorsed this editorial and
published it today in either their print or online editions:
The Brown Daily Herald, The Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia), The Cor-
nell Daily Sun, The Daily Californian, The Daily Evergreen (Washington State
University), The Daily Illini, The Daily Orange, The Daily Pennsylvanian, The
Daily Princetonian, The Daily Reveille (Louisiana State University)
The Daily Sundial (California State University, Northridge), The Daily Texan,
The Daily Trojan, The Harvard Crimson, The Oregon Daily Emerald, The
Stanford Daily and The Yale Daily News.
Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu

City Council's wishful thinking

The Wolverines better off to
act with class and dignity
I wonder if Michigan football coach Lloyd
Carr has ever heard the saying "Never wres-
tle with a pig because you'll both get dirty,
and only the pig will enjoy it." For the last
three weeks, Florida coach Urban Meyer and
Florida President Bernie Machen have poli-
ticked and pandered to anyone who would
listen. They have wined, complained, threat-
ened the system and even stooped to deni-
grate Michigan and the other teams with
whom they were competing for the right to
play for the national championship.

While the media did all it could to push,
pull and prod Carr into the mud of the
debate, he refused with resolve and class. He
reiterated time and again that a team's play
on the field and not its politics off it should
determine whether it received the opportu-
nity to play for a national championship.
While Sunday's Bowl Championship
Series poll called the match in favor of the
pig, I would rather see the Wolverines play
in the Rose Bowl having acted with the class
and dignity that defines the Michigan tra-
dition than have them play for a national
championship with a coach, team and uni-
versity covered in mud.
Ryan Parker
Law School

March 20, 2006 is a day that will
live in infamy for the Ann Arbor
City Council. It's the day the council
wished to give solace to landlords and
tenants throughout the city - and
quell the barrage of angry students
and MichiganStudent Assembly mem-
bers - by passing an ingenious lease-
signing ordinance. But City Council's
wishful thinking has translated only
to frustrated landlords and angrier
(not to mention more confused) stu-
dents, which has effectively led to
the collapse of lease-signing ethics
throughout Ann Arbor. Essentially,
the lease-signing ordinance has cre-
ated a city of dishonestly and decep-
tion, making lease signing even more
of a lawless game than it was last fall.
It was the hope of the City Council
as well as the many Ann Arbor resi-
dents who backed the ordinance that
last Friday would be the start of the
citywide housing frenzy. For most
student leases, Dec. 1 is the day when
90 days of the current lease period has
expired. Clearly, they thought, these
three months would give underclass-
men adequate time to get their acts
together, explore the city a bit and
decide with whom they wanted to live.
Upperclassman could use the 90-day
grace period to decide if they wanted
to stay in their homes for another
year without having to worry about
hoards of prospective tenants touring
their residences with their landlords.
Then, when December rolled around
- the start of the term paper and final
exam crunch, mind you - everyone
could begin house shopping and find a
house that meets their demands.

Well here we are, five days into
December, and if you know anyone
who hasn't signed a lease and wants
to live in a house or apartment larger
than one bedroom, you might want
to suggest he find a nice-sized box
and alley to inhabit next school year.
Thanks to landlord loopholes and
clever (or realistic) students, a lot of
the good housing filled up in October
or November.
Among the strategies to circumvent
the ordinance is a waiver landlords
give to tenants (sometimes three or
maybe six times) to indicate if they do
notwishtorenew their lease. If signed,
it allowslandlords to ignorethe 90-day
waiting period and lease their proper-
ties for the next year as soon as the
tenants hand back the waiver.
Students employed their own
way to skirt the ordinance - or at
least those students who knew Dec..
1 would not be the beginning of the
frenzy, but rather the end when they
could finally put their name on the
lease of the house they'd been scop-
ing out for months. Many students
knocked on doors and toured houses
by themselves. After finding a good
place to live, they contacted landlords
to "reserve" a lease-signing appoint-
ment for Dec. 1.
Clearly, landlords and student
tenants alike have discovered ways
around the ordinance. Whether the
City Council became aware of them or
not, these methods will only continue
in future years and become more
lucrative if nothing is changed.
Closing the loopholes in the lease-
signing ordinance would be a good

start. But above and beyond those
changes, a greater revision is needed
in the Ann Arbor lease-signing sys-
tem. It's not simply that students need
more than a 90-day period to decide
where to live. Rather, it's that the
perennial housing problems around
the city need real attention from the
City Council. Lease inflation, seedy
landlords, discrepancies around
move-out and move-in dates and
obscenely high fees for early move-in
are only a few of the noticeable prob-
lems with the housing market that
need to be addressed. If City Coun-
cil really wishes to ameliorate some
of the problems with the off-campus
housing system and work for student
interests, it should start by creating
an ordinance that more adequately
addresses the problems of the housing
market and cut down on the nonsense
students face from their landlords.
Looking at what happened this
year with lease signing, it's clear the
ordinance is begging for revision. In
the next semester, it is necessary for
City Council to act in a more pro-stu-
dent manner and communicate better
with the MSA-City Council commit-
tee. By making changes to the lease
system and voting on controversial
ordinances while students are around
to voice opinions instead of in the
summer - which is its habit - City
Council members can work on their
relationship with students and effec-
tively improve off-campus housing.
Theresa Kennelly is a LSA junior and a
Daily associate editorial page editor. She
can be reached at thenelly@umich.edu.


SHffe rEUICAL t ?E(c, THAT He I$ PeAOy rO u5E 6sPeAt?5 TO TAQ ON A
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 Mitch-
ell, Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Katherine Seid,Elizabeth Stanley, Jennifer
Sussex, John Stiglich, Neil Tambe, Rachel Wagner.

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