4 - Tuesday, March 6, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com E
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
413 E. Huron St.
*tAnn Arbor, MI 48104
There are huge, huge health risks and people should
rightly be concerned about this."
- Researcher Becky Price of GeneWatch UK on genetically-modified rice produced in America that contains human
proteins similar to those in breast milk and saliva, as reported yesterday by the Daily Mail.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
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.
Research universities deserve extra funding from state
Given Michigan's economic woes, now might not seem
like the best time for the state's three research universi-
ties to ask the legislature for special treatment. Yet the
presidents of the University of Michigan, Michigan State Univer-
sity and Wayne State University did just that last week. They made
their case to the state House appropriations subcommittee for
funding the state's three research universities separately from its
other 12 public universities. Their research plays a unique role in
the economic future of our state, and though it may seem unfair,
they deserve to be treated accordingly.
We're smarter than this
The state's legislators, many of whom
lack experience thanks to term limits, are
bound by the state constitution to pass a
balanced budget every year. Crippled by a
weak state economy and a structural bud-
get deficit, the state's budget in four of the
past five years has included cuts to higher
education appropriations. Gov. Jennifer
Granholm's proposed budget contains
such a funding mechanism which might
shield these three universities from these
kinds of appropriations cuts.
Cutting higher education funding inevi-
tably leads universities to make up the
difference with tuition and fee increases,
hurting students across the state. But slic-
ing away state support for universities
particularly hurts the research institu-
tions. These three universities receive 95
percent of the state's spending on research
and development and are the only schools
in the state that grant medical degrees and
The environment these schools cre-
ate is essential to attracting the knowl-
edge-based and high-tech jobs that will
make Michigan competitive in the global
economy, even as its manufacturing base
continues to erode. University President
Mary Sue Coleman made an apt analogy
before the subcommittee to North Car-
olina's famed research triangle, where a
long-term commitment by that state to its
research universities eventually grew into
an economic base far more reliable than
textile mills - or auto plants.
Funding the state's research universi-
ties separately would not guarantee that
they're spared from further funding cuts.
It would, however, ensure that the gover-
nor and the state legislature would have to
think about what they were doing before
settling on future cuts. Separate funding
would also protect the state's research
institutions against more harebrained
funding schemes. One such flawed propos-
al includes making the core of state appro-
priations an equal per-pupil grant to each
state university. That would likely benefit
schools like Central Michigan University
and Grand Valley State University at the
expense of the research universities.
The state of Michigan is facing a bud-
get deficit for the next year of more than
$900 million, and Granholm's proposal to
offset cuts with a service tax has received
a cool reception in the legislature. The
state doesn't face many easy choices these
days, but providing separate funding for
the research universities is a simple one. At
worst, doingso would add alayer of account-
ability to further cuts to these vital institu-
tions. At best, a separate funding stream
might be the start of a greater commitment
by the state to the research universities that
are crucial to its economic future.
Did you know that cirrus clouds
are found at higher altitudes
than stratus clouds? No? Then
you're an idiot.
Sorry, I just need to calm down.
Watching a couple of episodes of Fox's
newgame show "Are You Smarter than
a 5th Grader?" has made me in aggres-
and more than a
little bratty - kind
of like I was in, well,
The point of the
show, which pre-
miered last week to
an unprecedented IMRAN
enough - one adult SYED
answer questions taken from first- to
fifth-grade classes for a chance to win
up to $1 million.
Not bad, right? I mean what sort of
UCLA history major with a law degree
wouldn't know that Andrew Johnson
was the first American president ever
to be impeached? The show's firstcon-
testant, for one.
Go ahead, snicker and mock - that's
what Fox wants you to do. That's what
the five kids in the "classroom" on the
set (who contestants can cheat from,
of course) did. See those grown-ups
squirm when asked grade school ques-
tions and laugh it up.
The show is the latest in Fox's never-
ending quest to exploit the insecurities
of unwitting good sports for gargan-
tuan profits and ratings (see "American
Idol"). The only thing worse than not
knowing that Columbus Day is in Octo-
ber (veryuseful life information, by the
way), is not knowing it on TV.
Sure, the premise of the show, one
that succeeds only by filtering out the
adults who could answer those ques-
tions, is mind-numbingly banal. Yet it
pains me to know that the show pre-
miered last Tuesday with the high-
est ratings of any series premiere in
the past nine years and even almost
matched the viewership of ratings
behemoth "American Idol."
No, I'm not bitter. As a fiend for use-
less facts, I have crammed more knowl-
edge non sequiturs in my mind than
anyone can imagine. Even the cold,
exploitive motive behind the show isn't
the main concern.
What truly bothers me is that some-
thing like knowing what REM stands
for is being passed off as an indica-
tor of intelligence. And one viable
enough that those who fail are subject
to humiliation by a groaning audience
and tittering pre-teens.
I'm glad that chubby little Kyle can
regurgitate the answers pounded into
his head by the abrasive gurgling char-
acteristic of an American grade-school
education. I'm just not sure he or any-
one else should be so thrilled about it.
Could Kyle tell me what parts of
the brain are especially active in REM
sleep and what the physiological impli-
cations are of this activity? No, but he
did scribble "rapid eye movement"
with a smug gleam in his eye before
the question was even out of host Jeff
Yes, it does look pretty bad when an
adult American doesn'tknow that Mer-
cury is the planet closest to the sun. But
the reaction to this gaffe misses the
point. The average fifth-grader knows
the answer because it was on his last
exam and his mom made him memo-
rize it by dangling an Xbox in exchange
for acing his science quiz. Two months
from now - let alone two decades
- he'll be just as clueless as that poor
woman viewers laughed at during the
The state of the adult American
intellect is indeed troubling. A far cry
from being able to find places like Iraq
or Afghanistan on a map, about 50 per-
cent of Americans can't even locate the
state of New York. But the reason for
these shortcomings is actually rooted
in the same meaningless knowledge
the kids on the show flaunt before the
Our parents were also made to
memorize things like the workings of
the Dewey decimal system, but such
pointless information is easily forgot-
ten, because it serves no purpose. No
wonder so many kids and adults have
lost faith in American schools: How
is knowing what constellation the Big
Dipper belongs to ever going to help
While being well-read in the con-
structs that surround us is preferable,
and indeed the mark of a vested intel-
lect, let's not for a moment confuse
knowledge with intelligence. It is
important to teach facts that consti-
tute common knowledge, but we must
always ensurethatsuch teachingserves
Would you be
a purpose in further, more advanced
learning: This country's grade schools
continue to occupy kids with a per-
petual game of Trivial Pursuit, leaving
relevant, meaningful learning to high
school or college. But by that time, it's
often too late: kids are left unwilling or
unable to engage sophisticated intel-
But perhaps we can take some solace
ers can't match third graders from
some other nations in math and read-
ing proficiency, they'll always be able to
tellyou that the ship the Pilgrims sailed
on was called the Mayflower.
What more could an employer pos-
Imran Syed is the editorial
page editor. He can be reached
Don't be afraid to challenge feminism
THE SWEATFREE COALITION
U' should go sweatfree
The University Board of Regents will con-
vene for its monthly meeting on March 15.
Many student organizations will be present to
ask the regents to take steps that reaffirm the
University's position as the "leader and best."
These groups, calling themselves Campus
Unite!, are disenchanted with the University's
unproven commitment to its own principles.
They are disappointed with its lackluster use
of renewable energy, flimsy commitment to
diversity, investment in military contractors,
unfair treatment of campus workers and pos-
sible removal of same-sex partner benefits.
These are all important issues related to the
manner in which the student body is involved
in the University's structure.
March 15 also happens to be the deadline
for adoption of the Designated Suppliers Pro-.
gram presented to the administration by the
Sweatfree Coalition. The Sweatfree Coalition
is an amalgam of student groups that wish
to see the University take a firm and definite
stance against the sweatshop production of
apparel bearing the University logo.
The University has stalled adoption of the
DSP for almost two years. University Presi-
dent Mary Sue Coleman was introduced to the
program in the fall of 2005, but she promptly
sent it to a committee where it has remained
ever since. However, while the DSP has been
tied up at the University, more than 30 other
major universities have joined the program,
including Duke, Georgetown, Columbia and
Wisconsin. These admirable institutions
are changing and molding the DSP so that it
addresses concerns brought forth by admin-
istrations and apparel producers.
Our university deserves to have input in
this process, and we have a responsibility to
share the expertise of our talent-rich insti-
tution. Yet the committee here has still not
offered any alternative to more successfully
enforce our code of conduct. While students
have spent precious time being patient, there
is already a national program that is doing
Failing to take a stand against sweatshops
is not the only consequence of Coleman's
inaction. Since the proposal has been pre-
sented to her, several factories have been
shut down, workers have been fired, unions
disbanded and rights squelched. Examples
of unfair treatment can be found in factories
such as Rising Sun in Kenya, Gildan Active-
ware in Honduras, Hermosa in El Salvador
and Chong Won in the Philippines. The Uni-
versity could have prevented all these things
by adopting the DSP several semesters ago.
For instance, less than two weeks ago, a
factory in the Dominican Republic called
BJ&B was forced to close down. This was
one of the few apparel factories allowed to
unionize, thanks to the University's Code
of Conduct. Unfortunately, after the work-
ers formed a union, Nike decided that BJ&B
lacked the resources to compete globally.
The corporation moved its orders to Asia,
where labor is considerably cheaper because
workers have no unions. This situation illus-
trates the need for a program that rewards,
not punishes, unionization and the guaran-
tee of worker's rights. If we are to fight the
race to the bottom, we must first compensate
factories that give human life priority. This
is the goal of the DSP.
On March 15, we will ask the University
why it continues to shirk its responsibilities
to workers who produce apparel bearing the
Block M. We intend to inform the regents of
the problems workers are facing under the
status quo. We will then requestthat Coleman
endorse the DSP. In this way, our university
will prove to students, alumni and the rest of
the campus community that it is willing to
work to end the horrors of sweatshop labor.
Joining the DSP means joining a national
coalition of universities willing to take a stand
against unethical labor practices.
The University must support and sign onto
the DSP, the only solution to the problem of
sweatshop production of collegiate apparel.
We ask that the students of this university
- those who care about how and where their
team apparel is made - join Campus Unite!
on March 15. Change is possible only with
Aria Everts is an LSA junior and member of
Students Organizing for Labor and Economic
Equality. Kelly Simmons is an LSA junior and
member of Students for a Democratic Society.
Art Reyes is an LSA junior and member of the
MSA Peace and Justice Commission. The authors
are all members of the Sweatfree Coalition.
As Angell Hall first grants me
escape from the harsh Ann Arbor
wind, Iam immediately subjected to
a barrage of flyers that are extreme
even by collegiate standards of
political correctness. They read:
"If you do one or more of the fol-
... use words like 'pimp' and 'play-
er' to praise sexually exploitative
... blame women who have experi-
enced sexual assault for indecency,
stupidityfor 'askingfor it'
... think 'no' means 'yes'
... excuse sexual violence because
'men can't control themselves'
YOU ARE CONTRIBUTING TO
The F-Word is the campus group
responsible for these green flyers
that have violated our vision. Its
motto - "Feminism: don't be afraid
to use it!" - tells you all need to
know about its world view. From
its extreme rhetoric consisting of
strawman arguments to its will-
ingness to place women in a victim
role, the group really hasn't accom-
plished anything exceptional or
The F-Word's green flyer cam-
paign was more shocking for its
reliance on classic feminist tropes
than for anything actually writ-
ten on them. Although the group
claims to be ideologically neutral
and to focus on "having open dia-
logues about issues of gender, race,
class and sexuality," its propaganda
deserve prof"s criticism
TO THE DAILY:
I was recently made aware of
Professor Edward Domino's letter
to the editor (With obscenity, Wal-
green Center play fails to live up to
its potential, 02/23/07) by a fellow
theatre student. There are many
words I could chose to describe
Professor Domino's reaction to the
play "Shopping & F**king," but I
believe ignorant is the most appro-
There are two facts that.Domi-
does anything but that. The big
story on this campus is the apathy
among the student body, not its
extremism. I thought we'd moved
past the point of shock-and-awe
and self-righteous finger-wagging.
I thought wrong.
Ideally, college is the time when
we learn how to think, picking up
practical skills. Ideally. But the F-
Word seems far more concerned
with telling us all what to think
and what we can and cannot say.
Much like the boy who cried wolf,
feminist thought-police and alarm-
ist rhetoric only drive people away
from understanding the occasional
good points feminists make.
In their laudable desire to elimi-
nate rape, campus feminists have'
created a climate of fear that doesn't
acknowledge that no one supports
rape besides rapists. To, shift the
blame fromrapists tosome supposed
rape culture is an act of magic, not
The word "rape" bespeaks that
we are not talking about normal,
consensual intercourse. Our legal
system punishes rape - and its
statutory cousin - severely, as it
should. Rapists are reviled and
sexual offenders are required to
identify themselves to local authori-
ties whenever they move to a new
neighborhood. Simply put, there is
no amen corner for rape or rapists
anywhere, yet some feminists still
try to convince us otherwise.
Even if all the components of the
F-Word's Michigan Against Vio-
lence campaign were enacted, they
would do little to eliminate sexual
violence. "Inspiring the entire
campus to actively stand against
violence against women" by pur-
chasing white ribbons, convenient-
ly sold by the F-Word, is one thing.
Creating an outlet for men to volun-
teer their time and energy to walk-
ing or driving endangered students
home late at night is another.
"Envisioning a campus where
women can walk freely, safely, and
confidently" is different from peti-
tioning Ann Arbor to install more
lighting - not just near campus, but
all over the city. "Demanding that
sexual harassment, assault, rape,
relationship violence must end now"
is something mostofus agree onbut
that agreement means little without
concrete steps we can take.
It takes sacrifice to turn atti-
tudes into action. Wearing a ribbon
doesn't make you any more com-
mitted to stopping rape than wear-
ing a cross makes you a Christian.
Let's hope that the F-Word's
worthy cause will be coupled with
practical guidance rather than fear.
It's in our interest to live free of
sexual or any other violence. Sadly,
it seems the F-Word would rather
scare us into wearing ribbons than
educate us as to the constructive
roles we can all play in creating
a safer campus. For that reason,
the green flyers and the guilt trip
they're supposed to inspire should
James Dickson is an LSA
senior and a Daily columnist.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
no ought to know. First, Basement
Arts is an entirely student run
group. The faculty of the Theatre
and Drama Department is not asso-
ciated with any production put on
by Basement Arts - unless the play
is also a senior directing thesis like
"Life is a Dream," which performed
the weekend before "Shopping &
"Shopping and F**king" was not
a senior directing thesis. To be per-
fectly clear, the most professors
involve themselves with a Basement
Arts production is by simply attend-
ing. Second, it is a general rule in
theatre not to alter the playwright's
words. Whether or not it is for the
purpose of censorship, editing a
script alters the author's meaning.
Not only is editing a script illegal,
but also it is disrespectful.
Domino has the right to speak
his mind. It is fine if he did not
enjoy this production of "Shopping
and F**king." That is his opinion.
But by encouraging censorship and
blaming the faculty of the Theatre
and Drama Department, he steps
beyond mere criticism. By placing
blame and furthermore sending a
letter to The Michigan Daily, he is
making an attack.
Theater and Drama sophomore
ERIN RUSSELL |
I'M SURE MOST OF
JUNKIES OUT THERE
ARE TIRED OF
MOST OF THEM ARE
IT'S TIME FOR
BUT UNTIL THAT
READ? MY BLOG
ON WHY I THINK
Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler,
Ben Caleca, Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Emmarie Huetteman, Toby Mitchell,
Rajiv Prabhakar, David Russell, Gavin Stern, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek
. . . . . . . . . .