4 - Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *
myC diiga n :43al
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48104
KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Universities, not state, must act to address textbook issue
A s anyone who has dropped four figures in one trip to
Ulrich's can attest, college textbooks are pretty expen-
sive. Although the University and the Michigan Student
Assembly have yet to work out a method to alleviate the situation,
students at other universities may soon be in luck.
I tried to take over the schools, and there was a vote, and
they voted no. It's the craziest thing:'
- Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on the need to focus on improving Detroit's schools, possibly by opening
more charter schools, as reported yesterday by the Detroit Free Press.
A recent proposal in the Minnesota
state legislature - the most recent of sev-
eral attempts by state governments to rec-
tify the problem - would force publishers
to sell books individually rather than in
bundles and disclose when new editions of
the books will be released. While this bill
could provide limited relief for students in
Minnesota, the actions of a state govern-
ment on its own are not enough to solve the
problem with textbook prices nationwide.
If prices are to be reduced, it will require
a more unified effort by universities and
The Minnesota bill also requires profes-
sors to announce book lists well enough in
advance to give students time to find a good
price on textbooks. Other states have intro-
duced similar programs or made textbooks
a tax-free commodity. These ideas are a
good start. Students should not have to
buy bundles of textbooks that may contain
books not required in their curriculum. But
this type of problem that the majority of
students across the nation face is one that
cannot be handled by state governments.
States would have differing policies,
meaning students in some states would be
better off than others. The double standard
also creates a dilemma for publishers, who
would face different requirements in dif-
ferent states. Having federal regulations
for textbook pricing and marketing is a
better solution that at least gets beyond the
uncertainty. Still, the problem facing col-
lege students is one that can be best solved
at the university level, where the effects of
textbook pricing are felt most.
Cutting through federal bureaucracy can
take years, and even then such top-down
regulations often don't meet the concerns
of individual universities. Universities have
an obligation to their students to make
every accommodation possible to make
education accessible and affordable. Work-
ing with MSA, the University should nego-
tiate agreements with book publishers to
make changes like selling books individu-
ally and work with its professors to have
book lists available before classes begin.
Parties ranging from MSA to Lester
Monts, the University's senior vice provost
for academic affairs, have recognized the
problem, but no one has offered any signif-
icant solutions. It is up to our student gov-
ernment and the University to do more.
Individual students can do their part as
well by voicing their concerns to student
government and holdingthem accountable
to following through on their promises.
While government regulation is one
solution to textbook costs, there are bet-
ter, more expedient means of making
changes. Universities shouldn't have to be
compelled by the government to do what is
best for their students. Similarly, students
have no one to blame but themselves if they
remain silent when necessary changes are
This Saturday, hundreds of
35 miles to Detroit to do good
deeds. They will create community
gardens and help build new homes.
They'll clean up streets and make
neighborhoods. It's all part of the
Detroit Project, one of the campus's
Each day we are
more bad news
about the big city
next door. Detroit
suffers from some
of the country's
highest unemploy- MARA
ment rates .and GAY
rates, and it is the most segregated
city of its size anywhere in Ameri-
ca. Detroit may only be a short way
down I-94, but we all know it is a
world away from Ann Arbor.
Some students participate in
Detroit Day and do little else
throughout the rest of the year. But
for most members of the organiza-
tion, Detroit Day is the culmination
of a year of hard work. Its weekly
projects include tutoring, mentoring
and other services that simply would
not exist otherwise. By all respects,
the Detroit Project lives up to its
promise to "address social issues,
raise awareness and break stereo-
types about Detroit."
Still, we can do more.
Stamped boldly on the front page
of the Detroit Free Press two weeks
ago were the haunting words of
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:
"No one is coming to save us." The
words are as haunting as they are
true. Student organizations like the
Detroit Project are engaged in vital
work that needs to continue. But if
we are serious about our commit-
above the law
TO THE DAILY:
The story on the front page of
yesterday's SportsMonday about the
three discharged football players
(Three Players Off Team, 03/26/07)
was, to say the least, extremely dis-
heartening. The recent legal troubles
surrounding Wolverine football
players makes it seem like Michigan
is becoming less of an elite football
program and more of a training camp
for the Cincinnati Bengals.
So why is this such a big problem?
Because the season hasn't started
yet, there's little to no news buzzing
around in the college football world.
So when Michigan's football squad
does make headlines, and I read
about it in the Daily or on ESPN.com,
it's flat out embarrassing to have
them be about big name players get-
ting kicked off the team.
I think I speak for all students by
saying that it sucked last year when
we not only fell short of toppling
Ohio State but then went on to get
blown out at the Rose Bowl - again,
These disappointments were short
lived, however, thanks to the great
expectations we held for the season
to come. But these hopes are dim-
inshed with every new legal charge
brought against football players.
And to make it worse, these are big
name players. These are guys that
have it made - playing as starters
in one of the best programs in the
nation and choosing to screw it up.
The problem is their egos, which
give them the false sense of security
in that just because they're Lloyd's
boys they can get away with what-
ever they want.
That being said, I got news for
you players who think you're above
the rules: You're not above the law,
you're not untouchable - and nei-
ther should you be. The fact that
you're a big name on campus doesn't
give you the right to do whatever you
want. Even though there are hun-
dreds of students who walk around
campus with pot all the time, our
football players shouldn't be among
them. I grew up idolizing guys like
Buster Stanley and Tim Biakabu-
tuka. Our current players are failing
to be the positive role models those
This letter will likely fall on deaf
ears, but if there's one message that
I could somehow get across to these
ment to Detroit and its residents, we
need to find a way to organize the
communities to allow residents to do
Students who are dedicated to
the values of service and the spirit
of volunteerism should consider
the power of community organiz-
ing to create lasting change. For
inspiration, look no farther than
to presidential candidate Barack
Obama, who spent years as a com-
munity organizer on the southside
of Chicago. Obama wrote in "Why
Organize? Problems and Promise in
the Inner City," "This means bring-
ing together churches, block clubs,
parent groups and any other insti-
tutions in a given community to
pay dues, hire organizers, conduct
research, develop leadership, hold
rallies and education campaigns,
and begin drawing up plans on a
whole range of issues - jobs, edu-
cation, crime, etc. Once such a vehi-
cle is formed, it holds the power to
make politicians, agencies and cor-
porations more responsive to com-
There is a certain simplicity and
beauty to service work. If people are
hungry and we can feed them, we
should do it. If neighborhood schools
cannot produce literate youth but
University students can, we should
provide tutoring. But the limitations
of service are just as real as the bene-
fits. Service does not always demand
that we ask anyone why people are
hungry or why the schools in these
neighborhoods are failing. And it
does not necessarily demand that we
challenge the very structures that
help generate such inequality and
injustice in the first place.
It was community organizing that
was largely responsible for the Civil
Rights Movement and for the anti-
war marches and rallies of the Viet-
nam era. Rosa Parks was not simply a
domestic worker with tired feet. Her
refusal to give up her seat on the bus
was a direct action by a woman who
had been trained in acts of non-vio-
lent resistance by community orga-
nizations thatexisted long before the
first bus boycott began and Martin
Luther KingJr. had a dream.
Service work is important and
must continue. But student groups
should also be involved in identify-
ing and developing leaders within
Detroit's communities. Organizing
We must teach
Detroit to work
is, after all, not about issues but rela-
tionships. Organized communities
do nothave to trumpet the longlist of
resources they do not possess, hop-
ing the media notices just how bereft
they are and that someone takes
action. Instead, they can rely on the
resources they have.
The struggle to improve the lives
of Detroit's people can only succeed
if it utilizes the city's most valuable
and untapped resource: its people.
A successful community organizer
in Texas, Ernesto Cortes Jr., said it
best: "The issues fade, and people
lose interest in them. But what they
really care about remains: family,
dignity, justice and hope."
The Detroit Project helps meet a
very real need. But campus groups
interested in change should consider
community organizing and the infi-
nite possibilities it can offer us all.
Mara Gay can be reached
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
JEREMY DAVIDSON AND JOSH COHEN
Work for Darfur
What would you do to prevent a murder?
Would you write an e-mail? How about a let-
ter? Would you make a phone call? Would
you rake leaves for an hour?
As you think about the answers to these
questions, you should know that right now
innocent people are being systematically
murdered in Darfur, a region of Sudan.
More than 300,000 people have been killed
already, and thousands more die each day.
Women are raped and children mutilated as
the mass graves continue to grow.
In his viewpoint on the efficacy of social-
justice groups, Daily editorial board member
Neil Tambe argued that many student-led
relief efforts, while well-meaning, are often
impotent because they ignore the political
arena (GettingOutoftheIcebox, 03/08/2007).
We strongly agree with this sentiment. We
have independently developed a student ini-
tiative based on the philosophy that a truly
effective relief campaign must fight two bat-
tles: one political and one social.
Our cause is the genocide that is plaguing
Darfur. Our project is called "Will Work For
Our political campaign will feature tables
set up across campus where students will
be able to write or phone their representa-
tives, senators or other government officials.
You can find us today at the Shapiro Under-
graduate Library and other locations around
campus. Along with this letter-writing cam-
paign, we are going to raise money for relief
in Darfur, not by asking for donations, but by
encouraging people to work for it.
We are asking students to purchase a T-
shirt for $10. One hundred percent of profits
will go to the American Jewish World Ser-
vice, a leading humanitarian group provid-
ing relief in Darfur. Those who purchase
shirts will also be asked to pledge at least
one hour of service to raise an additional $10
or to contribute one hour's worth of wages
out of their paycheck to raise additional
funds for relief.
Symbolically, we believe this approach of
activelyworkingto raise funds demonstrates
our commitment to stopping the genocide.
Simultaneously, it will provide service to
our community here in Ann Arbor and our
global community in Darfur.
We hope not only to force people to take
this issue to heart, but to motivate them
enough to write a letter, buy a shirt and work
for an hour.
We know that if we succeed, we can help
bring an end to this crisis.
While the distance between Darfur and
Michigan may appear great, we have an
obligation as citizens of the world to act. As
free people, we feel we have a responsibil-
ity to pursue social justice by responding to
this growing tragedy. As human beings, we
believe that we each have an obligation to
stand up and take action to stop this horror
from continuing. We must provide tangible
relief to those suffering in Darfur.
By raising money to help provide food,
water, shelter and infrastructure to those liv-
ing in refugee camps, we can each be respon-
sible for saving lives. However, raising funds
alone will not stop the ongoing genocide. We
also have a responsibility to rally our gov-
ernment and governments around the world
to take action. On campus, we now have an
opportunity to work as a community to save
those who are suffering and fight the hatred
that is at the root of this evil.
We're ready to work for food. Are you?
Jeremy Davidson is an LSA junior.
Josh Cohen is an LSA sophomore. They
are co-chairs of Will Work for Food.
players who feel the need to break
the law it would be this: How about
you drop the drugs and focus a little
more energy on finally beating Ohio
State instead of some random stu-
dent in West-Quad?
ignored in Congress
TO THE DAILY:
Al Gore made a return to Capitol
Hill a few days ago. Unfortunately, it
seems to be a rule that the people in
charge of the most important issues
will also be the least informed about
them. When Gore got a hearing in
front of the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee to talk
about climate change, he was met
with disdain and hostility.
The committee's leading Repub-
lican, James Inhofe (Okla.), rebuked
Gore by showing a photograph of
icicles in Buffalo and exclaiming,
"How come you guys never seem to
notice it when it gets cold? Where
is global warming when you really
Sweet flying pumpkin! If that
is anything remotely near what
the majority of Americans believe
global warming is all about then
we are in deep trouble. Thankfully,
Gore had a fitting retort, "If your
baby has a fever, you go to the doc-
tor. If the doctor says you need to
intervene here, you don't say, 'Well,
I read a science fiction novel that
tells me it's not a problem.' If the
crib's on fire, you don't speculate
that the baby is flame-retardant.
You take action." Another quote for
All things considered, Gore did
well. But in a sense, I wish he wasn't
invited. I appreciate his effort to
raise understanding about global
warming, but shouldn't Congress
be getting testimony on science
from scientists and not politicians
and science fiction writers?
What should have been a sober
debate about one of the most impor-
tant issues of our time turned into a
political carnival. Why not invite
20 of the world's best climate scien-
tists instead? Oh yeah, that's right:
Our glorious representatives won't
understand techno-babble trying to
push a "liberal hoax" that will force
us to give up progress and become
cavemen again. One wonders if
there's hope for humanity. ,
Gaza pullout not all
it's cracked up to be
TO THE DAILY:
I have two comments regarding
the recent viewpoint by American
Movement for Israel (Invest in peace,
03/22/07). There is a flaw in the argu-
ment in the firstparagraph that claims
Sharon's "withdrawal" from Gaza
signals commitment to "Palestinian
self-rule." The withdrawal did show
commitment, but only to expanding
and redirecting energy to the West
Bank and ending the peace process
This was explicit in a report in
Haaretz (The Big Freeze, 10/11/05),
which quoted Sharon's advisor Dov
Weissglass: "That is the significance
of what we did. The significance is the
freezing of the political process. And
when you freeze that process you pre-
vent the establishment of a Palestinian
state and you prevent a discussion about
therefugees,theborders and Jerusalem.
Effectively, this whole package that is
it entails, has been removed from our
agenda indefinitely." So much for intent.
On thebizarre view that withdrawal
was in any sense of the word "com-
plete," I would ask if the viewpoint
authors are even aware of Israel's con-
trol of Gaza's ports, airspace, borders,
etc. Do they even care to find out? Note
also that these students make the sad
blunder of saying that because Israeli
Arabs can "vote," "worship," "speak
their minds" and serve in great govern-
ment positions. Therefore, they say, it is
libel to call Israel prejudicial.
But this isn't what anyone is talking
about when critiquing Israel's policies.
Every competent human knows that
there are notoriously subtler ways to
institutionalize discrimination, i.e.
school funding. As an illustration,
imagine someone making this miser-
ably decrepit argument about blacks,
gays or any disadvantaged group in
our country. They can "vote," "wor-
ship," "speak their minds," and serve
in greater than zero government posi-
tions. Is ittherefore libelto callthe sys-
Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns,
Sam Butler, Ben Caleca, Mike Eber, 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
Write for Daily Opinion this summer.
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