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March 28, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-28

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4A - Wednesday, March 28, 2007


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.
Fair funding
Research universities deserve funds for priceless output
Among the many controversies in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's
budget, her proposal to separate funding for research
universities from that of other public colleges is meeting
unexpected resistance. A coalition of Michigan's smaller public uni-
versities that fear the change could threaten their funding recently
chimed in. Whether or not their fears are grounded, the debate high-
lights both the vital role of all state universities and the necessity to
reward universities that contribute most to the state's economy.

We were kind of concerned about how to match up
bras and panties with victims."
- Washington state police commander Chris Tennant on the difficulty in returning more than 1,500
undergarments stolen by a serial panty bandit, as reported by CNN.com.


DIV/EST F~a 'TH_ E'rOR o 7TER v ro
~ * * Yo



Sex, God and terrorism

The state's three major research uni-
versities - Michigan, Michigan State and
Wayne State - have recently lobbied the
state legislature for separate funding than
that of other universities. They argue that
they deserve additional funding because
they play a very different role than that of
smalleruniversities. Separatingthe funding
would also, as University President Mary
Sue Coleman recently said, "set incentives
for us" and increase accountability.
The remaining public universities are
not pleased. All of them except Northern
Michigan and the University's Dearborn
and Flint campuses have joined forces as
the Education Alliance for Michigan. Their
goal is to stop the change in budget appro-
priations. They fear that splitting up the
funding will result in cuts at small univer-
sities to finance the larger universities.
The Education Alliance does make a
point worth considering. While smaller
institutions lack the research capabilities
of the largest universities, they neverthe-
less play an important role in Michigan's
educational system. The fact of the matter
is that education will be key in any econom-
ic recovery of the state. The three research
universities will not provide most of the
educated workforce; it will come from the
remaining colleges.
However, it is also clear that research

universities play a very different role than
the smaller public colleges. Not only do they
turn out large numbers of skilled graduates,
they conduct research central to an eco-
nomic recovery. They supply the cutting-
edge technologies and new perspectives
that help to drive innovation in the region.
For example, the University's Tech
Transfer program generated more than $20
million in revenue last year. Also, research
coming from the big three universities gen-
erates more than $1.3 billion annually for
the state. These programs also form much-
needed partnerships with businesses and
draw high-tech industries into the area.
Ultimately, research universities are the
"base" of the state's ideal knowledge-based
Obviously, it is important that all public
universities receive funding. All universi-
ties have vital functions and a significant
effect onthe state's economic well-being. In
an ideal world, each college would receive
all of the funding that it needed. Legislators
claim that education is important but are
often quick to cut this funding. To produce
real results, they should increase financial
support for all state universities. Resources
are limited, of course, but adjusting priori-
ties and backing up empty rhetoric can go
a long way toward ensuring all universities
get what they need.

Every year thousands of new
students at the University
face a terrible choice. They
can either keep the childhood faith
that has given them consolation and
meaning in the past or they can aban-
don it and join the world of mature,
rational thinkers
to whom religious'
belief is naive at
best. This is more
than a source of
personal angst; the
conflict between
the secular mod- _
ern world and tra-
ditional faiths is TOBY
the engine of the
world's bloodiest MITCHELL
According to studies by the Univer-
sity of California at Los Angeles and
Harvard Divinity School, only 10 per-
cent of college students are atheists
and a full 36 percent of professors at
elite universities are. The data seem
to suggest that intellectual refine-
ment and faith are opposed. And the
outlook of both committed atheists
and religious fundamentalists gives
little reason to doubt that.
On the one side is the atheist evan-
gelism of scientists like Richard
Dawkins, a biologist called "Darwin's
bulldog" for his defense of evolution
and attacks on faith. On the other side
is the proud irrationalism of religious
leaders. There doesn't look to be much
room for compromise.
It wasn't always this way. In the
early days of the Enlightenment, rea-
son and religion coexisted in relative
peace. But it didn't last. Educated
people came to suspect that religion's
pogroms, witch hunts and inquisi-
tions exposed its morality as a sham.
When today's college students go
through the personal Enlightenment
of adolescence, it's these ethnocen-
tric atrocities they question first.
Are we really to believe that the

children of Rwanda, murdered after
witnessing their own parents hacked
to death by machete, were sent to a
Hell a thousand times worse? Are the
millions of Chinese or Indians who
died without ever hearing of Jesus now
victims of torture more horrible than
those of any human dictator simply
because they were never Christians?
Hitler would envy a God so cruel.
The same goes for the bigotry of
many modern believers. Corrupt
Republicans have pandered to anti-
gay bigots, those twisted citizens
who find justification in the Bible
for their loathing of anyone with a
sexual life less joyless than theirs. Yet
when confronted, America's religious
hypocrites claim they're the real vic-
tims of anti-religious prejudice. If
this is religion, it's not surprising that
many college students abandon faith
for sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - gods
that, by contrast, actually make you
feel good.
But what does a college educa-
tion offer as a substitute? Science's
answers seem more solid, but they
give only explanations, not meanings.
To paraphrase astronomer Sir Arthur
Eddington, science brings no light
to the cave - it can only study the
shadows on the walls. Meanwhile,
attempts to practice science without
morality have led to such modern
wonders as atomic bombs and orbit-
al-satellite-laser weapons.
The humanities are no better. Rath-
er than being reduced to brain chem-
istry, religious experience is merely
a product of culture and history. In
extreme forms, this critique leads to
the narcissism of"The Secret" or "The
Da Vinci Code," where the suppressed
secret of spirituality is actually some
version of the insipid New Age maxim
"you create your own reality."
Yes, your own ego is in fact God
Perhaps the worst consequence of
the split between religion and moder-

ican scholar Ken Wilber suggested, all
modern terrorist groups, from Ameri-
can Protestant abortion-clinic bomb-
ers to Iraqimujahedeen, are motivated
by a feeling of grievance and hatred
toward a modern world that offers no
room for their ancient beliefs. Wilber
argues the secular-religious conflict
that college freshmen feel is the same
conflict that has driven religious war-
fare for centuries.
What the world desperately needs
is a new understanding between rea-
son and faith. First, religions need to
cease their hostility towards modern
life and grant the same legitimacy to
forms of faith that honor modern sci-
ence and tolerance that they grant to
the beliefs of the ancients. Second,
You can't have too
much faith, hope,
love and tolerance.

secular-modern authorities, includ-
ing universities, need to acknowledge
that the moral and spiritual core of
religion could actually be valid on its
own terms.
Without this mutual acceptance,
we're doomed to a world where edu-
cated moderns mistake their own egos
for God and religious believers pray
for the modern world to be destroyed
so God can return. This truce between
faith and reason doesn't mean intel-
lectuals need to give in to superstition
or the faithful need to swear fealty to
Mammon. After all,ifthere's one thing
that both sides can agree on, it's that
the modern world is hardly suffering
from an overabundance of faith, hope,
love and tolerance.

Journalism has lost its way


In one of his songs, James Brown, the God-
father of Soul, once referred to trouble by say-
ing, "don't want none, don't start none." The
media covering the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq must have that song on repeat, because
according to journalist Mark McDonald, the
mainstream media has stopped doing its job.
In a time when the media is supposed to step
up to the plate and be aggressive, offensive,
critical and a thorn in the government's side, it
has folded like the lawn chairs correspondents
sit on in the Iraqi heat.
Last week, McDonald, who has done mul-
tiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, gave
a lecture entitled "Embedded: The'Media at
War - Covering Iraq & Afghanistan" at the
Alumni Center. In a strongly critical assess-
ment of the mainstream media's methodol-
ogy, he challenged journalists to return to
their role in a democratic society: opening the
public's eyesto governmental wrongdoing and
mismanagement. "Why has it taken the public
so long to recognize that Iraq is chaotic?" he
asked. The culprit: the media. If the media
were doing its job, the public would have real-
ized long ago that the situation in Iraq is 10
times as bad as it seems when regurgitated
back here in print and on TV.
Embedding journalists - attaching a tele-
vision or newspaper reporter to a combat
unit to get a firsthand look at how the war is
being conducted - was initiated by the Army
during the closing phases of the Afghanistan
operation. The problem is Army and Pentagon
oversight of the program. It has been painfully
and meticulously planned to both get the sto-
ries the media wants and the stories that the
government wants published. Ifa news outlet
does not sign up to be part of the embedding
program, itgets no access to what is happening
on the ground. This way, the critically impor-
tant information is swept under the carpet,
and the government has can simply shrug it off
when it is hounded for not allowing the media
in. It can just point to embedding as the vin-
dicator, and there is something fundamentally
wrong with that.
As a result of this muzzling, the media has
become a mouthpiece instead of a nuisance.

What would be the result of publishing stories
about daily kidnappings, beheadings, troops
deserting their units and inflicting wounds on
themselves to be sent home and mistreatment
of prisoners?
The standards to which we subject news
these days is much too tight; media should
be expected to occasionally offend, that's
what makes it interesting reading. It has also
become difficult for the media to please the
Army at all. Many of McDonald's own stories
had to be changed because the Army com-
manders didn't like what he had written.
Some journalists have even learned ways to
get the stories they want without even seeing
it for themselves, McDonald said. He spoke
of television networks handing out mini-DV
camcorders to Iraqi citizens and coming back
for footage if they knew an attack had taken
place. McDonald specifically cited Fox News,
which regularly abuses its privileges: driving
around in brand new Land Rover SUVs loaded
with private security teams. One reporter even
set up his hotel room to look like an encamp-
ment and filmed his live on-air reports from
the Green Zone. If this is what's being present-
ed to the public, how is it even news anymore?
"The government is not in the truth-tell-
ing business anymore," McDonald said near
the close of his speech, "but it is an exciting
time for journalists." The Internet has cre-
ated a medium for first-hand accounts of war
in the form of solider blogs, Al-Jazeera (now
with an American bureau) and cellular phone
pictures from the world's most dangerous
areas. The media can save itself by getting
back to real, gritty reporting. Even if it means
shutting down some of the more longstand-
ing institutions. ("That means the remaining
half are terrific," McDonald says). In wake of
Abu Ghraib as well as the Walter Reed and
the Valerie Plame scandals, people continue
to point fingers.
Perhaps the media needs to take a good hard
look at itself and question why it isn't taking a
good hard look at the war.
Kevin Bunkley is an LSA junior and a
member oftthe Daily's editorial board.

Toby Mitchell can be reached
at tojami@umich.edu.


Daily needs more
health coverage
I was greatly impressedby Arikia
Millikan's recent Statement essay
on HPV (Comingto terms with HPV,
03/21/07). It was fresh, informative
and relevant to our modern college
experience. The Daily should have
more coverage of college health
issues. I think everyone at the Uni-
versity could benefit from knowing
more about the pending legislation
advocating mandatory HPV vacci-
Mary Hennessey
LSA junior
Lorch Hall needs a
Walking around campus, I can-
not help but notice construction and
renovation around every corner.
One building that deserves more
attention is Lorch Hall. Many alter-
ations could be made to improve the
building, and perhaps a full reno-
vation will happen someday. In the
meantime, installing new seats in
Askwith Auditorium is a compara-
tively minor change that will make
a major difference.

As an economics concentrator I
have spent my fair share of time in
Askwith Auditorium sinking down
to the metal in my cushion-less seat
and readinggraffitionmyloose pull-
out desk. In the Winter 2006/2007
edition of MichEcon News, Depart-
ment of Economics Chair Matthew
Shapiro states that "over half of all
undergraduates take an economics
course while at Michigan." Most
if not all of these students will use
Askwith Auditorium at least once.
Considering the vast number of
students the auditorium serves, the
University should make it a priority
to upgrade its seating. This change
is nowhere close to a full renovation,
but its impact will be felt (literally)
by many students throughout the
University and will undoubtedly
improve their academic experience.
Dan Roberts
LSA junior
Dance marathon
I wonder if the reporter who wrote
about Dance Marathon in Monday's
Daily even went to the right place this
weekend (After10years, dancegoes on,
03/26/07). Most of what she reported
certainly did not happen at the Dance
Marathon I attended.
No one jumped out of a cake, as was

reported. The picture included in the
article appears to be of the rave that
occurred in the middle of the night.
Not only is it of extremely poor qual-
ity, but it is entirely unrepresentative
of what the event actually is. It's not
just a dance party. Given that the mar-
athon is 30 hours long, there were a
variety of other things that could have
been reported on.
The reporter could have talked
about the love in the building. Morale
captains and others worked tirelessly
to keep our dancers going. Exhausted
dancers received massages as they
stood for the kids we support. The
Dance Marathon families took the
stage at all hours of the day and night
to thank the dancers and show them
what their work does. The dancers
give these children a chance at life,
and all the Daily found worth men-
tioning was the ban on caffeine.
If she had come to closing ceremo-
nies, the reporter would have seen
10 people on stage, one from each of
the past 10 years, talking about what
Dance Marathon means to them. She
would have heard a representative
from Apple call us the best student
organization on campus. She would
have heard a mom thank us for her
son's life. And maybe she would have
cried like everyone else in the build-
ing - everyone who stood for 30 hours
when she obviously couldn't stay for
30 minutes.
Amanda McAllister
LSA senior



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



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