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April 11, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-11

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4A - Wednesday, April 11, 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


SO ?
I told you so."
- Larry Birkhead after DNA results proved that he is the father of Anna
Nicole Smith's daughter, as reported Tuesday by CNN.



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.
FRI T E D10t
Corrupting financial aid
Scandals highlight the need for more transparency
While students have long suspected that loan companies
and financial aid departments strike it rich at their
expense, emerging evidence is proving that sentiment
to be more than baseless paranoia. Recently revealed scandals impli-
cate college financial aid officers, Department of Education staffers
and college financial aid departments in unfair and possibly illegal
practices. These scandals raise serious concerns about the integrity
of financial aid institutions at a time when rising tuition costs have
more and more students seeking loans.,

The scandals began several months ago
when Nelnet, a student loan company, drew
scrutiny from Congress and the media after
receiving $278 million in subsidies that it
was not unqualified for. Further inquiry into
the company found that it had strong ties to
the Department of Education as well as the
financial aid departments at several univer-
sities. More surprisingly, many universi-
ties - including Wayne State University in
Detroit - have their financial aid consulting
done by private loan companies with their
own interests to serve.
What happens when financial aid depart-
ments are outsourced to private loan com-
panies is shady at best. Students call the
financial aid office for advice, only to be con-
nected unknowingly with representatives at
private lenders. These companies can easily
lead naive students into unfavorable loans
because students think they're speaking to a
person who is on their side. It's the rich steal-
ing from the poor in the most literal way.
Unfortunately, the story does not end
there. At Columbia University, the Univer-
sity of Texas and the University of Southern
California, high-level aid officers have been
holding significant amounts of stock in Stu-
dent Loan Xpress, a "preferred len'der" at all
three universities. Each department actively
promotes these companies, to the profit of
aid officers. For example, David Charlow,
executive director of financial aid at Colum-
bia, sold his stock options in Student Loan
Xpress for more than $100,000, The New
York Times reported.

This financial relationship between those
in positions of power and lendingcompanies
extends to the Department of Education as
well. Matteo Fontana, a general manager in
the Office of Federal Student Aid, is also a
big investor in Student Loan Xpress and sold
his stock in 2003 for more than $100,000,
according to the Times.
These incidents paint a disturbing pic-
ture of the financial aid system throughout
the country. Whether or not the transgres-
sions were illegal, they represent a blatant
conflict of interest between financial aid
departments and the private lenders they
promote. That these cases came from prom-
inent universities and federal employees
suggests that these close relationships are
not especially rare. In fact, it is common for
lenders to market themselves to financial aid
departments and to provide their employees
with benefits.
As tuition goes up nationwide and more
students seek loans, they need to be assured
that they are not being hoodwinked by
their own financial aid office. Students
ought to be able to trust the information
that financial aid departments supply.
For this to happen, the relationships that
financial aid departments have with lend-
ers, even at the University, need to be made
more transparent with the implementation
of strict codes of conduct for financial aid
employees and offices.
Students should be getting what is best for
them - not what enriches their universities,
loan advisors or lenders.

n 2004, at the Cary Christian
School in North Carolina, South-
ern history was taught from a
pamphlet titled "Southern Slavery: As
it Was." This pamphlet asserted that
"slavery was a relationship based on
mutual affection and confidence" and
that the Bible "requires a respectful
and submissive demeanor from Chris-
tian slaves." A stu-
dent defended the
school on a blog by
saying: "The school r
always believes in
showing both sides
of an issue."
By that rationale,
the Ku Klux Klan
now demands plu- TOBY
ralistic tolerance MITCHELL
and respect.
According to the
Arizona Daily Star, a pharmacist in
Tucson refused to dispense the morn-
ing-after pill to a rape victim in 2005
"because of religious and moral objec-
tions." When another pharmacist also
refused to dispense emergency contra-
ception, an executive initially claimed
that her decision on the basis of her
religion was protected under civil
rights legislation.
Apparently, we should honor your
beliefs - even if you think that the
woman who wants the pill is a slut that
must have asked for it.
It's a simple game to play. Anyone
who doesn't agree with your own prej-
udices is biased. A respondent to my
recent column on reason and faith (Sex,
God and terrorism, 03/28/07) stated: "I
love when atheists call Christians big-
ots because we believe that the homo-
sexual lifestyle is wrong." Even though
gays are demonized, persecuted and
occasionally murdered all across the
country, it's you who is the real vic-
tim - of anti-Christian bias. Claiming
you're a victim means never having to
say you're sorry.
This Orwellian inversion of "bias"
is nothing new. The far Left has been
excusing its biases the same way for
more than 30 years. In 1978, leftist intel-
lectual Michel Foucault argued that the
age of consent should be repealed: "We
may even agree that it was (the child)

whoseducedthe adult."Ifthekid'soffer-
ing, why not go for it? How can society
presume tojudge the pedophile?
Foucault's compatriot Jacques Der-
rida even defended a Nazi propagan-
dist. When it was discovered that his
friend Paul de Man had written nearly
200 anti-Semitic articles for a pro-
Nazi newspaper during World War
II, Derrida retorted that "to judge, to
condemn the work or the man ... is to
reproduce the exterminating gesture
which one accuses de Man of not hav-
ing armed himself against sooner." In
plain language, the person who judges
the Nazi is the one who really commit-
ted the Holocaust.
These are extreme examples, but
they're part of a broader pattern. Think
gangsta rap is misogynistic and dumb?
You're probably racist. Think tradition-
al Islam's stance on gays and women's
rights is barbaric? Why can't you toler-
ate their beliefs? Think "Lady Lumps"
makes women look like vapor-brained
bimbos? Fergie's just expressing power
There's no clearer example of eth-
nocentric groups claiming they're
victims of prejudice than the campus
groups engaged in debate over the
Mideast conflict. Both sides write to
the Daily claiming to want a mutually
respectful dialogue. Then they list
the ways the other side has failed to
listen and demandtheir own perspec-
tive be recognized as correct before
any compromise is possible. They end
by arguing their right to defend their
tribe at all costs; including carpet
bombings or suicide attacks. Forget
the cycle of violence - this is the vor-
tex of hypocrisy.
Conservatives simply extended this
logic to bigots.
Conservative political correctness
has been devastatingly effective. In a
recent Zogby poll, fully 83 percent of
the public believes the media is biased,
and 64 percent still believe that bias is
liberal. Mandatory school prayer isn't
religious indoctrination to some - it's
actually religious freedom. Fox News
isn't a Republican propaganda opera-
tion - it's actually countering liberal
media bias. The president isn't lying
- he's just expressing sincere counter-

All "compassionate conservatives"
needed to do was to adopt the pose
of the victim, and the American Left
caved. After decades of using no more
than accusations of bias to prove their
moral superiority, liberals lost the abil-
ity to argue from evidence or convince
anyone who didn't already share their
beliefs. Now instead of opposing the
war in Iraq, the peace movement would
rather fight over whether Palestinians
or Israelis are more oppressed.
of course, I could be wrong. As
many critics have told me, my ownbias
infects this column. I believe mutual
understanding is better than bigotry
and equality is better than privilege.
Maybe I'm illiberal for thinking that
we ought to marginalize a govern-
Are bigots really
oppressed victims
of society?
ment gleefully engaged in torture, the
demonization of political opposition
and the unilateral expansion of empire.
When the world is wondering why the
American left is silent, I should prob-
ably tell people that we can't unduly
judge our opponents' perspective.
Liberals need to stop banging the
drum for their own petty political-
cultural identities and unite against
politically correct bigotry. We are
black or white, gay or straight, Jew-
ish, Christian or Muslim. But we are
human first. Without this fundamen-
tal unity, we are nothing more than
quarrelling tribes, overwhelmed by
our old enemies of hatred and fear in
a battle that was lost before it began.
With this unity, we are strong, buoyed
by that same force which carried
our forebears, that current of evolu-
tion which no narrow-mindedness
can divert to serve its own bleak and
backwards dreams of purity without
Toby Mitchell can be reached
at tojami@umich.edu.


n once was a car named the Prus There e Ford £ixpedrcian
Now I m savg a heapy byg trucks
Dntyou r e s sou cul*blta*orican


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, David Russell, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek


America remains blind
to real global issues
In critical situations, America has
risen to the occasion time and time
again. More telling of a nation's fortitude
is its ability to foresee trouble before
drastic action is needed. In times of rela-
tive prosperity, it may be all too human
to rest on our collective laurels. The
truth is that danger may be just around
the corner, but we cannot recognize it or
we lack the fortitude to engage it.
I find it almost farcical when I go to
CNN.com and see two adjacent head-
lines: "103 dead in suicide attack in
Iraq" and "Britney Spears divorces
Kevin Federline." I wonder how the hit
counts for the two articles compare.
America loves its entertainment, but
this is an immediate indictment of the
misappropriated priorities of Ameri-
cans. Humanitarian crises are occur-
ring throughout the world, from civil
wars to malaria to the AIDS pandemic.
How much could we help these blighted
peoples if we took the money we use to
text message our votes for "American
Idol" and put it toward anti-retroviral
Beyond the glaring humanitarian
need, this sort of action would combat
the severe damage America has done
in the world recently. Many perceive
America as a unilateral imperialist that
is always looking out for itself. Exam-
ples like the war in Iraq and America's
objections to the Kyoto Protocol drive
the point home. America's ideals of
free markets, democracy and the power
of entrepreneurial are valid and have
survived competing ideologies. But the
survival of these ideas rests on our con-
science as a nation, especially our abil-
ity to see the human factor around us.
In a global community, we cannot think
of only ourselves.
Disenfranchisement, economic inse-
curity and governmental instability
foment terrorism, suicide bombers and

extremism that can fundamentally
undermine our way of life. We must act
in our current prosperity to help people
in places like Africa and Afghanistan by
supporting dialogue with rogue states
and utilizing our economic strength
to show the wisdom of American cul-
ture. Terrorism and radical ideas will
continue to exist and grow when basic
human needs are ignored. We are writ-
ing our own future every moment with
decisions like taking poodles to get
$200 pedicures instead of donating that
money to a humanitarian cause.
Patrick Wycihowski
LSA senior
Certified construction is
In response to Susan Wineberg's
letter last week (Construction waste
is unnecessary pollution in green Ann
Arbor, 04/04/2007), I would like to say
that while her point of view is valid, it is
not necessarily based on all of the facts
of the project. While I have no personal
view on whether the Anberay apart-
ment complex should be demolished,
as a civil engineer I do know that how
"green" a demolition is depends on the
contractor and the design plans.
Having read that there was a plan
to install a vegetated green roof on the
new Zaragon Place, I am led to think
that some sort of sustainable design is
going to be incorporated into the build-
ing. This also leads me to believe that
Zaragon will try to obtain a Leadership
in Energy and Environmental Design
certification on the building, because it
would be silly to install a green roof and
not obtain that certification.
With that said, LEED designs receive
their certificate from categories like
building reuse, construction waste man-
agement and resource reuse that would
help make this new building green. So
people shouldn't jump on the bandwag-

on that demolishing this old building is a
bad idea. It is probably run down beyond
the point where it would be economi-
cally feasible to repair, and it is probably
wasting energy because of its 80-year-
old design. A new sustainable building is
much better for the environment.
If Zaragon is not proposing a sustain-
able building, then that is the fight that
should be made because all new con-
struction in Ann Arbor should be LEED
Dave Pratt
SOLE'S struggle should
start at the 'U' itself

many University employees receive
benefits and how many do not.
During this time, my department
also had incidents in which signed time
sheets were altered. Some staff mem-
bers made more than their signed time
sheets indicated, others were paid when
they were not present at work and an
evaluation process was implemented
that harassed uncooperative employees
through unfavorable evaluations.
Each situation I refer to in this letter
was documented and submitted to the
Office of University Audits. In addition,
this documentation was submitted to the
Department of Public Safety, which, after
a six-week investigation, concluded that
I should talk about the situation with the
same supervisors who were cited in the
report. Moreover, the information sub-
mitted to the Office of University Audits

TO THE DAILY: and DPS was then
I commend Students Organizing for and concealment of
Labor Equality for its stance in favor of Meanwhile, my
fair and decent work conditions for the was traveling toc
employees of companies doing business the world. New off
with the University. However, as the screen TV and carp
saying goes, charity begins at home. in his office. Also, a
As an employee of the University, I plete with running
have been subjected to a hostile work steel mini refrigera
environment for more than a one-year - was built in the d
period. Staff members have been laid-off As I've said, I bel
under curious conditions, rehired as tem- is a fair and worthw
porary employees without benefits and until the Universit
then laid-off again. Whenthe department its employees in a
rehired workers for the second time,those manner, I would no
employees who previously questioned this of the compan
departmental policies and procedures ness with.
were not called back to work again.
When I was rehired as a temporary Robert Overmyer
employee without benefits, I asked that University staff
my benefits be restored. I was told that
would not be possible because of Uni-
versity policy. When I asked for a list of Obama is re
employees whose status was changed
from"permanent"to"temporary"under ofthe averac
University policy, a representative from
the Freedom of Information Office told TO THE DAILY:
me that no such list existed. However, Sen. Barack Ob
this list probably does exist. One could about $25 million i
only imagine how difficult the ongoing this year in his bid
negotiations between MCare and Blue presidentialnomin
Cross would be without knowing how extraordinary, but t

used for retaliation
department head
conferences around
ice furniture, a flat-
eting were installed
new kitchen - com-
g water, a stainless-
tor and a dishwasher
lirector's office.
ieve SOLE's struggle
hile cause. However,
y consistently treats
fair and respectful
I expect it to require
ies that it does busi-
ge American
ama (D-Ill.) raised
n the first quarter of
I for the Democratic
ation. That amount is
the story behind that

number is even more extraordinary.
At first glance, the $25 million may
seem like nothing more than a testa-
ment to the fundraising abilities of the
junior senator from Illinois. Upon clos-
er investigation, this enormous amount
sheds light on the broad appeal that
Obama has around the country.
The most astonishing part of his
fundraising figures was not the money
he raised, but the manner in which he
raised it: Obama received donations
from more than 100,000 donors. This is
double the number of donors who con-
tributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-
N.Y.) $26 million fundraising effort.
This ability to win support from the
average person is the cornerstone of
Obama's campaign. He is running a
race that focuses on the voter, and more
importantly, the individual person.
Another aspect that makes Obama's
numbers noteworthy is his campaign's
policy of not accepting money from lob-
byists or political action committees.
This policy is an effort to prevent cor-
ruption and promote politician account-
ability, two areas in which this country
desperately needs improvement. Obama
does not want to accept extremely large
sums of money from relatively small
groups who only have their own inter-
ests in mind. He would rather get his
support from those whom he would
like to work for in 2008 and beyond: the
American people.
Through thousands of donations of
amounts as small as $5, Obama has been
able to remain near the top in a record-
breakingcycle. The University chapter of
Students for Obama would like to encour-
age all those who want to see a people-
powered politician in the White House
to stand behind Obama in these early
months by donating money and support.
David Leapheart
LSA freshman
Kyle Sutton
LSA sophomore
Communications chair of the University
chapter of Students for Obama



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