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September 14, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-14

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4A - Friday, September 14, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'1

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

a

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

IMRAN SYED
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

A Guantanamo Berkeley? It's ridiculous."
- American Indian activist Zachary Running Wolf denouncing the construction of a fence around historic trees that
the University of California at Berkeley plans to cut down to make way for a new athletic facility. Activists opposed to
Berkeley's plans have been holed up in the trees for several months, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
The mirage of distribution

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.
Trivial pursu it
Remotes serve no new purpose, ignore real issue
There is a new technology being employed in some lec-
tures around campus that aims at improving lecture
attendance and involvement by tying in certain incen-
tives - such as a good chunk of your overall grade. These devices
seem to be lecturers' dreams come true, enabling them to put
students on the spot with quick quizzes to ensure that they pay
attention. However, Quizdom remotes add little to the lecture
learning environment and cannot succeed in increasing atten-
dance because of loopholes sure to be exploited by students intent
on doing things their way. They are a poor subsitute for solving
the real problem - that lectures are simply too big.

t all began when I took a box of
Quaker Oats chewy granola bars
off the shelf. In the past, my per-
sonal relationship
with granola bars
was simple. I need-
ed the food, and
Mr. Quaker had the
oats: in a wrapper, 0
in my backpack,"
in between classes
and impervious to -
contamination. GAVIN
"Or is it?" asked STERN
the deep, ominous
voice-of-reason in
my head. I dropped the box. "Don't
you know those granola bars could be
imports from China?" the voice sad.
Let's take a step back. I'm just look-
ing for a decent, American granola
bar for my between-class sustenance.
This task should not require auditory
hallucinations. Maybe I brought it
upon myself- I knew I shouldn't have
brushed with that antifreeze-laced
toothpaste or played with my lead-,
painted Dora the Explorer dolls before
going food shopping.
Yet with so much anecdotal evi-
dence, I had to at least read the fine
print. The box said it was distributed
by something-something in Chicago,
Ill. That sounds fine - what beef could
Illinois possibly have with me? But just
because those snacks are distributed
from Illinois does not mean that they
were made domestically, the voice
reminded me. They still could have
been imported from - and contami-
nated in - China.
This is serious business, indeed.
Perhaps these Quaker granola bars
aren't really made from scratch in the
mountains of Pennsylvania by devout
Quakers. Why do they have to hide
under the guise of distribution? Have
I stumbled upon an international gra-

nola conspiracy? How very Nicolas
Cage of me. And if so, what happened
to all the good, unionized, blue-collar-
working-class-American granola fac-
tory workers?
I tried another box, Nature's Val-
ley. But did my fresh bounty really
grow from natural granola deposits in
a valley in Americana? Again, the box
said, "Distributed by ... " The ambigu-
ity really began to frighten me. I can
imagine a global corporation distrib-
uting outsourced granola by trucking
it through Nature's Valley. On freshly
paved asphalt.
How about the local brand then?
That should eliminate the need for
burdensome investigative shopping.
Meijer carries its own brand from local
vendors. This is the Midwest, after all
- where food is grown, squashed, cut
and milked into little wrapped pack-
ages for easy consumption. It's the
Americanway.wSurely, I mustbe able to
find home-grown granola here.
Nope.
Now I felt the aisles closing in. Sud-
denly, the boxes of granola I was hold-
ing didn't look so friendly - despite the
assurances of Mr. Quaker's glowingred
cheeks, Nature Valley's scenic vistas
and Mr. Meijer's curvaceous signature.
I began to plunder the rest of my shop-
ping cart for answers. The truth, how-
ever, was anecdotally mind-blowing.
The only item I could find that was
clearly "Made in the USA" was Mei-
jer-brand tomato sauce. The Prego and
Ragu did not specify the country of ori-
gin. The cans of tuna fish I got on sale
were pretty honest at least, but I don't
knowmuch aboutSingapore otherthan
it's on the same continent as China.
I fell to.my knees in despair. Holding
back tears and concerned onlookers, I
cried out to the glowing white ware-
house lights for a savior. I needed to
know that someone, somewhere cares

about the safety of my food. But then,
peering into the florescent cosmos, I
came to a profound realization. Maybe
it doesn't matter where all our food
comes from. It absolutely has tobe safe
because there's an entire government
agency dedicated to certifying and
screening out the bad apples.
Buthow would the government even
know? The best apples all come from
Chile.
I don'tunderstandhowthe educated
American shopper let this un-informa-
tion slip by. Most ofus eat at least three
times a day; somebody should have
noticed. It's bad enough that American
companies are turning toward import-
Paying a little
extra for an
American snack
ed food instead of things that could
as easily be grown here; they should
at least disclose the country of origin.
Yes, even for granola bars.
I would have bought an American
snack for a little extra - I still trust
the government's inadequate over-
sight more than most. The alternative
would be to keep playing Russian rou-
lette with a fork. And even though few
people have become ill from contami-
nated imports, eventually someone you
know.is going to get poked because of
lax regulations of foreign governments
concerned only about profits for their
companies.
And you know what? That fork was
probably made in China, too.
Gavin Stern can be reached
at gavstern@umich.edu.

For those of you who are unfamiliar
with the joys of Quizdom, it is a sort of
sadistic version of polling the audience on
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire." Profes-
sors typically use these hand-held remotes
for attendance and in-lecture quizzes,
because the remotes automatically iden-
tify students by UMID. Say so long to the
days of midterms, finals and the occasional
paper making up your grade. Instead, stu-
dents are now paying $32.02 for a device
that effectively makes lecture attendance
a requirement.
The remotes seem able to do little more
than attendance, pop quizzes and in-class
surveys. If attendance or pop quizzes are
the key, there are less complicated, less
expensive ways to badger students with
them. Many classes use Scantrons for
this exact purpose. It seems that the most
successful use of the Quizdom remotes is
surveying the class to gauge understand-
ing. Yet, University professors have been
asking questions in class for this very pur-
pose since 1817. What is wrong with rais-
ing hands? Is a little human-to-human
interaction really so objectionable? Will
our understanding jump significantly now
that we have remotes?
It is doubtful that this extra expense, in
both time and money, will have a profound

impact on our educational experience. It's
still far-too easy to get around the require-
ments. In a large lecture, who's to say that
it's actually you - and not a friend you paid
to take your remote - that was counted as
present? And why force students to attend
in the first place? These are the students
who would show up and sleep in class any-
way. If they want to waste their tuition
dollars by ignoring lectures, they should
be able to do it.
If students' grasp of the material really
needs to be tested, it's unwise to be dumb-
ing down knowledge quizzes into electron-
ic, button-press responses just to include
the slackers. This could actually hurt stu-
dents who are engaged in the material and
should be challenged.
Finally, students with a genuine rea-
son for missing their regular lecture and
attending another lecture of the same
class now face an additional hurdle. Such
quirks of the Quizdom system slow down
and complicate lectures. College learning
is impersonal enough without watering
it down even further to the point where
you never even have to open your mouth.
Remote responses are no substitute for
speaking up in class and having classmates
and professors respond. The real solution
here is reducing class sizes.

Don't tell me what to do

Editorial Board Members: Ben Caleca, Mike Eber, Brian Flaherty,
Emmarie Huetteman, Kellyn Jackson, Gavin Stern, Jennifer Sussex,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya.
I R SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Student hardships can't nationwide prefer working with private, non-
profit and state-based loan providers.
compare to actual poverty Kevin Bruns
The letter writer is executive director ofAmerica's

Do you remember wanting to
scream "Don't tell me what
to do!" at your parents as they
pressured you to apply to business or
engineering school
Or maybe you told
off your friend who
said that you party
too much or play
too many video
games.
This is college; A
no one can tell you
what to do. But PATRICK
little do you know ZAWABA
that your small-
scale rebellion is happening on a
larger stage.
The state of Michigan thinks that
it can tell the University what to do.
The voters of the state have decided
that they don't like the University's
decisions and they are going toforce
the University to change them. In
November 2004, voters approved a
measure to allow only heterosexual
marriages in the state of Michigan,
which could have been used to pre-
vent the University from offering
health benefits to same-sex partners
of its employees. Last year, in a ballot
proposal aimed directly at ending one
factor in the University's admission
policy, the voters banned public insti-

tutions from using affirmative action.
As a public institution that relies
on state funding, the University can-
not completely stop the state from
intervening in its affairs. But those
two ballot initiatives had nothing to
do with improving the quality of edu-
cation at the University. They were
approved simply because some in the
state disagreed with the University's
guidelines. Each voter thought that his
or her opinion on marriage and affir-
mative action was right and that they
somehow had the right to enforce that
opinion on this institution.
Similarly, there are people all over
Ann Arbor trying to tell students what
to do. There are those who want to
raise the gas tax to prevent me from
buying a gas-guzzling SUV. I'm com-
petent enough to choose my own car,
thank you very much. Ann Arbor
recently banned bottled water at city
sponsored events. Some students are
still trying to keep the rest of us from
drinking Coke products because the
Coca-Cola Company has allegedly
committed labor violations in its fac-
tories overseas. I commend such an
effort, but I don't understand why
other students think forcing a ban
on Coke is logical. We can just walk
across the street and buy it off-cam-
pus anyway.

It's not that I want to buy a huge
SUV, harm factory workers or pol-
lute the planet, I'll think twice about
the water bottles or cars I buy and the
amount of waste they produce with or
without the laws. I can make my own
decisions. Your opinion is welcome,
but ycur coercion is not.
Just as the University should be
granted the full spirit of its constitu-

The University
can make its own
decisions.
tional autonomy from the state, stu-
dents should be trusted to run their
own lives. Coercing us to buy a smaller
car or preventing us from drinking
Coke or bottled water is to say that
we're not capable of making decisions.
It's an insult to our intelligence and our
ability to function as humanbeings
It's your life. Don't go to B-school if
you don't want to. After all, we're all
adults here.
Patrick Zabawa can be reached
at pzabawa@umich.edu.

4

TO THE DAILY:
It is deceptive to compare the living condi-
tions of University students, who live in Ann
Arbor, with the living conditions of an average
American living in poverty. Such a compari-
son has no value. Yet Magazine Editor Anne
VanderMey uses this misleading association
to imply that University students are worse off
than Americans living in poverty (Forget the
needy. Save a college student, 09/12/2007).
She complains that a higher percentage of
the poor have air conditioners than Univer-
sity students..But this makes sense if you con-
sider that air conditioners are a necessity in
the much hotter climates of southern states,
where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,
half of all impoverished Americans live.
Regardless of restrictions on students, Van-
derMey fails to consider that Americans living
in poverty do not have meal plans where they
can receive unlimited food in cafeterias.
It is unfortunate VanderMey's conclusion
is a justification for not helping the poor. She
would be wise to consider that the average
American living in poverty will never go
to college and never live in as nice or safe
a neighborhood as most University-students
live in right now.
Dean W. Baxtresser
First-year law student
Governmentfunded loans
would cost too much
TO THE DAILY:
The Daily's editorial about student
loans and Pell Grants (A wish half granted,
09/13/2007) asks readers: What is stopping
our Democratic Congress : from revisiting
former President Bill Clinton's idea - replac-
ing the lender-based federal student loan
program with the U.S. Department of Edu-
cation's federal direct loan program? One
answer is that it would cost a lot of money.
With the $22 billion cuts in lender subsidies
just passed by Congress, the lender-based
program is most likely now cheaper to run
than the direct loan program. Another rea-
son is that S in 10 schools in Michigan and

Student Loan Providers, Washington, D.C.
Meaning of 'safe sex'
skewed by headline
TO THE DAILY:
In a front-page story in Wednesday's
Daily (Want safe sex? It's going to cost you
more, 09/12/2007) the term "safe sex" in
the headline is misleading. Safe sex refers
to ways to curb sexually teansmitted diseas-
es. The contraceptives mentioned to in the
article, however, are prescription birth con-
trol, which by itself does not protect users
against STDs. The headline should not have
implied that using birth control medication
equals practicing safe sex. Although the
headline is catchy, it seemingly endorses the
practice of using only birth control pills as a
suitable method of safer sex.
Marissa Gerber and Yuning Zhang
The letter writers are members of The Michigan
Daily business staff.
Restaurant review
mistakes food for crack
TO THE DAILY:
This letter is in response to the restau-
rant review in last week's B-Side (A diner
with class, 09/06/2007). That was the worst
restaurant review I've ever read. Review the
food, not the decor. Does a faddish interior
deserve the first florid paragraphs, while the
food is noted simply with "terrific," a "brine
thing" and "bailer"? What does that mean?
The writers could be describing liquid crack
for all we know.
Casual conversation can't adequately crit-
icize food, and it fits a magazine more than a
newspaper. The Daily's reviewers gawked at
the food like kids at their first Happy Meal,
while reserving thought for the pretty col-
ors on the walls. That makes no sense.
James Cho
Engineering senior

0

ALEXANDER HONKALA

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4

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submissions become property of the Daily. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

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