4 - Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
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the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
This budget agreement is the right
solution for Michigan"
- Gov. Jennifer Granholm praising the state legislature's early-morning passage ofta state budget that will raise state
income taxes and will include a 6 percent tax on nonessential services, as reported yesterday on detnews.com.
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.
The Daily's public editor, Paul Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached email@example.com.
Writing the rule
Faculty input into construction projects should be codified
For an institution facing consistent cuts in state funding, the
University certainly seems to have a lot of spending money.
Construction projects like the new building at the busi-
ness school and North Quad are well underway, and more such
expensive ventures are in the pipeline. In deciding on construc-
tion projects, the opinion of the faculty - an integral part of the
University - is important. The administration has never denied
this. Yet codifying the right of the faculty to be informed and con-
sulted on such matters turns out to be a tricky undertaking. The
administration's reluctance to do so seems odd, especially since it
has always insisted that it takes faculty opinion into account.
The onaton downfall
"Excessive wealth engenders self-
satisfied mediocrity. It's true in fami-
lies, and it's true in universities."
- Leon Bolstein, president of Bard
College, as quoted in this week's New
York Times Magazine.
this summer from
tion was daunt-
ing for a couple of
reasons. It means
I'm almost a col- THERESA
lege graduate, KENNELLY
and that the Uni-
versity is already
getting on my back for money. I'm
already dreading my first call from
the Michigan Telefund at the end of
April. A little advice to the Alumni
Association and Telefund: After fac.
log a net loss of more than $100,000
in my first three years on campus
alone, it's going to take me a couple
of decades to want to give more
money to the University, so don't
waste your time.
That's not to discredit the attempts
of organizations to draw money out
of my bank account while my college
memories are still fresh. The Alumni
Association and Telefund provide a
valuable service to a university that
has suffered financially. Since 2001,
state funding for higher education has
declined 7percentin Michigan, despite
a 19 percent increase nationwide.
Michigan's public colleges have a'
lot of losses to make up for, and tap-
ping into the wealth of alumni is a
reasonable way to do that. The prob-
lems start, though, when schools for-
get the real reasons for fundraising,
become money hungry and fall at
the feet of alumni while neglecting
the needs of students and faculty. It
appears these problems have begun
at the University.
University administrators 'spend
significant time working with donors
to create donation packages that the
donor approves of. More than 98
percent of alumni donors designate
where they want the gift to go, thus
revoking the University's power to
delineate were fundraising money
goes. This has resulted in odd sce-
narios like construction of expensive
new buildings even in the time of
drastic state funding cuts and tuition
In the 2007 fiscal year, fundraising
at the University hitrecord highs. The
$2.5 billion fundraising campaign,
the Michigan Difference, reached its
goal 18 months ahead of schedule. At
the same time, undergraduate tuition
went up 7.4 percent and graduate
tuition increased 5 percent. Also,
the percentage of non-tenured fac-
ulty members - who earn consider-
ably less money than tenured faculty
- has increased substantially in past
It appears that the University is
cutting corners in other areas, too.
One example is the library system,
which faced the elimination of 2,500
journal subscriptions this year.
Another is University Housing, which
passed on a 4.9 percent increase to
students this past year. These price
hikes and budget cuts, despite record
highs in alumni donations, translate
into a school that's getting greedy
and failing the University's students
This issue is not unique to our
university. In Sunday's New York
Times Magazine, Andrew Delbanco
emphasizes a new trend on college
campuses nationwide: "Our top uni-
versities compete for 'market share'
and 'brand-name positioning,' employ
teams of consultants and lobbyists
and furnish their campuses with lux-
uries in order to attract paying 'cus-
tomers'- a word increasinglyused as
a synonym for students." Essentially,
college has turned into a big business
with an identity issue.
This trend is taking a toll on stu-
dent and faculty morale and causing
the "customers" to get curious about
financial decisions. Last week, the
Senate Advisory Committee on Uni-
versity Affairs, which is the execu-
tive branch of the Faculty Senate,
attempted to codify its role in having
faculty input on University construc-
tion projects. That part of its proposal
was rejected by University President
Mary Sue Coleman. Why eactly is
the University reconstructing per-
fectly functional buildings, while
at the same time administrators say
they have to raise tuition to make
up for budget shortfalls? Is it simply
because alumni tell them to?
There's a lot of
money - just not
in the right places.
The administration's answer is
that the University has to copstantly
renovate in order to remain a com-
petitive 21st century institution:
That still makes it a little difficult to
sympathize with the University for
cuts in state funding. It's also why
I am confused that the tuition rally
last week took place in front of the
statehouse instead of the president's
house. The administration ought to
be experienced and smart enough to
realize that it's going face cuts. As a
result, it should have delayed a couple
of construction projects and focused
its attention and money more on com-
bating tuition hikes. .
But it didn't do that, because it has
let its hands be tied by donors, and it
can't do that. It is acting as a business
looking-for profit, not an educational
institution with a responsibility to
the students and faculty.
I don't foresee giving back to the
University anytime soon. It didn't
care about my budget constraints
while I was enrolled, so why should I
care about its needs after I graduate?
Theresa Kennelly is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the past, it has been an unwritten pol-
icy of the University to consult the faculty
before making major decisions, because
faculty are an important part of the Univer-
sity community. Hoping to clarify this rela-
tionship, the Senate Advisory Committee
on University Affairs, the executive branch
of the Faculty Senate, drafted a handbook
that included a sentence defining the extent
to which the faculty should be involved.
Although the proposal hardly pushes the
administration into uncharted territor'y,
that provision was rejected by University
President Mary Sue Coleman, who argued
that it committed the president "to an
unprecedented process of approval prior to
The far reaching presumption that Cole-
man seems to envision coming from this
change is absurd. It's not as though the
administration will have its hands tied by
faculty approval. The draft merely calls for
the faculty to have the opportunity to con-
sult with the president on major expendi-
tures. The proposal does not necessarily
entail that the faculty's opinion be abided
by in every case, only that the opinion be
heard. As in the case of the proposed plan to
install skyboxes inthe Big House, the faculty
should have a recognized right to voice their
opinion early in the process and to receive
the administration's reasoning regarding
the final decision.
Currently, the administration is as good
versity Board of Regents meetings, where
projects are ultimately approved, transpar-
ency has taken a backseat to the adminis-
tration's agenda. The regents' decision is
almost always a foregone conclusion. Even
though people generally get the chance to
speak at regents meetings, it's already too
late at that point to make a difference. Tak-
ing the faculty's opinion into consideration
at an early enough time where something
can be done, will provide real, productive
input - not simply the rubber stamp that
the regents vote has become.
If the administration does consult with
and inform the faculty of major undertak-
ings anyway - and both SACUA and the
administration agree to as much - the Uni-
versity's aversion to putting this in writing
is very suspicious. It railroaded the skybox
plan through the regents (going so far as to
stack the speakers list at a regents meeting),
even though, as we later learned, at least
300 faculty members oppose that plan. The
only justification for Coleman's repulsion
of a codification of faculty input seems to
imply that the University has grown fond
of such heavy-handed ways. That's simply
not how a university of this caliber should
make major decisions.
Making economics more accessible
WA LL St KWT
f 3 r E S +!
vs r 6
x' t 2 f d"
When did a call for the expansion of learning at the
University become a "dumbing down" of learning?
Ben Niu's viewpoint last week (Economicsfor all of us,
09/25/2007) misinterpreted my suggestion for anoth-
er type of economics class for history and politics con-
centrators and perverted the argument to suggest a
disregard for academic standards. Because many lib-
eral arts students avoid introductory economics sim-
ply over concerns about their grades, another class
should be offered. This viewpoint has been obscured
and used as a platform to discuss other issues while
still managing to incorrectly ridicule my opinion.
While I understand Niu's concerns with America's
educational problems, they are irrelative to, if not
actually supportive of my point. What I suggested was
expanding the current spectrum of introductory eco-
nomics to include a course that could be more appli-
cable for liberal arts students, not those in economics
or business. Nowhere did I suggest lowering the aca-
demic expectations of a University course. Providing
a class not now available would consequently educate
more people. Nowhere did I call for a "de-sanitizing"
of mathematics, but I suggested a different means for
instructing and testing students.
While the pre-requisite for these courses is a level of
mathematical understanding covered during a general
high school education, this is typically not the reason-
ing for a student's apprehension for enrolling. There
are many students who choose not to enroll.in these
classes because of the potential consequences for their
grades. While this may be a contentious issue, those
who have opted not to take the course because of GPA
concerns will feel vindicated in reading this, and there
are many such people. Although the author notes that
there is some variety in the composure of the classes,
it is still not enough to persuade many students to reg-
ister for the class.
This issue of persuasion or enticement to choose these
economics courses is another area where the author
attempts avoid a key part of my argument. Niu calls for
more "stringent guidelines" of math and science than
what is already in place at the University and to man-
date Econ 101 and 102 as a requirement. It would be very
problematic if every student felt his orher concentration
is superior enough to be a graduation requirement. Stu-
dents must choose to take economics and all too often,
they choose not to do so out offear of getting a lowgrade.
It is an unfortunate reality that this is a motivating factor
for many students, but it is reality nonetheless.
I agree that a well-rounded education is essential,
but not everyone's forte is numbers or graphs. The
example of calculating a tip was not meant to cause
concern over the level of math being taught in middle
schools. Rather it was to highlight how all people have
strengths and weaknesses, and for some those weak-
nesses are in math-related fields. A more accessible
econdmics course would help ensure that those stu-
dents don't fall completely behind.
Katherine Berezowskyj is an LSA senior.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Calling students apathetic isa anything, we care too much.
unfair: They care too much Jane Coaston
LS A junior
TO THE DAILY:
There are many things that students on this campus care
deeply about: educational inequity, racial strife, poverty State legislaurefails to male
and war. Does the fact that students did not board buses on
a weekday to go to the statehouse to protest something real- the most important cut of all
ly make us lazy? First of all, the protest itself was directed at
the wrong target. If the University Board of Regents decide TO THE DAILY:
to raise tuition, regardless of what state government does, I would like to thank the state legislature for finally
tuition will increase. And doesn't it seem a little dubious for balancing the budget. However, by waiting until the
students to skip class to ask for more funding for classes? last possible hour to fix the problem, lawmakers have
Second, higher education fundingis an importantissue, caused the state permanent damage. Therefore, in
but it is not apartheid, globalization or human rights their rush to hash out a bill Monday morning, it seems
abuses in Tibet. Ask any member of the Roosevelt Institu- lawmakers forgot to cut one thing: their own salaries.
tion, a non-partisan think tank, or talk to members of the
groups working internationally to change global events. Rohit Mahajan
But don't insult our intelligence and call us "apathetic." If Public Policy junior
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner
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