4A - Thursday, October 4, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
C I Iiian Baihj
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Where were the fiscal conservatives when
the president demanded hundreds of
billions of dollars for the war in Iraq?"
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), responding to suggestions that the president was right to veto the State Children's
Health Insurance Program because it would be too expensive, as reported yesterday on CNN.com.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorialboard. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir 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
withquestions andcomments. He canbe reached at: email@example.com
Above the law
Threats to cut research grants have a sinister dual purpose
For the past five years, Yale Law School has been engaged in
a court battle with the Defense Department over the mili-
tary's recruitment activities at university sponsored events
on its campus, given its discriminate stance on homosexuality. Ear-
lier this month, Yale lost that battle. Facing a loss of $350 million
in government grants should it continue to ban military recruiters
from campus, Yale must now relent and allow its ideals to be tres-
passed by a flagrantly intrusive government. The military's ability
to bypass university policy at Yale is evidence of a disturbing trend
of governmental interference in university affairs.
You've got Spurn
I'm addicted to e-mail. I like con-
necting with family and friends
at computers across the world.
However, I don't
like cutesy for-
wards and chain
letters or porn
into my inbox. I
like the power of
rapid, customiz- .
able communica- NEIL
tion, and I detestT
spam notifying me
of the latest hot
stock pick. There's
no doubt that e-mail is revolutionary,
but its value as a medium for commu-
nication is diminishing. We have to
help save e-mail.
I started thinking critically about
e-mail last week when I was tricked
by a web service called Doostang.
Basically, Doostang is a professional
networking website - think Face-
book for people who wear suits all
day. I punched in my e-mail login
info to search for friends already
using the service, and I had some
success. Unfortunately, as a parting
gift, Doostang sent a friend request to
everyone in my address book, includ-
ing professors, business contacts and
people I haven't spoken to in years.
Needless to say, the incident caused a
surprising amount of embarrassment
and hassle. E-mail culture wasn't so
complicated in the old days.
I started e-mailing when I was
about 8 years old. At the time America
Online was king and the "You've got
mail" sound byte characterized how
e-mail was cool and stress free. I e-
mailed a few friends and family mem-
bers who live abroad. Messages were
easy to manage, and the medium was
at its purest. Fewer viruses and spam
messages littered the electronic land-
scape, and it was a pleasant surprise to
have a new message, not a chore.
Then e-mail traffic started to esca-
late. More and more unwanted week-
ly e-newsletters started to circulate.
At the same time, a variety of services
like electronic banking statements
became commonplace, making day-
to-day tasks more efficient. As the
use of e-mail to better organize our
lives and communities increased, so
did spam. E-mail was in purgatory.
Now, e-mail is nearly a necessity,
especially for college students. Pro-
fessors use it to distribute informa-
tion about classes, and the University
sends campus crime alerts electroni-
cally. We communicate with our
parents, strangers and each other
via computers. With the advent of
the Blackberry, e-mail is accessible
instantaneously anytime, anywhere.
We spend hours every week manag-
ing our inboxes when we could be
doing other things. Now e-mail can
be a bigger headache than love or
grades, causing a queasy Pavlovian
response upon every login.
Two promises of early e-mail were
efficiency and the immediate distri-
bution of critical information. Now
there's so much e-mail to manage,
there's little time for sending personal
letters, and it's painfully easy to miss
a critical, time-sensitive message. In
addition, lots of e-mail doesn't add
much value to our collective con-
sciousness. In fact, as I write this
column, my inbox has exploded with
more than a dozen subject-line-only e-
mails about a stray cathanging around
the Oxford and Hill area. Though
amusing, chatter about cats makes life
unnecessarily saturated with infor-
mation and that much harder.
That being said, I think there are a
few ways to bring e-mail back to being
a helpful and pleasant form of com-
munication. For starters, focusing on
the content of e-mails and crafting
clear, concise messages is a top prior-
ity. Maybe it would be worth it to read
dozens of e-mails a day if the subject
matter was interesting and relevant.
Even more thoughtful subject lines
E-mail is getting
out of hand. It
needs our help.
would help. On the reader's end, free
alternatives like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail
or Mozilla Thunderbird are user-
friendly upgrades from the Universi-
ty's webmail service that streamline
Beyond that, trying to keep e-
mail to manageable levels is a shared
responsibility. We could all strive
to spend more time communicating
face-to-face (or webcam-to-webcam)
and use text messages for casual,
quick notes instead of e-mail. It
wouldn't be archaic to write a letter
every now and then either. We can
revert to using e-mail to fulfill its
original objective - making life eas-
ier. It might take a marginal amount
of extra effort with each message, but
it could save us all a lot of headaches
in the long run.
Neil Tambe can be reached
Yale requires all recruiters at university
sponsored events to sign a pledge of non-
discrimination, which military organiza-
tions have not been able to comply with
as a result of Defense Department's "don't
ask, don't tell" policy. That 1993 policy, like
its predecessor, prohibits servicemen from
being openly gay. For the past 30 years,
military recruiters have not been allowed
on Yale's campus for their failure to com-
ply with university policies stemming from
the military's exclusion of gays.
However, five years ago the govern-
ment threatened to withhold all of Yale's
research grants - to the tune of $350 mil-
lion - if the university continued to pro-
hibit military recruiters. This threat was
vindicated last month in a federal appeals
court. Given a choice between upholding
its nondiscrimination policy and losing all
federal funding for scientific endeavors,
the plaintiffs for Yale were forced to stand
down. On Monday, representatives from
the Air Force and Navy were present at a
Yale job interview program for the first
time since 1978.
At the crux of the legal battle was a 1997
law called the Solomon Amendment, which
allows the government to deny funding to
universities that prohibit military recruit-
ing. Several Yale faculty members argued
successfully in district court in 2005 that
this law infringed on the university's aca-
demic freedom and right to free speech.
But a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme
Court, which ruled against several univer-
sities' attempts to prohibit military recruit-
ment on campus due to the discrimination
of openly gay individuals, virtually guar-
anteed the eventual defeat of Yale's argu-
ments. The Supreme Court's interpretation
of the Solomon Amendment allows the mil-
itary to force its way onto campus despite
university non-discrimination clauses.
The measures taken by the government
are completely unreasonable. Instead of
working to create a more tolerant military
that complies with the nondiscriminatory
policies of Yale and other institutions, it has
strong-armed its way past any such regula-
tions by threatening to withhold research
funding. This funding goes toward vital
research that benefits our society as a
whole. Yale, for example, is a frontrunner
in this field of medical research. Cutting
funding to vital endeavors like this over
an obstinate refusal to allow gays to serve
openly is ludicrous.
Columbia University is currently the
target of similar threats. A resolution
was passed by Columbia's Senate in 2005
opposingthe reinstatement ofthe Reserved
Officers Training Corps program - which
was disbanded during the Vietnam War
- because of the military's discrimination
against gays. In the aftermath of Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit,
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has pro-
posed the Restore Patriotism to University
Campuses Act, intended to deny federal
funding to Columbia if it continues to ban
the ROTC. This is another example of gov-
ernment officials attempting to bully their
way past university non-discrimination
policies by threatening scientific research.
Universities, especially private insti-
tutions like Yale and Columbia, ought to
have the right to shape and enforce their
own policies of what is and is not tolerable
on their own campuses. Blackmailing the
university community and holding vital
research hostage is despicable. What's
worse is that all this is done to uphold the
military's discriminatory policies.
A perspective on the Greek system
from the driver of a party bus
TO THE DAILY:
I fail to understand how members of fraternities and
sororities at the University can say that drinking is not
a problem in Greek life. I am writing as a driver of a
private bus company that has been used many times to
take University fraternities to bars in Detroit, Wind-
sor and Ypsilanti. These groups have ordered and used
four, five or even six buses at a time on Thursday eve-
nings. Each bus carries 47 or 55 passengers, which
means that we're transporting approximately 300 stu-
dents on these nights.
Fraternity brothers have been extremely intoxicated
prior to boarding the buses, and some have had to be
carried off the bus at the end of the evening. The same
is true of the sororities. They have abused the buses,
vomited on them and caused dangerous events to
occur while on the road, such as opening the emergen-
cy windows while driving down I-94 and screaming at
the driver. This is why the owner of the bus company
requires a minimum $200 deposit for each bus.
Anyone who doubts these statements can go to the
Hill and Washtenaw area Thursday nights to check it
out for themselves.
Student-athletes are underesti-
mated by LSA advisors
TO THE DAILY:
With regard to Tuesday's story about new academic
guidelines for athletes, I want to suggest a significant-
ly different side of the story (Profs want change in Uni-
versity athletics, 10/02/2007). As a junior on the men's
gymnastics team, I have worked for the past three
years with an academic adviser, who works specifical-
ly with my team and a few others. She has never once
told me to take an easier course load or to look into a
different degree program.
Ironically, it was my LSA academic adviser who said
that I couldn't possibly pursue my interest in the busi-
ness school with my sports schedule. When I told her
I have a teammate in the University's business school,
her shock was ridiculous. "Well, what about doing
English and then going to get an MBA later?" I asked.
She told me that I would have the same problem.
Discouraged, I went to my adviser in the athletic
department. She told me that if I wanted to study busi-
ness, we could make it work. If I wanted to study Eng-
lish, we could make it work. She has the experience
of working with student-athletes to know what is and
isn't possible and didn't simply dismiss me as "another
dumb jock," as I felt my LSA adviser had.
If athletics is "an operation" that controls so much
of "our public image, our financial health (and) our
giving" as Virginia Shepherd, co-Chair of the Coali-
tion on Intercollegiate Athletics, says, shouldn't ath-
letes - who on top of an already strenuous courseload
must deal with morning practices, regular workouts,
classroom absences for competitions and other time
commitments - reap the benefits? What's wrong with
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
using the money raised by athletes to provide them
state-of-the-arttechnology and the guidance to ensure
the best possible educational experience?
The letter writer is a member of the men's gymnastics team.
Opposing fans should not feel
at home at the Big House
TO THE DAILY:
I'm tired of reading letters from students from other
schools about how nice Michigan football fans are. It's
time to stop being so friendly, because it's getting embar-
rassing. Football fans are definitely not this nice at other
I just got back from a visit to Ohio State University.
While walking around Columbus in my Michigan T-shirt,
there was not a single person who didn't give me a tough
time, whether I was eating dinner or checking into my
hotel. At the airport, I was even stopped at the security
checkpoint for about 20 minutes because I had a Michi-
gan driver's license - the officer had to call in his super-
visor to make sure it was okay to let me pass.
So Michigan fans, I say we do the same to Ohio State
students when we spot one in Ann Arbor. If you see some-
one wearing a Buckeyes shirt, please remind that person
that Ohio State really does suck. And if you want to strike
a nerve, all you need to do is say, "Tressel drinks wine
coolers!" (I spotted Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel
sipping on the feminine drink while in Columbus.)
Campus Watch ensures that
academia is held accountable
TO THE DAILY:
In his letter to the editor last week (Double standard
apparent in criticism of Ahmadinejad, 09/28/2007),
Andrew Goodman-Bacon mischaracterized the work
of Campus Watch and its founder Daniel Pipes. Con-
trary to his claim, neither Pipes nor Campus Watch
"violates academic freedom by encouraging students
to report professors who are not pro-Israel enough."
Campus Watch employs experts in the field to review
and critique Middle East studies in North America
with the purpose of improving them. This includes
shedding light on professors who use the classroom to
push inaccurate and politicized views on the Middle
East. We believe that academia, like any other profes-
sion, should not be above accountability.
That Campus Watch's investigative work is occa-
sionally inspired by information provided by students
does not in any way violate academic freedom. Stu-
dents who feel themselves silenced or intimidated by
biased professors have every right to try to publicize
the matter. Academic freedom is a two-way street.
The letter writer is a northern California representative
for Campus Watch.
Editorial Board Members: Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Brian Flaherty, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Gavin Stern,
Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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