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December 11, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-12-11

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I

4 - Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

C74c Mic4ig n Jat*lg

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR MANAGING EDITOR

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position ofthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a criticallook at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouragedto contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Talking points
High school recruitment a vital tool in quest for diversity
A mong the many casualties of last year's passage of Proposal
2 was the University's reputation as a welcoming place for
people of all backgrounds. In response to Michigan's voter-
mandated prohibition on race- and gender-based affirmative action,
the University commissioned the Diversity Blueprints Taskforce to
outline ways to maintain diversity on campus. Sadly, a recent Daily
investigation has shown that the one tried and true way of project-
ing the University's positive image, recruitment, has slackened this
year at many Detroit high schools. This stacks the odds even more
against the University in its quest to maintain and enhance under-
represented minority enrollment numbers despite Proposal 2.

I'm willing to deal with the consequences and
accept responsibility for my actions.:
- Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick at his sentencing hearing for charges related to dog fighting.
Vick was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison.
JOHN OQUIST
SO ... YEAH. I'VE GOT A COUPLE 0 WHAT WAS THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA, DO YOU.
INTERNSHIPS, YOU KNOW, LINED WOW, SON THAT SOUNDS ABOUT?
UP. MY PROSPECTS ARE LOOKING REALLY IMPTESSIVE.
GOOD, AND WELL, YOU KNOW I WAS JUST TELLING MY I'M A HISTORY MAJOR,
HOW BUSINESS STUFF IS.IT'S WE'RE SO PROUD PARENTS ABOUT WHAT I'LL BE WHAT DO YOU THINK?
A DOG EAT DOG WORLD OUT OF YOUl DOING AFTER I GRADUATE.
THERE. -

4

i

The education market

Only about an hour down the road from
Ann Arbor, Detroit is an important pool
from which the University seeks to find
underrepresented minority students.
Detroit's population is about 82 percent
black, according to the latest Census Bureau
statistics, and this racial character is repre-
sented in the city's schools. The University
has emphasized the importance of recruit-
ing at Detroit high schools because it allows
the institution to reach out to top candi-
dates from diverse backgrounds.
The city's 29 high schools will gradu-
ate many well-qualified prospective appli-
cants, but recruiters must be more present
in order to personify the University's open-
ness and be a resource to students who
might otherwise just apply to other col-
leges. However, 10 of the 17 public schools
reached for comment said that they have
seen University recruiters less frequently
this year than in the past. Even Cass Tech-
nical.High School, which regularly sends.
around 40 underrepresented minority stu-
dents to the University every year, has seen
fewer recruiters than in years past.
With the University singled out in court
and in the media in recent challenges to
affirmative action, something must be done
to dispel the building misconception that
the University does not welcome diversity.

The University could fight this misconcep-
tion by redoubling its recruitment efforts
to ensure that its representatives speak
personally to as many students as possible.
Instead, it seems the University's presence
in Detroit schools has decreased rather
than increased.
The University has discussed innovative
responses to last November's disastrous bal-
lot initiative, outlining the various tactics to
encourage adiverse campus. Ideally,theUni-
versity would implement an unprecedented
recruitmentprogram that would send repre-
sentatives to middle and elementaryschools.
But this is just an extension of the vital high
school recruitment efforts, which cannot be
deemphasized as we seek new, innovative
ways to reach the same goal.
Currently, the University employs four
recruiters for Detroit high schools. Oddly
enough, these recruiters do not represent
the University's Dearborn and Flint cam-
puses, each of which have their own repre-
sentatives. Pooling the recruitment efforts
of all three campuses might be an ideal way
to increase the presence of the University
in Detroit high schools. Different campus-
es of the University don't need to compete
with each other: The point is to get students
into any one of those campuses to serve the
larger goal of institutional diversity.

Take the bidding and PayPal out
of eBay.com, and you're left
with an online marketplace
that looks a lot like
the University's ,
system of register-
ing for classes on
Wolverine Access.a
Both websites
allow users to shop x;
through count-
less items to find
one that fits their THERESA
needs. With the off-
chance their favor- KENNELLY
ite item is bid on by-
someone else - or filled to capacity
- experienced members on each site
have learned they may have to fight to
win. The aggressive approach taken by
users of each site, along with the pop-
up congratulatory messages on both
that appear once an item has been
successfully obtained, suggests their
shared objective: To shop victoriously.
For eBay, this objective has become
its promotional slogan; for Wolverine
Access, this objective has made people
more obsessed with enrolling in a par-
ticular class than actually participat-
ing in an educational experience.
These similarities, though a bit of a
stretch, hint at the consumer-direct-
ed quality of class registration, which
has begun to spill over to many other
corners of the University.
Once students have successfully
"purchased" a class during registra-
tion, they assume they will receive a
product in line with their initial expec-
tations. It's almost as though students
enter classes with the consumerist
expectation that, because they are
paying to be there, classes should be
catered to their demands and they have
some control over what transpires. A
professor wrote a letter to The New
York Times in February 2006 reflect-
ing on this mentality that more and
more college students are starting to
adopt: "The students pay to enroll in a

university, they expect service, and if
they aren't happy with the product (the
grade) they receive, they reject it, just
as if they were in a restaurant and had
to return an overcooked steak."
"Rejecting" the product may seem
like an overstatement. This is a college
education we're talking about. Stu-
dents have to work fortheir grades and
degrees and shouldn't just drop out if
they are unsatisfied. It is an extrem-
ist perspective to think that students
actually want tohave controlover their
professors and that students assume
they will get good grades because they
are paying to be enrolled. Still, the
underlying consumerist attitude of
students, and the pressures instruc-
tors feel as a result of students' atti-
tudes, is undeniable. From sites like
RateMyProfessors.com to students'
expectations of review sessions and
complete outlines of their impending
exams in advance and requesting that
teachers throw out exam questions
they got wrong, it's clear students are
high-maintenance consumers.
Whether the neediness and aggres-
siveness of students is a new trend or
an innate quality just recently high-
lighted with technological advances
is hard to judge. Students' demands
aren't quantitatively calculable, but
in a world where 5.0 is the new 4.0 in
terms of GPA and graduate school is
the new undergrad in terms of gain-
ing marketable job skills, there is
good reason to assume that students
have become more demanding of
their colleges and teachers.
Evidence such as the rise of stu-
dents' GPAs at top universities around
the country also suggests a growth
in students' pushiness. Grade infla-
tion, which has been examined most
recently by Stanford University and
publicly commented on by Harvard
and Princeton Universities, is unde-
niably a problem. It shows that teach-
ers may be doling out good grades just
to ameliorate students, who now have

the potential to affect their job status
via negative evaluations, complaints
to department chairs and, in extreme
cases, legal action.
Studentswantinggreater influence
over their college experience isn't in
itselfabad thing. Itshould be reassur-
ing to know that students are being
active in their education and dis-
cussing their grades with professors
rather than being complacent. But
the problem at hand is not that stu-
dents are too aggressive in the class-
room. Rather it is the consequence of
students' creating consumer-direct
How students
bring consumerism
into lecture halls
education and losing out on the edu-
cational experience because they are
too caught up with logistics or feeling
provided for by their college.
When students' consumptive atti-
tudes - which are apparent on this
campus with the ubiquity of apparel
and the consistently long lines at cof-
fee and sandwich shops that produce
items worth a fraction of their selling
price - start to affect their education,
there are heavy consequences.
As the director of research at the
American Association of University
Professors wrote for a summer 2006
meeting, "If a college degree is nothing
more than a commodity, a product to
be purchased after comparison shop-
ping for the best value among compet-
ing 'brands,' then academic freedom...
mayvery well be seen as irrelevant."
Theresa Kennelly is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at thenelly@umich.edu.

4

4

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

4

Winter Break is the real
problem, not exam schedule
TO THE DAILY:
The editrrial in yesterday's Daily talked
about how professors who give final exams on
the last day of class are being unfair because
they don't give students enough time to study
(Reexamining finals, 12/10/2007). However, I
prefer to have an exam or two the last day of
class, just to spread out my exam schedule and
get it over with.
I think the more important question is, why
does the University make us come back from
Winter Break on a Thursday? What a pain. It
would make winter break a lot more enjoyable
if we could enjoy that last weekend and start
on a Monday. I'm sure most students would
prefer an extra two days in April if they could
have a four-day extension of Winter Break.
Sarah Hayosh
LSA senior
Drug policy conference
showsfailures of drug war
TO THE DAILY:
Last week, New Orleans witnessed one of
the largest conferences in history on drug poli-
cy: The 2007 International Drug Policy Reform
Conference organized by the Drug Policy Alli-
ance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and
dozens of other organizations. Building on the
momentum from recent drug policy reform
victories, approximately 1,000 drug policy
experts, health care and drug treatment pro-
fessionals, elected officials and family and
friends of drug war prisoners gathered to pro-
mote alternatives to the failed war on drugs.
Members of the University chapter of SSDP
attended the conference on full scholarships
from their national organization and the
DPA to accept SSDP's award for Outstanding
Chapter. SSDP led an exploration of issues
affecting youth and students, including their
Campus Change campaign, an effort to repeal
the part of the Higher Education Act that
denies financial aid to students with a drug
conviction and end the harm of random stu-
dent drug testing.
These panels emphasized student mobili-
zation as a means for counteracting harmful
policies and promoting reasonable ones. The

conference brought together a diverse crowd.
Former law enforcement officials spoke with
the people they used to put in jail, the current
director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime
presented next to the director of the Interna-
tional Harm Reduction Development Pro-
gram, sod even the Ohio State and Michigan
chapters of SSDP learned how to strategize
and mobilize for reform in conjunction. The
conference showed that even bitter enemies
could come together for progress.
Chris Chiles
LSA sophomore
The letter writer is the executive director ofStudents
for Sensible Drug Policy.
ungle law prevails in the
Fishbowl duringfinals
TO THE DAILY:
During finals season, we become like ani-
mals in the Fishbowl. While scouting out a
computer, a couple of laps around enough to
guarantee a Mac or PC, but then December
rolls around, and suddenly Fishbowl etiquette
disappears like the sun cowering behind the
Michigan clouds.
During the joyous season of finals in the
Fishbowl, friends become enemies. Rather
than linger for conversation, we deem our
friends competition. A girl from sophomore
English class waves my way. I give her a quick
hello and move on, scouting a Mac. She rep-
resents five minutes waiting time, and now
the lines are blurring between Macs and PCs
because beggars cannot be choosers.
For the first time ever, checking Facebook.
com at the Fishbowl is irresponsible. And
let's be honest, do you really need to watch
an episode of "Entourage" in the Fishbowl?
I know plenty of coffee shops that have wire-
less Internet. All of a sudden, there's a rustle
of papers like wind whistling through the
bare branches of winter pines, and a guy gets
up. He logs off. I go in for the kill. I dodge the
large coats and the designer bags ahead of
me. Just as I thrust my bag toward the spot,
another person swoops in to take my comput-
er. I sigh more loudly than normal.
It takes several more laps for me to secure
a PC, and finally I can begin my work. First, I
will check Facebook.
Laurie Segall
LSA senior

APPLY TO BE AN EDITORIAL PAGE COLUMNIST
Interested in writing 700-word opinion pieces about campus, Ann Arbor,
the state of Michigan and beyond? Applications are now being accepted
for columnist positions for the winter semester. E-mail gmgraca@umich.edu
for more information.
ARIELA STEIF

4

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Jon Cohen, Milly Dick, Mike
Eber, Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody,
Robert Soave, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van
G;4der, Rachel Wagner, Pat Fick Zabawa

LETTERI TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be less than 300 words and
must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. All submissions become property of
the Daiy. We do not print anongmous letters. Send lettets to tothedaily@umich.e .

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