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January 22, 2008 - Image 4

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4A -Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

I e ticl igan ily

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

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one
who has any concern for the integrity and life of
America today can ignore the present war."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking about the war in Vietnam at Riverside Church in
New York City on April 4,1967.
Safety is a two-wa street

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Unsigned editorials reflectthe official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section oftthe paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions andcomments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
R , TE Y
Playingit safe
Shooting response highlights problems with alert system
There was a fatal shooting Wednesday night just blocks
from North Campus. If you were lucky, you probably found
out about it on Thursday. While there isn't a reason to get
hysterical about this incident, the University's lagging and varied
response left a lot to be desired. Hindsight is 20/20; but looking
back, the University's response illustrated mistakes that need to be
corrected if it hopes to establish a uniform and rapid response sys-
tem alerting those on and near campus of potential safety threats.

The issue, in anxiety-distilled
form: It took 10 hours or more
for some students to receive
an e-mail about the
fatal shooting out-
side of North Cam-
pus last Wednesday
night. The mass ire y
that followed prob-
ably spread the
news more quickly
than the university
we attend. JEFFREY
In fact, I still
haven't received an BLOOMER
e-mail. But I'm not
sure it matters.
What I did receive, before I even
checked my e-mail on Thursday
morning, were calls from two differ-
ent people about the situation who
had found out about it on campus.
They had little concrete knowledge,
but they understood the basics: Some-
one was shot near North Campus and
the police hadn't found the suspect.
I looked online right after those con-
versations and found that the suspect
wasn't likely still on campus.
The word of mouth on campus was
part outrage and part confusion. I
was part of the latter camp, mostly
because I didn't understand the out-
rage. Still, a mugshot of Engineering
student Andrew Robert Myrick, the
suspect in the shooting, met many
students on alerts posted throughout
campus. He remained at large going
into the weekend. People were unsure
of what was happening and didn't
understand why there wasn't a more
centralized effort to explain it.
The first, worthwhile question
came in unison: Why didn't I hear

about this directly from the Univer-
sity? Then a second, more stupid one
usually followed: Did we learn noth-
ing from Virginia Tech?
The answer to the first question is
that everyone should have. Four hours
after the shooting, the first round of
crime alerts went out, and anyone
who opted to receive those alerts
did, including University department
heads. North Campus students found
out by early morning, and an e-mail
to all University affiliates went out by
midday, though it had the potential to
take all afternoon to reach everyone.
The reasoning behind the second
questionescapesme.Theactualdetails
of what happened here last week and
at Virginia Tech last year have noth-
ingin common and don't come close to
addressing the same issue. Though the
incident Wednesday inescapably taps
into a growing concern over safety at
universities nationwide, comparing
this situation to that one reflects an
unproductively broad and alarmingly
cavalier disregard for what actually
happened in both cases.
It seems the notification system did
its job in this case. I found the appro-
priate information within a reason-
able amount of time, especially given
everything the police knew, and it
strikes me as a good thing that DPS
exercised caution before sending out
an incomplete or misleading alert.
If you disagree - and I assume
those who do are the people who are
fanning the Virginia Tech flame - I'm
not sure why there isn't more of an
active discussion happening. There
is still debate about the best way to
notify students in these cases. Text
messaging is on its way, apparently,

though I find it difficult to imagine
how that will be more effective (or
faster) than the current system of
crime alerts. There remains no con-
sensus, and it is clearly a concern for
many people, evidenced by the outcry
this past week.
But bear in mind that there's no
indication from the University's
administration that it believes the sit-
uation was handled inappropriately.
This isn'tviewed as a screw-up.
For my part, I think the notifica-
tions were prudently distributed. If
you don't, this can't end in a shoulder-
shrug, and you can't continue to make
The response from
'U' was fine. If you
disagree, speak up.
tenuous parallels to other tragedies
every time violence makes its way
onto campus. I felt safe last week and
still feel safe this week. If you don't,
now is the time to deal with it.
But now that the situation looks
increasingly like it didn't affect any
other students and a holiday week-
end has passed, the furor has quieted,
which reflects much more danger-
ously on the University at large than
any of the administration's actions
last week.
Jeffrey Bloomer is the Daily's
managing editor. He can be reached
at bloomerj@umich.edu.

Students received word of the homi-
cide, which occurred less than a mile from
North Campus, in a way that could almost
be considered haphazard. The shooting
occurred at roughly 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
About four hours later, an e-mail was sent
to the media, University department heads
and people signed up for crime alerts from
the Department of Public Safety, the unit
responsible for protecting campus. An
e-mail to students living in North Cam-
pus residence halls wasn't sent until early
Thursday morning. More than 14 hours
after the shooting occurred a campus-wide
e-mail was finally sent.
Few students actually received these
e-mails until hours after they were sent.
When sending out campus-wide e-mails,
the system is backlogged for up to 10 hours
because it is taxed by so many e-mails. The
University suggests that department heads
forward the e-mail to their students, and
some students may have received the e-
mail in this way. Others may have received
it from other groups they are in. Some never
actually received any e-mail at all.
The inconsistency of this response
makes the University seem irresponsible.
Although the man responsible for Wednes-
day's homicide has not threatened the lives
of others on campus, it is still important to
step back, look at how this situation was
handled and think about how it can be
improved. It's unfair to compare this inci-
dent to the tragedy at Virginia Tech last
spring; but it is also unfair to disregard its
lessons.
The lag in sending campus-wide e-mails
is a considerable problem. Last week, the
campus-wide e-mail from Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly President Mohammad Dar

encouraging students to vote in the presi-
dential primary and informing them about
how they could vote had the same problem.
That e-mail reached some students after
the polls closed. If the University can't find
a way to speed up its mass e-mails using its
own web mail system, maybe the problem
could be solved by outsourcing to other
web mail systems like GMail or Windows
Live. Although there are privacy concerns
that need to be considered if the University
switched to one of these systems, these sys-
tems also come with considerable benefits
like increased storage space and a more
user-friendly platform.
It is also unusual and confusing that some
University department heads forwarded
the e-mail to their students while others
did not. If it improves how quickly students
receive an e-mail, there is every reason to
direct department heads and administra-
tors to forward the e-mail and not just sug-
gest participation.
On the positive side, a text-message
alert system is slated to be implemented in
March. This should go far to get the word
out quicker. Nevertheless, when the pro-
gram begins, the University must make
sure to inform students about how to enroll
for alerts and how the system will work,
including the circumstances under which
it will be used.
In all of these alert systems, the Univer-
sity must exercise considerable discretion
about what constitutes a true campus safe-
ty threat. But, this shouldn't be an excuse to
not be prepared for one. While it is unnec-
essary to create hysteria over isolated
incidents, the cost of failing to inform the
campus community of important threats
could be profound.

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Gary Graca,
Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody,
Kate Truesdell, Robert Soave, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
KATE PEABODY
Media-tested. Celebrity- approved.

i

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

Chant at Notre Dame
hockey game was offensive
TO THE DAILY:
While one of my favorite parts of attend-
ing Michigan hockey games is the unwavering
enthusiasm of students, I found the chant "dirty
Catholics" at the end of Friday's Notre Dame
game extremely offensive. Sports have paved
the way for cultural breakthroughs in both race
and religion. This chant was an unfortunate
and unacceptable step back for campus.
Sportsmanship should not stop where the
ice ends and the stands begin.
Janice Roller
Alum
Learning lessons from the
Virginia Tech massacre
TO THE DAILY:
As a 2007 graduate of Virginia Tech, I
was shocked at how late the notification of
Wednesday's homicide adjacent to North
Campus was sent out. The incident occurred
at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. I did not receive an
e-mail until after noon the next day from
College of Engineering Dean David Munson
- almost fifteen hours after the incident.
Last spring, people were calling for the heads
of the Virginia Tech's president and chief of
police because they thought the two hours
between the first murders and the notification
of students, faculty and staff was an irrespon-
sible length of time.
The situation facing Virginia Tech adminis-
trators that morning is not entirely unlike the
one so near to our campus Wednesday. They
thought that the first shooting was an isolated
incident and were pursuing a "person of inter-
est." I realize that this particular homicide did
not occur on campus like those in Blacksburg,
but the person of interest is a student and it is
reasonable to think that he could have been on
campus at any point after the incident.
Officials at Virginia Tech made the best
decisions they could last April given the infor-
mation they had at the time. However, now we
know more and should be better prepared to
protect ourselves. The least we can do for the
victims of that massacre is learn from the trag-
edy. I doubt that anything would have occurred
differently last week had we been notified ear-

tier about the homicide near our campus. But
it would have made us be more vigilant in case
something happened. It is always important
to be aware of one's surroundings, but we so
often get lost in our own lives that we need to
be alerted to those times when we need to be
especially vigilant.
Katrina Ramsdell
Engineeringgraduate student
Lobbying for graduation at
the Big House isn't childish
TO THE DAILY:
I'm writing in response to Theresa Ken-
nelly's column in which she argued that Uni-
versity students are more concerned about
where graduation will be than they were
about the presidential primaries last Tuesday
(Where our interests lie, 0I/I7/2008). I fail to
see how attending a forum to oppose another
blunder by the University is not "adult-like," as
Kennelly argued. I also fail to see how a lib-
eral student body not showing up to a primary
in which half of the Democratic candidates
weren't even on the ballot is not "adult-like."
I would like to remind everyone that the
Michigan primary had virtually no effect what-
soever on the Democratic presidential nominee
because the Democratic National Committee
stripped of all of Michigan's delegates and the
only major candidate on the ballot was Hillary
Clinton. The Republican National Committee
stripped Michigan of half of its delegates.
However, the graduation relocation does
affect students, despite Kennelly's insistence
that we need to grow up. Many of us have had
less than amicable relations with the Uni-
versity administration. Many of our families
have invested huge sums of money over the
past four years for our education here. Many
students have families flying in from across
the nation to experience Ann Arbor and visit
Michigan Stadium for the first time. I'm not
disputing the importance of voting or claiming
that it would be easy for the University to hold
graduation in the Big House. But I don't need
to be lectured about how to behave like an
adult, and I certainly don't need to be told that
we don't deserve a better graduation experi-
ence than the one we are going to receive.
John Munoz
LSA senior

When I was a wee fifth grader, my
class traveled to one of Bob Dole's
campaign speeches in Grand Blanc,
Mich. If I had been old enough, I
would have voted for him - not
because I understood and agreed
with his views but because I got a
Dole sticker from the trip. I was eas-
ily bought.
Back then my supportwas won by
stickers. In this year's kinetic presi-
dential popularity contest, every
minute of media attention and every
sticker given out counts too. So it's
no wonder that candidates are turn-
ing to the nation's best and bright-
est: celebrities. When celebrities
throw their support behind a candi-
date, it generates significant media
attention. As a society, we are fall-
ing into the trap of focusing on
those with the most vocal
support.
There is a general

consensus that the road to t
dency is no longer about,
issues, but a beauty cont
evolution began with th
duction of television andt
Internet - both of which ha
public image important.
menting this, there is also
feedback on public opinion.
With knowledge of wh
ning, the pressure on v
undoubtedly great. But w1
these continuous updates
polls and frontrunner ca
when voting? The celebr
here to help.
Expert in martial arts,
Texas Ranger and pitchma
Total Gym, Chuck NorrisE
Mike Huckabee. When yo
this, I'm sure the battle fory
stopped. After all, both are
ted to Christianity and
illegal immigration. B:
importantly, who
with Chuck
On th:
hand, if
fan ofOpr
frey tha:
probably
great de:
Barack
- , . , campai

he presi- Apparently, he is a great candidate.
debating Oprah said so. She has joined him at
est. This campaign events, using her celeb-
e intro- rity to rally support. Who knows, if
then the you turn out to an Obama campaign
ave made stop, you might even win a car.
Comple- Everyone is arguing about who
constant would make a great president. That
includes celebrities and people with
o's win- webcams and YouTube accounts.
'oters is Everyone has an opinion and an
ho needs endorsement, and exposure to these
on the opinions is changing the way the
ndidates game is played.
ities are Researchers guarantee that
such celebrity endorsements have
Walker little impact on the choice of vot-
n for the ers. According to the Pew Research
endorsed Center and their News Interest
iu heard Index Omnibus Survey, endorse-
your vote ments have very little direct impact
commit- on howa person votes. Results show
stopping that no matter which celebrity the
ut more support is from, a celebrity endorse-
messes ment doesn't make a person more or
less likely to vote for a candidate.
e other Though the public may not direct-
you are ly take into account who Chuck
rah Win- Norris is voting for, it is certain that
n you've celebrities give these candidates a
heard a larger soapbox. When presidential
al about hopefuls garner celebrity support,
Obama's it comes with more media attention
gn. and more headlines. Such increased
exposure can lead to more support
from the masses. In the presidential
horse race, attention matters. The
public receives most of its informa-
tion about the candidates from the
media. This is shaping a new way of
campaigning where celebrity sup-
port is a key element.
The media has a pro-
found effect on what
A we know simply by the
0 A / amount of space and
0 08 time they give to cer-
tain topics. It may not
be something we change, but
it is something we can be aware
of. Research may say that celebrities
don't affect our vote, but along with
the media, they affect which candi-
date we give the most attention. *
This increased media exposure
may give a candidate an advantage.
However, the presidential campaign
trail shouldn't resemble high school
campaigning for prom court. We
aren't voting for who is the most
popular but who is the best for the
job, whether the media gives that
person the deserved amount of
attention or not and whether Walk-
er Texas Ranger thinks that person
would be a good president or not.
Kate Peabody is an LSA junior and a
:-s \ member of the Daily's editorial board.

4t,
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