4A -Monday, February 4, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
I know that I can win the presidency once I
win your nomination:'
- Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, on his chances of winning the general
election if he wins the Republican nomination, as reported Saturday by CBS News.
Democrats andyour tuition bil
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 H. 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A dual responsiblity
In 118th year, Daily's strength rests on input and vigilance
"The Daily is unique in its ability to describe, discuss and debate
before the entire University community its individual and collective
activities and problems."
ittingly, those words appeared in an editorial on Sep. 16,
1957, the first day that The Michigan Daily began stating
on the front page how many years of editorial freedom
this paper has enjoyed. These two ideas - the role of the Daily
as a forum for critical debate and the notion of editorial freedom
- are inseparable and reinforcing. And nowhere are they more,
important than on this editorial page. However, maintaining
the Daily as a voice for students and an open forum for debate is
only possible when there are commitments from both the Daily
and from students - both of which must be reinvigorated in the
F or college students looking
for a Democratic presidential
candidate who would signifi-
cantly lighten their
tuition bills, there's
good and bad news.
The good news:
one exists. The bad
news: he dropped
out of the race.
the populist former .
senator, peppered A RL
his early cam-
paign with policy STAMPFL
proposals to help-
students deal with
the ballooning cost of higher educa-
tion. These weren't everyday abstract
commitments to "America's future"
or "our children." His most dramatic
idea was to pay the first year of tuition,
fees and books at a public college - all
of it - for 2 million students who work
part-time and fulfill several other
But there's more good news.
Edwards may have been steamrolled
in the early primaries, but his ideas
weren't. He pushed rivals Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton to the left,
and they now share his zeal for mak-
ing college accessible for everyone.
So is Clinton or Obama better for
students? That's not a simple question.
Both propose making a welcome
change to the way students and their
parents apply for financial aid. Instead
of filling out the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid - whose com-
plexity and length Obama notes pre-
vents many uneducated families from
sending their children to college or
receiving aid - there would be a box
to check on the federal income tax
return. Families who checked the box
would then receive a letter from the
Department of Education listing their
"This will save families and stu-
dents 100 million hours a year," Clin-
ton said in her impressive Oct. 11
speech at New Hampshire's Plymouth
State University in which she outlined
her education plan. "It'll save the gov-
ernment money. And it will increase,
we estimate, the college-going rate by
about 5 to 7 percent." That last esti-
mate sounds too optimistic, but it cer-
tainly would have a positive effect.
Both also propose tax breaks for
families who have children in college.
Under Clinton's plan, a tax credit of up
to $3,500 would be given to families
to offset college costs. Obama is pro-
posing a $4,000 credit. Both propos-
als promise that the money gets to the
families in time to pay the tuition bill
(they differ on how) and that ifa fam-
ily doesn't pay that much in taxes, the
remainder will be refunded to them.
One of Clinton's proposals that
Obama isn't touting is a new GI Bill.
She says it would pay for tuition as
well as athree-year "living allowance"
for military veterans with four years
of active duty. That's a good thing to
hear, and I hope Obama starts talking
about this more, especially given his
grandfather's debt to the original GI
Bill, which sent him to college.
Two other major ideas are unique
to Clinton. One is mandating a fixed
tuition rate for each freshman class
at a public college. That means if stu-
dents pay $22,000 for the first year,
they'll pay the same for the remain-
ing three. The second is changing
the way AmeriCorps participants
are rewarded for their public service
commitment from a static percentage
- which has remained the same since
her husband created the program in
1993, even as tuition has risen - to a
Obama has taken one giant leap
on financial aid policy that Clinton
hasn't. Proddedby Edwards, he is pro-
posing the elimination of subsidies to
private student loan providers in favor
of direct lending by the government.
Some experts say this could pump bil-
lions of dollars into federal financial
aid by cutting expensive - and often
misused - subsidies.
Clinton and Obama both have
strong records on education, so these
aren't empty promises that will dis-
appear around February 2009. For
an idea of how seriously Obama takes
college affordability, consider that the
first bill he sponsored asa U.S. senator
would have increased the maximum
Pell Grant. Both supported regular
Pell Grant increases and voted for one
Would Clinton or
Obama be better
for financial aid?
last year. How they're going to pay for
all of this is not entirely clear, but for
most of their proposals they've provid-
ed some rough calculations. Clinton,
for instance, says she would freeze
the estate tax at 2009 levels, and the
resulting tax revenue from estates val-
ued at more than $7 million would help
pay for financial aid improvements.
Like most issues, there's not much
difference between Obama and Hill-
ary when itcomesto financial aid. Still,
because of his commitment to direct
lending, Obama's proposals would be
slightly better for students' wallets.
If any of this gets done, though, be
sure to thank John Edwards.
Karl Stampfl was the Daily's fall/
winter editor in chief in 2007. He can
be reached at email@example.com.
For the Daily, and specifically this page,
there are many sides to this commitment.
Unapologetically, this page's first and fore-
most responsibility is to students. Before
we cover regional, national or internation-
al issues, we give preference to the issues
that directly affect this university and the
lives of those on campus. The Daily is not
a national newspaper like The Washington
Post or The New York Times, and students
deserve a newspaper that reflecfs their
unique circumstances and concerns. If we
don't cover these issues, few, if any, news-
However, this page has a responsibility
to do more than just mirror the obvious
arguments. While we reflect on the issues
important to students, we should also drive
the debate toward the areas we think are
important but overlooked. In both duties,
it is our obligation to challenge readers
to critically evaluate and reevaluate the
world around them. Some people call the
results from our thinking liberal; some call
it progressive. Unfortunately, these are
only vague labels that have come to define
the Daily and keep many from accepting
our most important overarching ideology
developed over 118 years: Complacency is
not acceptable. This ideology transcends
On our campus and in society, there
are some principles that must be upheld.
Equality. Free speech. Checks on exces-
sive power. Tolerance. These are more
than buzz words and require more than a
vague commitment. We won't compromise
these values and we expect the University
administration, our government and our
society to hold to a similar commitment.
When you as a reader feel that we have
gotten something wrong it is your respon-
sibility to engage in the debate. This can be
as simple as writing a letter to the editor
or writing a longer viewpoint. It can also
mean that you join us at our editorial board
meetings. In either case, we will make
sure that all relevant sides of a debate are
heard, whether they are contrary to the
Daily's views or not.
As editorial page editor, I will be aggres-
sive in facilitating this input. Unlike the
Daily's news section, the opinion section
offers an opportunity for student groups to
write about the issues they care about even
if these issues are not front-page news. If
any group or person thinks an important
issue is not being covered fairly, the opin-
ion page is the place to express this. Unless
this exchange occurs, both parties are
partly at fault.
For 118 years the Daily has enjoyed edito-
rial freedom. This freedom is only possible
because of our vigilance and the engage-
ment of students. One does not function
without the other.
The costs behind the degrees
Editorial Page Editor
Be green, not gullible
How much does it cost to edu-
cate an English student?
It's a question the state
legislature has been
urgency while it
es for some fat to
trim from the state's .
The answer, of
course, is a lot. It
mightsurprise a few A
Republican state ANNE
legislators, but even VANDERMEY
an English degree
requires more than
a copy of the Penguin Classics. There
are the costs of the classroom space,
secretaries, administrators and count-
less other incidental expenses. But
most important, there are the profes-
The foundation of a school's prestige
is its faculty. Relative prestige is impor-
tant because it dictates the quality of
applicants, donations and the number
of research grants. But hiring the best
academic minds in any field is never
cheap. So far, the University has done a
remarkable job of attracting academic
stars without going bankrupt. But its
tenuous position is a perfect example of
how - whether we like it or not - cash
directly impacts education and how
the quality of education is up for sale.
Of course, money isn't everything.
Harvard University's endowment, at
about $34 billion, is almost five times
larger than the University of Michi-
gan's $7.1 billion endowment. How-
ever, few would argue Harvard is five
times as good.
The University may lack the unlim-
ited funds at the disposal of the Michi-
gan of the East, but it's still building
impressive new buildings, attracting
unprecedented numbers of students
and making waves in medical and
social research. The best students
here are just as good as the best stu-
dents there - even though students at
the University can only dream of Ivy
League-style grade inflation. But the
University does fall way behind mega-
endowed schools like Harvard in one
contentious area: These schools can
lure away the best professors.
The University is in a particularly
vulnerable position. It pays full profes-
sors on average a salary of $130,400 a
year, making itthe fourth-highest-pay-
ing public research university in the
country. That's about one-third more
than the average salary for all public
research universities, accordingto data
released by the American Association
of University Professors. However, the
University's average salary is still less
than the average at private research
universities: $136,689. Harvard pays an
average annual salary of $177,400. To
stay competitive, public schools have to
make a better offer. And so, suddenly,
the gaping disparity between public
and private means it costs a whole lot
more to educate an English student.
The University is the fourth-best-
paying public school; it likely isn't a
coincidence that U.S. News & World
Report ranks it as the nation's fourth-
best-public school. However, the Uni-
versity is ranked the 25th best school
overall in the country. since several
substantially wealthier private schools
are ranked much lower, this means it's
leaps and bounds ahead of its better-
funded, private counterparts.
Still, while it might be tempting
to look at the University as a cham-
pion of public universities, taking
up arms against the elitist private
schools, there's really not much moral
high ground it can claim. In March,
an entire department of medical
researchers at an institute in Syracuse
will have picked up shop and moved
to Ann Arbor, where, in a shocking
display of professor poaching, the
University has promised them more
money and better facilities.
The argument for this kind of preda-
tory behavior is that it centralizes
research and learning in a few places.
Proponents would argue that spread-
ing brilliant people indiscriminately
across the country encourages uniform
mediocrity. The argument against the
practice is that it can grossly divide the
quality of education for students of dif-
ferent socioeconomic backgrounds.
The culture, of course, it not some-
thing the University can change by
itself. In the meantime, it has to try to
retain its faculty from other equally
opportunistic schools. To do this, it
could keep upping tuition or allow
professors to spend less time with stu-
dents, both dangerous propositions.
Or, it could let them go. It's true, the
meet free market
loss of top professors might drain the
University's prestige and the research
funding that often comes along with it,
but it might be a better alternative than
accommodating superstars. Professors
who want to be drawn away or are apt
to be swayed by extended sabbaticals
might not fit in here anyway.
The University has already proven
itself remarkably adept at remaining
competitive without a budget compa-
rable to the top private schools'. And
the faculty members who choose to
stay despite the modest pay and the
extra hours with students, are the most
valuable ones. Still, if the state budget
appropriation continues to wane, the
University might not be able to keep up
the gambit much longer.
Anne VanderMey was the Daily's
fall/winter magazine editor in 2007. She
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q What comes to mind when you think ofthe
environment? Hippies? Al Gore? Crunchy
granola? Regular granola? Or maybe none
of the above. These days, it feels like we are
swimming in a messy pool of fact, fiction and
waste. With all the hoopla and assumptions
surrounding what it means to be "green," it
is hard to know what to believe. Many ques-
tions, opinions and lies float around with no
clear indication of whether we are going in
the right direction.
Oh, Magic Eight Ball, please tell us which
presidential candidate will really take action
in our worldwide energy crisis. How do we
find out what ingredients are actually in
our food? What will be the effects of global
warming? And can someone figure out how
to answer "paper or plastic"?
Fortunately, some of our burning ques-
tions can be answered, while others have no
easy response and force us to use our best
judgment. Unfortunately, many companies
take it for granted that consumers won't ask
questions because we are supposedly sheep
driven by money, beauty and the latest con-
will affect the environment, then the aver-
age person will continue to use an estimated
80-100 gallons of water per day; water, air
and soil pollution will contribute to 40 per-
cent of deaths worldwide; Americans will
keep using about 86 billion plastic bags each
year; and 112,000 tons of construction waste
will go on to being buried in landfills annu-
ally. In spite of these facts, are you content
just watching the world function as it is? If
not, then ask, question and confront the big-
shots. Don't accept what you are told and
assume it to be correct.
Every trinket, morsel of food, drop of
water and glob of shampoo has a story
behind it. Every item you buy, whether it is
an iPod, a pair of sneakers or a seemingly
innocent bottle of water has gone through
some type of journey to land in the shop
around the corner.
Therefore, I challenge you to constantly
find out where your products have come
from, how they were made and by whom.
Think about your ecological footprint: how
much waste you leave behind and what you
give back to the Earth.
Once you get on the eco-train - buying
reusable shopping bags, refusing plastic bot-
tles of water and reducing energy use - you
realize that there are good, clean options
everywhere around us. You simply have to
look, and eventually the right choices will
But no one is perfect and occasionally,
green is not synonymous with cheap. In that
case, defy consumerism and buy one pair
of organic cotton jeans instead of five toxic
pairs. Make an effort to alter your behavior
in whatever ways possible. The environ-
ment matters in all areas of life: art, medi-
cine, food, architecture, business, law and
fashion. Take a stand by using eco-friendly
materials, adopting a philosophy of sustain-
ability or developing a connection with the
So, be brave and do more than replace
your light bulbs. There are some nifty items
out there that can satisfy your needs and
make a huge environmental difference.
For one, Apple just released the MacBook
Air. Thin enough to require 56 percent less
packaging waste, the laptop comes with a
longer battery life, a recyclable aluminum
case, a mercury- and arsenic-free display
and polyvinyl chloride-free internal cables.
Or try the solar voltaic backpack, which is
designed to charge cell phones, iPods and
laptops while you are outside. Or order a T-
shirt from onetonco2.com, and the company
will offset one ton of carbon dioxide - the
equivalent saved from a passive solar home
for 154 days - with each purchase.
At the end of the day, figuring out what is
and is not green may get overwhelming. We
live in a nation overloaded with informa-
tion. So sit down, relax and pour yourself a
nice, cold, organic beer.
Mira Mooreville is an LSA freshman.
My fellow Americans, my
speechwriters have nothing of
substance to say.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley,
Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels,
Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed,
Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder,
Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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to the editor. Letters should be less than
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