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February 11, 2008 - Image 4

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4A - Monday, February 11, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

U4ie 0lidoi an a4
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109





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 criticallook at
coverage and content in every sectionof the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Anew legacy
'U' must end unfair preferences for children of alumni
f the 55 questions on the first part of the University's
2008 undergraduate admissions application, there con-
tinues to be at least one unnecessary and unfair question.
It's question No. 30, and, no, it's not the optional question about
an applicant's race and ethnicity. The question that has to go is
the one about the whether an applicant has immediate family
members who are University alumni. For a university that val-
ues fairness and diversity, continuing to consider legacy status in
admissions decisions and even keeping the question on the appli-
cation sends the wrong message.

Doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being
pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
- MSNBC correspondent David Shuster, commenting on Chelsea Clinton's increased participation
in her mother, Hillary Clinton's, presidential campaign, on MSNBC's "Tucker" Thursday.
preiy You know I'm readng the subtitles too!
excited to see SChiyo what are they siy
Repubicans andyour tuition


At universities across the country, legacy
considerations are the antithesis of equal
opportunity. Designed with the purpose of
reinforcing alumni relations and bolstering
donations, the practice gives admissions
preference to students with entrenched
ties to the university they are hoping to
attend. At many universities, the percep-
tion - if not the practice - is that this pref-
erence translates into a higher acceptance
rate for privileged, white students. If an
application is coupled with a big donation,
that's even better.
The University has claimed that things
are different here. While the application
asks about alumni relations, the answer
is supposedly not given much weight and
doesn't help pad the endowment. In the
University's holistic-approach to consider-
ing applicants, legacy is only one of hun-
dreds of factors taken into consideration.
Even when the University waa still: using
the now-illegal points system, students
only received up to four points for being a
legacy. Considering that underrepresented
minorities received 20 points and even
Michigan residents received 10 points, this
wasn't much of a boost.
But here's the catch: No one can quan-
tify how much being a legacy matters - the
University doesn't collect the data. It has no
incentive to keep this information either. If

the University collected data, it would either
find out that its question is deceptive and
doesn't matter, or it would find out that it's
supporting the old-boys-club stereotype of
legacy preferences. It's a lose-lose situation.
Ignorance isn't the only option, though.
The University could do what it should have
done decades ago and simply take the ques-
tion off of the application. If the University
is right and being a legacy doesn't influence
decisions or increase donations, then it's
a useless question that does more harm to
the University's image than it does good.
If the University is wrong and legacy sta-
tus actually affects whether someone gets
into the University or gives money, then
continuing this practice is unquestionably
despicable. Giving preference to appli-
cants who have entrenched histories at
the University is in exact opposition to the
University's commitment to diversity and
_the underlying argument that universities
can provide social mobility for disadvan-
taged groups. And if it's about money, no
one should lose sleep if a few alumni who
think they can buy admissions decisions
stop donating.
Having a parent that went to the Univer-
sity may not guarantee a student's admise
sion, but giving the impression that it may
be a factor, even a minor one, is a deceitful
practice. Question No. 30 needs to go.

Both of the remaining Demo-
cratic presidential candidates
have specific plans to increase
financial aid. The
difference between -
them is narrow, and
if either is elected
to the presidency
students canexpect
a more affordable
tuition bill. Any
student whose pri-
mary concern is
financial aid - and KARL
there are many of STAMPFL
you on campus -
should support the
If you simply have to support a
Republican and want one with an
ambitious financial aid platform, there
isn't a great option. John McCain is
the overwhelming frontrunner in the
Republican race, but is he the best for
students' wallets?
Except for some coded references
to school vouchers, the education
policy positions on his website are
ghosts. Schools must be "account-
able." We should hire "the most effec-
tive, character-building teachers." As
president, he will "pursue reforms."
That's a sharp contrast from the Dem-
ocrats, both of whom provide detailed
McCain doesn't even mention
higher education, let alone financial
aid. The closest thing to a reference to
college affordability is this statement:
' "He understands that we are a nation
committed to equal opportunity, and
there is notequal opportunity without
equal access to excellent education."
There's a tough stance.
McCain's voting record on finan-
cial aid is also abysmal. In July, for

instance, he voted against H.R. 2669,
which did things like limit monthly
repayment bills to 15 percent of dis-
cretionary income (good for students)
and helped clean up subsidies to pri-
vate lenders (good for students). The
bill passed 78-18 in the Senate.
Since Mitt Romney dropped out of
the race last week, McCain has been
attacked by the far right as not conser-
vative enough. As he rushes to ingrati-
ate himself with the right, expect him
to try to seem more "fiscally respon-
sible." College affordability isn't what
Rush Limbaugh wants to hear about.
Besides University of Florida
President Bernie Machen - a former
University of Michigan administra-
tor - who for some peculiar reason
endorsed McCain, the Arizona senator
doesn't have much support in higher
education. According to the Center
for Responsive Politics, those who list
higher education institutions as their
employers have given $2.1 million to
Barack Obama, $1.7 million to Hillary
Clinton and only $228,000 to McCain.
Maybe there's a better reason for that
than liberal bias on campus.
McCain, though, isn't the only
Republican candidate still in the race.
Mike Huckabee has vowed to hang
on at least until McCain clinches the
nomination, even though he doesn't
really have much of a chance. Why?
Because as he said on Saturday, he
"didn't major in math. I majored in
miracles, and I still believe in them,
too." He has also said he doesn't
believe in evolution.
Those aren't the sentiments of
someone you might expect to be a
friend of higher education. But com-
pared to McCain, he's the Ivory Tow-
er's soul mate.
The education policy page on his

official website is more robust than
McCain's, and for a Republican it's
full of specifics about what he's done
in the past and what he wants to do in
the future. Unlike McCain, his poli-
cies don't aggressively pander to the
religious right's support of school
As governor of Arkansas, he has
supported funding increases for the
state's public universities to keep
tuition down. In a 2005 State of the
State address, Huckabee risked polit-
ical backlash to tell the story of an
illegal immigrant who was ineligible
for financial aid. Then he supported


They aren't that

legislation to make in-state tuition
rates and aid available to illegal
Those are the kind of risky, non-
ideological stances students should be
There's another Republican in the
race, Ron Paul. He wants to eliminate
the Department of Education, which
is really all you need to know.
Last week in this space I endorsed
Obama as having better financial aid
policies than Clintonby aslimmargin.
There's a bigger difference between
McCain and Huckabee, and Huckabee
gets the nod for the GOP.
Karl Stampfl was the Daily's fall/
winter editor in chief in 2007. He can
be reached at kstampfl@umich.edu.

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, lmran Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha,
'Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
One last chance for freedom


For several years, students in the Michi-
gan Clinical Law Program -have been tak-
ing turns trying to free Thomas Cress from
a state penitentiary. Cress, a borderline-
retarded father of three, has already served
22 years of a life sentence, without the possi-
bility of parole, for the 1983 rape and murder
of a Battle Creek teenager named Patricia
Cress has steadfastlymaintained his inno-
cence. There was no physical evidence link-
ing Cress to the crime, and his confirmed
alibi was never refuted at trial. He has taken
end passed a polygraph test.
Another man, a convicted rapist and mur-
derer named Michael Ronning, has since
confessed to the crime for which Cress
was convicted. Ronning has been linked to
similar crimes in numerous cities across the
country, including two officially "unsolved"
Battle Creek murders that occurred within
months of Rosanky's.
In 1992, the Battle Creek police chief
asked the prosecutor who had won Cress's
conviction to investigate the Ronning-
gosansky connection. Tragically, the prose-
cutor responded by ordering the destruction
of DNA evidence that could have confirmed
Ionning's guilt and exonerated Cress.
The Michigan Clinical Law Program
typically handles a wide variety of cases for
clients who could not otherwise afford legal
representation - everything from landlord-
tenant issues to minor criminal offenses.
But Cress is without a doubt the program's
most high-profile client. His case received
national attention when Dateline NBC ran
an hour-long special about it roughly seven
years ago.
The Cress case has also inspired federal
legislation. In 2004, Congress passed the
Innocence Protection Act to prevent pros-
ecutors from destroying DNA evidence
after securing convictions. Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.), a sponsor of the act, specifically
pointed to Cress as proof that the law was
. In reference to Cress, Levin said: "It
strikes me as an egregious violation of fun-

damental fairness for a prosecutor, when
told by experienced detectives that a man
is in prison who they believe is innocent of
a crime another man has confessed to, and
that justice requires a new trial at which
physical evidence under the prosecutor's
control would-be highly relevant, to will-
fully and purposefully burn that evidence."
The clinic first became involved with
the Cress case in 2003 when Prof. Bridget
McCormack filed an amicus brief asking the
Michigan Supreme Court to award Cress a
new trial.
After a new trial was denied, McCormack
became Cress's attorney and filed a federal
petition for habeas corpus. But in April the
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the
petition, thus exhausting Cress's last judi-
cial remedy.
Cress's fate now rests on a grant of clem-
ency. As Cress's latest student attorneys
working under McCormack's supervision,
we have been tasked with putting together a
clemency petition that will reach Gov. Jenni-
fer Granholm's desk before her term expires
in January 2011. Although Granholm has
not used her clemency power much to date,
we are hopeful that she is seriously consid-
ering meritorious petitions for clemency at
this time.
We want to distinguish Cress's petition
from the thousands filed each year. Our goal
is to create a multimedia clemency petition
that will convince the parole board to rec-
ommend Cress's release.
For us to succeed, we need help. We
are asking students, particularly those of
you with experience producing films and
designing websites as well as those of you
with a strong interest in law or politics, to
share your talents with us for the benefit of
a man in need.
Just showing that a diverse group of Uni-
versity students has adopted Cress's cause
may be enough to make all the difference.
Tim Kuhn and Doron Yitzchaki are
third-year law students and membersoft
the Michigan Clinical Law Program.

The wrong way
to racial integration
In his recent column, Dave
Mekelburg wrote the follow-
ing about a racist Craigslist post:
"Maybe people heard about it, but
then something scary happened:
they understood where the poster
was coming from" (It's better than
drinking alone, 02/08/2008). This
is a mind-boggling suggestion. By
Mekelburg's logic, we should indict
the entire campus any time students
fail to be outraged over a ridiculous
online posting.
I would like to suggest my own
hypothetical. Maybe students on
campus are smart enough to realize
that at any time of day, on any day
of the week, it is guaranteed that
someone will be posting something
offensive online. Taking these sorts
of fringe comments seriously causes
more discord, not less, and awards
these comments a degree of unde-
served importance.
Instead ofexamininghis ownpref-
erences, Mekelburg has decided that
the reason he feels uncomfortable at
bars is that the rest of the campus
has a problem. If only campus were
as integrated as, say, Baltimore, he
feels we would be in abetter place.
These cities have diverse neigh-
borhoods, but they also have large
sections that are starkly divided
along racial lines. Even a pass-
ing familiarity with Philadelphia's
North Side or Baltimore's West
Side would dispel the assertion that
these cities are perfectly integrated
and harmonious. It's disingenuous
for Mekelburg to gloss over the real
problems of race that confront these
cities, while complaining that there
are too many white people at an Ann
Arbor bar.
Mekelburg did have one good idea
in his column, though. He should go
to a different bar. I'm sure that all of
the patrons at the Brown Jug will be
happy to have one less person sneer-
ing at them.
Michael Saltsman

Nothing new about
mistreating veterans
I was glad to read Ashlea Surles's
column Friday about the substan-
dard treatment of America's war
veterans since the war against ter-
rorism began. (Standing up for our
soldiers, 02/08/2008). Unfortunate-
ly, the substandard treatment of our
war veterans has been an issue for
our country since the Revolutionary
In 1776, the Continental Congress
enacted the first veterans' pension
law. That law granted half pay for
disabled veterans, but payment was
left to state governments because
the federal government didn't have
the authority or funds to pay for
these benefits. During the Great
Depression, World War I veterans
had to march on Washington D.C. to
demand immediate payment of their
service bonuses. After World War II,
the federal government created the
G.I. Bill of Rights. One of the benefits
of the 1944 law paid for up to four
years of education. However, Korean
War veterans were not granted the
same right. They only received pay-
ment for a maximum of three years
of education. These brief examples
demonstrate the indifference that
we, as a country, have shown veter-
ans over our 232-year history.
On Veterans Day each year, we
do little to remember the sacrifices
that our men and women have made.
There are a few parades and ceremo-
nies, but a lot of car sales, furniture
sales and clearances. Do we actually
pause and remember the sacrifice of
these men and women? What did it
cost us to have the right to stand up
and say what we wish or read what
we want?
Maybe I have simplified the issue
somewhat. But perhaps that is the
key. It is a simple issue of respect and
obligation to our veterans for our
freedoms. Surles was on the mark,
but the issue has been around for a
lot longer than the present day.
David Beurer
Plant operations

'U' must compensate
GSIs for their work
During the Jan. 31 talks between
the Graduate Employees Organi-
zation and the University admin-
istration, University negotiators
summarily rejected all of GEO's pro-
posals for a new contract that fairly
compensates the indispensable work
of graduate student instructors. As a
GSI and a member of the union, I am
shocked by the University adminis-
tration's arrogant and unapologetic
response to the contract proposals
that GEO put together after months
of research and extensive surveys of
GSIs. The University simply crossed
out every single proposal and threw
the proposals back across the table.
The proposed changes were not
unreasonable, though. One of the
proposals called for a pay raise for
GSIs that would meet the cost of
living that the University's Office
of Financial Aid says is required for
a graduate student attending the
University. At present, the major-
ity of GSIs make $781 less than this
amount, before taxes. Instead of
agreeing to pay GSIs a living wage,
the University administration pro-
posed that GSI's take an effective
pay cut in the new contract, leaving
us even further below the rate of
inflation and the cost of living.
The University's negotiators are
now sayingthat it does not recognize
the validity of this number, which is
calculated by the Office of Financial
Aid and published on its website. The
number is also used by the federal
government to determine whether *
students are eligible for financial aid.
The University administration
needs to remember that GSIs help
run the University - we teach, grade
and advise undergraduates, who
bring the largest amount of money
into this university. The university
must not take this labor for granted. *
Treat us with the respect that we
deserve: Take our demands seriously
and pay us a living wage.
Stephen Sparks


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