4A -Monday, January 7, 2008
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Following the trend
'U' should find a way to compete with Harvard's largesse
H arvard wants to be your state university. In a bold move
to attract more middle-class applicants, Harvard Uni-
versity announced an expansion of its financial aid
program last month, allowing families earning up to $180,000 a
year to receive grant-based aid. Always the trendsetter, the move
makes Harvard as affordable as public universities like our own,
potentially drawing qualified applicants away from state schools
and states that need them. Realistically, the University can't hope
to match this kind of grant-based financial aid, but the model is
still one to mimic.
Hey there! Im
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want me to call you?
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English name I No. I1llstick
should call you? wit Chiy
We've been there all along
Harvard's new financial aid program
is essentially a progressive tuition model.
While tuition is the same, the actual cost
of attending the university is reduced for
lower-income students by offering grants
to almost all students based on need.
Unlike debt-accruing loan programs,
which just postpone the cost of college
for students, grant-based financial aid is
immediate relief. Students now pay what
they can afford, making Harvard just as
accessible no matter how much money
students' parents make.
Understandably, Harvard's new program
is out of the University of Michigan's or the
state of Michigan's reach. Only a few pri-
vate universities like Harvard can make
this generous of an offer. The University,
with an endowment of $7.1 billion, is at a
slight disadvantage. Nonetheless, Harvard
has raised the ante, stretching its commit-
ment to become as affordable and accessi-
ble as possible, and our university and state
shouldn't back down.,
The fact that states cannot compete
financially with a private institution like
Harvard is an embarrassment. In our own
state it shows how poorly Michigan has
done in ensuring the availability of quality
education at a reasonable cost. Despite the
state's dire economic situation, it should
still be able to deliver its promise of mak-
ing Michigan a haven of higher education.
If it doesn't, the state will only fall farther
behind the rest of the country.
The University should be doing its part as
well. At the top of its priority list should be
offering more grant-based loan packages,
instead of burdensome loan-based pack-
ages, and utilizing the endowment to meet
this goal. Private donations to the Univer-
sity often have earmarks designating their
use for specific programs. Such donations
are allocated to buildings, technology or
specialty scholarships for instance. The
Universityshould require apercentage of all
donations to go directly to a general fund,
making them available for financial aid.
Along the same lines, the expansion of
Harvard's financial aid program is spe-
cifically designed to draw in students who
would otherwise have never considered
Harvard. The University should have the
same commitment to economic diversity
and accessibility. While extending finan-
cial aid to families earning up to $180,000
is unrealistic, the University must make
efforts to increase financial aid for a larger
Maybe the University can't be a trendset-
ter like Harvard in developing a progres-
sive, new tuition model. But together with
state legislators, this is the University's
opportunity to be another kind of trend-
setter: the kind that proves making college
affordable doesn't cost $35 billion.
ne of the biggest stories to
come out of the aftermath
of the Iowa caucuses was
the huge turnout
of young voters.
The day after the
were littered with '
lines about what
called Obama's _
"Youth Vote Tri-A
umph." As a head- ANNE
line in The Nation VANDERMEY
put it, "Young Peo-
ple Just Made His-
tory." People wondered aloud if they
misjudged the generation that seems
to get more excited about Facebook
than about the war in Iraq.
But what's getting lost in all the
talk about the unprecedented num-
ber of youth voters is that, relatively
speaking, turnout for the 17- to 29-
year-olds bracket shouldn't have
been so shocking. Data compiled by
Center for Information & Research
on Civic Learning & Engagement, a
non-profit group focused on youth
civic and political involvement, shows
that while Democratic youth turnout
was substantially higher than that of
Republicans, the total percentage of
caucus-goers under the age of 30 was
18 percent, up just one percentage
point from 2004.
What this means is that while the
youth vote did go up dramatically,
so did everyone else's vote. The real
story is that turnout was up, not that
youth turnout was up. Last weekend's
narrative that young people have
finally shaken off the stranglehold of
apathy that had seemingly gripped
our generation, while inspirational,
rings a little hollow. We were never
that detached to begin with.
Sure, there aren't protests on the
Diag like there used to be. But even in
1972, the general election voter turn-
out for people under age 30 was only
about 55 percent - not that much
higher than it is now. The worst years
for youth voter turnout since then
were also the lowest for the rest of
the population: 1996 and 2000. Even
in those two years, the rates hovered
around 40 percent. Once our genera-
tion reached the voting age in 2004,
turnout again jumped to almost 50
percent. The truth is, kids these days
aren't as apathetic as the pundits
think we are.
What does this mean for the Demo-
cratic victor in Iowa, Barack Obama?
First, as far as the primaries go, his
emphasis on the youth vote was well
placed. With 57 percent caucusing
for him, young voters gave a more
resounding endorsement to Obama
than evangelical Christians did to
Mike Huckabee, and that's saying
something. Young voters did make
the difference Friday, but not because
of some miracle of turnout - more
likely it was because they voted as
more of a block.
outwas the continuationofatrend, not
a statistical blip, Obama need not fret
about youth in the general election.
Young voters will turn out, just like
they always have. Plus, youth turnout
is on a clear upswing, so there's no real
reason to think it won't continue rising
even above 2004 numbers.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean
Obama would have an easy ride in the
general election. As John Kerry could
tell you, the youth vote isn't every-
thing. In 2004, Kerry owed his loss
largely to social conservatives voting
for the controversial constitutional
amendments to ban gay marriage that
also appeared on many ballots, not
because youth voters abandoned him.
A lot has changed since 1972. Now
that Students Organizing for Labor
and Economic Equality isn't stripping
down rugby players outside the Flem-
ing Administration Building anymore,
compelling student protest has all but
disappeared. The only Diag gathering
of any real significance this year was
the Go Blue, Beat OSU Pep Rally, and
a lot of good it did us. Still, weighted
for population, young people made up
a larger percent of the electorate in the
2004 presidential election than they
ever have before - more than even in
1972, when 18-year-olds got the vote.
That's impressive, especially consider-
ing we didn't even live through a draft.
wasn't apathetic in
the first place.
Still, it's probably wise for the
Obama campaign to keep thinking
about young voters the way it has
in the past, as "icing on the cake."
Obama can't rock the student vote all
the way to the White House any more
than Clinton could rely on her stron-
gest demographic of older, married
women to take her all the way - and
they account for more of the popula-
tion than the 17-29 year old bracket.
Obama will get a boost if he can ride
the already upward trend of youth
turnout without making it a compre-
hensive strategy, and it's possible that
it could make the difference.
After all, who wants to eat a cake
Anne VanderMey is the Daily's
magazine editor. She can be reached
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
Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
STUDENTS FOR BIDEN, EDWARDS AND OBAMA r'
For change, vote uncommited
We're not quite there yet
When voters cast their ballots, they deserve
the opportunity to choose between all of the
candidates. Due to the recent controversy
about the Michigan's Jan. 15 primary, one
week from tomorrow Michigan voters will
not be allowed to directly cast votes for Demo-
cratic presidential candidates Barack Obama,
John Edwards, Joe Biden or Bill Richardson.
It is around this common dilemma that Stu-
dents for Obama, Students for Edwards and
Students for Biden have united. We encourage
voters to cast a vote that will allow them to
support not one, but all four of the candidates
who will not appear on the Michigan ballot.
This year, the primary election is going to
work a little differently than it has in the past.
When you enter a polling location you will be
asked whether you would prefer a Democratic
or Republican ballot. The Democratic ballot
will have alistoffour candidates: Hillary Clin-
ton, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike
Gravel. The ballot will also have an option to
write-in a candidate ortto vote uncommitted.
We encourage students to vote Democrat-
ic. We also encourage all voters supporting
Barack Obama, John Edwards or Bill Rich-
ardson to vote uncommitted. Joe Biden has
withdrawn from the race, and students sup-
porting his campaign are encouraged to make
a decision about the remaining candidates
and vote accordingly. By voting uncommitted
you will elect delegates who have the option
to cast a vote for anyone at the Democratic
National Convention. Michigan rules permit
local party conventions to select these del-
egates, allowing the Obama, Edwards and
Richardson campaigns to organize their sup-
porters to elect delegates who would support
them at the national convention.
It is important to note that you cannot
write in a vote for any of these four candi-
dates because they have not requested to be
considered write-in candidates. All write-in
votes for Obama, Edwards, Biden or Richard-
son will be disregarded.
As the leaders of our respective groups
on campus, we also feel that it is our duty
to encourage students to vote. Young voters
had a major impact on Thursday's Iowa cau-
cuses and delivered a tremendous victory to
candidates who want change. Their votes
propelled Obama to victory in Iowa and gave
Edwards a stunning second-place finish over
Clinton. Both Obama and Edwards symbolize
a break from the business-as-usual approach
in politics by refusing to accept money from
lobbyists and opposing the status quo. After
a principled run, Biden withdrew from the
presidential race after the Iowa caucuses, but
continues to fight for the American people
in the U.S. Senate. Bill Richardson finished
fourth in the Iowa caucuses and is continuing
his campaign in New Hampshire.
This election is one of the most important
in our history. After eight years of President
Bush, voters must ask themselves whether
they want more of the same or if they would
like a new and refreshing approach to poli-
tics. In this election, student voters have the
potential to be a catalyst for change. Student
voters also have the opportunity to deliver a
break from the past and send the Democratic
Party into a new and better future.
Please remember to vote uncommitted on
Tuesday, Jan. 15.
This viewpoint was written by Travis Radina.
Radina is chair of the University's chapter of
Students for Edwards. Tom Duvall and Justin Schon
co-signed it. Duvall is chair of the University's
chapter of Students for Obama. Schon is chair of
the University's chapter of Students for Biden.
OnThursday afternoon it
wasn't looking good for
Obama. The pun-
dits were fore-
casting that his
chances of win-
ning Iowa hinged
on young caucus-j
goers, mostly col- 3
lege students. He -
was begging young
people to come out, KARL
asking out-of-state STAMPFL
students to return
from their breaks
early to caucus for him, to sleep in
college gymnasiums and to bring
To a person who has seen stu-
dents' half-hearted attempts at activ-
ism firsthand, that sounded like a
naive strategy. Young people gener-
ally don't vote. Sometimes they get
together on the Diag and shout about
something until they have homework
to do. Sometimes they join Facebook
groups. Sometimes they write col-
umns in their campus newspapers.
Then on Thursday night students
did a peculiar thing. They logged off
of Facebook. They put their summer
internship searches on hold. They
bundled up. They got into cars and
buses, a small group of people repre-
senting a generation of people, trav-
eling through the cornfields and the
cold, on their way to farmhouses and
high school gyms. They caucused.
Some in the news media have cel-
ebrated this as a generational upris-
ing fit for Hollywood. By listening to
them, you might believe the nation's
youth have come out of the Iowa corn
like the long-dead baseball players in
"Field of Dreams." It's hard not to be
romantic aboutthis, but it's important
to be a little skeptical.
According to some reports, youth
turnout at the caucuses increased
dramatically from 2004, tripling to
65,000 among 17- to 29-year-olds.
Obama commanded more than 50
percent of those voters on the Demo-
cratic side, propelling him to an eight-
point victory over John Edwards and
a nine-point triumph (there's really no
other word) over Hillary Clinton.
Turnout among people of all ages
was up from 124,000 in 2004to about
240,000 this year among Democrats
and from 87,666 in 2000 to about
116,000 this year among Republicans.
The increases were products of the
wide-open, emotional race, but also
of the roughly 44,000 extra young
In student-dominated areas the
turnout was especially dramatic,
boosting Obama. A precinct in Des
Moines near Drake University with
279 caucus-goers four years ago had
444 this year. In Ward One, which
includes Grinnell College, Obama
won 21 of 37 delegates.
But is the surprising turnout of
young voters a new trend or a fluke?
We'llfind out more during the spring
Michigan Student Assembly election,
in this fall's state Senate elections and
in the next Ann Arbor mayoral elec-
tion - and during the general election,
especiallyif Obama isn't nominated.
Obama drew many of those young
voters. In a lot of ways, he's the ideal
candidate for students. He's 46 years
old. He's attractive. He's biracial. His
selling point .is hope, something we
still have alotof.HillaryClinton's sell-
ing point is the fear of change, some-
thing we don't have a lot of. In short,
he's the best of us. He's the America
we're not yet too jaded to believe in.
The real test for
student turnout is
yet to come.
When the options aren't as stark
- or as emotional - as Obama (the new
guard) and Clinton (the old guard), will
young people still come out to vote?
One thing that is clear: If young
people want to have the power to
change things - things as global as
America's strategy in a volatile Paki-
stan or as local as an Ann Arbor City
Council decision to ban couches from
porches - they have to vote. There's
nothing Hollywood about that.
Karl Stampfl is the Daily's
editor in chief. He can be reached
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