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February 18, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-18

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4A -Monday, February 18, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 4

7JbC irhi43an 3at
Edited and managed by students at
the Universityaf Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

ANDREW GROSSMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

GABE NELSON
MANAGING 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, actsas the readers'representative and takes a criticallook at
coverage and content in every section ofthe paper. Readers are encouragedto contact the public editor
withquestions and comments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
F R MT I rEnDA IIIY
Captive numbers
The'U'has no excuse for not releasing admissions data
In the heated debate between supporters and opponents of
Michigan's ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action
there are few areas of agreement. Except for maybe one area.
Both groups want to know what effect the ban has had in the past
year. Many people - not just students - are particularly interested
in the effect it has had on the one of the ban's key targets: the Uni-
versity's admissions. However, no information has been made avail-
able regarding the incoming freshman class of 2012. Although the
University might be in an uncomfortable position here, there is no
excuse for delaying the release of this vital data.

We, the leaders of our people, democratically
elected, through this declaration proclaim
Kosovo an independent and sovereign state."
- Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, declaring independence from
Serbia, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
WYMAN KHUU C'
rve got an important Res not a real
question for you. person.. But he
How's my favor te What's ppp Who's General Tsao? makes a mean Oh... Yeah
Asin freend doing? Pepper? \ chicken dish he does
Stumbling to a better tradition

I

4
4

Since the state constitutional amendment
went into effect last year, there has been
mounting concern from both sides of the
debate about the University. Opponents of
affirmative action are concerned that the
University isn't following the law, or is side-
stepping it illegally. Supporters of affirma-
tive action fear that losing affirmative action
as a tool to promote diversity would cause
precipitous declines in minority enrollment.
To address these issues, .the Office of
Undergraduate Admissions released sta-
tistics to the media in four cycles over
the course of the last school year. The
first of the four cycles showed a signifi-
cant decrease in the percentage of under-
represented minorities admitted. For the
Law School, statistics released last June
were even more troubling; the percentage
of underrepresented minority applicants-
admitted plummeted from 39.6 percent to a
mere 5.4 percent. Although it's easy to draw
conclusions from these figures, University.
officials repeatedly warned against reading
too much into them. After all, they main-
tained, the admissions process for that year
had been split by the state amendment, and
it was way too early to reach any verdicts
about the consequences.
So now, more than a year after the state
ban on race- and gender-based affirma-
tive action went into effect, how does the
University explain the conspicuous lack of
information for the newly admitted fresh-
man class? For its part, the University hasn't
let the delay in admissions statistics go by
with a shortage of excuses. To begin with,
the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has
complained about the sheer amount of work

involved, noting that additional staff was
hired to help out. If anything, that should be
a reason why it would be possible to release
the data earlier. It has also been argued that
such information was only readily released
after the immediate fallout last fall, and
shouldn't be expected on a regular basis.
But the University has been building up this
year's admissions data as the most impor-
tant yet. Why the sudden change of heart?
Whichever way you look at it, something
doesn't add up.
The Early Response program, put in place
just last year, further complicates the situa-
tion. Applicants that apply before November
receive their admissions decisions by Dec.
21. The fact that these decisions have been
made for so long makes the situation even
more suspect. Such programs have been'
criticized in the pastbecause they favor stu-
dents from affluent, well-represented back-
grounds who begin the process of applying
to college early in their high school career
- a consideration that has led Harvard Uni-
versity and other schools to cancel a similar
option for their applicants.
From a University standpoint, hesitancy
to release such information is understand-
able. If data confirms a sharp decline in
minority admissions, controversy will
erupt over what this holds for the future of
campus diversity. If data shows less change
than expected, opponents of affirmative
action will cry foul. Whichever way the
data goes, the University won't be able to
appease everyone. It's only hope of even
coming close, however, is if it is open and
truthful at all times, not just in MayorApril
when it plans to release the data.

ow that we've all had a chance
to calm down, it's time, for
some final thoughts on the
commencement
debacle.
Here's a recap
of what happened:
Administration
miraculously for- F
gets commence-
ment can't be held
in football stadium
because of con-
struction. Adminis- KARL
tration remembers. STAMPFL
Administration
neglects to ask
students what they think; announc-
es ceremony will be held at Eastern
Michigan University's Rynearson Sta-
dium. Students get angry - perhaps
angrier than they've ever been about
Iraq,Darfurorplummetingstatefund-
ing. Students start Facebook groups.
Students blog. Students tell parents,
grandparents and.local media outlets,
causing the kind of ruckus that might
upset fundraising. Administration
notices. Administration does what it
should have in the first place and gets
students involved by asking them to
vote on where ceremony should be
held. Students vote for Diag.
By the administration's own folly,
the administration and the student
body have stumbled onto a new tradi-
tion that may make more sense than
the old tradition.,
There are some drawbacks to hold-
ing commencement on the Diag. For
instance, each graduate gets six tick-
ets instead of eight. But all things
considered the Diag isn't merely bet-
ter than Rynearson Stadium. It might
alsobe better than Michigan Stadium,
construction or no construction.
The Big House is a symbol of many
of the University's glories, but it is also
a symbol of its sins. I'm probably an
above-average sports fan, but I can
recognize that the athletic side of
the University corrodes the academic
side. Too often the University is forced
to abandon its values on behalf of the

Athletic Department.
There are enough examples of this
to fill a book. Here's one: Erecting lux-
uryboxesonthefootballstadiumtakes
precedent over making the stadium
compliant with the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990. In what other
part of the University would a lawsuit
be necessary to strong arm the admin-
istration into accommodating people
with disabilities? Here's another: The
fans in the student section at football
games sometimes come together in
support of their team, but sometimes
they tear into each other with insen-
sitive slurs (mostly homophobic) and
even violence. In what other part of
the University would this behavior be
socially acceptable?
Holding commencement in the Big
House gives graduates a false final
impression of what this university is
about. It's a dangerous extension of
the athletic culture that does some
good buta lot more bad.
Changing this symbolism would
have tangible effects.
First, fundraising. For many Uni-
versity students, the last memory of
their time in Ann Arbor is graduation
day. When alumni are about to write
a check to the University 20 years
from now, we want them to remember
Angell Hall, not Michigan Stadium.
We want them to endow a professor-
ship in the English department rather
than another athletic scholarship. I'll
be the first to point out the value of
athletic scholarships, but enough is
enough.
This principle holds for the thou-
sands of alumni who come to com-
mencement every year to celebrate
their daughters', grandsons' and
nieces' accomplishment. Let's give
them the visual clue that the academ-
ic side needs their money more than
the athletic side.
Second, the localmedia covers com-
mencement heavily, especially when
there's a prominent speaker like Bill
Clinton last year. In the week lead-
ing up to the May 1 deadline for high
school seniors to commit to colleges,

it would be nice to attract the kind of
students who are drawn by televised
images of the University's Diag side
rather than its Big House side.
There are some good reasons fornot
holding commencement on the Diag.
There's tradition. But isn't a univer-
sity the kind of place where we have
an honest debate about the traditions
that don't make sense? And there are
logistical concerns.
Maybe commencement on the Diag
will be a calamity. Maybe the grand-
parents in the last row who traveled
all the way from New Mexico to see
their grandchildren graduate won't
be able to clearly hear every word Bob
Woodruff says. Maybe traffic will
be so backed up that people in Chi-
cago will be late for work on Monday
morning.
The Diag could be
more than a
temporary fix
If the ceremony goes smoothly,
though, the administration needs to
start a conversation on campus about
whether commencement should be
moved back to Michigan Stadiumifit's
ready in April 2009. If administrators
won't - and something tells me they
probably won't - students should.
Can you imagine a new tradition
in which campus gathers each spring
at its academic center - the crowd
flanked by academic buildings, the
cathedrals of our education - to send
a new class out into the world? The
symbolism would be thick. The spring
air would be warm. The sun would be
bright.
Unless it rains, of course.
Karl Stampfl was the Daily's fall/
winter editor in chief in 2007. He can
be reached at kstampfl@umich.edu.

4

I

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, lmran Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha,
Kate Truesdell, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel.Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

Michigan, bringer ofchange

An opportunity to speak up
about mental health issues
TO THE DAILY:
In her column Friday Kate Truesdell did
her part to help reduce the stigma of depres-
sion, bipolar and anxiety by talking about
her own struggles and the struggles of her
family members who have been diagnosed
with these disorders (The depressing state
of our minds, 02/15/2008). While one could
take issue with her use of the word "crazy"
to describe how she feels, her discussion
of the prevalence of depression and related
conditions on college campuses is an impor-
tant one.
This issue is so important that five years
ago leadership at the University of Michi-
gan Depression Center partnered with the
University's Counseling and Psychological

Services along with other campus entities to
create the Depression on College Campuses
Conference. In its 6th year, this year's confer-
ence will take place at Rackham March 18-19,
and will focus on creating healthy communi-
ties. This national conference, which is free to
students, brings together experts from across
the country to present model programs,
research studies and practical strategies for
addressing the mental health needs of diverse
student bodies. It also recognizes outstand-
ing student leadership in the area of campus
mental health with a Student Mental Health
Advocate Award.
We encourage students to take advantage
of the opportunity for open and honest dia-
logue, as Truesdell advocated in her column,
by attending this conference.
Gail Campanella
The letter writer is the chief of stafffor the
University of Michigan Depression Center

LILA KALICK
V-izA CA'qgsTE\40 uWMsoetsAINl
oosoe wA-. ANP Bfsw r- t
psloP A WIlrIlOeswA1l
W pea tis 0 A' ts

anuary was a cruel month for
Michigan Democrats. Detroit
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was
busted for cover-
ing up a sex-scan-
dal that cost the
city millions (with
the blessing of the
inept Detroit City
Council).Gov. Jen-
nifer Granholm
delivered anoth-
er uninspiring ANNE
and implausible
State of the State VANDERMEY
address, this time
about how wind
turbines might lift the state outof eco-
nomiccrisis.And maybethe unkindest
cut of all, Democratic primary voters
went to the polls a month early to vote
in a sham election without delegates,
only to find out that if the state had
kept its Feb. 9 spot, it would have been
a pivotal player in cuttingthrough the
post-Super Tuesday confusion.
Sure, it might make a lot of people's
blood boil when they consider that
nearly $10 to 12 million in taxpayer
money paid for an election in which
the only conceivable purpose was
to finance the creation of new voter
lists for the state party. But there's
another side to the Michigan primary
debacle - a side that's at least a little
brighter.
It's hardto remember now, but there
were two reasons Michigan Demo-
crats wanted to kill the February pri-
mary. The first was to manipulate the
system to favor specific candidates -
different Democratic factions agitated
for different contenders, adding to
the confusion. The second, both more
honorable and more important, was to
steal some of Iowa's thunder.
It's possible to win the nomination
without winning over Iowans who
traditionally vote in the nation's first
nominating contest. But it's not easy,
and lots of people think that's the way

it should be. Iowa, with about a third year's paid tuition. If it's that easy tc
of the population of Michigan, has pt a price tag on a vote, then the pros
been hailed as a state so small that pect of upending Iowa's monopoly on
big-money politics can't sway the vot- early primary pandering in exchange
ers like old-fashioned baby-kissing for one season of disenfranchise
and door-knocking. Just think of this ment should seem like a bargain. The
year's outcome when the multi-mil- importance politicians place on Iowa
lion dollar Mitt Romney machine was has resulted in thousands and thou.
trampled by Mike Huckabee, who was sands of dollars in federal aid and sub-
so strapped for cash he had a three- sidies coming into the state for each o
person policy staff and his national the 347,000 people who caucused. An
field director was his 25-year-old iPod Touch costs about $300.
daughter. But just because the state The question is, will Michigan's
is small doesn't mean it should be gamble work? Was this really Iowa's
allowed to handpick the nation's last hurrah? Or will the maneuves
frontrunners. simply deprive millions of people o
No study I've seen has showed that their right to have a say about th
Iowans are more interested, more 2008 nominees? We probably won':
enthusiastic or more educated than know until 2012. Even then, if ther
primary voters in other states, though
some suggest the opposite. Plus, the
priorities of rural corn-farming com- A meaningless
munities don't always match up with
those of the rest of America. Both vote that could
Hillary Clinton and John McCain
were once opposed to corn-farming
subsidies, but changed their minds as change everything
the Iowa contests approached.
That's not just unsettling because
the subsidies help to produce corn- is reform, it won't be just Michigan
based ethanol, an environmentally taking credit for it. The best pos.
unfriendly substitute for the sugar- sible outcome for state Democrats
based ethanol that comes from Bra- would be a do-over caucus after the
zil. It's not even that the subsidies are Texas and Ohio primaries, which
driving up the price of food world- would mean Michigan would get tt
wide, because a spike in the price of vote even after having taken its stand
any one crop will cause more farmers - the electoral equivalent of having
to plant it instead of something else, your cake and eating it too. Unfortu
driving up the price of all crops. It's nately the Michigan party officials
that Iowa alone gets an average of insist it isn't feasible.
morethan $1billionworthofthe dubi- Still, it's nice to know that while
ous subsidies each year - just think of state politics seem to hit new lows
what $1 billion could do for Michigan every month, at least our state made
companies like the Big Three, or hell, an effort to put an end to the undemo-
Faygo Cola. cratic system that exists now. And hey
In a November survey of New York maybe next time our delegates will be
Universitystudents,researchersfound seated.
that roughly20 percent of them would
give up the right to vote in a presiden- Anne VanderMey wasthe Daily's
tial election in exchange for an iPod fall/winter magazine editor in 2007. She
Touch. Two-thirds would do it for a can be reached at vandermy@umich.edu

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