4A - Thursday, February 21, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
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Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Pretty bad for patients, pretty good for
Allison Zieve, an attorney for the petitioners, discussing her defeat in a Supreme Court case that makes
it more difficult to sue producers of medical devices, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI I
Dude, you'veg HD-DVD just lost the Well. I wouldtry to stop
help me. Im in some Hi-def War, and I just aldg mportantinvestment
serious hot water. bought 10,000 HD-DVD decisions based on home
opies of Transformers. mov eboxaranddhenput
What should I do? a new addition on your 7d b
When only the story matters
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 section oftthe paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at email@example.com.
7R, H E _011.Y
New policy eases burden of parenthood, but more to go
eing a full-time student is hard. Being a full-time student
and a new parent is even harder. Rackham School of Grad-
uate Studies recognized the difficulty students face in pur-
suing an education while starting a family, and recently announced
its Graduate Student Parental Accommodation Policy to ease the
strain on new student parents. Offered to both male and female
students, the policy allows students who are soon to be parents,
including those adopting a child under six years old, to still be con-
sidered full-time students while affording them six weeks leave
with extended deadlines on assignments. While this policy eases
the hardship, the services offered by the University after this six-
week window will really show its commitment to helping new par-
ents who happen to be students.
hen Orlando Magic cen-
ter Dwight Howard took
off his jersey to reveal a
on Saturday night,
he had every single
one of the 17,961
fans packed into
New Orleans Arena
in the palm of his t
hand.He could have
tripped on his shoe-
laces and fallen, IMRAN
and yet the people
would swear they'd SYED
seen him fly.
day Night, a raucous event during the
National Basketball Association's All-
Star Weekend, features the storied
slam-dunk competition. As the sports
media congregated in New Orleans,
all week it buzzed about Howard, the
6-foot, 11-inch giant with the agility of
a man half his size and bulging biceps
that would put even Shaquille O'Neal
to shame. Though a player as tall as
Howard generally lacks the leaping
ability of truly spectacular dunkers, he
was the consensus favorite.
After scoring a perfect 50 on his
first dunk, Howard emerged with
a Superman costume and cape to
attempt his second dunk. He lined up
at mid-court, dashed toward the rim,
caught a bounce pass from a teammate
and took off from just inside the free-
throw line, a veritable missile bearing
in on its target.
Some people may not have seen
what happened next - but it didn't
matter. As the crowd and the com-
mentators on TNT exploded in cheers
before Howard even landed, it was
impossible to mistake it: This was the
greatest dunk in history.
Never mind that it didn't actually
Though Howard received another
perfect score, replays showed that the
ball was slipping from his hand and
onto his wrist as he attempted the
dunk. Feeling the ball slip, Howard
simplythrew it through the hoop with-
out his hand ever touching the rim. In
previous dunk contests, such a "dunk"
may not even have counted, and the
judges would definitely dock points
due to the fact that you have to actually
dunk the ball in a dunk contest.
But not this time. Not for Howard.
Not for what this story had become.
And so it was that Dwight Howard
revitalized the dunk contest, the NBA,
sports and America itself. There it is,
all neatly packaged for you to consume
- the little inconveniences of fact and
truth filtered out for convenience.
But what does that matter? It was
just some trivial dunk contest in some-
thing as meaningless as sports. Surely
a little embellishment by the media
makes no difference? Perhaps not, but
consider that this is exactly the same
thing the national media has always
done with presidential campaigns,
and this whole media narrative thing
becomes a pretty serious hurdle.
In his 1993 book "Out of Order,"
Thomas Patterson outlined a now
classic argument, decrying the media
for its obsession with forecasting and
anointing winners and losers. Pat-
terson stressed that the media has
become the main stage of political
discussion, a role it was never meant
to serve. The media wants to tell a
story, and it will do that, often regard-
less of the facts.
For this love of a solitary, definitive
narrative that makes the real world
easy to understand - and sell - the
media is willing to simplify complex
issues of ideology, theory and cir-
cumstance into 30-second pieces
consumed with all the trouble of a
So it is that Barack Obama is the
candidate of change, never mind how
much he has diluted his message.
John McCain is a maverick, never
mind that he has been a puppet of the
Bush administration on some of the
most important issues of the day. Hill-
ary Clinton has the experience, never
mind that she simply doesn't. Mike
Huckabee is crazy because he doesn't
believe in evolution, never mind that,
as Daily columnist Karl Stampfl point-
ed out last week (Republicans and your
tuition, 02/11/2008), he's actually the
Republican most friendly to education
This is something you must all
know by now: You shouldn't just
believe what you hear. Instead you
should take the trouble to understand
it for yourself But do any of us both-
er to cut through the inane fallacies
emerging each night from the CNN
"Election Center" or its equivalents on
Believe it or not,
the truth actually
Fox News and MSNBC? The 24-hour
cable news cycle is something our
generation will always live with: We
had better learn to understand how
to slice through it while maintaining
that most basic tenant of democracy
- political awareness.
The national media may have said
that the Michigan primary didn't mat-
ter, but I know it mattered to voters
like me. It also mattered to me that, if
Huckabee was the only frontrunner to
raise his hand and profess disbelief in
evolution, he may well have been the
only one who didn't lie.
Little things like the truth should
matter to you, too.
lmran Syed was the Daily's fall/winter
editorial page editor in 2007. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's difficult to harshly criticize the new
policy. All too often, prospective parents
must choose between having a family and
pursuing a career, but these two options
shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Rackham's
new policy gives students the option to
combine an academic career with a family
life, eliminating the difficult and unneces-
sary "either/or" decision.
By reaching out to student parents, the
policy also works to remove the stigma that
so often accompanies a student pregnancy
and creates a more welcoming atmosphere
for students with children. This will in turn
increase the University's ability to attract
graduate student instructors with differ-
ent experiences. Before the new policy's
proposal, GSIs risked losing their insurance
coverage if they required maternity leave or
needed to support a spouse in child delivery.
This kind of harsh penalty is unacceptable.
Perhaps the best aspect of the policy is
that it applies equally to men and women.
The days of women staying home to cook
dinner and raise the kids are as outdated
as corsets and dowries. Men are now more
involved in the parenting process, and
Rackham should be applauded for its efforts
at gender equality.
But as progressive as Rackham's policy
sounds, the University's work on support-
ing student parents is far from over. The
responsibility of caring for a child requires
more than a six-week commitment. While
Rackham supplements the policy with other
resources like workshops and online expla-
nations of the policy, the greatest benefits
will come from concrete resources to ben-
efit both parents and children, like afford-
able child care centers.
By providing affordable and flexible day
care, the University can show its commit-
ment to students beyond the six weeks
given in the policy to new parents for leave.
Of those who use the University's childcare
centers, some have complained that the
University's-current childcare centers offer
limited hours with a limited number of
slots. Expanding this service would greatly
benefit employees and students.
To truly serve the needs of student
parents, the Graduate Student Parental
Accommodation Policy must provide more
long-term, concrete resources for parents to
use. Six weeks may be enough time to com-
plete assignments in extended deadlines,
but it is not enough time to meet the chal-
lenges that come with parenthood.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Harun Buljina, 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.
MIKE EBER E
From ivory towers to politics
City should respect
impact of students
However, everyday conflicts
are more common than random
assaults. Having access to handguns
could prove dangerous in those
situations. Does Shiafer think that
Many tenured professors on campus will
tell you that being a professor is one of the
most comfortable, if not rewarding, jobs a
person can have. From an American per-
spective then, it would seem odd for a pro-
fessor to leave the comforts of collegiate life
to try leading a struggling democracy. This
is exactly what Ross School of Business Pro-
fessor Jan Svejnar did. Despite the fact that
Svejnar narrowly lost the race for the Czech
Republic's presidency, he serves as an exam-
ple for how professors can take their superi-
or problem-solving skills into elected office.
Beyond Svejnar, I was even more amazed
to hear from my friend and former gradu-
ate student instructor, Kan Takeuchi, about
professors making the leap. Some may
remember Kan for teaching Japanese at the
University while earning his doctorate in
economics. Now, returningto his almamater
in Japanto workas a finance professor, Kan's
ambition no longer rests in academia. Like
many other Japanese professors, he aspires
to springboard into a political career using
his academic success. It is the norm in Japan
for professors to use their titles to become
public commentators in the local media, and
then build a reputation from that position to
become a dependable and intelligent leader.
When Kan told me this I chuckled at the
irony. Compared to America, where it seems
that there are more real-estate agents in
politics than career academics, being a pro-
fessor is more of a red flag than a something
to publicize. We ask, "How can some person
high atop an ivory tower ever relate to the
American on the street?"
And this is precisely the problem.
Excluding Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama from the equation, only 27 of the 533
members of Congress can boast any time as
full-time college or university professors.
Some of the more notable academics include
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen.
Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Michigan Rep. Vern
Ehlers earned a doctorate in nuclear phys-
ics before assuming the chairmanship of the
Calvin College physics department.
Hardened skeptics explain academia's
absence in elected office as a phenomenon
attributable to professors being too smart or
too enmeshed in political sausage making. A
tenured university position is too comfort-
able of a job to throw away for the campaign
trail. On the other hand, critics also con-
tend that scholars serve a more useful role
as advisors to elected officials, leaving the
politics to politicians and the policy to the
Why leave this division of political labor
to people who later disavow the scholar-
ship these topics like some politicians treat
global warming as if it is a pagan deity to be
American democracy is for everyone. The
experiences of Congressional leaders range
from Rep. Heath Schuler (D-N.C.), a former
Washington Redskins quarterback, to Rep.
Eugene Price (D-N.C.), a Duke University
political science and public policy professor.
Part of the American mystique is that any-
body can be an elected leader. It is in Amer-
ica's best interest to have a wide variety of
professionals in positions of leadership. And
if the professional expertise of our elected
leaders reflects the solutions they bring to
government, then the American people may
be better off having fewer executives in
Call me an academic elitist jaded by the
aura of a prestigious degree, but America
can stand to be a bit more like Japan in this
regard. Beyond the "Vote or Die" initiatives
that normally entice college students to
vote, a more academic array of candidates
might do the trick. As one student remarked
of Obama's experience as a constitutional
law professor, "He actually seemed to take
everyone's point of view seriously. If he
could bring that to bear in the internation-
al level with foreign dignitaries and heads
of state, I think that would put us in good
standing with the rest of the world."
Mike Eber is an LSA senior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.
TO THE DAILY: deadly weaponry,
I agree with the observations by used inappropriate
some people in Sara Lynne Thelen's gested cure that is
article about how Ann Arbor unfair- disease.
ly targets students when giving trash
violations (Near campus, a dirty war Scott Hanley
overgarbage, 02/18/2008). Ireceived School ofInformation
a trash violation last December after
my housemates and I left Ann Arbor Pay the moi
for the holidays. When we returned, Y
we could do little butgrudgingly pay ou owe R
the $160 fine. Instead of fining us for yo o e
what turned out to be our neighbors'
garbage on our lawn, the Ann Arbor TO THE DAILY:
Police Department could have issued Rich Rodriguez,
us a warningto clean it up, which we acting like a MicE
would have gladly heeded. even just a man. Yo
Blatant anti-student policies harm ginia University $4
the very people who give Ann Arbor it not because you:
its vibrancy. Without the University but because you sai
and its students, Ann Arbor would would pay. As a lam
be another bland suburbia. When I understand the c
students graduate, many stay, giving ment you made. F
companies like Google a reason to spective, it might eN
relocate here. Without the Univer- you're not a lawyer,
sity and its graduates, could Michi- regular defendant.
gan count Ann Arbor as one of few to gain anything by
bright spots in this bleak economy? obligation.
Finally, I took issue with Ann The first thing:
Arbor resident Cynthia Nixon's hor- school is to think
rendously sexist comment that, "We
just don't feel that young boys can
maintain a historic house." Rather
than cowardly unleashing the police ARIELA STEIF
on the neighbors she clearly does not
respect - raisingthe already absurd
cost of living - she should work
with them to maintain a neighbor-
hood everyone can enjoy.
would never be
ly? This is a sug-
worse than the
it's time to start
higan Man - or
u owe West Vir-
million. You owe
signed a contract
d that's what you
w school student,
rom a legal per-
ven be clever. But
and you're not a
You aren't going
y contesting your
you learn in law
about the reper-
cussions of legal action. I under-
stand that you don't want to pay
$4 million, but even if you win this
lawsuit, you still lose in the longrun.
Because of your actions, you have no
right to complain when a verbally
committed Michigan recruit breaks
his pledge and goes somewhere else.
Why should an 18-year-old keep a
non-binding promise to play for you
when you wouldn't keep a legally
binding promise to West Virginia?
And when you recruit in the future,
how are the players and parents sup-
posed to trust you when you make
promises? I sure wouldn't, not now.
Looking at this from a purely
financial perspective, you will still
lose this case. Even if you can reduce
the buyout, your legal fees will cost
more than any reduction. It may
even end up costing you more than
$4 million in the end.
And what about that closure you
keep asking for? I see you on ESPN,
asking for the West Virginia fans to
leave you alone. They're not going to
do that, especially not with an open
lawsuit. Be a man, and pay up. You
don't seem like the great coach and
great man you once did - not now,
not like this.
A solution loaded
with possible hazard
TO THE DAILY:
In his letter to the editor Tues-
day, Marshal Shlafer suggested that
we would be safer from the threat
of random shooters if people were
allowed to carry concealed hand-
guns on campus (An armed campus
is a safer campus, 02/19/2008). If a
campus shooting ever happens at
the University, I'm sure it would
end quicker if more students were