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February 22, 2008 - Image 4

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I

4A -Friday, February 22, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University ofMichigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
rarhedaily@umich.edu

This sounds like a pointless exercise to me -
speculating about reporting that may or may
not result in an article."
--Bill Keller, The New York Times executive editor, responding to a question about whether the Times would run a
story appearing yesterday that hinted to an alleged John McCain scandal, as reported yesterday by The New Republic.
Polling for approval

I

ANDREW GROSSMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

GABE NELSON
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflectthe oficialpositiun ofthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustratiuns represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts asthe 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 anducomments. He can be reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Taking out the trash
City litter policy flawed, but students are part of problem
f you litter, you will pay the price - and a steep one at that.
Many students are finding that out the hard way, some of
these students undeservingly. While Ann Arbor's current
policy of issuing large fines for trash violations aims to keep our
neighborhoods clean, the city's policy seemingly targets residents
whose only crime is their status as college students. But unfair
policy or not, if you are piling trash on your yard like you live in a
dump, clean up after yourself - that way no one would have any-
thing to complain about.

lection day is nearly ayear away
and I'm already sick of opinion
polls. They're everywhere, all
the time. If they're
not headlining net-
work news, they're
scrolling on the
crawlerbelow.Every
notable news blog
seems to be working
its requisite politi-
cal-analyst-turned-
poll interpreter
overtime to come ASHLEA
up with a profound SURLES
conclusion about
why public opinion
jerked up or down an itty-bitty bit. As
Stephen Colbert would say, USA Today
looks more like a Denny's placemat
than ever as it stretches its artistic lim-
its to create exciting new ways to lay
out poll results; its pretty-colored pie
chart creativity stopping short of going
three-dimensional.
And while most polls keep it simple
by measuring fluctuationsain actual
electoral behavior, others are getting
innovative and pushing the limits
of public fatuity by bizarrely linking
things like zodiac signs to voting
behavior. Apparently Virgos are back-
ing Obama this year. All things con-
sidered, predicting voter behavior is a
burgeoning industry. And, while I find
some solace in knowing that I'm creat-
ing jobs in this elusive industry simply
by existing, I can't help but wonder
what the whole point of it is.
It makes sense for candidates and
private companies to commission
opinion surveys in order to make cam-
paigns more efficient, but I'm a little
hazy about why poll after poll is mak-
ing headlines. It could be lazy report-
ing; it's easy to cover a story about a
survey result. Then there's the idea
that this is important information that
needs to be diffused. But today's exten-
sive poll coverage has arguably hurt
election coverage by making it a horse

race focused on numbers rather than
issues. Or perhaps these polls are treat-
ed as vital information because we, the
populace, flock to newsstands and turn
up the volume when we hear there's a
new poll out. I'm going to go out on a
limb and saythat that's probably not it.
So that leaves us with the argument
that the increasingly powerful (and
thus increasingly suspect) news cor-
porations have a political agenda. They
must therefore make it a point to trum-
pet survey results that reveal that what
the company wants is what the people
want - according to polls. And, in giv-
ing Britney Spears-worthy prominence
to favorable poll results, one could posit
that these establishments are trying to
affect our opinion.
Thus, it's important that we con-
sider the impact that popular opinion
may have on us. Being the youngest
and least-experienced brood ofvoters,
theory alleges that we are perhaps the
most tractable voting class, the most
vulnerable to the influence of what
other people think. Being exposed to
the looming wave of popular opinion
can have two effects: It can peer pres-
sure us into voting with the pack, and it
can make us feel as though we might as
well make our vote countby betting on
the winningmammal - beit donkey or
elephant. Although we may not like to
admit it, these pressures are unavoid-
able human vices that can affect every-
one, even us - the headstrong youth of
the "me" generation.
With popular opinion constant-
ly thrown in our faces, it is getting
tougher to fight the little voice, or the
many voices as the case may be, that
argue that Candidate X is "not gonna
win anyways." We all have an inher-
ent desire to want our vote to count,
and so we can be swayed in favor of the
one the polls show actually has a shot.
Evidence of the impact that this men-
tality has had on this season's votes so
far can be found in the rhetoric of those
who vote for Hillary, proclaiming that

Obama is "unelectable," as a young,
debatably inexperienced, progressive,
black man. Or in those who reason that
McCain is too decrepit to take it all the
way or Huckabee thumps his Bible a
little too hard to be legitimate. These
aren't viable reasons to swing one
way or the other. We must choose our
candidate based on issues rather than
electability, whateverthat is.
On the other hand, peer pressure
can push even the strongest into the pit
of poor decisions. Bill Keller, executive
editor of The New York Times, basical-
ly apologized publiclyto Americans for
his part in fatefully allowing his paper
to half-ass its investigative coverage of
the administration in the wake of the
Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and into
Beware of the
mighty power of
the poll
the war in Iraq. His decisions after he
took over in 2003 accommodated the
administration's unfounded headlong
dive into the now controversial and
indisputably devastating war against
terrorism without apparent hitch or
hesitation. We are all susceptible to
the bandwagon. After all, being one in
a crowd can stave off embarrassment,
reassure those who waiver and, let's be
honest, the majority is often right.
We are ayoung, intelligent, effective
class ofvoters. But, in an erawhen pub-
lic approval is evermore paramount,
we must be brave, bold, discerning and
steadfast in our convictions in order
to stand up for our choices and realize
our power.
Ashlea Surles can be reached
at ajsurles@umich.edu.

I
I

The city's policy, the Clean Communi-
ties program, was adopted in 2002 as a
way to clean up Ann Arbor, especially the
red cups that plague the city like locusts
on weekends. Tickets start at $100 and
work their way up to as much as $1,000
for repeat offenders. However, in order for
the city police to issue garbage violations,
it must receive a complaint from a resident
about trash on a neighbor's lawn.
While grouchy neighbors love the pol-
icy, students are feeling the pain. Some
students have complained that a few cups
have been enough trash to constitute a
penalty. Others have bemoaned that they
received second or third offense tickets
because previous occupants at their house
couldn't pick up their trash either. Final-
ly, some have just said they would have
appreciated a little warning first.
These students are exactly right. With
its spotty enforcement, the city looks like
it's just out to make a quick buck at the
expense of students. A fair warning and
some consideration for the quick turn-
over of tenants are essential to improving
the policy. Further, the policy's intent is

to clean up the city, so Ann Arbor should
put its money where its mouth is. Put the
money collected from these trash viola-
tions into recycling and environmental
education programs.
None of this lets students off the hook,
though. Students aren't the victims - the
environment is. For every student unfairly
issued a trash violation, there is probably
another student who should be given one.
From house parties to recycling, students
are shameless consumption machines and
responsible for a lot of Ann Arbor's litter.
We don't need bitter townies calling the
cops on us to coerce us into taking respon-
sibility. We should be sensible enough to
clean up, our yards after parties before a
fine is issued.
While the city's action towards students
can be unfair, there is no excuse for trash
to be on front lawns. This is college: Your
parents might still buy your groceries but
they aren't here to clean up after your keg-
ger. Once students start cleaning up, the
city will have no reason - either real or
fabricated - to issue fines brought on by
frustrated neighbors.

I
I

Boredom's scary side

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.
EMAD ANSARI VIEW N T
Exporting -education
E tP * Y

Globalization has a popular new face -
the export of college education. Looking to
increase prestige, institutions like New York
University and Michigan State University are
setting up campuses abroad. At first glance,
these outreach programs seem like a great
idea, offering local students a cheaper Ameri-
can education. Where the problem arises is
the extent of these programs' involvement in
the local education system. By encouraging
Americanuniversities to setup campuses and
even financing the move - however grand it
might sound - these local governments com-
promise the development of their own local
education systems.
Much like Cornell University's campus in
Qatar, NYU's aim is to set up an external cam-
pus, and the focus is on the Middle East. Butby
doing so, these universities unceremoniously
impose themselves upon the local education
scene. This imperialist approach seems to be
antithetical to the academic values of liberal
American institutions. An affiliated campus
would provide competition to local universi-
ties, limiting and hindering the development
of domestic programs, as highly qualified stu-
dents opt out of domestic programs in favor of
a "superior" American degree.
The alternative is to offer courses within
local institutions. Thatis part of the approach
the University of London has adopted, offer-
ing external degree programs with an option
of a third-year transfer to any one of its affili-
ated institutions in the English capital. These
joint programs seem to be the ideal approach
- an exchange of professors between the
affiliated institutions would help increase
both the quality of the local universities and,
simultaneously, the prestige of their Ameri-
can counterparts.
But merely offering certain courses in local
universities is not a realistic approach. What

attracts students in the Middle East and
South Asia, in particular, is the name of the
institution on the degree. A foreign degree
goes a long way in the recruiting process for
jobs, setting the candidate apart from local
graduates, and students are even willing to
compromise the whole college experience to
get that qualification
To award a foreign degree to students
for just taking foreign university courses at
local universities, however, is a problem in
itself. Experience aside, students in foreign
programs would be paying less for the same
qualification that those enrolled in the more
expensive American campuses would be
paying.
The University of London's seemingly
supreme model isn't without flaws either.
The practice of issuing University of London
degrees to students in the external degree
programs undermines the value of a local
degree by inevitably creating a competition
between the two. And the desired transfer
of qualified professors isn't happening. So
while the students get their coveted British
degree, it is the local education system that
loses out and fails to develop.
For the well-intentioned proposal to suc-
ceed, a compromise needs to be reached.
Somewhere on the degree, the foreign seal
has to be featured if local students are to be
attracted. But it is the local universities that
have to play the primary role and precipi-
tate the much-needed development of local
institutions. If, in the future, the University
of Michigan looks to broaden its horizons, it
needs to address these problems and learn
from the mistakes of other universities' pre-
vious endeavors.
Emad Ansari is an LSA freshman and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

fteryears oftoilandhardwork,
freedom is finally around the
corner. For many students,
it's a special time
in their lives when
their futures are
most likely set, and
they have the lux- i
ury of partying in
the waiting room of
life: second semes-
ter senior year. I
realize that only
about a quarter of DAVE
students are going MEKELBURG
through this right
now, but it at least
happened to all of us in high school.
Yet, something doesn't feel quite
right. I'm bored.
As a huge supporter and lover of
freedom, I've always grappled with
freedom's doppelganger and arch-
nemesis, boredom. But now, seven
semesters of endless work, late nights
and an unyielding sense of anxiety
have given way to nothingness. I find
myself getting stressed out about
two-page response papers because
it's all I have.
If you're an underclassman, I know
what you're thinking: "Oh no, thispoor
kid doesn't have any work to do, how
sad." But one day, you'll be here, too.
The strange second-semester senior
malaise is like the enemy you can't
see. Everything should be right in the
world, yet something feels a little off.
Maybe it's the impending graduation
and the heightened sense of a colle-
giate expiration date, but I can't quite
get comfortable in my new empty life.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. In
reality, I've been quite busy. Those
late stress-filled nights have been my
reality for most of the semester. In
fact, I turned in my 10-page midterm
an hour ago, before I wrote this, and
this column was sent in a day late.
Somehow in my head, though, I feel
like I've been doing nothing.

Maybe it's the people around me.
I live with a few guys in the Ross
School of Business who have had jobs
since last summer, or at least since
last semester. I'm not blessed with the
comfort of knowing where I'm going
to land when the University spits me
out in April. But there I am, finding
myself going out with them, wonder-
ing what to do with my life.
My little diatribe here is probably
more for my friends than it is for me.
One of my friends spent the first eight
weeks of the semester doing nothing.
He has his job and his big consultant's
bonus. He has played a lot of online
poker and spent countless hours try-
ingto convince metogotothe bar with
him six nights a week. I don't feel bad
for him. But, watching him condense
nine weeks of learning into three days
of cramming made me wonder why.
He has no need to perform well
in class - all he needs is a C-minus
in atmospheric science to graduate.
Hell, he has a job anyway, so I don't
know if he even needs to graduate.
The type of people who are blessed
with the luxury of absolute freedom
now aren't your average slight under-
achievers (like myself), they're the
superstars. These are the smartest
and hardest working - or possibly the
luckiest - kids in your classes. This
is the first free time they've had in 22
years, and it will probably be the last
for another 22.
Do you pack it in? Or do you let your
overachiever sneak out and get an A in
your class? Do you have an obligation
to the University - or even yourself -
to get the most out of every second of
education while you're here? Maybe,
unless you think the University's only
function is to get you a job. But if you
think that, then the University has
apparently failed me and the others
who don't have jobs or haven't gotten
into graduate school yet.
At the same time,no faculty member
can honestly expect the same commit-

mentoutofus students - we're staring
oblivion in the face. That is a bit cyni-
cal, but let'sbe realistic. I know I'mnot
the only person going out, all the time,
because when I go out I see a bunch of
other kids with future drinking prob-
lems. There is no real direction for this
part of your life. You could be locked
in on the dream job you've worked
for your whole life. or you could be
wondering if that Borders near your
parents' house is still hiring (for the
record, I'm pretty sure it is).
Wait a second. I think I figured it
out. I'm not bored at all.
I'm fucking scared.
Everyone else is, too. When you
hear us complain about having noth-
ing to do, we're not actually complain-
ing about having nothing to do. We're
terrified. Freedom isn't boredom;
freedom is chaos. After graduation, I
Extra free time +
looming future -
scared seniors
go off into the great unknown, which
is just as scary the 100-hour-a-week
job into which many of your friends
are locked. There's no turning back
anymore, there's only going forward.
In two months, everyone around me
disappears. Iwill be alone, and so will
they. You won't matter to me and I
won't matter to you because I won't be
here. My life will have to go on, and so
will yours.
You know what? Fuck it. This is the
only time I've got here, and I'm going
to stop pretending I'm bored. If you
need me, I'll be at the bar.
David Mekelburg was a Daily fall/
winter associate news editor in 2007.
He can be reached at dmek@umich.edu.

4
I

0

Remember who is
paying the bill, GEO
TO THE DAILY:
When I was walking through
Angell Hall the other day, gradu-
ate student instructors were pass-
ing out fliers showing that their
stipends covered tuition and living
expenses by just more than $700.
I simply cannot sympathize with
them, especially considering that I
pay $20,000 for tuition and living
expenses each year as an in-state
undergraduate student.
I understand that graduate stu-
dents require extra benefits that

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
most undergraduates don't need. think about where the money
Many undergraduates are on their required for "pay raises" would
parents' health care plans. They come from. It could either come
are also less likely to have families from the state (that's a joke) or from
of their own. In this regard, the tuition increases. I found it par-
University must do all that it can ticularly offensive when the Daily's
to ensure that GSIs receive basic article on the topic referred to "the
childcare and health care benefits. plight of GSIs" because many poor
What disturbs me, however, is students cannot afford an under-
the Graduate Employees' Organi- graduate degree at all (GEO votes to
zation's call for "pay raises." It is postpone deadline for new contract,
my understanding that graduate 02/21/2008). As GEO negotiates
students who teach one class per a new contract I hope that it can
semester get their tuition and living understand and appreciate from
expenses covered by the Univer- whose pockets these benefits and
sity. That seems like a fair deal to wages come.
me, given the value of a University
graduate degree. Eric Kumbier
This may sound heartless, but School ofEducation

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should
be less than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and Uni-
versity affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do
not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedaily@umich.edu.

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