4A - Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
74c i Iictian E3at
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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 critical look at
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MSA pushes for health insurance mandate;'U'should act
t is burdensome enough when college students suffer from
serious or sudden health problems. It's downright devastat-
ing when they are forced to drop out of school because of the
lofty medical bills. To remedy situations like this and reduce the
rising costs of student health care, the Michigan Student Assem-
bly is urging administrators to consider the merits of requiring
all University students to carry health insurance. If the Univer-
sity (which has been receptive to the idea) finds a suitable plan, it's
imperative that it enacts this policy.
feel like our kindergartners are
sitting there like sifting ducks."
- Arizona state Sen. Karen Johnson, a Republican, talking last week about her bill to allow
concealed weapons on public school property, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKIIOUT T)PASTURE
Do you think we would be Honost to blog
Do you think the movie finnier if we constantly made
Juno was fy? hippop-culture references? Forshi, Big Mac. We
need more Thundercatsup u
(Sure, I laughed. Yes I do. That Diablo Cody n this homeskillet.
S s a 7ni1s
Wen the goodfight gets greedy
Although the University has considered
the idea of mandating health insurance
coverage for several years, MSA's resolu-
tion last month hopes to light a fire under
the University. Citing rising premiums, one
of the most promising ways of lowering
health care costs is requiringstudents to get
coverage through the University's student
insurance plan. The resolution requests
that the University consider ways to reduce
health care costs for students present its
findings before school starts this fall. The
University is responding enthusiastically to
There are two ways to do this. Require
all students to buy the University's student
health care plan or prove that they have
insurance. The second option means that
students covered by their parents would not
have to buy insurance but those who weren't
would have it. The overall point, though, is
to make sure that all students are covered,
which should be the goal - one that many
universities, public an4private,have-already--
While the University offers a plan to stu-
dents already, this coverage is too expensive
for many students to afford. The annual
premium for a domestic student costs more
than $2,100 - up from an actual cost of
$621 for the same plan in 1998. However,
MSA's resolution notes that the premium for
international students is much cheaper at
$81 per month. One reason may be that all
international students are required to buy
insurance, unless they prove their current
coverage meets the University's standards.
The logic is simple: As more people sign on
with the same insurance plan, average costs
are typically reduced because total cost is
dispersed across more people.
Many of the University's uninsured stu-
dents are not uninsured by choice - they
simply can't afford the coverage. While
requiring insurance would also increase
the cost of attending the University because
it would be an attendance cost, those costs
could be offset for lower income students
with financial aid. But the cost would be
small compared to the potential cost of sick-
ness or injury.
The University should - and hopefully
does - value the health and finances of its
students. The health care mandate works to
protect both. In light of the federal govern-
ment's failure to provide citizens with access
to affordable medical coverage, this plan
could also serve as a model of a universal
health care system that works. It could set
an example to other organizations consid-
ering similar plans. The University should
send a strong message that it believes that
access to basic health care is a fundamental
right. It is that important.
hen members of the Writ-
ers Guild of America hit
the streets on Nov. 5 during
with the Alliance
of Motion Picture
and Television Pro-
ducers, their pur-
pose was more than
just to fight for a
more profitable and
Sure, they wantedT
their contract to THERESA
include fair compen- KENNELLY'
sation for DVD sales
and new media. But
WGA members also seemed to want
to show their grubby bosses that they
deserved respect, especially when they
brought the entire movie and television
business to a grinding halt by refus-
ing to write all-important scripts. The
WGA fought what Los Angeles Times
writer Patrick Goldstein, and many
others called "the good fight."
On a smaller and less glamorous
scale, some University employees are
engaged in their own contract negotia-
tions that seem to be about more than
just creating a fairer contract with
more appropriate pay. GEO's demands
are becoming more about power and
respect than the organization would
like to admit.
In case you have ignored your grad-
uate student instructors talking about
it, bypassed the fliers or missed the
"grade-in for visibility" in Angell Hall
last month, the Graduate Employees'
Organization needs to form a new
contract with the University. The
group determines employment terms
for those graduate student who seem
to do most of the teaching here. What
has become a triennial event, new
contract negotiations have kicked off
a series of bargaining sessions and
could lead to a GSI walkout, like they
did for one day in 2005.
While GEO would likely reject any
similarity to the WGA and its contract
negotiations, because GEO's demands
are more about getting basic employee
benefits than esteem or clout at the
University, it's hard to say that GEO's
negotiations don'thave aself-righteous
quality. I have heard the way many
GEO members talk abouttheir position
at the University and their pomposity
The self-righteous attitude is some-
what justified. They are right to want
compensation for the hard work they
putintothe University, especiallywhen
you buytheir argument thatUniversity
administrators undervalue them.
But then again, WGA argued that
its writers were being overworked and
underappreciated, too. This then begs
the question of the GEO's negotiations
with the University: Is GEO really
fighting a needed fight for academics?
Looking at GEO's strike platform, it
appears like the group is fighting for a
noblecause. Itwants apayincreasethat
aligns its members' salaries with the
minimal livable income for Ann Arbor
residents, which means a 9 percent
increase in the next year and 3 percent
increases for the two years after that.
The group also wants better benefits
for graduate student parents, includ-
ing extended leave time and increased
child care subsidies. GEO is also ask-
ing that the GSI health care plan cover
mental health care.
I would really like to support GEO
and its new contract platforms. I have
listened to GSIs plead their case to the
Daily's editorial board multiple times.
I paid attention when GSIs and lec-
turers discussed contract problems
in March 2005. I didn't cross picket
lines when classes were cancelled.
Heck, I even helped coordinate a
student protest freshman year when
a certain LSA department was mis-
treating some GSIs. I have listened,
and Ihave acted.
But I don't think I can anymore. I
think it's time that GSIs value all of the
benefits they do get from the Univer-
sity and how much better off they are
than millions of graduate students and
teacher assistants around the country.
Few of them seem to realize it.
They are, first and foremost, stu-
dents, and many of them aren't even
that good at instructing. And as far
as I can infer from my exponentially
increasing tuition payments, money
doesn't grow on Ann Arbor trees for
the Universityto pick.
I know it shouldn't be about me or
the University's money constraints. It
should be about the University own-
ing up to its own standards and giving
back to the people it makes do most of
the dirty work. It should be about aca-
demics getting the credit they deserve
for theirresearch and instructing.
It's just hard to ignore how GEO
magically comes up with so many
demands everythree years. How many
and be willing to strike over?
might be taking it
a bit too far
It would be undemocratic and irre-
sponsible to say that GEO should just
accept the University's contract terms
and offers. It would be equally irre-
sponsible to deny GEO's demands
saying its members ought to accept
poverty when they choose to be an aca-
demic and wait to start a family until
after they get out of graduate school.
By no means should GEO give up the
But GEO needs to take a lesson from
its own playbook and start appreciat-
ing how much GSIs are already appre-
ciated as employees. GEO is really
only losing respectability every time it
demands more of it at the contract bar-
gaining table because it is displayingits
own greediness. And this is why GEO
is no longer fighting the good fight.
Theresa Kennelly is an associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KATE TRUESDELL L V
The doctor is (way) out
Like most people, Jose Lejarraga wasn't
looking forward to going to the dentist for a
root canal. Unlike most people, he wasn't just
put-off by the funny smells and goose bump
raising whir of the dentist's drill: He also had
to worry about checking his bags and getting
Lejarraga, 27, is a visiting researcher in the
University's Ross School of Business. Suffer-
ing from a toothache a few months ago, he was
told he would need a root canal. After investi-
gating the costs of such a procedure, Lejarraga
realized it would be less expensive to fly all the
way back to his native Argentina for a week,
undergo the procedure and fly back rather
than use his University-purchased insurance
and America's health care system.
As an international research associate
recently residing in Spain, he was required
to have insurance that met the University's
requirements before coming here to study.
According to Lejarraga, most European
health insurance, like the coverage provided
by his employer in Spain, was not deemed
adequate. He was "encouraged" to purchase
the University's policy through The Chicker-
ing Group. He says his insurance costs about
$90 per month, far more than he would have
to pay in either Spain or Argentina. He soon
learned that despite the extra cost, this plan
was not really sufficient to cover his needs.
"They push you to do (insurance through)
the school so you expect it's going to be great,"
Lejarraga said. "Because of this you don't
think about it, you just assume it's covered.
You are paying so much in comparison. You
expect that you are getting premium stuff."
What he got instead didn't include even
the most basic dental coverage. When den-
tal distress struck, Lejarraga was forced to
pay $75 for a 30-minute appointment with
an undergraduate student at the Universi-
ty's School of Dentistry. Although instruc-
tors oversaw the student, Lejarraga said his
dentist-in-training "wasn't exactly gentle."
Lejarraga said he chose the University
because he heard it was the least-expensive
treatment option available.
The scenario only got worse after his initial
visit. Told that he needed a root canal, he was
given a number of less-than-appealing treat-
ment options. He could have the procedure
done here, which would require suffering for
one month until he could receive treatment
and cost him roughly $4,500. Or he was told
the tooth could be removed and then he could
waituntilhe returned to Spain at the end ofthe
semester to have an artificial tooth implanted.
Lastly, he was offered the choice of simply
taking antibiotics for three months until he
finished his research period, an option that
would prevent infection but afford no guaran-
tee that his pain would be quelled.
Lejarragaultimately invented his ownsolu-
tion. He purchased a round-trip plane ticket
to Argentina for $860 and paid approximately
$150 for immediate dental service. This was
roughly onefourth of what he would have had
to pay here. He also received faster treatment.
Lejarraga's experience with the American
health care system and University-provided
insurance left some strong impressions on
him. Health care in America, he explained, is
"only accessible to a small portion of the popu-
lation," a population that hangs students and
people from other countries - especially less
wealthy ones - out to dry. "I would describe it
as unfair overall," he said.
And he has some pretty strong ideas about
what the University could be doing better.
One thing the University should do that it's
not doing is warn people who come from
outside and don't know about this system, he
said. "A situation like this can mess up your
whole stay here."
Kate Truesdell is an LSA senior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.
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.
DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PARTY VEP I
Leading our generation
A great shift is occurring in our tive action threate:
nation. The outcome of the national underrepresented1
election is still months away, and mentto the token le
yet something much greater has 40 years ago.
already changed: us. Our genera- This unaccepta
tion is gleaming with.optimism and already occurred
excitement. where top publict
For the millions of young people become hovels o
asserting political demands for the ment for the few u
first time, what began as opposition minority studentsv
to the war in Iraq has grown into a them. We cannot a
declaration of hope for becoming pen at the Universi
a nation no longer separated along of a young generati
lines of gender and race. It took only away with the old s
a few months for our generation to Our generation
brush aside old notions that once speak for our ow
seemed invincible. Yesterday's view
was that a fundamental change for
the better would have to wait until
some indefinite point in the future; ARIELA STEIF
today's view is that such a change is
And all of this happened while our
elders were still droning on about
the apathy of the youngergeneration
and the dim prospects for humanity.
This swift change of views has
arrived at an important moment for
the University. Our campus needs a
change of direction, too. The Uni-
versity has been moving backwards
since it began implementing the
state ban on race- and gender-based
affirmative action over a year ago.
This was against the interests of the
majority of the student body and the
younger generation as a whole.
While our generation has dis-
tinguished itself for breaking the 407
racial and gender barriers to the
U.S. presidency, our campus is
experiencing a fortification of those
barriers against minorities and
women gaining a college degree.
The enforcement of Michigan's ban
on race- and gender-based affirma-
ns to drive down
evels that existed
ble setback has
f hostile treat-
who gain entry to
llow this to hap-
ty, not in the face
on so eager to do
needs a voice to
vn interests and
aspirations. Our demands for prog-
ress need to be heard beyond the
vote tallies in primaries and cau-
cuses - we need to be heard here
and now. In this state. On this cam-
pus. Everywhere. We need our own
leaders, and we need to be leaders.
That is why the Defend Affirmative
Action Party exists. We are the lead-
ers of our generation.
Liana Mulholland is School of Art and
Design graduate student. Kate Stenvig is
a School of Education graduate student.
They are MSA Rackham representatives.
Maricruz Lopez is an LSA junior.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Making logical leaps
about Clinton's impact
accept woman oi
crafted for them.'
if Obama doesn'
America hasn't ev
utside the place society has
logic, I can conclude that
t win the nomination, then
volved enough to accept black
of power. Further, women
sition of power in America,
he House Nancy Pelosi, Sec-
ndoleeza Rice and Michigan
nholm to name a few.
3.q. v 9Al
TO THE DAILY: men in positions
I was slightly disgusted by the Arikia have reached pos
Millikan's column Tuesday about how Hill- U.S. Speaker of tE
ary Clinton is challenging traditional gender retary of State Co
roles (Give this bitch a chance, 03/04/2008). Gov. Jennifer Gra
She stated if Clinton does not win the Ohio
and Texas primaries then she will "take it Zain Allarakhia
as evidence that this country isn't evolved to LSA sophomore