The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008
AtV fiidiipan &ikj&l
Edited and managed by students at
the University ofMichigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
EDITOR IN CHIEF
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section oftthe paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
F ROM T HE DAI LY
Vote Shingwani, Sohoni
Zaikis and Monaghan a solid team for LSA-SG
t's been quite a year for the Michigan Student Assembly.
Marred by scandal, felony charges and resignations, the dom-
inant Michigan Action Party has struggled to distance itself
from the problems of its defunct predecessor Students 4 Michigan.
In the elections startingtomorrow, the students will decide whether
MAP's latest MSA presidential and vice presidential candidates and
its unchallenged LSA Student Government candidates are desirable
enough to forgive a term of scandal - or at least more desirable than
the limited options offered by the Defend Affirmative Action Party.
I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for
working over the weekend"
-President Bush, thanking Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson yesterday for the time he put in trying
to find ways to minimize the damage from turmoil on Wall Street.
To join or not to join?
hould the Daily's editor in chief staffers that he wouldn't join the journalists don't wall ourselves off
join a once and possibly still organization when he was selected to from the people we cover," Grossman
scandal-tarred organization? lead the Daily in large partbecause of said. "It's an organizationtha is more
That's the question the controversy that preceded him. diverse than the Daily or the Univer-
the Daily faces now "I thought it would be too much of sity at large." He said, though, that if
that Editor in Chief a distraction for the staff because of he felt joining the Order of the Angell
Andrew Grossman what happened before," Stampfl said. would hurt the Daily, he would not
has told the staff Nelson said the organization seems hesitate to "run the other way."
he intends to go to have changed its ways, but hasn't I think it's fairly clear the Daily's
forward with the completely proven itself. Management Desk should vote to
initiation process "There's still a lot of exclusionary decide whether membership in the
to join the campus elements and secrecy. We would hope Order of the Angell constitutes a con-
organization Order they open up," Nelson said. "Hope- flict of interest and settle the issue
of the Angell. PAUL H. fully (Grossman) can help them if he definitively. The group's conten-
Back when it was JOHNSON joins." tious past requires the Daily do this,
known as Mich- The Daily's bylaws bar staffers especially considering how the Daily
igamua, the Order from joining the Michigan Student grappledwiththis issue inthe past. In
of Angell attracted lots of attention - Assembly and prohibit reporters from guiding itself to a decision, the board
verylittle of it good. During part ofits joining political organizations. They should consider these questions:
history, the secret society was known prohibit staffers from taking leader- Are thebenefits ofjoiningthis orga-
for excluding women and minori- ship positions at other organizations nization outweighed by the potential
ties from its ranks. In 1989, it signed such as fraternities and sororities. downsides? Will it make the Daily
an agreement with Native Ameri- The Daily has a policy of prohibiting look like it's part of the establishment
can groups to no longer use Native membership in organizations that it's supposed to be criticizing? Has
American symbols in its rituals. But might result in a conflict of interest.
in 2000, a raid by the Students of But that policy leaves discretion for
Color Coalition found several Indian editors to decide what constitutes a The ethics of
artifacts, and the organization was conflict of interest. The Daily's Man-
booted out of its tower offices in the agement Desk, comprised of section
Michigan Union. managing editors and associate edi- Order of Angell
The organization again agreed tors, could vote with a two-thirds 1.1.
to clean up its act and dropped its majority to issue an ultimatum to membershi
name in 2006. But then-Editor in force an editor to surrender his post
Chief Donn M. Fresard announced in the student organization or resign
the same year he had joined the from his job. the Order of the Angell sufficiently
organization. This created a schism "People are going to have to decide distanced itself from its controversial
within the Daily that resulted in the whether it is a conflict of interest," past so that membership in the orga-
resignation of then-Managing Edi- Nelson said. But he said he approved nization isn't tantamount to endors-
tor Ashley Dinges. Dinges stepped of the way Grossman handled the ing its past exclusionary policies?
down in protest because she believed news by telling the other editors Will this help the Daily become more
Fresard's membership was a conflict about his intentions. engaged with the community? Will
of interest. In the interest of full disclosure, rejecting membership make the Daily
Current Managing Editor Gabe when I was editor in chief of the seem aloof?
Nelson, who was a news reporter Cornell Daily Sun, I was a member These are the sorts of issues the
when the controversy erupted, said of the Quill and Dagger society, a Daily should grapple with before
that back in 2006 the organization semi-secret organization of student coming to any sort of vote. And as a
was still in disrepute. It had taken leaders. The group didn't have the newspaper, it should announce its
some steps at reform, but the group same controversial past as the order decision so the public knows that the
still remained controversial to many. of Angell and did publish its member- Daily is aware of how its decisions
Nelson he said he believed Fre- ship lists. affect its image in the community.
sard's association with the group Grossman said he started telling The newspaper's biggest asset is its
didn't affect news coverage, but it did editors at the Daily about his inten- legitimacy, and by voting the Daily's
damage the internal politics of the tion to join the Order of Angell on Management Desk will acknowledge
newspaper. Saturday, a day before being officially it takes this asset seriously.
"It hurt his reputation in the end," invited to join. He says he believes
Nelson said. joining the organization will help the Paul H. Johnson is the Daily's
Karl Stampfl, who succeeded Fre- Daily. public editor. He can be reached
sard as editor in chief, said he told "It's very important that we as at email@example.com.
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.
This year's MSA presidential election pits
MAP candidates Sabrina Shingwani and
Arvind Sohoni against DAAP's Kate Sten-
vig and Maricruz Lopez. For the top LSA-
SG spot, MAP candidates Leslie Zaikis and
John Monaghan are running unopposed.
Except for the candidates' names, this
year's contest is virtually a repeat of last
year's election. Many of the issues on
MAP's platform and nearly all of the issues
on DAAP's platforms are the same. MAP's
victory over DAAP in the MSA presiden-
tial contest is almost ensured. And save an
underdog victory by annual write-in candi-
date Mickey Mouse, MAP is certain to lock
up LSA-SG's top spot, too.
While this shouldn't discourage students
from voting, it's still a shame. When it was
revealed last year that former MSA Presi-
dent Zack Yost created a Facebook group
mocking another MSA representative's dis-
ability, students decried MSA's insular cul-
ture. Now, Yost is gone, and students seem
to have forgotten that the problems this
scandal illustrated still remain.
Groomed in this environment, MAP can-
didates Shingwani and Sohoni are hardly
outsiders to the system. Even the fact that
Shingwani - adevotedbutless experienced
and less knowledgeable candidate than
Sohoni - is at the top of the ticket instead
of her running mate smacks of the internal
politicking that is MSA's biggest problem.
While both express commitment to making
MSA more open and improving dialogue on
campus, it's not clear how they plan to do
this. Neither were vocal opponents of Yost
when he was embroiled in controversy, but
both claim to have learned by his example.
They now know what not to do in the future.
But that's not good enough.
While padded with some frivolous pro-
posals like a vague plan to improve alumni
career connections, the MAP platform par-
tially redeems Shingwani and Sohoni. The
party's intended projects - including the
implementation of a revitalized website, an
emphasis on lower student health insurance
costs and improved transparency - should
be important to students. Granted, these
projects do seem like they are just part of
a noncontroversial to-do list recycled from
this semester's unfinished projects. The
bigger test will be whether these two candi-
dates have the skill to make them a reality.
In contrast to the MAP candidates, the
DAAP candidates are clearly outside of
MSA's dominant culture, but weaker on
substance. As passionate as the DAAP can-
didates are, their experience as perpetual
campaigners doesn't seem to have taught
them much about what students want out of
When it comes to the issues, the Daily
shares DAAP's opposition to racism, tuition
hikes and the war in Iraq. We support Sten-
vig and Lopez's goals of promoting diver-
sity on campus, combating the negative
effects of Michigan's ban on race- and gen-
der-based affirmative action and fighting
Ward Connerly's national efforts to eradi-
cate affirmative action.
However, DAAP's platform remains
basically unchanged from last year's elec-
tions, leaving out stances on campus-spe-
cific issues like street lighting and lease
ordinances. DAAP claims that its stances
on these issues are common sense. But
they're not. It may be common for a student
to oppose high textbook prices, but it's up
to the MSA president to find uncommon
solutions. The problem is that Stenvig and
Lopez seem to misinterpret the responsi-
bilities associated with leading MSA. They
should offer plans of action now, not just a
vague willingness to listen in the hopes that
students will come to them with ideas.
to be fought. It also excludes many important
ones. This isn't necessarily a desirable trait
in a student government president and vice
president. Thus, though a valuable voice on
campus, DAAP and its candidates are better
political advocates than MSA leaders.
n contrast to the MSA candidates, the
LSA-SG candidates are particularly
worthy of praise. While it may not
be ideal that MAP candidates Zaikis and
Monaghan are running unopposed, they
are both. impressive candidates. Combin-
ing experience and a solid platform, the
two are more than talented enough to lead
this often-overlooked but quietly effective
student government. As usual, LSA-SG is
proving to be a bigger asset to this univer-
sity than MSA.
The biggest hurdle facing Zaikis and
Monaghan this year is successfully navi-
gating LSA-SG after 50 new members were
appointed to the organization last month.
A dding these new members after reaching
out to people traditionally not included in
the group was one of campus's success sto-
ries this semester. The accomplishment will
be that much more impressive if Zaikis and
Monaghan make sure that LSA-SG avoids
the bureaucratic complications that some-
times come with growth.
There is every reason to believe they can.
Luckily, Zaikis and Monaghan are working
to earn students' votes despite being unop-
posed. When the Daily's editorial board
spoke with them, the pair shared the floor
when outlining their plans, both displaying
a thorough knowledge of their proposals.
They clearly share a passion for representing
students in a university environment that
often overlooks them, and that enthusiasm
and commitment is exactly what LSA-SG
needs to inspire more student involvement
and trust in a compromised system.
Backing them up is an equally impressive
platform. The two hope to improve the LSA
course guide to include more information
about classes, open mini-courses to LSA
students outside of the LSA Honors College,
work with administrators to determine
theme semesters and improve communica-
tion between MSA and LSA-SG, among a
host of other projects.
These are all things that could dramati-
cally improve students' lives. Most impor-
tantly, these goals will probably be realized.
The Daily's Editorial Board endorses
MAP candidates SABRINA SHINGWANI
and ARVIND SOHONI for MSA president
and vice president. We also endorse MAP
candidates LESLIE ZAIKIS and JOHN
MONAGHAN for LSA-SG president and
n a world of ever-increasing and perpetuate its existence.
consumerism, a college educa- But we are people - not products
tion can be thought of as a com- - and I'm sick of being looked at as
modity. Universities such. While the University may be
advertise to stu- stuffing us with things that contrib-
dents - the consum- ute to our overall personality pack-
ers - who eagerly ages, things that may make us more
search out the best marketable and desirable as lower-
product. It lures us level employees in massive corporate
in with attractive structures, it is severely lacking in
accessories like new providing us with the tools it theo-
buildings, reno- retically should.
vated football sta- Last week, I took a senior survey
diums, high-profile ARIKIA that attempted to measure the ways
research opportu- MILLIKAN the University has contributed to
nities and plentiful my being. It asked howI would com-
resources. But these pare my general knowledge, critical
motivating factors are straying from thinking abilities and understanding
the original selling point of universi- of social problems now to when I first
ties - a quality education. entered this college. I answered that
We aren't getting what we pay these qualities are "much stronger"
for, and it is distorting the consumer now. But apart from the fact that it
process. Over the past few decades, brought me closer to my peers, advis-
college attendance costs have risen ers and instructors, the University
exponentially. But instead of getting should not get the credit for these
back a product of equal worth, our great personal accomplishments.
purchase obligates us to make end- I have done the majority of my
less sacrifices at the cost of our hap- learning on my own, outside of the
piness, sanity and ability to function classroom at The Michigan Daily,
as individuals. in coffee shop basements, at profes-
From the outside, the University sors' office hours and by having ran-
of Michigan appears to be meeting dom conversations with interesting
its educational goals, and exceeding people.
the achievements of similar schools. Many students quickly learn that
U.S. News and World Report has con- getting straight As and feeling intel-
sistently ranked the University as lectually and emotionally fulfilled
the second- or third-best public uni- are mutually exclusive - they don't
versity in the country. If a magazine happen at the same time. So instead,
thinks our four years are more valu- these students focus their energies
able than someone else's four years, on doing as little as they must to "get
how can anyone disagree? But as a by." Bright-eyed freshmen become
student who has been navigating the disillusioned as classes change from
system for almost four years, I am an opportunity to be engaged and
deeply skeptical. enlightened to an excruciating chore.
It seems like the University's deci- I can't help but feeling like I just got
sion-makers define a "superior" edu- duped by some infomercial into buy-
cation as the ability to take in high ing an expensive gizmo that doesn't
school graduates and turn them into really do what the salesman said it
the most valuable economic units: would.
people who are equipped with the I guess as a college student with
"skills" to enter our capitalist society little experience in the "real world,"
I can't say for sure that this won't all
have been worth it. But if the qualities
I gained here are what really matter
in the "real world," I'm not sure I like
that world. While this school churns
out economically valuable products
waiting to be bought by the highest
bidder, it also produces people of less
The society we are being trained
to emerge into is a dysfunctional one.
Our values are misplaced and over-
stocked with consumerism. Ameri-
cans are in what is arguably their
most mentally unstable state in his-
tory. We should be learning how to
change things, how to think critically
has lost its
and devise solutions that can and will
solve the problems we will inherit
from previous generations - or atthe
very least, we should learn how to
stop contributing to them.
This is our education. We are the
ones who are putting in our time,
money and effort, and we should be
getting back a product that we want
- something that will fulfill our lives.
But it seems as though we as students
are the consumers of a product that
attempts to turn is into products,
rather than human beings undergoing
personal growth and development.
Students are not robots. In order
to avoid having a society full of them,
our educators must stop reinforcing
Arikia Millikan is a Daily associate
editorial page editor. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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