4 -Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
KARL STAMPFL IMRAN SYED JEFFREY BLOOMER
EDITOR IN CHIEF EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR 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, acts as the 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 and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com.
A newyear for MA
Assembly must move beyond scandals, on to substance
For the Michigan Student Assembly, 2008 is not just a new
year - it's practically a brand new start. After a year defined
by scandals and resignations, most of the assembly's skel-
etons are out of the closet and a talented new president and a fresh
group of recently elected representatives are moving in to fill the
void. This can't be an opportunity that goes to waste. If MSA wants
to be a representative student government that can stand up for stu-
dents against our increasingly incompetent University administra-
tion, it must first be an institution that communicates better with its
constituents and gets rid of its internal problems.
Your life's income and your happiness
quotient will actually go right down to
-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, telling students yesterday at Grand Blanc High School in
Michigan about the consequences of drug addictions and out-of-wedlock children, as reported by nytimes.com.
Too biasedfor the home team?
magine this: The hometown
coach leaves the team right
beforethe big bowlgame, making
the school scramble
to find a replace-
ment. There's a huge
uproar on campus,
with fans scream-
ing bloody murder.
That's a huge story.
One the campus
paper would be sure
to pick up. P PAUL H.
Well that's just JOHNSON
with the hiring of
Michigan football head coach Rich
Rodriguez, and faithful readers of
the Daily would have very little idea
of the uproar that occurred in Mor-
gantown over the choice of our new
Sports reporting is often partisan,
particularly on game days. We write
more about our team than our oppo-
nents, the leadastory is howtshe Wol-
verines fared and only in passing do
we talk about our opponents, with the
possible exception of Ohio State.
So when Michigan hired a new
coach for the first time in 13 years, it's
big news, every angle of it. The first
story "Michigan hires WVU's Rodri-
guez as next head coach" was posted
online (12/16/2007). It was brief and
mentioned Rodriguez's hiring but not
The full news story that ran later
(Rodriguez introduced as head foot-
ball coach, 12/17/2007) gave details
about Rodriguez's plans to introduce
a spread offense, but didn't go into
detail about why the new coach felt
the need to leave Morgantown, W.
Va. before his former team played in
the Fiesta Bowl. The article did men-
tion that Rodriguez said he wouldn't
be coaching the Fiesta Bowl because
West Virginia asked him not to, but I
think that news could have been dis-
played more prominently. Further, it
would have been helpful to see if West
Virginia would have had a different
view of the situation.
There was also little reaction in our
paper from West Virginia officials or
fans over the departure of Rodriguez.
But the Daily was buffeted with let-
ters from upset West Virginia fans
who created Facebook groups and
MySpace groups filled with vitriol
over Rodriguez's departure, calling
him names that can't be repeated in
Managing Sports Editor Scott Bell
said the sports staff thought about
getting reactions from West Virginia
but made a strategic decision not to
do so. "Our resources were very lim-
ited," Bell said, noting that the news
about the new coach broke over win-
ter break and during finals season.
He said, though, that if thestaff had
a chance to do it again, they'd try to
cover more. "There was other stuff
we'd like to have done," Bell said.
Another issue arising out of Rodri-
guez's departure is the upcoming
lawsuit against Rodriguez by West
Virginia University. West Virginia
had a $4-million buyout clause in
Rodriguez's contract if he were to
leave before his contract ended. And
soon after Rodriguez came to Ann
Arbor, West Virginia filed suit. If it
wins the lawsuit and a court orders
Rodriguez to pay $4 million, who
exactly is going to pay that money?
Will it be Rodriguez? Will it be the
University? Will it be boosters of the
football program? These are the sort
of questions I think the Daily needs
to answer to fully cover the foot-
ball program's big coaching change.
There's a lot of money involved and
we should find out where it's going. It
might be coming out of our pockets.
Nate Sandals, the incoming manag-
ing sports editor, said that the Daily
plans to write more about the litiga-
tion. "We haven't done the legwork
on the lawsuit," Sandals said, but
promises that as more news comes to
light the Daily will stay on top of it.
peting with the national media when
it comes to reporting about Michigan
football. But that doesn't mean it has
to cede the story to the big boys of
ESPN, the Detroit Free Press or other
media organizations. While the Daily
has limited resources compared to
larger news organizations, the Daily
does have unique advantages as well.
Its reporters are on campus every day
and are nearer to sources like players
and their friends. The Daily shouldn't
be cowed by the money spent by its
larger competitors and should do its
best to find as many scoops as pos-
sible so that when ESPN or anyone
else wants to know what's going on in
Michigan football, they'll turn to the
Daily first and not any other source.
Paul H. Johnson is the Daily's
public editor. He can be reached
Atop the list of major changes in MSA this
semester, several old faces won't be around.
Earlier this month, MSA Rep. Anton Vul-
jaj pleaded guilty to felony charges for his
denial-of-service attack on the Michigan
Progressive Party's website duringthe 2006
MSA elections. He also resigned from his
representative position in MSA. Similarly,
before winter break MSA president Zack
Yost and Rep. Kenny Baker resigned from
their positions after it was revealed that
the two were members of a controversial
Facebook group created by Yost mocking
MSA Rep. Tim Hull's Asperger's syndrome,
a mild form of autism.
Replacing Yost as president is former Vice
President Mohammad Dar, whose position
was filled last week by the former MSA
Chief of Staff Nate Fink. Both are experi-
enced and qualified candidates, particular-
ly Dar. With a group of new representatives
elected in November, these two have the
talent to transform the assembly - now it's
time to put it to good use.
The assembly should start by improving
its communication with students. When
the assembly completes projects, it's usually
because it demonstrates to the administra-
tion that its demands reflect mass student
concern. Butstudents have no reliable way of
knowing what is happening in MSA or how
they can help. The website is infrequently
updated. The campus-wide e-mails that are
occasionally sent out usually address trivial
issues like the"GoBlueBeatOSUPep Rally",
which was the subject of the last e-mail to
be sent out. And even if students attend MSA
meetings, which few do, those aren't much
of a help either: Most of MSA's work is done
in committees and only discussed briefly
before the whole assembly.
These are easy problems to fix.As Dar told
the Daily's Editorial Board on Thursday,
the website is currently under construction
after a change in webmasters. That's a good
start. But the changes need to go beyond
aesthetics, like adding a blog with updates
on what MSA, committees and individual
representatives are currently working on.
The assembly already produces monthly
committee reports - it wouldn't be hard to
eliminate the jargon and post them online.
Similarly, the assembly should make bet-
ter use of its limited campus-wide e-mails,
informing students about issues requiring a
mass response to spur action.
Intertwined with improving communi-
cation, MSA needs to be more transparent
and its members need to be more account-
able for their actions. Although the assem-
bly has been promising election reform
since 2006, not much has changed: candi-
dates still spam students during elections,
needlessly post obnoxious flyers around
campus and bend unenforced campaign
rules. More importantly, candidates still
make promises that they don't keep.
Measurable standards would be one
way to change this. Dar himself proposed
such standards, suggesting that represen-
tatives give monthly reports on the prog-
ress of their projects. In order to increase
the impact of these standards, MSA should
make these reports public, either on their
website or in a monthly publication. The
assembly should also post representatives'
attendance records online along with their
major roll-call votes.
Lastly, for many students, MSA seems
more like an "in-club" than a representa-
tive government. After the recent scan-
dals, breaking this image will be even more
difficult. But if MSA is more transparent,
accountable and accessible, building stu-
dents' trust and interest should follow
Students may only contribute $7.19 each
semester to MSA, but they deserve to have
an assembly that is productive and respon-
sive to their concerns.
Business as usual
T hroughout the past week, let- tant thing I've learned here.
ters have been pouring into I kept his words in mind when I
the Daily from students out- went to my "weed out" classes and
raged about the saw how my peers and I were passed
recent "oops, change off to underpaid, unenthusiastic
of plans" surprise graduate student instructors instead
from the University of real professors; when I was shoved
administration that in to inadequate classrooms with
extinguished the inadequate supplies while the Uni-
light at the end of versity funneled millions of dollars
the class of 2008's into patent-pending research and lav-
college tunnel. One _ ish architectural ventures; and when
common sentiment I saw the University make decision
expressed was that ARIKIA after money-making decision with
this little ritual MILLIKAN no regard for the people who actually
we call graduation keep the whole ship afloat by paying
should symbolize the ever-increasing tuition. I soon
everything we've endured here in the realized what a big business this is.
last four years. To hold graduation at And even though I got shafted,
another school would not represent there was one thing that really made
the experiences we've had at this fine it all come together for me: keeping
university. Students fear that to have track of the underhanded antics the
such discontinuity in the process will administration used to pursue the
open up some kind of wormhole, turn- Michigan Stadium renovation proj-
ing the world upside down and leaving ect. It was my job to report for The
them forever searching for the ful- Michigan Daily what the adminis-
fillment they never received at their tration was doing with the stadium,
dream graduation. so I went to their meetings, looked
But when I heard of the decision to at their documents and listened to
hold Spring Commencement at East- their public relations machine par-
ern Michigan University, I wasn't rot the same unconvincing fluff over
shocked. In fact, I couldn't think and over again without saying much
of a more appropriate way to end it of anything. Even though administra-
all. Having observed the way the tors feigned interest in the public's
University administration has oper- opinion by conducting a fan survey
ated throughout the past four years, designed and analyzed by Coldwa-
I could only think of one word to ter Corporation, the brainchild of
describe this turn of events: typical. Republican Party political strategist
Most of my cynicism can prob- Robert Teeter, their actions made it
ably be traced back to one of the first clear that they only really cared about
moments I spent here as an official the bottom line. But who can blame
Wolverine. With a group of other them? They're in the business to make
wide-eyed freshmen during orienta- money, not friends. Unless they are
tion, I was piled into a lecture hall friends with money, in which case you
to hear what wisdom the official- will find them sitting comfortably in
looking man giving the PowerPoint brand new luxury boxes come 2010.
presentation would bestow upon us. With an eye on the prize, the
"The University is a business, first University's administrators steam-
and foremost," I remember him say- rolled over anyone and anything who
ing. Although I didn't quite under- attempted to get in the way, includ-
stand what he meant at the time, this ing - but not limited to - the law,
lesson was probably the most impor- 600 University professors, the federal
government, paralyzed veterans (as
if there isn't a group more deserving
of sympathy) and finally the graduat-
ing class of 2008. But who can blame
them? They're in the business to make
money, not friends. Unless they are
friends with money, in which case you
will find them sitting comifortably in
brand new luxury boxes come 2010.
a frightening reality check. Business
and politics are continuing to collide
in the field of academia to provide
leaders with the power that makes
them so far removed from their con-
stituents that they are able to proceed
without any regard for them. And
while the University continues to act
is product of big
as a business, it should be obvious to
us now that the administration has
proceeded to engage in bad business.
By not acting first and foremost with
regard for the most important com-
ponent in the economic model, the
consumer - in this case the student
- is finally starting to push back.
The cynic in me, though, says that
students' anger will likely be fruit-
less. We will never get to stand in the
center of the Big House in our caps
and gowns. We will probably culmi-
nate our college years in the stadium
of another school because our soon-
to-be alma mater has betrayed us. We
should be outraged.
But I'm not. I'm not even surprised.
It's just all too typical.
Arikia Millikan is a former
Daily news reporter. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan,
Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU
Students only care about
those issues in front of them
TO THE DAILY:
I have no doubt that the recent change of
graduation location to Eastern Michigan Uni-
versity is upsetting many students. While I am
normally a complacent individual, I am also
angry. There is no doubt that there will con-
tinue to be a myriad of articles and letters to
the editor, as there already have been, arguing
the indignity and injustice that the University
I certainly agree to some extent. I agree that
it is a slap inthe face for the University to spend
$226 million on luxury boxes and somehow not
pull together a little extra money for portable
restrooms and generators to keep alive the tra-
dition of holding commencement at Michigan
Stadium. The University has no problem send-
ing out countless letters to alumni and the rest
of the University community for donations to
keep other Michigan traditions alive.
However, I refuse to sign petitions, go to
mass meetings or write letters to the admin-
istration. I refuse because of one reason: I
haven't done the same for other critical issues.
I haven't signed petitions against the unjust
war in Iraq, the destruction of the environ-
ment, world hunger or poverty. Yet, I was so
much closer to writing an e-mail to University
President Mary Sue Coleman about graduation
than I ever was to writing U.S. Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.) about Iraq.
I wonder for how many others this is true.
What does that say about me? What does
that say about us? Why are we willing to
fight so strongly against this small insult, yet
not against so many larger injustices? Is the
human condition really this prone to apathy
about things that aren't right in front of us?
In Democratic primary,
voters have three choices
TO THE DAILY:
Here is what today's Michigan primary
comes down to: Hillary Clinton, Dennis
Kucinich or uncommitted. None of the three
are great choices. But consider this: If you are
not a Clinton supporter and you vote uncom-
mitted, you don't choose which candidate the
uncommitted delegates will support- they
are chosen by the delegate candidates. This
means that Clinton could easily get many of
the uncommitted votes.
If you want your voice to count, vote for
Kucinich. He is the only viable alternative to
Clinton in Michigan. Kucinich supports not-
for-profit universal health care, ending the
war in Iraq within three months, ending all
government subsidies to coal, oil and nuclear
power and creating a Works Green Adminis-
tration to put all Americans to work making
our country carbon-neutral. He is also for
universal education, which means the govern-
ment pays all of your college tuition.
If you absolutely disagree with Kucinich
and need to vote uncommitted, then do so. But
if you want your voice to count, vote Kucinich.
The letter writer is the chair of the University's chapter
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