The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
WednesdaySeptember 10, 2008 - 7A
From Page 1A
to the on-campus additions.
"In Angell Hall, there'll be a sea
of brown chairs, and then a white
CampusRoost chair," Traut said.
Along with 200 of the chairs,
the trio put up large banners across
campus, handed out free T-shirts,
and slid fliers under residential
doors. The intense marketing cam-
paign has used about $4,000 of
the organization's $25,000 budget,
The company is funded by a
grant it won last year in a compe-
tition called RPM 10. Sponsored
by the College of Engineering and
local venture capital firm RPM
Ventures, the competition pro-
* vided the students with free office
space, legal counsel and other
assistance for a year, along with
the start-up cash.
Bornhorst now serves as the
fledgling company's chief execu-
tive officer. Sanka is chief informa-
tion officer, and Traut, who wrote
most of the code for the site, is
chief technical officer.
Bornhorst said he and Sanka
originally dreamed up a "one-stop-
shop website for student hous-
ing" in entrepreneurship classes
last year, but when the plan fell
through, the team had to switch
focus. And that change of focus
resulted in CampusRoost.
If the site works as its creators
hope, those chairs might soon be
put to use. The site has already
gained notoriety on campus, most-
ly because of the unorthodox mar-
"As soon as the name Cam-
pusRoost comes up, people say,
'Chairs, chairs, you do the chairs,"'
Bornhorst said. "Either they got
one themselves, or one of their
friends got one."
The site itself is unorthodox in
its own right. Each roost page has
space for "roostmates" to describe
their house or apartment, their
collective interests and the class-
es each person is taking. There is
also a posting wall and a checklist
of activities the roost wants to be
involved in, including parties, con-
certs, study groups, bookclubs, and
to "Just Chill."
Organized into neighborhoods,
the site is linked to Google Maps
and users are automatically con-
nected with with all roosts within
one block of them. In a dormitory,
it's all rooms in their hall.
The site uses a feature called
"chirps" to broadcasts a message
to the user's roostmates, friends,
neighbors or any combination of
the three. Suggested chirps on the
site include, "let's go out for din-
ner," "pickup bball," or "natty light
But the marketing isn't just gen-
erating buzz - it's drawing users.
The founders said yesterday that
though the site still had less than
1,000 members, it's growing by
between 100 and 150 users a day. So
far, about two-thirds of the users
live off campus, Bornhorst said.
"I'd say on South Campus, it's
now become a usable entity," he
said. "We're still pushing for adop-
tion in the dorms, so people are
joining pretty fast down there,
The trio plans to target more
students living in residence halls
by approaching resident advisors,
"I think the idea of CampusRoost
is somethingthat your average RA
would be looking for," he said. "His
job is to open up the doors and get
all the students to meet each other
and talk and just basically commu-
nicate, and that's exactly what our
site is. It's like an open door policy,
but on the internet."
The trio said they aim to "coex-
ist" rather than compete with
established social networking sites
like Facebook because they think
their site's mission differs from that
of other sites.
it does, and that's keeping track of
your existing friends," Bornhorst
said. "We're really looking to help
you meet new people -- to help you
expand your boundaries."
So far, Traut said, students are
using the site differently than they
"When you plan an event on
Facebook, usually it's a formal
thing. It's happening a week in
advance," he said.
"On our site, you've having a lot
of chirps go out for, 'Does anyone
want to watch TV tonight?' That
would never happen on Facebook
-- it just wouldn't be useful to make
a Facebook event," Traut said. "So
we're actually bringing that func-
tionality in where Facebook falls
The team is considering
expanding beyond chirps, but
they're not sure which direction
to go next.
"One thing we would like to see
is people using this for stuff we
haven't thought of yet," he added.
"I think that'd be really cool."
But they're pleased with how
people are using it sd far. Traut
said the site has already helped
him meet new people. He said he
chirped a party invitation to his
friends last weekend, and six peo-
ple he'd never met showed up. 0
"I asked them,youknow,'What's
up guys, why are you here?"' Traut
explained. "And they said, 'I got a
chair, I signed up for the site, and
then I got a chirp saying I should
come to this party."'
Jason Duvall, a graduate student instructor for the Program in the Environment, waits for his Behavior and Environment discus-
sion section to arrive ina Dana Building classroom.
From Page 1A
"We're much more connected
than we were ten years ago," Erb
Institute student Angela Flood said.
"Now what happens with increased
communication is that a person in
take a picture and post it and write
about it on the Internet and groups
all over the world are able to see it."
Environmental interest has also
proven an efficient way of boosting
consumer consciousness, Flood said.
"It's not just about reducing cost
but about creating value," she said.
"The consumer consciousness has
also shifted due to globalization.
This is a lot like what happened
during the Vietnam War - as soon
as people saw pictures from the
war, they were more conscious of
what was happening:'
Technology's ability to bring is-
sues from all corners of the globe
to light has encouraged the green
movement among students.
"With globalization, people are
starting to realize the extent of envi-
ronmental damage. The impact of our
individual actions are more visible to
Others say that this interest has
been gaining popularity as going
green becomes trendier and offers
more opportunity for businesses.
"There are more and more ex-
amples of how sustainable business
can be a win-win and can be sexy,"
said Brent Morgan, a third year stu-
dent in the Erb Institute.
The Erb Institute offers a dual
MBA/MS program through the
Business School and the School of
Natural Resources and Environ-
"Part of it is clearly a shift in fo-
cus in discipline - it's more look-
ing ahead than looking behind,"
said Steven Wright, faculty director
for education in the Center for Sus-
Wright said this new phase in en-
vironmentaleducation brings issues
of sustainability to the forefront.
The job market in civil and en-
vironmental engineering has been
strong in the last two years, Wright
said, and during that time he has
had more callsofrom former students
in the field looking to recruitcurrent
students after they graduate.
"A lot of work in the environ-
ment is legislation driven;" Wright
said. "When demand is down rela-
tive to supply of engineers, then
people stop going into engineering.
But then it takes time for them to
go through the educational system
so once enrollment drops, engi-
neering companies in general need
more engineers by that time."
. Palm's popularity has Dems scrambling
By PETER WALLSTEN
and JANET HOOK
The Los Angles Times
The emergence of Sarah Palin
as a political force in the presiden-
tial race has left many top Demo-
crats fretting that, just two weeks
after their convention ended on a
emotional high, Barack Obama's
campaign has suddenly lost its
Obama has responded aggres-
sively this week to Palin's presence
on the Republican ticket, using
television ads and campaign rallies
to attack her contention that she is
a political reformer who will take
on the Washington establishment
-- a role Obama has long claimed as
But some Democrats are
now worried about the perils of
Obama's strategy, saying that his
campaign, instead of engaging the
Alaska governor, should avoid any
move that draws more attentionto
her and could enhance her appeal
among the white, blue-collar vot-
A series of new polls suggest
that Palin has given a major boost
to John McCain's campaign, excit-
ing the GOP base, winning over
white women and erasing Obama's
lead. Concern among Democrats
was high enough Tuesday that
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IlL., one of
Obama's strongest supporters, felt
it necessary to cite historic polling
data at a lunch of Democratic sena-
tors to convince them that post-
convention "bounces," such as the
one that has followed last week's
GOP convention, have often faded
in past elections.
To reassure nervous lawmakers,
Durbin also reviewed Democratic
registration gains this year in key
Still, Democrats expressed
anxiety about the new challenge
suggested by the recent surveys
showing McCain has gained
ground among independent vot-
ers and women, who could decide
the race in states such as Ohio,
Michigan, Pennsylvania and Vir-
A new Wall Street Journal/
NBC News poll released Tuesday,
for instance, shows that McCain
is now winning white women 52
percent to 41 percent after having
that crucial category just a month
"Whenever you see that kind of
movement, you ought to be con-
cerned; you ought to try to address
it," said Rep. Elijah Cummings,
D-Md., a strong Obama backer.
David Bonior, the former Michi-
gan congressman who managed
Democrat John Edwards unsuc-
cessful presidential bid, called
the new poll findings a "real con-
cern," adding: "We can't lose white
women and expect to do well in
iar with the campaign's delibera-
tions worried that the "freshness,
newness and aura around Barack
has been eclipsed. The campaign
has been knocked offstride."
Another explained that Demo-
crats expected Palin to "have the
opposite effect" and drag McCain
down, and added, "Whenever
there is conventional wisdom in
Washington, and it's wrong, that
shakes people up."
The two Democrats, like oth-
ers interviewed for this story,
requested anonymity in order to
speak about internal campaign
Obama over the last two days
has begun vigorously attacking
governor and has tried to tarnish
her image as a political maverick
and reformer, highlighting, for
example, her initial support for the
"bridge to nowhere."
One new TV ad released this
week accuses Palin of "lying" in
claiming to have killed the $398
million link between Ketchikan
and its island airport. McCain
has ridiculed the project as an
egregious example of the kind of
pork-barrel spending he has long
Palin has made her opposition
to the federally funded bridge a
staple of her stump speech, even
though she defended it in her 2006
campaign and did not kill it until it
was clear that Congress would not
pay for it.
Also,, Obama and his aides have
started using increasingly aggres-
sive language in recent days to
denounce Palin's and McCain's
attempts to cast themselves as the
harbingers of change.
The typically even-keeled
Obama on Tuesday night invoked
an old cliche and accused Repub-
licans of trying to put "lipstick
on a pig" in their adoption of the
change mantra, noting that not
long ago McCain had tried to
present himself as the candidate
From Page 1A
"If we continue to have this kind
of trend (in health care costs), then
the academic, the core mission of
the university, will be impacted,"
she said. "We won't be able to pro-
vide some of the researchers and
quality faculty that we do."
The University brought in
Hewitt & Associates, a consulting
firm, to examine the current state
of health care coverage at compa-
rable higher education and health
In its comparison between the
University and 27 other competi-
tive universities including Brown
University, Northwestern Univer-
sity, and the University of Virginia,
the consulting firm found that the
University's health care plan for
employees and retirees is "greater
than those of university and health
system peers, both in terms of the
quality of benefits offered and in
the amount of the University's
Thomas said the funds saved
from taking some of the cost burden
off the University can now be used
to "keep student tuition affordable
and to have the ability to invest in
other programs to support our aca-
By sharing the costs with its
employees, the University can pre-
serve the quality oftheir healthcare
coverage as opposed to reducingits
quality to shave costs, as other com-
parable universities and companies
have done, Thomas said.
The mechanics of how to orches-
tratethe costshiftwillbe examined
by the newly-formed Committee on
Sustainable Health Benefits, which
is set to begin meeting later this
The committee includes various
heads of University departments,
like Marty Eichstadt, Director
of the Benefits Administration
office, and professors, like the
committee's chair Kyle Grazier, a
professor of Health Management
and Policy in the School of Pub-
lic Health. The committee hopes
to make a recommendation to the
University administration by the
end of December.
The University's executive offi-
cers will decide which recommen-
dations to implement in the spring
of 2009. Changeswill affect faculty
and staff health coverage starting
in January of 2010.
One major concern of Univer-
sity officials is that faculty and
staff members on the lower end
of the pay scale will struggle to
pay the increased share of health
"The question is how to spread
that burden across different mem:
bers of the community," said David
Potter, chair of SACUA, the facul-
ty's top governing body.
Potter said the University
should consider tying the health
care premiums to salary levels,
so that lesser-paid faculty are not
being disparately affected by the
"We have to be aware of the
fact that these increases will have
very different impacts depending
on where somebody is situated in
University," he said.
Potter said SACUA will meet
with Laurita Thomas in the next
few weeks to discuss the chang-
es and hold an open forum about
it at a Senate Assembly meeting.
Thomas said the administra-
tion is "very concerned about
our staff on the lower-end of
the pay scale" and that the com-
mittee has been asked to give
the University leaders recom-
mendations that "specifically
address" the impact on lower-
David Reid of University
Human Resources said the Uni-
versity might consider using a
tiered system in which the pre-
mium's reduced, or give those
employees a supplement from
the University to offset the cost
of the premium.
University officials also
announced the formation of the
Committee to Study Vesting
Options for the Retirement Sav-
ings Plan in hopes of lowering
retirement plan costs that also put
a heavy strain on the University's
total operating budget.
In addition to the shift in the
health care cost ratio, Thomas
said that the University has imple-
mented several other programs in
an attempt to reduce high health
One such program, ActiveU!,
aims to increase participation
rates of faculty and staff in physi-
cal activities, as a prevention strat-
The University also uses a pre-
scription drug management pro-
gram, providing faculty members
with high-quality prescription
drugs at a reduced price.
ers who remain cool to Obama's been virtually tied with Obama in Palin for decisions she made as of experience.
Berkeley tree-sitters end From Page 1A
the construction project." Th
ner y 2 year long protest resolution will be voted on dur
ing next Tuesday's meeting.
Redwoods cut down
to make room for
By RICHARD C. PADDOCK
The Los Angles Times
BERKELEY, Calif. - Four tree-
sitters whohadhoped to save agrove
of trees at the University of Califor-
nia, Berkeley, ended their long-run-
ning protest yesterday and gave up
their perch at the top of a 90-foot
redwood after workers erected a
scaffold to bring them down.
The protesters surrendered to
police at the top of the seven-story
scaffold, where they were hand-
cuffed and escorted down the
structure's stairs to the applause
of hundreds of onlookers, some
of whom voiced support for the
four men's cause and others who
appeared happy the 21-month pro-
test was finally over.
Hours later, the redwood was
cut down, paving the way for con-
struction of a $125 million athletic
training facility on the site next to
the campus' Memorial Stadium.
"We are extremely pleased that
this tree-sit has ended," said Vice
Chancellor Nathan Brostrom.
in the design and the execution."
Protesters had occupied trees
in the L5-acre grove since Decem-
ber 2006 in an effort to block the
university's plans to build on the
site. Over the course of the protest,
hundreds of people spent time in
the trees, some for days, some for
months. Thoseinvolved arguedthat
the trees, many of them85-year-old
oaks, should be preserved because
the grove was one of the few natu-
ral areas on the campus.
After a state appeals court ruled
Thursday that construction could
go forward, the university moved
quickly to cut down more than 40
trees, isolating the four remaining
tree-sitters in the redwood.
Yesterday morning, a company
hired by the university began
erecting the scaffold and by early
afternoon had reached the tree-
sitters' platform about 70 feet off
the ground. The four men then
climbed even higher into the tree
as workers and campus police dis-
mantled the platform and threw
the men's bedding and other pos-
sessions to the ground.
Meanwhile, UC Berkeley Police
Chief Victoria Harrison rode up in
a basket suspended from a crane to
speak with the men. Harrison said
later she had encouraged the tree-
sitters to end their protest peace-
fully and walk down the scaffold,
rather than endanger themselves
and the police by resisting arrest
at the top of the tree.
"I talked to them a lot about
coming down with some dignity,"
If the protesters had not surren-
dered, Harrison said workers would
have continuedbuildingthe scaffold
until police were able to seize them.
The police chief said the four
were easy to talk to and that by the
end were bantering back and forth
with her. She described them as
"very skilled individuals" who knew
how to maneuver in the treetops.
on the ground, protest leader
Eric Eisenberg, who goes by the
name Ayr, announced that the
protesters had reached an agree-
ment with the university and said
officials had committed to finding
new ways to work with the com-
munity on land-use issues.
But Brostrom, who spoke to
the tree-sitters by cell phone, said
later that the university had made
no such deal to persuade them to
come down. The university already
is committed to the goal of improv-
ing relations with the community,
The four tree-sitters will be
charged with trespassing and vio-
lating a court order. At least one
may be charged with battery for
assaulting a worker during an
earlier tree-trimming operation.
Both Sohini and Benson urged
members of the assembly to talk
to students to try to gauge their
positions. "[This is] a chance for
us to voice the students' opinions
on the construction process,"
TEXT MESSAGE TROUBLE
Only 23 percent of the student
body has signed up for text message
safety alerts, said Bret Chaness,
chair of the Campus Safety Com-
mission. This is less than half of the
average at universities and colleges
with similar alert systems in place.
He emphasized the importance
of signing up for the University's
text-message and email emer-
gency notification system, which
launched in March.
He pressed MSA representatives
MSA appointed students to 26
various committee positions by
block vote. Eight justices were
named to the CentralStudent Judi-
ciary, the judicial branch of the
student government, which hears
cases involving student groups or
violations of MSA's constitution.
The judiciary also hears appeals
in cases of election disputes. LSA
Rep. Paula Klein was also named
City Council Liason.
From Page 1A
T-shirt,jeans and a black baseball
Sergeant Matt Lige of the
Ann Arbor Police department
declined to commtnt on the
incident, saying it is still under
Some residents of the student-,
dominated neighborhood said
they weren't surprised to hear
about the crime.
"This is a big party street,"
said LSA junior Greg Sturgeon,
who lives on Oakland Avenue.
"People know that people are
being drunk and stupid, (and)
Sturgeon said the house he lives
in has been robbed twice in the
LSA junior Mike Kelmenson,
another Oakland Avenue resident,
said the lack of street lighting on
the block concerned him.
"It's really dark -- like there's no
lighting," he said. "You can't even
see people in front of you."
Anyone with information about
the crime is asked to call Univer-
sity Police at 763-1131 or the Ann
Arbor Police Department tip line