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September 26, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-26

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4A - Friday, September 26, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 4

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

What this looked like to me was a
rescue plan for John McCain."
- Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn), commenting on what he saw as John McCain's destructive
influence on bailout negotiations, as reported yesterday by The Washington Post.





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.
A failed test
Admissions requirements need to acknowledge tests' flaws
E ach fall, University President Mary Sue Coleman sings the
praises of the newest crop of students at New Student Con-
vocation, telling freshmen that they are the University's
smartest, most diverse and most talented incoming class "ever." But
maybe Coleman should leave average SAT and ACT scores out of
next year's speech. A new study shows that standardized testing is
an inherently flawed system and urges colleges and universities to
make the tests optional or drop them altogether. As an influential
institution, the University of Michigan should help set the example
by better adjusting its admissions system to acknowledge the prob-
lems with standardized testing.





Single-issue students

According to the year-long study, led by
the dean of admissions and financial aid
at Harvard University, standardized tests
like the SAT and ACT serve more negative
than positive purposes. While they strive
to be a fair, uniform gauge of ability, they
tend to disadvantage students who can't
afford expensive test preparation courses
and encourage students to train for the test
rather than learn. Having examined the
report, a commission of influential college
admissions officials recently recommended
that schools place less emphasis on stan-
dardized testing in admissions.
This report comes at a time when the test
prep industry is raking in billions of dol-
lars, profiting from the anxieties of parents
and students. And according to this study,
these courses work, offering well-prepared
students a modest point bump and penal-
izing those who can't afford the training.
This disproportionately disadvantages
poor students who can't afford indepen-
dent test prep courses and tend to come
from struggling schools that don't prepare
their students well for the college admis-
sions process.
Further, standardized testing encourages
students to focus on "gaming" the system,
not learning. Caring only about results, stu-
dents often prepare better for taking the
test than the test's content, studying the
most effective pacing methods rather than.
the material covered. This defeats the pur-
pose of tests like the SAT and ACT, which

are supposed to gauge how much students
have learned and how prepared they are for
Many schools like Smith College and
Wake Forest University have already made
the SAT and ACT an optional part of the,
application process, preempting the com-
mission's recommendation. Unfortunately,
standardized testing is, in many ways, a
necessary evil. The need for a standardized
admissions component makes eliminating
these tests from the equation problematic.
Because grades are so easily inflated and
high schools differ so greatly in quality, uni-
versities still need a way - albeit a flawed
one - to gauge the academic capabilities of
prospective students.
The solution is to change the way uni-
versities weigh standardized test scores in
the admissions process. Knowing that this
system has its flaws, admissions officials
need to reflect that by giving less credit to
SAT and ACT scores, ensuring that they are
assigned an appropriate level of importance
- a relatively low one, that is.,
While shifting the focus away from test
scores in the University of Michigan's
admissions process could potentially harm
its rankings in the U.S. News and World
Report, for instance, it's more important
that the University reflect its commitment
to a fair system. And with a new study to
substantiate suspicions about the standard-
ized testing system's flaws, the University
needs to keep up with progress.

Ten p.m. may be an awkward
time to be at a campus bar,
but it is a ripe time for deep
conversations. A
few weeks ago I
found myself in
such a conversation
with a close friend
about the upcom-
ing elections. What
I noticed, though,
is that a few drinks
are just enough to ARI
drop political cor-
rectness and to say, PARRITZ
with deep convic-
tion and passion,
exactly how you feel.
"Ari," my friend said, "You know
exactly what this election comes
down to for me: Which candidate will
let me keep the most money?"
Though the answer to my friend's
question was perfectly clear in his
mind, it wasn't so clear in my own.
At our core are we really single-is-
sue voters? How can we be so selfish?
After some more thought and
research, I realized how repulsed
I was by this voting style. It is our
responsibility as both students and
citizens to elect the most holistically
outstanding candidate, and not just
the candidate who best fattens our
Though not all students share my
friend's sentiment, I wonder if those
who do have actually looked at the
specific tax brackets and the mar-
ginal increases (or decreases) of the
candidates' policies?
If you think John McCain will cut
your taxes and Barack Obama will
raise them based purely on partisan
ideology, you're wrong. According to
the Tax Policy Center, a joint project
of the Urban Institute and the Brook-
ings Institution, any family earn-
ing less than $600,000 per year will
receive tax cuts if either McCain or
Obama is elected.

To specifically address my friend's
question, let's think about where we,
as students, might be after gradua-
tion. Right now our economy is bleed-
ing, and there are two ways to clean it
up: Either with strong, tangible gov-
ernment intervention or with Adam
Smith's invisible hand. Whichever
method works, and ideally one will
soon, we still aren't likely to earn
more than $600,000 per year after
It looks like my friend was wrong.
Now, some students argue that
they aren't necessarily voting for
themselves; rather, they are vot-
ing on ,behalf of their families. And
it's true: Families who make more
than $600,000 per year will pay sig-
nificantly higher taxes under Obama
than they would under McCain. It
may be the least that a good son or
daughter could do to thank their par-
ents - especially parents who pay
for tuition, food and housing. But is
it right? I would venture to say that
most, though not all of these par-
ents are maybe, possibly, (hopefully)
thinking about the future of our
country as a whole and not just their
But even 'wealthy families are
struggling because of the current
financial and housing crises. For
them, voting on behalf of America's
welfare is clearly ideal, but it is an
impractical solution. I understand
that. And I respect that. But sure
enough, American citizens have a
responsibility to help the incoming
administration restore America's
prowess in diplomacy, finance and
many other important arenas. Fund-
ing for these goals must come from
somewhere, and it probably won't
come from low-income families.
So my friend may have been mis-
taken about his financial future rela-
tive to this election, but he did have
an interesting point about the future.
"The beauty of the American

Dream," he said, "is that if I make
the right decisions, and I enter the
right field, and I work harder than my
coworkers and even my boss, then I
will be rewarded."
If Obama wins the presidency and
passes his policy to exorbitantly tax
the wealthiest 1 percent of Ameri-
cans, what does that say about the
government's incentive for its citi-
zens to earn? Do young minds then
withhold patent registrations for
brilliant ideas, simply because if they
make too much money, it will dispro-
portionately go to the government?
Or maybe they would even leave the
United States and move to a country
with more favorable high-income tax
laws. That would be disastrous.
Why you shouldn't
just vote for
lower taxes.
tax policy might bolster the economy
rightnow, it has little chance forlong-
term survival. If the United States
destroys its tax system with inequita-
ble tax brackets, we shouldn't expect
to emerge from our financial crises
any time soon. Patience here is cru-
cial. We must first solve (and fund)
this crisis, and then figure out how to
equally share its responsibility.
As a first step, let's take the initia-
tive in voting for the candidate who
willbest restore America's reputation
and economy. Whether you vote for
McCain, Obama or even Ralph Nader
(yikes), make sure you do so for the
right reasons.
Ari Parritz can be reached
at aparritz@umich.edu.

Harun Buljina, Emmarie Huetteman, Emily Michels, Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, Imran Syed

Students wrong to treat
minister with disrespect
When I read Wednesday's paper (Minister
draws critical crowd to Diag, 09/24/2008), I
was shocked at the.inability of some students
to approach Jed Smock in an academic and tol-
erant way. In fact, I was embarrassed for our
From day one of Orientation, Wolverines are
taught that cultural differences are to be accept-
ed and that the discussion of controversial top-
ics should be respectful and academic in nature.
Those students highlighted in Wednesday's arti-
cle far from achieved these ideals. Intentionally
screaming out the opposite of Smock's ideas to
drown him out and prevent others from listen-
ing to him is reminiscent of elementary school
bullying. Referring to his message'as nothing but
a funny joke is not only disrespectful but also an
undeveloped argument. .
I'm not suggesting that Smock's beliefs are
right or wrong. I'm simply saying that students
should have handled their disagreements with
intelligence and respect. In the end, the real
representatives of the University are those
briefly mentioned students who stood quietly
around Smock, discussing and debating their
Jacqueline Zillioux
LSA sophomore
IDEA's choice to bring
Eldad to campus offensive
I feel insulted that a student organization at
the University would invite a hatemonger like
Aryeh Eldad solely because he's a member of the
Knesset. I question Israel Initiating Dialogue,
Education and Advocacy's commitment to pro-
moting a dialogue of peace between Arab and
Jewish students when it allows racist comments
to be thrown around and then later admits that
Eldad had "convincing arguments." How can
Eldad, as an Israeli, describe all Arabs as seek-
ing sanctity in death? Who made him a scholar
on Islam, or Arabic culture for that matter?
As an Arab, I believe that the Jews deserve
a state, considering all the suffering that they
have endured over the years. However, the Pal-
estinians should not have to pay the price. Just
as President George W. Bush has done in Iraq,

the Israeli government has used terrorism as an
excuse to bulldoze more than 18,000 Palestinian
homes since 1967, according to the Israeli Com-
mittee Against House Demolitions, and arrest
more than 10,000 Palestinians, according to
Israel's Prison Authority.
Just look at the facts. According to the Israeli
Information Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories, nearly 5,000 Palestinians
have been killed by Israeli security forces since
2000. Compare that to the roughly 1,000 Israeli
civilians and security forces killed by Palestin-
ians in the same time.
There is no reason to point fingers, because
both sides share the blame. I just hope that stu-
dents on this campus, as future leaders of the
United States, seek solutions to this 60-year-
old conflict. I can only look optimistically to
the future in the hope that the Middle East can
have peace. Ican only ask IDEA to stop inviting
speakers who support a war in Iran or a "clash
of civilizations" and instead bring speakers who
are optimistic about the Middle East as well.
Malik Mossa-Basha
LSA senior
Satellite campuses receive
much-deserved attention
I was very excited to read the Daily's recent
article finally acknowledging the changes tak-
ing place on the University's satellite campuses
(Enrollment at U-M Flint, Dearborn at all-time
high, 09/16/2008). I spend half of my week in Ann
Arbor and the other half attending classes in Flint,
and Iam always surprised how little talk there is
in Ann Arbor about the satellite campuses.
I understand that Ann Arbor offers many
things that the others don't, but it is also lack-
ing in certain disciplines. I am a criminal jus-
tice major in Flint, which is not offered here, so
I would simply like to remind people that there
are other reasons to attend the University's cam-
puses in Flint or Dearborn.
Overall, I'm just pleased that Flint's large
strides made the frontpage of the Daily. In the
last year, the campus has been changing quick-
ly, and it is certainly noticeable. I see that the
newspaper has taken notice, but maybe the Ath-
letic Department should do the same and give
priority seating at the football games back to the
students at the Flint and Dearborn campuses.
Andrea Garber
University of Michigan-Flint junior

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 University affiliation. All submissions become property of the Daily.
We do not print anonymous letters. Send letters to tothedoily@umich.edu.
A different kind of discipline


I was only worried about one thing the day before
school started. It wasn't the fact that I would be living
with someone I didn't know for the first time ever, or that
I would have to start making friends all over again or that
I didn't know what to expect from college classes. OK,
maybe I worried a little bit about these issues. But mainly,
my mind was occupied by the fact that I would have to fast
for Ramadan during the first month of school. Previously,
I had expected the first month would mean settling down
and getting my bearings on college life. I wasn't really
sure how putting the two together would work out.
In preparation for what was to come, I brought food for
the morning (Sahoor), dates (the fruit) to break my fast
and tea (my anti-drug). I also warned my roommate so
she knew what to expect. Though I was fully equipped for
the start of Ramadan, nothing could have primed me for
the thirst factor. With no air conditioning to save me and
the sun beating down during the football games, I was
less than enthused.
Beyond that, more everyday tasks became a little more
difficult. Studying after class became a futile venture,
since it was too hard to concentrate. Having a social life
was hard to maintain because every activity involved eat-
ing. That is not to say that I didn't go out, but it wasn't
as often or as fun as I would have liked. Mid-day naps
became my new habit. I complained to my brother about
this point, and he jokingly told me how his college friends
used to sleep all day (through class, mind you) until Iftaar
(the evening meal), doing homework only at night. Simi-
larly, I was envious of those who went home every week-
end because they lived close by.
I did eventually figure out a system. One of my hall-
mates who lives two doors away from me was also fasting

15 hours each day, so we decided to eat together in the
hallway during Sahoor. By joining the Muslim Students'
Association I surrounded myself with others who were
fasting and going to the Iftaars (yes, free food). For exam-
ple, today's 5 a.m. breakfast at Denny's was a highlight
of the month. Though I missed fasting at home - having
pakoras with chutney and chaat right by my side - this
support made all the difference.
All these hardships have a more important purpose
behind them. During this month, the Angel Gabriel deliv-
ered the Quran to Prophet Muhammad. This month is a
month to be more spiritual, to be the best person you can
be and to practice self-discipline. This is the time to pray
for yourself, forgiveness and the future. The purpose of
fasting isn't just about abstaining from eating. It is also
about refraining from bad and sinful habits.
These aspects of Ramadan can be easily ignoreA espe-
cially in college. But there are ways to incorporate them.
For instance, I brought a Quran to college with me, and
I've been tryingto read a few lines some mornings. On my
iPod, I have recitations of the Quran by Abdul Rahman Al
Sudais and Saud Al Shuraim that I sometimes listen to on
my way to class. Even simple acts of kindness, like help-
ing someone out, giving charity or forgiving someone, are
With Ramadan coming to a close on Oct. 1, perhaps I
will be able to actually study during the day and have a
little bit more fun in college. I will always keep in mind,
though, the importance of religion, self-discipline and the
kindness of heart. That is how I started out the year, and
that is how I will end it.
Seher Chowhan is an LSA freshman.

The Daily is looking for smart people with an interest in campus issues and excellent
writing skills to be members of its editorial board.

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