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January 08, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-08

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4A - Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

74C Miclanai
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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.
Accessibility sells
High demand shows merits of wheelchair-accessible seating
t was a sad day for the University when it was sued by the
Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America for failing to pro-
vide adequate seating for disabled fans. Even sadder was the
fact that one of Michigan's central arguments against increasing
wheelchair-accessible seating was a concern that the seats wouldn't
sell. But after the vast majority of the seats were occupied during
this past season, it's even clearer that the decision to increase access
for the handicapped was necessary. The University, for its part, has
learned that improving its atmosphere of acceptance for all people
isn't just a good policy - it's a policy that sells.

There's probably no God.
Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
- The Atheist Bus Campaign, in advertisements on the sides of buses across England
that promote atheism awareness, as reported by The New York Times.
Knowing when to quit




It took an ugly lawsuit and months of
negative publicity to convince the Univer-
sity to add wheelchair-accessible seating
to the Big House renovation plans last year.
Under the requirements of the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990, when a public
facility like Michigan Stadium is renovat-
ed, the facility must be brought into com-
pliance with current federal standards for
disability access. This could have required
the University to make 1 percent of the Big
House's roughly 100,000 seats wheelchair
When the legal battle began, the Uni-
versity dug in its heels and claimed that
the major changes to the stadium were
not "renovations" but "repairs," which
wouldn't require it to add to the stadium's
paltry total of 92 wheelchair-accessible
seats. Besides, the University argued, the
seats wouldn't fill if it offered them.
But last March, the lawsuit was settled
and administrators committed to make
329 wheelchair-accessible seats available
by2010 and to improve accessibility in
bathrooms, concession stands and ticket
Though only 184 of these seats were
ready for this year's games, the University
has reported that between 74 percent and
89 percent of these seats were sold.
Contrary to the University's concerns
that these seats wouldn't be filled, the
increase in wheelchair-accessible seats
was a success. Between 74 and 89 percent
is a strong showing, especially during the
football team's heart-breaking perfor-

mance last season. Clearly, the addition of
these seats fills a tangible need for disabled
Michigan fans.
But providing sufficient access to the
stadium for disabled fans shouldn't have
been such an after-thought in any case - it
fits right in with the University's vital goal
of creating an acceptable atmosphere on
campus for all people, regardless of gender,
race, orientation, disability or any other
status. The University should strive to be
a leader among universities for fostering
inclusion and equality.
While the high turnout of disabled fans
at home games was unexpected, it further
demonstrates the capacity for the Univer-
sity to have a friendly environment for all
of its inhabitants.
Disabled fans clearly believe in the sta-
dium's potential to be a welcoming place
for them, and administrators should have
every reason to believe that tickets for the
rest of the wheelchair-accessible seats will
sell well when the renovations are com-
The lack of handicap-accessible seating
in the stadium may have begun as a major
blow to the University's credibility, but the
high success rate of the new seats means
that the disabled community forgives the
University for its missteps.
The installation of the rest of the wheel-
chair-accessible seats will not only rec-
tify a once grave mistake, but it will again
demonstrate to the University that a more
inclusive stadium can be enormously suc-

L ast month, the Pentagon
announced the potential
deployment of up to 30,000
additional United
States troops to
Afghanistan to
combat the Tali-
ban and support
the weak Afghan
government. This
comes at a time
when the Taliban IBRAHIM
is undergoing a
resurgence, retak- KAKWAN
ing cities lost in
2001 and gain-
ing popular support. In Helmand,
Afghanistan's largest province, an
estimated 90 percent of citizens sup-
port the Taliban. In recent months,
the organization has set up a paral-
lel judicial system, a police force, and
even appointed governors to head
parallel provincial governments
- despite the United States' seven-
year effort to minimize the Taliban's
Even with the millions of dollars
the U.S. has lavished upon Afghani-
stan's central government, the
country has not even come close to
matching the accomplishments of
the Taliban. Apart from the Afghan
opium trade (now accountable for
93% of the world supply), it appears
that little else is flourishing under the
new government. In seven years, the
government has not made significant
progress towards establishing order,
improving infrastructure or even
gaining the trust of the people.
- The general perception among
Afghans is that the government is
corrupt. In a country where the
president's brother stands accused
of heroine trafficking and where pro-
vincial governors have left their jobs
hundreds of millions of dollars richer

than when they were government-.
appointed (not elected), this is not
Given the monetary expense and
the number of American lives spent
trying to establish this government,
one would expect greater results. Yet
despite that government's ineffec-
tiveness, we choose to reward it with
increased military support.
Maintaining military support will
not be easy. Just because the troop
surge appears to have succeeded in
Iraq does not mean that the same will
be true of Afghanistan. The reason
the Afghan war seemed easier than
Iraq in the first place was because
there were virtually no U.S. troops
on the ground. During the first and
most intense stages of the war, only
a small number of special and CIA
Special Operations Command forces
were involved in combat. The major-
ity of battles were fought by U.S.-paid
Afghan warlords who were backed by
American warplanes.
But that will no longer be the case
if we send in 30,000 more troops. It
will be messy, there will be many
American deaths and there will be
many more civilian deaths. The U.S.
has a horrible record of collateral
damage in Afghanistan. Earlier this
year, American troops bombed a wed-
ding party and killed almost 50 peo-
ple. And in a country where weapons
are abundant and blood feuds are still
part of the normal culture, you can
bet these mistakes create at least a
few armed adversaries.
Adding to the mess is the situation
in Pakistan. For the last few months,
the U.S. has been illegally enter-
ing Pakistani airspace and bombing
suspected terrorist hideouts, at the
cost of numerous Pakistani civilians.
Sure, a few terrorists were captured,
but our country also alienated a large
portion of the Pakistani population.

But the war is in Afghanistan, so why
does this matter?
It matters because 80 percent to 90
percent of supplies used by U.S. and
NATO forces in Afghanistan have to
pass through Pakistan. No matter how
many times the U.S. invades Pakistani
airspace, the Pakistani government
will remain a U.S. ally. But the same
cannot be said of the Pakistani people.
Last month, over 100 military vehi-
cles destined for use in Afghanistan
were torched or stolen. On top of that,
increased attacks againstconvoys car-
rying U.S. supplies have caused Paki-
stani truck drivers to strike.
The lesson we
haven't learned in
Since 2001, the Pakistani govern-
ment has posted hundreds of troops
along the Afghan border and lost
many of them. But the Pakistani gov-
ernment is now broke. This week,
many of the troops previously sta-
tioned near Afghanistan were rede-
ployed to the Indian border, a move
that can only have negative effects on
the U.S. effort.
We have alienated large portions
of the Afghan population, our sup-
ply lines are in jeopardy, and our key
allies inside Afghanistan are weak.
And now our government proposes to
send 30,000 more troops? Perhaps we
should take a lesson from the British
and the Soviets and know whencto quit.
Afghanistan can be subdued in the
short run, but it can't be conquered.
Ibrahim Kakwan can be reached
at ijameel@umich.edu.

Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emma Jeszke,
Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Emily Michels, Matthew Shutler,
Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
Scoring a spot in college

Applyingto college is a bitch. Only a little over
a year ago I went through this painful process,
and let me tell you, I would never want to repeat
it. The worst part of the application process was
taking the annoying, stressful standardized
tests. I ended up with less than perfect scores
both times I took the ACT and was kicked out of
the SAT (note: havingthe same cell phone as your
sister and unknowingly putting them in your
purse is a bad idea - test proctors don't appreci-
ate Fall Out Boy ringtones). There is no way to
avoid the stress involved in testing, but now the
College Board is making it downright unfair. A
new policy has been put in place for SAT testing
called Score Choice, which is about as ridiculous
as it sounds.
The new policy is fairly simple: high school
students can take the test as many times as they
want and decide which specific scores to send to
their colleges of choice. Students can hide any
undesirable scores from schools they are apply-
ing to by notsubmittingtheir lower scores. So if a
student takes the test 3 times and only wants one
score sent, the other scores are hidden from col-
leges, when in the past, all the scores were sent
automatically. The College Board argues that
this makes the testing experience less stressful
for students, alleviating some of the pressure and
giving them more control over their scores and
futures. I begto differ.
What the College Board must fail to realize
is that the new policy further widens the gap
between the low-income, under-privileged col-
lege bound kids and the high-income, Harvard-
bound-with-a-bribe-from-Daddy kids. Now that
the test can be taken as many times as desired
without any worry, those kids who can afford
coaching, study groups and 10 tests will have an
extremely unfair advantage. The kids who can't
afford any of these benefits will only be put at

even more of a disadvantage because they won't
have the luxury of selecting their best scores
among a dozen SAT attempts. With this policy,
students' abilities are being measured by the
money they can spend rather than by the talents
they possess in academics. The policy isn't pro-
moting equal opportunity for all students, but
rather makinga problem that already exists even
Standardized tests are coined to be "an accu-
rate predictor of a student's success at the col-
lege level," and Score Choice simply isn't living
up to this expectation. The only thing that Score
Choice will be showing is that rich kids are good
at memorizing how to get a perfect score on the
SAT. Greatschools can selectthosestudents with
top scores, but they won't be prepared for a cam-
pus where clearing away bad test scores with a
few extra swipes of a credit card isn't an option.
If a college sees a perfect 2400 from a student,
they are bound to get accepted. However, the
school has no way of knowing if that was the
first or tenth time that student took the exam. In
turn, colleges cans suffer because the SAT is inac-
curately representing of the type of student the
school is admitting.
In a way, this policy is promoting a dishonest
way to get somewhere you want to be. It also pro-
motes a false sense of security among students,
making them feel like if they screw up it doesn't
matter because no one will have to know. This
message is completely contradictoryto whatget-
ting a college education is all about. Though it
would be nice to make the SAT less stressful -
I was kicked out, remember? - all Score Choice
does it makes it easier for privileged kids to get
into college, learning all the wrong lessons on
the way.
Emma Jeszke is an assistant editorial page editor.

What rankings don't show

friend of mine from high
school recently called to boast
about the ranking of her col-
lege, Sarah Law-
rence, on the
new Best Ameri-
can Colleges list
posted by Forbes ,
magazine. "We're e.
number 25," she
said conceitedly,
then paused, "and A
Michigan came in MATTHEW
at 161." At first, I
laughed in disbe- GREEN
lief. How could
any respectable
publication ignore the prestige, his-
tory, and academic distinction of the
University of Michigan? How could
schools I've never even heard of rank
so much higher than "the Harvard of
the West"? But when I checked the
website, I found it was sadly true.
Then I remembered exactly how
enviably Michigan has been rated in
the past. US News & World Report
currently ranks us the 26th best
school overall, and the 4th best pub-
lic university in the country. At the
same time, the Times of London has
rated us the 18th best institution in the
world. With recognition like that, one
has to wonder specifically how Forbes
carried out their rating. I thought I'd
find out for myself.
According to its website, Forbes'
grading scale is based on course and
professorevaluations, alumniprestige,
graduation statistics, faculty accom-
-plishment and the amount of debt
held by graduates after four years. But
I got the impression that something is
missing in that description.
Swallowing ┬░my pride, I searched
for my friend's school towards the

top of the page. Sarah Lawrence has
previously not been ranked by other
magazines, like US News & World
Report, in part because they do not
accept standardized test scores in
their admissions process. According
to the New York Times, Sarah Law-
erance is officially the most expen-
sive college in the United States, with
tuition at $52,210 a year. And with the
average tuition of the list's top twen-
ty-five schools at $47,668, it's clear
Forbes believes that when it comes
to quality education, it's all about the
Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised,
to find that in the magazine that calls
itself the "Capitalist Tool." After all, if
it asserts the omnipotence of money,
then it's understandable that the
schools it reveres most should be the
most expensive. Still, I'm not sure if
I'm willing to draw the same conclu-
sion. Pardon my thinly-veiled school
spirit, but Michigan genuinely has
everything that other schools have
and more - without the haughtiness
or the expense.
From time to time I hear Univer-
sity of Michigan students are, in fact,
elitist, but compared to students at
countless other colleges and univer-
sities, they really aren't. Certainly
many of the schools that Forbes
ranked highly have substantially
more pompous reputations. Wol-
verines, by contrast, have a healthy
understanding that their education is
both Ivy-influenced and corn-fed. In
this middle ground, Ann Arbor offers
a prestigious yet unpretentious atmo-
sphere that opens the door to objec-
tive thinking.
To be sure, elitism arguably has a
place in academics, where determi-
nation and pushing the envelope are

inherent. But snobbery should not
necessarily be a requisite for quality
education, particularly when a stu-
dent's conceit is more a condition of
his trust fund than his intellect. The
University does not have a history of
catering to a notably wealthy student
body. On the contrary, Michigan has
historically been a haven for stu-
dents discriminated against at other
As both a colossal research univer-
sity and a multifaceted liberal arts
school, the University of Michigan
weaves a fabric of perspective neces-
sary for its students to truly become


Why :Michigan
doesn't deserve to
be ranked 161st
the nation's leaders. And, by accepting
more private funding than any other
state school in the nationMichigan
operates more like a combination
between public and private. It's these
very combinations of the best of both
worlds that makes a Michigan educa-
tion unlike any other.
We hear that all the time, from
fellow Wolverines. But what's most
telling is how highly people outside
of the Michigan community regard
the University, particularly on the
East Coast and abroad. We have
much to keep us proud in Ann Arbor,
and regardless of what Forbes might
think, we always will.
Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@umich.edu.

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