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February 16, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-16

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4A - Monday, February 16, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

E

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
'tAnn Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu
GARY GRACA ROBERT SOAVE COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
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.
FR Y 'JiED gtY
The name game
MSA, LSA-SG should focus on issues instead of labels
Student governments at the University have been getting a lot
of attention so far this year, and not because of any impressive
accomplishments. Instead it has been the unnecessary reso-
lutions, disturbing inaction and party politics that have captured the
student body's interest. The collapse of student government's domi-
nant party, the Michigan Action Party, and a controversial attempt
by the LSA Student Government to drop party labels from the bal-
lot, are certainly reflections of this negative attention. But while
these changes may represent the slightest of improvements to stu-
dent government's approach, dropping party labels isn't the change
it needs. Instead, MSA and LSA-SG need to change their definition
of parties into an entity that actually works for students.

It started as a crazy love poem in food
dedicated to an amazing candidate:'
- Zilly Rosen, a pastry artist in Buffalo, on her mural of President Barack Obama and former President
Abe Lincoln composed completely of cupcakes, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
CHRIS KOSLOWSKI T T PASTURE E-MAIL CHRIS AT CSKOSLOW@UMICH.EDU
So when I came to, the They told me they're not Why does being drunk
trough was upside-down, going to let you in the barn excuse you from being an
there was slop everywhere, anymore. assholef
andlIsmelled terrible. a i'm ~if ' ~ ~ ~
~ LLA, * dank,2.~.KLA. en Oh please. They'renPIGS!a
~ ______ me brak___ aleay filthy! ;
e 6
y 10 go
I II II -I l-II 11111 1 11H H T'1111-

U

Schooling Granholm

The Michigan Action Party has swept
the past two elections with campaign
promises that are left unfulfilled and get
MSA and LSA-SG nowhere. The party has
been an election-winning machine because
of its ability to rally around one cause: get-
ting re-elected. Sadly, it has failed to act in
the best interest of students, instead func-
tioning only as a tool to get a select group
of students into LSA-SG and MSA.
Early last week, MAP split into two dif-
ferent groups - the Michigan vision Party
and the reMICHIGAN Campaign, which
doesn't want to be thought of as a party. On
top of that, LSA-SG decided to go party-
free this election - at least in principle,
since the LSA-SG bylaws require that can-
didates be allowed to identify with a party
on the ballot. Getting rid of parties is cur-
rently all the rage.
But just because these organizations
don't want to be classified as parties
doesn't mean anything has really changed.
Whether they call themselves parties, cam-
paigns,-groups-or-anything else, student
governments need to form entities that
have greater concerns than getting elect-
ed. The name doesn't matter - what mat-
ters is that representatives come together,
to work toward a common goal of meeting
student's specific needs. Student govern-
ment leaders, whether they form new par-

ties or shed the label of party altogether,
must keep in mind that their groups should
be based around the idea of policymakers
working together to help their constitu-
ents. A "party" should have a policy agenda
that aims to better the University.
Ideally, parties are a proven way for a
group of candidates with a similar mes-
sage to work together and articulate their
goals. And if there were more than one
legitimate, constructive party in the run-
ning, actual competition might drive voter
turnout - or at least turnout that's better
than 9 percent (the abysmal percentage).
Higher voter turnout could even result in a
measure of accountability for these parties.
Restoring student government's account-
ability should be a central concern of any
new group in MSA or LSA-SG, and party
labels should exist to accomplish this goal.
An effective student government would
achieve real policy changes, create effec-
tive political parties and build a system of
accountability. If this happens, students
could see their elected officials actually,
get things done. MAP certainly wasn't the
first group in student government to mis-
interpret the word "party" as a club to get
people elected - and it probably won't be
the last - but with its dissolution comes an
opportunity for MSA and LSA-SG leaders
to have parties the right way.

n page 34B of the farce mas-
querading as her higher edu-
cation budget proposal, Gov.
Jennifer Gra-
nholm proposed a
3-percent budget
cut to state univer-
sities.
paragraph, play-
ing the world's
smallest violin,
she beseeched PATRICK
colleges to freeze
their tuition rates O'MAHEN
in light of "dif-
ficult economic
times" for students and families.
Apparently Granholm's bargain for
universities is "Don't raise tuition and,
in exchange, we'll cut your aid." I sup-
pose she also expects universities to
maintain their quality of instruction
and research, too.
Governor, I want a unicorn, but that
doesn't mean Ican get one.
Aside from state officials' impos-
sible dreams, historical analysis shows
something more pernicious at work.
Instead of making reasonable appro-
priations to support higher education,
Michigan has quietly shifted the cost
of higher education from the state to
students.
Using data from the University's
Office of Budget, I calculated the per-
centages of the University system's
general fund revenues provided by
state funding and tuition since the turn
of the century. In 2001-02, tuition dol-
lars made up 54 percent of general fund
revenues. This school year, they make
up 64 percent. In contrast, the state's
contribution to the University has
slipped from 34 percent to 24 percent.
These trends do not reflect runaway
spending increases at the University;
they reflect reductions in Lansing's

contribution.
Adjustingfundingtotals forinflation
with data from the Bureau of Labor
Statistics makes the picture bleaker.
To put it in starker terms, the governor
has proposed $362.1 million in funding
to the University system in 2009-10. If
state funding kept up with inflation,
the system would get $511.3 million.
Undergraduates and their families will
have to pay higher tuition to bridge that
$149.2 million gap.
No matter how the numbers get
sliced, they demonstrate the whole-
sale gutting of higher education fund-
ing during the last decade. The state of
Michigan has abdicated its responsi-
bility to make a good college education
accessible to all residents who have the
talent for it.
In calling for a tuition freeze, Gra-
nholm cynically hopes to shift respon-
sibility and outrage for the state's own
shortcomings to state universities to
raise tuition.
But the numbers don't lie. Politicians
do - and we're paying for it.
So Michigan Student Assembly
President Sabrina Shingwani, what are
you goingto do about this?
What about you, LSA Student Gov-
ernment President Leslie Zaikis?
And all the rest of you, elected offi-
cials in student government?
I'm calling you all out. Despite pop-
ular opinion, I know you're intelligent
and hard-working and you care about
us. Here's an issue to mobilize your
constituents. Here's your chance to
make a real difference in student gov-
ernment.
And you, Nathanial Eli Coats Styer
over at the University's chapter of the
College Democrats - I'm calling you
and your organization out. You regis-
tered 4,700 voters last fall. I challenge
you to get 4,700 signatures on a peti-
tion to Lansing.

And what about all of us at the
Graduate Employees Organization?
Last year, we stood up for ourselves
and won a great contract. Now we have
a chance to stand up for our students.
So Solidarity Committee Chair Shana
Greenstein, let's get to work.
We need to pass resolutions, cir-
culate petitions and call lawmakers
to apply pressure. We need to orga-
nize our constituents and members
and encourage them to make a differ-
ence. But most of all, we need to work
together and coordinate our activities.
Together, we speak much louder than
we do as individuals.

Students leaders
need to defend
higher education.

4

Finally, we need to contact our sister
organizations at every other state uni-
versity - from Michigan State Univer-
sity to Grand Valley State University.
When 100 students from Ann Arbor
show up at the capital, no one cares.
But if 10,000 students from all over
Michigan march on Lansing, lawmak-
ers might wake up.
So man the phone banks. Fire up
the word processors. Knock on some
doors. Light the torches. Sharpen the
pitchforks. Let's tell state lawmakers
exactly what to do with Granholm's
higher education budget proposal -
loudly and often.
And for once, let's organize as a com-
munity and stick up for ourselves.

As the Michigan Student Assembly examines its future on campus,
the Daily would like students to voice their opinions
on what should be a part of its agenda.
E-MAIL YOUR IDEAS TO ROBERT SOAVE AT RSOAVE@UMICH.EDU.
MICHIGAN VISION PARTY | VlEWPuNT
A new vision for MSA

- Patrick O'Mahen can be
reached at pomahen@umich.edu.

4

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
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. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and
accuracy. All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
Send letters to ohedaiy@umich.edu.
BRIA GRAY AND ALEX LEVY IEWPOINT
What Israel's election means

What's your vision?
It's a simple question, really. Think back,
whether it be a few months or a few years, to
the moment you first became a student at the
University of Michigan. What were your expec-
tations, not only of college in general but of the
University of Michigan? What did you hope
this school would offer you, and what did you
hope you could offer this school?
We are a campus of activists when we choose
to be. From Dance Marathon to Detroit Part-
nership to Circle K and beyond, students are
involved in many service organizations com-
mitted to making our university community
and society a better place. Yet year after year,
the Michigan Student Assembly, the very orga-
nization that is supposed to serve our needs and
interests, falls short. But rather than acquiesce
to this embedded notion of failure, we firmly
believe that MSA has the ability to represent
our school's best.
If you are reading this, you likely have
noticed the recent number of students on this
page railing against what they see as an inef-
fective governing body. Chances are that many
of you gave up on student government long ago,
convinced of its uselessness. Instead, you chose
to devote your time to an organization with
more tangible, effective results.
Today, we ask you to re-enter the fold. We
ask you not to consider what student govern-
ment has been, but what it could be. Today, we
ask you to help us create a new vision for MSA,
with a new set of transparent, tangible goals to
help make up for all the discontentment. Today,
we ask you to help create a Michigan vision.
The Michigan Vision Party does not exist to
serve as a sounding board for a small group of
students, but rather, as a medium for the entire
student body. We have already set up an e-mail
address, whatsyourvision@umich.edu. Send us a
note. Tell us what you think. Give us your vision.
A lot of you are probably asking yourselves,
"How is this party going to be any different?"
Promises have been made and broken in the
past, and concerns that this cycle won't end
are legitimate. But our vision is different for
one main reason: It belongs to all of us. We will

not be fighting our own battles, but rather the
battles of the student body.
This is not to say MSA has not made signifi-
cant strides over the years. What we aim to do,
however, is to close the gap that exists between
the assembly and the student body. Our vision
is for an assembly that goes out of its way to
inform and engage the student body rather
than sitting back and waiting for the student
body to come to it.
We will talk to the students about real, sub-
stantive ideas. There will be no flyers with
clever monikers and empty promises. We will
give students actual information about the
issues they care about and what we will do to
solve them.
What is being done to increase campus light-
ing? How can we improve busing? How can
we combat rising tuition? Is it possible to shift
spring break to be more aligned with other
colleges? As a means to facilitate this ongo-
ing conversation, we will have a forum on our
website, michiganvisionparty.com. We hope all
of you will become a part of this free and hon-
est exchange of ideas, discussing how we can
improve our campus.
We will be held accountable. Every member
of our party will have one specific, substantive
idea that will become that person's platform. If
an issue is not being dealt with properly, you will
know where to turn. We will act as your place to
turn in times of trouble, not an exclusive body
disconnected from your true concerns.
We will be your voice. If others do not heed
our concerns, we will band together to make a
difference.
Our mass meeting is today at 8:00 p.m. in
Room 3411 of Mason Hall. We hope you will
come and join us, to get involved and to learn
about how, together, we can create a better,
more interactive and more transparent student
government. Our party is about vision. Your
vision. Our vision. The Michigan vision.
So take a look into the future of student gov-
ernment. Let us know what you see.
This viewpoint was written by
the Michigan Vision Party.

4

Feb. 10 was a big day in Israeli politics. For the past few
months, the recent elections have been a source of tension,
with the center party, Kadima, and the center-right party,
Likud, competing for majority seats in the parliament and
for prime minister. Although Tzipi Livni, who has been
the head of Kadima since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's
resignation in September, had the chance to form a coali-
tion a few months ago, the parties on the left held too few
chairs in the Knesset to form a majority. That difficulty
predicted the future challenges of either center-leaning
party to form a coalition.
The exact seating of the parties in coalition hasn't been
announced, however, the recent elections showed a sig-
nificant shift in the views of Israeli citizens toward the
right. Both Livni and Binyamin Netanyahu, the head of
Likud, are claiming victory in this election. Although
Kadima gained more seats in the election, Likud still has
the upper hand. With Yisrael Beiteinu, the party of the far
right, gaining four seats and Likud gaining 15, the right is
in the best position toform a coalition and gain a majority
of seats in the government. In Israel, the right side of the
political spectrum is less willing to compromise on land.
The left, on the other hand, is willing to consider more
peaceful options. Although the new prime minister has
yet to be announced, predictions point to Netanyahu.
So where does that leave us now? It is not surprising
that Israeli citizens would vote right as a result of the
recent war with Gaza. American politics, however, fol-
lowed a different trend with the left becoming stronger
as people grew increasingly more tired of war. The differ-
ent attitudes of the U.S. and Israeli governments toward
war will pose a problem for U.S. President Barack Obama.
Although Obama called the Israel-Palestine peace pro-
cess one of his top priorities, it will be more difficult for
America to work with a right wing Israeli government
that is less inclined to negotiate or even address the con-
flict with Palestinians, as past governments have been
under Kadima.

As part of the left-wing Zionist movement, The Union
of Progressive Zionists works toward a peaceful two-
state solution in the Middle East. But how should we react
when we're not in support of the future government of the
country we love so much? Currently, we are a small group
here on campus, with the goal of promoting education and
dialogue on the current situation as well as promoting our
ideals: peace, equality and social justice for all citizens.
You might have noticed on Facebook that people have
been "donating their statuses," using applications like
"QuassamCount" or "SupportGaza." Even though this
"activism" seems unimportant, it portrays a deeper issue
within our generation. People often focus merely on statis-
tics and one-sided views from the media and ignore the big-
ger picture. We need to address our problems' roots, and we
can't do that by pointing fingers and refusingto take respon-
sibility. It is imperative that we not blindly support one side.
As members of a left-wing movement, we are not in support
of a right-wing government in Israel. This doesn't mean that
we aren't Zionists. It is important that we not automatically
agree with all of Israel's policies just because we are Zion-
ist. As Zionists, we have a vision of equality for all citizens,
and a separate state for Palestinians. Our criticism of Israel's
government, therefore, does not come from an anti-Israel
approach, but from the fear that without a peaceful, two-
state solution, Israel's existence could be at risk.
Withthe results of the electionslastweek,we urge every- '
one totake the extra step and educate themselves on differ-
ent perspectives of the situation. Form your own opinion
- do not simply take the views of the extreme right, or the
radical left. While the path to peace may not be looking too
bright, we still hold hope for the future. Although they may
currently be a minority, there are still many Israeli citizens
who believe in dialogue and education toward peace. Let's
help their voices be heard.
Bria Gray and Alex Levy are the President of UPZ
and a member of the executive board, respectively.

OS

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