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February 19, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-19

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4A - Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann 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.
Forget FAFSA

You know the real Roland. I have done nothing
wrong, and I have absolutely nothing to hide,"
- Illinois Senator Ronald Burris, on the Senate Ethics Committee investigation regarding his conversations
with aides to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as reported yesterday by the New York Times.
Israel's 'right-wing'victory

6

UI O eorury s, osaess weT --

0 n February 10, Israelis went
New proposal would simplify aid application for students to the polls to elect the 120
ly af s s members of the Knesset from

Jn a 2006 report, the Commission on the Future of Higher Edu-
cation said that for atypical household, completingthe Federal
Application for Student Aid is longer and more complicated
than completing the federal tax return. The report also said that
people considered the FAFSA to be onerous and confusing. It's these
disheartening qualities of the FAFSA that prohibit many students
from applying for much-needed aid. But thanks to University of
Michigan researcher Susan Dynarski and her colleagues, this tire-
some process could be simplified. To ensure that more students who
need financial aid are going to get it, the federal government should
start by instituting the simple change that Dynarski recommended.

The FAFSA is five pages long and has
127 questions. Until now, the form had to
be filled after tax returns are filed. High
school students who apply to college in fall
had to wait until the spring of that year to
see what kind of aid they would receive.
This is inconvenient for students because
financial aid can be the "make or break"
factor for many students when deciding
which university they will attend, and
making that decision without knowledge
of how much aid to expect is difficult.
In response to this situation, Univer-
sity of Michigan Public Policy Prof. Susan
Dynarski and her colleagues came up with
a simple solution - a check-off box on
tax returns that will replace much of the
FAFSA. With this change, parents would
be able to use incomes from prior years for
a quick online estimate of how much aid
their child would receive. Dynarski main-
tains that most of the data on the FAFSA
is unnecessary or already on the IRS Form
1040. This solution could increase the
number of applicants by making the pro-
cess easier.
And that's an important change. Dynar-
ski's research also found that low-income
families have more difficulty completing

the FAFSA. Two-thirds of low-income stu-
dents have no Internet access at home, half
don't have a parent who previously attend-
ed college and 13 percent don't speak Eng-
lish at home. The proposed change would
make it easier for these students to apply
for financial aid, and would consequently
offer them greater access to a college edu-
cation. Low-income students deserve the
opportunities that a college education
presents, and they are dependent upon
receiving financial aid to get there.
But while making the process easier is a
good start, this change would not solve all
the shortcomings in the financial aid pro-
cess.
The University needs to be able to offer
more financial aid at such a difficult time
for Michigan families. Simplifying the pro-
cess is one positive change, but efforts to
provide increased financial aid are also an
important part of providing low-income
families with better access to education.
Despite other needed changes regard-
ing financial aid, the government needs to
implement Dynarski's idea as soon as pos-
sible, putting an end to one of the worst
headaches for high school students apply-
ing to college.

among 34 par-
ties running in the
election. Although
the centrist Kadi-
ma Party, led by
Tzipi Livni, took
the most seats of
any party at 28 and
leads the rightist
Likudtby a single IBRAHIM
seat, it is unlikely
that Livni will be KAKWAN
able to form a gov-
ernment, which
requires a coalition represented by at
least'61 seats. Instead, it seems likely
that the responsibility of forming
a government will fall to Benjamin
Netanyahu and a coalition of right-
wing parties.
Yet despite the hawkish attitudes so
widespread in the rightist parties, the
latest election will not result in a sud-
den escalation of violence nor does it
represent a desire for the greater use
of military force among tsraelis.
To begin with, the number of par-
tiesgainingseats intheKnessetmeans
that many differing viewpoints will
be represented. The party that won
the third-highest number of seats is
Yisrael Beytenu with 15, which sup-
ports a two-state solution for Israel
and Palestine and whose support
will be crucial to the formation of'a
coalition government. In 2005, this
party campaigned to transfer control
of majority Arab lands from Israel to
the Palestinian Authority in exchange
for official Israeli control of the more
populous settlements. Sure, this pro-
posal wasn't exactly what either side
wanted - and it failed - but it was an
attempt at a compromise. More than

that, it represented a better deal for
the Palestinians, who in the past have
received nothing in return for land
taken for the construction of settle-
ments, and it demonstrated Beytenu's
support of negotiations.
And now Beytenu is expected to
play a key role inthe new government.
Evenonissues ofdomestic importance
to secular Israelis, their participation
will play a role toward curbing the
influence of the Ultra-Orthodox par-
ties such as the Sephardi SHAS (win-
ning 11 seats and expected to be part
of the right-wing coalition) which in
the past has promoted the banning of
numerous activities during the Sha-
bat in accordance with orthodox Jew-
ish tradition, and which promotes
the greater disbursement of welfare,
particularly to students at religious
universities.
And then there is Likud itself. In
2000, then-Likud leader Ariel Sha-
ron touched off the second Intifada,
a nearly six-year Palestinian upris-
ing, by going for prayers at a mosque
complex. However, in the following
years, Sharon abandoned the idea
of "Greater Israel", in which Israel
would retain complete control of the
West Bank and Gaza. It was also Sha-
ron who pushed through the "unilat-
eral disengagement" which resulted
in the evacuation of 21 settlements in
Gaza, and four in the West Bank. Of
course, it was this action that caused
Kadima to split off from Likud in the
first place. And in the years since
the Six-Day War of 1967, the various
Likud governments have relinquished
nearly 90 percent of the lands taken
during that conflict.
There has also been talk of a coali-
tion government led by Netanyahu,
but including Kadima members,
with possible Kadima appointments

as Ministers of Defense and Foreign
Affairs. The inclusion of Kadima
would serve to moderate the policies
of the new government, even if the
government as a whole would have a
right-of-center leaning.
And this does not even consider
a potential role for the leftist Labor
party. Although it is unclear what
Why Likud's wins
are nothing to
worry about.
role, if any, it will play, with 13 seats in
the Knesset, there is a chance (though
slim) that they will be included in a
compromise.
At the end of the day, the results
of the election do not show a rejec-
tion of peace. Granted, in the wake
of the recent conflict, increased sup-
port for the right is expected though
the spread in the allotment of votes
argues against awidespread desire for
an ultra hard-line stance with respect
to Palestine. Even the right-wing par-
ties elected have, in the past, shown
an ability to reach compromise, and
those that are centrist or left of center
still account for a large percentage of
the total number of seats.
Most reassuring of all, the only two
parties that continue to support the
idea of a "Greater Israel," which is in
direct opposition to a two-state solu-
tion, managed to take a total of only
seven seats.
- Ibrahim Kakwan can be
reached at ijameel@umich.edu.

BRADY SMITH I
Holding MSA accountable

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 fofhedoily@umich.edu.

4

Recently I found myself gathered with a
group of students who I knew of, but hadn't
met. We shared no common background - our
differences seemed to outweigh our common-
alities. We are from different sides of ideo-
logical divides, different parts of the country,
different backgrounds and a variety of campus
organizations. But we were united by one key
element: frustration. There was a sense that
although we were proud of our individual work
in our student groups and among our peers, the
larger student body deserved better.
There is a group that has the power to affect
every student, yet in recent years has become
complacent. The potential of the Michigan Stu-
dent Assembly outweighs its product by a large
margin. This has been apparent not merely to
some of those who served, albeit briefly, in the
assembly itself, but a sentiment that has been
rightfully articulated on these pages and among
the most xdisinterested of students. Students
don't need campaign promises of cheaper text-
books and meetings with the administration
for the sake of meeting - they need a student
government whose accomplishments and fail-
ures are visible and clear. Michigan students
need a new vision.
You might think that this diverse group of
students would have trouble finding a vision
they could all agree to, and that different views
would produce conflict. Upon assuming the
post of message chairman for the Michigan
Vision Party, 1 thought I would have one of the
hardest tasks of my college career ahead of me.
How could I present a unified vision that rep-
resented so many perspectives? I am pleased to
find that while my job isn't easy, our message
carries a special sort of resonance.
This vision is founded on two core principles:
transparency and accountability. The majority
of us gathered together that Wednesday never
saw our future in MSA. We didn't want to be
HARUN BUULJNA

a part of the problem. But when we talked to
each another and others, we found that more
students see that they can be a part of the solu-
tion. Better student involvement is the only way
to accomplish our goals of a more transparent
and accountable assembly.
To be a part of the solution is not to be satis-
fied with winning an election. March 19 is only
day one of the task ahead. Though I chronicled
our beginning, we want to be clear about one
thing: a vision is an open-ended, guiding set
of principles. If we believe MSA is to be held
accountable, we must begin these tasks by
holding ourselves accountable. As one of my
responsibilities as message chair, I will ensure
that each one of our candidates has a plan not
just during but also after the election. If they
do not follow through on a campaign promise, I
will be the first to let you know.
In order for this to succeed, we won't allow
our involvement to be stagnant or complacent
and assume the current character of the assem-
bly's dominant party. We are not a movement
that is interested merely in repackaging and
recycling.
When our members come to us with resolu-
tions, I will be asking: How does this improve
our accountability and transparency to the stu-
dent body? How does this proposal reflect an
achievable student concern? There is only one
group they need to be accountable to, and that's
the studentbody. I want to do my part to ensure
that this happens.
Curious about our message and our vision?
Email me at smith.bradon@gmail.com. Want
to see your concern become a part of our pro-
gram? Please go to our forum, VisionTalk, at
our website, michiganvisionparty.com.
Isn't it time your vision was realized?
Brady Smith is the message chairman
for the Michigan Vision Party.
E-MAIL HARUN AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU

As the Michigan Student Assembly examines its own 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.
A gr"eled-fueled cultureU

As I recently walked down State
St., I noticed a homeless man
on the sidewalk, his knees
exposed through _
giant holes in his
jeans. The sight of
his ragged pants
brought my atten-
tion to the well-tai-
lored, department
store-bought jeans
I was wearing as I -
passed him. It filled MATTHEW
me with enormousG
guilt as I thought GREEN
that had I given the-
homeless man the
money that I had paid for my jeans, it
may have paid for a few weeks worth
of his food. And while buying marked-
up denim wasn't an act of malice, it
was undeniably greedy.
When it comes to the recent eco-
nomic meltdown, greed has argu-
ably played its biggest role yet. Each
day, the headlines illuminate a story
of self-indulgence that ranges from
Wall Street and Madoff to the shady
tax practices of D.C. insiders. And
though the writing is on the wall, I
sometimes doubt that anyone's read-
ing it. '
Greed will remain part of our
culture so long as it continues to be
taught early to generations of future
leaders. One need not look further
than to the many freshmen currently
enrolled in introductory econom-
ics courses here in Ann Arbor. The
majority of these students are hoping
to be admitted into the prestigious
Ross School of Business, to which
thousands will apply in the coming
weeks, in hopes of someday running

a Fortune 500 company.
But perhaps if they were looking
to u'se their economic powers to do
something good, those financial wiz-
ards might consider the Ford School
of Public Policy. Despite the fact that
the Ford School is one of the highest-
ranked public policy programs in the
country, only about 150 University
undergrads apply each year. Evident-
ly, learning how to better society is
less appealing than learning how to
make yourself rich.
Of course, there's nothing wrong
with wanting to be wealthy. On the
contrary, the desire to amass wealth
is quite possibly the single greatest
driving force that keeps the economy
moving. But as a result of so many
brilliant minds focusing on making
as much money as possible, resources
are grossly limited in sectors apart
from business and finance. Govern-
ment, for instance, is debilitated
because there is a shortage of great
intellect in the public sector. As a
result, the character of our legisla-
tors struggles to live up to those of
our history's political heroes.
Perhaps if the best and the bright-
est were encouraged to go into pub-
lic policy years ago, rather than into
more self-serving careers, then the
current debate on Capital Hill would
be different. In that case, maybe
legislators would see themselves
above petty partisanship, embody-
ing something academic rather than
something prejudiced. It seems logi-
cal that if we want a smarter govern-
ment, intellectual people must be
compelled to enter into government
positions.
That is not to say that there are no

born leaders or geniuses currently
in Washington. There are indeed a
handful of great members of Con-
gress on the Hill, but less than stel-
lar legislators outnumber that group
by far. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
of the U.S. Supreme Court comes to
mind as an example of a public ser-
vant at her finest. Though she will
probably soon retire, the leadership 4
she has shown on the Court has been
outstanding.

Students should
focus on more
than getting rich.

4

And in the White House, President
Obama'spolitical prowess hasyetto be
seen, but Istill have hope. Specifically,
I have hope in his power to motivate
intelligent young people tobe interest-
ed in politics to the point where they
ignore the fact that a career in polities
might not be the highest paying.
New intellect needs to funnel into
Washington to ensure quality gover-
nance for the future. In order for that
to happen, people have to believe that
making money is accessory to mak-
ing the world better. Greed may have
worked for a while on Wall Street, but
that clearly failed.
And in the ensuing years, greed
won't cut it for Washington.
- Matthew Green can be reached
at greenmat@umich.edu.

/ T's
9°/ ./ " X4 9 ~ L._ ,Jy

a

EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca,
Satyajeet Deshmukh, Brian Flaherty, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke,
Sutha K Kanagasingam, Shannon Kellman, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler,
Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

A.

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