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March 17, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-17

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4 - Tuesday, March 17, 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
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofntheir authors.
Te end of a regime
New drug czar should focus on treatment, prevention
lthough the title may sound like something you would
call a drug cartel's leader, "drug czar" is actually the
name of the official in charge of federal drug control pol-
icy. Under the George W. Bush administration, this role was ele-
vated to a Cabinet-level position - a move that President Barack
Obama is reversing with his pick for the job. Obama's choice for
drug czar could signal a much-needed change in the nation's drug
enforcement policies since the individual in question is likely to
be a supporter of a more reasonable drug policy. Obama's admin-
istration - and his new drug czar - should live up to expecta-
tions by adopting policies that treat drug users as people with
addictions rather than as criminals.

o B, A( S. W i df+ ou f'y so Virg +V~ &,
hs is -tIre dlS

Free speech is sexy

it's easyto take for granted the fact
that the Daily prints without any
University oversight. Indepen-
dence from admin-
istrative control
is vital so that our
content can main-
tain its objectiv-
ity and responsibly
assess University
institutions. While rt
the need for an
independent stu- ROBERT
dent newspaper
may seem obvious, SOAVE
the reality is that
there are troubling
events on other campuses that under-
mine these principles of objectivity
that newspapers value so highly.
Kristen Juras, an assistant law pro-
fessor at the University of Montana,
recently took issue with the content
of the university's student newspa-
per, the Montana Kaimin (Sex Column
causes controversy; First Amendment
issues raised, 03/11/09). Her problem
was with the Kaimin's sex column,
entitled "Bess Sex Column." Its author,
Bess Davis, is the Kaimin's first sex
columnist, though newspaper editor-
in-chief, Bill Oram, noted in his Mar.
12 article "Sex column adds to campus
discussion," the Kaimin is hardly the
first student newspaper to add a sex
Juras called the sex column
"embarrassingly unprofessional"
and demanded action. She wants the
Kaimin to establish written rules for
hiring writers that would eliminate
inappropriate content. If her demands
are not met, Juras is promising to take
the issue to the Publication Board, the
Board of Regents and even the Mon-
tana legislature.
The Kaimin's situation immediately
raises several questions. The first is,
"What is a kaimin?" (The newspa-
per's website depicts the outline of a
bear-like creature, but a Google Image
Search of the word "kaimin" didn't
offer me any clues.)
Of course, the more relevant ques-

Obama. announced last Wednesday that
he would appoint Gil Kerlikowske to be
the nation's new drug czar. As Seattle's
police chief for more than eight years, Ker-
likowske has hands-on experience in deal-
ing with the often devastating impact drug
use can have on communities.
In addition to this pick, Obama has
decided not to continue the drug czar as a
Cabinet-level position, possibly indicating
a more laid-back approach' to a national
drug policy.
With any hope, Kerlikowske's appoint-
ment will represent a long-overdue shift
in the federal government's drug enforce-
ment policies. Under George W. Bush,
policies focused on punishing drug users.
According to the Washington Post's Mar.
12 article on Kerlikowske, funding for
treatment and prevention decreased by 25
percent during President George W. Bush's
two terms.
But Kerlikowske is expected to imple-
ment a policy that focuses on treatment
and prevention rather than punishment.
He has said that the best way to slow the
flow of drugs like cocaine is to decrease
usage, starting in local communities. The
idea is to target the use of illegal substanc-
es by decreasing demand rather than just
attacking the supply.
Education about drug use is the first
component of a more sensible drug pol-
icy. By informing individuals about the
harmful effects accompanying addictive
substances, the government has the oppor-
tunity to prevent drug use before it leads

to addiction - and potentially crime and
other problems that can go along with it.
And with additional education, individuals
will be better equipped to make decisions
about what they put into their bodies.
The Obama administration is also right
to focus on rehabilitation and treatment
over incarceration. Under the new drug
policy, drug users will have a chance to
serve their sentences in a rehabilitation
center instead of in the already over-
crowded prison system. This makes sense,
considering that drug use isn't a violent
crime and doesn't necessarily present a
threat to others.
Focusing on rehabilitation is also a more
humane approach. Just last week, a police
officer shot an unarmed student in the
chest during a marijuana raid in his resi-
dence hall room at Grand Valley State Uni-
This sort of event is all the more common
because of drug control policies that have
targeted users rather than dealers. Addic-
tion is a condition that calls for treatment
and prevention - not overzealous enforce-
Changing national drug policy to reflect
the fact that users need treatment facili-
ties - not police raids - is just one more
way Obama is demonstrating his much
stronger grasp of what constitutes sen-
sible policy.
Maybe his next decision will be to
rename the position to something that
screams "oppressive Russian autocracy" a
little less loudly.

tion is, "Who is this Juras person and
what gives her the right to censor
legitimate newspaper content?"
It may seem like an obvious fact of
life, but Juras's objections signal that
at least some readers didn't get the
message - sex is an important part of
college life, and ignoring it does a dis-
service to students. Ironically, Juras's
stated objection to the column is that it
is not serving an educational purpose
- but that is exactly what sex columns
do. Across the country, sex columns
offer practical safety tips about safe
sex, birth control and reducing the
risks of sexually-transmitted diseases.
To say that a sex column serves no
educational purpose isn't just mislead-
ing - it's flat out wrong.
Oram'sarticle in defense of the sex
column sheds some light on why Juras
would have such passionate objections
to it. He explainedthatshe is amember
of the Christian Legal Society, which
sued the School of Law in 2007 for
denying fundingto the CLS. What was
the School of Law's reason for denying
funding? Well, according to Oram's
story, the CLS "does not allow gay stu-
dents to hold leadership positions or
even grant them voting rights."
Instead of digressing into my argu-
ment for why no group could deny gay
people voting rights and simultane-
ously consider itself "Christian", Iwill
merely take issue with Juras's tactics.
Does she have the right to disapprove
of the column? Absolutely. Is it appro-
priate for her to express her dissat-
isfaction with the Kaimin's editors?
Yes - she is, after all, a reader, and any
responsible editor should listen (and,
when appropriate, respond) to feed-
back from readers. But should she
attempt to bring legal ramifications
upon the Kaimin's staff for not com-
plying with her (absurd) demands?
The answer is an emphatic no.
Just because someone objects to a
newspaper's content doesnotmeanthe
University administration, the Board
of Regents or the state legislature has
authority to step in and influence its
editorial decisions. A student newspa-

per is only able to credibly examine its
University administration as long as
it remains independent of the institu-
tions it covers. While banning a sex
column from astudentnewspaper may
seem like a minor issue, any infringe-
ment upon a student newspaper's right
to print the content it deems relevant
to students violates not only the First
Amendment but also the very founda-
tions of ethical journalism.
Student newspapers
should be wary
of censorship.
And what happened at the Kaimin
is by no means an isolated incident.
The staff of the University of Ore-
gon's student newspaper - the Daily
Emerald - went on strike last month
after its Board of Directors appointed
a publisher who had editorial control
over the paper and who had not been
approved by the students. The Board
then went ahead and published its
own version of the paper. The fact
that this could happen to a student
newspaper should only solidify the
need to watch out for even the least
egregious infringements upon edito-
rial freedom.
While the burden of defending print
journalism from unethical intrusions
mostly rests with editors themselves,
students also have a responsibility to
voice their dissatisfaction with dimin-
ished journalistic autonomy. At the
very least, all readers - and students,
especially - should recognize not only
the relevance of sex columns to today's
college students, but also the right for
student newspapers to print them.
And if someone knows what a
kaimin is, I'm all ears.
- Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@umich.edu.




Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Elise Baun, Harun Buljina, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Brian Flaherty, Matthew Green, Emmarie Huetteman, Emma Jeszke, Shannon Kellman, Jeremy Levy, Edward McPhee,
Matthew Shutler, Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder

michigan vision party




Changing the assembly's vision

Making student gov't relevant

Most of the attention focused on the Michigan
Student Assembly in recent years has centered on
an election scandal that ended in a felony convic-
tion, a president resigning in disgrace and an appar-
ent transformation into a debate society. Recently,
MSA has debated the conflict in Gaza.
It is hard to take MSA seriously with this record,
so we understand that you may not have been pay-
ing attention.
By any measure, MSA has failed to fulfill its
promises. Every student at this University has great
potential - why hasn't this translated to the stu-
dent government?
In our time at MSA, it has become clear that the
current culture does not recognize that the stu-
dent should hold the government accountable for
its actions. The lack of responsibility and transpar-
ency in an institution that is supposed to repre-
sent the student body has made MSA inaccessible
and unrepresentative. It's not surprising that voter
turnout is so low. Much of MSA's current work does
not merit positive attention and is merely self-in-
dulgent debate to fill the agenda.
With these failures in mind, the Michigan Vision
Party has tried to change the stagnant "business
(or lack thereof) as usual" attitude. If you've been
through the Diag as of late, you may have had some-
one ask you - or seen a T-shirt asking, "What's your
vision?" Rather than resorting to simply handing
out flyers that you will inevitably throw away, we
have urged you to give us something.
Our vision is a student government that addresses
student concerns and is relevant to campus, rather
than a government that recycles old personnel and
talking points. We don't want to be re-elected on a
promise to refocus. We don't want to "re" anything.
Instead, we want to fundamentally change the cul-
ture of MSA. Our vision should be synonymous with
your concerns. This can only be done if students
have a student government that they believe will
listen and representatives that truly understand
student concerns and deliver real results. This is
probably the biggest difference between MVP and

the cadre of students who have managed MAP and
the reMICHIGAN campaign. If elected, MVP will
insist that MSA focus on issues it is capable of han-
This is not to say that our impact will be small or
limited. MVP wants MSA to work for all students.
We will do this by implementing plans such as a
"How to Get a Job" week of resume preparation,
interview practice and a job fair for all schools, col-
leges and departments. We're committed to making
campus greener by placing recycling bins alongside
every trash can and encour-
aging students to print
double-sided. We would like
to make campus resources
more available by creating a
Student Help Desk that may
not have all the answers On Wedn
but ,can direct students
toward someone who does. students h
We want to contribute to a
campus that can respond elect nev
effectively and holistically Pick ca
to LGBT concerns. We want your
to be vigilant in handling
student safety issues like
sexual assault and domestic _
violence. We will promote
a campus as unified as it is
diverse while sharing ideas, engaging in dialogue
and striving toward our individual and collective
Our vision has many different aspects and con-
cerns because it is a reflection of the student body.
MSA should be a similar reflection. But this can
only happen when we have an MSA that is account-
able, transparent and at work for students. This is
our vision. We hope that on Wednesday and Thurs-
day, you'll help us realize the student body's poten-
tial by voting for the Michigan Vision Party.
This viewpoint was submitted on behalf
of the Michigan Vision Party.

ave ti
Wr lead

The reMICHIGAN Campaign is the first major
step in refocusing student government. We are a
group of students representing seven schools and
colleges who'are committed to important student
The reMICHIGAN Campaign is a new idea about
how student government and Michigan Student
Assembly elections should work. A party is about
people but a campaign is about substance, and we
believe that this election has the potential to make
MSA relevant again.
The substan-
tive difference
between the
Campaign and
the parties in this
y and Thursday, electionisthatwe
offer more than
he opportunity to just ideas and a
.1 . vision for student
dership in MSA. government. We
es at vote.umich.edu. offer a complex
eS a V~e~umC . u-and intellectual
approach toward
solving prob-
We have been
committed to fig-
uring out the "how" for solving the pressing prob-
lems of this campus and we have developed plans
and backup plans to comprehensively attack issues.
Our diverse slate of candidates reflects the talent,
energy, experience and work ethic that MSA needs
to revitalize the way it works.
Led by presidential candidate Gibran Baydoun
and vice-presidential candidate Greg Caplan, the
reMICHIGAN Campaign offers a wealth of expe-
rience, innovation and initiative. Baydoun and
Caplan lead through their persistent commitment
to this university and the Michigan community.
Turning the page on the history of parties in
MSA, the reMICHIGAN Campaign does not have

a laundry list of intangible ideas. We focus on six
major initiatives: tuition and financial aid, career
and internship opportunities, sustainability and
green initiatives, academic guidance, student orga-
nizations and Michigan spirit and tradition. For
each of these initiatives, we have laid out a multi-
faceted approach to tackling each problem, even
starting before Election Day to explore and test dif-
ferent solutions. We are not waiting for the title to
start fighting for students and the issues they care
Put candidly, the University deserves a student
government that works and it can't afford to wait.
Imagine an active student government that serves
as a mobilizing body for students, fighting for their
interests, defending their rights and lobbying on
their behalf. Imagine a persistent student gov-
ernment, one that goes beyond just talking about
student issues and ideas and works continually to
implement multiple plans of action for bettering
Imagine a collaborative student government,
a government that serves as a union for students,
uniting them and their organizations for collective
action in solving Michigan's problems. Imagine a
student government that tackles issues proactive-
ly and is not afraid to handle real challenges that
affect students.
At the end of the day, we believe in'MSA's poten-
tial to dogreat things and we are certain that if you
trust and support the reMICHIGAN Campaign,
there will be a new day in student government. We
know that when students are engaged and united,
amazing things can happen.
We thank you for the cross-campus support and
ask that you check out our entire slate of candidates
and our detailed platforms at www.reMICHIGAN.
Join us in revitalizing MSA and enhancing the
Michigan experience.
This viewpoint was submitted on behalf
of the ReMICHIGAN Campaign.

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