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April 02, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-02

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4A -Thursday, April 2, 2009

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
v 9Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views ofttheir authors.
Back under control
Drug companies should re-offer discounted birth control
Despite the Bush administration's best efforts, forcing drug
companies to raise the price of birth control at college
health clinics did not stop college students from having
sex. All it did was make obtaining birth control more difficult and
expensive. Thankfully, the passage of President Barack Obama's
stimulus package removes the impediments that companies faced
in offering college students discounted birth control. The rever-
sal of President George Bush's backward policies should come as
a relief to students nationwide. But just removing the penalties for
offering discounts doesn't necessarily mean that the prices will
drop again. Drug companies should seize upon this opportunity to
provide affordable birth control once again by reinstating the dis-


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Putting preventionfirst

counts Bush had eliminated.
InJanuary2007,the Bushadministration
passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which
penalized drug manufacturers for offering
discounted birth control to universities. To
take advantage of the discount for as long
as possible, the University Health Service
stocked up on the popular birth control
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. But UHS's supply ran
out in September 2008 and the price subse-
quently doubled. Wherever possible, UHS
encouraged patients to switch to generic
equivalents, but for some students that
wasn't a viable or smart option.
Thankfully, Obama's stimulus package
removes the penalties. It did not, however,
require the manufacturers to return to the
old discounts. This step has been left up to
the companies.
It's an encouraging development to see
the Bush policy overturned. Penalizing
those who offered cheaper contraception
to college-aged women was an under-
handed way of trying to stop college kids
from having sex. In the eyes of the Bush
administration, the best way to encourage
abstinence was to make birth control pro-
hibitively expensive.
But making birth control harder to buy

doesn't mean that students will stop hav-
ing sex. Many college-aged kids choose to
engage in sexual activity and no amount of
legislation is going to seriously impact this.
All the policy accomplished was decreased
access to birth control - a woman's best
option for preventing unplanned pregnan-
cies.An infringementuponthischoice means
an infringement upon a woman's reproduc-
tive rights, and the government was wrong
to abridge access to birth control.
In order to cope with the higher prices,
many students who couldn't afford to pay
more for birth control switched to a generic
version. But not every type or brand comes
in a generic form, and not every woman
should be taking a generic brand. No two
bodies are exactly the same. Every woman
should have the opportunity to use the
best birth control for her body, and every
woman deserves to be able to make that
choice independently of prohibitive gov-
ernment regulations.
With this policy finally eliminated, it's
time for drug companies to restore the dis-
counted prices so that all college students
can afford to do what they want with their
own bodies.

Perhaps the most comprehensive
measure of sexual health policy
currently proposed is the Pre-
ambitious measure
that is nine bills tied
into one, the major
aims of the Preven-
tion First Act are to
reduce unintended 1
pregnancies, reduce
the number of abor-
tions and reduce theR
spread of sexually ROSE
transmitted infec- AFRIYIE
The act repre-
sents the closest thing to a compromise
on the polarized abortion debate we
have seen in a long time. It also cuts
costs and allows us to walk the talk on
restoring scientific integrity in govern-
The debate on reproductive rights
remains stalemated with pro-life advo-
cates on the right and pro-choice advo-
cates on the left. But the introduction
of the Prevention First Act in 2007 by
both pro-life and pro-choice represen-
tatives marked a shift in the conversa-
tionthat directed political will towards
prevention and, by extension, to con-
traception. Because of this bill, there
is a growing coalition of social liberals,
moderates and even some conserva-
tives in agreement about prevention
According to public opinion polls in
a 2005 Guttmacher Institute report,
"Promoting Prevention to Reduce the
Need for Abortion: Good Policy, Good
Politics," Americans want the govern-
ment to kick back a few dollars and
finance contraception and they would
rather have the government paying for
contraception than abortion. While
I am staunchly pro-choice, I recog-
nize that prevention policy is truly the
future - and you should too.
So what about the economic aspect?
The Center for Disease Control's 2007

National Surveillance Data revealed
that managing STIs costs the U.S.
healthcare system as much as $15.3 bil-
lion annually. Congresswoman Louise
Slaughter aptly described prevention
measures like this: "For every $1 spent
on providing family planning services,
an estimated $3 is saved in Medicaid
expenditures for pregnancy-related
and newborn care." These costs rep-
resent savings in the current economic
Perhaps the restoration of scientific
integrity is the most compelling argu-
ment. On Mar. 9, President Barack
Obama signed an executive order that
reinforced scientific integrity in poli-
cymaking. It's hard to believe that we
are only four months removed from a
presidency that languished in religious
dogma to make decisions about sexual
health policy. Obama's deferral to the
scientific community impacts policy
implementation on multiple levels.
Namely, it implies that we have already
arrived at the point where medically
accurate information in public school
sex education programs should be the
standard. But the Prevention First Act
is needed to fully link scientific integ-
rity to an institutionalized standard
of disseminating medically accurate
information at all levels of reproduc-
tive health.f
While this act is hawkish about
reducing unintended pregnancies and
abortions, it is arguably timid on the
scourge of STIs. This is largely because
prevention efforts toward STIs have
been widely synonymous with con-
dom distribution and have lacked
political will. In truth, when the term
contraception is used in the bill, it dis-
proportionately refers to methods of
prescriptive contraception and forms
of emergency contraception. This is a
one-sided approach to combating the
multiple public health challenges that
are a result of uninformed sexual deci-
sion-making and a lack of insurance

As such, while condom distribution
lacks political traction, provisions in
the act should invest financial capital
in the research and development of
accurate STI tests and vaccinations for
both men and women. We should be
reminded that no test or vaccine exists
for human papillomavirusinmen, even
Coming close to
a compromise
on the abortion
though they can carry and transmit
strands that cause cervical cancer. A
few weeks ago, I talked about the shod-
dy nature of herpes blood tests and the
fact that they can be as low as 50 per-
cent accurate. Policies should address
this not only with lip service but also
with financial assistance.
Provisions in the act should man-
date research and development in STI
testing, insurance coverage for STI
testing and vaccination. It's not just at
the University Health Service, where
the, HPV vaccine costs ,a total of $500
and the lab work for certain tests can
amount to hundreds of dollars. This is a
national problem, and these costs must
be subsidized to depart from the dis-
ease care system of today and embark
on the preventative health care system
of tomorrow.
The Prevention First Actis currently
halted at the U.S. Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions.
Send them an e-mail and voice your
opinion at Help-comments@help.sen-
- Rose Afriyie is the Daily's sex
and relationships columnist. She can
be reached at sariyie@umich.edu.

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, Jeremy Levy, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Matthew Shutler, Neil Tambe, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
More guidance for graduates

Over-educating the workforce

High quality doctoral education at the Uni-
versity of Michigan is a source of enormous
institutional pride for Ph.D. students, faculty
and the University. As proud as we are of our
many successes, we are still troubled by the
fact that only two-thirds of the Ph.D. students
who begin doctoral study actually receive their
degrees from the University.
The Rackham Graduate School believes this
number could and should be higher.
In partnership with school and college grad-
uate programs, we are pursuing a number of
practices and policies designed to improve the
institutional support Ph.D. students receive
as they work toward degree completion. The
new continuous enrollment policy, which will
require programs to register all Ph.D. students
for fall and winter terms beginningin Fall 2010,
is one such effort. The proposed policy will
provide substantial benefits to students and
their programs, including year-round, uninter-
rupted access to University services.
The policy will also require that graduate
programs regularly confirm that students are
making good progress toward their degrees
and provide an opportunity for programs to
address obstacles and offer support to stu-
dents. Most importantly, the policy fosters
strong connections between students and their
program or department. Research shows - and
student surveys echo - that these are critical
factors in students' successes.
Development of the new policy occurred
over the last two years and benefited greatly
from numerous conversations and meetings
with students, faculty, program directors and
chairs. The first step toward implementation
occurred on Dec. 10, 2008 with the approval of
the Rackham Executive Board. The next step
will occur this summer when the schools and
colleges identify funding to pay tuition for the
additional terms of registration required by the
policy so that students won't have to pay more
tuition. Identifying funding is one prerequisite
for policy implementation.
As we move ahead with plans to put this
policy into effect in the Fall 2010 semester,

there are several objectives that must be met.
We recognize that Ph.D. students must pur-
sue their research in Ann Arbor and abroad as
necessitated by their individual scholarship.
We will ensure that funding is in place for the
University to pay tuition for students making
good progress and whose scholarly work takes
them away from Ann Arbor.
Funding must be in place to support stu-
dents in those fields of study - like Near East-
ern Studies and Anthropology - that require
extensive fieldwork or language study, as well
as for fields of study in which Ph.D. students
complete their degrees more rapidly.
We want to be clear that the faculty mem-
bers who know the students and their work
will be the ones making key decisions about
students' progress. We will also ensure that
current Ph.D. students are not disadvantaged
by the transition to a new set of rules. Rack-
ham is working with each school and college to
develop a funding plan to cover these goals.
College of Engineering Dean David Munson
is confident that tuition support will be avail-
able for Ph.D. students whose tuition is not paid
by grants or fellowships. "We believe that con-
tinuous enrollment will benefit students in the
College," he said. "Funding will be available to
support students making progress to degree in
Engineering, and we are committed to provid-
ing that funding."
LSA Dean Terrence McDonald confirms that
LSA will work with Rackham and the Provost
to provide tuition support for students who are
making satisfactory progress to degree but do
not have fellowship or teaching support that
will pay their tuition. He said, "We think con-
tinuous enrollment will be good for graduate
students in LSA because it supports stronger
connections between students and their pro-
grams, and as a result more Ph.D. students will
complete their degrees." For more details on
the proposed policy see: http://www.rackham.
Peggy McCracken is the Associate Dean for
Academic Programs and Initiatives for Rackham.

This past Tuesday, Michigan state
representatives Rebekah Warren
(D-Ann Arbor) and Alma Wheeler
Smith (D-Salem)
presented a plan to
make college vir-
tually free for all
Michigan residents
attending in-state;
public colleges.
With only a couple.
ofhigh school atten-
dance and income
eligibility rules, the PATRICK
plan is a bold com- ZABAWA
mitment to ensure
all Michigan resi-
dents receive access
to higher education. The government's
desire to make higher education more
affordable certainly isn't new - as
tuition rates have risen at four times
the rate of inflation over the past 20
years, lawmakers and students alike
have been wondering if students will
be able to keep paying for college.
But for all the hype about the cost of
higher education, few are concerned
about the costs of these policies. There
are monetary costs - an income tax
rate increase of 26 percent for War-
ren and Smith's plan - but there are
also harmful effects on the job market
as a whole. And these harmful effects
could be increasing unemployment
and lowering college graduates' sala-
As a state, Michigan has had diffi-
culty retaining its college graduates.
In 2007, 35,000 college-educated
workers ages 22 to 34 left the state
while only 18,000 entered it - the
lowest ratio of any state. To counter
this exodus, the state began paying for
some college students first two years
of post-secondary education through
the Michigan Promise scholarship
in 2006. Now they're toying with the
plan to cover all residents' in-state
tuition costs.
But these plans don't seem like
they'll have an effect on the state's col-

lege-graduate mass migration. With
the horrible condition of Michigan's
economy, creating more college grad-
uates will only increase the supply of
graduates, not the demand for them,
so enabling more Michigan residents
to attend college will only enable more
Michigan residents to leave the state.
That's good for them, but bad for the
state - and the residents left behind to
pay their college bills.
Michigan's problem with an over-
supply ofcollege graduates isn'tunique
to the state - it's a growing national
concern. According to the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, 29 percent of the
workforce has a college degree but
only 24 percent of jobs require them.
And as the nation produces more than
1.5 million jobseekers with bachelor
degrees every year, this is looking like
a long-term trend. Unlike Michigan
residents, Americans in general don't
seek jobs outside their geographic
boundaries when they can't find one.
Instead, they lower their standards
and obtain jobs at which they're over-
qualified. According to the BLS, that's
the case for five percent of all work-
With this oversupply of college
graduates and the trend not looking
like it's going to end anytime soon,
it's hard to understand the benefits
of making college more accessible. It
may seem as if increasing the number
of college graduates is a good thing,
especially for those graduates. But the
a much greater number of graduates to
choose from and graduates have more
people to compete against. Graduates,
excited to receive a job requiring their
degree, will be happy to take any job
offer no matter how low the starting
salary. After all, one is a high number
when it comes to how many job offers a
post-graduate is receiving. Thislowers
the starting salaries of college gradu-
ates. And with a lower salary, students
are less able to pay back their student
loans, hurting one of the goals of high-

er-education policies in the first place.
There are those lucky few who do
receive job offers, but the discrepancy
between supply and demand means
there will be some graduates who
don't get job offers from any position
requiring a degree. So many college


Why making
college more
affordable is a
costly mistake.
graduates, as the BLS states, end up in
jobs that don't require one. Employers
are happy to hire them because they
get exemplary employees. The group
of people most affected here, though,
are those who would have received
the jobs had there not been an over-
supply of college graduates. With the
oversupply, employers canhire college
graduates when they don't actually
lege degree a prerequisite for the job.
Left out of a job, these other displaced
workers need a college degree to get
one - and will need to spend tens of
thousands of dollars and years out of
work in the process. If these people
have families and bills to pay, they're
out of luck. Even worse, once out of
college, they will again displace more
workers, continuing the cycle.
So while it may seem like a good
idea for lawmakers to increase acces-
sibility to higher education, policies
aimed at improving higher-education
accessibility exasperate the problems
they seek to solve. They are harmful to
the state, the nation and even the col-
lege graduates themselves.
- Patrick Zabawa can be reached
at pzabawa@umich.edu.

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