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January 14, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-14

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4A - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

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 oftthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the viewsof their authors.
Paying their way in
Score Choice gives unfair advantage to privileged students
T he most stressful part of getting into college is, for many
students, taking standardized tests. The ACT and the SAT
are sources of worry for even the most dedicated over-
achievers. With this in mind, the College Board recently intro-
duced a policy change to the SAT so that students will have the
option of sending in only their highest test score. But the real effect
of Score Choice will be to further disadvantage every student who
can't afford the tutors, prep classes and extra chances that wealth-
ier students receive. The University should reject this change by
mandating that all students' scores still be sent.

Bored, anonymous, pathetic
bloggers who lie annoy me."
-Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, commenting on the persistence
of rumors surrounding her and her family since the campaign, as reported yesterday by CNN.
,r iine. Zk
RIAA decision the right one


For the past six years, each student's test
scores were automatically sent to colleges.
However, beginning this March, high school
juniors will have the ability to choose which
single SAT composite score they would like
to send to colleges. The policy, called Score
Choice, was actually in effect between 1993
and 2002 but was abandoned by the College
Board because it was deemed biased against
low-income and minority students who
could not afford competitive coaching and
multiple re-tests.
Now, apparently, the College Board has
rethought its decision. This time around,
Score Choice is being promoted as an option
that will alleviate stress for high school stu-
dents. In reality, all it will do is make it easier
for rich students to buy their way into col-
lege by obtaining that single perfect grade
and sending it in as if it was their only stab
at the test.
With this policy in place, the average SAT
score going out to colleges will naturally rise.
Colleges will then expect even higher scores.
Instead of decreasing stress, the inflation of
the average score will make getting into cpl-
lege even more competitive. And the scores
being sent to colleges will be even less reflec-
tive of students' abilities, because colleges
will only be seeing the best possible score.

What Score Choice will accomplish is an
increase in the entire industry behind stan-
dardized tests. The SAT isn't about the apti-
tude of the student - it's about how many
prep books and tutors they can buy. Policies
like Score Choice just play into the hands of
the industry, making all of its test prep mate-
rials a necessary investment for getting into
college. Such a situation is naturally unfair to
less wealthy students.
Because the SAT carries so much weight in
the admissions process, students, justifiably,
feel compelled to devote as many resources
as possible toward improving their grade
and remaining competitive candidates. Score
Choice will certainly increase the demand
for cash cows like SAT tutoring, prep courses
and, of course, retesting. In the end, it is the
College Board's bankbook that profits, not
students or colleges.
The disturbing effort to pump more
money into the test-taking industry, coupled
with Score Choice's likelihood to render the
SATs even more inflated, calls for a stand. It's
important to set aside the College Board's
weak rationalizations and call this policy
what it really is: a business growth tactic.
Colleges should take a stand against this pol-
icy and condemn it outright by still requiring
submission of all scores.

T he thousands of University you take the disc - the physical disc
students who illegally down- that the information is on - then
load music off the Internet you've stolen because the owner no
should be feeling a longer has access to that specific disk.
little more secure. But just downloading a song online
That's because last isn't technically stealing because you
month, the Record- haven't prevented anyone else from
ing Industries Asso- accessing that information. What you
ciation of America did was essentially produce a copy - a
- a trade group rep- cop. y copy that is the same as the original in
resenting the major every single way, but is still available
recording labels in to everyone else.
the music indus- ROBERT In response to this line of thinking
try - announced an comes adelugeofcriticismthatallboil
end to its relentless SOAVE down to this fear - the artists aren't
campaign of filing getting credit for their music and they
expensive lawsuits won't be able to make a living any-
against college students who engage more, resulting in the demise of the
in online file-sharing. Since 2003, the industry. But this fear is unfounded.
RIAA has specifically targeted col- Despite what the RIAA claims, record
lege students because we are unlikely sales are not diminishing substantial-
to fight the charges in court and will ly because of illegal downloads. The
instead settle out of court for $3,000 RIAA contends that every illegally
per case. downloaded song is lost revenue, but
After dozens oflawsuits broughtthe just because you downloaded a song
RIAA bad press, including cases where doesn't mean you would have pur-
the organization was found to be suing chased it. A 2004 study conducted
minors, the deceased, and even people by economists entitled "The Effect
without computers, the RIAA has of File Sharing on Record Sales" con-
finally changed its tune and is now cluded that "downloads have an effect
asking individual Internet service pro- on sales which is statistically indistin-
viders to do the policing themselves. guishable from zero."
But just because the RIAA is done rip- It may even be true that file-shar-
ping off college students doesn't mean ing is good for the music industry. The
we should forget that file-sharing is online community is a great place for
still illegal. It's still possible to get in new artists to gain exposure. You may
trouble with Internt servive providers not be willing to buy a CD by a band
because they have the power to slow or you've never heard of, but you'd be
stop Internet access for those who are more likely to download it and listen
downloading. to it - and then maybe you'll recom-
And that's a problem because file- mend this band to a friend who will
sharing shouldn't be illegal, anyway. buy the CD or go to the band's con-
It's an easy philosophical argu- cert. You might even buy a T-shirt.
- ment. Stealing music over the Internet Aside from the possible benefits
just isn't really stealing. Music is only of file-sharing, another good indi-
information, and information can't be cation that downloading shouldn't
stolen in sucha way that the original be illegal is that so many people are
information isno longer available. If doing it and very few people think it's

wrong. The vast majority of Ameri-
can society does not break laws, and
if many people are breaking them it
probably means the laws are flawed,
not the people. A study conducted by
the Solutions Research Group in 2006
found that only 38 percent considered
downloading a copyrighted song to
be a "very serious offense." Are the
people who responded to the survey
just immoral thieves? Not really. In
the same study, 78 percent of people
surveyed said that taking a CD from
File-sharing helps
artists more than
' it hurts them.
a store without paying was a very
serious offense. Fifty-nine percent
considered parking in a fire lane to be
very seripus. So it's not that people are
lawbreakers, it's just-that laws against
file-sharing are mostly pointless.
With the RIAA backing off college
students, it may be tempting to forget
about the legal status of file-sharing.
Though fewer lawsuits is a welcome
change, there's no reason that anyone
should be punished for downloading,
even with a punishment as trivial as
a slowed Internet connection. Pun-
ishing illegal downloading just isn't
necessary at all, because far from
stealing, file-sharers are actually giv-
ing musicians some positive press -
and that's more than can be said for
the RIAA.'
Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at soave@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 Kell-
man, Edward McPhee, Matthew Shutler, Jennifer Sussex, Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder
Put morals before money.

With businesses portraying workers' unions
negatively in an attempt to get away with irre-
sponsible and opportunistic investment practic-
es, it's important to recognize workers' unions as
one of the more potenttools for defending human
dignity and equality in our world. As we experi-
ence the problems that result when investment
institutions put profits over people, we must take
strides to reverse these values in our lifestyles by
voicing our concerns to the institutions that per-
petuate them.
Sadly, the University's administrators have
continued this misconception in its investment
policy. In an official statement, Chief Financial
Officer Timothy Slottow stated that the prima-
ry responsibility of endowment investment is
to "generate the greatest possible income" and
"to shield the endowment from political pres-
sures based on our investment decisions solely
on financial factors" while making no mention of
the ethics of investment. Years prior to his state-
ment, administrators agreed - under consider-
able political pressure to divest from poisonous
tobacco contracts - that although the University
"cannot achieve moral purity in its investments,
it does not mean that it can never or should never
take a moral position on any investment." In light
of this mixed history, I hope that the response
to the University's questionable investment in
the unfair labor practices of HEI Hotels and
Resorts will be part of a trend for further posi-
tive change.
As one of the fastest growing hotel chains in
recent years, HEI makes money through a pro-
cess referred to as "hotel-flipping," where it buys
hotels, slashes labor and overhead costs, increas-
es sales, and then sells off operations as soon as
possible. To HEI executives, this "streamlining"
approach has been the most profitable strategy.
However, employees do not benefit from the profit
HEI is making. Labor cuts have exposed workers
to growing physical demands as workloads have
increased. Meanwhile, workers' benefits remain
In the summer of 2008, workers at two HEI

Hotels in California decided the best way to
achieve respect, safety, and decent benefits from
their employer was to band together and join a
union. Since employees have come out in favor of
electing their union leaders, they have been met
with harsh repression, harassment, and intimi-
dation from HEI management. And, since impor-
tant University endowment investors have likely
been focused "solely on financial factors," HEI's
behavior was not prevented by any condition of
financial support.
This doesn't mean that we can't begin anew.
Many universities, including the University of
Notre Dame and the University of Pennsylva-
nia, have taken steps to work with HEI to amend
labor practices and permit the workers' union
election to use the worker-preferred, card-check
election process. Over the past semester, work-
ers from California toured universities including
Michigan, Brown and Harvard while telling their
story to students. Predictably, these brave repre-
sentatives have since faced harsh interrogation
and surveillance from management after speak-
ing out.
In response to this and other complaints filed
with the National Labor Relations Board, Uni-
versity CFO Timothy Slottow has agreed to rec-
ognize and forward a petition now circulating
among concerned students. The Board of Regents
is now paying attention to how our $65 million
investment in HEI is being used. But it will be
another thing to see ifa serious follow through
will secure justice. After all, Coca-Cola came
back to campus just four months after its crimes
in Colombia and India propelled the University
to susend its contracts. The company returned
without any major revisions to its practices.
Despite a history of putting profits above peo-
ple, I hope that University administrators will not
only have the compassion and strength to resolve
this case in favor of human equality but also to
shape an institutional policy that recognizes the
dignity of all workers..
Ken Srdjak is a LSA senior.

Hope not in Obam a

While people on all sides
of the political spectrum
will debate the positives
and negatives of _
Obama's election,
one especially neg-
ative consequence
of the election has
already happened:
a reduction in
activism. Obama
supporters, includ-
ing those here at PATRICK
the University, ZABAWA
can no longer be
heard calling for
mass social change.
Instead, they're all busy scampering
around and trying to find a ride to
inauguration while turning a blind
eye to what they can do in the pres-
ent to change the world around
them. Obama has been elected, but
with a failing economy, the nation's
problems worsening and resources
stretched thin, the right kind of activ-
ism is needed now more than ever.
Sadly, it seems that, on a national
scale, those who didn't support Obama
have realized this more than those
who did. New York Times Columnist
Nicholas Kristof recently discovered
that conservatives are doing more good
than liberals. He cites Arthur Brooks,
author of "Who Really Cares," a book
about who donates to charities, as stat-
ing thatconservatives give more money
to charity than liberals, give blood and
volunteer more frequently. While lib-
erals are relying on Obama to fix what's
wrong with the country, conservatives
are turning to someone other than the
government - themselves.
Activism will be even more impor-
tant during Obama's presidency
because whetherornotthegovernment
will be able to get things done is ahuge
questionfor the Obamaadministration.
As the nation's deficit approached $1.2

trillion even before Obama's planned
stimulus spending, many legislators
- including those in his own party -
are growing concerned about money,
something the government doesn't
seem to have much of rightnow.
Last Thursday, Senate Budget Com-
mittee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.,
warned that, "The combination of the
retiring baby boom generation, rising
health care costs and inadequate rev-
enues will explode deficits to clearly
unsustainable levels." The govern-
ment's excessive borrowing to fill in
the nation's deficit has also caught the
ire of Lou Crandall,the chiefeconomist
at Wrightson ICAP, which analyzes
Treasury financing trends. About the
nation's rising debt, she stated,"There's
a time bomb in there somewhere, but
we don't know exactly where on the
calendar it's planted."
Concerns about the deficit may
especially weaken Obama's chances of
getting programs such as health care
reform passed. Obama has recently
raised the possibility of waiting for
the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire
instead of repealing them immedi-
ately. The funds were supposed to be
used to pay for universal health cover-
age. This concerned Sen. Ben Nelson,
D.-Neb., whose words about Obama's
healthcare plan perfectly convey the
attitude of many of those in Congress,
"It's going to be very problematic to me
unless they cantell me how it's goingto
be paid for."
With less of a chance that taxpayer
money will be able to support those in
needs, activism is needed to solve the
problems the government can't. Even
here in Ann Arbor, there are causes in
need of aid - take for example the Whit-
more Lake Health Clinic, just thirteen
miles north of Ann Arbor. The clinic
was started by University of Michigan
Medical School residents over thirty-
five years ago and serves especially

those who are uninsured or underin-
sured. But today the clinic is struggling
to stay afloat, as it owes hundreds of
thousands in unpaid bills, including
$125,000 in taxes to the Internal Rev-
enue Service. Because it serves the
poor, it desperately needs donations
to survive. And while donations to the
Obama campaignmay or may notbring
about universal health coverage some-
time down the road, a donation to the
Whitmore Lake Health Clinic will def-
initely make a difference in the lives of
the 1,600 patients who visit the clinic
each year.
Dems shouldn't
let post-election
activism fizzle.
With ever-increasing national prob-
lems and the decreasinglikelihood that
Obama will be able to have a significant
effect on them, seldom has there ever
been a greater need for activism on
campus. Americans, including those
at the University, can't afford to hedge
their bets on the Obama administration
in the same way they hedged their bets
on the stock market this past decade.
It is Americans themselves who can
provide the hope that they wish for the
world. Students at the University have
even greater opportunities than most
to make changes withso many charities
and service organizations righthereon
campus. Now is not the time to break
from activism because of Obama's vic-
tory - now is the time to bring hope to
the world and be "the change you can
believe in" yourself.
Patrick Zabawa can be reached
at pzabawa@umich.edu.


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