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April 14, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-04-14

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4 - Tuesday, April 14, 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


t ur o 'a fVeCVf
(Wolverine) Access denied


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.
The failure of test preps
Universities need to offer alternatives to Kaplan, Princeton
While most companies are facing financial setbacks in
the current economy, at least one industry is still boom-
ing - test-prep companies. College students' desire to
do well on graduate exams has turned this industry into a mas-
sive money-maker. The end result is that students who can afford
expensive prep services have a definite advantage over those who
can't, and this unfair advantage only serves to widen socioeconom-
ic inequality. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that all
of their students are on equal footing when they apply to graduate
schools. To achieve this, the University of Michigan, for its part,
should offer inexpensive and competitive test prep courses.

Whether it's the MCAT, LSAT, GRE or
GMAT, it's well known that the level of
success students achieve in these exams is
related to how much preparation they had
beforehand. Even the most intelligent and
qualified students can score poorly if they
come unprepared, so it's not surprising
that more students are resorting to expen-
sive commercial test preparation services
offered by companies like Kaplan Test Prep
or Princeton Review. These services give
students much better odds at scoring well
on graduate exams.
While the idea of taking a test prep
course prior to the scheduled date of an
exam seems reasonable, the price tags on
such resources are often anything but. The
cost of a package that includes classroom
instruction, course materials and online
access through private test prep businesses
can run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000
- a fee that is out of the reach of many
students, especially in current economic
Graduate school exams are supposed to
be objective measurements of a student's
ability to do well in a graduate program. But
when some students can afford thorough
prep courses and others can't, these exams
inadvertently become biased against less
fortunate students. The competitive edge
will go to the wealthiest students instead of
the ones who are mostintelligent. This leads
to graduate programs that are increasingly
bastions of better-off students.
Currently, the University isn't leaving

disadvantaged students with many options.
While the Career Center offers a $50 LSAT
familiarization course - the only test prep
course offered by the University for post-
undergraduate standardized exams - stu-
dents and teachers have noted that it lacks
the extensive preparation that law school
hopefuls students would need to fully pre-
pare for the LSAT. And the Career Center
recently announced that it has no intention
of expanding its test prep program.
To fix this socioeconomic split, the Uni-
versity should offer more thorough, inex-
pensive courses to all students who plan
to take graduate school entrance exams.
It's very much within the scope of the Uni-
versity's role to offer test prep courses that
will place all students on a level playing
field with the Kaplan and Princeton elite.
It's also necessary for ensuring that access
to higher education does not become pro-
hibitively expensive for students who have
no affordable alternatives to Kaplan and
The University could at least act as a
mediator between prospective grad stu-
dents and GSIs, offering them a classroom
to meet and prepare for grad exams. While
not the same thing as what Kaplan offers,
this would at least amount to a less expen-
sive option.
Among the many things looming in stu-
dents' mind as they sit down to take their
exam, the last thing should be whether or
not they would have done better had they
taken a more expensive test prep course.

Despite the fact that my reg-
istration date was four days
ago, I still haven't registered
for all my classes.
While this is due
in part to my own
and hectic sched-
ule, the registra-
tion process itself
deservesesome of
the blame.
That's right, ROBERT
I'm looking at you,S
Wolverine Access. SOAVE
If you're a Uni-
versity student, you
probably understand my frustration.
The Student Business page of Wolver-
ine Access isan incomprehensible lab-
yrinth of links that are grouped under
misleading and vague headings. See if
you can answer this question: Is View
My Grades listed under Enrollment,
Academic Records or Degree Prog-
ress/Graduation? Difficulties like this
(the answer is Enrollment, for some
inexplicable reason) make navigating
Wolverine Access a pain that students
don't have time for.
The registration page is also listed
under Enrollment, and whether you
proceed from that point by picking
Add Classes, Swap Classes or Drop
Classes, the website is still going to
spill you to the same place - after
cryptically flashing the word Pro-
cessing for a few seconds. You should
immediately congratulate yourself,
but don't celebrate for more than a
couple minutes or the page will time
out and automatically kick you back
to the Wolverine Access welcome
menu. -
.But if you do make it through to
Enrollment, the truly fun part begins.
There's a Class Search option on the
Student Business page. But as far as I
can tell, it's just the exact same thing
as the search function on the Add

Classes page. The search function
is so difficult to use that you might
as well just open up the LSA Course
Guide in a separate tab.
If you're like me and don't entirely
understand what classes you need to
take in order to graduate, you'll also
have to open My Academic Require-
ments - which is listed under Degree
Progress/Graduation butnotAcadem-
ic Records - in yet another tab. This
page is actually helpful, which makes
it even more frustrating when you
take too long and it randomly spills
you back to the Wolverine Access
welcome menu. And you'll spend so
much time shuffling between My
Academic Requirements, the LSA
Course Guide, Add Classes and rate-
myprofessor.com that getting timed
out is a likely possibility.
When you've finally backpacked a
class, it still isn't as easy as just click-
ing it. You have to put a check in the
box next to the class's name (click-
ing on it will get you a description of
the class and nothing more) and click
stage in the game, you can finally reg-
ister a class after enduringsome more
If I haven't convinced you that
there's something horribly wrong
with Wolverine Access, just ask
around: Most University students
hate it.
For the sake of comparisons, I
asked a friend at Michigan State how
she feels about her college's regis-
tration process. Her response was
this: "They assign us a day and time
and we just search for classes using
WebEnroll. It's pretty easy." This
sounds exactly like what we do at
the University of Michigan, only you
would never think of using the word
"easy" in the same sentence as Wol-
verine Access.
Despite all these hang-ups, I'll
enroll in classes eventually. But it's

unfortunate that a university offering
students so many academic choices
can't come up with a.better system
for helping students make those deci-
Registering for
classes is more
difficult than ever.
This problem isn't unique to the
registration process. A story that ran
in the Daily on Friday reported that
many students have similar frustra-
tions when it comes to their advis-
ers (Students: Advice too scattered,
04/10/2009). The story listed "long
wait times for appointments, over-
generalized advice and conflicting
information between LSA advisers
and concentration advisers" as some
of the difficulties that students faced.
At the University, reliable guid-
ance and an easy-to-use system are
basic requirements that aren't being
met. Between class, homework and
extra-curricular activities, students
are busy - and registering for next
semester's classes always takes place
during the most stressful time of the
year, when papers are due and final
exams are looming. We need more
help than we're currently getting
and this should come in the form of
better advising and a more navigable
And while I was typing that last
paragraph, I was timed out of the
Enrollment page. Thanks, Wolverine
- Robert Soave is the Daily's
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at rsoave@umich.edu.




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 tothedaily@umich.edu.
Counselor's discriminatory views A conversation about race' needs
compromised job standards to include all minority groups


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
The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed writers with
an interest in campus issues to become editorial board members
in the spring and summer semesters.



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The Daily's recent editorial regarding Eastern Michi-
gan University's dismissal of counseling graduate student
Julea Ward gets the idea wrong (Getting the wrong idea,
04/13/2009). In the Daily's admirable defense of aca-
demic freedom and ideological diversity in the classroom,
and of Ward's decision that she could not provide clinical
services to a man involved in a gay relationship because it
went against her religious beliefs, it states that Ward was
dismissed "for no other reason than that they (adminis-
trators) found her views distasteful and wanted to send
a message."
In fact, the counseling faculty did not dismiss Ward for
her views. They dismissed her for her actions.
They did not dismiss her because they found her views
distasteful but rather because her refusal to treat a gay
(or for that matter, any gay) patient violates the stan-
dards of practice for the health care profession that she
hopes to enter - standards EMU has a responsibility to
make sure she understands and is able to meet. Ward is
free to believe whatever she wants about homosexuality
(though I agree with the editorial that her views are "mis-
informed, backward and wrong").
But as a potential health care provider, she is not free to
simply say she is unable to treat homosexuals as a group of
people any more than a doctor is able to refuse treatment
to people of color because he or she sincerely believes in
white supremacy or a dentist could refuse to work on a
woman's teeth because he believed in male superiority.
If Ward wanted to become a sociologist, an anthro-
pologist or a literary scholar and argue against gay rights
and gay equality in an academic setting, that would be
one thing. And in that case, she should be completely free
to hold her increasingly minoritarian views. But as soon
as she crosses into providing health services, she is not
free to discriminate against gay clients any more than a
gynecologist should be able to discriminate against, say,
wives in a plural marriage. For years, Christian conserva-
tives have told gay people that they "hate the sin but love
the sinner."
Bearing no ill will to Ward or those who share her
beliefs, I say that I hate the sin of seeing homosexuals as
inferior and discriminating against them as a result. And
I support Ward completely in her freedom to believe reli-
giously what she believes.
But if she is unable to provide services to gay people as
a result, she has shown that she lacks the basic compe-
tence required to serve as a counselor, and her dismissal
from a graduate program designed to help students learn
the established standards of that profession is entirely
Charley Sullivan

Matthew Hunter's recent column ignores the strug-
gles of Hispanics and other minority groups, which lim-
its conversations about race (A conversation about race,
04/10/2009). My agitation is largely due to the fact that in
this conversation on race, he failed to mention, let alone
explore, the fastest growing and indeed largest minority
group in the United States: Hispanics.
It is bewildering, yet somehow unsurprising, that such a
large group of people could have been excluded. For me, and
possibly for other Hispanics in the University community, it
is a dismaying development that while we continue to grow
and prosper in America, the history of our oppression and
cultural contributions is ignored because of the assumption
that race conversations are only appropriate between blacks
and whites. The reality is that social relations are not black-
white relations - they are white-everythingelse.
It may seem insolent to compartmentalize all minor-
ity groups into an "everything else" mentality, but this
is the reality in America. Though there has been much
advancement in the social, political and economic posi-
tions of minorities in this country, most inequalities of
the 19th and 20th centuries toward blacks, Hispanics and
Asians have changed relatively little. They remain veiled
to appease the conscience of many whites, who would like
to think that race no longer matters with the advent of
Obama. Well, race does matter, and if we are going to talk
about it, let's not forget that there are 46 million Hispan-
ics in this country - many of whom still remember being
hosed, bitten by dogs or shot when they tried to unionize.
Let's not forget that - though we are the largest minor-
ity group in this country - there have been less than 100
Hispanic representatives in Congress since the early 1800s.
Hispanics can no longer remain in the shadows when race
is being talked about, because it is not only ignorant but also
presumptuous to think that there is only one front on the
struggle for equality in this country. There are many fronts
that all need tobe addressed. If we fall into the trap of think-
ing America is only black and white, we will forget it is not.
This is not to say that blacks have not had their signif-
icant share of oppression and do not deserve their own
platform to expel ignorance. Indeed, they do. But this
platform should be present for all oppressed groups in
this country. Blacks remain the gatekeepers of racial rep-
resentation in school-boards, city councils, Congress and
here at the University. What I see happening, sadly, is the
voices of other minorities being drowned in exchange for
the simplified "black-white relations" argument, of which
Hunter's piece is a perfect example. Inequality will con-
tinue as long as ignorance exists and everyone should
quickly learn this lesson.
Benjamin Ruano
LSA senior

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